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Toru, the Marked Tiger

  • Toru and Otomo Shen departed from Toturi‘s tent village, heading deep into the mountains at the edge of Rokugan’s borders to find Ryukujou resting in her cave. The two bushi confronted the ancient dragon, and Otomo Shen was killed immediately by Ryukujou‘s strength, leaving Toru to face his possessed sister alone. Takuma possessed Toru allowing him to see the ancient dragon within his sister. He reached out into the rune of punishment and drew what power he could to vanquish the beast. He brought great harm on Ryukujou, forcing the dragon to abandon it’s host. Otomo Beiru was safe now, but would not wake from her slumber.
  • Toru set out on the mountain path to return to the tent city in Dragon lands, when he came upon a skirmish. A half-dozen bandits worked together to make a bloody mess of a lone ronin who had cut down another half-dozen of their allies. Toru rushed to the aid of the ronin, cutting down four of the remaining six, and sending two running. When the ronin woke, he introduced himself as Ginawa and in a round about way, thanked Toru for aiding him. After finding his legs, he set out for the nearby dragon village of Nanashi Mura. When asked where he was going, he simply muttered “Rich Frog”.
  • From here, Toru was alone for the first time since his gempukku. And he used this time to explore himself and to find his inner strength to carry on. To have one’s reputation and all acomplishments stripped from them is no easy thing to handle. Nevertheless, Toru overcame such a time, marching for days with his sister on his shoulder until he returned to Nanashi Mura. Toru was surprised to see that the a few ronin and a few dozen peasants alike were volunteering for service and training under the command of Toturi the Black. The warriors included Toku, Mikio, Otomo Yayu and Dairya. Toru aided the others, becoming one of The Black Lion’s first followers.
  • Toru brought his sister Beiru to care and greeted his family with open arms. In his free time, he spent a great deal of time with Aiba, who was still mourning the loss of her husband Ryu. It ws here that Toru confronted Toturi to find what exactly he was here to do. Toturi spoke of his interactions with Toku, and how the the little ronin that could taught him a great deal about the Code of Bushido and how little his duties changed. He then explained Shoju‘s whispered words just before his death: “the Empire will fall by the hand of the Last Hantei, and one day soon you will see what I have seen – a future where the Empire is ruled by blood and the Taint of the Shadowlands.”
    -Shoju’s Last Words
  • Toru determined that this tent village was the safest place to be a ronin for the time being, and it served as a great place to carry forward while looking after his two sisters.

Ryu, The Sword of Retribution

  • Having fulfilled his duty in aid to his most loyal of friends, Ryu armed himself and made way for the carpenter wall. He met a number of deathseekers during his short stay in the tent village, former Akodo and honor bound bushi ready to risk their lives for fame and glory over the wall. The small warrior regiment named themselves Honor’s Retribution. They were led by a the Hiruma scout, Hiruma Mitsuzuka and commanded by Ryu himself. The unit persued a small regiment of shadowlands creatures under the command of a tainted man and his mysterious dark scroll. Honor’s Retribution persued the unit deep into the Shadowlands, until they were flanked by shadowlands cavalry led by the dreaded Moto Tsume. Honor’s Retribution were eliminated to the last man.
  • Ryu found himself in a dream state, reflecting back on his experiences in the alternate dimension where he was an important figure in the armies against the Shadowlands. He realized that this was not his destiny. He awoke in a pit in a cold sweat. His jade necklace was slowly melting away. Before him stood a new citadel that was not there when the battle took place. He was told by the surviving Hiruma scout that it was the stronghold of Yogo Junzo, opened by one of the black scrolls. Ryu climbed back to his feet and with aid, returned to the other side of the carpenter wall.

Ichiro Katsuo, Shihan of Taijutsu

  • Katsuo traveled through the Dragon Mountains until he reached Unicorn lands. He was unable to find any noteworthy opponent in the way of hand to hand within the Unicorn Lands, at least not one he could locate. So Katsuo traveled south to the Crab Lands. Katsuo faced the Great Bear‘s daughter, Hida O-Ushi in a dojo in Crab Lands. Though she was fierce, she was also young, and Katsuo’s regimented practice provided him everything he needed to overcome the daughter of the legendary Hida Kisada.
  • Eventually, Katsuo‘s travels led him to the Temple of Osano Wo where her sparred with many great jiujutsu experts. In the end, Katsuo engaged in an hour long match with the Shihan (Master) of the temple. Though the Shihan possessed great skill far superior to Katsuo, Katsuo’s combination of raw athleticism in conjunction with mastery over jiujutsu resulted in a victory for Katsuo. Katsuo was granted the title Shihan of Taijutsu, or Grand Master of Body Skill.
  • Ando received his first real practice at the Temple of Osano Wo, as it was not improper for a man born of ashigaru stock to wrestle and train with monks. He was taught the use of his natural size and strength, both as a merit and a flaw. Ando remained greatful of the lessons he learned, and the tour of Rokugan the two completed.

