The Winds of Time

Session Six
Hare 22-24, 880

The party arrived in Otosan Uchi in the early evening, and quickly headed to the Temple district to meet with Miya Tsugen at the Temple of Doji.

They arrived just as the temple was closing its gate for the evening. The acolyte there was friendly, and informed them that Tsugen had passed unexpectedly after growing suddenly ill while visiting some of the orphans whom he regularly fed.

When they introduced themselves, the acolyte ran to see if there was a package or a letter that had been left. There was, and it contained letters of passage into the inner city for the next day.

The party then found an inn belonging to Ide Hikaru, who charged what seemed like a fair price for the evening (and part of the next day).

The party left early, hoping to scope out the Falling Leaves teahouse before meeting the woman. They were initially barred entrance to the inner city because they were still armed.

They were directed to a sword-polisher, Etsuko, who negotiated a fair price for polishing and re-binding the party’s swords. Etsuko also identified Daredemo’s weapon as being a Kaiso blade.

Eventually heading to the meeting, they encountered Joshi and Yarou, who were working as advance security for Miya Kei.

When Kei arrived, she performed the tea ceremony for the party (poorly), and let them know that she was due to marry Akodo Hachiro.

Then a simple dinner was served – rice and miso soup and yakisoba. Joshi set out a plate for Chaya’s ancestor who he could (apparently) see.

After the first course of dinner and small talk, Kei asked the party to investigate Yasuki Daiki, a Crab Clan merchant who is disrupting Crane Clan merchants in Clear Water City. He does this by selling the same goods at a lower price. In many cases, his prices are lower than what the Crane merchants are spending on the products.

He also seems to be unaffected by the bandits in the area who are raiding caravans (especially Crane caravans).

The party is tasked with investigating Daiki and discovering how he is able to do all of this, and determine whether he is breaking the law or not.

As to timeline, Kei requested that the party report back by mid-summer.

After the first course, Chaya excused herself and headed into the kitchen to talk with Joshi for a bit. Joshi expressed concern for Chaya’s safety.

After this, the party split up. Fukorokuma went to the Temple of Akodo to play Go, where he went winless. Daredemo went to the Temple of Togashi to meditate. Chaya and Oharu went shopping for tea and then hired the party on as guards for an Ide caravan which is headed towards Clear Water Village.

The caravan leaves in two days.

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Session Five
Hare 8-21, 880

The characters returned home to find a variety of situations.

Mirumoto Daredemo took the long way home to avoid spending time with his wife. When he eventually arrived home, she was less-shrewish for a few days when she saw the tea set he had received.

Suzume Oharu received a letter from a harried-looking Imperial Messenger. Miya Kei has requested the presence of Oharu and her friends on the 23rd of the month in the Imperial City. As Oharu was not home (where the letter was originally sent), this meant that reaching Ryoko Owari on time was a probable issue.

Shosuro Fukurokuma arrived home to find a copy of Kei’s letter at his work station, along with some plans for a new bonsai garden to be constructed in the Northern edges of Scorpion territory. Conveniently, this location made him easy to reach when Oharu sent messengers out to gather the party.

Iuchi Chaya returned home only to have an incident. For a brief instant, she felt and was in tune with all of Rokugan (and beyond). When she awakened, there were two letters waiting for her and information on a third. The first letter was from Hida Nagori. He seemed lonely and in need of a friend. The second was Oharu’s call for the party to gather. The third letter was a notice from the Phoenix Clan that they were sending a party to Unicorn lands to investigate a “disturbance,” likely Chaya’s incident, as close contact with the Void has been known to echo significantly. To avoid the Phoenix, Chaya answered Oharu’s call and rejoined the party – and brought horses with her.

The party rode East along the southern border of Dragon lands, crossing into Crane lands near Toshi Ranbo. Bridges in the city make it easy to cross the Drowned Merchant River. The border guards, for their part, seem to respect the paperwork given to the party by Miya Kei, and allow them to pass unmolested.

