The Winds of Time

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.

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.

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.

Session Seven
Hare 25 - Dragon 21, 880

The party spent a few days in and around Otosan Uchi gathering as much information as they could about how caravan travel worked in and around the city. Fukurokuma in particular spotted that inbound wagons were wearched at a higher percentage than outbound, unless they were Scorpion-owned. Records indicated that the disappearing caravans didn’t seem to belong to any specific clan – all clans were impacted more-or-less equally.

Daredemo visited the Dragon Consul, Mirumoto Sayaka, in search of a fight – and she sent him to a Lion Dojo, where he dominated early, but faded quickly. Yarou was there to observe at least part of the sparring.

The party spent the evening before the caravan left dining well. Almost too well, as two party members had more than a little too much to drink.

The caravan set out without problems. It consists of four cargo wagons:
Two wagons of rice
One wagon of raw ore
One wagon of luxury goods

Goso, the caravan master, explained that the party would be eating some of the rice as part of their provisions. Along with the cargo wagons are a handful of other wagons, including a cookwagon and a bunkwagon. The cookwagon is overseen by “Cookie,” who is a terrible cook. Every time the caravan stops in a village, the guards take great pleasure in eating in the village.

After one small village stop, several PCs noticed that one of the rice wagons was leaning to one side a bit, as if it were unbalanced. They confronted Goso about it, and he was unconcerned. And clearly already aware of it.

A few days into the forest, Chaya caught a whiff of something foul. Upon investigating, she found a small clearing that was liberally spattered with blood. In the middle of the clearing were several human and horse hides – skins only, no bones or innards. The hides did not appear to be Tainted (but that doesn’t mean that whoever or whatever killed and skinned them wasn’t Tainted).

She summoned a Water spirit to ask what had happened and where the killer had gone. She received an image of knives and spears (or swords and spears), followed by a river or stream running between some hills.

What body remnants remained were dealt with appropriately (burning, salting, burning, salting, prayers), and the party rode on.

Session Eight
Dragon 22 - Serpent 8, 880

Leaving the forest and hills behind them, the party proceeded to Sparrow Clan lands – more specifically, the lands of Suzume Sakan, one of Oharu’s cousins.

Sakan was glad to see them, and thanked Oharu for her gift – and expressed puzzlement at seeing her up and about so soon after her recent illness.

The gift in question was revealed to be a duelling blade – an old one, with Crane clan markings and a very dark blade.

Sakan refused to let go of the blade at any point, even during dinner. He spoke of being proud of his Crane ancestry, and was seen studying a centuries-old Crane duelling manual.

And he’d painted the house’s trim in Crane Blue.

And then he began mis-hearing pretty much everything Daredemo said as an insult, regardless of what Daredemo had actully said.

He challenged Daredemo to a duel – to happen the next day after breakfast in the dojo.

That night, Fukurokuma planned to slip into Sakan’s room and steal the sword as he slept, thereby cleansing any influence the sword might have had over him. This was foiled by Sakan’s not sleeping that night.

The duel itself was anticlimactic. Daredemo struck true and disarmed Sakan with minimal injury.

OOC Note: Because Aaron rolled really well and Eric didn’t.

Following that, Fukurokuma picked up the sword. Even with a protective layer of cloth between hand and sword, he heard angry bees in his head. He and Chaya continued on to a nearby town, where they had a smith capable of melting the sword down.

The sword itself was the creation of a smith who had bled during its creation, turning the rituals involved with the creation of the blade into a form of accidental maho.

The remainder of the journey to Clear Water Village with the caravan was uneventful.

Session Nine
Serpent 9-11, 880

After seeing the caravan safely to its final destination, the party did a small amount of exploring the town. They started by trying to find an inn – they found several, but only one had a stable that was able to hold Chaya’s horses (and, even then, it was well below what she usually considered acceptable).

The innkeeper, Shiyonin, seemed to be afraid of life. She made a half-hearted effort at negotiating the terms of the stay, but buckled pretty quickly. The party ended up with three rooms.

The party then spent a great deal of time in the common room of the inn, eating rice that hadn’t been made by Cookie.

