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IC: L5R: Blood and Jade - The Topaz Championship

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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.


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.

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Toshi delivered a short bow in return to Yedo. Politeness to the lower classes never hurt, particularly when they were very useful as potential sources of all sorts of interesting information. This matter of invitations was very interesting indeed. Bayushi-sensei had agreed it was a rare honor - but nonetheless a curious thing. Scrutiny was not exactly the position for Scorpions to prefer standing in.


The example of the Kami Bayushi - Toshi was already considering if he should take some inspiration, and carefully avoid victory in competition. Maybe - it went against the desire to prove himself... this would have to be thought on more.

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Step by step walk the thousand-mile road

One journey ends and another begins. Mirumoto Rin gazed at the cherry blossoms which lined the road-way before the gate into the house of their benefactor and then smiled and bowed to the old man giving them entrance. As she passed into the courtyard of the house she thought back on the journey.

The morning she left Mirumoto Castle her grandmother, Mirumoto Mami, had come to her with Kokan her ever present servant carrying Rin's mothers Daisho. They exchanged greeting and looked at one another in silence for several moments before the older woman spoke. “You are your mothers daughter these were her swords the swords of our ancestors, handed down from Father to son generation to generation. When my son died , your mother, Tsukiko, stood for our family and these swords became hers. When we lost her We lost these we thought forever. When the IseZumi returned them to us we found them again.†The old woman pauses and looks at the gardens and the castle and her gaze travels up the mountain then back at Rin, who stood respectful with head bowed. “He also brought you. You, Mirumoto Rin, ARE your mothers Daughter and these are now yours. Bring us Honor Mago.†She took the daisho from Kokan and presented them to Rin, who took them barley holding back the tears. “Domo Obaasan.â€


Rin gently brushes away the moistness in her eye from the memory as she looks at the resplendent home of their Benefactor and her new companions. The Isawa whom she Traveled with for a good time before being joined by the Crab. A chuckle at the memory of the sake they shared the first night and how the girl polity drank the offered cup even though it was obvious she didn't usually partake. Then They met the Crab he proved more companionable in the way of the youths she had shared her time with in the Mirumoto Academy and the two drank much sake at night although it was always she who woke early for sword practice the next day with a headache. The others she had not yet formed a complete opinions their time together had been less than a full day. Now though she waited as they all entered the benefactors home for since they had come to Crane Lands it would only be polite for the Crane to take the lead.

Thought a bit of context was needed since most of you have not read her backkground.

Rin's mom was a Bushi who fell in battle but did not die. she also did not return home. She had Rin and after she died rin was brought back to Dragon lands along with her mothers swords. Her grand mother took the swords but never really acknowledged Rin. The memory above is the first time either of then acknowledged their relationship and spoke as family Grandmother to grandchild.

of course there is much more to it but that discovery will have to wait...
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Taka took careful note of his surroundings as he entered this renowned city of the Crane. Hoping to both remember his way around the place and to gain some insight into the Crane as a people. Impressed by the house they are led to Taka kept to the back of the group partly because he felt it right that the Crane should go before him in this the land of the Crane but also to see how his fellow travellers choose to interact with the servant.

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"And may they favour you as well," Zoyu replied in dulcet tones to their Daidoji guide, returning his bow before giving Noriaki-sama's joudai a gracious nod, lips curved in her customary faint smile, posed just so on her horse so he would notice the sweet shape of her profile. "We thank you for your welcome in your Lord's absence. I am Kakita Zoyu."


Zoyu stepped her horse forward, ducking below the gate, then dismounted with unconscious grace, the flowing folds of her azure silk kimono emphasizing her fluid movements. At a subtle gesture from Yedo, attendants came forward, some with silken lengths of clothes draped over their arms. "Kakita-sama, Shinjo-sama, there is food and water for your mounts," Yedo offered politely.


With an elegant flourish, the strikingly beautiful, young Crane woman slid her Katana - still in its saya - from her obi and rested in one of the silken cloths. The attendant carefully wrapped it, handed it to another attendant, then prepared another silk cloth for the next of her Lord's invitees to surrender their blade to show their intention to maintain the peace of the household.


Tsuma wasn't home, but Zoyu had a wistful smile on her full lips as they passed the bridges to the Kakita Dueling Academy, which was home to her, or as good as. Though only a few days travel, this had been the longest journey in her life from the stunning grounds of the Kakita Academies, both Artisan and Dueling.


But it had been worth it to escort a close friend to the border, so she could have her gempukku in her own lands. And she had come back with companions for a variety of Clans, fellow invitees to the esteemed Topaz Championship. Though of course, only one could be named Champion. And surely with one with her skill, artistry, and undeniable beauty, it was only natural that the Championship would be belong to her. Hopefully, the others would not take the loss to hard.


For some of her travel companions so found interesting. Toshi found that Zoyu didn't quite have the same disdain for the Scorpion that most Crane did, or at least, she hid it very well behind a polite and playful demeanor. She was friendly with Shun, as there clans were since the Unicorn had returned to Rokugan, though she was polite and charming with all her companions. She was very beautiful, was clearly aware of it, and went out of her way to make sure others were aware of it as well, even if she was subtle and gracious about it.


Kageko and Rin often found Zoyu's mismatched gaze lingering on them, though whether due to the animosity between Lion and Crane and between students of The Sword and Niten, or some other reason, they could not say.

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Shinjo Shun appreciating Zoyu's beauty, especially the beauty of a woman that appreciates the skill of riding a horse catches himself and returns his focus to Yedo and the other servants thinking she is here for the same thing so focus and maybe once we are announced the champion I can appreciate her beauty more.

He then hands his Katana over to show his intent to be peaceful and to respect his host then allows the servents to do their jobs then says, "Thank you for the generous care for my horse that he will receive."

He then moves to the side to give everyone else the chance to hand over their Katanas and for Yedo to guide them further into his master's home.

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Akari is quiet around the other young samurai, save Mirumoto-San and Kuni-San.   So far they are the ones she known the most.  The others, she does not know yet what to make of them yet.


For their part, Akari found Mirumoto-San alot more pleasant than she was expecting, though she regretted the hangover she had the morning after her first time drinking sake. 

Kuni-San on the other hand she respected from the get go.  While Isawa are the best Shugenja in Rokugan, each of the other Shugenja schools have their own unique ways that benefit the whole of the empire.  She would love to learn what he knows and teach him what she knows.

Together, their journey was a fun one in her eyes, fitting one's coming of age and the Journey to such a place as this.

Akari left her weapons at the entrance as properly dictated."I am Isawa Akari of the Phoenix Clan.   I Thank you, Yedo.  And I thank your master for their hospitality."  She smiles before offering her companions the entrance first.

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“Perceive that which cannot be seen with the eyeâ€



As the servants came from the house with their silk, Rin stepped back to allow the others to go first. And of course the Crane took the lead as she seemed to think was her right. Maybe it was, Rin shrugged and again her mind wandered over the past night and day...