As the party drew near to the Lion border, they encountered a village which had been raided, with the residents all being put to death. Following the raider’s trail, the party encountered a Lion Guard post with a guard who had evidently been sleeping. After initially riding on, the party realized that most border crossings have posts for both sides involved and rode back to further investigate the guard post.

While interrogating the guard (whose story very shortly revealed that it didn’t quite add up), a few riders approached. The party killed half of the bandits, badly wounded two others, and befuddled one of them. Taking the wounded and befuddled bandits into custody, they rode on and shortly encountered the real Crane/Lion border with its guard posts.

The prisoners were left with the Crane, and the party rode on.

The Lion guards (the real ones this time) scrutinized the party’s papers closely, but allowed them to pass. The highway to the Imperial City was only a short distance away, and Ryoko Owari itself is only a few days away.

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Interlude - Winter's End
Hare 2-7, 880

Players: Note that there are character-specific information below that is not identical to the information everyone else is getting.

As people are packing up for their various trips home, Shohi-En makes the rounds, spending a bit of time with each of the various cliques that have formed here this winter. As part of his rounds, he has small gifts and trinkets for every member of every party – not just the higher ranks.

He makes it clear to all that they are welcome to call upon his hospitality at any time. “Once a guest of Shohi-en,” he informs you, “you are always welcome in the home of Shohi-en.”

The Princess and her party are the first to leave, followed by the Unicorns, and then the Scorpions, and, finally, the other Dragons who are present.

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Session Four
The Sixteenth through the Twenty-Eighth Days of the month of the Tiger, 879

Following the Iajutsu tournament, there were three days of peace in which nothing significant occurred. Chaya asked for (and received) permission to access Shohi-en’s private document storage and spent much of the time studying.

After those three days, the two Lion Clan visitors showed how to celebrate the Lion Festival of the Kami, which involved making sure your equipment is ready for war and then boasting of your achivements. Yarou didn’t do his own boasting – he paid Joshi to do it for him.

Joshi turned the boasts into a roast, making it clear to the party (and several other attendees) that he is not, personally, fond of Yarou. Yarou himself missed that this was happening. In essence, Joshi boasted (on Yarou’s behalf) that Yarou was the best of the third-rate Lions. While boasting that Yarou had not failed at many tasks, he also insinuated that these were not exactly difficult tasks.

Following the Lion Festival of the Kami, there were two weeks of preparations for the New Year’s Festival, which involved a great deal of shopping in town. Chaya happened to notice that several vendors were selling Unicorn goods, but they were mislabeled or misrepresented. She took the opportunity to set the vendors straight, which may have possibly led to future misunderstandings about the typical Unicorn Clan diet (and how it is eaten).

Miya Kei was spotted shopping with an uncomfortable-looking Hida Nagori. As soon as the party engaged Kei in conversation, Nagori made good his escape.

Daredemo purchased a fine horsehair calligraphy brush and an ivory inkwell for his uncle, and a fine folding knife for Fukurokuma.

On the first day of the New Year’s Festival, there was an archery tournament of which Fukurokuma won the Juniors Division, surprising everyone involved. Including Fukurokuma.

Following the tournament, there were a few hours in which many gifts were given.

At midnight, there were fireworks, feasting, and celebration.

Tomorrow, guests will start heading home and preparing for Spring. The roads have mostly thawed, and travel is becoming possible again.

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Session Three
The Ninth through the Eleventh days of the Tiger, 879

This session focused heavily on the Iaijutsu tournament. There were three divisions – Juniors, Intermediate, and Master. Two player characters participated – Mirumoto Daredemo and Shosuro Fukurokuma.

In the first round (on the ninth), Fukurokuma defeated Mirumoto Fujiki, and Daredemo defeated Bayushi Tsudao. Meanwhile, Hida Nagori sat behind Suzume Oharu and Iuchi Chaya, and Miya Kei sat next to Oharu and made small talk.

That night at dinner, Akodo Yarou continued to stare at Oharu, and was distracted enough to lose his shogi game against Kitsu Joshi. That night, Iuchi Chaya began discussing Yarou with the other single Unicorn women, leading to a great deal of laughter which continued through the rest of the week.