Also staying in the inn was Doji Yopparai, who was too drunk to interact with the party much – but every time the party came into the common room, he was there (and drinking).

The party spent a day shopping. When they went through the city gates, the guards seemed to be singling them out for harassment. It was also noticed almost immediately that nearly everyone in town went about armed and armored, as if the town were on a war footing.

Oharu pretended to be shopping for a family member, and insisted on buying “Crane goods.” After a few hours of wandering, they found Sagi-shi in one of the town’s bazaars selling “hand-crafted Crane tea sets” at an insanely low price. The party bought one set.

At about this time, Chaya decided to meditate and let the Void take her where it wanted her to be. On the way there, Daredemo spotted someone (Risu) following the party. Risu refused to deliberately tell the party anything useful, but she is young and not as well-controlled as she thinks she is, so small tidbits of information slipped through anyhow.

Chaya led the party to a small house that was shoulder-to-shoulder with its neighbors. When she knocked, a window opened up in the door, and they were questioned by an unfriendly individual. Risu, meanwhile, cowered and tried to stay out of sight of the door. This was apparently Itachi’s home.

After a few minutes outside the door (while Chaya blessed the home), the party headed back to the inn. Chaya cast a spell to learn the history of the tea set, and saw two Crab clan members and then two Mantis clan members (and then fire).

The party went to talk to Goso, in hopes that he could throw some information their way, but even he clammed up when Itachi was mentioned. He told the party that Itachi “runs this town” and he “owns this town.” And angering him (or even attracting his attention) would not be wise.

With that, the party headed back to the inn for the night.

Session 10
Serpent 12, 880

The party’s morning began when a party of Crab soldiers arrived at the inn to escort the party to the Governor. They were there to take Iuchi Chaya, but when they learned that the party was traveling together, the rest of the party was “invited” along.

When they arrived at the Governor’s palace, the party was not disarmed and was (after a wait) escorted to meet her. She was gruff, officious, and not particularly friendly – but she did deliver a piece of mail that had arrived for Chaya.

“How is it,” she asked, “that you merit an express courier when my regular monthly courier from ”/wikis/otosan-uchi" class=“wiki-page-link”> Otosan Uchi has yet to arrive?"
When asked about Itachi, she explained that he was nothing. A non-issue. And he would be dealt with at the proper time.

After the governor released them, the party split up.

Chaya and Oharu went back to the inn, while Daredemo decided to investigate and Fukurokuma followed Daredemo.

Daredemo went first to a Dragon-owned warehouse, where Sakura Kaizoku welcomed him. They chatted for a bit, and Daredemo learned that Itachi would send messengers to collect “his” percentage. “We do not pay,” Kaizoku said, “And so we must bring in extra guards, making it less profitable for us to be here.”

Daredemo’s next stop was a Lion-owned warehouse two doors down that had been attacked the previous night. There was a broken window and some smoke damage visible from the street. The Lions were searching incoming shipments and were very obviously out in force. There, Daredemo met with an elderly Lion (Akodo Osoroshi) who was able to give him a little bit of information about Itachi’s dealings as well. His sentiments mirrored those of Sakura Kaizoku.

Meanwhile, Fukurokuma went to the home of Itachi. He sat outside for a few hours before sending a messenger in with a request to meet. His request was approved, and he was invited inside. He was taken to a dark room where he spoke with a man on the other side of a screen before he was escorted out.

Back at the Inn, Doji Yopparai decided to make nice with Oharu while Chaya meditated. It turns out that Yopparai was drinking sake that he himself had brewed. It was, in fact, the best of his sake. And it was quite good. Yopparai had done reasonably well as a brewer. Most of his sake had reached the status of Junmai Ginjō-shu (which is judged by the Imperial Sake Licensing Group). He seemed quite proud of this particular accomplishment.

The keg he had been drinking from was the last of what he brought from home. He had been ambushed on the way and most of his stock was taken by bandits. “This isn’t a good town for refined sake,” he complained. “The Mantis all drink Awamori, and the Crab can’t tell good from bad.” He complained further that he thinks the Mantis are trading outside of Rokugan, and if true, the non-Rokugani have little hope of being able to appreciate the subtlety of fine sake such as his. “But the letter,” he said, “was so enticing.”

