Three Feet from Death

The Lion's Cry
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The Lion’s Cry is what the Twenty-eighth day of the Month of the Dog year 1170 was called. The event happened during the Bon Festival in Crossroads Castle and Tonfajutsen [L3].

Purpose

The newly appointed Emerald Magistrates where sent to Crossroads Castle to investigate a possible coup from a sect of the Lion Clan and the Spider Clan that were practicing Maho, or blood magics.

Investigation

The investigation was broken down into hour increments to fully disclose the events of the day.

NPC’s

  • Akodo Handen, Akodo Takaaki’s uncle and guardian
  • Akodo Saori, Akodo Handen’s wife
  • Kaiu Sensin, Matsu Hataru’s Father
  • Bayushi Ejiro, Scorpion Clan Courtier
  • Kakita Kenshin, Ancestor of Kakita Isamu
  • Akodo Takaaki, Lion Clan Bushi

Ghosts n’ Stuff

Hotaru arrived earlier than the rest of the party at 8am and visited with her family, after being lectured for her disdain of her arranged marriage she left her house hold and soon found Bayushi Ejiro who acted surprised to see her again. She questioned him for his reasons on being in Crossroads Castle let alone Lion lands. He responded with a simple answer of Clan business has brought him here. They have an extended conversation where Hotaru learns that Ejiro is a black sheep of his clan and seems to be very honorable.

The rest of the group arrives at Crossraods Castle during this time at 10am and arranges to meet with Hotaru at the local in. Once the group is back together they change for the Bon Festival and start their investigations at 11am. While walking around the city the group finds a little girl who is painting lanterns. Amaterasu notices that the girl is coughing blood and draws this to Isamu’s attention since he is trained in the medicinal arts. The girls father refuses treatment and says that she is fine. Amaterasu watched as the little girl placed the hand with blood on the paper lantern she was painting and the blood grew on the lanterns surface until the whole lantern was a deep red after the little girl and her father left. The group then started looking around and realized that the blood lanterns where all over the square. Taru tried to burn the lanterns but all this did was light them causing them to release a taint causing blood cloud. The soon found that cutting the lanterns would destroy them so they along with Ejiro and his Scorpion Clan members cut down the lanterns.

Isamu went after the little girl to stop the blood magic at its source, following her into the Eta Quarter of town. He noticed on his way in that all of the houses had monk protection seals on them and began to suspect the Eta as being the ones behind everything. When he came into the house he found the little girls father bleeding to death and the little girl floating in the air. Isamu and the little girl battled, steel versus maho; ultimately Isamu won and set them home on fire to cleanse it of the Taint.

The rest of the group saw the fire and immediately ran to the Eta Quarter to put out the fire. Handen directed the Lion Clan Troops to dig a trench and keep the fire contained once they had heard Isamu’s story.

Taru went to investigate one of the houses with the protection tag, it was written in an old form of Rokugani dialect and seemed to be a item created by channeling Kiho into the paper. The current practice of making protection tags was by using the persons superstition rather than kiho. The tags themselves actually have no power to protect, these ones did. When place on the door it would bind any exits to that building. Taru removed one of the tags after hearing scratching at the door. Out came hungry dead immediately attacking Taru. the party dispatched of the three ghosts in that house and then realized that every house in the quarter had them on the doors. when the went inside they found one dead body for each ghost that was ripped open as if something had exploded out of their chest cavity. On the roof written in blood was the Old Rokugani word for “fire.” They found similar settings in each house but a new word in each until the discovered a phrase was encoded in all of the houses.

Isamu helped as long as he could but ultimately fell to his injury from the Tournament of the Samurai. He watched as Kenshin went from house to house cleansing them of the ghosts.

The Conn

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Matsu Hotaru Journal Entry 2
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There is little time for me to collect my thoughts, but so much has happened that I feel I must take advantage of the precious few moments I have. I…I’ve lost my father. The house burned a midst the chaos that has gripped Tonfajutsen. There has been the usage of maho, seals and we’ve already encountered the hungry dead. My mother survived, thankfully… She was not at home when the fire began. The image of my mother crying is one I’ve never borne witness to and it is one I pray I never see again.