The rain had caused the three traveling companions, Crab, Phoenix, and Dragon, to seek shelter for their last night on the road and it was there that they met those who would join them for the remainder of the journey. Three Men and Two Woman.


Of the five it was the two women who stood out the most to Rin. There had been few girls at the Niten School, one who left the school the same year she had joined and two more, sisters, who joined two years after her. So she had not spent a great deal of time with those of her gender. At school she had been told on many occasions how beautiful she was and more than once she fended of advances with the blunt edge of her bokkan.


When she had met Isawa-san she had been struck by the girls manner and cuteness. Rin thought her much prettier than herself. But Kitsu-san was in another league when it came to beauty, seeing her had made Rin feel a bit self conscious and then there was the Crane with her curves and the long white hair and perfect features made her feel … well simply put inadequate.


Rin had been somewhat subdued that evening enough so that Kuni-san had inquired about her well being the next morning when she arose. But she had learned a few things about the new companions.


First the men were men and treated her mostly no different than had any other man she had ever met.


But the women were different. Isawa Akari whom she had known the longest was a shugenja and Rin liked the young girl and had enjoyed listening to her and Kuni-san talking about their Shugenja matters and was secretly pleased at the surprise they each showed at her knowledge and her not being averse to their magic.

The two new comers however were vastly different.


The Lion, Kitsu Kageko was delicate and pretty, she was also mysterious. She did not join in the revelry of our first evening together as a company, although she did not separate herself from it either. And the heavy hooded robe she wore concealed her real beauty, which caught Rin off guard when the women retired to their shared quarters to sleep. The sensual way she moved the cat like grace and the exotic look of her features Yes a mystery to be solved and savored.


And then there was the Crane, Kakita Zoyu, the first female Bushi Rin had seen since leaving the Dragon Lands and a Kakita at that. Everyone knew of the Rivalry between the Two Schools, The Niten and The Sword.


When first the two met and names were exchanged everyone else had grown silent as the two young bushi studied the other, they all waited to see if a dual was in the offing. Then Rin produced a bottle of Sake, her last and called for it to be warmed.


But Rin had not let the others manner and appearance go unnoticed and found herself puzzled by the effect the Cranes beauty had upon her, feelings of envy and yes desire. That the Crane thought highly of herself was apparent and that her bearing and beauty were exquisite were obvious fact. In truth when thinking on the matter during her practice that morning Rin who had found herself having disturbing dreams during the night, fell to comparing the primal sensual exotic beauty of the Lion to the Perfect form, features, and bearing of the Crane.


Ahhh life is getting so much more interesting....


Finally it was her turn and Rin brash and unlady like as ever brushed at the dust of the days walk off her Hakama and stepped up to the Joudai. “ I am Mirumoto Rin. Your master honors us.†Turning to the servant bearing the silk she hands over her long sword then back to the old man she smiles at him and nods. “I hope there are baths to be had.â€


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To the others, Usagi Massanori came off as a quiet, somewhat uptight young man who adhered to the protocols of etiquette to the letter.  Massanori was Usagi; of Clan Hare and as a member of a minor clan, it had been drilled into him just what an honor this invitation was and what it could mean for the Family and Clan.  And so he bowed to the proper height and for the proper amount of time according to each person's station and he addressed the others with the proper decorum and respect.  He was bound and determined to bring honor to the Usagi of Clan Hare.


To the others he was also something of a paradox.  Short, even for the Rokugani, Massanori seemed to have the stature of a child to the others.  That he was Bushi and had been trained in the arts of combat seemed out of place with his small stature.  Indeed with his cleverness, he seemed more suited to the scholarly arts.  Perhaps if he hadn't been born with the birthmark on his lower back that signified his specialness he would have.  But his gift, his preternatural resistance to magic, made him the perfect choice to stand against the arts of Maho.  Therefor Massanori was trained in the arts of war and the arts of the hunt.


Massanori watched the others carefully as they were led though the city and greeted by Noriaki-sama's man at the gate of the villa, waiting patiently as the members of the great clans introduced themselves and entered before stepping up to the gate.  "I am Usagi Massanori of Clan Hare.  I thank you and your lord for this hospitality," he said dutifully as he relinquished his Katana and entered the estate.

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Kageko gave a small, polite bow to the man with her typical slow and measured movement and stepped through the gate along with her companions.


"Thank you Yedo. Your courtesy is a testament to your service to Noriaki-sama." she said politely with genuine sincerity.


As swords are handed over and horsed secured she took a moment to look around the courtyard. She smiled warmly and gave a small bow the little girl playing with a ball in the courtyard. The little girl looked up at her, somewhat surprised that she could bee seen and smiled brightly, returning the bow with a happy with a giggle. Kageko could not be sure when the girl had passed, but was pleased at the small exchange with the little ghost girl that only she could see.


Each sword was handed over to the young woman bearing silk cloths. She would receive each one, wrap the rest of the silk around it (never touching the sword or saya) and hand it over to one of two girls in their mid-teens who would then bow, back away and place the sword inside the home only to return in time to repeat the process. Once done, all three knelt and bowed. The girls returned to the house while the woman remained, though stepping back  by the door to kneel once more with her head politely bowed.


"Welcome to Tsuma, young lords. I have been instructed to extend full depth of Noriaki-sama's hospitality to you all. His household is at your disposal." Yedo said, gesturing toward the house.


"Refreshments are awaiting and the bath is being prepared should you wish it." he added and rose, moving to the door and bowing to the woman who opens the door.


Upon entering, you each removed your sandals and stowed any additional weapons by the door. Once inside you could see that though it is of moderate size, the home was constructed with the finest of materials and craftsmanship. The interior walls were painted with beautiful murals of cranes, ocean waves and rolling fields.The relatively cool air of the home, with a hint brewing tea, was a welcome respite from the heat of the midday, while the property's walls were strangely effective at minimizing the noise of the city allowing the soft, tap of the swinging, bamboo fountain in the garden to be heard several times a minute.


As you entered the reception room the girls were just setting out the last of the mats and opening the exterior doors. The mats were arranged in a semi-circle with a small, low table sitting between every other mat, each topped with a small bowl of fruit. The doors, now opened, permitted a wide view of the beautiful garden with a crane stepping slowly through the pond, shaking out it's wings.


As you took a seat the door from the kitchen opened with the woman kneeling on the other side. She placed a tray with tea and cups into the room, rose and stepped through, and then knelt once more, closing the door before she picked up the tray and rose again. She knelt in the middle of the semi-circle and politely offered tea.


"The Topaz Championship is always such an exciting time of year, here in Tsuma. We are even graced with the presence of the Sun of Heaven, a tremendous honor for our city." Yedo said as he knelt once more.


"The Emperor's barge should be arriving this afternoon in fact." he added excitedly.


Notes. Please Read
Here is a chance for you talk, aske questions of Yedo about the city, competition, guests, and so forth.



