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Session #46

Session #45

The First Empress

In the early days of the Empire, Hantei-no-Kami was in search of a bride. He would not wed any of his siblings, though they were of equal status, and so had to look among the mortal populace for a suitable wife. His sister, Lady Doji, attempted to find the best young women in the Empire, but to no avail. None of her selections were able to impress His Imperial Majesty.

The samurai of the Doji family set out to aid their leader and searched for someone suitable to marry their Emperor. At one fishing village, they found no one eligible to bring back to the court. However, Doji Mioko, daughter of a local fisherman who had been adopted into the Crane Clan, had been sent away to a nearby island to keep her from being taken away. Such was her voice and kindness that she could sing the very fish of the ocean to her side, and her father was made wealthy by the catch that she brought to his boat. He would not lose his livelihood—and his daughter—to a far-off nobleman, Emperor or no.

The Emperor spent his days in solitude, forlorn for his lack of a companion. Eventually, he ventured forth among the Crane lands with his retainers and rode to the open sea. The Hantei heard a song borne aloft on the ocean breeze, and he was instantly enchanted.

When he returned to the fishing village, he commanded the sailors to take him to the island in search of the song’s source. Finding no singer, the Emperor asked after the voice that seemed to come from an island. “It is naught but the wind blowing through the coral,” Mioko’s father replied. When her father returned to Mioko that evening, she inquired as to the identity of the man in his boat with him, to which the fisherman replied that the passenger was but a beggar.

Mioko had already fallen in love with the handsome young “beggar,” and tying a haiku to the foot of her pet bird, she prayed to Amaterasu that the goddess would deliver the poem to the beggar. When the bird reached the Hantei and he read the poem, he declared that he would marry its writer. Yet, none of his samurai knew who had sent the poem, and a great search went out across the lands. The Emperor declared, “The maiden who has written these words––her alone will I marry, in all the lands of Rokugan.”

The fisherman relayed this proclamation to his daughter, but she was deceived, believing the Emperor had stolen the words that were intended for the beggar. She agreed to relay her poem to another woman in the village so that the Emperor would marry her instead. But when the Hantei asked the woman to write more poetry for him, he could tell that she was not the author of the original poem. When he confronted her, she revealed that the fisherman had told her the poem, and the Hantei resolved to sail with the fisherman to the island where the coral sang one more time.

Recognizing the “beggar,” Mioko ran out to the shoreline and revealed herself. Upon seeing her and hearing her voice, the Emperor realized that it was she he had heard along the cliffs so long ago. He wept at the sight of her and exchanged his crystallized tears as a dowry for Mioko’s hand in marriage. Instead of sentencing her father to death for his deception, Hantei agreed to his bride-to-be’s wishes and forced the fisherman to live out his days on the island instead. Henceforth, the island became known as Lost Daughter Inlet, and future Empresses have all journeyed there to meditate on what it means to join the Emperor’s Family before they are wed.

Session #44

Session #43

Session #42

Letter to Hiruma Tichuki

Suddenly we find
This world cast in ghostly white
Cold like the graveyard
As night falls, the lanterns glow
Alighting the way forward

Session #41

Letter to Bayushi Kyo

Drawn from a quiver
Sent to strike the quarry true
Messengers of peace
Hide dreadful tidings of war
Tempests brew dark overhead

Session #39

Introduction

Spring is for sowing, summer is for waging war, fall is for the harvest, and winter is for politics. While travel is treacherous or impossible, the samurai of Rokugan winter in their mighty castles and continue their political gamesmanship.

Countless provincial and family daimyō host a winter court at their stronghold to honor their vassals and ensure their loyalty. At a winter court, official business is conducted, promotions and betrothals are announced, treaties are negotiated, and disputes are resolved.

The true Winter Court, however, takes place wherever the Emperor attends, and each year a different palace is selected for the honor. This year, Kyūden Doji hosts His Imperial Majesty and his retinue.

Kakita Ryoku’s Letter

Fallen leaves blanket the ground. The sea breeze brings the chill of winter, and the nights grow long. Despite the cold, this season is a gift, as is the chance to forge new friendships.

I wish to serve you a simple bowl of tea in an intimate gathering in the tradition of Lady Doji. I am greatly looking forward to receiving you at the floating teahouse on the fifteenth day of the Month of Togashi, at the Hour of the Horse.

Please refer to the enclosed map to locate this humble teahouse. My apprentice, Doji Chiyoe, will receive you in the gardens.

Arriving at the Floating Teahouse

At a distance, the teahouse seems to be floating on a small pond. If you did not know better, you could have mistaken the gentle snowbanks for the clouds of Heaven itself. A worn, wooden bridge arches between the shore and the foyer. A gentle breeze blows, bringing with it the crisp, pure scent of frost.

Across the gardens, you catch a glimpse of an ornate palanquin, and a figure in a many-layered kimono steps forth. It is the Lady of Winter herself, the poet and storyteller Kakita Ryoku—your host.


