Forgotten Fate

Trialing Cave
Ogres and goblins united

Yae’s luck continues to turn against her as she falls off the cliff to a cave they saw twice. Thankfully her magistrate was able to catch her and Toyan offered some of his spirit to help her succeed up the cliff. Rankiku takes the time as they are brushing themselves off to lecture Toshiro for ripping Yae’s kimono. Before he can respond to her accusations, however, Takashi takes off his straw hat and puts it on Rankiku’s head before entering the cave.

After everyone struggles to make a torch, Takashi is able to get the failed materials and puts one together. Moving down a misshaped hall, they find a dozen Bakemono and a warmonger. As everyone draws their blades, a man rushes into the room and goes into a defensive stance. Everyone noticed in the flickering light that he was in a dirty brown kimono. The fight doesn’t become truly intense until the warmonger lights himself on fire! The goblins scream “Pokey Pokey” as they attack Rankiku, having been blinded by the torch in Yae’s hand. Takashi takes the warmonger out as Yae chases the man in brown who runs the second he could.

Takashi and Toshiro flank the man and return him to the bloody room. He frantically explains they need to leave due to a “large, green creature with a horn in its mouth”. Takashi is able to identify it as an ogre.

Working together, they come up with a plan to deal with the Ogre. Takashi and Toshiro lure the ogre out of it’s lair and into the winding tunnels with a humming bulb, which bounced harmlessly off it’s chest. In the time, however, they discover that the Ogre has been sharing it’s lair with 2 more warmongers and half a dozen more bakemono! The team was able to keep the tainted creatures funneled at the end of the winding tunnel and pick them off one by one. Everyone came away unscathed from this fray unharmed, except Takashi who took a club hit from the Ogre before it fell. However, his crab-training proved powerful as he continued to stand and fight after the savage attack.

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Investigate the Rice Paddy Assault

First impressions may the most important, but the second impression should still be good. Unfortunately for Yae, she slept in on her very first morning with her new magistrate. Toshiro awaits outside her tent and continues to stand just inside her view, disapprovingly, until she has completely dismantled her tent.

As the group scales down the side of the cliffside (instead of taking the day to follow the road), Takashi rescues Yae from falling down the cliffside. Accomodations are provided by the mayor of the small village as they arrive near nightfall.

The group is then informed that they are here to investigate a suspicious attack in the Rice Paddies nearby. Kenako is invited into the mayor’s home to be interviewed about the attack. She explains that 3 weeks ago she met a stranger who wore brown clothes and had dark, shiny hair. She remembers his voice being very charming and friendly, although at one point she corrected herself and explained he sounded confused some of the time. Ever since the attack she has had a slight tremor in her right arm, which is the arm she had received a cut from, though she explains she doesn’t remember being attacked or what cut her. To complicate things more for her, she’s been unable to do as much work as she is supposed to in the paddies due to her growing light sensitivity. She fears she has been tainted, though her trip to the Temple showed no signs.

The group was undecided if they should end her life then based on the symptoms, but Toshiro decided they would look into before making a decision. He did, however, assign a few villagers the mayor trusted to keep a very close eye on her until they had completed their investigation.

Kenako offered to take the investigators out into the paddy she was attacked after she served them dinner. Takashi suggested she drink jade tea to help confirm she was not tainted. He used a few shades from his jade finger and the group watched as she drank, though nothing happened.

Afterwards, Rankiku asked the men to stay behind as she and Yae inquired into a few more “female” details. Toshiro kept his ear to the women as they walked out, but made no attempt to stop them. Yae questioned Kenako into whether she had been violated or if she had any more details she was afraid/embarrassed/ashamed to talk about. In surprise, Kenako almost shouted her denial, though she did admit that when she woke up in the paddies, she was missing her socks.

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New Assignment and Magistrate!
Introductions at Benten Seido

Each samurai has met with their Daiymo and been informed of their new missions to help weed out the Taint within Rokugan borders (and avoid admitting there IS a need to do so). They were each informed they would meet their Emerald Magistrate and fellow yojimbos at Benten Seido, the Shrine to the Fortune of Romance in the Crane Lands.

Waiting at the top of the Shrine was a rather young, lean man with the Crane’s white hair. He introduced himself as Seppun Toshiro, their new Magistrate. Accompanying him was Matsu Rankiku, a woman with a large “personality” and a red mane.