Joudai (Chamberlain): A Joudai sees to the day to day running of a house, managing the other staff, ensuring tasks are done, food stores are stocked and so forth. It is a position of some prestige among the Heimin, as it is direct service to a samurai.



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As the silence grew around the room Taka reluctantly replied to Yedo, "An arrival I am sure we will wish to see. However I wondered if you might sake my curiosity Yedo, perhaps it is only being so far away and preoccupied with events against the Shadowland, but what is the nature of the Topaz championship? What form does the competition take?"

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Shinjo Shun looks at Taka when she asks his question then looks at Yedo then says, "Agreed an arrival I am looking forward to. I am also curious to know what the nature of the Topaz championship consist of.... Are you permitted to tell us?"

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Yedo's eyes lightly up and a smile crosses his face as he begins to explain what you all have to look forward too over the next few days...


"Oh my. The Topaz Championship is a wonderful competition that shows the many virtues and skills of the samurai. I have been fortunate enough to see it many times in my years. Virtually the entire town comes to watch the events. Many merchants, samurai and even some Daimyo come to Tsuma to view the competition."


"The Topaz Championship takes place over three days and has many events. Some are matches where competitors square off directly against each other, with only one winning the event. Others are individual or group tests. In the case of a group test, any or all can pass."


"The first day begins with the Sumai matches. Then comes the Heraldry test followed by the Athletics matches on the obstacle course. After lunch the events continue with the Horsemanship matches including fine displays of archery from horseback. The last event of the day is a test covering Law, Etiquette & Bushido."


"The second day begins with the Weapons matches. The weapons test is the second most anticipated, and prestigious individual contest surpassed only by Iaijutsu. The contestants may choose any weapon they wish from a large number of specially prepared, blunted/padded, non-lethal weapons. The Crane Clan, in their unending courtesy, even supply a selection of... less common weapons.. that the Mantis Clan tends to prefer.


"The Weapons matches are followed by several more patches that day. Next is Poetry, then lunch, followed by Go and Courtier matches. The day concludes with a very special Hunting test, unique to Tsuma, which is done in teams of three to five."


"The last day is brings the most highly anticipated event of the entire Topaz Championship, the single-elimination, first strike, Iaijutsu tournament. It takes place on the revered grounds of the Kakita Dueling Academy across the river. I have only been permitted to view it a few times in my life, and each time I am in awe-stricken at the display of such skill."


"Once the tournament ends the totals are tallied. Those who have passed may formally take their name and as an adult, may offer their vow of fealty to their Daimyo. The overall winner is dubbed 'The Topaz Champion' by the Emperor himself and is bestowed a fine set of topaz colored armor. It is quite a prestigious title, as the Topaz Champion often goes on to great things."



Notes. Please Read.
You can continue to ask questions if you like about the specific events, town and so on, or whatever you like.


Sumai: Suima is a form of grappling/wrestling preceeding Sumo.

Go: A game of strategy, somewhat akin to Chess.

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Rin settles onto a mat next to Isawa-san where she can watch the others and listen. She politely accepts some tea even though she would prefer sake, and absentmindedly picks at the fruit while listening to the chamberlain's description of the festival. She takes note when her companions beam or fret as indicators of which event said companion feels himself or herself good or lacking in. She takes close note that the Crane simply Beams and sits straighter as if she were already the Champion. Even she herself frowned at the mention of some of the events.


"Joudai, from the way you spoke earlier, I take it the Emperor does not attend every year?"

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"I must have misspoke. I apologize, lord." Yedo said to Rin with a low, kneeling bow.


"The Topaz Championship has been taking place for centuries and the Hantei have graced Tsuma with their presence for as long as I know. The pomp surrounding the competition grew to extraordinary proportions when Hantei XXXVIII (the current Emperor) began fondly naming the young champions his 'Topaz Champions.' Since then, the competition has grown tremendously." he added.



Notes. Please Read
You can continue to ask questions if you like about the specific events, town and so on, or whatever you like.


Yedo displayed excellent etiquette, especially for one of his station by taking all of the blame for any confusion on himself instead of just suggesting Rin misunderstood..

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Shinjo Shun smiled when he heard about the horsemanship portion of the competition seemed to keep a composed look about the other named competitions. He thinks to himself that he should have paid more attention to the scholarly classes... I hope I don't bring dishonor to myself and my clan in those categories. After a moment of reflection he states, "I look forward to competing in this tournament. May us all bring honor to our clans."

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Zoyu nursed a cup of tea with small, delicate sips, listening with half a mind as Yedo detailed the Topaz Championship for the others. She had seen the event many times, had witnessed the Iaijutsu duels every year since began attending the Kakita Dueling Academy. She brought to mind some of the most exquisite matched she had seen over the years and promised she would make an impression that others would speak of.


At the mention of the team event, Zoyu glanced at her companions through her dark lashes, considering if some of them would be of aid or if she would have to seek out others to assure herself of victory. She also studied them, wondering if she would have to watch out for any of Noriaki-sama's other invitees, if they would be impediments to her earning the Topaz Championship. Though she believed herself superior to any of the in the illustrious of art of Iaijutsu, she suspected Mirumoto-san would be quite a force in the weapon matches and Shinjo would surpass her at riding, as she was an indifferent horsewoman at best. She would have to make sure she garnered enough points in other areas to secure her victory.


"I look forward to winning the Topaz tournament," Zoyu said, nodding at Shinjo Shun with a small, playful smile on her lips. "Honor to us and our clans." And me and mine most of all, as is only right. Zoyu turned her attention to Yedo, politely ignoring Rin's gaff. "Yedo, is it known which other esteemed personages will be attending this year?"


Peeling a mikan (Mandarin Orange) with the slim, strong fingers of an experienced student of The Sword, Zoyu affected a nonchalant tone as she added, "And perhaps, you have heard mentioned in Tsuma of which students and attendees are favored in each event?"

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"The Emperor is always accompanied by the Imperial Herald, his Seppun Guard and some members of the Imperial families. The Emerald Champion, Lord Doji Satsume and his son Hoturi will be in attendance as well. Kakita Toshiomoko, Sensei of the Kakita Dueling Academy will, of course, be here for the competition and I have heard Lord Kuni Yori is here, as well as a Scorpion Clan duelist of some skill." Yedo replied to Zoyu.


"I know little more of most of the participants than their Clans, aside from the other Cranes participating, Doji Chinatsu and Kakita Ujimitsu. I know there are two others from the Phoenix Clan, as well as another Lion and Crab, Dragon, Scorpion and Unicorn. There is also a Mantis and two other bushi who's Clan I am uncertain of. Even a young Ronin has managed a sponsor." Yedo commented.



Notes. Please Read
Emerald Champion: The position of Emerald Champion is awarded personally by the Emperor. The Emerald Champion serves as the Emperor's right hand with his own castle and personal army drawn from all the Great Clans. The Current Emerald Champion is Doji Satsume.