Ryu, Katsuo and Ando Return

  • While on a journey to gather food from the Shinomen Mori for the monks at the monastery, Ando found the collapsed body of Matsu Ryu just a few miles outside the Temple of Osano Wo, on the roadside. The monks took care of Ryu until he regained his consciousness. Ryu explained of the new citadel that appeared in the Shadowlands, his former plans to die over the wall, and his future plans to head north to find Toru in the tent village. Katsuo realized this was the same Dragon Clan tent village he had previously passed through. The three traveled north, joining the ranks of Toturi’s early followers.
  • Settling in at the tent village, Ryu repaired his relationships with Toru and his wife Aiba, becoming one of Toturi’s chief military advisers, seeing after more and more of this responsibility as time went on. Ando found himself volunteered for the position of heimin instruction, under Katsuo who was placed as the lead instructor of jujutsu at the dojo.

Otonashi, The Perfect Arrow

  • Otonashi, Kasuga Kemmei and Okichi returned to the mainland, landing in Ebi Mura, and heading north to the Sparrow Lands. They met with the Daimyo of the Sparrow Clan, Suzume Kashira on the subject of a Minor Clan Alliance. Suzume Kashira listened to the proposal with great interest, asking many questions. In the end he declined, explaining that with the effects of the Thunder Band Raids in recent years, they are just now recovering, and their meager numbers had no place preparing for war. It was clear in his wording and his demeanor that the Sparrow Clan felt less threatened after the fall of the Scoprion Clan.
  • The three ambassadors traveled next to the Centipede Clan’s holding, Kyuden Moshi, which sat at the foot of the Mountain of Lady Sun. It was here that Otonashi met Moshi Jukio and ‘the grandmother’ and ‘the mother’ Moshi Wakiza once again. Both figures had met with Otonashi previously at the Winter Court in Ebi Mura. Otonashi also met Tenkuu, the Falcon Clan ghost expert, but Phoenix trained Shugenja. Moshi Jukio was very interested once she heard that Yoritomo was behind this, and wished to speak more on the matter at a later date. Tenkuu wished to travel north west with Otonashi to Dragonfly lands.
  • Otonashi and his entourage traveled next to Kyuden Kitsune to meet with the Fox Clan Champion Kitsune Gohei who seemed very distracted. He listened to the three minor clan representetives with partial interest, but it was plain to see he had no true interest in an alliance out of the Three Man Alliance’s neutral defense pact. He explained that such an alliance might bring the Great Clan’s attention on them, where now they move freely under their attention. The meeting was interrupted by the return of Gohei‘s daughter Kitsune Ryosei who returned with the Ancestral Sword of the Fox. It was her gempukku task, but no small feat, as it had been hidden away under the protection of the Kitsune forest for many years. Otonashi took note of the way Kitsune Gohei eyed the blade, and asked to see it.
    Kitsune Gohei proceeded to unwrap the silk of the handle and revealed the Black Scroll contained within. Gohei read the scroll, to buy his immortality, and became the Walking Horror of Fu Leng, slaughtering everyone in the room, save Otonashii, Okichi, Kasuga Kemmei and Kitsune Ryosei. Gohei was powerful and confused. It went next after the ambassadors, but a perfect arrow fired by Otonashi pinned the sleeve of the walking horror against the wall for but a moment, allowing Okichi to roll past it. He likely would have killed the three ambassadors and his daughter as well were it not for the timely intervention of a kitsune spirit who bought The Ambassadors and Ryosei time to flee.
    *Otonashi returned to Kyuden Ashinagabachi to check in with his daimyo Tsuruchi and offer Kitsune Ryosei a place of refuge.. Tsuruchi was happy to hear of the minor clan defense pact, but wished such a pact to be more detailed before he would agree to such terms. He also provided Otonashi with a letter that had come for him just recently. Otonashi read the letter out loud, detailing the invitation from Toku to join Toturi’s Peasant and Ronin army in Dragon Lands. Otonashi was bold in suggesting before his Daimyo that the Minor clans hold a position of council with the dishonored former Akodo Daimyo. Tsuruchi was irritated at first, but agreed that the position would suit him well, and sent Otonashi out to do just as he suggested. Okichi and Tenkuu joined him, while Kasuga Kemmei parted ways, returning back to the Imperial Lands in hope that the Wasting Disease had passed.