On the tenth, the second round of the tournament commenced. Miya Kei did not make an appearance this day, later claiming illness.

Fukurokuma defeated Shiba Teruo after both missed their iaijutsu strikes, taking the match to a straight-up sword battle. This was the sloppiest duel of the tournament.

Daredemo defeatred Shinjo Tanitsu with a “perfect strike,” just barely penetrating his opponent’s armor. Three of the four Masters division matches ended without a sword being drawn when one competitor or another recognized the superior ability of their opponent after the Assessment phase.

That evening at dinner, Miya Kei appeared briefly and ate sparingly. After dinner, Chaya wrote a letter to Shohi-en, requesting permission to examine the writings of Togashi, which had been stashed in the caves behind the rare books room for safekeeping.

On the eleventh, the tournament finals were held. Daredemo defeated Mirumoto Enko, who very crudely refuted his advances. Akodo Yarou, seeming very off his game, fell to Fukurokuma in the biggest upset of the tournament. This left Fukurokuma vs Daredemo for the finals.

Daredemo defeated Fukurokuma and was awarded with a tea set, provided by the princess. The intermediate division winner received an Asahina-crafted wakizashi, and the Masters division received an Asahina-crafted katana.

Chaya received permission from Shohi-en to examine the writings of Togashi.

There are no scheduled events for the next three days. The fifteenth is the Lion Festival of the Kami.

System Note: I confirmed this morning that in 4e, you cannot uses Raises to ignore armor.

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Session Two
The Sixth through the Eighth Days of the Month of the Tiger, 879

The unicorn dinner went well. No-one in the party embarrassed or shamed themselves or otherwise caused problems during the meal. Mirumoto Daredemo did notice Akodo Yarou staring at Suzume Oharu throughout the meal.

After the meal, Yarou approched Togashi Tedibea and asked where he could go to have his “sword polished.” Tedibea didn’t know the answer, but Daredemo did (not in the nearby town).

When the party made it back to their rooms, there were notes for them, asking them to meet Shohi-en in the storage room.

When they did, Shohi-en told them that guests were due, but that he couldn’t tell them anything more without permission.

The next few days were spent variously in training or study, depending on the character in question. Kitsu Joshi brought a note to Oharu, informing her that Miya Kei wished to apologize for turning her out of her rooms by inviting her for tea “sometime in the Spring.”

Iuchi Chaya went for a ride with Hida Nagori, and encountered a trail melted in the snow leading towards the castle. Upon investigation, she found an enormous man with two companions. After a brief discussion, she realized that these were likely Togashi Tattooed Monks.

They were, in fact, Togashi monks, and they were also the additional guests that Shohi-en had been expecting.

The party convened in the storage room once again, where they learned … something about Nothing. They think. Only the large man spoke, and he appeared to have only a tenuous grasp on reality. His two handlers remained silent.

When asked how they could help, the party was told to “Fight the good fight. Live your lives. Be good, be just, be heroes.”

They were told that they would be called on. “Maybe not this year. Maybe not next. But the day will come.”

Tomorrow is the first day of the Iajutsu Tournament.

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Session One
The Fifth Day of the Month of the Tiger, 879

Players: Post your Haiku for bonus xp as a comment here. Feel free also to comment here to add more detail, fill in things I missed, or ask questions.

The day began as expected with the Sumo competition finals. Just as they were about to start, however, riders were spotted approaching the castle. Shohi-en signaled the go-ahead, and defeated his opponent before preparing to meet the riders.

The riders ended up being Miya Kei and her entourage. So far as anyone can recall, this is the first time any Imperial presence has been noted at Shohi-en’s winter gatherings.

That evening at dinner, Shohi-en was preparing to introduce the next day’s calligraphy sample, when Yogo Angai interrupted him with her gift. It was a fragment of a scroll written in the hand of Togashi himself to his son while his son was studying with his mother in Scorpion lands. It appears to be the last line of a haiku, which is a significant portion of how the two communicated.