Doji Satsume: Daimyo of the Doji Family and Crane Clan Champion. Current Emerald Champion.


Doji Hoturi: Doji Satsume's son.


Kakita Toshimoko: Sensei of the Kakita Dueling Academy. A master of Kenjustus and arguably the greatest living master of Iaijutsu. Brother of the Kakita Daimyo.


Kuni Yori: Daimyo of the Kuni Family and a shugenja of much repute, even in the Shadowlands. Known to be a bit... creepy.


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Most interesting. Toshi quietly drank his tea and took the occasional piece of fruit, listening to Yedo's descriptions. It confirmed what he suspected, that the spotlight would strike the winner. It was not his place to climb to the stars, but to pass, and observe. He had no chance of any victory in the more crucial combative challenges anyway - better to simply prove his strengths and leave it there.


The green glint flicked in a practiced fashion above the steel mask as Toshi took in Taka and Rin's uncertainly, and Zoyu's well-demonstrated confidence. Yedo has immensely developed etiquette, not that anything less would have been allowed in a chamberlain of a Doiji estate. But Toshi continued to say nothing - and take in the information.


The best objective, was to simply be ready to gain: knowledge, favors, support. And the kinsman who held the boldness to enter directly of his or her volition.... Toshi should seek them out. "Do you know of the name of my kinsman who has also entered?"

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"I am sorry lord, I do not. I believe he is bushi though." Yedo answered with a bow.


"The House of the Laughing Carp is most likely where he and the others are staying, if you wish to meet your fellow participants." he added.

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One of the servant girls slid open the door while kneeling on the other side. She looked to Yedo and ndoded to him, remaining kneeling by the door.


"The bath is prepared, young lords." Yedo reported.


The women were the first to rise and be led to the bath by the girl with Yedo following behind. Once inside the girl left quickly.


"A moment please, lords." Yedo asked, kneeling outside the door in the hall.


The girls returned, each carrying two varnished, wooden boxes. The sat them down, revealing the engraved mon of the Crane, Lion, Phoenix and Dragon clans, one to a box..


"These are gifts from Noriaki-sama. He knew your journey to Tsuma would be long and wished to ensure that you did not need to concern yourself with your attire after such a long and dusty journey. He is, of course, no here to present them himself, and I can only express his deepest apologies, but a full kamishimo is here for each of you, should you wish it and it would be Noriaki-sama's pleasure and honor if you were to accept this gift in his regrettable absence." Yedo explained with his casual, polite courtesy.


"Please, enjoy your bath." he added before bowing and sliding the door closed.


The girls remained, helping each undress and setting out the stools and bowls quickly and checked the bathwater once more.


As the women disrobed and washed down, Mirumoto Rin's tattoos could not help but draw attention. She had several smaller tattoos on her legs and thighs, but on her back sat one of the most stunning piece of art any of you have ever seen. It was a depiction of a wasp, but tattooed with such skill that it nearly looked like a massive wasp was sitting on her back. And though you know it could not be, you would almost swear the tattoo moved time time to time... repositioning legs, turning it's head, moving it wings... Surely just a clever trick by a talented tattoo artist. Surely...


Kakita Zoyu's beauty was obvious, but her grace even more so as she seemed to scrub with and grace and fluidity of a performance. It was just natural for her, having spent year training and the Kakita Academy, learning the way of the sword as well as the art of dance. Her complexion was fair, complimenting her long, luxurious hair, and her curves were already womanly.


Isawa Akari was typical for her family, dark hair and pleasant features. Her physique was typical for her age, a girl taking her first steps into womanhood. She had a nimbleness about here though, one that Mirumoto and Kakita would typically see in a bushi, not a shugenja. Her eyes, though calm did not conceal the intelligence that lurked beneath.


Kitsu Kageko was small, maybe five feet tall and nearly swallowed by her large, loose robe. It was not until her hood was pulled back with the the robe fell to her shoulders and eventually off into the servant girl's hands that her body could truly be seen. Her small frame was curvacious for her age, but she lacked the obvious beauty of the Kakita. Instead there was something intangible about her, not so much beauty, but just a raw, primall appeal. Her features had a feline hit to them, giving her an exotic look while her hair, though often restrained into banded ponytails, she let it all out. It was long and fiery orange/red, much like a mane of her Clan's namesake.


While the women bathed the girls set to work laying out the new kamishimo for each as well as doing their best to clean and prepare the clothes they brought with them should they so choose.


Once they were done bathing, the girls helped them dry, dress and prepare their hair.


When they were ready, one girl led them back to the parlor they were in before, where they could relax and enjoy some tea while the men were led off to bathe.


At the end of the hall Yedo sat kneeling by the opened door to the bath, directing the men inside.



"A moment please, lords." Yedo asked, kneeling outside the door in the hall.


"These are gifts from Noriaki-sama." Yedo said as the girls elegantly motioned to four wooden boxes, each with a single mon, Unicorn, Scorpion, Crab and Hare, engraved on the lid.


"He knew your journey to Tsuma would be long and wished to ensure that you did not need to concern yourself with your attire after such a long and dusty journey. He is, of course, no here to present them himself, and I can only express his deepest apologies, but a full kamishimo is here for each of you, should you wish it and it would be Noriaki-sama's pleasure and honor if you were to accept this gift in his regrettable absence." Yedo continued, explaining with his polite courtesy.


"Please, enjoy your bath." he added before bowing and sliding the door closed.


The girls remained, helping each undress while the stools and bowls were already set out.


The men bathed considerably faster than the women, with generally shorter hair and Kuni's shaved head to thank for that. Kuni Taka was a rather small fellow, not even reaching five feet in sandals. His features revealed his hard life as a Crab, such as the scar running down his left forearm to the back of his hand, and his head kept cleanly shaved for practicality as much as anything else. He was quiet though, far from the loud, boisterous Crabs most have heard about.


Shinjo Shun was typical for his clan, with a traditional top-knot and goatee. His calloused hands and strong legs a testament to the amount of time he spent in the saddle. Most of the Empire believed that a Unicorn could ride before he could walk. From the looks of Shun, that might not be far from the truth.


Usagi Massanori was small for his age as well, but quick and nimble like most Hares with a hint of aestheticism to his frame.


Shosuro Toshi, on the other hand, was from the calloused hands and athletic builds of the bushi. He had lived a far more comfortable life, learning the intricacies of courtly etiquette. He was clean shave and kept his hair short. What he lacked physically was made up for though with is polite and pleasing nature. He was attractive, behind the mask, and very personable, moving with a gracious etiquette. Maybe some of the talk of the Scorpion Clan was a bit exaggerated?


Once they were done bathing, the girls helped the men dress and prepare their hair (or shave their head) and led them back out to the waiting women.


"If you would like to meet the other competitors, the House of the Laughing Carp holds the greatest likelihood of doing so. I can show you the way." Yedo offered with a bow and pleasant smile.




