Emperor: The 3rd 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)
During the final days of the Winter Court, Yogo Junzo announces that Hantei XXXIX will be married in the spring. The chosen Empress will be Yogo Asami – the marriage will forge a bond between the ruling family of Rokugan and that of the Scorpions. The announcement is met with celebrations throughout the land.
The Elemental Master of Earth leaves Kyuden Isawa, indicating his intentions are to visit places of learning throughout the lands. However, after his departure, it is discovered he has taken a large amount of jade with him and it is feared he has ventured into the Shadowlands alone.
Just months after the Kuni’s spell was used, the Northern wall is completed. Unlike the Kaiu wall to the south, the Northern Wall is completely made of the same dark metal that Kuni Yori’s fortress is constructed. The wall stretches from the Mountain of the north right down to the Twilight Mountains.
The Falcon clan’s lands are positioned between the northern and southern Crab lands. To consolidate the Crab’s control of the Empire’s western border, the Emperor offers the Falcon clan the gift of a family name if they will join the Crab clan. They accept and become the Toritaka family. Shortly afterwards, Toritaka spirit hunters report strange things moving within the Shinomen Mori.
Rumour start circulating that the mysterious daimyo of the Dragon Clan was seen in the camp of the Ronin army being formed by Toturi and Hoturi. As the ronin armies have set up camp in Dragon lands people assume that Yokuni has asked the armies to move on, but, in the coming weeks, not only to the armies not leave Dragon lands, more ronin arrive, bolstering their ranks.
At the invite of Shosuro Rei, Kitsuki Smith, Mirumoto Takishi and Kuni Matsuda visit Kyuden Shosuro. Upon speaking to Shosuro Hametsu they discover that the Oracle of Fire had gone insane and was attacking Scorpion lands following a visit by Scorpion Courtiers. Suspicious of what the Scorpions may have done to anger the powerful Oracle, the magistrates investigated and found that the Oracle had fallen in love with one of the Scorpion courtiers and felt that his love had been stolen from him. The Oracle asked the magistrates to perform two deeds: return his lost love to him and find his chosen successor, a young eta gravedigger named Tomuko.
Unable to find the Scorpion courtier, the magistrates had better luck with the eta but were hounded by Scorpions who felt that the Oracle should not bestow his power to an eta, effectively giving the power of an elemental dragon to a non-person. Eventually returning to the Oracle’s home they were able to stop the object of the Oracles affection, Shosuro Shiriko, from plunging a magical dagger into the Oracle, draining his power into her. The Oracle, dying from the wound inflicted transferred his power to Tomoko and ascended to the Celestial Heavens. The new Oracle promised the magistrates they would not suffer retribution from the Scorpion for their actions.
Speaking to Shosuro Rei the magistrates were able to discover that Bayushi Tomaru, the man sent to retrieve the scroll from Hare lands had disappeared shortly afterwards. Usagi Tomoe, taken captive by Tomaru had also disappeared as well.
Unsure who to trust, the magistrates used their connection to the Oracle of Fire to answer some questions about the conspiracy.
Who is the master referred to in the message? – He is one of many but even I cannot percieve who they are. They are hidden by powerful magics – magic that has protected them for centuries from man’s view.
What level of involvement, if any, does Shosuro Rei have with the master’s conspiracy? – Rei suspects a conspiracy exists but knows not of the message’s content. She is no more a pawn of the conspiracy than yourselves?
Where is Kitsuki Smith’s father? – Ryoko Owari
A matter of great importance is brought in front of the Imperial Magistrates – the Hare clan are accused of being Maho-Tsukai. Kitsune Hamato, Daidoji Unoko, Toritaka Bonugi and Yasuki Taka all provide testimony. When word of this gets out, the Hare clan are disgraced. Usagi Oda, daimyo of the Hare Clan commits seppuku to cleanse his honour. Hantei XXXIX dissolves the Hare clan. Kuni witch hunters and Phoenix inquisitors visit Hare lands but no arrests are made. If the Hare were practitioners of Maho, they have long fled. The remaining Hare clan samurai become Ronin and remain in the local area. Of Oda’s son Ozaki, no one has seen him since the event of the year previously and most believe he is searching for his sister.
For a few years it had been assumed that the Scorpion clan had been courting the Mantis to be their agents in dealing with the other Minor Clans. However, Yoritomo sends his courtiers to all the remaining Minor Clans proposing their form an alliance to protect their interests from the Major Clans.
The Dragonfly immediately refuse, preferring to honour their bonds with the Dragon Clan. The Centipede clan retire to mediatate on the subject, promising an answer one year from now. The Badger Clan refuse, claiming their remote locale leaves them isolated from the politics of Rokugan. The Tortoise immediately accept, hoping to protect themselves from the general hatred of their clan (due to its founders dealings with gaijin invaders). The Wasp are eager to join, but the other members of the Three Man Alliance (the Sparrow and Fox) feel that the alliance will cause more harm than good. Yoritomo is unhappy with the results as he had hoped more clans would have thrown in their support.
As the year draws to a close and most attend Winter Court, Mirumoto Hitomi journeys into the former Unicorn lands alone. She confronts Hida Yakamo while he is patrolling his lands and challenges him to a duel. Yakamo remembers the young girl who challenged him after he had killed her brother and laughs. “Do you feel you have a hope of defeating me, or do you miss your brother so much you wish to be with him sooner than the Fortunes intended? I accept little Dragon.
Yakamo’s overconfidence is his undoing. Hitomi has practiced for years for this moment and had studied the Hida schools. She side steps Yakamo’s blow and brings her katana down on Yakamo’s right hand, severing it from his arm. Yakamo asks Hitomi to finish the deed and kill him. “You took from me what I cherished most. My brother meant more to me than anything else in this world. I take from you what you cherish most. I take your strength. I take your ability to hold your katana. I take you ability to defend the Empire. Live with the decisions you have made!”
Yakamo returns to Yori’s fortress and demands he find a way to return to him what was taken.