The Winds of Time

Session 14
Serpent 15

In the morning, the party left Shinokage behind to deal with the squad of Crab Engineers and Pragmatists that had been placed at the party’s disposal.

The rest of the party listed and Fukurokuma told them about an ambush that had apparently been planned specifically for them – the underground warehouse was going to be rigged to collapse, killing the party and their squad of Crab allies, and framing the Engineers in the process.

Fukurokuma didn’t think that the criminals who run the warehouse and those who run the prison know about the secret door. It’s possible that their bosses know, but even that is unclear at this point, so the party snuck back into the sewers to access the warehouse via the prisons.

The prison crew had tried to set an ambush inside the prison – it failed. The party surprised and slaughtered them before slipping through the secret door into the smugglers’ warehouse.

Once in the warehouse, they saw three oafs struggling with a couple of barrels near the door. It looked like flint and steel had been bolted to the door, and a rope or cord (soaked in something strong-smelling) ran from the flint to the barrels. Out-of-character, it was noted that this looked like a Looney Tunes trap.

Tsuna approached them, and it became clear that these were probably expendable muscle. The three were easily convinced that Tsuna was the Boss’ representative and kept asking if she needed them to help load (or unload) a boat.

After the oafs headed back down to the launch, Daredemo pulled the cord, coiled it, and put it on a nearby shipping crate. The party then opened a barrel, and found that it contained powder that smelled slightly of fireworks.

At this point, Chaya communed with the Earth spirits and asked if there were more barrels like this around. The answer was “Not anymore.”

After a brief discussion, the party decided to split up even further – Chaya and Tsuna were to ride ahead to intercept (and delay or stop) the Imperial Heir, while the rest of the party tried to figure out where the rest of the barrels of powder went.

Tsuna and Chaya had no difficulties reaching the advance guard for the Heir’s retinue, which was made up (mostly) of Lion Clan samurai. The lieutenant in charge of the first squad was Yarou. He sneered at Chaya, leered at Tsuna, and was his expected officious self. But he did take information to his captain, who brought Chaya and Tsuna forward and allowed them to report. Once that report had been made, she ordered Yarou to assemble a squad and placed Tsuna in charge of that squad, and informed them that she would attempt to delay their arrival in town.

The Crab army is arriving [i]now[/i]. Somewhere, there is a stockpile of gunpowder and a conspiracy to kill the Imperial Heir.

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Session 15
Serpent 15-16

Shinokage met with the Crab squad who had been seconded to the party, and led them to the the warehouse which hid the entrance to the underground warehouse. After a brief standoff with the guards, he was permitted access. With his permission, the Engineers set to building a guard post so they could control access to the underground docks.

Meanwhile, the sewer team got cleaned up again and decided to wait at the Inn for the rest of the party to gather. Shinokage waited for the Crabs to get started and then headed to the Inn, leaving them to their work.

Chaya and Tsuna arrived a few hours later with Yarou and a squad of (mostly Lion) Imperial Guard. Yarou and Shinokage chatted briefly. It was clear to all that Yarou didn’t like not being in charge – and felt that he was a better choice to lead than Tsuna. Meanwhile, the Crab team sent a runner – it was Nagori, who was surprised to see the rest of the party there – to let them know that the guardpost was done enough for inspection.

The whole party then headed to the underground warehouse. Yarou spent the time on the way comparing himself to Nagori. After all, Yarou is a Lieutenant in the Imperial Guard, and Nagori is just a low-importance messenger. Nagori ignored the insults.

The party discovered that the Crabs had built a surprisingly-good gatehouse in almost no time at all.

At this point, the party decided to split up again.

Tsuna, Oharu, and Daredemo went to speak to the governor so they could search the route that the Heir was going to take into town. They took Yarou and the Guard with them. After bullying their way through the gate (where they left the Guard), they spoke with the governor in her office. Her paper-free pristine office (which is very unusual for her).

She initially resisted sharing the information with the party, but when she realized there were actual Imperial Guard with them, she gave them the information, and they went to search the route for good choke points that could have been loaded with explosives. On the way out of the mansion, they searched a couple of wagons loaded with food for the Heir.

They found a couple of good choke points, and the Guard (grumbled and) checked the sewers underneath the check points. No explosives were found in their search.

Meanwhile, Chaya realized that if the explosives weren’t in the tunnel anymore, there were only two ways they could have gone: Out by ship or up through the warehouse. She shared this information with Fukurokuma, who put the warehouse’s master (Araku) to the question.