The House of the Laughing Carp...


The largest inn and sake house in the city, the House of the Laughing Carp is modestly appointed, but comfortable, lacking the formality of a Crane establishment and instead aiming for the relaxed comfort the Crab prefer. The establishment gains its name from the large Yasuki Family mon gracing the wall on either side of the entrance, indicating it's ownership. The place was truly bustling with activity. The tables were packed with samurai of every Great Clan and some Minor Clans.The bottom floor consisted of the dining room/sake house while stairs led up to the rooms above. The amount of conversational noise turned the entire den into a near cacophony of voices and accents while the innkeeper and his family sought to attend to the needs of the samurai.


"Here we are, lords. It is the finest inn and sake house in the city. They even keep a supply of Friendly Traveler Sake, if you are so inclined or wish to celebrate." Yedo said with a smile.




Notes. Please Read.
Bathing: Bathing is normally done alone, but if time is important it can be done by gender or on rare occasions men and women together (typically supervised to ensure a lady's honor is not compromised). It is perfectly normal for servants (of either gender) to help a samurai disrobe or dress and assist with their grooming.


Kamishimo: Kamishimo is the name for a full, formal outfit of the samurai. It consists of a kimono, kataginu (wide shouldered vest) and hakama (loose pants).

All piece of the kamishimo being offered are of fine quality (beautifully made) and are in the colors of your individual clans with appropriate Clan Mons on them. The entire outfit at fine quality would run roughly 30 koku.


Gift Giving: Normally you refuse a gift twice so they offer it three time to prove their intent. In this case, Noriaki is not there and Yedo has delicately circumvented this by (essentially) stating that is there if you would like it and offering it multiple times on Noriaki's behalf. You do not have to accept the gift, but seeing as they are already made in each of your Clan's colors and being offered by a very respected (high Glory) host, it could be considered rude to refuse. Also, it is not a bad idea to look your best in front of the Emperor, Imperial families, Emerald Champion and so many other important people.


Friendly Traveler Sake: Generally thought of as the best sake in the Empire, the sake produced in Friendly Traveler Village is a rare luxury outside of the Crab provinces, especially north of the Spine of the World Mountains. It would certainly not be cheap this far from its place of production, for some some it is certainly worth it.


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Shinjo Shun looks at Yedo then says, "Thank you Yedo" he then offers a polite bow then walks inside. Once inside he will scan the inn to take in the setting and taking note of who all here especially those that appears to be fellow competitors. He will also attempt to see if any of his clan is present as well.

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The dining room/sake house was full of people of various clans.


At one table sat a couple male Crabs and couple female Unicorns, with one of each looked rather young. The adult are enjoying some sake and cherries while the 'youths' partook of tea,


At another table sat a Dragon, a Lion and a couple of Phoenix, all of whom looked in their early to mid teens. They are drinking tea and enjoying mochi (sweet rice cakes) as they conversed.


A third table was populated by several Scorpions, a mix of ages and genders They mostly had oni half-masks, which when worn would cover the bottom half of their face. At this time though the masks rested on the table, allowing them to drink their tea and eat freely. Two young samurai, a male and female, dressed in dark, drab green and black (denoting a Minor Clan) sat with the Scorpions, drinking tea and engaging in friendly conversation.


A fourth table was occupied largely by Cranes, also a mix of ages, though all male with the exception of a single woman who fanned herself as they sat and talked.


The rest of the tables were occupied by older samurai of various clans, some coming and going (opening up tables briefly and sporadically) as they finished meals and conversation or sought a bite to eat before the arrival of the Imperial Barge.




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With a polite nod or shallow bow to the Crab and Unicorn as he passes them Taka moves into the inn to claim an empty table and orders a tea and some mochi for himself. The table would readily seat four and an adjoining table could be moved over if more wished to join him.


Once seated he ponders the Mons of those he had encountered here. The Crab are Hiruma and presumably scouts, while the Otaku mon of the Unicorn ladies denotes them as probably Battle Maidens. Flicker his eyes to the other table as he sips his tea he tries to recognise the mons of the Dragon, Lion and the Phoenix.


Unskilled Heraldry 2k2, no rerolls
Rorx *rolls* 2d10: 4+7: 11 Dragon
Rorx *rolls* 2d10: 2+3: 5 Lion
Rorx *rolls* 2d10: 1+1: 2 Phoenix boy
Rorx *rolls* 2d10: 6+1: 7 Phoenix girl

Dragon is Agasha (tend to be Shugenja)
Lion is Akodo
Boy Phoenix I don't know but might be scholarly? Not Iswara though, I'd recognise that one.
Girl Phoenix is Shiba, same family as the Phoenix Clan Champion is always from.

Shugenja Lore to see if the Dragon and Phoenix Boy are Shugenja
Dragon : 4k3
Rorx *rolls* 4d10: 5+9+7+1: 22
So 21 rolled

Phoenix : 4k3
Rorx *rolls* 4d10: 6+1+4+1: 12
So 11 rolled

Pretty sure the Dragon Agasha is a Shugenja.
Don't know about the Phoenix boy but seems more a scholar or shugenja than a bushi.


So, he thinks to himself, a Hiruma Scout, a Unicorn Bushi/Battle Maiden, a Dragon Shugenja, a Lion Bushi, a Phoenix scholar or Shugenja and a Phoenix bushi. And of course who knows who or what the Scorpion truly are. Should make for an interesting contest tomorrow.



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Rin slowly opened and looked upon the luxurious clothing inside the ornate box, much time and effort had been put into crafting such perfect clothing. She smiled as the chamberlain called them presents, Rin was fond of presents they brought back memories of her mother and the Tattooed man who brought a little girl happiness in the form of dolls and toys even while he scared her with the tattoos which now so fascinated her. Of course those memories led to other memories and so she closed the box.


“Noriaki-sama does me great Honor, Domo†she gives the old man a slight bow. Then takes up the gift.



In the bath she lets the attendants help with disrobing and looks on in admiration at the beauty displayed by her companions, the perfection of the Crane, the primal sensuality of the Lion, even Akari the Phoenix held forth the beauty of Innocence. She wished she could sit in the corner with paper and charcoal and capture what they represented to her in that moment, The Essences of True Beauty.


When the bath was done and they were dressed Yedo led them to the famous tavern, the House of the Laughing Carp.


Rin hung back as the rest entered and engaged the old chamberlain in conversation.


"Pardon, Yedo-san, I have a question."


The Chamberlain bows at the honor given him by Rin. "Of course anything Mirumoto-sama."


"I have heard tales of the Kakita artisans, and that some of these talented artists have mastered the art of Tattooing. Do you perchance know of such? And where to find them? Ah, I see that my fellows are already inside I mustn't keep them waiting. As for my question If possible and you do know, could you make arrangements for me to visit one?" Rin smiles at the puzzled old man, sketches a bow which he hastily returns.