Moto Katashi, The Flame Champion

  • Moto Katashi began making connections with others who blamed the current state of the empire on the failings of the Scorpion. He preached of their failings and of actively cleansing the stain that remains. Katashi did not underestimate the Scorpion. He realized that in hiding, they were likely stronger. No longer did they have to put on a formal face to the empire, but could move about freely and act from the shadows.
  • Moto Katashi set his plans into motion swiftly, recruiting a unit of twenty samurai including his wife’s cousins Moto Bontenmaru, Moto Kyosai, Moto Yukinaga, his own cousin Otaku Inaba and Katashi’s friend and Anjin, a ronin and ally from the former Renketsu family. The unit began roving through the former Scorpion lands, locating pockets of former Scorpion samurai and eliminating them to the last man. The use of the Fire Rune in more than one skirmish earned the unit the name The Firebringer Unit, and they were spoken of with great fear from the peasantry.
  • Within the initial success, The Firebringer Unit hunted down Bayushi Hasuken, one of the late Scorpion Clan Champion Bayushi Shoju’s relatives and scorpion commander during the coup that put a spy within the Unicorn Armies. Katashi learned of the dreaded Black Scrolls, and that someone named Yogo Junzo had been opening them. After executing Hasuken, the Firebringer Unit roved through the lands searching for Yogo Junzo, but failed to find him. Their travels led them to a low level of rations, leading them to Ryoko Owari Toshi or “Journey’s End”. It was also known by many Unicorn as ‘The City of Lies’.
  • The City of Lies is where Katashi found his inner strength. Ryoko Owari has balanced precariously as a political power struggle between the Unicorn Clan and the Scorpion Clan, having finally come to a head last year during the Great Opium Wars. Since the fall of the Scorpion Clan, it’s illegal activities have tripled, and many Unicorn believe foolishly to be in control of it all. This made it very difficult for Katashi to navigate his way through friend and foe, but the Firebringer Unit managed to route many enemies, bringing them to justice. A list of former Scorpion brought to justice includes: Shosuro Jitaka, Yogo Ahaira and Shosuro Meido, the Scorpion actor who tried to assassinate the Unicorn Clan Champion during the coup.
  • In the city, Katashi began uncover evidence of a major black market figure known simply as Nagatane, who was traced to Ebehdo Castle. Exploring Ebehdo Castle, The Firebringer Unit was able to route the largest threat of Scorpion they had faced, losing twelve of their men including Katashi’s wife’s cousin Moto Kyosai and his own cousin Otaku Inaba. The leader Nagatane who also was called by another name the false Chikazane, fled north through the Spine of the World Mountains and into the Lion Lands. The remnants of the Firebringer Unit picked themselves back up and began to track their trail. Reading scrolls from Ebehdo Castle, Katashi learned that they were part of what was called Hitachi. It was a name he did not know well, but one that he believed he had heard from the exploits of Toru, Ryu, Otonashi and their former companion Inu.
  • The trail through the Spine of the World Mountains was daunting, and travelling by way of night to avoid Lion sentries was tedious. Nevertheless, they continued along the trail, following Nagatane and his few remaining subjects into the lands of the Dragon Clan. It was here that the final stand-off occurred, and the Hitachi revealed their true nature. Standing before the Firebringer Unit were the shapes dragons, an ancient breed that sat behind the scenes, tugging for control of Rokugan. Remembering the story in full now, Katashi used his True Fire Rune to bring an end to Nagatane and his Hitachi guards. Though victorious, the casualties weighed heavy on Katashi’s heart, for in this battle he lost the majority of the Firebringer Unit, including his wife’s cousin Moto Bontenmaru and his former Tiger Clan ally and new best friend, Anjin. Katashi himself faced grievous wounds, forcing his horse to follow the road in hope of finding a settlement before he met his end.
  • Out of desperation Moto Katashi led his horse down a side road. Katashi’s steed led the remnants of his Firebringer Unit to a ronin tent city, a quaint settlement out of the way deep in the heart of the Dragon Clan Lands. It was here that Katashi found rest and recovery, as well as the company of his former friends and allies; Toru, Ryu and Ichiro Katsuo. Katashi learned soon that this was a ronin village unofficially run by Toturi, the Black Lion. And it was a place they were all welcomed. After being toured through the village and told of the current day to day expectations of residing there, Moto Katashi believed this would be a very important place to keep watch of, and a great central point for an allied base of operations. Katashi sent a courier pigeon home to his wife to report his stay, and was surprised to see that she had moved herself and their boy out to the village only a few months later.

Interlude Ends

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