If that were not bad enough, the Scorpion Ejiro was present and proceeded to fall before my mother. He prostrated himself, declaring he’d failed his duties. My mother forgave him, telling him it wasn’t his fault. Upon realizing my confusion, following the shock of my family’s home burning to the ground, they revealed to me that Ejiro is actually the Scorpion I am betrothed to. It was too much. Much to my shame and embarrassment, I passed out.

Why didn’t she tell me she knew who I was betrothed to? Now I feel like nothing but a fool. To top it off, there appears to be Akodo involvement and I’m fairly certain Handen, Takaaki’s uncle, is leading most of the plans. Takaaki himself does not appear to be involved, but my heart hurts thinking about him now. I’m all but certain he hates me. Perhaps he’s right, things have changed…far too much.

I wish I’d never gone to the damn tournament. I would give anything for things to go back the way they were. There is only so much I can take. Watching my hometown fall into ruin, chaos and corruption is too much… My mother could use my help getting things organized and I’ve taken enough time for myself. And though I am in pain, I cannot allow myself to grow weak, I must see this through. I must make my father proud.

And to think, I never got to tell him that I was appointed an Emerald Magistrate…

(There are a few damp spots on the page that appear to be hastily wiped away.)

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Journey to the West, Returning Mirumoto Rai-san’s Body
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During the Tournament of the Samurai in Pale Oak Castle the Bushi Mirumoto Rai took his life to cleanse his family of the shame from his affair with Doji Aiko, who in turn did the same. Kakita Manabu Isamu was asked to serve as his second without being informed as to his crimes, but had pieced it together later when he found Doji Aiko dead in the court yard by her own blade.

Purpose

After the tournament was over the group of investigators where asked by Isawa Mashiro to attend to returning Mirumoto Rai’s body to Dragon land for his funeral at Shiro Mirumoto from the Third through the Sixth Day of the Month of the Dog 1170. While there the party began to collect knowledge at the library on the different family Daimyo, though it was limited to just their names.

Emerald Magistrates

Yoritomo Sukune returned to the group with a Imperial Edict that had promoted the party to the position of Emerald Magistrates for their work discovering the plot to start war between the Dragon and the Phoenix Clans and finding the real killer of the Asako Daimyo, Asako Toshi.

NPC’s

Daimyo Reserch

  • Hida Koun, Crab Clan Hida Daimyo
  • Hiruma Todori, Crab Clan Hiruma Daimyo
  • Kaiu Iemasa, Crab Clan Kaiu Daimyo
  • Kuni Kiyoshi (II), Crab Clan Kuni Daimyo
  • Toritaka Kaiketsu, Crab Clan Toritaka Daimyo
  • Yasuki Jinn-Kuen, Crab Clan Yusaki Daimyo (Known Kolat)
  • Asahina Beniha, Crane Clan Asahina Daimyo
  • Daidoji Kikaze, Crane Clan Daidoji Daimyo
  • Doji Domotai, Crane Clan Doji Daimyo (Pregnant)
  • Kakita Noritoshi, Crane Clan Kakita Daimyo
  • Kitsuki Iweko, Dragon Clan Kitsuki Daimyo
  • Mirumoto Kei, Dragon Clan Mirumoto Daimyo (ruled alongside Mareshi)
  • Mirumoto Mareshi, Dragon Clan Mirumoto Daimyo (ruled alongside Kei, half-naga)
  • Tamori Shimura, Dragon Clan Tamori Daimyo
  • Togashi Maya, Dragon Clan Togashi Daimyo
  • Akodo Hotei, Lion Clan Akodo Daimyo
  • Ikoma Hagio, Lion Clan Ikoma Daimyo
  • Kitsu Kiyoko, Lion Clan Ikoma Daimyo
  • Matsu Kenji, Lion Clan Matsu Daimyo
  • Kitsune Ryukan, Mantis Clan Kitsune Daimyo
  • Moshi Awako, Mantis Clan Moshi Daimyo
  • Tsuruchi Nobumoto, Mantis Clan Tsuruchi Daimyo
  • Yoritomo Naizen, Mantis Clan Yoritomo Daimyo
  • Bayushi Miyako, Scorpion Clan Bayushi Daimyo
  • Agasha Chieh, Phoenix Clan Agasha Daimyo
  • Asako Bushiken, Phoenix Clan Asako Daimyo (Newly appointed)
  • Isawa Mitsuko, Phoenix Clan Isawa Council of Five Masters (Master of Air)
  • Isawa Emori, Phoenix Clan Isawa Council of Five Masters (Master of Earth)
  • Isawa Ochiai, Phoenix Clan Isawa Council of Five Masters (Master of Fire)
  • Asako Bairei, Phoenix Clan Isawa Council of Five Masters (Master of Water)
  • Shiba Ningen, Phoenix Clan Isawa Council of Five Masters (Master of Void)
  • Shiba Tsukimi, Phoenix Clan Shiba Daimyo
  • Shosuro Toson, Scorpion Clan Shosuro Daimyo
  • Soshi Yukimi, Scorpion Clan Yukimi Daimyo
  • Yogo Koji, Scorpion Clan Yogo Daimyo
  • Horiuchi Shem-Zhe, Unicorn Clan Horiuchi Daimyo
  • Ide Eien, Unicorn Clan Ide Daimyo
  • Iuchi Katamari, Unicorn Clan Katamari Daimyo
  • Moto Chen, Unicorn Clan Moto Daimyo (The Khan)
  • Shinjo Genki, Unicorn Clan Shinjo Daimyo
  • Utaku Xieng Chi, Unicorn Clan Utaku Daimyo
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Utaku Amaterasu Journal Entry 4
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Third Day of the Month of the Dog 1170