Checking her Kamishimo and her Daisho, Mirumoto Rin becomes the warrior, her presence projecting the cold steel confidence and ability of her ancestor she enters the Tavern.









Awareness Roll
witnessed by Noir & second roll by Asa

19 or 24(if the first 10 explodes)


Nina] 11:07 pm: L5r roll for rin

Nina *rolls* 3d10: 7+2+10: 19

[Nina] 11:07 pm: can i gets me a witness

[Carver] 11:07 pm: Praise Thor!

[Long6] 11:08 pm: Heil Susano-o!

[Nina] 11:08 pm:

[Noir] 11:08 pm: I seese it

[Nina] 7:36 am: need a witness for a l5r roll i rolled last night but forgot the explode the 10

[Asarasa] 7:36 am: Okay

Nina *rolls* 1d10: 5: 5

[Nina] 7:37 am: +5

[Asarasa] 7:37 am: If it's an untrained check, from what I understand, 10s don't explode.

[Nina] 7:37 am: its a trait roll Im not sure it does or not.

[Asarasa] 7:38 am: Ah

[Asarasa] 7:38 am: I'm guessing pure trait rolls 10s explode

[Nina] 7:38 am: so just rolling in case it does. damn I gotts get going

[Asarasa] 7:38 am: Later

[Nina] 7:38 am: I'll see ya later im gonna be late
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"You have been most gracious and a true credit to your Lord, Yedo," Zoyu replied with a nod and a self-assured smile. "And I am thinking Friendly Traveler Sake will be a most fitting accompaniment to any celebration we may do."


Dressed in the fine kamishimo gifted to her by Noriaki-sama, fresh-washed white hair with its lock of black plaited back in a long, elegant foxtail, Zoyu stepped into the House of the Laughing Carp with a duelist's swagger and a dancer's grace, her spirits high. Not only would she competing for the Topaz Champion before the eyes of Emperor and the Ancestors, her own Clan Daimyo and Emerald Champion Doji Satsume and the roguish master sensei of the Kakita Dueling Academy, Kakita Toshimoko, but the delight and heir of the entire Crane Clan Doji Hoturi-sama was going to be there too.


Though married, her chance to be Hoturi's wife lost - short by just a few years - Zoyu still hoped to draw his interest. Her smile turned a bit wistful. There was just one other who she wished could be here to witness her gempukku, but she was off to her own clan lands to participate in her gempukku. Her mismatched eyes slid over the table of Scorpions, idly seeing if she could identify the various families and this notable duelist from the clan, when familiar face at another table caught her gaze.


Nodding at Kuni Taka and Shinjo Shun as they claimed a table and giving them a small gesture informing them she would join them in a moment, Zoyu glided toward the table full of Cranes, mostly Dojis and Kakitas. When she noted the severe and intense, angular face of Kakita Ujimitsu turn her way, Zoyu's smile grew slightly wider and warmer, her gaze coy behind thick lashes. She couldn't help but needle the young man who was a member of her own fortunate Spring class at the Kakita Dueling Academy, the one the others called Kibishii, though never to his face. So strict and intent, though a fine duelist - if not so fine as herself of course - he seemed to take no joy in life.


"Ujimitsu-san, a pleasure to see you once more," Zoyu said in a soft, low voice giving him a bow in greeting and stopping slightly too much inside Ujimitsu's personal space, turned so that the shape of her figure was unmistakeable. "And fair greetings to your companions as well. I have come to the House of the Laughing Carp with my own companions." Zoyu tossed her head, indicating the others she came with using her chin and the cast of her eyes, adding, "fellow invitees of Noriaki-sama to the Topaz Championship, but I could not pass by without saying hello to a classmate of the Academy. A few short days, and we shall be graduates of the illustrious Kakita Dueling Academy, Ujimitsu-san, before the eyes of Clan and Emperor."


"Though of course, only one of us may be named Champion," Zoyu added, her playful tone suggesting quite clearly, between the two of them, which she believed would be so named.


Rolling Lore: Scorpion, trying to identify which families the Scorpions belong to.

[Asarasa] 10:10 am: rolling Lore: Scorpion
[Asarasa] 10:11 am: 3k2
Asarasa *rolls* 3d10: 8+8+2: 18
    [Nina] 10:11 am: seen and winessed


Also, would like to try to see if Zoyu could pick out which of them is the Scorpion Duelist that has been mentioned, if she can judge by the way he moves and handles himself, age that he might be allude to by the description she's heard, etc but don't know if that is possible or what to roll if it is. :)

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Akari nods to Yedo.  "Um...Thank you Yedo.  You have done a very good job."  she smiled to him


She looked around and spotted the two Phoenixes.   While she doesn't show it, Akari is nervous.   Least until  she recognized the young man of the two.



"Asako-san?   It is you.   It has been sometime since we last met.  How have you been?"  She said relieved to see a familiar face.


She looks to the the Shiba girl and gives her a pleasant bow.  "Hello, Shiba-San."


"So do either of you know the favorites of this competition?"

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The kamishimo's various pieces lacked that iconic line that held its place on the Scorpion youth's own personal clothing, but that was no grounds for disdaining the immensely expensive, high quality gift. Nor insulting Doiji Noriaki for presenting it - and in any case, the break from the three time offer convention could easily be slid under Yedo's explanation and a host's consideration.


That was the thing about words, Toshi knew, in a more cynical moment of contemplation. So important, in Rokugan, to samurai, and yet, they didn't have to mean anything at all. Sincerity, that it sounded believable, was the key. And what did Shinsei say about eyes and mouths?


But in this case, there seemed no point of subterfuge, it was just a wandering thought. The House of Laughing Carp, promisingly, held an allotment of his Clan, along with Minor Clan samurai of some presumed bond to be allowed into their circle.


Toshi approached smoothly and bowed in greeting. "I hope you have eaten, my kinsfolk. May I join you?"

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The Crabs returned the nod to Kuni Taka as he entered and claimed a table, placed his order and pondered the other possible contestants. With a few more words the Crabs rose, bowed to the Unicorns, and approached Taka's table.


"Ahh. Knui-san. It is so good to see a clansmen in a... place.. such as this." the older Crab said as he looked around, glancing mostly at the Cranes and Scorpions with all the subtlety of a ox.


"We are surprised to see you here as we do not remember passing you on the road." he commented with a thoughtful look.


"But no matter. It is still good to see you. I am Hiruma Hanori, and this is my nephew, Hiruma Sota." he said as he gave the boy a slap on the back.


"I hear Lord Kuni has made the journey too. As to why, I do not know. But with his tendency to travel without an honor guard, some bandits must not have realized who he was and thought a lone shugenja an easy target. The eta should be returning with the bodies before nightfall." Hanori said with a smile and chuckle.


