Noir Posted March 4, 2015 Share Posted March 4, 2015 For all of you the day of your graduation was greeted by an invitation... You are most cordially invited to celebrate your gempukku by taking part in the prestigious Topaz Championship held annually in the City of Tsuma, Takuetsu province of the Crane. Please arrive before noon on the 15th day of the Serpent to formally enter. May the light of Amaterasu light your way. ~ Doji Noriaki And now weeks, and sometimes hundreds of miles later, you all find yourselves together on the final stretch of road to Tsuma. Usagi, Shosuro, Shinjo, Kitsu and Kakita having met on the road and travled for days together while Isawa, Mirumoto and Kuni having met near Otosan Uchi, the Imperial City, and shared each others company for the last leg of their journey only for all of you to meet at a way station not far from Tsuma, forced indoors by a spring shower. That night while eating, greeting and exchanging pleasantries you all discovered that each of you has been invited to the Topaz Championship by the same Doji benefactor. Invitations to the Topaz Championship were rare, no more than a handful most years and some years none at all, but eight in a single year was quite unusual indeed. Sharing the same destination and invitation you decide to travel the last few miles together. Company always makes a trip more enjoyable, especially when one of your number is from the area. As you roam down the road towards the City of Tsuma, it is a beautiful morning with the clouds and light rain of the previous night having given way to clear skies and warm caress of Amaterasu's rays. The river valley is green and lush with spring with the fields of crops filling out for harvest. The rain forced you to stay at the last way station and today your anxious feet carry you as swift as a pony down the road through the fields and orchards. You finally round a bend in the road, emerging from a large patch of bamboo flanking the road and catch your first view Tsuma. There is a greater than normal number of travelers on the road to Tsuma due to the time of the year. Some travelers are other young graduates aspiring to be the next Topaz Champion while others are merchants delivering tea, sake, cherries, streamers, fireworks and all manner of festival supplies or simply hoping to peddle their wares. Three Crane bushi guard the gate as you approach, checking travel papers, inspecting the occasional cart and nodding to local as they pass. Each of them is clad in light armor and helm, armed with yari in addition to their daisho. A group of your size and such mixed clans certainly draws their attention. One steps forward greet you.. "Good day, travelers. Your travel papers, please." he asks holding out his opened hand. As each of you present your invitations he looks them over, nodding. "Ah. You are Noriaki-sama's guests. Welcome to Tsuma. It would be my honor to guide you to Noriaki-sama's home. Please follow me." he says with a polite bow which you return before turning to lead you through the opened gates and into the city. Tsuma, Home of the Topaz Championship... Removed from the more heavily traveled highways and only a little larger and more active than most towns in Rokugan, City of Tsuma contains several dozen small homes, barns, storehouses and artisan shops. Despite its relatively small size, it boasts an unusual number of inns, sake houses, theaters, geisha houses, merchant houses and other services to comfort and supply weary travelers. Hosting the Topaz Championship has certainly served the once small village well. Tsuma and its one small wharf sits along the western bank of the Tangu River with the prestigious Kakita Dueling Academy Dojo resting on the eastern bank. The Tengu River has a slow to moderate current near Tsuma and measures anywhere from 50'-150' across. The city is surrounded by a moderate wall on all sides except for the riverbank which is spanned by two parallel, gated and guarded bridges, each measuring over 100' long and sitting roughly 100' apart from each other feeding into the middle of the city. Gates to the north, west and south allow access to the city as well. Just beyond the walls to the north rests the small eta village. Surrounding the city is fields of rice, tea, wul and cotton with patches of bamboo forest, occasionally flanking the roads from time to time. The most prominent feature of the city is the Temple to the Seven Fortunes. The temple is a large, square white stone building with slightly angled walls that rise up fifty feet into the air. Atop these walls, stacked like towers of a small pagoda, are two circular rooftops of brilliant blue-painted wood. Each is flanged eight times. Atop the entire structure is a large mirrored ball representing Amaterasu, the Sun Goddess, reflecting her blessing in all directions. A long white marble flight of stairs arched by seven Torii (prayer gates), leads to the mammoth arched twin iron doors of the temple, each thirty feet high. Beneath each Torii sits offering to the Fortunes and at any given time there are just over a dozen monks in attendance maintaining the temple and offering