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Fun and Bounty

That night Takashi looks around the City of the Rich Frog and finds a “fighting ring” in an alley. Even though it was made up of primarily Ronin, there were a few family names enjoying the Jiujutsu contests and making bets. Takashi himself wins 3 rounds before he and a male Miyoko knock each other out, making it a draw and the most talked about match of the night. The following morning Takashi offers everyone tea and is almost glowing in his great mood.

The group returns to Mayor Sumitomo’s manor to complete the Maho-Tsuki’s Bounty. In return for all of their help, including maintaining the City’s honor and finishing so quickly, they are all rewarded. Each samurai receives 5 koku each for the actual bounty, and an additional gift as the “finder’s fee” that he had mentioned in their first meeting.

Takashi received a fine quality, red crab-designed No-Dachi.

Toyan received a fine quality sumi box and a 1st edition Book of Doji Barahime.

Yae received an excellent quality courtier’s kimono with a red base and black trim/patches (various patterns of bayushi & scorpion mons) and was informed it would be this upcoming winter’s fashion.

Oniji received a fine quality daisho stand.

Everyone thanks their host as they leave to spend their new fortune. They take their time restocking supplies for their travels back to their home providence. Yae took this time to search for information with Oniji to find a return present for Kachiro. They discovered he was somewhere at the fighting ring, although were not informed of Takashi’s fights.

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Duel at Jellyfish Inn

The peasant identifies his friend and contact as Tokumo, the same man who had delivered the wrapping paper for the Present Game with Yae a few weeks back! Tokuma is fetched for as the group settles in for tea and a late dinner, waiting for him.

As they wait, the two women from the bath house settle into a table just a few seats down from them. And ten minutes later, Blood Hound comes down and orders tea, sitting at an angle across from the group.

Tokumo arrives shortly after, looking between the three groups nervously. Standing in the center of the restaurant, he is questioned by the Investigator about the orders he gave the peasant, who is currently near the back of the Inn. He nodds and agrees that he did order the servant to keep an eye out. He explains that he works as a middle-man, introducing a want/desire to someone in need. He called it a “go-between”. When questioned who, exactly, he was going between on this particular job, however, Tokuma looks uncomfortable between the groups sitting around him and the air of confidence and pride he had at his job deflates. Instead, he refuses to say anything.

Under duress, however, Toyan was able to identify that the reason Tokumo is not saying anything to prevent lying & still save soemthing. Toyan left his seat to stand in between Tokumo and Blood Hound. Making the action very symbolic, he explained to Tokumo that he will protect him from whatever problems he may be in, including his family, if only he could express where his fear was from. At the mention of family, Tokumo’s eyes widened, confirming Toyan’s suspicions.

Slowly, through the cotton his mouth, Tokumo explained that the man known as Blood Hound had paid him 5 koku to have someone keep an eye out, and eventually remove, a crab bag from anyone who brought one back. Blood Hound stood, showing he was almost taller than Takashi and looked down at Tokumo.

Before he had a chance, Takashi and Yae were running towards the front of the Inn to obtain their blades. Toyan was keeping a hand on his wakizashi and making sure he was between Blood Hound and Tokumo. Before Takosha had a chance to summon upon the Kami, the Investigator had run up beside Toyan and thrusted his fan out to Blood Hound. “I challenge you to a duel, do you accept?”

A pin could be heard afterwards; some upset they didn’t have the chance to fight this samurai off, others relieved by the safety a duel would provide. Blood Hound chuckled and looked between the combatants. Chuckling to himself, he accepted. The Investigator indicated he had no swords with him, and requested Toyan to be his champion. Smiling in understanding, Toyan gladly accepted and escorted Blood Hound outside for the duel.

It was quick, as the training of the Kakita Duelist Academy had taught Akodo Toyan. In a blink, his katana was being sheathed. Blood Hound knew what had happened in that blink. Not only had he lost the duel, but a deep cut was now on his chest, following exactly the scar that had been seen in the bathhouse.

Afterwards, the Investigator puts Blood Hound under house arrest until the rest of his crimes are confirmed. For now, he is found guilty of breech of etiquette, threatening bodily harm to a fellow samurai and trechery against the City of the Rich Frog. To Takosha’s dismay, however, he is not charged with theft, since he was not the one to take the belongings. When Toyan questions how the Investigator had the authority to approve the Duel, and charge these crimes, the Investigator, almost bashfully, admits he is a local Magistrate for the city.

