Sunday, October 9, 2022

Emerald Empire Sessions 2 and 3: A Writ of Justice

My Legend of the 5 Rings game continues! Hiruma Saya's player's cousin visited us and I took it upon myself to introduce him to tabletop games as a guest player. 


Bayushi Nori, Scorpion clan courtier
Suzume Minori, Sparrow clan warrior
Tsuruchi Kenzo, Wasp clan archer
Kitsuki Ayumi, Dragon clan investigator
Hiruma Saya, Crab clan scout
(Absent in session 3) Shiba Imori, Phoenix clan warrior 
(Guest in session 3) Ryuma, Unicorn-born ronin
(NPC) Akodo Torokai, Lion clan shugenja

The Session

The party learned that Kitsu Rin, court diviner of Vigilance Castle, was missing, and resolved to solve this mystery. 

The next morning they spoke with Matsu Hiro at greater length and learned more about the situation. They were granted access to Kitsu Rin's room, and Ayumi's keen eye soon found several clues. The floor had been scoured with lye, but a trace of the pollutant remained: a bloodstain. His desk had a secret compartment, which had recently housed something, but was now empty, and showed no sign of forced entry. Outside the window, on the ground three floors down in some bushes, they spotted something glinting. Akodo Torokai later collected it and confirmed it was an amulet Kitsu Rin frequently wore. 

The party spoke to the various guest samurai, whom Matsu Hiro suspected. They determined that the Scorpion courtier, Yogo Akira, wasn't what he seemed. In fact, he likely wasn't a courtier, and his painting secretly encoded the locations of Lion clan battle camps. 

Isawa Kato, the Phoenix shugenja, accepted Bayushi Nori's challenge to a go game, and won handily, while the rest of the group determined that he was preparing suspicious scrolls. Shiba Imori accepetd Mirumoto Nobara's challenge to a sparring duel, and was defeated, but earned her trust, while the rest of the group learned about the castle's history from Doji Mai: until recently it had been a Crane stronghold, but the Lion clan invaded it, and the Crane samurai within threw themselves from the tower rather than be captured. 

The party also investigated the servants and the steward, Roku. They quickly determined that several of them knew more than they were letting on, and with Matsu Hiro's permission pressed Roku more forcefully. He was extremely confused, but the truth soon came out. A week previous, they had been summoned to Kitsu Rin's room, and saw Matsu Hiro leaving with a bloody blade, Kitsu Rin dying on the floor. He ordered them to clean up the mess and bury the body, and then he took several documents, which Roku presumed got burned. Thereafter they buried the body away from the castle. 

The next day the party took Roku to investigate the burial site with a crew of eta (the lowest caste, responsible for filthy jobs such as touching corpses) and confirmed Kitsu Rin's body was there. They also found that he had inscribed something into his arm using his fingernail, a series of ragged characters which spelled out 'Ko-ra-to'. 

Back at the castle, Akodo Torokai broke the news of the party's investigations to Matsu Hiro. The lord was overcome by grief, and soon afterwards departed for a local monastery for an indeterminate period of time. 

That very day, however, the party received a letter from the nearby North Hub Village, requesting aid on behalf of Otomo Sojin, a prominent courtier of the Imperial clan. They made their way with all due haste, arriving the following afternoon. Just within the town gates they were met by a ronin, Ryuma, hefting a colossal axe in one hand, who was waiting for them and was prepared to guide them to Otomo Sojin. Akodo Torokai separated to announce himself to the local magistrate, and instructed the party to meet Sojin and learn what afflicted him.

They followed to the Gentle Blossom geisha house, where they were expected, and the madam welcomed them all effusively. Within a private and luxurious room they encountered Otomo Sojin... who was not expecting. Only Akodo Torokai's personal seal convinced him they were here to help. Earlier that very day (well after the party got the letter asking for help) he had received a ransom note for his son, Otomo Kokare, who would be returned only when he paid back the debt owed. The note warned against contacting the authorities, lest his son be punished. 

