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Legend of the Five Rings - Kanazawa


The Furthest Away
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These are the session logs from a fairly long (58 sessions!) L5R campaign I ran recently. The session logs were primarily intended for my use and the player's reference. There are a few places with missing NPC names, which were mostly for incidental characters that even I couldn't remember a week after running :)


The Furthest Away
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Season 1 - Beginnings

Session 1, New Beginnings - Spring, 1121

The Wolf clan is formally inagurated on Seppun Hill. Akodo Tomochi kneels before Hantei the 38th and before Okami Tomochi, first daimyo of the Wolf. Kakika Takumi, Yasuki Ryoji and Tamori Netsuko all swear fealty, becoming the ruling council of the Wolf. Kakita Chouko also swears fealty.

A pleasant travel montage through Crane and Lion lands occurs.

Wolf lands are rather less pleasant - the fields are empty of peasants, and discussion on recruitment tactics ensues. Kanazawa itself is reached and is somewhat of a disappointment to many. The heimen of the Wolf will swear in a ceremony in a week's time; in the meantime, people familiarise themselves with the city and its various inhabitants. Some nearby bandits (the Mountain Ghosts) and rebel villages ruled by ronin (ex-Hare?) are put high on the 'to do' list come summer.

A day before the ceremony, several uninvited guests arrive - Soshi Murai Rei & family, and Iuchi Seishiro Ryobe. The day after the ceremony, Soshi Yoriko Zenshin & family arrive. Rei's daughter (Honami) makes a clear play for Tomochi, and it's likely no accident that Zenshin's young niece is with him. Rei arranges for a formal negotiation with the Wolf, and offers Honami's hand in marriage to Tomochi.

Before a formal answer can be given, one of the Emerald Magistrate's yoriki reports that Zenshin is dead - slain by a heimen woman he attacked! Ryoji goes to speak to the woman while everyone else runs damage control. Lotus Blossom is a former geisha, and Zenshin attacked her children. Ryoji spots a marked resemblance to Ryobe (the Unicorn) and works out that the vengeful Zenshin tried to kill Ryobe's illegitimate children to revenge the death of his son at Ryobe's orders.

Ryoji goes to drop some subtle hints to Ryobe about the likely fate of two orphaned babes. The next morning, Ryobe tells everyone that one of his samurai remembers Lotus Blossom and will claim the children as his own. Quite what Ryobe's childless wife will make of this cover story is unknown, as is Zenshin's family's reaction to events.

Session 2, Scorpion, Bandits & Ronin - Spring/Summer 1121

Before the Emerald Magistrate (Shiba Hisaki) made a public statement regarding the death of Soshi Yoriko Zenshin, the players decided to warn his relatives of the outcome. Ryoji went to visit Toshi (Zenshin’s niece) and told her the news. She was clearly upset by it, and warned him that her brother (Shouko) and father (Takehide) would be unlikely to take the news well. In the meantime, Hisaki came to visit Okami Tomochi and ask him what public story to present. Tomochi gave a vague answer, and so Ryoji later went to ensure that Hisaki would announce what they’d said he would. There was some surprise when Hisaki stuck to the story in the public announcement.

The next morning, Shouko came to formally complain about the obvious bias of Shiba Hisaki. Tomochi again made non-comittal responses. A discussion ensued about replacing Hisaki as Emerald Magistrate – perhaps with a Scorpion-trained magistrate (one of the Soshi houses maintains a magistrate school). Ryoji went to speak to Hisaki again, and let him know that was likely to happen. Hisaki was less than helpful, and made it clear that he would prefer to continue in his role.

Seppun Chiaki (commander of the Imperial Legion based in Kanazawa) then announced she was going bandit hunting, along with half her legion. The Wolf ‘army’ went along, including Tomochi, Netsuko & Takumi. A day later, Ryoji received word that a Scorpion army was marching towards the city! He hastily sent word to the rest of the Wolf, recalling them & some of Chiaki's forces. The army turned out to be one of Takehide’s legions, come here to collect his brother’s corpse. A tense confrontation was resolved peaceful, and the Scorpion left with the body. The Wolf were invited to the funeral, but turned it down, knowing that accepting would be seen by the Scorpion as accepting a challenge.

The Wolf then headed out again to investigate some ‘rebel’ villages. They eventually reached a poor village which was guarded by some ronin (ex-Hare ronin). The ronin were sworn to the Wolf, and Netsuko also found out about nearby jade deposits in the hills.

In the meantime, Chiaki’s bandit hunt hadn’t gone well. A convoluted scheme was hatched, where three merchents were each told a different lie, to see which was in contact with the bandits. The lie told to a Lion factor was acted upon, and so he was fed another lie to try and lure the bandits out.

The session ended as Ryoji found out that the Lion factor had been murdered. At the same time, the caravan was attacked, and Tomochi, Takumi & Netsuko are on the front line.

Session 3, Wolf Defeats Ghost - Summer 1121

The caravan containing Tomochi, Takumi and Netsuko, as well as 80 Wolf troops (plus Seppen Chiaki) is attacked by bandits! The bandit force outnumbers the Wolf, and consists of cavalry riding Unicorn horses. The first attack is sudden and savage, and the Wolf are left reeling. Seeing that the battle could be lost here, Tomochi seizes the moment and strikes at one of the bandit leaders, a fierce mounted warrior. Despite inflicting a wound upon his foe, Tomochi is nearly felled by the return attack. However, Takumi is able to swiftly take care of the wounded bandit, and Netsuko then heals his lord’s wounds. Tomochi takes ruthless advantage of the loss of one of the bandit leaders, and soon the poorly disciplined cavalry are starting to retreat from the field. By now, Tomochi has identified the bandit general – a mounted archer. A brave plan is enacted, as Tomochi (empowered by the earth kami) strides forward as a decoy, while Takumi, Netsuko and some former Hare encircle the bandit. A fierce fight ensues, which leaves three bandits lying dead on the floor, and many terrible wounds among the Wolf. Though heavily wounded, the bandit leader managed to flee the scene. Tomochi orders Munoto (the leader of the former Hare) to track this man. In a daring night-time move, Munoto and his men capture the bandit leader and return him to their lord.

The Wolf return to the city, where crowds gather to watch the bandit lord and to hurl abuse at him. Before he is executed, a feast is called to celebrate the expansion of the Wolf and their victory. At the feast, Ryoji presents all of the Wolf soldiers with kimono bearing the Wolf mon and clan colours (grey and white). Chuko reads a poem to celebrate their victory, as does a ronin named Aragashi, who praises the honour and glory of the Wolf in stirring style.

While the army was out on manuevers, two letters were received – one from House Ayano of the Iuchi, saying that Ayano Tabito would be coming to visit to welcome their new neighbours, and one from Moto Chagatai, requesting permission for the White Moto to travel through the lands of the Wolf en route to the Shadowlands. Both parties are granted permission to enter Wolf lands, and Tomochi also sends a thank-you gift to Soshi Yoriko Toshie (who warned them against going to her uncle’s funeral).

During the festival, Kuni Izumi approaches Netsuko and announces that she wants to check all of the ex-Hare for taint. Some fast-talking (well sufficiently fast to get by Izumi) follows, and the next morning there's a ceremony to bless all the Wolf with the power of the earth - a ceremony which involves touching a piece of jade to everyone. Thankfully, no one is obviously tainted!

While they await the arrival of Ayano Tabito, the characters take a chance to focus on ruling the city.

Netsuko heads to a nearby temple in Unicorn lands, to return the swords of the bandits (saying that they must have been ‘stolen’ by the bandits).
Ryoji spends his time working on improving the infrastructure and economy of the Wolf lands - a task which will take some time to bear fruit. He realises as part of this that the opium trade into the Unicorn lands is routed through the city, and there's a substantial criminal underworld.
Tomochi works on unifying the Wolf forces, and on inspecting the defences of the city.
Takumi works on civilizing Kyuden Usagi, and making it a slightly less utilitarian place to live.

In addition, the construction of a shrine to the fallen Wolf begins. The shine will embody all four elements and reflect on the heritages of the clan founders.

Ayano Tabito finally arrives – he’s a middle aged courtier, who’s urbane and charming. He presents a gift from his nephew (Ayano Akemi, daimyo of House Ayano) to Tomochi. The gift is a scroll recording the appearance of Kanazawa about 200 years ago (i.e. long before it was first sacked, and when it looked really quite nice). During a more informal tea ceremony, Tabito finally gets around to discussing why he’s here: House Ayano is at war with House Seishiro to determine who will be the next Iuchi daimyo. The war is tightly balanced, and if the Wolf apply an economic squeeze to House Seishiro (their trade is almost entirely through Kanazawa), it will be enough to tip the balance. In return, the Wolf gain the friendship of House Ayano, who are located far away enough to not be militarily interested in the city (unlike House Seishiro, who have held the city several times).
Session 4, Regret - Autumn 1121

The offer made by Iuchi Ayano Tabito is discussed at length, and in the end, Tomochi decides to reject his offer, as he cannot see an honourable way to aid the Ayano. Tabito is informed of this decision by Ryoji while Takumi has a practice duel against Tabito's yojimbo (a young man named Kaito). Takumi is rather shocked to find out that the young man has unknowingly been taught one of the Kakita school techniques, apparently by a ronin named Borte. Takumi immediately writes home to begin finding out all he can about this woman, and the insult she offers to his school. As the summer passes into autumn, word reaches Kanazawa that House Kutulan have allied with House Seishiro and smashed them on the field, leaving the Ayano daimyo's sister near death. As autumn moves onward, the news changes slightly - Seishiro Sakiko has declared herself daimyo, but has not been able to turn her tactical success into strategic success.

During the course of these discussions, a series of guests arrive. First to arrive are a group of Shiba bushi, led by Shiba Kagehisa, with a letter from the Elemental Masters (the rulers of the Phoenix clan). The letter states that the men in question are the Phoenix's contribution towards the Wolf, and that their leader will be arriving shortly. When he arrives, their leader is revealed to be Tsuruchi Yukio, a member of Wasp minor clan. No-one is entirely sure why the Phoenix elected to send a Wasp rather than one of their own, but the Phoenix rarely make sense to outsiders. Yukio, Kegahisa and the rest of the bushi are sworn to the Wolf, and Okami Yukio no Tsuruchi becomes the last member of the council of Kanazawa.

A few weeks later, the White Legion of the Moto arrive. The city falls silent as a thousand elite cavalry arrive and are offered the full hospitality of the Wolf. During the welcome feast, Aragashi (the ex-Lion ronin) tells the story of when Moto Tsumo visited the city en route to his doom in the Shadowlands. The daughter of the Hare daimyo at the time was blessed by foresight, and attempted to sway him from his course, but she did not succeed. The story concludes as the maiden dies from grief when she hears the news of the fall of the Moto.

The rest of the feast continues in a similarly cheery fashion. As things are beginning to wind down, a guard bursts in babbling about a female spirit who is calling to the Moto in the eastern garden. The group rush out, Kuni Izumi in tow and are confronted by a spectral woman. Her cries call up feelings of regret and remorse in the heart to the sternest warriors, but she is overcome by a combination of Netsuko's magic and Yukio's arrows.

After the Moto have departed, there is an extensive discussion about where to head for Winter Court. Soshi Saibankan Hokichi (daimyo of the Soshi) has invited the Wolf, as have Ikomo O-chi (a nearby minor Ikoma daimyo) and Iuchi Seishiro Sakiko (who has proclaimed herself Iuchi daimyo). After some discussion, the Wolf decide to visit the court of the Scorpion. Chouko will host the tiny Winter Court held at Kanazawa, while a group of loyal and socially competent bushi will be sent to the Seishiro.

The main Wolf party sets out for the lands of House Saibankan. En route, they pass through the lands of the Soshi Murai and politeness dictates that they pay a house call. They find the Murai almost ready to leave themselves, and on the morn, the two parties journey on together. Once again, Soshi Murai Honami pays a great deal of attention to Tomochi, but even her charms cannot overcome his stoic demeanor.

Upon arrival at the palace of the Soshi, many other guests are also arriving. Every other Clan has sent representatives, and it remains to be seen how well the Wolf will do at their first Winter Court...

Session 5, The Scorpion's Parlour - Winter 1121

The Wolf arrive at Saibankan Palace, and are formally welcomed to the Winter Court of Soshi Saibankan Hokichi. The other Soshi houses have all sent representatives, as have the rest of the Scorpion families and the other Great Clans. Tomochi's sister is also at Winter Court as part of the Bayushi delegation, but Tomochi does his best to avoid her and her husband. Various entertaining and educational contests, demonstrations and lectures are held over the course of winter, which Tomochi, Netsuko and Yukio avail themselves of (Ryoji is busy in negotiations, and Takumi spends much of winter suffering from melancholy spirits and so takes to spending hours in meditation and silent contemplation). However, not all time is spent in play - Yukio and Netsuko speak to a matchmaker, and Tomochi agrees to Soshi Murai Rei's suggestion that they contract a matchmaker to discuss an alliance between the Wolf and House Murai.

Yukio spends time taking part in an archery contest, and also in talking with an ally of his, Soshi Saibankan Mariko. Mariko is a clan magistrate in Soshi lands, and provides Yukio with information on the various women the matchmaker proposes. Perhaps distracted by this business, he does not win the archery contest (that honour goes to Kakita Danburo, yojimbo of the Crane ambassador) but places well enough to be rewarded with an ornate quiver and set of decorated arrows. His choice of wife comes down to two candidates, both of House Saibankan. One is Juroji, grand-daughter of the daimyo, daughter of Ai and sister to Kaede, while the other is Hoshiko, daughter of a warrior in the Soshi armies. Mariko informs his that both women are highly skilled magistrates, but that Juroji has been offered more opportunity to prove herself - and her recent success has elevated her position within House Saibankan considerably, rather upsetting the Byzantine status quo. Juroji's sensei is also convinced that she is blessed by Saibankan himself. Hoshiko has had less chance to prove herself, but is considered a solid prospect who will eventually rise to moderate rank. Yukio's choice slightly surprises the matchmaker, as he asks to open formal bethrothal negotiations with Hoshiko.