It turns out that he had been invited to bring his sake here to sell. That’s the only reason he came this far west.

He offered to sell his remaining keg at a “good price” to Oharu, and then quoted a price that seemed high.

On hearing this, Oharu grabbed Chaya. “I think,” she said, “We need to buy this sake.” Chaya agreed, and they split the cost.

Chaya then communed with the water in the sake, and saw only masks. When she used an artifact that was a gift from her grandmother, the masks were made of flesh and then melted. Upon seeing this, she grabbed her horse and rode after Goso, asking him to deliver a letter to the Unicorn outpost in Otosan Uchi for her.

Session 11
Serpent 13-14

The party started its day by splitting up.

Daredemo went and followed Risu (who still has all ten fingers) to meet with her boss Araku. Araku offered Daredemo sake and invited him to the fights that night.

Oharu spent the afternoon in her room, as she was unwilling to go out without her bodyguard.

Fukurokuma had tea with the Scorpions.

Chaya caught up with Goso’s caravan and gave them some letters to deliver.

That evening, the party headed to the fights, which were in a seedy portion of the Warehouse district. They were seated in the box seats overlooking the fight. Araku was already seated and waiting when they arrived, and he provided running commentary throughout the fights themselves.

Most of the fights were traditional sumai, with a handful of weapons demonstrations. The most interesting of those involved two gaijin in Mantis colors, who provided a fencing demonstration.

The Main Event was The Big Guy – an ise zumi that Chaya had previously encountered during the winter at Shohi-en’s – versus Itachi’s champion. The fight lasted only seconds, as the Big Guy turned Itachi’s champion’s force against him, resulting in a near-instantaneous knockout.

Araku indicated to the party the The Big Guy had arrived just yesterday and refused to take no for an answer when it came to joining the fights. The Big Guy was also responsible for the party’s attendance at the fights.

At about this time, word came down that the authorities had located the fights and were moving in and the crowd started to disperse.

The Big Guy caught the attention of the party and indicated that he desired their presence. He explained that there were smuggling tunnels running beneath the city with an entrance in this very warehouse, and he wished to have the tunnel cleared. “I will watch this door so you will not be surprised from behind,” he told them, “But I cannot go into the tunnels.”

The party entered the tunnels, and shortly encountered a couple of buffoons guards in front of a sealed door. They attempted to bluff their way past and were almost successful. One of the guards went back into the tunnels to see if he could get authorization to let the party through. The other guard died very shortly thereafter.

The party passed through the door and found another tunnel with another door at the end. Crossbows were fired from that other doorway (both missed), and the party charged.

The party killed a couple of guards and took a few others hostage. Fukurokuma interrogated two of them. Meanwhile, Chaya (who had climbed on top of the crates during the fighting) spotted a hidden door to this underground warehouse.

The two hostage guards were effectively useless, with no information other than that cargo flowed both into and out of this underground warehouse. While interrogating them, Fukurokuma made adjustments to one of his bonsai-in-progress, and was very pleased with the changes made.

Session 12
Serpent 14

The party opted to start the evening by exploring through the secret door. Behind that door was a narrow hallway with five doors on either side that were bolted from this side and a door at the end of the hallways that didn’t have a visible bolt (and so was probably bolted on the other side).

Upon opening the first room, they found Tsuna, who had been in there for several weeks. Her only human contact had been when food had been delivered. Food delivery was heralded by a tapping noise, then a door opened, and then there was a tapping until food was slid through a slot in the door.

The second room contained a massive pile of porridge and bowls – and a long-dead corpse.

The third room contained Shinokage. His story matched Tsuna’s: They are Imperial Magistrates investigating corruption in Crab lands. Two weeks ago, they were taken by surprise and woke up here.

With one exception, the rest of the rooms were either empty or contained corpses. That one exception contained a hodge-podge of gear, including Tsuna and Shinokage’s equipment. Chaya recovered a bow and some arrows that looked servicable from this room.