Sojin was distraught and confused, and proved to be entirely unaware of who his son associated with and what he did. The party gathered basic information and were warned not to take this to the local magistrate, a member of the minor Tortoise clan that Sojin demeaned as a near-peasant. Ryuma spoke up to inform the group that a good source of information was the Smiling Tigers yakuza gang, one of two major criminal organizations (along with the Red Foxes gang). He pointedly refused to confess who his employer was. 

The party took him up on this and visited the gang at their headquarters in an abandoned inn. They soon met a gang lieutenant, Adoka, who presented Bayushi Nori with a recognition sign: he was an undercover member of the Scorpion clan backing the Smiling Tigers. The conversation between Adoka and the group, primarily with Kitsuki Ayumi, was tense, as Ayumi didn't want to tip her hand in case the Smiling Tigers were responsible for the kidnapping. Eventually, however, they got a hint that they could find what they needed in the Drunken Phoenix gambling house, which was sponsored by the Red Foxes. Nori spoke with him further alone, and learned that Adoka had been the one to send them a letter asking for help, having caught wind of the plot early and hoping to use the group's help to crush the Smiling Tigers' rivals and gain a monopoly over organized crime in town. Nori did not share this information with the group. 

They investigated the Drunken Phoenix, with Nori gambling (and ultimately winning a few silver bu) while the rest of the party drank at the bar. Hiruma Saya made fast friends with a ronin, Tomoji, who turned out to know Kokare, as the two frequently drank together and gambled at this establishment, in blatant violation of class norms. They plied him with drink until he confessed that he saw Kokare escorted from the Drunken Phoenix two nights before by a pair of burly men, whom he pointed out, likely yakuza belonging to the Red Foxes. 

The party left the gambling house but stuck around the area until the yakuza left, and tailed them to their headquarters nearby, the 'Red Fox Inn.' The party rendezvoused with Akodo Torokai, and in the small hours of the morning made their move: Torokai used an earth spell to let Ayumi float underground and observe the goings-on within, and she located Otomo Kokare tied up in a storage closet within, as well as identifying the dozen-plus yakuza within. The group got into position, and launched their attack. Tsuruchi Kenzo and Bayushi Nori hung back and shot the guards at the front door, shortly backed up in melee by Ryuma and Ayumi. Meanwhile Hiruma Saya and Suzume Minori scaled the walls to the inner courtyard and assaulted the compound from the other side. 

Also, all the melee combatants were cloaked in a spell of magical fire that burned their opponents. 

It was a massacre. They had secured the two main entranced, and with their archers having good lines of sight, their enemies never got a break. Their biggest scare came when the Red Foxes' lieutenant, Yukira, came out to meet Saya and Minori in the courtyard... and cast a blood magic spell on Saya, which enervated her leg. Luckily the two of them were able to slay him swiftly before he could cast more blood magic. 

In short time, only a fraction of the gangsters remained, and survivors surrendered, with Ryuma taking their weapons and purses. Minori and Saya located Kokare and unbound him, though he was in such terrible shape he couldn't even walk. Saya turned Yukira's room upside down until she found the blood sorcery scrolls there... very similar to the ones found at Half-Moon Village a few weeks previous. Minori, meanwhile, found the near-deaf boss of the gang, Boss Churokire, who attempted mightily to bribe her into letting him go, but ultimately went quietly. 

By this time the guard had shown up, and with the order of an Emerald Magistrate, took custody of the yakuza. Kokare was returned home swiftly, and the party was fĂȘted and richly rewarded by Otomo Sojin, who offered each a boon. Ayumi accepted a wardrobe of fine clothing which marked its wearer as one in the good graces of the Otomo family, Minori commissioned a fine sword with the Sparrow clan mon inscribed on the blade, Kenzo and Nori accepted specialized archery equipment, while Saya reserved a future political favor for her boon. They were also weighed down in fine gifts for the wedding they would be attending shortly. 

They were visited by many local samurai who wished to meet the brave magistrates-in-training, debriefed with the local Jade Magistrates regarding their repeated encounters with blood sorcery, and met Ikoma Satoshi, an officer in the Lion army who had taken leave from the front to visit Torokai, his old friend, and took the party out drinking. 

When the week was out, the party was ready to get back on the road to the Dragon lands, where they would attend a wedding between the Otomo and Tamori families. 



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