Emperor: The 5th 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)
A few weeks into the new year, the peasants of Kirei Mura, a small village near Shiro Shiba, complain about plague. The local shugenja can provide no aid, their spells failing due to another magical pulse (the sixth pulse to have occurred.) Runners are sent to the local monastery, but, by the time the monks return, everyone in the village is dead. The monks return home but they soon succumb to the plague, all except for one young nun and one of the original runners.
A second outbreak of the plague occurs in the Crane controlled fortress of Shiro Banken. A dead bird is found in the drinking water well and discarded without further thought. A week later almost everyone at Shiro Banken is dead – the only survivor a young Samurai named Daidoji Karasu.
After these outbreaks the disease began to spread like wildfire – The Phoenix have tried to control it but, even when they quarantine villages, the disease appears somewhere entirely new.
The most prominent sufferer of the plague is the Emperor, Hantei XXXIX. While he has not died from the plague it has left him greatly weakened and many worry for his health. Of greater worry is that the Emperor has no heir and, after the Unicorn’s coup that killed all other members of the Hantei bloodline, if the Emperor dies there will be no one to take control of the throne.
The Empress, Hantei Asami announces that, despite the Emperor’s illness and plague affecting most of Rokugan, that the usual social events will not be cancelled this year, including the upcoming tournament to determine the new Emerald Champion.
Visitors to Crab lands return with disturbing reports of their defences. Some are saying that the Crab have found a way of controlling the creatures of the Shadowlands, and that Ogres and undead now stand alongside the Crab bushi. The few words that Hida Kisada is willing to speak on the subject confirm that Kuni Yori has Kisada’s backing to do whatever is required to protect the Empire. As Yori is the foremost expert on the Shadowlands and he has the backing of one of the Great Clan Champions, few doubt Yori’s intentions.
After a meeting with Toturi, Mirumoto Daini bestows control of his armies to the former Lion. He then sets off South through Beiden Pass. Some believe he might be hoping to end this war by speaking to Hida Kisada but few believe this will achieve anything.
Agasha Tamori reports that attempts to contact the Oracles and the Elemental Dragons they represent no longer work. With the recent upheavals in their magic Tamori worries that the kami are turning their backs on the people of Rokugan. To make matters worse, Togashi Yokuni has not been seen in over a year. Tamori decides to keep this information within the Dragon clan until Yokuni can be found to decide on the best course of action.
Recruited by Miya Katsu to help in the search for Usagi Ozaki, the magistrates tracked him down to Friendly Traveller Village. After saving Ozaki from Koda, an agent of the Kolat, and preventing Friendly Traveller Village’s destruction from a magical tsunami, it became apparent that the conspiracy had infected Ozaki with the dark powers of the Shimushigaki. Journeying to the Bells of the Dead they discovered that the conspiracy had replaced the Bells with forgeries to prevent the Shimushigaki being banished once more.
Lead by the ghost of Asako Hu Xiang, one of the original shugenja that banished the Shimushigaki, the magistrates discovered the secret fortress of the Kolat. There they were able to defeat the Shimushigaki, but not before Kuni Matsuda died at the hands of Daidoji Dajan, the leader of the Kolat.
For helping save Friendly Traveller Village, Yasuki Taka rescinded his testimony against the Hare, allowing their clan to be reformed and their lands reclaimed.
In the months leading up toward the Emerald Championship, the shugenja of Rokugan detect a further four magical pulses in short succession. The Phoenix are unable to find an answer to why their magic’s are being disrupted. No one is able to contact the Elemental Masters for comment.
After months of speculation, the Emerald Championship is decided on the Plains of Thunder. Each clan puts forward a number of serious contenders for the position, including Kitsuki Smith, and Kakita Toshimoko. At the last minute, the Scorpion announce the arrival of another contender – Mirumoto Hitomi. Hitomi, who was believed to have died in battle with Hida Yakamo the previous year, now had an obsidian hand in place of that destroyed by Yakamo.
Throughout the day the contenders took part in a series of Tests of Worth culminating in an Iaijutsu duel. Despite having been attacked by masked assailants before the duels, Kakita Toshimoko managed to reach the final to face Hitomi. Toshimoko was able to fight past his injuries to defeat the Dragon to claim the title. During Toshimoko’s fealty ceremony, Hitomi was nowhere to be seen.