It read, “We pursue Nothing”

Upon seeing this, Shohi-en paled and fled, retreating first to his library. When the party followed, he was nowhere to be found.

The next day, Iuchi Chaya won the calligraphy competition and was awarded a very fine brush and ink set. She also spent some time communing with the scroll, and discovered that the ink for the word ‘nothing’ was different – it was not there to all magical senses.

Upon realizing this, Chaya retreated to the library to do some studying, where she started to piece together things that she’d thought were known only to the Unicorn were also known to at least some of the Dragon and probably the Scorpion as well.

Meanwhile, Suzume Oharu and Mirumoto Daredemo began searching for Shohi-en, who was last seen entering the library the night before. As they searched, they eventually called upon the aid of Togashi Tedibea, who showed them were a secret door was located.

They discovered how to open it just as Chaya reached the rare books room, and all four party members explored the tunnel which ran to the waterfall just East of Dragon’s Fang Castle. Along the way, they discovered a small room with a pool and several storage rooms containing large sealed clay jars, one of which appeared to be missing.

A mile or so up the winding road behind the mountain, there was a shrine to Shinsei, where the party found Shohi-en and the jar.

After brief discussion, Chaya returned to the castle and the others stayed the night. In the morning, Shohi-en continued to the top of the mountain, where he broke the jar open revealing treated wood of some sort which he placed into a stone brazier. A bit of help from Tedibea, and the fire was lit. After a short time, Shohi-en then returned to his palace with Daredemo, Oharu, and Tedibea in tow.

Tonight is the Unicorn-style feast.

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Session Zero
The Fourth Day of the Month of Tiger 879

Mirumoto Shohi-en’s initial invitation was written in a clear hand:

You are invited to spend the winter among friends.

Ryu no Kiba Yosai (Dragon’s Fang Fortress) is open to you on the Tenth day of the Rat in this Imperial Year of 879. Join us for feasting and celebration as we give thanks for the year we have survived and prepare to welcome the New Year with a winter filled with warm companionship and a few friendly competitions.

It then went on to detail how large a retinue was appropriate and lists the other invited guests. (GM Note: Feel free to make an Etiquette/Perception roll when you get here to see if there are any notable guests who were left off of the invite list)

We understand that occasional disagreements have occurred within the last year between some of our honored guests, and so we humbly request that the spirit of hospitality extend beyond the traditional three days. All guests are welcome through the fourth day of the Month of the Hare, in Imperial Year 880.

Also attached is a schedule of events – tournaments, other competitions, feast days, and the like. As always, there are a few feast days that you don’t recognize on the calendar.

Shohi-en seems to like any excuse for a feast.

My library will be open to all those who truly wish to study.

The local Dragon families were the first to arrive this year, followed by the Unicorn. Everyone else arrived in fits and spurts as the snow gradually made travel more and more difficult. The Scorpion were the last to arrive.

Upon arrival Shohi-en greeted each member of each arriving party by name and presented them with a small gift. Most of the gifts were small hand-carved figurines. Higher-status characters received different gifts.

The leaders of each party also provided gifts for Shohi-en – with one exception. Yogo Angai bowed deeply with a smile behind her lacy mask. “Shohi-en-sama,” she began, “I have a gift for you, but the time of its giving is not yet right. I beg your forgiveness for this delay, but you will understand when the gift is given.”

Taken briefly aback, Shohi-en blinks a few times, “Old friend,” he said, “You have spent many winters in my home, and I have learned to trust you. I hope you do not keep us in suspense for too long. Enter and be welcome in my home.”

The next few weeks are a bit of a blur. There are numerous competitions and ceremonies, from haiku to sumo to ikebana (using silk flowers, of course) to shogi and go. The results of each competition are duly recorded by one of Shohi-en’s servants, and you have a hunch there is some sort of secret score being kept overall somewhere.

Today is Shouting Day for the peasants. It’s also the last day of the sumo competition (which Shohi-en himself is winning handily). Tomorrow, the Calligraphy competition is scheduled to begin, and there will be a Unicorn Feast at the end of the week.

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