At this point, the party put the two captives from the tunnels into one of the cells and closed it before continuing.

In a stunning display of both strength and rage, Shinokage broke open the door at the end of the hallway, revealing a short hallway with some stairs leading up. Up those stairs, the party found themselves in what appeared to be the city sewers. There were ladders every 30-40 feet leading up to what is (presumably) street level.

After a brief discussion, they decided to head back down and explore the tunnels some more. They headed through the (previously-guarded) door and found themselves on a cliff face with a 5’-6’ wide path carved into it. The path was filled with switchbacks and led downward towards the sound of water.

Rounding one last switchback, they found a guard post with torches between them and the guard post. The placement of the torches meant that in the pitch-blackness of the cavern it was difficult to see what was on the other side.

It meant the party couldn’t see the guard post clearly, either. Without pausing to attempt parlay, the party chose to go on the offensive. Oharu fired an arrow into the post and was rewarded with a gurgling and a thud (OOC Note: Made the to-hit by one, rolled disgusting amounts of damage). Shinokage, Daredemo, and Fukurokuma approached cautiously to about the half-way point before charging. Shinokage arrived first at the post, and speared the remaining guard – not to a lethal degree, but enough that he wasn’t going to be much of a fight.

After that, Fukurokuma and Tsuna interrogated the guard, where the learned:

  • Beyond the guardhouse is a small dock and a couple of huts.
  • The cave is only accessible from the outside at high tide.
  • It has been several days since there have been any boats here.
  • All of the guards are new at this, having been hired by Itachi within the last few weeks.
  • Cargo comes in here, and then is hauled up the cliff face by hand, where it sits in the warehouse.

Following this stunning lack of actual revelation, the party headed back up to the warehouse room, where they opened a few crates. The crates were marked in a variety of languages, but no-one in the party recognized any non-Rokugani languages. Finally, they opened three crates. They recovered a tea set (which was very similar to the one Oharu and Chaya had purchased previously), an ingot of iron, and one of the sideways bows that the guards had been shooting at the party with. The bow lacked a string, however.

Finally, they decided to leave the complex, only to find that the trap door they had originally used to come down was still apparently blocked, so they headed back to the prison cells where they interrogated the prisoners for a few minutes and learned that those guards, too, were new at this.

They were mid-interrogation when the party heard a tapping noise coming from the stairs that led to the sewers.

Session 13
Serpent 14

The tapping turned out to be an old blind peasant man who was delivering food to the prisoners. “All four of you,” he said at one point. He reached the bottom of the stairs (and the wreckage of the door), and stopped. He muttered something to himself that sounded a lot like, “Itachi’s not going to like this.”

The party, meanwhile, set up to ambush him. They ended up not attacking him – in fact, they let him go. He proceeded a short distance up the sewers, and stopped, refusing to lead the party to his master(s).

The party ended up trudging for several miles through the sewers, hauling him as a prisoner. When they reached the end of the sewer system, most of the party went to a bathhouse to get clean. Chaya and Fukurokuma took the old man outside of town to interrogate him.

On the way out of town, they were informed that the Imperial Road was closed to travelers, and so they were to stay well off of the road.

The old man had no useful information to share, and the fact that he was missing a few fingers suggested that torture would be ineffective, so Chaya and Fukorokuma killed him and burned his body in the woods.

Meanwhile, the rest of the party went to visit the governor, who appeared to be under more stress than usual. They bluffed their way past a guard by telling him that they were there about the “upcoming visit” (that he had asked about).

The party then proceeded to fill the governor in on the (massive) smuggling operation they had uncovered. She was quite displeased and more than a little angry.

The Crab Armies will be here tomorrow. The Imperial Heir will be here the day after. She doesn’t have time to deal with this, too. So the party has been assigned a squad of Kaiu Engineers and Hida Pragmatists to deal with the problem. When the army arrives tomorrow.

A short time later, Fukurokoma met with Gojin, who invited Tsuna along. Gojin wants some of the goods from the smuggler’s warehouse, and offers to owe a favor to Fukurokima in exchange for access to the warehouse (or some of the goods from it).


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