Emperor: The 1st year of the reign of Hantei XXXIX
Emerald Champion: None
Clan Champions: Hida Kisada (Crab), Kakita Yoshi (Crane), Togashi Yokuni (Dragon), Matsu Tsuko (Lion), Shiba Ujimitsu (Phoenix), Bayushi Shoju (Scorpion)
Word from Unicorn lands is that Shinjo Yokatsu has ordered all able bushi to begin training maneuvers at the City of the Rich Frog. Some say his forces will aid the Lion in defeating the Crane, while others claim that Crane courtiers have brokered a deal with Yokatsu to allow him to claim control of the neighbouring Lion lands.
Mirumoto Takishi, Shinjo Smith and Kuni Matsuda journeyed to Toshi Ranbo to provide a magistrate presence at peace talks between the Lion and the Crane. During the proceedings, the magistrates were visited by Tankenka (formerly known as Noshin – see The Battle of Kenson Gakka) Since they last met, Tankenka had been researching who had been manipulating this war and discovered Bayushi Sozui’s interference in a number of key events. Sozui had been seen in a nearby Kitsu library and Tankenka feared she would interfere in the peace talks.
A few hours later, the leader of the Lion delegates, Matsu Agame, requested permission to commit seppuku. Word around court was that he was being blackmailed about his relationship with the daughter of a Crane general. Sozui, dressed as a Crane solider, sabotaged the seppuku by killing Agame’s son resulting in the Lion attacking the Crane forces. During the fighting, a number of strange events occurred. The ghost of Akodo Arasou appeared to the magistrates, indicating they should go to his shrine immediately. There they found the dying body of Tankenka and evidence of a ritual performed by Sozui. At the same time, the Lion and Crane soldiers began behaving erratically, attacking their own forces, lost in the bloodlust of battle.
In an attempt to discover why Sozui had performed the ritual, the magistrates travelled to the Kitsu library at Swift Sword Castle. There, Matsuda found that the ritual used would have summoned spirits to Rokugan, but the specific rituals were missing. Before the theft could be investigated, the magistrates where drawn into a trap by Sozui’s assistant, Kitsu Goden.
Trapped in Meido, the realm of the dead, the magistrates found the ghost of Tankenka who explained what had occurred. Sozui had summoned the Legacy, a war band of spirits from Toshigoku. These spirits existed only to cause as much death as possible and were possessing the soldiers, forcing them to attack the nearest target. If these attacks continued, the Legacy would spread across the face of Rokugan, killing thousands. Tankenka explained that his assistant, Matsu Shimesu, had hidden the ritual scrolls in an outpost on the Plains of Battle and helped the magistrates return to Rokugan.
Hounded by Crane soldiers, the magistrates eventually recovered the ritual and found that to banish the Legacy, the ritual needed an epic battle and someone to lead the Legacy back to Toshigoku. Learning of a nearby battle at Shiro no Yojin, the magistrates began preparations for the ritual. As the Legacy began possessing the two armies, Sozui attempted to kill Matsuda before the ritual could be completed. Shinjo Smith managed to dive in front of Sozui’s attack and Takishi dealt a grevious blow, forcing Sozui to flee. In the final moments of the ritual, Akodo Arasou reappeared and sacrificed his place in the heavens to return the Legacy to Toshigoku.
While the threat posed by the Legacy had been ended, the Crane and Lion are no closer to ending their war. The Crane were able to gain control of Shiro no Yojin during the battle but their hold of Toshi Ranbo is weakened due to their heavy loses there.
Mirumoto Takishi, Kuni Matsuda and Shinjo Smith were invited to take part in the Tournament of the Emperor’s Favoured, an annual tournament organised by the minor clans to forge alliances between themselves and the major clans. Each minor clan hosted a single event, highlighting their specialities. The events were:
Mantis: Armed Combat
At the end of the event, the top 8 contenders took part in a final challenge: to enter the Kitsune Mori and search for a hidden shrine. There they would find tokens representing the minor clans. The first person to return with one of these would be declared the tournament’s winner. Shinjo Smith was the first to enter the forest and emerged first, carrying the token of the Mantis Clan.
