Shadow over Rokugan

Death of an Emperor

Taboos were Meant to be Broken

Akodo Takeshi looks into the room. It is dark, so he holds a candle into the room. The light does not illuminate as much as it should, but everyone can still see a small child sitting with his back turned to the door. Akodo’s outstretched arm feel unnaturally cold. Over the protests of his companions, Akodo draws his sword, challenges the demon child, and attacks. The child turns, revealing a disturbing visage. However, with two cuts of Akodo’s blade, the child is dispatched.

The party heads downstairs, to investigate the scream they heard. The lower floor of the inn seems normal, except for faint noises coming from behind the bar. The mute innkeeper silently begs the party to stop searching. Akodo and Moto Hitaken go over to investigate, and notice a few floorboards that seem displaced. They lift up the floorboards and see a woman’s body at the bottom of a hole. Akodo climbs into the hole, and notices that the woman is surrounded by evil arcane symbols. So, he kicks them until they break. With the evil magic gone, the woman begins to stir. Akodo picks her up and begins to climb out of the hole.

Meanwhile, the party’s mute hostess speaks a single word, then goes upstairs. She returns, but is transformed into a hideous demon. Nuro Byushi battles the demon, while Hitaken and Umaba Takito help Akodo climb out of the pit. The three men then rush to battle the demon. The demon casts fire at the samurai, and eludes their sword strikes. Nuro and Takito cannot master their terror, and strike ineffectively. Several strikes from Akodo and Hitaken eventually destroy the demon.

The party looks outside and sees that the night has cleared. Strangely, a horse is tied up outside the inn; a horse that happens to belong to Hitaken. After a joyous reunion, and a decision not to investigate the mysterious tracks leading away from the horse, the party continues toward the imperial city. The mysterious woman from the bottom of the pit is left behind at the haunted inn.

The party travels into the lands of the Scorpion Clan. They arrive at a castle, and are invited inside. The castle turns out to be Nuro’s home. The visiting samurai are treated well, and Nuro is summoned to speak to her superiors. She is asked if she has completed her mission. When she says she doesn’t remember, she is informed that her mission is complete. The Scorpion apparently have predicted that the Shadowlands Wall would be breached, and they have a plan to combat this that involved Nuro leading several samurai from other clans into The Shadowlands.

The party regroups at a formal dinner held by their Scorpion hosts. At the dinner, the daimyo announces that tomorrow he will hold a tournament for the hand of his daughter, Nuro Byushi. Akodo and Hitaken decline to participate, since they are already married. Akodo says he must leave before the tournament, but is persuaded to stay with the promise of a horse. Hitkaen is informed that his wife is dead, and he agrees to participate in the tournament in order to settle an old debt. Akodo indirectly asks if there is anyone who knows about Shadowland Taint, and arranges a meeting with such a person. Everyone meets a Phoenix Shugenja named Isawa(?). This one-armed man will be competing for Byushi’s hand tomorrow.

For various reasons, everyone goes with Akodo to his meeting. The Scorpion Sage indirectly confirms that Akodo, and likely everyone else in the party has been infected with the Shadowland Taint. He tries to get the party to think about the strange events that have lead them here, but “a samurai obeys without asking why,” so the conversation goes nowhere.

At the tournament, Isawa and Hitaken compose lewd haikus, Isawa produces an impressive calligraphy scroll, and Takito and Hitaken make a mockery of the proud tradition of iaijutsu dueling. In the end, Isawa is awarded Byushi’s hand in marriage. She does not seem pleased about this outcome. With this resolved, the party leaves for the imperial city.

On their way, the party accosted by a man wielding two katanas. He tells the samurai to go back the way they came. The party tries to get the man to let them pass without a fight. When the man reaches for a musket, Isawa conjures a stone block around the muzzle. The man is then completely unprepared for the onslaught of four bushi, and is quickly cut to pieces. Isawa identifies the man’s katanas as belonging to the dragon clan. Neither he or Akodo is able to draw them from their scabbards, suggesting that the blades belonged to a legendary dragon hero. Akodo takes the blades, with the intention of turning them over a noble dragon.

The party arrives at the imperial city, and is greeted by the jade champions. The party is brought before the emperor, who asks them about their journey. Then, he has them place their hands into candle flames. The flames do not burn the samurai. Akodo admits that he fears he has been infected by the shadowland taint. The emperor commands all of the jade champions to leave, except for one.

The emperor explains that Rokugan is in great peril. The Crab Clan has been overrun by shadowland creatures, and the barbarians of the burning sands are invading from the west. The Scorpion Clan foresaw these events, and devised a plan for Rokugan to endure. “Kill me, and drink my blood,” commands the emperor. After some hand-wringing, and further explanation, Nuro cuts the emperor’s throat. One by one, the samurai drink the emperor’s blood. Akodo tells Nuro, “I swear by my ancestor, Akodo One-Eye, that if this is a Scorpion lie, I will take vengeance on the entire clan.” The jade champion reveals a secret passage out of the throne room, and leads the party out of the city. He takes them to a previously undiscovered island, and tells them that the mixture of shadowland taint and divine blood inside them will allow them or their children to save Rokugan from the dangers which beset it.

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