Such weakness. I should have taken a full stance to strike that coward as he and his companions encroached on us from the bushes. I am truly ashamed. Traveling is far more dangerous than I had made it out to be. That does not bother me. I am disappointed in my performance. I know better that that! I missed my target. I should NEVER miss my target. Thank the stars for my new Ally Matsu Hotaru of the Lion clan and her Lionness. If it wasn’t for the two of them and my Kana, I fear I would be in a much more devastating of situations than the debilitating slice I received across my right shoulder. I owe them. Them and the Doctor, Kakita Isamu for repairing my sword arm even if it was in poor taste that evening when he insulted my skill by gifting me with a book on basic sword skill. I am above insult though. I took the book and read every page. I intend to learn. To enhance what I already know and even touch on that which I may be unfamiliar. I am not above growth. I hope he realizes that though it was his immaturity that brought forth the insult, I took from it a learning experience. And maybe I will show him what I am truly capable of one day if it warrants respect from him in the end. -Utaku Amaterasu

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Utaku Amaterasu Journal Entry 3
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Second Day of the Month of the Dog 1170 continued..

So alas, my Tea Ceremony failure from earlier today was a mere shadow of the personal and, soon to be, political issues I bore witness to this evening. Following the deaths of both the Lady Doji and Mirumoto Rai due to their adulterated relationship finally eating away at the two, their lines were cleansed and their honor re established to their families. It was a long trial of questions in which I gladly shared the information that I had come across yesterday following my ‘talk’ with Lady Doji. I don’t understand affairs and perhaps I never will. I have no sympathy for the newly deceased and suffice to say, I couldn’t imagine ever dishonoring another like they have. Then again, I will also try to abstain from getting myself into that situation if I can so help it. Well, off to the Dragon lands I must say. This will be an adventure! I am quite excited. I have never traveled like this before. I am bursting with anticipation. The open plains await! -Utaku Amaterasu

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Utaku Amaterasu Journal Entry 2
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Second Day of the Month of the Dog, 1170

Well that was embarrassing. I knew I should have gotten more sleep last night. However, I fear it is too late for should have’s. I only hope that the other representatives of my clan here did not bear witness to my miserable failed attempt at Tea Ceremony. I have taken a moment to reflect and collect myself as I blot at the tea stained robes I am now wearing. Maybe the others will have forgotten when I re-emerge in some time. I should have withheld from the contest: left my family to forgo the embarrassment. I know one thing is for sure, I will be abstaining from the dancing later today.. I hardly want to be seen walking around in the state I am in, nevermind dancing as such. -Utaku Amaterasu