Shinjo Yokatsu’s armies ride through Lion lands, leading many to believe he has decided to join them against the Crane. However, his target is the Imperial City of Otosan Uchi. He is confronted by Doji Satsume who challenges Yokatsu to a duel. Yokatsu cheats by having his men shoot Satsume with arrows before the duel. The city gates open for the Unicorn and the city’s mystical defences do not trigger. Yokatsu’s men quickly seal off the city, preventing anyone from leaving. Yokatsu enters the Imperial Courts and, in front of the assembled courtiers, kills Hantei the 38th. Yokatsu then provides his soldiers with a list of names with orders to kill everyone on the list.
Iuchi Karasu learns too late of his Clan Champion’s plans and sends word to Kuni Yori of the attack on Otosan Uchi. Yori in turn sends word to Yogo Junzo who is able to send Scorpion messengers to all the other clans. Yori also contacts Kuni Matsuda to warn him that Hantei Sotorii, who was the guest of honour at the Tournament of the Emperor’s Favoured, may be in danger. The magistrates manage to save Sotorii from Unicorn assassins and provide protection for the Emperor’s son until he can reach Crab lands.
The armies of the Great Clans converge on the Imperial City. The battle lasts for seven days with many casualties on both sides. The battle ends when Akodo Toturi manages to best Yokatsu in a duel. Their leader defeated, the remaining Unicorn flee to their lands.
The threat of the Unicorn ended, Hantei Sotorii is officially declared Emperor. As his first edict, he banishes the Unicorn from the lands of Rokugan. The Crab will be gifted the Unicorn lands to protect the same way they protect their lands from the Shadowlands. Shinjo Smith and Iuchi Karasu are allowed to join other clans for their services to the Empire.
Hantei the 39th’s second edict is to address Akodo Toturi and Doji Hoturi. The Lion and Crane are supposed to protect the Emperor from harm, yet they allowed the war between their clans to distract them from their duty. Hantei the 39th strips the Akodo and Doji of their family names, and denies Toturi and Hoturi the right to seppuku. Toturi and Hoturi will be ronin, and all other members of their clans must either become ronin or join another family of their clan. Matsu Tsuko and Kakita Yoshi become Clan Champions of their respective clans.
Finally, after Kuni Yori declines the position, Hantei the 39th assigns Yogo Junzo the position of Imperial Advisor.
Before the Tournament of the Emperor’s Favoured, Yokuni appeared and spoke to Shinjo Smith. “It begins today – fate has brought you to this time and place and you will need to make a choice. You decision will either save or doom the empire. Choose well!” Smith was offered the chance to join Yokatsu’s troops by killing Sotorii, but Smith refused.
After Sotorii’s coronation, Yokuni appeared again. “The Empire is changed. The Unicorn’s actions have placed a new Emperor on the throne, but not the one they intended. I came to you months ago, and told you that you would lose everything. You family, clan and lands are all gone, yet you still live. Your honour is intact and you still hold the position of Imperial Magistrate.
“Your destiny is still yet to unfold. You will be called upon to protect the Empire from the greatest evil it has ever known. Before then you will have to make one final choice. The teachings of the Empire will tell you to do one thing, but you must do the opposite. Only once this choice has been made, will you be in a position to save the Empire from itself.”
As well as the death of Hantei the 38th, the Unicorn also killed anyone who was related to Hantei by blood. It is unknown why they would wish to do so, but they have attempted to eradicate all traces of the Hantei bloodline. Doji Satsume was killed by Yokatsu’s dishonourable actions, leaving the Empire without an Emerald Champion. Hantei the 39th allows Akodo Kage to keep his family name in recognition of his position as his father’s sensei.