While the Emerald Championship was taking place, Mirumoto Takishi and Isawa Kiyoshi were asked to locate the missing Miya Yumi. Yumi had been investigating a number of robberies in recent months. Each of the items stolen were crafted by a Scorpion Artisan named Bayushi Tesaguri in the year 545. The last anyone had heard from Yumi, she was heading to Traitors Grove, a place where the Scorpion bury those who have betrayed their family.
At the grove, the magistrates discovered that Yumi had come and gone, but that someone else was searching for Tesaguri. That person had left behind an Oni called the Uragirimono – a creature capable of raising the dead to fight for it. The magistrates were able to defeat the Uragirimono and summoned the spirit of Tesaguri to learn why his works were important.
Tesaguri explained that he was the son of the Scorpion Clan Champion of his time, and he had been given the responsibility of protecting the 12 Black Scrolls used to defeat Fu Leng. However, his greed was his downfall, and he sold on three of the scrolls to the Phoenix and a further scroll to the Kitsu. Before his clan discovered his treachery, he was able to hide the other scrolls within creations. Over the centuries, these pieces of art had been sold onto various collectors around Rokugan. The last of these items, a kabuto, still lay hidden in his work place hidden in the mountains nearby. That was where Miya Yumi was heading.
On the way to the workshop, the magistrates one again encountered the Uragirimono, but this time a much larger version that had possessed the body of an ogre. Defeating the ogre only served to spread the Uragirimono spawn to the other dead bodies scattered around. Fortunately for the magistrates, they were saved by the intervention of Shosuro Himetsu, the head of the Shosuro family, who used one of his herbal poisons that could affect the undead.
Finally arriving at Tesaguri’s workshop, the magistrates were unable to prevent a masked shugenja from escaping with the black scroll. Yumi was found inside the cave, burned by magics but still alive.
Following the tournament, Yogo Junzo called together all the heads of the Great Clans to discuss the state of the Empire. Isawa Kaede revealed that the other Elemental Masters had fallen to corruption. Centuries earlier, the Elemental council of the time had purchased three of the Black Scrolls from Bayushi Tesaguri. When Isawa Tadaka recently returned from his mission to the Shadowlands, he had convinced the Council to read the scrolls they had in their possession to learn more about Rokugan’s enemies in the Shadowlands. Kaede had refused to join her companions and had noticed changes in their behaviour since.
Junzo then revealed his main reason for bringing everyone together. Years ago, while exploring the labyrinth below Kyuden Bayushi, a magical scroll was discovered. Upon deciphering the scroll, it told of how the days of the last Hantei would herald the time of Fu Leng. Junzo took the scroll to Kuni Yori and the pair decided that, as the Emperor had a son and extended family, there was no danger of the prophecy coming true. However, to be safe, Yori sent one of his Kuni shugenja to the courtship of Otomo Yorishiku, the emperor’s niece, to ensure there were no complications.
The following year, Shinjo Yokatsu led his assault on Otosan Uchi, killing the Emperor and attempted to wipe out all traces of the Hantei bloodline. Kitsuki Smith’s actions saved the current Emperor from the Unicorn and the other clans were able to defeat Yokatsu’s armies. The prophecy had come one step closer to a reality. In light of this, Yori suggested that Junzo become to Imperial Advisor, to keep a close eye on Hantei and ensure the prophecy could not come true. Yori organised marriage for the Emperor in the hopes an heir could be born.
However, with the Emperor dying of the plague that has affected Rokugan, and with no blood relative to take control of the throne, it seems inevitable that Fu Leng’s time is coming. As Kuni Yori has become distant since becoming embroiled in Yakamo’s war with Hitomi, Yori has turned to the other clans for aid.
Hida Kisada suggested that the Empire would survive without Hantei, and they should raise an army to kill him. Matsu Tsuko declared this a blasphemy, and that the Lion would never oppose the Emperor. Bayushi Shoju and Isawa Kaede both sided with Kisada, sharing his view that the Empire was more important than the Emperor. The Crane Champion Kakita Yoshi and the new Emerald Champion Kakita Toshimoko both sided with Matsu Tsuko, both unable to break the bonds of tradition their clan have always followed.
The final decision came down to Kitsuki Smith – with Hitomi and Yokuni having vanished, and no other Dragon present, Shoju asked Smith for his decision. Remembering the words of Togashi Yokuni, Smith decided to side with Kisada.