He admitted that he was scheming to kill the governor, but denied knowledge of any plot to kill the heir. The reason he wanted to kill her is because he believes she is in Itachi’s pocket. “Every time Itachi needs muscle, ronin appear in town to provide it. When the need for muscle is over, they disappear until the next time.” He questioned Fukurokuma about why he thought the Heir was a target. When he learned the time frame, he was able to point at two suspects – Koinu and Shiyonin. “They’re likely drinking their wages away,” he said. And gave Fukurokuma directions to where they were likely to be – and they were.

Fukurokuma took Shinokage and Chaya with him, and they found the two miscreants drunk off their asses and playing Chō-Han with their wages (and losing big in the process). After funding the losses for a short time, Fukurokuma invited them outside, where Shinokage clubbed them unconscious from behind.

When they woke up, they were in one of the underground prison cells with Fukurokuma and one of his trees. With almost no effort, he got them to confess what they were up to. “As Araku always says, ‘Change happens from the top down,’ and we will probably never see someone as close to the top as the Heir.”

Koinu and Shiyonin appear to be trying to start some sort of peasant revolt, and have co-opted Araku’s power grab. The explosives are in a shed in the governor’s garden, and the temple across the street has a ledge from which Koinu was going to fire a burning crossbow bolt into that shed, detonating the explosives and leaving a significant power void at the top.

It’s now late on Serpent 16, and the Heir is officially later than was originally planned. The Captain of the Guard who assigned Yarou to the party had promised to delay as much as possible, but wasn’t sure she’d get more than a day of delay.

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Session 16
Serpent 16

Knowing where both the gunpowder and the crossbow that was going to be used to detonate the gunpowder were, the party wasted no time in splitting up.

Tsuna, Shinokage, and Fukurokuma took the Lion guards and went to recover the crossbow, while Daredemo, Oharu, and Chaya took the Crabs and went to the explosives. The party traveled together until they got close to the compound, at which point they split.

There were an unusual number of people on the streets for that time of night, and there were also more peasants in the area than is typical.

The Lion/Scorpion party, after a brief hassle getting into the Temple (which had closed for the night) easily found the crossbow. They asked the abbot to lock the temple down, as they suspected that the assassins have a confederate among the monks in the temple.

The rest of the party was shown to the governor’s gardens by the captain of the governor’s guard. In the garden was a new hedge maze designed by the governor herself to entertain the Heir. The shed containing the explosives was in the very center of that maze.

They ended up soaking the explosives with water summoned by Chaya.

At this point, both sub-parties met by the gates to the governor’s mansion to plan. The plan they hatched was to put the crossbow back and let the would-be assassins proceed with their plan. Originally, they were going to let the two drunken idiots go so that they didn’t need to watch for anyone else, but they decided that it would be a bit too obvious if they did it that way.

With the explosives ruined, it means that the assassins will reveal themselves with their attempt, making it easier for the party (and other loyal samurai) to capture and deal with them.

Yarou was stationed on the roof of the temple with orders to hide until AFTER the assassin takes a shot at the shed, at which point he is to capture the assassin alive.

Tsuna, Chaya, and Oharu then took two Lion guards and rode back to the Heir’s vanguard to inform them of what was going on. The same captain that the party had dealt with previously agreed to go along with the party’s plan, and will try to keep the Heir on the opposite side of the shed from the temple, just in case the assassin misses the shed (or targets the Heir directly instead of the shed).

It is now early Serpent 17, and the Heir will be arriving in a few hours.

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Session 17
Serpent 17

We begin where we left off – Iuchi Chaya, Suzume Oharu, and Shosuro Tsuna were informing the Imperial Guard of the situation.

Tsuna opted to ride back with the guard while Chaya and Oharu rode on ahead.

Meanwhile, Matsu Shinokage and Mirumoto Daredemo decided to blend in to the (large) crowd to wait for the arrival of the Heir so that they could be close if something happened.

Shosuro Fukurokuma opted to conceal himself on the rooftop where Akodo Yarou was hiding (and the would-be assassin was expected to strike from).

The city guard opted to treat Chaya and Oharu’s return as a signal that the Heir was close and began clearing the streets for the arrival of the Heir.

Meanwhile, one of the peasants in the crowd asked Daredemo if he knew what to do when they saw the signal, because he had forgotten. Daredemo played dumb.