Netsuko instead spends his time with the many shugenja who are at court. He manages to understand some of the relationships between the powerful masters of air, and realises that Soshi Oboe Fumi is one of the true powers from the Soshi shugenja school. Fumi in turn appears to have alliances with many other shugenja in the Soshi, including Hokichi's daughter Ai, and Ai's daughter Kaede. Towards the end of Winter Court, an open competition between the various shugenja is held, to see who can most impress the court. Netsuko wins one of the prizes after he launches a jade boulder at his own head, causing him to vanish underground and to re-surface wielding a katana of fire. His prize is a collection of spell scrolls from the Soshi. Netsuko had told the matchmaker that he wished to marry a courtier - and the matchmaker suggested a list of candidates, including Soshi Yoriko Toshi, daughter of Takehide.

Tomochi spent his time in a wargame which re-enacted the conflict between the returning Unicorn and the Lion clan several centuries previously, which is judged by Soshi Takehide. He elects to play the role of the Unicorn, a fact that will no doubt enamour him to his former clan. Tomochi does very well in the opening stages of the war game, taking on board the advice of the Unicorn representative, Shinjo Suleimain, and overcoming the somewhat biased judgement of Soshi Takehide, who appears to bear considerably ill will towards the Wolf. However, Tomochi is driven to stalemate part way through when the Lion side secure an unexpected alliance with the Dragon clan. He then decides to learn from his opponent, and seek additional allies in game. Suspecting that Takehide won't acceed to any request he makes, Tomochi asks Saibankan Hokichi for his 'advice'. The old man seems very amused at the prospect of interfering in Takehide's game, and so Tomochi is able to gain the in-game allies he needs to win. As this is going on, Tomochi tries to decide whether to marry Soshi Murai Honami, or Soshi Yoriko Toshi (as the Crab ambassador points out that it would be wise to have a way to "neutralise Takehide's poison"*). His decision is partly affected by Takehide's blatent dislike - but then the Unicorn ambassador (Ide Borte) quietly points out that Takehide's anger is just for show, and that there is no true anger or hatred within him when he faces the Wolf. No-one is entirely sure why Takehide's pretending to dislike them, which further complicates things.

At the end of the session, no formal bethrothal contracts have been signed, but marriages to Hoshiko, Honami and Toshi seem likely, though exactly who they will marry is perhaps not clear

* Considerably time is spent working out if this is a metaphorical warning, or an literal one.


The Furthest Away
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Session 6, Tying up Loose Ends - Winter 1121 /Spring 1122

The Soshi Winter Court is concluded, as final decisions on who will marry whom are made. Tomochi decides to marry Honami, daughter of Soshi Murai Rei, and Yukio decides to marry Hoshiko (after finding out that Kaede was the one pushing for Juroji’s marriage to him, as a political move to get her sister out of the way).

The journey home was accomplished safely, though Hoshiko was rather surprised to find out that she would be serving as Clan Magistrate and not spending her time making origami and whatever else rich women do. Her offhand comment about mansions did encourage both Yukio and Takumi to ‘claim’ derelict houses in Kanazawa to serve as their own residences. Ryoji quietly gave Hoshiko a list of people not to arrest, which she accepted without comment or question.

The representatives sent to the Iuchi court reported that the Unicorn civil war was getting larger and larger – House Ayano have enlisted the support of the Shinjo, while House Seishiro have enlisted the support of the Otaku. As the Shinjo, Otaku and Moto daimyo are all young and new to their roles, the potential for escalation is considered to be rather high.

In better news, Takumi received an invitation to an iajitsu tournament at Dark Edge Village, which is in Ide lands, and until a few centuries ago, hosted the Emerald Tournament.

After some discussion, the Wolf asked Munoto to start teaching a modified version of the Hare school techniques – creating a new Wolf bushi school. In order to secure themselves loyal samurai in the future, the Wolf began recruiting ronin mercenaries, promising their children places as house samurai if they serve well, and allow their children to be trained by the Wolf. In other ronin news, a large ronin army passed though the city, after being hired by one of the factions (probably the Shinjo) of the Unicorn War.
Session 7, Dark Edge Village - Summer 1122

Tomochi, Takumi, Netsuko and Koji all depart for the iajitsu tournament in Dark Edge Village, accompanied by a small squad of guards and Tomochi’s wife, Honami. The journey to Dark Edge Village is uneventful – the party attempt to call upon Soshi Takehide on the way, but sadly he wasn’t at home at the time.

When they arrive at the large and pleasant inn in the village, there are several other samurai there that they recognise from the Soshi Winter Court (Soshi Saibankan Hokichi and Soshi Hachemon, plus another friend of theirs). Among the other Scorpion guests is Soshi Tara, a noted matchmaker. After dinner, the Wolf are welcome by a very polite and well-spoken ronin named Higo, whom they suspect is a young Crab on his warrior’s pilgrimage.

The next day, the Wolf are welcomed by the local administrator, Ide Oyenbilug. She recommends that they visit the village shrine, which contains ancestor shrines to many of the duellists who have fallen in combat, and also a record of every duel fought in the village. The Wolf are suitably impressed by the shrine itself, and the shrine guardian (an elderly woman called Iuchi Mayuso) helps them to find their ancestor’s records and shrines. Takumi is unsurprised to find that one of his ancestor’s ashes are interred here – an ancestor slain in a duel to the first blood by an overzealous Matsu bushi. As he is being shown this shrine, Matsu Tetsuan (the extraverted Matsu from the Soshi winter court) arrives. Various people conspire to keep them apart, suspecting that Tetsuan may be related to the slayer of Takumi’s ancestor. It turns out that she is, but as is normal for Tetsuan, she seems more pleased with the fact than anything else (in stark contrast to Takumi…). During all of this, Nateuko offers his services as a shugenja during the tournament, and Mayuso also asks to see Tomochi at a quieter time. That evening, even more people arrive – Iuchi Ayano Tabito and yojimbo, Kitsune Kauchiro, and many other Scorpion and Unicorn. Koji finds a suitable matchmaker to talk to about arranging Unicorn brides for Takumi and Netsuko.

The next day, the tournament begins! Takumi has the honour of fighting the first duel, against Matsu Tetsuan. He easily defeats her. The results of the other duels are as expected (see end of post for summary). Things are a little more exciting the next day, as Ide Mayoto, sensei of a nearby iajitsu dojo, strikes a heavy and bloody blow by accident against his Soshi opponent. That evening, Ide Nobuno (the local magistrate) delicately enquires as to whether Takumi is likely to fight an illegal duel with Tetsuan, and is relieved to hear that this is very unlikely. The Fox representative asks to speak to Tomochi and informs the Wolf about the “Tournament of the Minor Clans”, which will next be held in the Sparrow lands in two years’ time. The Wolf are invited to attend and contribute, if they so wish. Kauchiro asks to accompany them to Kanazawa where they can discuss the logistics in more detail. That evening, Koji finds out that Takumi’s opponent for tomorrow (Moto Kenta, the arbitrator of duels in Dark Edge Village) bears an old grudge against the Crane. However, it is not enough to help Kenta, and Takumi easily defeats him.

That afternoon, Tomochi takes time to meet with Maysuo, who informs his that one his ancestors (Akodo Misato) lies restlessly in the shrine and wishes to speak with him. Misato died a few centuries ago, around the time of the return of the Unicorn and hates that clan, hence her reluctance to speak to Mayuso. Misato tells Tomochi that she knows where the banner of Akodo Ishari (a lost legendary relic of the Lion) can be found, and charges him to venture into the lands of the Boar Clan to find out. A brief exchange of views occurs, and the conversation finishes on a poor note as Tomochi and Misato argue. That evening, Takumi’s next rival attempts to intimidate him. She succeeds, but it’s not enough to help her in the duel, and Takumi handily defeats her. Netsuko goes to learn about placating the spirits of the restless dead from Mayuso, and Honami finds out that Iuchi Tabito is meeting with the Scorpion matchmaker.

The next day is the final duel of the tournament – Okami Takumi faces Ide Mayoto. Despite being a close match in skill, the older Unicorn’s greater experience in duels allows him to overcome Takumi in a display of skill and control. His prize is a copy of the records of the first Emerald Tournament. After the tournament is over, Tabito takes Tomochi aside to announce that his nephew (Akemi, daimyo of the Iuchi Ayano, and instigator of the Unicorn War) is now engaged to Soshi Yoriki Toshi, daughter of Takehide. He asks permission for Toshi’s bridal procession to pass through Wolf lands. Tomoich accedes, and a hurried Wolf council meeting is held. Now that House Ayano has one of Rokugan’s greatest general’s on side, the merits of trying to marry either Takumi or Netsuko to Akemi’s sister Hitomi are carefully considered…

This summer, the Lion clan declare war on the Dragon clan, and make significant gains against them.

Session 8, Far Traveler Castle - Winter, 1122

Various discussions were had in Dark Edge Village about the topic of marriages for both Netsuko and Takumi. It was eventually decided that Netsuko would marry Iuchi Kutulun Torogene and Takumi would marry Iuchi Ayano Hitomi. Brief hopes of Hitomi leading units of cavalry into battle were squashed when her uncle revealed that a powerful spell on the battlefield had affected her so badly that she couldn’t ride anymore, as she gets violently motion sick.

The Wolf said good-bye to various other guests at the village and held a feast in honour of their hosts, with Takumi presenting an origami duellist to Ide Oyenbilug. Before they left, the ronin Noritada was expelled from the village after losing a duel with Ide Mayoto.

The journey back home was without major incident – Iuchi Ayano Tabito accompanied them to the lands of Soshi Yoriko Takehide, and they also briefly called in on Soshi Murai Rei. Rei passed on the news that the Lion Champion (Akodo Akihisa) had adopted a young ronin after said ronin saved his life on the battlefield (no-one is entirely sure what Akihisa’s biological son makes of this). Everyone was relieved to find out that Ryoji hadn’t sold the homeworld when they did get home.

Once home, preparations were made for the Soshi wedding party (i.e. Takehide’s legion). They arrived, and were hosted, and no one burned down the city at all. Takehide made a few pointed comments about whether or not the Wolf would join them on the battlefield, but Tabito and Honami intervened to keep Takehide and Tomochi apart for the rest of the evening. More than a few sighs of relief were heard when the Scorpion left. News came in that a Crane delegation had been sorely delayed in the Lion lands, and eventually Kakita Inejiro arrived, several months late for the iajitsu tournament, courtesy of Lion ‘hospitality’.

Netsuko then departed to visit his sensei, high in the Dragon mountains. Being able to swim through the earth made avoiding the Lion armies somewhat easier, but Netsuko was saddened to see the destruction that the Lion had wrought upon the Dragonfly lands in particular. He arrived home eventually though, and the peculiar teaching methods of the Dragon were shown.

Meanwhile, a group of Dragonfly refugees arrived, seeking sanctuary. Never one to pass up an opportunity to annoy the Lion, Tomochi granted Tonbo Benkei and his students leave to remain in Kanazawa for as long as they wished. He later further impressed the Dragonfly by telling Bentei that any other Dragonfly were welcome in the city as well, though Tomochi’s initial plan of leading a rescue mission to the Dragonfly lands was firmly rejected by his loyal spouse and advisers.

Finally, everyone made ready to depart for Unicorn Winter Court. The Wolf were invited to the court of the Shinjo (allies of the Ayano) and somewhat gingerly made their way through the lands of the Seishiro. They were made much more welcome by Akemi himself, and Takumi finally had a chance to meet his future bride – a rather quiet and withdrawn young woman. Shortly after the Wolf made it to Far Traveller Castle (the Shinjo castle), Netsuko rejoined his clan mates, having mastered the lessons of his sensei.

Winter Court then began, with the usual array of politics and entertainment. Some familiar faces were present, including the Crab representative from last year’s Soshi court (Yasuki Matabei). No Dragon representatives were there, unsurprisingly, but the Phoenix had sent rather unimportant representatives for such an important court. Takumi was shocked when he eventually noticed that the Crane contingent seemed intent on subtly influencing the Unicorn to keep on fighting – not that they needed much more help. Tomochi joined in with the other generals as they debated battle, and eventually agreed to send some Wolf forces next spring.

In other news, Okami Hoshiko became mother to the first ‘second generation’ of the Wolf Clan; after a difficult and arduous labour, she presented Yukio with a son.

Session 9, War and Shadows - Spring/Summer, 1123

The Unicorn Winter Court draws to a close, and Okami Netusko marries Iuchi Kutulun Torogene while Okami Takumi marries Iuchi Ayano Hitomi. Both couples receive generous gifts, though Shinjo Chun-Tao’s is somewhat thoughtless (she presents all four with fine gaijin horses and sets of riding armour…). Netsuko is somewhat confused by the gift, and is overhead saying that he could outrun any horse over a long distance. His words cause somewhat of a commotion, and Shinjo Jiro challenges him to a race – and the stakes are that if Jiro loses, he will walk into battle, while if Netsuko loses, he will ride into battle. The pair wait until the rest of the guests have departed Far Traveller Castle, and then race to catch them up. It’s a close run thing, but Netsuko wins in the end. Jiro graciously concedes and asks for a rematch next year, promising to bring a finer horse.

The Wolf then return to Kanazawa to collect their troops before the great battle at the end of spring. After some deliberation, Tomochi decides to take all three units under his command (two Wolf, one ronin). Seppun Chiaki is overjoyed to be personally invited to the fight, outside of her capacity as Imperial Commander. Torogene, Netsuko’s wife, asks leave to serve alongside her former family in the battle, claiming that she doesn’t know how to fight alongside bushi (she also refuses the offer of a yojimbo, saying that it won’t be practical).

The Wolf forces arrive, along with legions of troops – Unicorn, Scorpion and ronin – all massed for battle. The night before the battle, Tomochi is asked by Akemi where he would like to serve. After studying the battle map, Tomochi elects to serve on the same flank as the Shinjo daimyo, and to lead the infantry that will be the anvil to her cavalry’s hammer.

The next day dawns, and the two massive armies line up. Takehide out-maneuvers the enemy general at almost every step, and the Wolf earn themselves great glory. They are first called upon to hold the line as the cavalry attempt to break, a task they accomplish with ease. Next, as Shinjo Chun-Tao’s cavalry charge forward, the Wolf see her banner bearer fall. Not wanting the Shinjo daimyo’s banner to fall on the field, they add it to their own (greatly increasing the number of troops who will attack them). At that moment, there is a pause in the battle, as the massed ranks of the Otaku Battle Maidens charge – right into Takehide’s trap. Countless arrows fly, and waves of water sweep towards the cavalry and they desperately attempt to disengage. Having seen this opportunity, Netsuko calls upon the earth kami to raise a great wall to prevent their flight. Standing alone and exposed, Tomochi and Yukio desperately defend him against a trio of elite Battle Maidens. Though both Tomochi and Netsuko are felled, Netsuko manages to call upon the kami in time – and the Battle Maidens are trapped. Takehide calls for every archer to fire, and the Otaku are all but destroyed. The Wolf are retreat from the field, both Tomochi and Netsuko on the edge of death. [Both characters take more Wounds than their maximum. Tomochi takes 1 ‘bonus’ Disadvantage point to stay alive, while Netsuko takes 2. On the plus side, all three earn 17 points of Glory!]. The Wolf are celebrated as great heroes after the battle, and Akemi invites them to witness his formal ascension as Family Daimyo that winter.