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Angry Clogs

When the group returned to their room, Oniji explained to them that he recognized the man who joined them. He was known as Blood Hound and was a really well known bounty hunter. However, he had known some men who had claimed a bounty once and had celebrated the night before they earned their koku, and Blood Hound had turned in the prize.

Immediately, Takosha investigates her back to find the Maho-Tsuki’s head missing. The group checked all of their bags, finding that their letters from Doji Heiji were still with them. It appeared the head was the only thing missing.

Yae immediately, and appropriately, stomped downstairs to speak with the proprietor about their missing belongings. He apologized perphusely, upgrading the entire group to a suite, a four bedroom location with an adjoining livingroom and great view. As he continues to serve tea and apologize, he calls a runner to call upong the investigator immediately.

A ronin appears an hour later. He shows no school mons, but instead introduces himself as the Investigator, and works quickly to obtain all the information about what happened and what was missing. A short time later he asks the group to come downstairs, he had found a lead.

Before them and the Investigator stood a smaller man, obviously peasant. The man explains that he was paid a whole koku to keep an eye out for any “crab bags” and to report back. When he had reported it back, he was ordered to take the head, and only the head, out and bring it back to him.

An arguement amongst the group, the peasant, and the Investigator ensues, debating on the legality of the peasant doing as he was ordered by a samurai and who was to blame for the theft.

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Life of a Bounty Hunter

In response to the startling information Yasurai provided, Takosha calls upon the Kami to find out if Yasurai could speak with them. However, she discovered how difficult it is to find out when working with the whims & attention of the Kami.

The Earth Kami within the tree Yasurai had claimed to speak with was old, making its memory hard to work with. When it was asked if there were any people nearby fitting Yasurai’s description, it explained that “Many long ages ago, yes. Recently, there have been few.” Her second question asked if the girl she had just described was the one who spoke about a fire at the funeral pyre. It answered, “Previously, none. This one you mean, asked. This one chanted and had intent. But no prayer completed.”

Almost disappointed that Yasurai had not shown the ability to speak with the Kami, the group packed themselves up, thanked their Lion comrads, and headed back. The travel this time was uneventful as they walked the week back to the City of the Rich Frog.

The group stays the night at their normal place, the Jellyfish Inn. They order food, and tea, be sent up when they finished their baths and “rush” towards the bathhouse. For almost a half hour Yae attempts to convince and persuade Takosha to bathe and get some of the grime out of her hair. Eventually, with the threats of Takashi coming over there to force her to clean, Takosha finally caved.

The place was empty for a time, allowing Yasurai to splash around and Yae to completely work over Takosha’s hair. Near the end two women joined the bathhouse; one with a short, widow’s cut and another with long, very scorpion-esk features. On the other side a man with a long scar joined them, ordering sake as he settled in away from Toyan, Oniji, & Takashi.

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Passion After Battle

After the camp is made with the Lion boarder patrol, the group sits down to relax. Takashi shares a campfire with Matsu Seka, the Lion whom he had challenged for kills. Both of them are extremely wounded, but neither seem to notice as she offers to brew him Cherry Blossom Tea. Yae answers for him, accepting the tea. And in true Takashi fashion, starts to down each cup as it is offered to him. Eventually, he starts to bend etiquette by scooting closer to Seka.

On the other hand, Oniji is continuing to talk with Matsu Maryko, the one he had rescued during the waves of Bakemono just hours earlier.

All the while, Takosha speaks with the Kami and asks them to harden Yasurai’s mudpainting. After it becomes stone within the earth, Takosha grabs as many bushi as she can convince to help her pull the slab out of the earth so she can keep it. Not many people refuse to help after having witnessed the Commander’s response. Takosha promises the Commander that he will receive a copy of the painting once she can get it home.

Toyan sits quietly under a tree, writing in his travel book about what has transpired and inspired him.

It is late when all the severely wounded are cared for, thanks to Yae and Takosha. Monks from the small village have come to help aid the wounded, including Takashi and Seka, who have both been sitting at the campfire sharing tea and battle wounds. a monk shows up to wrap their wounds. Takashi spends half the time watching her “assets” as the monk field strips, wraps, and redresses her infront of him. Seka watches his face the entire time she is being wrapped and enjoys the view of Takashi’s naked chest.

Toyan spends his evening performing a tea ceremony to the Commander’s success and debating/discussing more on Bushido. Takashi spends the night with Seka and Oniji spends his night with Maryka. Yasurai spends the evening introducing Takosha to White Breadth, the straw doll she carries with her. After talking into the night, she also lets Takosha in on her secret of “clogless sandals”.