The fire in the sunken hearth in the center of the teahouse is a welcome sight. Hanging in the alcove to your right is a delicate scroll depicting a misty island and a solitary fisherman’s boat. In the same alcove, an ikebana display featuring aster flowers is a gentle reminder of spring. As you kneel in your prescribed place, the faint sparkling of gold catches your eye—the ceramics set beside the rest of the tea set have faint lines of gold tracing through them.

Kakita Ryoku, the Lady of Winter

Session #38

Session #35

Session #33

Session #32

An impression of a tsumunagi
A drawing of a tsumunagi

Session #30

Dark Tides ending
Dark Tides ending as Isawa Aki could see it

Session #25

Session #23

Doro the Moneylender

Session #22

Session #21

Boss Yaguro

Session #20

Session #16

Session #12

Session #11

Session #9

Session #8

Agasha Sumiko, Ruby Champion

Session #3

Kakita Toshimoko
Bayushi Sugai
Kitsuki Yuikimi
The Topaz Armor that Kitsuki Yuikimi wears

Session #1

Introduction

Het is het twintigste jaar onder het bewind van de heilige Keizer, Hantei de 38e. Het Emerald Empire heeft bestaan voor 1000 jaar, dankzij de directie en leiderschap van de kami, en de goedhartigheid van de Hantei keizers. Elk van de zeven Grote Clans tracht de eerste te zijn in de ogen van de Keizer, terwijl ze Rokugan bewaken tegen de vele vijanden, intern en extern.

Het Topaz Championship is een kans voor elke Clan om hun beste vechters, hun wijste priesters en scherpste hovelingen te sturen en met elkaar te strijden. Hoewel alle deelnemers kunnen slagen in de proeven, en samoerai kunnen worden, zal er maar 1 het toernooi kunnen winnen, en die zal glorie en roem vergaren voor hem- of haarzelf, en voor de Clan. Misschien ligt er zelfs een hoge functie in het Keizerrijk in het verschiet!

Jullie zijn allen deelnemers, en reizen naar het dorp Tsuma. Daar zal het kampioenschap plaatsvinden, in de Kakita Dueling Academy. Misschien, met de zegen van de kami, zal je het toernooi winnen en de Topaz Champion worden.

The Cart & The Peasant

Ook al komen jullie allemaal van verschillende clans, als reizigers hebben jullie samen naar Tsuma getrokken. Onderweg kwam je andere reizigers, burgers en kooplieden tegen. Nu kun je eindelijk het dorp voor je zien liggen, achter de bomen die in bloei staan. Je zult kunnen rusten en bijkomen van de reis. Dat is hard nodig want morgen begint het toernooi!


Terwijl je langs de Tangu-rivier loopt kom je een onverwacht obstakel tegen. Een kar ligt op haar kant en blokkeert de hele weg. Het is lastig om er langs te lopen, want aan de linkerkant staat een stenen muur die een rijstveld begrensd. Het rijstveld staat onderwater. Aan de rechterkant stroomt de rivier.

Een oudere landarbeider probeert krampachtig de kar weer overeind te krijgen. Zodra hij jullie groep ziet gooit hij zich languit op de grond, zijn voorhoofd raakt het stof.

“Geachte samoerai! Duizend excuses voor het versperren van jullie weg! Ik zal de kar onmiddellijk wegduwen!”

Je kan wachten tot de man zijn taak heeft volbracht, maar barmhartigheid is een deugd voor een samoerai. En wellicht weet hij iets over het Topaz Championship?


Mijn naam is Ryu, en het was mijn eer om de dienaar van Doji Satsume te zijn. Hij was, zoals u weet, de grote Emerald Champion, en handhaafde de wetten in het Keizerrijk. Helaas, mijn meester overleed een een paar weken geleden. Ik breng zijn persoonlijke bezittingen naar zijn zwager, Takita Toshimoko. Toshimoko-sama is de geëerde hoofd van de Kakita Duel Academy, in Tsuma.


Tien-duizend-duizend verontschuldigingen, geachte samoerai. Ik schrok toen ik dacht iemand in de rivier te zien staan. Een windvlaag duwde me in de rivier, en deed de kar omvallen!


Ik dacht dat ik mijn overleden meester zag, de hooggeëerde Doji Satsumi, maar dat kan natuurlijk niet, hij is al weken dood! Het zal een speling van het licht zijn geweest, stommerik die ik ben! De meester was altijd goed voor me, en nu zie ik hem nog steeds…


The note

“Je hebt me vaak verteld dat je een betere vader voor mijn kinderen bent dan ikzelf. Ik kan slechts hopen dat het Lot je zegent (of vervloekt) met je eigen kinderen, dat je de werkelijke uitdaging van het vaderschap zal zien.”

Het lijkt gericht te zijn aan de schrijver’s zwager, Kakita Toshimoko.