On their way home, the Wolf meet Ide Nobuna, the Unicorn magistrate they met at Dark Edge Village. He asks for news of the war, and in return tells that the Emperor has ordered the Lion and Dragon to make peace. The matter of honour which started the war will be resolved by a duel, and Mirumoto Hitomi will represent the Dragon (she’s considered to be the best Dragon duelist for several generations and is a likely successor to the Emerald Champion). On the other side of the Empire, the Crab Clan Champion died the winter just gone, and his son, Hida Higo is now daimyo.

When they finally return to Kanazawa, Tomochi is angered to find 200 Scorpion troops in residence – sent there by his father-in-law, to help defend his wife. Honami pleads innocence, and assures Tomochi that she tried to order them to go home, but that they refused to listen (she’s very convincing). Other parts of the city are more normal, as Kuni Izumi babbles on about having found some mysterious black slime while everyone ignores her. Ever patient, Netsuko says that he will investigate the strange substance. Much to everyone’s surprise, the earth kami confirm Izumi’s story – the black slime was once jade, but has been overwhelmed by the Taint. Netsuko calls for an urgent council, and Tomochi remembers hearing of a maho spell which can corrupt jade in this way. Hoshiko (Yukio’s wife and Clan Magistrate) tells Tomochi that the slime was found on the body of a criminal, and she didn’t investigate too closely, as there has been an on-going war between the criminals of the city since the destruction of the Mountain Ghosts (the bandits back in Session 2), who were heavily involved in the opium trade. She promises to investigate the matter more closely. In the meanwhile, Netsuko travels to the jade mine to ensure that it’s not corrupted (and it isn’t). While he is away, Tomochi suffers from a terrible bout of insomnia and is unable to sleep for three nights.

A week later, Hoshiko makes her report. The criminal originally hailed from Crab lands (perhaps explaining why he carried jade) and was killed after he went beserk in a sake house, after not sleeping for over a week. Judging by the way the black slime was found on his body, the jade was probably corrupted at the time of his death – and so there is a maho-tsukai at loose in the city. For now though, the Wolf can do nothing but keep a close eye out for further trouble.

Session 10, Something Rotten in the City - Summer, 1123

The session begins with a flashback to Takumi's trip to Otosan Uchi, to visit the Kakita school there. He has a conversation with his sensei about Borte, and her students. Takumi is ordered to find out all he can about Borte, and that all of her ronin students must be killed. His sensei will conduct research into the possible identity of Borte, but isn't able to find out anything useful before Takumi has to leave. While in Otosan Uchi, Takumi and Hitomi are invited to the Imperial Court to witness the duel between the Lion and Dragon champions, in order to determine whether the Lion were right to proescute their war against the Dragon so strongly. It's assumed that the Dragon will win, as they have Mirumoto Hitomi on their side. If they do, the Lion will have to make significant repatriations - money the Dragon badly need after their lowlands were devestated. As the duel is announced, the Lion daimyo (Akodo Asahisa) insults the Dragon openly, causing hushed gasps at court. The Lion words mean that the duel will now be to the death, and that either Akodo Asahisa or Mirumoto Kagashi (the current Mirumoto daimyo) will die. Asahisa nominates his adopted son, Akodo Kenburo, to fight on his behalf. As Kenburo and Hitomi face off, Takumi can see that Kenburo is more skilled than he'd first though, but that Hitomi is clearly his superior. However, a moment of hestitation overcomes Hitomi, and Kenburo strikes first - killing her instantly. Her death, and the death of the Mirumoto daimyo, mean that the Dragon clan are even further weakened, while the Lion are now the most powerful clan in the Empire.

Back in Kanazawa, the Dragonfly sensei (Tonbo Benkai) tells Tomochi that he'll be leaving soon, as it's now safe to return to Dragonfly lands. As a gift to Tomochi, he offers to divine the future on his behalf. Tomochi asks Benkai to foretell the future of the city of Kanazawa itself. In a long ritual on the banks of the lake in front of Kyuden Usagi, Benkai calls upon the water kami to show him the echoes of the future. According to Benkai, the kami see an unknown foe striking at Kanazawa, drawn here by a historical event. Their path is wreathed with evil, and they speak with words of blood. The kami don't know how soon they'll be here, or what will attract them to the city, but Benkai assures the Wolf that the Bloodspeakers will strike at Kanazawa. The visions of the kami also show a great and unexpected honour will be visited upon the city, though again details and timelines are lacking.

Several members of the Wolf’s ruling council then start to suffer with bouts of insomnia, following in their daimyo’s footsteps. No-one was quite sure of the cause of these strange episodes. In other strange news, many of the Okami guards reported seeing a young girl, dressed like a fine noble lady, wandering the castle at night. Various members of the council attempted to find her, but none managed more than a few glances of the pretty child.

Meanwhile, Okami Hoshiko no Soshi was following up on the murder case where degraded jade was found. She worked out that a criminal lord named Old Dog had gained the most territory recently. The Wolf council decided to send Hoshiko to arrest one of Old Dog’s lieutenants, in an attempt to get information from him. However, the arrest went badly wrong – the criminal escaped and Hoshiko was badly wounded. The Wolf, and Emerald Magistrate, responded in force, attacking the houses of known criminals over the city. Eventually, the lieutenant was captured by the forces of the Wolf, and taken for questioning. As the miscreant was taken away, Yukio searched the house from top to bottom, leaving no stone unturned. His diligence was rewarded when he found a hidden room! The room contained a go board with four stones upon it, and each stone had tiny kanji written in blood on it.

Realising that this must be the work of maho-tsukai, the Emerald Magistrate was sent for. Shiba Hisaki and his yoriko, Kuni Izumi soon arrived. Izumi soon worked out what the go board represented – each stone was attuned to one significant person in the city, and allowed their movements and activities to be traced as a kansen followed each person. The room was cleansed, and all retreated to a temple for further cleansing, to remove all traces of maho from them.

After discussion with Izumi, she pointed out that the mysterious little girl could be a Pekkle no Oni, a type of demon which masquerades as a child. Not wanting any demons creeping around his castle, Tomochi organised a hunting party. The Wolf managed to track the girl without any trouble, and there was a general relief when Netsuko’s Jade Strike spell caused her to cry out in pain. The oni was easily dispatched, though the demon exploded into a cloud of tainted blood which fell over all nearby. Thankfully, no one was tainted at all!

As everyone recovered, the investigation into the maho-tsukai who summoned the oni continued. Eventually, the heroic Shiba Hisaki captured the vile criminal, and his execution removed all presence of maho from the city.

Next on the agenda was preparing a suitable gift for Iuchi Ayano Akemi, new daimyo of the Iuchi. After some deliberation, it was decided that the ronin Aragashi would be commissioned to write the start of Akemi’s great story. If the gift went down well, the ronin would be rewarded with a place in the Okami clan. The Wolf then departed for Iuchi lands, but not before a son was born to Tomochi and Honami.


The Furthest Away
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Session 11, Unexpected Guests - Winter 1123 to Summer 1124

Unicorn Winter Court was largely uneventful, as the Iuchi focused on internal politics. Ide Nobuna (Unicorn magistrate met in Dark Edge village) came to speak to Yukio about the Scorpion lands, as he’d been assigned as an Emerald Magistrate there. Yukio agreed to travel with Nobuna and his ronin yojimbo, Togusa in the spring. Iuchi Akemi arranged for the sensei of the main Iuchi shugenja school to help his sister Hitomi; the sensei revealed that the water kami which was causing her motion sickness was now part of her, and he wasn’t sure how to safely extract it. The other Iuchi shugenja school specialises more in the binding of kami, but unfortunately, their leading water specialist was killed during the war. The sensei of this school revealed that if the name of the water kami within Hitomi could be found, they might be able to persuade it leave her. Takumi also asked the Asahina representative (Asahina Eiko) to contact her family, to see if they could help.

Shortly after midwinter, a letter arrived from Kanazawa. Chouko had written to tell Tomochi that:
* A ronin army had arrived and were staying the city
* His mother-in-law (Soshi Murai Rei) was also visiting and was talking about sending for her armies in spring to ‘cleanse’ Kanazawa.

After some discussion, the Wolf decided to spend the rest of Winter Court with Akemi, but to travel home as quickly as possible afterwards to deal with the matter before Rei invaded Kanazawa again.

The journey home was swift, and unfortunately the ronin army (Ritsuko's Eagles) were still in the city. Both Chouko and Ryoji reported on what had been happening to Tomochi. Ryoji was worried that the ronin would severly damage Kanazawa’s main trade in bulk goods, and leave the city in a bad state economically after they eventually departed. No-one was keen on the idea of trying to push the ronin out, but there was no way to afford hiring the ronin either. Eventually, they decided to offer a partial hire of the ronin to help patrol Wolf lands. The leader of the ronin, Ritsuko, seemed disinclined to take them up on the offer, until Netsuko offered to help heal her forces. At this point, she agreed to their offer, though not without charging a high price in koku as well.

Tomochi informed his mother-in-law that her help wouldn’t be needed. Rei remained convinced that this was a bad decision, and told Tomochi that her forces would remain ready on the border. Honami also wasn’t reassured, and at Tomochi’s suggestion, left Kanazawa to stay with her parents (taking their newborn son with her). There was also a touching family reunion between Tomochi and his sister, who warned him not to trust Aragashi (the ronin bard, who is now sworn to the Wolf).

At this point, Tomochi’s sister, Rei, Honami, her child, Yukio, Ide Nobuna and Togusa all departed. Yukio, Nobuna and Togusa travelled together deep into Scoprion lands, but their trip had a tragic end. One night, while guesting in a small village, a passing Crab merchant (Yasuki Hiro) revealed that Togusa was no ronin, but a heimen masquerading as a ronin. Reluctantly, and urged on by the 100% samurai Yukio, Nobuna enacted justice and slew his yojimbo. The young Unicorn seemed devastated by the event, and parted from Yukio soon afterwards, in very low spirits.

Yukio completed his journey safely, and was one of the first students to learn the fourth rank from Tsuruchi.

Meanwhile, in Kanazawa, the plan to deal with the ronin seemed to be mostly working, and in late spring, the Wolf party made ready to leave. Their journey through Scorpion lands was uneventful, and they met with the Wasp to continue their journey. By the time they had arrived, the representatives from the other minor clans were also present. The leader of the Mantis (Yoritomo) introduced himself, and immediately began talking about his great plans to bring the minor clans closer together (he seemed rather miffed that the Wasp, Sparrow and Fox had gone ahead with this without consulting him). There were a few days of preparation, during which time they met representatives from the other clans. Tonbo Toryo thanked the Wolf again for sheltering their sensei, and the heir to the Sparrow spent much time talking to Netsuko about what it’s like to live in a city.

The competition itself took place other three days, with the Wolf event on the morning of the third day. Everyone gathered to watch the best of the minor clans, and the boldest ronin who entered. No-one managed to catch Netsuko during the Wolf event, but it was considered to be an entertaining spectacle by the observers. The eventual winner of the tournament was from the Falcon Clan, who triumphed in the final with a spine-chilling ghost story. His prize included a fine origami falcon from the Okami Takumi.

One of the other competitors was Heichi Chokei, who claimed to be the last of the Boar. He placed well in the tournament, and Tomochi spoke to him about their mission to the lands of the Boar. Chokei revealed what he knew of his ancestor’s lands (mostly bad things) but begged to accompany them. The Wolf decided to speak with the Falcon before departing however, as Chokei spoke of strange spirits (shakoki dogu) who dwelled in the mountains.

Session 12, Into the Haunted Castle - Summer 1124

Before leaving the Sparrow lands, the Wolf spoke to two ronin who had placed well in the tournament - Bato and Saito. A third ronin who distinguished herself (Motoko) was recruited by the Mantis clan. Both Bato and Saito agreed to join the Wolf, and formed part of the small honour guard.

A messenger then arrived from Crab lands, with a message for the Wolf, the Falcon and the Mantis. All three clans were invited to the Hida court that winter, in order to witness the marriage of Hida Higo (new daimyo) and ... Matsu Tetsuan. Testuan wrote a personal note to the Wolf, making it clear that the invitation was largely her doing. This news caused rather a lot of consternation, as Higo had been due to marry Yasuki Tokezohime, daughter of the Yasuki daimyo (the two were betrothed as infants). The southern minor clans were rather concerned that this could lead to war near to their lands. The Wolf then sent a messenger home, informing everyone that he'd be a bit late back, and also a message to Takumi's parents, who own land nearby. However, before heading to enjoy the comforts of the Crane, the Wolf headed south, into the Twilight Mountains, in search of the lands of the lost clan of the Boar. With them went Heichi Chokei, last survivor of the Boar (or delusional ronin, depending upon your take on it).

The Crab lord (Hida Honda) who guarded the border reluctantly let them pass through, clearly convinced they were heading to their deaths. Almost as soon as they entered the lands of the Boar, they came across a small clay figurine - a shakoki dogu, which appeared to stare at them intently. Heeding the warnings of the Falcon and Chokei, the Wolf did not touch it.

The journey through the Boar Lands was not entirely safe, and the party was nearly overcome by an rockslide, which came down from nowhere (oddly enough, a nearby shakoki dogu was unaffected by it). The night was marred by strange dreams and nightmares, and when they finally reached Boar Castle, one of the statues began to sing, an eery and painful dirge of warning.

Brave heroes to the core, the nobles of the Wolf struck on and entered the dread castle. Almost immediately, the sense of taint was all around them, and small spirits of animate blood (kekkai) were everywhere, occasionally darting forward in mock attacks. Ignoring the guard tower, the Wolf headed for the main keep. They climbed upstairs, and soon located the shrine chamber of the Boar, which housed their greatest relics. Before they had time to take stock of the room, two ghastly dead figures struck out in attack.

