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7. Bayushi Kyo

Day of the Duels

Played on November 25th, 2018

Topaz Championship, Day 4 in Tsuma, Year 1123

It's the days of the duels, and i wake up totally frustrated! I haven't gotten anywhere yet. A lot of things are happening in the open, but a lot more are hidden. I might have easily gotten my Gempuku for the outside world. But I'm definitely not scoring my marks as a Scorpion. Today is the last day, the day of the duels. Something bad is going to happen today, I just don't see it. And worse, I have no proper picture of who is going to act.

Two Scorpions obviously playing in the dark, some minor attempts at manipulation. But certainly no game changing preparations I can see or find. Mei Lin was not there when the Ronin appeared, that might imply involvment, but it might also imply strategic choice of presence. Sugai knew more about the horse, that might mean involvement, or maybe just in the know or part of his own investigation. At least there is a target, that is the easy part. Someone does not want Hitoshi to succeed, but why? And how far is he or she willing to go?

No time to contemplate anymore, the duels are about to start. Though the championship is of minor importance compared to what is really going on, there is still honor to be had in becoming the champion. The first duel could be interesting, Mei Lin versus the outsider horsewoman. Nothing special happens as Mei Lin easily takes care of her opponent. Next up are Kikita Riku and Hitoshi, if anything is going to happen during the duels it might be now. There is too much honor too loose for Kikita Ruka to do something herself and I might not have shown my expertise yet but I am convinced Kikita Ruka is not even capable of direct action like this. She seems to grab a specific weapon, decorated with specific colors, an obious favorite of hers. The duel is quick and the winner is as expected Kikita Riku, but the result is not. Het bokken is not a bokken at all! It was a real blade, the result is as explosive as the speed of her draw. Blood spatters as her blade cuts deep into Hitoshi. She falls on her knees, this will totally ruin her honor. But there is surprise on her face, this is not her action.
Seeing Isawa Aki run for the fallen Hitoshi I rip my eyes of the scene. This is the moment where faces will betray the acts of trickery. I see someone running away, a blade on his back, the same decoration on it as the one Kikita Riku chose. I see people following him, being noticed like that can only be the act of an accomplice. I want the major player, not the smaller one. At that moment Kitsuki Yukini calls for us to engage in the pursuit. He is a full Samurai, I am obliged to follow, but Duty to the Empire and the bigger picture forces me to stay behind. I flow into the masses of the watchers to make sure I can identify who is playing a role and making sure I am not seen as one to have stayed behind against direct orders.

But it is not what I can see that exposes who it is, but who is missing from the gathering that points a finger. Sugai is not here and he matches the silhouette of the one that ran away. I quickly grasp my mistake and run after the rest of our mishaped group. What idiocy is this?! There are certain deeds that need to be done to improve and protect the Empire. But this is flagrant amateurism, to be seen by this many people after the act. There is much dishonor in this deed and Sugai needs to be apprehended to protect both the Scorpion and the innocent.

As Togashi Yoshi was also delayed in saving the dishonorable blade from further fell deeds, we make our way after the rest. We find Sugai cornered with a wall at his back, but he is not alone. The same group of Ronin we have met before appears around him for protection. Does Mei Lin still play a role here my mind thinks before I clear it of thought and throw myself into the fray. Both parties are bloodied but we have Righteousness on our side and we prevail over our enemies. For Honors sake it needs to be a Scorpion that brings back the guilty. I throw him over my shoulder as we make our way back to the Academy.
As we get back Compassion decides to show its face today as well. We were just in time to prevent Kakita Riku from commiting seppuku after the supposed dishonor.

After all that we still needed to finish the duels and Isawa Aki boldly claimed the title of Topaz Champion. I will not bother you with the details, but it is a fun twist by the Kami that after a day like this a shugenja claims the day.