The next morning all of the camp meet near a clearing, where the three samurai who had perished the night before are set up for their funeral. Because they are not near home, or a proper city, Takosha volunteers to lead the local monks and samurai in prayer to complete the services. All stand in quiet as she starts the battle prayers of the Kami to let the souls rest, hoping they find their way and find no taint. In honor of their services, she beseeches the Kami one favor. She asks to see the men’s faces one last time as the flames consume them in their pyres. Everyone stands in quiet amazement as they see the fire at the end of each pyre take on the face of the man it will consume, before lighting the pyre. The small funeral is completed.

Afterwards, Takosha notices that Yasurai was missing from the funeral, having taken hiding behind a tree further away. When the group asked her what happened, she explained, “I’m not one of you. But I convinced him not to catch fire,” and patted a tree like her pet and smiled.

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Rumble in the Forest! Part 2

The next morning Toyan awakes to perform his Iaijutsu draws, and is accompanied by the Emerald Magistrate. Toyan, having not had the opportunity to keep his draw quick, politely asked Heiji to a Iaijutsu spar. No blood, no honor on the line, just a simple competition of constant and precise repetition. And for a thousand draws they did this, each quickly pulling their blades and returning them. However, in the end it was the aged Heiji who won, but just barely.

Before Toyan has the opportunity to let his swordarm rest after the training, however, Yae kindly requests Toyan’s attention and learns a few “crane” draw techniques. Toyan adds yet another thousand draws to his morning as he teaches Yae the morning draws. Even if she can’t get up in the morning, Toyan is happy to help her extend her means to preserve honor.

After everyone who has a reason to practice their draws is completed, Toyan returns to the hut to enjoy a morning meal with his comrads. Heiji is quietly drinking his tea, Takashi and Oniji are trying not to continue bleeding around the table, and Yasurai spends her time maticulously setting up her utensils, Yae is glad not to have had another nightmare, and poor Takosha is just getting to watch the show. However, both she and Yae notice that the “boys” are still badly injured and take their time wrapping them. Yae doesn’t admit to anyone how much she enjoyed it, because both Takashi and Oniji feel the need to flex shirtless as they’re being wrapped. When Oniji tries to show off even more when Yae gets close, Takashi threatens him to behave around the scorpion, something about the stinger of a scorpion is not his biggest concern. Takosha, on the other hand, appreciates Oniji’s physique and personality and actually comments, “You’d make a good crab.” Oniji actually blushes at the compliment. After donning their kimono tops back on, however, Takashi chooses to walk without his heavy armor on; a first that has everyone’s attention and mild concern.

After they are wrapped, breakfast is done, and Heiji politely reminds them they have a job, the group leaves (after Oniji and Takashi, yet again, has a man competition in which Takashi’s manhood is insulted and storms off.)

When the group arrives at the border they realize two very important facts: they have found the Lion patrol again and they still don’t have any documents saying they can pass. After a very long and heated debate with the Commander, who makes it clear he will follow his duty, the group is given permission to pass. During the philosophical discussion on Bushido it was made clear that it went over most of the "greenhorns"’ heads, Matsu Maryko thought the group should be imprisoned until they received word one way or the other, and Glaring Matsu thought they were spies, while the remaining patrolmen had no strong opinion.

Just minutes after the discussion, where the Commander implied how grateful he was to have been given a way to let them pass without breaking his duty, Takashi puts his hand to steel and lets everyone know there was marching coming within the forest. A small army of goblins marched towards them, each equipped with actual knives instead of their traditional sticks and even a few in armor. The Commander took lead to defend against the assault and our heroes joined the frays.

An hour into the fighting, the group was starting to see their first casualties. Takashi, Toyan, and Seka joined up to find three of the greenhorns had fallen, only to shortly rise back up with a green, malicious gleam to their eyes. They raised their swords and charged TOWARDS the samurai, instead of the goblin army. In the end, the three were defeated, one even having asked Toyan to kill him, before losing himself to the taint for the final time. Seka challenged Takashi, stating she could kill more than him and charged back into the horde as Takashi told her he’d see, doing the same.

Yae had to fall back after taking a grevious wound from a group of goblins who had ganged up on her. Takosha was keeping Yae and the archers she was with alive as they picked off the stragglers who were coming towards them and the Commander. Yae kept back anything that close to the shugenja and her guards, the archers assigned to stay near her. At least one of those archers owes his life to the water kami Takosha was able to imbue within him after taking a make-shift javelin to the chest.