An hour later, the Heir arrived. The governor greeted him at the gate to her estate, and gave a speech thanking nearly everyone and everything for his safe journey. Then they proceeded to the front door of the estate itself, where the governor ceremonially handed her sword to the Heir, indicating that it was his home and not hers for the duration of his stay. And then they served breakfast.

Tsuna’s Rank was high enough that she (and her entourage – Chaya and Oharu) was seated closer to the front of the room than they would otherwise have been seated. As a result, they were at a table with a Crane courtier and a couple of Crab courtiers. Over the course of the meal, Tsuna was able to effectively cut the Crane down a few notches – and learned that the real reason for the Heir’s visit was an audit.

Tax money from the city had increased dramatically with no apparent cause, and so many of the courtiers with whom the Heir was travelling were there to examine the books and determine why this city had suddenly become significantly more profitable for the Empire, with an eye towards seeing if a similar plan could be enacted in other cities.

The day was filled with ceremony, and the crowd in the street stayed put all day and into the night. Fukurokuma spent his day suspended from a rope harness, waiting for something to happen.

That night after dinner, the governor invited the Heir to enjoy a hedge maze that she had constructed especially for his visit. At the center of the maze was a small courtyard (which contained the shed with the gunpowder).

As they approached the maze, the door to the roof of the monastery opened, and the assassin began readying his tools. At this point, Fukurokuma lifted himself onto the roof and began to ready himself for action.

Eventually, the Heir made it to the center of the maze. He quickly made his way to a bench that was very near the shed, and the governor joined him on the bench. A moment later, the assassin took his shot – and it was a perfect shot, right into one of the gunpowder kegs.

At this, Yarou charged. The assassin thought quickly enough and hurled burning liquid at Yarou, who stumbled, leaving Fukurokuma to bring the assassin down.

Fukurokuma then yielded the assassin to Yarou, who paraded him to the governor’s mansion (where Yarou was denied admittance, but they took the prisoner). Fukurokuma then questioned the assassin and learned that he was a regular hitter for Araku. This was the highest-value target he’d been hired to deal with.

On learning this, the party decided to interrogate the two henchmen of Araku’s that they had previously imprisoned in Itachi’s secret prison in the sewers. They learned that Araku had skipped town and not left forwarding information.

This whole thing was an attempt by Araku to take out the Governor because he believed that the governor was in league with Itachi. Araku didn’t like paying the “Itachi Tax” – the share of his earnings that Itachi was taking from every mob boss in town. The two henchmen in the prison had shifted the timing and twisted the plan to attempt to remove the Heir in addition to removing the governor from the picture.

The henchmen explained that they were now the party’s only link to Araku, because Araku didn’t relinquish control of his mob. He would likely be sending a message to them with instructions on how to run the town on his behalf, until he felt it was safe to sneak back into town and reclaim his position.

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Session 18
Serpent 18

The party (inlcuding Yarou) was honored in a brief ceremony thanking them for saving the Heir. Realizing that they were to be honored at a formal dinner that evening, the party immediately rushed to find a tailor who could dress them appropriately for the event.

They ended up retaining the services of Asahina Okinakaze, who fussed and hassled and managed to garb the party appropriately. His primary condition was that the party name-drop him at the feast.

After that, the party climbed into a series of palanquins. Yarou insisted on being in the lead palanquin, and the rest of the group’s palanquins followed them. After a short time, the party realized that they were not on the correct route to the governor’s manor. The palanquin bearers claimed that they had been told only to follow the palanquin in front – the lead palanquin was navigating. By the time the party had this figured out, Yarou was too far ahead to easily catch or hail, so the party headed on to the manor on their own.

At the feast, the party managed to avoid embarrassing themselves. They were seated near to the Heir at the top table, across from some Crane courtiers who gossiped among themselves for nearly the entire dinner. They also spent some time casually insulting party members in a very passive-aggressive manner.

Mid-way through dinner, the governor received a message and disappeared. The party heard armed troops moving through the halls and a commotion outside the walls. It soon became clear that something was going on outside.

The party armed themselves (but were not allowed into the manor while armed), and prepared to face whatever it was.

It turned out to be a mob of peasants, who broke the gate open and attacked.

The party dealt with the first wave and helped the guards seal the gate, but there is still a great deal of chaos outside and no-one knows where Yarou is.

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