"With the Emperor coming, cremations have been postponed. I am certainly glad I'm not around the stench of a dozen, rotting bodies out in the eta village. The Shadowlands have their own... aroma... but nothing smells like a corpse." Hanori commented.






With the Crabs gone the two Unicorn Clan women looked to Shinjo Shun and nodded to him with the older one gesturing to the now empty seats at their table.


"Welcome Shinjo-kun." The older of the two Unicorns said as he took a seat.


The girl picked up the tea pot and looked to him.


"Tea, Shinjoa-san?" she offered and poured Shun a cup after he nodded.


"I am Otaku Hatsumi." the older lady said, introducing herself with a slight bow.


"Otaku Etsuko." the girl added with a bow of her own.


"Do not worry, the odds of you drawing Etsuko-kun in the Horsemanship competition seem slim." the woman said, though it was difficult to tell if she was joking or serious...






Kakita Ujimtsu rose as Kakita Zoyu came over and greeted him and the table speaking for a moment and finished with..


"Though of course, only one of us may be named Champion," Zoyu added, her playful tone suggesting quite clearly, between the two of them, which she believed would be so named.


Ujimitsu replied, looking as unamused as ever, replied, "I am sure the other will be able to deal with her... excuse me.. their grief."






Asako Kaito looked up from his mochi and offered a polite smile.


"Ahh. It is good to see you Isawa-san. I do not think you you have met my friend, Shiba Izumi" Asako said with a gesture to the other Phoenix who replied with a polite bow.


"So do either of you know the favorites of this competition?" Azumi asked, which caused Asako to blink, catching him off guard slightly.


"Uh.. favorites? I am not sure. The Kakita in Iaijutsu, I would assume. Along with the Hiruma in Athletics and Sumai, Otaku in Horsemanship and so forth. And, of course, Akodo-san in Go.I am afraid I really do not know most of the rest of the competitors that well personally, present company excluded."






Usagi entered the room, looking over the loud and fairly joyous room where he caught a small nod from the two other samurai sitting with the Scorpions.






Kageko walked into the inn and over to the table Taka had claimed and bowed to the older Hiruma politely and offered the boy a slightly more shallow, though still polite, bow before she took a seat, almost seeming like she was trying to be as small and unobtrusive as possible.






Toshi approached the table of Scorpions smoothly and bowed in greeting. "I hope you have eaten, my kinsfolk. May I join you?"


The older man, a Bayushi looked up and smiled.


"Of course, Shosuro-kun. Have a seat." he said.


"I am Bayushi Tangen. Yes, yes. Bayshu Tangen is my great-great-grandfather." he said with a self-flattering tone.


"This is Baysuhi Zoshun, Soshi Tadami, and the one we are all here to see, Bayushi Daisuke." he said, gesturing toward the other man, the woman and then the boy.


"And this is Mamushi Kichiro and his sister, Mamushi Mitsuko, of the Viper Clan." he pointed out as he indicated the boy and girl sitting with them.


"So you are competing too, Soshuro-kun?" Soshi politely asked as she poured Toshi a cup of tea.






Mirumoto Rin entered the room with all the confidence and pose in the world, she felt. She had never felt so calm and confident.


Unfortunately, it went virtually unnoticed by the carousing patrons.The Cranes and Scorpions hardly batted an eyelash, the Crabs and Unicorns just did not seem to care, while the Lion was stereotypically stoic.


The eyes of the Dragon, sitting with the Lion and both Phoenix, lit up and she nodded to Rin.



Notes. Please Read.
Feel free to talk to the NPC clansmen of go join the table with Taka and Kageko.


The -kun suffix: The suffix -kun is added to denote somebody of a junior status. As you are all still children for the moment, most adults will use -kun when speaking with you. The appropriate suffix when speaking to an adult for the moment is -sama.


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Shinjo Sun moves over to the two women of the Unicorn Clan and returns he bow as is proper to the two women in turn as they introduce themselves then says, "I am Shinjo Shun and thank you." He then takes the offered seat and tea then says, "I heard there was another of our clan that would be participating in the tournament, but the individual that informed of this wasn't aware of name." He then sips on the tea.



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Taka stands briefly to offer the Hiruma the proper bows then retakes his seat.

"Greetings, I am Kuni Taka and this is my associate Kitsu Kageko. Would you care to join us Hanori-sama, Sota-san? I am not surprised we did not pass on the road, a travelled by boat with our clan mates the Yasuki up to the Imperial City and then by road from there and have only just arrived in Tsuma today."


Taka looks around the Inn, more at the furnishings and decoration than at the people, "The Inn seems a pleasant place, more so than many of its type in out homelands as is appropriate to its setting, but of course I am sure much of the talk here is of the competition. I am sure that Lord Kuni's unfortunate distraction on the road here will help to make the roads more secure and perhaps make bandits less inclined to attack shugenja merely going about there business." He said the last with a wry grin.


"As to the smell, it is true that corpses are easily distinguished from the more frequent smells of the Shadowland, but with only 3 days of competition I am sure the eta will be able to keep it under control until the end. I must say that I am surprised that there were bandits close enough to the Crane palace that they were brought to the eta village here though."


Looking to Sota he continues, "I imagine you are looking forward to a number of the tests Sota-san, I'm afraid I must admit that I did not know the nature of tests until only an hour or so ago and find that I am untutored in many of the subjects. No matter I will do my best, as will we all I am sure."

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(Just to clarify where people are at the moment. The names in bold are those you know to be competing (aside from yourselves in italics.)


Table #1

Sitting: 2 Unicorn women (Otaku Hatsumi and Otaku Etsuko), Shinjo Shun


Table #2

Sitting: Lots of Cranes.

Standing: Kakita Ujimitsu & Kakita Zoyu


Table #3

Sitting: Dragon (Agasha), Lion (Akodo), Phoenix (Asako Kaito & Shiba Izumi), Isawa Akari


Table #4

Sitting: Lots of Scorpions (Bayushi Tangen, Bayushi Zoshun, Bayushi Daisuke, Soshi Tadami), Soshuro Toshi, Mamushi Kichiro, Mamushi Mitsuko


Table #5

Sitting: Kuni Taka, Kitsu Kageko

Standing: 2 Crabs (Hiruma Hanori and Hiruma Sota)


There are a couple of empty tables, one of which is right by Taka's table.


Usagi and Mirumoto have yet to approach a table

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Rin moves into the tavern her face showing the confidence and steadfastness of the mountain. She nods, acknowledging the only other Dragon in view, as she makes her way to the table Taka and Kageko have claimed.

arriving she hears the last of Taka's sentence.


Rorx, on 19 Mar 2015 - 09:56, said:

... that I did not know the nature of tests until only an hour or so ago and find that I am untutored in many of the subjects. No matter I will do my best, as will we all I am sure."



Rin bows to the two Hiruma before seating herself at the empty table near Taka and Kegeko.