The fight was hard fought, but in the end, the Wolf were triumphant and slew the foul beings. They quickly claimed their prizes - the lost banner, two fine mai-chong and an elaborate suit of armour (Chokei took the ancestral remains of the founder of the Boar clan). Beating a speedy exit, the Wolf withdrew from the castle. The strange clay statue was still there, and the sight of it caused Yukio to lose his mind for a moment, though the quick actions of Takumi prevented any grave dishonour.

Hida Honda was rather surprised to see them return - a week or more had passed for him, versus the few days experienced by the Wolf. The Wolf did not overstay their welcome, and soon departed to guest with Takumi's family. While their, his mother mentioned that some in the Crane would perhaps use the upset within the Crab to secure a return of the Yasuki - a prospect unlikely to succeed at any goal bar bloodshed.

Session 13, Crab and Lion - Winter, 1124 - Autumn, 1125
Bullet point version:
* The Wolf attend Crab winter court, all goes fairly smoothly. Tensions are high between the Hida and the Yasuki, and many of the Hida speak disdainfully of the Yasuki
* Tomochi advises Hida Higo to support the plan of the Kaiu daimyo, and take advantage of the lull in Shadowlands activity to focus on their defenses, rather than the plan of Hiruma Nobunaga (daimyo of the Hiruma) to retake Kyuden Hiruma
* Takumi wins a duel against Hida Honda (a different man to the guard from last session) who 'accidentally' strikes him after Takumi has already hit him
* The Wolf travel by sea to Otosan Uchi, and then up river to Akodo lands. En route, they pass by Ritsuko's Eagles (the ronin army that was in Kanazawa) who are headed for Crab lands on the assumption there'll be war
* Okami Tomochi no Akodo presents the ancestral Lion banner to Akodo Asihisa, Lion Clan Champion. Asihisa thanks him warmly, and presents Tomochi with a warfan which belonged to Asihisa's great-grandfather.
* Tomochi goes to train! Everyone else goes home.
* As the ronin have gone, Tomochi 'asks' his wife to return home, and also to come visit him in Lion lands so that his son can see them. See happily agrees, overjoyed to see her husband again.
* Back home, Okami Torogene (Netsuko's wife, and a shugenja) reports that they have a problem with the kami of the city. The Soshi and the Iuchi each bound various kami to obey them, and these orders still stand. The net result is that any Soshi/Iuchi shugenja will be able to get far more from the kami of Kanazawa than the Wolf shugenja can.
* Also, the shrine to Inari (Fortune of Rice) is finally ready for dedication.

Session 14, How to End a Marriage - Autumn 1125 - Summer 1126
The Wolf decide that it's finally time to host a proper Winter Court, and so invite various friends, allies and neighbours to attend. While they wait for their guests to arrive, they start on appeasing the air kami (using the power of theatre!), making sure that the earth kami under the castle are nice and quiet, and rebuilding the city walls properly (which will also make the earth kami happy). Takumi's parents are the first guests to arrive, but there's a minor 'incident' on the night of their arrival, as the gaki reappears! Once more, the bravery of Netsuko and Yukio (plus Okami Daichi and Jiro) is enough to send her back to the spirit world before she can cause too much harm.

The other guests arrive, including:
* Iuchi Seishiro Osomo, a no-name courtier sent by the Iuchi Seishiro
* Iuchi Ayano Tabito, uncle of Ayano
* Ide Mayoto, sensei of Dark Edge Village and winner of duelling competition there
* Ide Borte, a Ide-trained courtier met at previous Winter Courts
* Tamori Satsuki, a Mirumoto-trained bushi and distant relative of Netsuko
* Ikoma Kaito, nephew of Ikomo O-chi, the nearest Lion neighbour of the Wolf
* Tsuruchi Tokai, a bounty hunter sent by Tsuruchi on behalf of the Wasp
* Soshi Murai Rei and Naraji, Tomochi's parents-in-law

Several competitions and events are run, including an artistry competition (judged by Takumi's father, and won by the storytelling of Kaito), an archery competition (unsurprisingly won by Yukio) and an iajitsu tournament (won by Ide Matoko). During the court, Tabito casually mentions that his nephew would be interested in a closer alliance, and there's some discussion about the wisdom of that. Takumi's mother spends winter arranging a suitable marriage for Chouko; to the younger brother of Ikomo Kaito, giving the Wolf an alliance with the Lion at last.

In spring, Netsuko rededicated the shrine to Inari, catching sight of the spirit of Usagi Miyoko. News also arrived, that Soshi Saibankan Hokichi had finally died, complete with an invitation to the funeral. Hokichi had left no clear heir, and so a succession dispute seemed very likely. At the funeral, the Wolf mostly kepy back, hoping to avoid attracting any attention to themselves. On the way back, Iuchi Ayano Akemi asked Tomochi if he could march his cavalry forces through the Wolf lands to support Takehide's war; revealing that Takehide would support the claim of one of Hokichi's grand-daughters (Kaede) over her mother (Ai). Akemi also asked if the Wolf wished to ride to war alongside Takehide, and was pleased to hear that the Wolf would ride forth! However, Honami was rather less pleased, as her family (the Murai) were on the other side of the battle lines. She and Tomochi parted on bad terms, and Tomochi ordered the guards to watch her and to ignore her orders.

Iuchi Akemi arrived, and Wolf departed as part of his legion of cavalry. The first battle was fought in the lands of the Soshi Murai, as they held the pass leading to the rest of the Soshi lands. Tomochi advised a bold strike, to cut off the Murai armies before they reached the castle fortifying the pass. The first phase of the battle is closely fought, but the Iuchi hold the upper hand when the forces in the castle join the battle. The Soshi seize the initiative, but all is undone when Takumi strikes down Murai Nariji in a duel, killing his lord's father-in-law in one stroke. Murai Rei reluctantly surrenders, and is taken with the Iuchi as they ride to join Takehide. The two forces unite, and make ready to face the rest of the Soshi in a final battle. Takehide's forces are larger and better trained, and so it is no surprise that the battle is swiftly resolved in his favour - aided by the mighty shot of Yukio, which takes down Soshi Saibankan Ai, and the fall of the Saibankan banner to Takehide's men.

In the aftermath of the battle, Soshi Saibankan Kaede (now married to Takehide's son, Tishi) is made daimyo of the Saibankan - while Takehide becomes daimyo of the Soshi family as a whole, accepting the fealty of all the lords of that family, including Murai Rei. The glory earned by the Wolf is undercut by a letter from Kanazawa, from the head of the Wolf guard there. Okami Nobu reluctantly reports that Honami has fled from the city, taking her son with her. The guards tried but failed to track her, and the manner of her escape suggested that she was a shugenja. Honami and Tomochi's son was the heir to Kanazawa, and even if Tomochi names a new heir, the boy will always have a very strong claim on the city; enough to make declaring war to support him as a daimyo a practical proposition for anyone seeking to take Kanazawa.

Session 15, The Fall of Soshi Takehide - Autumn 1126 - Spring 1128
The victorious Wolf army return home to a warm welcome, as everyone wants to hear how the battle went. Hoshiko asks her husband to name some of his memorable ancestors, so she can arrange for a play to be performed. After some deliberation, Yukio recalls that one of his ancestors (a ronin named Jiro) fought in a battle against the returning Ki Rin clan.

In autumn, a group of monks from the Order of the Nameless Gift arrive and ask permission to establish a monastery in the city. Okami Hitomi spends much time there with a young monk named Yoto, who thinks he may be able to calm the cursed water kami within her.

That winter, the Wolf head to the court of Soshi Takehide to celebrate his victory, and rise in rank to family daimyo. Takumi distinguished himself by finally winning an iajitsu tournament, defeating the yojimbo of Bayushi Shoujo in the process, Yukio made friends with Matsu Hanshiro, a Bayushi-trained courtier who was very interested in the Wolf clan! The Wolf were also warned (by Kitsuki Taro, an Emerald Magistrate) that a heretic order (the Disciples of the Reborn) had risen in the Dragon lands, and that they should beware.

When they returned home, the Wolf were disturbed to hear that the gaki had arisen again, and only the bravery of the monks of the Nameless Gift had managed to put her down.

1127 was a quiet year. Takumi worked on renovating the castle gardens (in conjunction with Kakita Aramasu, an artisan sent by Takumi's father); Tomochi drilled and trained their troops; and Netsuko traveled the lands of the Wolf, healing the sick and tending to the heimen farmers. Yukio unexpectedly ran into his brother, Masehiro. Masehiro was passing through Kanazawa en route to the heretics in Dragon lands, and would not be dissuaded. He also condemned Yukio for living a life of luxury while their parents struggled as peasant farmers. After his brother left, Yukio spent time away from Kanazawa, travlling to see the various villages and small settlements.

In winter, the Wolf visited the court of Ikomo O-chi, daimyo of their nearest Lion neighbours and uncle of Chouko's husband Kaito. Early into winter, Matsu Hanshiro asked Takumi to act as champion for Soshi Juroji when she accused Soshi Takedhide of murering her grandfather (and Takehide's lord) Hokichi. After much deliberation, Takumi agreed. Juroji explained how Hokichi's concubine Ginko had poisoned him, and implicated Takehide. Juroji tracked the poison to Takehide's lands, and also found that Takehide had introduced Ginko to Hokichi. Finally, she found out that Takehide is Ginko's father. Juroji hadn't asked Hanshiro to speak to Takumi, but accepted his help nonetheless. She suspected that Hanshiro was acting on behalf of the Otomo, and was seeking to gain favour with them.

Finally, the day came when Juroji made her accusation, Takumi stood forward to represent her, and defeated Takehide easily. Seeing trouble on the horizon, Netsuko was dispatched to inform Iuchi Akemi, but he arrived after the news (Shouko, Takehide's son was with him in Lion lands, and is a shugenja). When they returned to Kanazawa, they were told that the gaki had risen again and had slain three Wolf samurai before being defeated.


The Furthest Away
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Session 16, In Which Takumi Loses an Eye - Spring - Summer 1128

An Imperial Visit
Early in the year, a Miya herald (Miya Riko) visited the city, carrying the betrothal contract between Okami Tomochi and Seppun Li. Among Riko’s entourage was the ronin shugenja, ‘Heichi’ Chokei, who travelled to the Boar lands with the Wolf several years previously. Riko left the contract with the Wolf to review, while she left to investigate a ruined Boar holding in the nearby mountains.

Supernatural Shenanigans
Netsuko realised that there were considerably fewer air kami in Kyuden Usagi than normal. After some straightforward conversation, he established that the air kami were fleeing the cursed spot in the great hall, where the mysterious ‘bad event’ of 1120 had started. Netsuko also asked the monks in the city to see if they could predict when the gaki might next return.

Scorpion Politics
Iuchi Tabito came to visit, and to ask permission for his nephew’s forces to move through Wolf lands. He also hinted that Akemi had spent some political capital in forcing Soshi Yoriko Shouko to ally with the Wolf (instead of Soshi Murai Rei). Tabito then departed for Murai lands, as a last-ditch effort to either ally with her, or to keep her neutral. This attempt failed – Rei instead took Tabito hostage!

The Wolf invited Akemi to stay with them while they attempted to resolve the issue. The Murai forces were striking southwards at the Yoriko, who were also under attack from the Saibankan. Without Akemi’s forces to pressure Rei, the Yoriko would be forced to surrender. After extensive discussion, it was decided to mount a mission to close the pass, using Netsuko’s mastery of earth magic.

Netsuko (along with two Iuchi shugenja; Kenzo and Isamu) headed southwards, using magic to evade the Soshi patrols. They did encounter one squad, but they were defeated. Netsuko, Kenzo and Isamu then called upon the mountain to awake, and a massive avalanche closed the pass.

House Yoriko was then able to hold out until Bayushi Shoujo entered the field, forcing House Saibankan to admit defeat. Soshi Saibankan Tishi sacked several large towns and much of the farmland in the Yoriko provinces before surrendering however.

A Trip
In mid-summer, Miyo Riko had not yet returned from her ‘brief’ trip. The Wolf also heard (via Aragashi), that a ronin named Ougon was assembling a force of ronin in the mountains to the south, to loot a rich ruin. Fearing that the two might be connected, the Wolf departed with 100 samurai.

The Wolf safely reached the foothills of the mountains Riko had passed through when they met with Ougon’s forces. A brief chat with the ronin left the Wolf confident that he had no knowledge of the Miya’s whereabouts – and also confident that he planned to attack them! Despite seeing the ambush coming, the Wolf forces were hard pressed by the bandit’s in the opening phase of the battle. Tomochi was able to rally the troops though, and he, Takumi and Netsuko slew Ougon, causing the bandits to rout! The victory was not without cost though – Takumi lost an eye to Ougon’s wickedly sharp ono (a two-handed axe), and one third of the Wolf samurai were dead.

Undeterred, the Wolf pressed on and struck deeper into the mountains. One day, Netsuko and two scouts were pressing ahead. They were most surprised to be met by a group of armed samurai who wore no mon but each wielded a mai-chong. The other samurai insisted that the three Wolf return as ‘guests’, and as they were outnumbered many times, the three agreed. As they were lead further along the path, another group of these samurai passed – all wearing the mon of the extinct Boar clan! The leader of the Boar ordered Netsuko to return with him, as he strode to meet with the Okami leadership.

A tense negotiation followed, as Heichi Jomei (the Boar leaded) insisted that the Wolf return with him as ‘guests’. Reluctantly, Tomochi agreed and the Wolf were lead onwards. The session ended with the Wolf entering a secluded valley in the mountains – complete with farms, mine workings, a small town and a castle. Oh, and also tombs containing the un-cremated bodies of dead Boar.

Lion News
In early summer, Doji Hachemon launches a suprise attack on a Lion city, and wins! Later that summer, the Lion Champion (Akodo Asahisa) shaves his head and retires, naming his biological son Masahisa as the new Lion Champion.

Session 17, Treachery! - Summer to Autumn 1128
The session began with a brief flashback to Kanazawa, around the same time as the Wolf met with the ronin force. Yukio was informed that a second ronin force was headed for the same mountain range as the Wolf forces, and set off to warn his lord immediately. He was also given a message for Netsuko by the Monks of the Nameless Gift - they had prophesied when the gaki would return (alas, the monks would not be in Kanazawa at that point, as they were about to head off on a spiritual retreat with the rest of their order). Yukio's journey to retrace his lord's footsteps was fairly straightforward, and he rendezvoused with the three Wolf samurai sent by Tomochi to inform the rest of the clan of his whereabouts.