services from healing to spiritual guidance. Shiro sano Kakita (Castle of the Kakita) lies to the southwest, housing the Kakita Artisan Academy and the shrine to Kakita himself while Shiro no Yojin (Castle of Vigilance), controlled by the Matsu family of the Lion Clan, sits to the north at the border of the Lion provinces, ever watchful of their Crane neighbors. The streets of Tsuma are bustling with activity in the midday sun. Peasants are cleaning and hanging decorations while merchants set out their finest goods on display. After a sort trip through the abnormally busy streets of Tsuma you arrive at the home of Doji Noriaki's. It is a very nice, modestly sized home, though still one of the largest in the city. The home is walled and gated and a few moments after a knock the gate is opened by a middle-aged man in fine, commoner's clothes. He immediately kneels and bows low. "How may I assist you, Daidoji-sama?" the older man asks. "These are Noriaki-sama's invitees, here to see him." the guard answers. "I apologize, Daidoji-sama, but Noriaki-sama will be gone till tomorrow. I have been left instructions to welcome his invitees as guests of Noriaki-sama while he is away." the older man replies. "Very well." the guard says with a nod before turning to face all of you again. "May the Fortunes favor you." the guard says to you all before giving a polite bow which you return before he departs for his post once more. "Please. Welcome samurai-sama. I am Yedo, I oversee Noriaki-sama's household." he says, still kneeling and motioning with an arm for you to enter the gate. Spoiler Entering the Topaz Championship: All members of the Great Clans, and those of the Minor Clans or ronin with a Great Clans sponsor, are welcome to enter the Topaz Championship as their gempukku, but invitations to the prestigious event are exceedingly rare. Usually no more than 1-3 invitations are given out a year, and some years not a single invitation is sent. Some of your sensei saw the invitation for the rare honor it was (Kakita, Isawa, Shinjo, Usagi & Shosuro-sensei). Some met it with indifference (Mirumoto-sensei). Others saw it as little more than an inconvenience, but even Kuni-sensei knew it would be an insult to turn down such an invitation. Way Stations: Imperial Roads have way stations located approximately a day's walk apart. These way stations house and feed traveling samurai as well as providing a station from which patrols can operate. Wul: Wul is an orange crop mainly used as animal fodder. It is popular in Rokugan, probably second only to rice. Specially treated hardened wul is also used to form padding for armor. While somewhat similar to corn and wheat the wul plant only grows to a height of three feet. The kernels of the plant are large and sometimes dried and shaped to make dice. Travel Papers: When traveling outside of one's own Clan's provinces samurai carry travel papers. Travel papers are requested by a samurai in an audience with a Daimyo, or more often one of the Daimyo's yoriki (aides), stating where he wishes to go and why. If approved, the papers are issued stating who the traveler is, where they are coming from, where they are going, the reason for the travel the date of their issue and the issuer. While traveling, patrols and guards will often ask to see your travel papers to ensure you have a reason and approval to be there. A Clan can refuse travel papers issued by another Clan, but it is rare and considered disrespectful except in times of war. In your case, your invitations are serving as your travel papers. Honorifics: When speaking to or about somebody of higher station then yourself, you add -sama. When speaking to or about somebody of equal station as yourself, you add -san. Whe speaking to somebody of lower station (or if you wish to disrespect somebody of equal or higher station than yourself), you do not use an honorific. Which name to use: When speaking to another you will use their family name unless there are others of the same family around (or reasonably expected to be around like Kakita family around Caste of the Kakita). In such cases you use their given name. The other only time one uses another's given name is if they are very close and (typically) in private. So while in Tsuma one can reasonably expect other Kakitas to be around, so you would typically address Kakita Zoyu (Asarasa's PC) as "Zoyu-san". The Seven Fortunes: The Rokugani worship The Seven Fortunes as well as a host of minor ones. The Seven Fortunes are major deities just below Amaterasu (The Sun Goddess). The Seven Fortunes are: Benten - Fortune of Romantic Love Bishamon - Fortune of Strength Daikoku - Fortune of Wealth Ebisu - Fortune of Honest Work Fukurokujin - Fortune of Wisdom and Mercy Hotei - Fortune of Contentment Jurojin - Fortune of Longevity Bowing vs Kneeling and Bowing: The bow is the proper greeting in Rokugan, but when one greets somebody of much greater station (like a Daimyo or any peasant greeting any samurai) it is proper to kneel and then bow to show proper respect. Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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