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Zoyu rolled her lovely, mismatched eyes, smile turning amused by her dour classmate's attempt at verbal sparring. "When one has joy in their heart and joy in their life, grief cannot reach you. And when one lives on the Moment's Edge, one's blade dances and the future not weigh one down." Zoyu sighed with exasperation and gave Ujimitsu a nod. "May whoever wins take joy in their victory and savour it with a smile."


Then the striking, young woman gave Ujimitsu a bright grin to show him how.


Zoyu bowed to her clansmen at the table, her long, white hair brushing the ground. "Alas, my companions await me, but I am hopeful that I can make your acquaintances at a later time. I am Kakita Zoyu and I assure you this is not the last you will hear of me."


Rising gracefully, Zoyu waited a polite moment to receive any names and farewells offered by the Cranes sharing the table with Ujimitsu-san, then glided toward the table claimed by Taka-san. She passed by the table of Scorpions, Toshi-san seated among them. Three of them Bayushi she thought, one her age, and a Soshi, along with pair from a Clan of little note. She gave them a polite nod in passing and flashed them a small, enigmatic grin. She wondered how they compared to the one who had taught her of the Scorpion.


Zoyu joined Taka, Kageko, and Rin at the tables, exchanging greetings and names with the Hiruma with impeccable etiquette before seating herself. With a soft suggestion, they moved the two tables together so all could sit together, even their two other companions talking with their clansmen, if they were so inclined. When the tea arrived, Zoyu offered to pour, arching a brow at Taka, silently asking if she was to include his clansmen, and pouring for them as well at Taka's nod.


"I hope you are finding your time in Tsuma a welcome one," Zoyu demurely asked the two Crabs, though there was nothing demure about the light in her blue and green eyes, or in the curve of her lips. One had seen his fair share of action during his time on the Wall. The other, her age, Zoyu believed was in Tsuma for Gempukku. "The Topaz Championship is an exciting time for our quaint village."

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"There a curious letter that says I am." Toshi stated straightforwardly, nodding as he received his cup of warm tea. "Arigato, Soshi-sama. But I do think it speaks more highly of those, such as Daisuke-san, who chose to enter themselves. Determination is an asset."


Then Zoyu passed, and Toshi inclined his head back at her. "That is Kakita Zoyu, and she seems quite certain of her own victory. If you have questions about my fellow invitees, I will answer them to the best of my abilities."

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"I see.  Guess we'll just have hope for the best.  I mean while it would be wonderful to get to win the whole thing, we should just concentrate on bringing honor to the clan through our deeds in this."


"It is nice to meet you, Shiba-San."  She bowed.   "I'm sure you and Asako-san Both have interesting tales about your journey to get here."



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"Well, now you know." Hatsumi commented with a nod as she took a drink of her sake.


Etsuko only smiled softly, a looked down at the tea pot as she refilled her glass.


"It is regrettable that we cannot use our own mounts, but I understand. It would not be fair to go up against a Battle-Maiden on her Otaku steed." Etsuko said with understanding laced with confidence.


"We have found the most suitable livery in town. I can direct you there if you wish, Shinjo-san. Or I am sure they would stable your horse at the Palace. I just could not bare to be so far from my steed." Etsuko added.






"Close to the Palace, yes. But we passed quite a few ronin heading the other way on the road. Without a lord to serve and provide, some ronin become desperate." Hanori said as he and his nephew took a seat.


"Though I hear Lord Hida is considering another Twenty Goblin Winter soon. That may give some ronin a second chance." Hanori  added as he held out his cup for Zoyu to pour him some tea.


Hanori looked to Zoyu with a confused expression.


"Exciting? This?" he asked before sighing and shaking his head.


"Consider yourself lucky, Kakita-san, if this is as 'exciting' as you life gets." Sota piped up.


"Having your entire unit massacred by a wave of the foul minions of He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named, leaving you alone and injured, two days into the Shadowlands, forced to find your own back, bleeding and with nothing but a half-broken tetsubo to protect you as you evade the foul spawn of The Pit without food or water for two days. Two days. Until you can finally see Kaiu Kabe again... THAT is 'exciting', Kakita-san. This?" Sota said as he looked all around at the people smiling and carousing, talking about the competitions and favorites.


"This is.. is..." Sota continued, trembling.


"Sota!" Hanori exclaimed firmly, which causes the boy to snap to attention.


"Excuse the boy. There was a failed training exercise." Hanori explained and then looked over at his nephew.


"But he is home in the Empire now and far from the wall where he can focus on his gempukku." Hanori said firmly, speaking just as much to you all as to Sota.






"Shosuru-san, you are took kind. I simply seek to bring honor to our Clan, as we all do." Daisuke said with a smile.


"I doubt there is much to know about the rest of the competitors at this age that is not obvious. Though if you have made some observations out of the ordinary, then do tell." Tangen said as he casually looked around and glanced over at the nook by the door as if to check his swords were still there.


"As it is though, be wary of the Crabs at Sumai, the Hiruma and Hare at Athletics, the Lion at Go, the Doji at Law, Etiquette and Heraldry, the Unicorns at Horsemanship, the Otaku at Poetry and do not underestimate the Shiba at Iaijutsu. They fight with no-mind. It makes them fast. The Hare is probably the most skilled hunter here as well. And never forget, we are always here for help." Sohi commented with a smile, pouring Toshi some tea.


"I doubt you have to contend with from the shugenja in the Weapons contest, except maybe the Kuni. The Hare prances about and the Unicorns off of their horses are of little worry. The rest though.. The precision of the Akodo, the dual blades of the Dragon, the no-mind of the Shiba and, of course, the alacrity of out present company, are all things to content for.






"Oh! Where are my manners!?" Asako said a bit embrassed.


"Isawa Azumi, this is Akodo Yokasu and Agasha Chouko, both fellow competitors in the Topaz Championship." Asako explained, introducing the rest of the table.


"Pleased to meet you, Isawa-san" the stoic Akodo greeted with a polite bow along with a bow from the Dragon.


"Are you going to the docks to see the arrival of the Imperial Barge later, Isawa-san?" Asako asked.





(Just to clarify where people are at the moment. The names in bold are those you know to be competing (aside from yourselves in italics.)


Table #1

Sitting: 2 Unicorn women (Otaku Hatsumi and Otaku Etsuko), Shinjo Shun


Table #2

Sitting: Lots of Cranes including Kakita Ujimitsu


Table #3

Sitting: Dragon (Agasha Chouko), Lion (Akodo Yokasu), Phoenix (Asako Kaito & Shiba Izumi), Isawa Akari


Table #4

Sitting: Lots of Scorpions (Bayushi Tangen, Bayushi Zoshun, Bayushi Daisuke, Soshi Tadami), Soshuro Toshi, Mamushi Kichiro, Mamushi Mitsuko


Table #5

Sitting: Kuni Taka, Kitsu Kagek, Kakita Zoyu, Mirumoto Rin, Hiruma Hanori and Hiruma Sota



Usagi has yet to approach a table


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