Meanwhile, the rest of the Wolf had been made 'welcome' by the remnant of the Boar Clan. Miya Riko and Heichi Chokei had both been guested as well, though Chokei had taken to the situations rather better than the Miya. Riko warned the Wolf that the leader of the Boar (Heichi Jomei) was a stubborn and prideful man, and to trying to browbeat him into releasing them. Chokei asked Netsuko to speak with the earth kami of the plateau, who warned the shugenja that an impurity was approaching from outside. Takumi spent his time assessing the Boar court, and saw that Jomei's son, Utsuru, was a very different man than his father. At this point, Yukio arrived, bringing his news with him.

Takumi and Yukio spoke with Utsuru, entertaining the young Boar with tales of the Empire, and the wonders outside. Meanwhile, Tomochi and Netsuko went to speak with the head of monks in the Lair, to see if she had heard warnings from the spirits. The net result of these conversations was a full and frank exchange of views within the leadership of the Boar. In the end, Jomei admitted that the Wolf's help would be needed to ward off these threats, and that the Boar could no longer remain hidden. Takumi immediately departed, with Heichi Utsuru and Miya Riko, to bring word to the Emperor at the Tournament of the Emerald Champion.

The rest of the clan made ready for war. The second ronin force was far larger than expected, but the Wolf and Boar alliance was enough to hold them at bay during the first day of battle. At the start of the second day, a terrible thunderstorm struck, and the dead rose from the tombs of the Boar! The leaders of the Wolf (plus Okami Katsu, one of their more experienced samurai) immediately headed towards the tombs to stop this menace. As they closed with the dead, the Wolf saw several cloaked and masked human figures within the dead - clearly maho-tsukai! The sharp eyes of Tomochi were not tricked by the rain or their cloaks, and recognised the leader of the maho-tsukai as Sotorii, abbot of the monks of the Order of the Nameless Gift in Kanazawa!

Enraged by their treachery, the Wolf struck, After a long and arduous battle through the rain-soaked woods, Tomochi slew Sotorii and his three acolytes. However, another group of maho had raised enough dead to threaten the castle, and the final chapter of the battle took place that afternoon. The dead were lured into a courtyard, and the kami were called upon to purify their flesh. In the end, the ronin, maho and zombies were defeated, and the Boar reluctantly put their ancestor's remains to the torch.

Session 18, Portals and Politics - Winter 1128 - Autumn 1130

Winter 1128: Netsuko arrived back at Kanazawa, and immediately instigated a search of the temple/dojo of the Order of the Nameless Gift. Okami Hoshiko uncovered a hidden chest, containing scrolls written in a mysterious cipher. The scrolls were taken by the abbot of the Order of Shinsei (de facto leader of the monks in Kanazawa) as he protested about samurai interference in temple business.

A message then arrived from the castle - the gaki had arisen! Netsuko, Hoshiko, Okami Kitsu and Kuni Izumi headed to the castle. The spirit appeared even stronger than before, but drawn by an inexorable current towards the great hall of Kyuden Usagi. Despite the sacrifice of Kuni Izumi, the spirit was not slain in time, and vanished into the portal to Jigoku.

Meanwhile, Takumi arrived at Winter Court with Miya Riko and Heichi Utsuru. Riko set the bureaucratic wheels in motion, and Seppun Takada was appointed to resolve the matter of the Boar prior to an official announcement. Meanwhile, Takumi spoke with his sensei and was given more information about Borte (the ronin teaching Kakita techniques in Unicorn lands). Takumi entered the great tournament, and was delighted to overcome a fellow Kakita and member of the Kenshinzen. Sadly his luck didn't last, and a vastly skilled Mirumoto defeated him in the next round. That Mirumoto went on to the final round, but lost - to Akodo Kenburo!

The end of Winter Court was marked by a great ceremony - Akodo Kenburo was offiically appointed as Emerald Champion, Akodo Masahisa became Lion daimyo, and Hantei Kazuo (the Emperor's younger brother) became Imperial Advisor. Finally, Heichi Utsuru was presented and the official news of the return of the Boar clan was released. During the presentation, the Emperor casually asked Takumi about Kanazawa. The bold young ruler then decided that the Winter Court of 1130 would be held in Kanazawa, as he had a great desire to see this city for himself!

1129: During 1129, numerous preparation for the upcoming court were made. Takumi worked on the artistic side of things, while Yukio took messages to nearby allies. In order to reduce the chance of an oni gatecrashing, Tomochi sent word to Hida Tetsuan no Matsu, asking if she could lend him some Kuni witchhunters. Even eager to please. Tetsuan dispatched Kuni Saito and a handful of witch-hunters. Working in conjunction with Netsuko and an Okami guardsman, a kansen lurking in the palace was trapped in an elaborate box which was locked in a vault in the jade mine. The Wolf Winter Court of 1129 was an odd affair, as the clan interviewed countless performers and artisans for next winter.

1130: Preparations continued apace, and the Kuni finally sealed the portal in the Great Hall.

Session 19, Imperial Winter Court - Winter 1130

Pre-Winter Court events
Iuchi Ayano Tabito visited the city en route to Lion lands, and advised the Wolf of the importance of courting the Crane, because if the Crane announced they were pleased with the Court, everyone would follow their lead.

The notes found in the Temple of the Nameless Gift were finally deciphered. They were records of accounts, tracking money spent on the ronin army which threatened the Boar. The money was given the monks by the White Dragon opium smuggling cartel, which had arrived in Kanazawa a few years previously. Unfortunately, the cartel had fled the city by the time the note was deciphered. Their only remnants were the odd hired thug, and nothing more could be found out about them. Shiba Hisaki passed on what details were available to the rest of the Emerald Magistrates.

In order to finance their court, the Wolf agreed to:
* Marry five of thier children to the merchants of Kanazawa, in return for a medium-sized gift of money
* Tithe the produce of the jade mine to the Crab for a decade, in return for half a small loan
* Ask the Boar to gift them half a small loan, in return for their help against the ronin and maho-tsukai

This money, in addition to own cash reserves, allowed the Wolf to host a large court (i.e. a bit small by Imperial standards but not crazily so). The outlay stripped the Clan's coffers, and income will be reduced for a decade due to the Crab tithe.

Finally, the Lion daimyo (Akodo Masahisa) announced with less a month's notice that he would attend the court after all.

The Court
The following notables attended the Winter Court of 1130:
* Crab: The Crab daimyo, Hida Higo, attended with his wife, Tsuneko, and various Yasuki courtiers
* Crane: The Crane daimyo, Doji Akane, attended with senior representatives from every Crane family and school. Okami Takumi no Kakita's family were part of the Crane delegation
* Dragon: The Kitsuki daimyo, Kitsuki Tatsuya, attended, along with several Tamori.
* Lion: The Lion daimyo, Akodo Masahisa, attended, along with the Ikoma daimyo (Ryochi) and your nearest Ikomo neighbour, O-Chi. Tomochi's youngest sister, Nano, was part of the delegation.
* Phoenix: Asako Tsutomo represented the Phoenix, along with Isawa Sachiko, the Master of Fire.
* Scorpion: Bayushi Shoju, the Clan daimyo attended. With him were Tomochi's sister and brother-in-law, and many of the Soshi (including both of Takehide's sons, who warred for his inheritance).
* Unicorn: Iuchi Ayano Akemi represented the Unicorn, along with his wife and family.
* Minor Clans: every minor clan sent a representative (only known NPCs are listed below, but they all sent someone):
** The Boar sent Heichi Utsuru and Heichi Chokei
** The Mantis lord, Yoritomo represented his clan
** Tsuruchi represented the Wasp
* Imperials: Hantei the 38th was accompanied by his wife, the Empress Sachiko (neice of Doji Akane) and his brother and heir, Hantei Kazuo. The Emerald Champion, Akodo Kenburo, guarded the Imperial family.

Almost every day of the court was marked by some event, competition or tournament, but only the significant ones are highlighted below.

Once everyone had arrived, court formally started, as Okami Tomochi stepped aside to let the Emperor take charge. The start of the court was marked by a great feast in celebration. Prior to the feast, Takumi was invited to tea with the Crane daimyo, while Yukio was invited to tea with the Scorpion daimyo. Doji Akane made it clear that the Crane wanted a very artistically focussed court (i.e. one where they could show up the Lion), and wanted the Crane-sponsored play to given a good slot on the timetable. Shoju dropped several references to the political struggle between the Crane and Lion, in the wake the Lion taking the Emerald Championship, though Yukio suspected that his courtiers would have preferred their lord remain silent.

During this feast, the Wolf daimyo and govenors were seated on the main table, along with the Great Clan daimyo and the Imperial family. Hantei the 38th was revealed to be an impulsive young man, who boldly reinterpreted Rokugani social mores (i.e. acted in a way that would've got any normal samurai in lots of trouble). Takumi's sharp eyes noticed several worrying facts: Hantei Kazuo was always at the ready to step into any conversation involving his brother, and the Empress Sachiko was scared of her husband. Late during the meal, the Emperor asked Hida Tsuneko how she found life in Crab lands, and she told how much she enjoyed the opportunity to serve on the wall, as "without the Crab, there would be no Empire". The Emperor rather took offense at these words, but his brother was able to smooth things over. Meanwhile, Tomochi curiously observed the hairpins of the Asako courtier doing their best to levitate out of her headdress.

The first great event was the archery contest - where Yukio finally realised his ambition, and won a tournament! He even managed to defeat his sensei, Tsuruchi, in the final round. After the competition, Yoritomo warmly congratulated Yukio, and asked if the Wolf could arrange an audience with the Emperor. Tomochi reluctantly agreed, but only if the Mantis could get someone else to sponsor them (so that if Yoritomo did something stupid, it wouldn't reflect on the Wolf). Yoritomo secured the patronage of the Scorpion for the meeting (after accidentally bumping into a mostly-alone Bayushi Shoju one day). The Wolf did not attend the meeting, but their servants reported that the Son of Heaven was greatly displeased when Yoritomo asked for a new family name, and threated to destroy the Mantis if Yoritomo bothered him again.

The Wolf spent some time at court speaking with the Boar, and an informal alliance was made. Utsuru promised to return with his father later that year to agree the final details. The Wolf put Utsuru in contact with Takumi's mother, a noted matchmaker. After the archery competition, Yukio was also busy matchmaking and he arranged a wedding with the Boar with Tomochi's youngest sister, Nano,

In mid-winter, the dance competition was held, were Netsuko repeated his dance for Inari. Though technically magnificent, the prize was awarded to a Kakita artisan, who danced with such emotion that it moved to judges almost to tears. Afterwards, the Master of Fire congratulated Netsuko on his dance, and casually asked if Netsuko could arrange a meeting with the Falcon clan. As they spoke, Netsuko was disconcerted to see the colour of the Isawa's hair change, from black to white. Tomochi dutifully arranged a meal with the Phoenix and Falcon, and in the general mingling afterwards, Isawa Sachiko spoke to Morito (the Falcon representative). No-one overhead their words, but an agreement of some kind was made, and Morito was observed smiling slighly afterwards. [GM Note: I think you mostly worked this one out, but the Phoenix were plagued by trickster spirits and needed the help of the Falcon, anti-spirit specialists, to deal with the matter. This is why weird things kept on happening to the Phoenix]

On the winter solstice, Kyuden Usagi was formally re-named Kyuden Okami, in a ceremony led by the Emperor. After the ceremony, Iuchi Akemi spoke with Tomochi, and informed him that the Lion and Unicorn were about to ally, and that the Unicorn daimyo, Shinjo Chun-Tao, would be arriving soon to finalise the details. Akemi also mentioned that both daimyo wanted to speak with the Wolf, given the logstic importance of Kanazawa. Masahisa met with Tomochi, and made the terms of the alliance clear: both the Unicorn and Lion would respect the independance of Kanazawa, and defend the city against threats; in return, the Wolf would allow both clans to freely move their armies through Wolf lands.

The iajitsu tournament was judged by Kakita Sakai, Mirumoto Imai and Ide Matoko (from Dark Edge Village). Takumi won the tournament, narrowly beating his Shiba-trained foe in the last round. The kite flying competition was one of the last events, and though he performed well, Okami Tomochi didn't manage to win.

The Emerald Champion sponsored a play at court, on the establishment of Rokugan's legal code by Soshi Saibankan and Doji [blah]. Kenburo honoured Shiba Hisaki (the local Emerald Magistrate) with a seat next to him during the play. Afterwards, Kenburo spoke to Tomochi about his dedication to stamping out corruption within Rokugan, in a barely veiled threat. This matched with information obtained by Yukio prior to the start of court - the Emerald Champion had executed a corrupt lord, along with his entire family.

A week before the end of court, there was yet another great gathering. During this evening, a momentary lull in the converstaion coincided with Bayushi Shoju speaking loudly and clearly - so all the court heard him mock the Lion and the Crane, as he mockingly accused the Lion of taking lessons from the Crane, and seeking to be both Left and Right hand of the Emperor. Before either Lion or Crane could take offense, the Emperor did - he accused Shoju os insulting the Hantei personally, and thoroughly lost his temper. Even his brother couldn't calm him down, and the Emperor dismissed Shoju from his presence. Hantei Kazuo left the room after the Scoprion, and the next 15 minutes passed awkwardly. Kazuo then returned, and spoke with his brother, and finally calmed him down. He then left the room again, in search of Bayushi Shoju. Before he could return, Okami Hoshiko entered the room and told the Wolf daimyo and governors that she needed to speak with them immediately. Tomochi, Netsuko and Yukio followerd her, while Takumi remained to hold the fort. Hoshiko brought bad news - a dead body had been found, and worse, the victim had clearly been ritually sacrificed.

The group went to the location of the crime, and sent for one of the Kuni. Neither shugenja could get much information from the kami - both the spirits of the air and earth said that they were not allowed to answer any questions. Hoshiko asked one of the servents to step forward with his story - he and his underlings had entered the room very late at night to do a stock check (normally it'd be done in the afternoon, but an emergency in the Phoenix quarters had pushed everything back). They saw two people at the back of the room, who fled when the servents entered. Yukio left to follow the tracks, and found they led to a small shrine adjacent to Kyuden Okami. Yukio and Okami Katsu entered, and found the Imperial heir's advisor (Michiko) in prayer. Thinking quickly, Katsu threw a finger of jade at her, which she reflexively caught. Yukio noticed her flinch, and trained his bow upon her. He sent word back for Tomochi and Netsuko to come with him, and also asked for the Emerald Champion to be summoned.