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Utaku Amaterasu Journal Entry 1
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First Day of the Month of the Dog, 1170

What an honor, I must say, to have been a part of such festivities throughout the Tournament of the Samurai. From the moment I swept through the castle doors, I felt the honor that had been bestowed on me and would be reflected in my actions to my people. My gift was embraced graciously by Isawa Masahiro and I could tell was received very well by the audience in addition. I should say it gave me great pride in knowing my work was admired; a simple, yet meaningful, haiku done in my finest calligraphy, a pair of steeds hand painted at the base and a cascade of cherry blossoms down the side were woven in and out of with a velvet lock of mane groomed from my steed Kana. It was later engraved into stone and was to be distributed throughout the surrounding empires as a display piece. What honor! My family will be brimming with pride. Not all of the festivities were for celebration that day though. That evening, myself and some members from a few of the other clans became entangled in a murder investigation of Asako Toshi himself! We waded through the evidence, following false accusations, alibi’s of deceit and dishonor and eventually boiled down to the murderer himself; we discovered that the Daiymo was, in fact, murdered by another Phoenix clan member, Shiba Reikun. Following this discovery, the Crab member whom was part of the investigation team was greatly insulted by this murderous wretch. He then appointed a champion (the Crane duelist doctor who was aiding in the investigation as well) and the Crane took victory. All in all, it made for a very unexpected evening. Oh and how could I forget..one of the most interesting events of the evening..I now am in possession of a Scorpion token. Good for one favor..I only imagine at what price….and through my communicative ways It also looks like I may be in a particular position of power over Lady Doji of the Crane clan…After what I discovered that is…well alas, now I must take rest. The morning will meet me soon and I fear if I do not rest my head, I will not be ready for the remainder of festivities come sunrise. -Utaku Amaterasu

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Letters To Kakita Konishiko
Letters To Kakita Konishiko
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Tournament of the Samurai
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The Tournament of the Samurai was a competition hosted by the Phoenix Clan in Pale Oak Castle during the First and Second Day of the Month of the Dog, 1170.

Purpose

The tournament was held with the intent to quell the current border tensions with the Dragon Clan. The Phoenix hoped that by holding a tournament dedicated to arts and culture, they could bridge the hostilities with the Dragon.

Competitions

The tournament was divided into four main parts. The first two were poetry and painting, and were adjudicated by the famed artisan Doji Yujiro on the initial. The final two parts took place the following day and consisted of dance and tea ceremony. Both these competitions were judged by the courtier Isawa Masahiro.

NPC’s

Sculpture

At the start of the tournament, Masahiro presented the assembled guests with a gift intended for all of them. It was a sculpture of jade, gold and ivory depicting the mons of all the Great Clans and a large Imperial mon in the middle. The intention was that the sculpture would travel from the courts of the Clan Champions, spending each winter at a different court. Later Utaku Amaterasu’s gift haiku to the Phoenix Daimyo was engraved in the back of the stone tablet.

Murder

During the first evening’s dinner and socializing, Asako Toshi excused himself from the gathering. Later that evening Masahiro is alerted by a servant of Toshi’s murder. When announcing the death of the daimyo of Pale Oak Castle, Ikoma Katsu and Hida Fuya announce that they witnessed Mirumoto Rai leaving the area near Toshi’s quarters. Rai, unable to obtain an alibi due to his affair with Doji Aiko was consider to be the prime suspect and arrested preemptively.

Investigation

The investigation revealed that it was actually Shiba Reikun who had slipped away during the dinner and stolen Rai’s kimono. Reikun had covered his face and allowed Katsu and Fuya to see a man in the colors of a Dragon leave Toshi’s quarters. Testimony from several servants identified Reikun as the individual leaving the daimyo’s quarters, but such testimony held no weight. Bloody clothing was hidden under Reikun’s bed, the kami witnessed the act and informed Kuni Taru and the others of the events. Eventually the evidence of Rei’s bloody kimono was enough to confront Reikun. Angered he challenged his accuser, Kuni Taru, to a duel. Kuni Taru accepted and asked for Kakita Isamu to duel on his behalf. Isamu won the duel by beheading his opponent, but ultimately suffered a weeping wound on his left side. During the last moments before passing out from his wound Isamu realized the ghost of Kakita Kenshin guided his hand during the duel.