Eventually, pressed and almost broken, even Toyan and Seka had to fall back, leaving Takashi the only one amongst the thick of the goblins, glimpsing for just a moment the commanding..Goblin?! He rode another goblin as a mount and was directing the strike from his position in the back. He almost had cleared a path to him when he heard the cries of the fallen, Toyan had been surrounded and had fallen! Takashi started his charge backwards but knew he would be too late, having turned in time to see Seka fall amidst the same wave of goblins.

The Commander’s orders were heard, but disobeyed as Takosha charged in, her scroll to heal already available as she ran towards her fallen comrade. The archers, who had watched the strength the kami she called upon, supported her action and created a volley of arrows to bring her a safe path to Seka and Toyan. Yae was just a foot behind her, preventing anyone from swarming them as they rushed on, arrows flanking their paths and directing them to their friend. They made it, completely unscathed thanks to the walls and death the arrows created and was able to bring Toyan back to life, having teetered on death for too long.

Moments later the horde of goblins, the ones remaining anyway, retreated back into the folds of the forest. Yae, Toyan, and Takosha rounded up the injured and bandaged them, even using the kami themselves to prevent anymore death. Takosha returned to his friends as they finished tending to the injured.

Takosha eventually is given the opportunity to relax and leans back into a tree, having been winded after running around. Noticing Yasurai was missing, she saw that Yasurai was drawing right at the Commander’s feet! Calling to Yasurai to come back and leave the busy commander alone, Yasurai patted his sandal in apology and started heading away, having missed the clenching fist of the Commander as she broke a few basic etiquettes. Toyan quickly intercepted the Commander and explained to him that the peasant was “void of the mind” but gifted. If he took only a moment to see the drawing that she tried to include him in, he would easily be able to find compassion.

From what little the commander could see from his point, he was willing to take the dishonorable act and slipped his foot out of his sandal and balanced, outside of the picture, to get a better view. To keep On, the Commander shows none of the emotions he was feeling when he got a better view of the masterwork around his feet.

Takosha uses the power of the earth kami to help her turn the drawing into clay, solidifying the ground to keep the beauty of the work. After calling on a few Lion bushi, they were able to excavate the artwork without destroying it. The Commander offered to leave the sandal there, since it was a necessity to the art, leaving most of his soldiers in surprise!

Takashi stands above the Glaring Matsu and introduces himself. Instead of keeping the glare, another glint shines in her eyes and she introduces herself as Matsu Seka. Even though the fight was over, she still was appearing “invigorated”.

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Meeting the Emerald Magistrate

The group left the forest border they had just finished the tainted fight in. Hours of walking passed before they saw any signs of a Lion patrol. After Toyan spoke briefly with the commander, preventing any insult by stopping Takashi they were “escorted” to the village the Lions were stationed at.

An old man sat near the center of the village, a well to his left as he painted. After a few quick social jabs at the Matsu escorts, he invited the group to drink with him and walked to his hut, not giving them a chance to decline.

Hours were spent as they spoke with him, introducing themselves and reporting all the happenings that had occured so far. Starting from their troubles with the Bog Hag to the fight they had just hours ago with the Maho-Tsuki and her Kyonshi no Oni. He didn’t say a word as they reported in, instead copying it all down in a scroll.

Eventually they were out of tea and had nothing else to report. At this point, Yae asked the name of their host, as he had spent the last few hours indulging them and not introducing himself. He smiled, in the way only an old man can, and said he was Doji Heiji.

Toyan asked what would happen to their bound friend outside, the one who survived the Maho. Doji Heiji appeared sad for the first time since they met and explained that, “If he is tainted he will receive a quick death. If not, he will be monitored to make sure his mind is still his own and that she did not leave any dark ichor in him. If everything turns well, then he can return to whatever life he had before all of this, hopefully a bit wiser.”

He copied the report down for each member of the group, excluding Yasurai (this did include Oniji). He gave Toyan an additional report, sealed with the mon of the Emerald Champion, invoking his right as magistrate to speak for the Champion, and told him to deliver that to Sumitomo.

After that, he spoke of art with Toyan and Yasurai (mostly on her tea painting on the floor) before excusing himself to sleep. Our heroes were invited to rest the night before they braved their travels back to the City of the Rich Frog, provided comfortable bedding, and slept, hoping that the trouble of the tainted creatures surrounding the City had finally come to an end.

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