Meanwhile, Bayushi Shoju had returned to court and apologised to the Emperor. The Emperor's acceptance of his apology was grudging, and his words made it clear that the Lion would seek recompense on the battlefield that summer. At that point, Okami Katsu entered, and told Takumi that the Emerald Champion was needed. Quickly, Takumi, Katsu and Akodo Kenburo left the castle, though they were briefly challenged by Hantei Kazuo, who wondered where they were going. When Netsuko and Tomochi entered the shrine, a brief scuffle broke out, which resulted in Michiko losing her hand. As Kenburo arrived, he demanded to know what was happening, and was shaken when her reaction to jade was demonstrated. Kenburo then took over the investigation, dismissing the Wolf.

The next morning, Kenburo met with the Wolf and told them that his investigation had failed to find Michiko's accomplice, and that the public story would be that she had died in her sleep. Both Tomochi and Yukio realised he was lying, but were unable to pressure an answer from him. Worried that her accomplice could be someone at the heart of Imperial power, Takumi subtely warned the Empress, who in turn warned the Crane daimyo. The Empress told Takumi that the monk had once been a servant to the Emperor and his brother, and had in fact saved their lives as children. However, nothing further happened that court, and all departed...

The Wolf recieved many gifts as hosts of the court, including a fine suit of heavy armour from the Crab, a matched pair of priceless 5 foot tall vases from the Crane, scrolls of wisdom from the Dragon, a copy of Akodo's Bushido copied by his grandson from the Lion, fine paintings of famous sites in Rokugan from the Phoenix*, fine silks from the Scorpion, and a pair of strange gaijin statues from the Unicorn. The minor clan gifts were less remarkable, though Yoritomo stayed true to form with his gift of a box of jewels, while the Sparrow earned Tomochi's favour with a gift of a fine kite.

* Complete with human figures in the foreground, doing something to each other.
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The Furthest Away
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Season 2 - Thunder Clouds on the Horizon

This season covered 1131 to 1144. It began with half a decade of quiet, but a terrible famine began in 1138. In 1140 Soshi Murai Rei slew Okami Tomochi and razed Kanazawa. The famine and subsequent plague blighted the Emerald Empire until 1142, and led to the formation of the rebellious People's Legion in Dragon lands. In 1143, the Wolf recovered the legendary scrolls of the Hundred Stances dojo. The People's Legion were not defeated until 1144, when the Lion invaded the Dragon lands to do so. The Lion invasion and seizure of Dragon lands precipipated a chain of events which lead to the murder of Akodo Masahisa and Hantei the 39th during the Imperial Winter Court of 1144. The season ended with the Empire on the verge of collapse.

Session 20, Interlude - Spring 1131 - Winter 1134
The years following the Winter Court of 1130 were quiet and largely uneventful, giving the Wolf Clan some much needed breathing space.

1131: Seppun Li arrived in Kanazawa to marry Tomochi, and took the name Okami Chusai. The Lion marched to war against the Scorpion, aided by the Unicorn. The Wolf fought minor skirmishes in the lands of the Murai family, with the goal of preventing a Scorpion counterattack through the nearby pass. The Wolf lost many samurai in the battles and skirmishes, and were less effective than they had hoped, in part due to their daimyo's reluctance to scour the Murai lands. In better news, word arrived that the Empress Sachiko had given birth to a healthy boy. As the Unicorn armies passed through, Takumi spoke with the Iuchi Masahiro, the sensei of the woman (Iuchi Kasumi) who had cursed his wife. Masahiro was reluctant to interfere, but Takumi found out that one of Masahiro's relatives was a potential heir to the Seishiro, and that this could provide much needed leverage.

1132: The war against the Scorpion continued this year, but ended at the end of summer with victory for the Lion and Unicorn. The victory was not without cost, and Iuchi Seishiro Sachiko died in battle, throwing the succession of House Seishiro into question. Iuchi Akemi threw his support behind Seishiro Nobunaga (the cousin of Iuchi Masahiro) and the new lord was soon installed. Even this prize was not quite enough to persuade Iuchi Masahiro to ask Kasumi to help, and so Takumi asked Netsuko to offer his eldest son as a student of Masahiro's meishodo school. This final sop to Iuchi Masahiro's pride was sufficient, and he pressured Kasumi into revealing the name of the spirit which she had cursed Hitomi with. Armed with the name, Iuchi Akemi called upon his allies in the meishodo school to summon the cursed spirit from his sister's body, freeing her from her curse! While her recovery was slow, after a decade of waiting, Okami Hitomi no Iuchi was finally cured.

In parallel, the Emerald Champion dispatched Soshi Saibankan Juroji to investigate corruption in the magistrates of Kanazawa. Sadly, it was revealed that Okami Hoshiko was as corrupt as Shiba Hisaki. Though Tomochi offered her the chance to commit sepukku to cleanse the stain on her honour, Hoshiko took the coward's path and fled from the city as a ronin. The Emerald Champion arrived shortly afterwards and appointed Doji Omoi as the new Emerald Magistrate for the city, after brutally executing Shiba Hisaki and his staff.

That winter, the Wolf attended the Boar court, and secured an alliance of trade and support.

1133 & 1134: Iuchi Akemi secured his hold over the Iuchi family this year, and assumed total command of the family, making him one of the most powerful men family daimyo in Rokugan. Takumi suggested to his brother-in-law that caution was advisable when rising to power, but Akemi did not take heed. News arrived from the capital that a new Imperial Advisor had been appointed, and also that the Empress had given birth to a second son. The news about the Advisor caused some consternation, as Hantei Kazuo had previously held that role.

That winter, Takumi and Hitomi visited Iuchi Akemi's winter court, and rode to the Otaku lands in the spring to send their eldest daughter to school with the shiotome. Meanwhile, Tomochi, Yukio and Netsuko traveled to the Dragonfly court. Yukio secured a marriage to Kitsuki Ishikawa, a widowed Dragon magistrate who sought to leave the mountains following the death of her husband. Netsuko spoke with the Togashi, and in spring, visited the Togashi daimyo, who granted him access to the order of the Tattooed Monks.

Session 21, Revenge - Spring 1135 - Summer 1136
In the spring of 1135, the Wolf decided to take action against the wave of crime that the city had suffered since the death of Shiba Hisaki. Policing was lightened in one district of the city, allowing the criminals to establish bases of operation there. One month later, the Wolf and Emerald Magistrate attacked, killing many of the criminals. Takumi and Netsuko captured a merchant who was behind many of the gangs in the city, while Yukio slew an opium-addled Lion samurai during the operations (the Wolf told the dead Lion's family that he had died helping the city to fight against the criminals).

Iuchi Ayano Akemi sent an invitation for the Wolf to accompany him to the Shinjo Winter Court early in 1135. That summer, sad news reached the Wolf - Akemi's uncle, Tabito had died. When the Wolf attended his funeral, Akemi revealed that the old man had been poisoned - but by who, he was not sure. While the rest of the Wolf returned home, Takumi set out in search of Borte, who was teaching the techniques of the Kakita school without permission. He tracked her down on the edge of the Shinjo lands, and challenged her to a duel over the matter. Though Borte struck first, Takumi struck the killing blow and won the duel.

The Wolf attended the Shinjo winter court, along with Akemi's other allies (Soshi Shouko, and a representative from the Lion). Akemi's aim at court was to force Shinjo Chun-Tao to offer him more freedom and independence. For a while, it appeared that Chun-Tao might accede, but in the end, she refused Akemi's request (someone was influencing matters at court, but the Wolf couldn't identify them).

As a result, the Iuchi and Shinjo went to war in 1136. The Soshi agreed to send forces to help the Iuchi, as did the Wolf (the Lion offered non-military aid). The Shinjo were joined by the Otaku and the Moto. However, the arrival of the Soshi forces was severly delayed by unseasonally heavy rain in late spring. Okami Tomochi, who was appointed general of Akemi's army, decided the best tactic was to strike against the Shinjo immediately, before they could unite with the Otaku and Moto. Battle was joined in late Spring, and the two armies were evenly matched...

Session 22, A Hungry Horizon - Summer 1136 - Winter 1137
* The war within the Unicorn began in earnest. The Shinjo were aided by the Moto and Otaku, while the Iuchi called upon the Wolf, the Soshi and Lion advisors.
* Thanks to the great tactical acumen of Okami Tomochi, the Iuchi were able to claw a narrow victory overall. Shinjo Chun-Tao was reluctant to escalate the civil war to total war, and so granted Iuchi Ayano Akemi greater independence and relief from some of his obligations to the Shinjo. Practically speaking, the Iuchi no longer obey the Shinjo.
* In return for their aid, the Wolf were granted two villages by the Iuchi.
* The harvest was poor this year across the Empire, leaving many peasants to go hungry. Things were particularly bad in Dragon and Crab lands, with rumours that even samurai went short of food. Both Clans petitioned the Emerald Champion for tax relief, but the Emperor was offended by their temerity and increased their taxes as punishment.

* Another year of poor harvests throughout the Empire, leading to outright famine.
* The Wolf began feeding their samurai with cheaper food than rice, and ordered their peasants to start farming fish
* The Crab began trying to lock the Crane out of key commercial markets; the Wolf remained neutral
* More and more ronin were seen wandering the land.


The Furthest Away
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Session 23, The Great Famine - Spring 1138 - Winter 1139

The famine carries on again, this time because there is very little seed stock left. The Wolf once again cut rations for their samurai. Water Fever also continues to cull the weak in the city.

In summer, commercial warfare between the Crab and Crane escalates, driving food prices even higher. Many cities start to riot, including Kanazawa. The Wolf respond harshly, quelling the riots through force. Meanwhile, a band of ronin from Dragon lands start raiding Wolf lands, but are killed to a man by the Wolf. Word reaches Netsuko of a group of peasents in Dragon lands who are refusing to pay any taxes to samurai who cannot defend them.

The Crab invade the Daidoji lands in early summer, and by autumn have overrun most of their territories. For the first time in several years, Crab samurai feed well on the Crane’s rice stores.

The Phoenix cannot regain control on the City of Gold from rioters, and the Emerald Champion uses Imperial legions to reinstate order. Shamed, the Phoenix daimyo commits seppuku. Startled by this, the Scorpion hire the Wasp to help regain control of the City of Lies before the Emerald Champion can.

Yukio’s ally visits the city, revealing that the Scorpion are shipping large amounts of food to the Crab, Lion and Unicorn.

Session 24, Musha Shugyo - Spring 1140 - Autumn 1140
Four of the first generation of true Wolf headed off to the Mantis Islands for adventure!
* Okami Ichigo, son of Yukio and Hoshiko, and heir of Tomochi. Taught by Munoto at the Wolf bushi school in Kanazawa
* Okami Hayoto, son of Yukio and Hoshiko. Hayato was taught the ways of the Doji courtier school in Crane lands.
* Okami Kyoshi, son of Takumi and H??. Kyoshi was apprenticed to the Isawa in the Phoenix mountains, and learned how to speak with the fire kami.
* Okami Hashi, son of Netsuko and Torogene. Hashi learned the mysterious way of meishodo from the Iuchi.

The Brotherhood of the Dog (as the four decided to call themselves) embarked onto a merchant barge in Kanazawa and sailed downriver to Otosan Uchi. The journey was largely uneventful, but it was clear that the Water Fever was striking hard in Lion and Dragon lands. The Lion were calling up their ashigaru forces, promising them food in return for service.

Once in the capital, the Brotherhood found a broker who put them into contact with a ship captain in search of shugenja for his voyage. They met with H?? (a Mantis samurai), captain of the Kanrin Maru and were hired for the voyage.

The first part of the voyage was quiet, though Hashi was alarmed when the water kami showed him a vision of a great sea serpent. After a week at sea, a great storm blew up, and though [Captain] was able to keep the ship afloat, the mast was lost. Pirates then fell upon the stricken ship, but they were easily defeated (Ichigo and Hayato between them slew the pirate’s second-in-command with ease, while Hashi sunk the pirate vessel by calling rocks from the sky). [Captain] was quiet concerned by the fire spells Kyoshi called upon, and Hayato sensed a genuine fear in the man. Altered by this, Kyoshi investigated and sensed that the cargo hold was full of sleeping fire spirits.

The Kanrin Maru put in to port in Iron Turtle City, the major settlement on the largest of the islands. The city was a shock to the Wolf – full of gaijin, strange tropical smells, and well-fed peasants. After disembarking, the Brotherhood were led to the Temple of the Osano-Wo by a Mantis guard, which perched above the city, catching the cool sea breeze. An elderly Mantis samurai (Akira) confided that he sensed a disturbance in the fire and earth kami of the island, and hired the brothers to investigate, as he was too old to leave his temple.

As they left the Temple, the Mantis guard informed them that a Mantis lord also wished to hire some shugenja. They visited the gaudy and ornate home of Hinaro, who revealed that a shugenja had threatened to steal from his prize sword collection. Unsure that his normal guards would be able to ward against a shugenja, he hired the Brotherhood.

Over the next few days, the young samurai investigated both matters.

The Sword: Hinaro owned a fantastic collection of swords. His most recent acquisition was a Kakita blade (the Clear Blade), which had been owned by Daidoji Murato. Murato was dishonoured and committed sepukku, and his sword given to the Mantis in return their aid. Murato had been served by Asahina Kiyoshi, a shugenja, who knew that the sword had been prophesied to save the Empire if wielded by one of Murato’s line. Kiyoshi had travelled to the Islands to recover the sword by any means. Hayato realised that one solution to the problem would be to wed Hinaro’s son to Murato’s now-ronin daughter. Kiyoshi reluctantly agreed, and Hayato also persuaded Hinaro of the wisdom of the scheme, playing upon the Mantis’s desire for glory and fame.

The kami: Kyoshi and Hashi spent a lot of time talking to kami in the city. Hashi found out that the disturbance wasn’t due to volcanic activity (always a relief when living on an extinct volcano!), and the two realised that there was some interaction between the fire and earth kami. This was centered around the Yellow Frog warehouses, which is where the cargo of the Kanrin Maru was destined. The final piece fell into place when Asahina Kiyoshi revealed that Hinaro was involved in smuggling gaijin pepper to the Crab. Over Okami Kyoshi’s objections, the Brothers informed the Mantis shugenja (Akira) of their findings, but didn’t pursue the matter.