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Matsu Hotaru Journal Entry 1
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The Second Day of the Month of the Dog:

So much for my sensei’s words.This was anything but an “uneventful social gathering”. The Tournament of the Samurai began with the typical ceremonies that I’d heard about, but the other guests that were present were anything but typical. The audacity and rudeness of some of them! Some I speak of in regards to their open stares, though that I can excused considering Anju is in attendance with me. I doubt many of thosew that flit about the courts have ever even seen a lion, let alone been so close to one. She behaved perfectly though, better than I could have hoped for. I was grateful for her closeness in a sea of unfamiliar faces. I dared not seek out any of the individuals there and was content to simply observe from a distance when I was not involved in a competition, but that was not to be.

I was first approached by a particularly bold member of the Scorpion Clan. He introduced himself as Bayushi Ejiro, requesting that I address him informally, as simply Ejiro. Naturally I was uncomfortable in his presence and fought not to squirm under his gaze. His lips were quirked up at the corners as if he were holding in a particularly amusing secret. He was deliberately trying to bait me, I think. Considering the fact that he addressed me as Hotaru-chan. How he knew my face and my name, I do not knoww, but it is unnerving. Perhaps he checked the guest list before I arrived? My lioness would cause me to stand out… Either way, I plan to avoid him in the future. After this tournament I doubt I’ll have to deal with him again.

My gift appeared to be well received by our host, Isawa Masahiro, and I could her murmurs from behind the fluttering of fans. Despite my frustration during their creation, I am very glas I set aside the proper amount of time to weave those placemats before leaving for the tournament.

The first two contests went well and my scores were some I could be proud of. My haiku and painting both appeared to be well received, though I must confess, the painting of the plains made me a bit homesick for the quiet.

Then there was a grave tragedy that occurred during our formal dinner, concluding the first day’s events. A vile, foul deed was committed at the very heart of Pale Oak Castle. Under the guise of peace, Shiba Reikun, a military officer of the Phoenix Clan murdered his own daimyo, Asako Toshi. He tried to frame a member of the Dragon Clan that was in attendance, Mirumoto Rai, in an attempt to start a war between the two clans. Shiba Reikun’s own lust for vengeance was his fall from grace and as is befitting his crimes, he was killed in an iaijutsu duel. He lost to a Crane from the Kakita family and though I have no love for the Crane in general, let alone the Kakita, I must admit this one’s dueling prowess is to be respected. I doubt that he’d do well on a true battlefield though, as his opponent’s single blow nearly killed him.

There was a small group of us that were asked by Isawa Masahiro to personally investigate the crime after it took place. This included myself, the Crane bushi from the Kakita family, a Dragon shugenja investigator from the Kitsuki family, a Crab shugenja from the Kuni family and a Unicorn bushi from the Utaku family. An odd group to be sure, but it seemed our combined talents proved strong enough to bring the truth to light. I must admit that the Crab I encountered, Kuni Taru, was not nearly as crass as I’ve come to expect given the tales that have circulated through the clan. The Unicorn, Utaku Amaterasu, seemed easy enough to get along with, though we did not speak overmuch during the investigation. The Dragon, Kitsuki Kumiko, proved her clan’s renown as skiled investigators is an accurate one, though truthfully, I still consider the Dragon culture strange.

I must confess that during the investigation I began to jump to a conclusion, assuming that the secretive nature of the crime and the attempted cover-up surely indicated Bayushi Ejiro’s involvement. I am glad I didn’t do anything rash and falsely accuse the Scorpion. Truthfully, I can say I never thought I’d write that last sentence.

Now though, the night is already waning and we have a full day’s events ahead of us. I had to pour my mind onto these pages before I sought rest, but now I hope for a few hours of peace.

—Matsu Hotaru

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