The painting: Asahina Kiyoshi had a magical painting (created by Isawa Fujitsu 400 years ago), which recorded the great destiny awaiting the Clear Blade. When the Brotherhood looked upon it, they saw a different vision. A little girl dressed in an ornate red and blue kimono sat in a large room, practicing her calligraphy. A melee of large cats and birds then burst in, threatening her as their fight rolled over in her direction. Four wolves then appeared – two of which attempted to redirect the fighting animals, while another crouched by the girl to guard her. A fourth wolf ran back, and saw that the animals had been fighting in the garden before, and ruined several chrysanthemum plants. The little girl climbed on the back of the crouching wolf, who bore her away to safety.

The painting was shown to Hinaro, to convince him to marry his son to Daidoji Murato’s daughter. He didn’t reveal precisely what he saw, only saying “that it’s nice to know that what you’re doing is right!”.


The Furthest Away
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Session 25, Rei's Strike - Spring 1140 - Summer 1140
In spring, Water Fever returned to Kanazawa, killing many of citizens and samurai (though the Fortunes spared the leaders of the Wolf). Iuchi Ayano Aekmi sent word that he would like to visit in the summer to discuss a marriage alliance between his line and the Wolf. Another Unicorn, Ide ??? arrived to beg Takumi to champion his lord in a duel to the death. (????'s previous lord (Yui) had recently died. A distant relative, Harada, claimed that he had been promised Yui's lands in place of Yui's young son Arai. Harada and Arai's overlord, Ide Hana, wanted the matter solved by a duel, and so ???? had come to ask Takumi to do so). As Arai was a cousin of Ide Matako (the now deceased dueling master of Dark Edge Village, Takumi offered to champion the child.

In sadder news, Okami Chusei uncovered evidence that Okami Yukio was not a true member of the samurai caste, but a peasant masquerading as one. Okami Tomochi reluctantly announced this publicly, stripping Yukio of his place in the clan. Reports that Tomochi said that he wished things could be otherwise can only be dismissed as rumour (along with the outrageous accusation that Yukio said that Tomochi would make a better ruler than the Emperor).

In summer, Akemi arrived just as Takumi departed for Ide lands. A marriage contract between Okami Ichigo (Yukio's natural son, and Tomochi's adopted heir) and Akemi's second daughter (an Ide-trained courter) was signed. As this went on, bandits razed a Wolf village, and Tomochi and Akemi rode to investigate. Meanwhile. Takumi won his duel with ease, striking a perfect blow against Harada. He and Hitomi made ready to return to Wolf lands shortly afterwards. Netsuko was called out to a different outlying Wolf village to help with Torogene's efforts to prevent an outbreak of Water Fever.

At that point, Soshi Murai Rei struck. Tomochi and Akemi's small force was ambushed by a magically-concealed Soshi arm, while Takumi and Hitomi were ambushed by a band of ronin, and Netsuko and his guards were attacked by ninja in a teahouse. While Takumi and Netsuko both survived, Okami Tomochi no Akodo, son of Akodo Hokori and Akodo Tomoya no Shiba was slain by Soshi Murai Atsuke (Akemi was also slain).

Session 26, the Siege - Summer 1140
Soshi Murai Rei’s army marched towards Kanazawa to besiege it, and the Wolf sent messages to their various allies (the Iuchi, the Lion, the rest of the Soshi, and the Boar) to help defend their city.

The Wolf commanders rapidly realised that the whole city could not be held against Rei, and retreated back to Kyuden Okami. Rei’s army managed to get inside the city before the Iuchi armies arrived, meaning that Rei could continue the siege. Despite her best efforts, she was unable to break the castle’s defences before the Lion and Soshi arrived. Soshi Murai Rei led the final assault on Kyuden Okami, and was slain in battle.

Session 27, Dragon Lands - Autumn 1140 – Winter 1140
In Kanazawa, the Wolf and their allies began to cleanse the city – burning the dead, and clearing the ruined buildings. Meanwhile, Okami Ichigo, Hayato, Kyoshi and Hachi landed in Otasun Ochi and made their way back to Kanazawa (seeing the results of the Lion-Crane war as they travelled).

Upon their return, the young samurai were briefed on the terrible events of the past two seasons, and told to make ready to head towards Shiro Miromoto – the site of this year’s Imperial Winter Court.

The Wolf journey downriver in the company of the new Iuchi daimyo (Iuchi Ayano Sumiko) and her entourage. They met with the Lion and Crab delegations in the lands of the Kitsu before heading into the Dragon mountains. The Wolf were somewhat surprised to hear the Hida Tetsuan had promised to invade the Scorpion if they didn’t offer sufficient recompense that winter.

The Soshi attack upon the Wolf was one of the major topics of Winter Court, and at the start of the season, the Crab and Lion were pushing for heavily penalties for the Scorpion, while the Phoenix charter a more moderate course (naturally, the Scorpion were in favour of a smaller level of reparations). The three factions were evenly balanced when the Emperor summoned the Wolf and the Scorpion to explain the case to him. Okami Ichigo presented the events of the summer, albeit glossing over the ‘bandit’ attack which slew Okami Tomochi and Iuchi Ayano Akemi. On the Scorpion side, Kazuki the second son of the Bayushi daimyo (Bayushi Shoju) admitted that he was behind Rei’s attack. He explained (i.e. lied like a lying liar) that he heard of Tomochi’s death and could not face the thought of the son of a peasant and a criminal ruling the Wolf in place of Soshi Taro (Tomochi’s son with Honami) and so ordered Rei to take the city for her grandson. The Emperor accepted this explanation, but did not allow Kazuki to commit honourable seppuku – instead, the Son of Heaven ordered the young man executed! Nonetheless, Kazuki’s sacrifice allowed his Clan to maintain face, and helped to increase the Scorpion’s political power that winter.

The Wolf then sought to get the Unicorn and Crane on their side. The Crane were busy trying to ally with the Unicorn again, and the price for this alliance was the return of the Iuchi to the clan. Doji Fumi (the lead Crane diplomat) suggested to the Wolf that they advice Iuchi Sumiko of the importance of honourable behaviour. The Wolf’s counsel was enough to persuade Sumiko to abandon her father’s path of independence, and to swear fealty to the Shinjo. Having helped the Unicorn and Crane achieve their goals, the Wolf were rewarded by them joining the reparations debate.

Against this highly political backdrop, Okami Kyoshi helped to organise the shugenja competition – but one which required two shugenja from different clans to present an artistic display of magic. Kyoshi performed with Asahina Takuhiro, creating a whirlwind of fire in the shape of a dragon, while Hachi allied with Tamori Tsutomo to create an overwhelming display of rapidly-cast magic. Kyoshi earned the favour of Isawa Riku (a pre-eminent fire tensai who judged the competition), and Riku later invited Kyoshi and the other competitors to a magical tournament hosted by the Phoenix. Many of the shugenja also joined with Tamori Tsutomo’s research project; Tsutomo was particularly interested to talk with Hachi about meishodo magic.

Okami Ichigo entered an iajitsu competition intended for less skilled combatants, and as luch would have it, was drawn against Soshi Murai Taro. Both young men faced off, and their bokken struck home at the same instance, making for an unhappy draw.

Okami Ichigo returned the daisho of Soshi Murai Rei to the Soshi daimyo (Soshi Yoriko Shouko) as a sop to the Scorpion; the Crane secured the return of Akemi’s daisho to the Iuchi.

The day after mid-winter, three new daimyo were confirmed: Soshi Murai Taro as lord of House Murai, Iuchi Ayano Sumiko as lord of House Ayano and daimyo of the Iuchi, and Okami Ichigo as daimyo of the Wolf Clan. After the ceremony to confirm Ichigo, the Son of Heaven warned the Great Clans that he would not tolerate any further violation of the Imperial law forbidden war against the Minor Clans. As a further token of his support, he awarded the Wolf with the banner of Hantei the 16th to hand in the great hall in Kanazawa! Okami Kyoshi was dimly aware that the official histories of this time might not be entirely accurate, but wasn’t sure what truth was hidden.


The Furthest Away
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Session 28, Building for the Future, Winter 1140 - Summer 1142
While passing through the lands of the Dragonfly, the Wolf speak with the current sensei of the Tonbo school (Tonbo AAA) about the prophetic vision they saw in Mantis lands. AAA warned them about how fickle prophecies can be, and reluctantly offered to use her magics to further investigate the matter. The Wolf refused, but Kyoshi asked if he could return to learn more about divination in the future (AAA said yes).

The leadership of the Wolf returned to Kanazawa and immediately were faced with decisions about how to use the reparations to rebuild their home. They had to balance military needs and merchant needs against the threat of peasant rebellion. Eventually, the Clan decided to [update with rebuilding decisions].

Matters were largely quiet in Kanazawa over the year, though the monks warned that the heresy from Dragon lands had spread into the city (the heresy preached that the samurai should be overthrown, as they are parasites upon the hardworking peasantry). Things were less quiet elsewhere in the Emerald Empire, particularly in Dragon lands. A massive peasant rebellion began in the southern Dragon lands, larger than that seen in any other lands. It became truly notable when the so-called “People’s Legion” defeated the army of the Mirumoto in battle! The Dragon immediately threw more armies into the field, and the fighting dragged on into winter. The leader of the People’s Legion (a peasant girl named BBB) and her chief general (Rojin) out-manoeuvred the Dragon repeatedly, and the war became a stalemate.

The clan visited the Ikoma Winter Court that year, after receiving a much warmer invitation than normal. The Lion were clearly on a courtly offensive, and keen to make alliances and marriages beyond their own clan. Okami Hachi took advantage of this, and secured a betrothal to Kitsu CCC, niece of a leading sensei of the Kitsu school. The next year, rebuilding continued.

Okami Kyoshi and Hachi were invited to compete in a shugenja tournament held by the Phoenix. Every shugenja family sent a series of spell scrolls to the Phoenix to form the prize cache. A long-standing arrangement saw the Soshi deliver their scrolls to Kanazawa for the Iuchi to take to the Phoenix. After leaving Kanazawa, the Wolf received terrible news – the Iuchi caravan had been raised by bandits, and the Iuchi shugenja in charge had been killed. The army of the Wolf marched at once, and tracked the bandits to Nightingale Village, which lay in the unclaimed lands between the Wolf and the Ikoma. A band of ronin had claimed the village, and admitted responsibility for the attack on the caravan and theft of the spell scrolls. A strange story emerged from the ronin – Koan (a ronin shugenja) claimed that his motive for the theft was to hold the scrolls as hostage to secure his entry into the competition, and thus increase his own prestige. The other ronin said that they were willing to fight and die for Koan’s glory and fame. After some tense negotiations, the Wolf reluctantly agreed to ask the Phoenix to allow Koan to enter, and the ronin reluctantly agreed to leave the village.

When the group arrived at the Shrine of the Ki-Rin, the location of the tournament, they spoke with the Elemental Council (the rulers of the Isawa and the Phoenix). The Elemental Council angrily agreed that Koan could enter – but only if he swore to not win the competition. Koan begrudgingly agreed.

Session 29, Competition, Summer 1142
The evening before the tournament, some of the Wolf went on a walk with a visiting Imperial Historian, who pointed out the ruins of a nearby castle. It was also mentioned that one of the previous finalists had vanished the night before the last final.

The morning of the first day, there was a ritual to start. The ronin Koan collapsed screaming to the group, as the gaki which possessed him was driven out. Yogo blahdeblah managed to trap the spirit before it could do any lasting harm, but Koan was dead. The first day’s competition carried on regardless and Kyoshi made it to the second round! That evening, the theatre troupe gave a showy performance, which was well received by the crowd. The Wolf were given a letter written by Koan, who apologised for having used them to enter the competition (it was the only way to stop the gaki which haunted his line). He told them that (other ronin) had secured the contract to attack the Iuchi caravan specifically in Wolf lands in a (city).

The weather on the second day was worse. Kyoshi made it through again (need to check notes). That night, something was up with the air kami the illusionists were calling on. The next day, the Wolf headed to the castle to investigate, and realised that the previous winner had murdered his rival. Her ghost haunted the castle and was intent on revenge. Thanks to superb oratory and theology rolls, she was persuaded to depart from this world.

Session 30, Ghost Stories, Summer 1142 - Spring 1143
The Wolf split up as they departed from the Shrine of the Ki-Rin – Kyoshi headed northwards to train with the Isawa, Hayato headed south to train with the Doki, and Ichigo and Hachi went to Otosan Uchi to begin the legal process of registering Nightingale Village on the tax-roll of the Wolf Clan.

Once in the capital, Ichigo paid a visit to Miya Riko, who introduced them to her cousin Otomo Nasayo, an Imperial bureaucrat. Riko mentioned in passing that Nasayo was a lover of bonsai trees; taking the hint, Ichigo and Hachi wrote to Hayato to ask him to source a fine bonsai tree as a gift. Accompanied by a very small but very expensive tree, Ichigo and Hachi finally paid a visit to Nasayo. Nasayo was so pleased with their gift that she offered to research the history of Nightingale Village for them, and promised to forward her findings to Kanazawa.

The Wolf then re-united and returned home. En route, they heard that the war in the Dragon lands was still being fought, and also heard rumours of a Lion-Scorpion alliance in the courts. Before they arrived back at Kanazawa, Ichigo and Hachi decided to drop in on Nightingale Village to make sure that the ronin band hadn’t attacked. They were met by Okami Katsumi, who informed that all was quiet in the village – the most interesting thing was ghost stories told by the villagers. Hachi decided to do some investigation, and went to the hilltop the villagers avoided during the full moon. He spoke with the earth kami, who revealed that there was a ruined building (perhaps a dojo?) here, and that the ruins disappeared when the moon was full. The earth kami said that a ‘man with many names’ came from that place. The Wolf shugenja worried that this might mean an oni lived near their new holding...

Back in Kanazawa, Okami Chusei told Hayato that the Iuchi wanted to hold Ichigo’s wedding to Iuchi Ayano Matsui (sister of Iuchi Ayano Sumiko) next year. They also suggested that Sumiko’s husband-to-be (Soshi Yoriko Kushin, grandson of Soshi Yoriko Zenshin) could meet Sumiko here, before returning to Iuchi lands for their wedding. The Wolf had also received a number of invitations to Winter Courts, and decided to visit the Iuchi one.

Winter Court went smoothly on the whole, though Hayato was disturbed by the Scorpion-Lion alliance, and also by the fact that two of the visiting Soshi shugenja were clearly worried about something other than courtly politics. The Wolf made subtle overtures to see if they could help, but the Soshi acted as nothing was troubling them at all. Hayato also found out that the Soshi had resumed their internal squabbling, and that Soshi Murai Taro had sworn to help Soshi Saibankan Kaede in return for House Saibankan helping House Murai pay for the reparations given to the Wolf.

The Wolf spent a quiet spring in Kanazawa, before word arrived from Nightingale Village that three Wolf samurai had gone missing on the night of the full moon. The leaders of the Wolf set out to investigate at once. A four-man patrol had been sent out on the night of the full moon, and had come across a strange stairway that wasn’t visible in daylight. The unit commander (Okami Hashichi) went to investigate, sending the most junior member of the squad back to the village to report. Hashichi and his two samurai were not seen again, and the stairway wasn’t visible during the day. Hachi spoke with the spirits of the water, who showed images of a woman heading down the ghostly stairs to collect water. Kyoshi spoke with the spirits in the village’s shrine (dedicated to Osano-Wo), who said that everyone who used live on top of the hill had been slain long ago. Shortly before the night of the full moon, Hayato received a letter from Otomo Nasayo, reporting that Nightingale Village had once been known as Roaring Thunder Village. She was going to investigate this further, and would write again to him.

When night fell, the Wolf were ready. The ghostly stairs appeared, and a female spirit walked down them, carrying water jugs. Shortly after her, Okami Hashichi appeared – though only Hachi was able to remember the man’s name, and even that took a great effort. Ichigo sent Hashichi back to the village, and the others accompanied the woman back up the stairs. She told them that her master would soon return, and that she needed to make ready before he did arrive.

The hilltop was very different by the light of the moon – a rambling collection of buildings, clearly a dojo of some kind, was visible. The two other Wolf samurai were sparring in the dojo proper, and Ichigo ordered them to return to the village (after reminding them of their names, which took great effort). Hachi and Kyoshi found a untidy shrine dedicated to two men; as they cleaned it, the kanji in front of the largest statue became legible and spelled out the name “Oshiro”. The spirit said that she had been named (in part) for Oshiro. Next door to the shrine was a library – a tumbled mess of scrolls. With Hachi and Hayato’s help, Kyoshi was able to tidy and file the documents. The final scroll that came to hand named the dojo as the “Hundred Stances Dojo” and contained a biography of the last sensei – Matsu Hinotaro. The biography said she had adopted an orphan, who took part of Hinotaro’s name as a token of respect.

Armed with this knowledge, the Wolf returned to the doji. Just as Hayato asked the spirit if her name was Oshi-taro (it was, but once reminded of her name she fell to the floor in pain), the doors burst open as the Master returned! At first glance, he appeared to be a tall and handsome samurai, clad in black armour and wielding a daisho. Closer inspection revealed two short horns on his head – clear evidence that he was an oni! Oshi-taro’s spirit had told Ichigo that her master could not refuse a challenge, and so Ichigo faced the oni in the duelling ring. The two fought for a while, but Ichigo was eventually struck down. As the oni strode forwards to attack the comatose Oshi-taro, Hayato leapt forwards to defend her. The wounded oni did not manage to hit him before Hachi and Kyoshi’s spells were finally able to slay the beast. As he died, the spirit recovered herself, and shouted that her name was Matsu Oshi-taro. She thanked the Wolf for their aid, and revealed the dark fate of the Hundred Stance dojo. It had been attacked suddenly, and her mother had ordered her to flee, so that the secrets of the dojo would not be lost. Sadly, Oshi-taro couldn’t outrun the oni, and was trapped in this spirit realm after death. As a final reward, she told the Wolf that the scrolls of the Hundred Stances dojo were buried under the statue of Osano-Wo in the village.

The Wolf returned to the mortal world, and saw the ruins of the dojo were now visible. They recovered the scrolls from the village, and Kyoshi, Ichigo and Takumi spent the summer coyping and studying them. The scrolls revealed a great mastery of kenjetsu (even Takumi was able to learn from them), and knowledge of several kata. Otomo Nasayo wrote again, saying that Roaring Thunder Village had been associated with a semi-legendary dojo known as the Hundred Stances dojo, which had been fought over by many clans before eventually being placed into Imperial administration. She needed more time (and another tree!) to find out who the village had paid taxes too though.

Session 31, Scorpion Guests, Summer 1143 - Winter 1143

The Wolf somewhat reluctantly hosted Winter Court, to which the Soshi and Iuchi (plus a few others) were invited. Ichigo would marry Iuchi Ayano Matsui, sister of the Iuchi daimyo Sumiko, and in the spring, Iuchi Ayano Sumiko would marry Soshi Yoriko Kushin.

The main events of the court were a pair of bizarre murders. They were committed by Soshi Ogoe Jusuke, who was possessed by the crazed spirit of his ancestor, Kumade. Kumade had lived about 300 years ago, and was exposed as a traitor to the Scorpion Clan after his wife Miyume committed suicide, drawing the attention of Iuchi Jochi, a visiting Unicorn magistrate. Jochi determined Kumade’s guilt, and a friend of Miyume challenged Kumade to a duel over the matter. Kumade lost, and was taken away by the Bayushi. His soul was imprisioned in a grove near Bayushi castle to be tortured for all time. Or, as it turned out, until someone burned down part of the grove, releasing a handful of spirits. (This information was relayed by Bayushi Kimiyo, representative of the Bayushi at court).

The first victim was Soshi Yoriko Mikio, descendant of Soshi Miyume. The second victim was Iuchi Nobuto, descendant of Iuchi Jochi. Thankfully, the Wolf were able to apprehend Jusuke before he killed anyone else. Jusuke obviously possessed some strange, shadow-related, powers, but the Soshi were not forthcoming on this matter...

Other events at Winter Court were more normal – Hayato began betrothal negotiations with the Boar, and Ichigo was pressured by the Unicorn to allow Unicorn troops to be stationed in Wolf lands (the Unicorn are worried about the Lion-Scorpion alliance). The Wolf refused this kind offer from the Unicorn, realising that it would make them de facto vassals of the Unicorn. The two rival Soshi families continued their bickering, but there were hints that the Bayushi are starting to take control of this problem. Similar, albeit more subtle, problems also occurred in the Iuchi, as the Seishiro in particular test Iuchi Sumiko's limits.


The Furthest Away
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Session 32, The Pebbles Fall, Spring 1144 - Winter 1144
In the spring of 1144, the Wolf briefly visited the Iuchi lands to witness the marriage of Iuchi Ayano Sumiko to Soshi Yoriko Kushin. While at the celebrations, Ichigo bumped into Soshi Murai Taro and had a lovely little chat. Ichigo’s wife, Matsui, pointed out that it would be useful to understand Taro, rather than ignore him completely. Hayato followed up on this advise and found out via his contacts that Taro was a true believer in Bushido (to the dismay of his Bayushi teachers). The rest of spring was quiet, as Hayato, Kyoshi and Hachi made preparations to visit the Boar, with only rumours of trouble among the Soshi. The trip to the Boar lands went well; Hayato was betrothed to the daughter of the Boar daimyo (M??), while Hachi researched earth spells under the tutelage of Heichi Chokei. Back in Kanazawa, Ichigo was surprised to hear that Soshi Kaede, Soshi Tishi and Soshi Shouko had all retired, after decades of squabbling over rulership of the Soshi. Soshi Saibankan Hina (niece of Kaede) became the new Soshi daimyo and head of the Saibankan, while Soshi Yoriko K?? became head of the Yoriko family.

This news was rather eclipsed by events in Dragon lands. The Dragon finally managed to corner and kill Asahime, leader of the People Legion. They also slew her advisor, Rojin, but not before recognising him as Akodo Asihisa, former Champion of the Lion Clan, and father of the current Lion Champion and also the Emerald Champion. The Dragon then planned to march on the Legion proper and take advantage of the absence of Asahime’s leadership to defeat them once and for all. They were thwarted in this plan by the Lion – who had already defeated the People’s Legion in battle before the Dragon had a chance too. To add insult to injury, the Lion then declared that they were annexing the Dragon lands conquered by the Legion, the Dragon clearly didn’t know how to administer them. The full version of events is known only to the daimyo of the Dragon, the Lion and to the Wolf (via Okami Netsuko).

In autumn, the Empire held its breath, as courtiers exchanged letters and plots were formed. The Emperor added to the fervour by inviting every single Clan Champion and family daimyo to attend Winter Court at Kyuden Akodo, so that the Lion could be honoured.

The Wolf travelled down river in the company of the Iuchi and the Soshi. Shortly after their arrival, the daimyo for the Fox, Wasp and Sparrow invited them to dinner. After a few hours of pleasantries, Kitsune Eiko got to the point, and told the Wolf that the other three minor clans had formed a information-gathering and –sharing network, in order to work out what the Great Clans were planning and ideally to oppose the Lion’s increase in power. They spoke long into the night about the best ways to ensure the safety and prosperity of their clans, without being used as tools by the greater powers.

The Wolf had the strongest links to both the Crab (via Hida Tetsuan no Matsu) and the Scorpion, and so Ichigo and Hayato began their investigations there. Ichigo blithely suggested that Kyoshi and Hachi might want to talk to Togashi Toshimoto about the prophecy the Wolf saw in the Mantis Islands.

The shugenja made a formal request for an audience and were somewhat relieved when it was refused. About a week later though, they accidentally bumped into Toshimoto in a small garden, and spoke with him about their vision. He told them that mortals have the power to avert destiny, which the kami do not, but warned them that this is not always easy. Like the Dragonfly sensei, he warned that the more you saw of the future, the harder it is to change its course.

Ichigo met with Hida Tetsuan, who spoke with her customary social acumen. She revealed that the Crab intended to take no part in the dispute over the Lion’s annexation of Dragon lands, as the Crab had to do their duty and defend the wall. She also let slip that the Scorpion had reminded the Crab of this, a fact the Wolf found odd given the Lion-Scorpion alliance (as a former Lion, Tetsuan would be likely to aid the Lion and oppose the Crane).

Informed with this knowledge, Hayato called upon one of his numerous Scorpion relations and went hunting with the new Soshi daimyo. Hina reassured Hayato that the Soshi as a whole bore the Wolf no enmity, and told him that she would not allow a repeat of House Murai’s invasion of Wolf lands. Hayato picked up hints that the Scorpion alliance with the Lion could be part of an elaborate plot to make the Lion over-extend themselves, making them a target for the other clans. This matched with Tetsuan’s hints, and suggested that the Scorpion might withdraw their support for the Lion. The Wolf discussed telling the Dragon, so that they could reveal the truth about Akodo Asihisa at a suitable time.

Session 33, The Fall of the Hantei- Winter 1144
The Winter Court of 1144 is one of the most notorious periods in Rokugani history, though this only became clear towards the end of winter. Before that point, it appeared to be yet another tense and taut court.

Mid winter events
Various competitions and entertainments are held, including a battle tournament, a discussion of sword-smithing and a demonstration of dance. Okami Ichigo takes part in the battle tournament, and one of his opponents is Daidoji Inejiro. Inejiro appears frustrated by the strict rules of the competition, and confides in Ichigo afterwards "that there is no place for bushido on the battlefield". Okami Kyoshi speaks with the many sword smiths present at the court, and learns much from them. At the dance demonstration, Ichigo notices that Hantei Chihiro wanders off part way through, and helps Sen (her maid) to find the little girl playing go against Soshi Murai Taro.

The politics of the court continue, and the Sparrow report that the Lion are planning a great manoeuvre of some kind this court. A week or two later, they report that the Lion are planning on claiming a new Imperial title for themselves - that of shogun. The word is archaic, and no-one entirely knows what it implies. Kyoshi searches the libraries of Kyuden Akodo and finds that many other people have looked at the few scrolls to mention the term. The scrolls describe a shogun as a military leader. The minor clans subtly communicate their findings to a selection of the great clans, and nervously wait to see what will happen.

In better news, Okami Kyoshi is betrothed to a Shiba yojimbo.

Late winter
It is traditional for Imperial Winter Court to end with an address from the Emperor, and it is rumoured that Hantei 39th will bestow a great honour on the Lion - presumably the title of shogun. About one week before this, the Ikoma invite the Wolf to dinner, and attempt to reassure them that the Lion will respect and uphold the position of the minor clans.
The usual after dinner discussions are interrupted by a wounded Lion guard. He rushes in and loudly announces that the Lion daimyo is dead - slain by unmarked assailants! The Ikoma diamyo immediately departs, and Ikoma O-Chul asks the Wolf to keep this matter quiet for now.

The Wolf return to the small tower containing their quarters, and find that Matsui has invited her cousin to dinner (her cousin is Taro's wife). Matsui's cousin quickly leaves, no doubt to tell Taro that something has upset the Wolf. The Wolf call their guards to arms and prepare to defend their quarters. Hachi speaks with the water kami, and see a great mass of armed Lion samurai marching towards Kyuden Akodo from their nearby barracks. Rumours spread that the Crane are behind the attack, and that Emperor has summoned the Crane - but whether to punish or reward them is unknown.
After a few hours of tense waiting, a Fox samurai arrives to invite the Wolf to pool their defences with the other minor clans. The Wolf agree, and a couple more nervous hours pass. The various shugenja report that fighting has broken out throughout the castle, and fires can be seen burning in other parts of the castle.

About two hours after midnight, the shugenja see a terrible sight. Fighting has broken out in the audience hall used by the Emperor, and the kami show them the dying body of the Light of Heaven! The Wolf spring into action, and head towards the tower housing the Imperial Nursery, hoping they are not too late. Groups of warriors roam the grounds, but they make it to the tower safely. However, the Seppun guards are all dead, and many dead Lion and Crane litter the floor. When they breach the nursery, it's a site of carnage. Sen lies there mortally wounded, and Hachi partially heals her. She reveals that Chihiro is hidden in a laundry basket, and the Wolf retrieve the scared child (and manage to avoid being cut by her knife).

The Wolf then head straight back for their tower. En route, they run into a small force of Scorpion who are on the same mission. The Scoprion are lead by Soshi Murai Taro, who challenges Ichigo to a duel to determine who should guard the princess. Taro wins the duel, landing a light cut on Ichigo's arm. There's a moment of tension, and then Ichigo bows to acknowledge Taro's victory.

The group are taken to the wing of the castle where the Scorpion are guested, and meet with the Bayushi daimyo. He gently interrogates Chihiro, who reveals that her brother are either taken or dead. A very tense night passes, as the Scorpion and Wolf guard the child.

In the morning, an Ikoma herald arrives. She announces that the Crane are honourless dogs, who slew their host Akodo Masahisa and the Emperor Hantei 39th. The brave Lion have driven them off, and saved the Emperor's eldest son. The Lion declare him Hantei 40th, newest Emperor of Rokugan
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