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IC: L5R: Blood and Jade - The Topaz Championship

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Toshi decided quite simply to take up the Prince's request, delicately drinking cups of tea and enjoying noodles mixed with seafood and vegetables. He most certainly needed the relaxation - particularly as concerns of his own kept dancing in his head. But those were... dangerous. He would speak of them, but only in the absolute safety of the clan's secrecy.

 

Lord Shoju, Lady Kachiko, Bayushi Daisuke and the new Ujimitsu. Otherwise, let it go, he decided.

 

It was a great honor and advance, to be made a Jade Magistrate straight out of a successful gempukku at the Topaz Championship. Toshi did not doubt Lord Kuni Yori in his belief and accuracy that this was a important position that needed filling...

 

"How are you feeling?" Toshi quietly asked of Daisuke and Ujimitsu, whom he was sitting between.

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Taka gave appropriate bows to the nobles as they arrived and seemed a little nervous at the prospect of his actions coming to the attention of his Clan Daimyo. However, he was obviously happy at the prospect of becoming a Jade Magistrate.

 

Unlike previous meals Taka was very talkative, asking Hiruma for tips about hunting, athletics and comparing jujutsu techniques/styles. He then approaches Hitoe for advice on how to use a Jitte, the traditional symbolic weapon of a Magistrate, and through out it all is happy to talk to anyone who cares to listen about his store of lore about Zombies.

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"Curious and hopeful for the future. I am pleased to be able to bring honor to the Scorpion Clan by serving in such a position as Jade Magistrate. I was unsure of what to do with myself now, but it seems a path has been laid before me." Ujimitsu contemplated aloud, and then caught himself.

 

"Before us." he added.

 

"I apologize. For so long I have been on my own. Even at the Academy, I was not like the others. They did not bear the weight on their shoulders that I did. But now, that weight has been lifted and I find myself pleased to be with new family." Ujimitsu explained.

 

"Do not trouble yourself with such things, Ujimitsu-san. We are young, valorous samurai brimming with potential and sure to live glorious lives. We have completed the Topaz Championship, protected and fought along side our Prince and slain scores of undead. This is but the first chapter of the story of our lives. And I am sure it is one that will be worth reading by many." Daisuke mused as he removed his mask and sat it on the table before reaching for a bowl of noodles.

 

"I have proved Tangen-sensei's methods to be valid, we nearly won the Topaz Championship, you proved your unwavering dedication which was rewarded with a new opportunity and Toshi-san reminded the others to never underestimate a Scorpion, for though a courtier can sting with words, he still can sting with steel. Then we protected the Prince, fought off waves of undead, were thanked by the Emperor himself and were appointed as Jade Magistrates. All of this before lunch!" he laughed and elbowed Ujimitsu with a smile on his devilish features.

 

"This has, indeed, been an excellent showing for the Scorpion. I am sure the Lord and Lady are pleased." Daisuke stated.

 

"Relax. Eat. Enjoy yourself. Lord Kuni can handle a maho-tsukai." he added as he poured some tea.

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Toshi smiled and nodded as the camaraderie between Ujimitsu and Daisuke was developing nicely. Taka's ebullient state afforded, it occurred to the Scorpion courtier, an opportunity in multiple forms. For knowledge... in many ways. "Correct me if I am ignorant, Taka-san, but are there not means of animating and maintaining Tainted zombies beyond the examples we purged?"

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Shinjo Shun takes in the announcement of a Jade Champion being declared and he seems a little surprised by his change of status that he will become a Jade Magistrate. He now starts wondering what his family will think of this unexpected honor and how his Daimyo will view this. He will go about enjoying the food and drink that was offered to him and his fellow contestants and will make small talk to see what his clan mate thinks of the events. After he is done talking to his clan mate he will over to Zoyu.

 

"Zoyu-san the Fortunes favored you in this tournament and I wish to congratulate you on your victory. As it seems we might be working together and if you are willing I would be interested in learning proper Iaijutsu techniques."

 

He will then also mingle with the other Bushi if they are interested in discussion the variance in their respect styles of Kenjutsu he intends to see what he can apply to what he already knows.

 

Once Taka start talking about the his knowledge of zombie lore he will listen more attentively now that he is to become a Jade Magistrate. 

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Isawa Akari was still in shock a bit after the fight.  Thank goodness noone was hurt, especially, Taka, Hiruma-San, Rin and Zoyu. 

 

And Her becoming a Jade Magistrate!   Boy she can already hear people back home grumbling in envy or howling in anger over the Jade Champion's reinstatement.

 

During the party she lightens up,  around her new friends, chatting about their new positions, their duties.  She's also ask Rin, Zoyu, Taka and Hiruma-San for assistance in learning how to use her wakizashi better after being unable to use her spells without risking torching the entire city.

 

"um-excuse me."  She raises her cup.  "I'd like to have a toast, to our Topaz champion, to our actions today, to our honorable Lord Kuni and a wonderful future, my friends and allies." She smiled, hoping to get her working relationship with her friends off to a clean start.

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Named Topaz Champion and now a Jade Magistrate, Zoyu smiled despite the unfortunate and unclean circumstances that led to the moving of the location of the Prince's luncheon. She just wished her older brothers were in attendance so they would witness the fact she was the best of their parents' children, the epitome of a Crane.

 

It is a disappointment that Tsukiko could not be here to witness the rising of my star...

 

Zoyu took the kamiza* at the head table by the Prince's side, as her right as the new Topaz Champion. She sat down gracefully, elegantly arranging the folds of her kimono and the fall of her lengthy white mane as she accepted a plate of sashimi on a bed of soba noodles and a cup of aromatic tea.

 

"Itadakimasu*," Zoyu replied in dulcet tones to the server's bow, as she looked over the gathering of young samurai, courtiers, and shugenja, all named the first Jade Magistrates in nearly five centuries. It was certainly a high honour, yet Zoyu could not help but find it a sliver galling as well.

 

She had been witness to Lord Kuni pressing for the station of Jade Champion to be reinstated and for her Clan Daimyo and Emerald Champion Doji Satsume countering that proposal with the agreement of the Emperor. Yet, but a few days later, Lord Kuni had gotten what he wanted it. It felt too... convenient, especially at the expense of the Crane, though Zoyu reluctantly admitted, to herself at least, that it might just be her pride speaking.

 

It was good to see the new ease in the set of Ujimitsu's shoulders, despite the circumstances that had given rise to it. Bayushi Daisuke at his side received a more considering look, as Zoyu studied his animated features and reflected on his unorthodox, if still efficacious - though not so efficacious to defeat her - style of dueling.

 

Zoyu spoke easily with those around her and those who approached her during the meal, magnanimous and charming as a Crane and Topaz champion. When Shinjo Shun approached, she bestowed upon him a warm smile for his polite congratulations and bowed her head in turn.

 

"You are too kind, Shinjo-san. The Fortunes were with me and the great teachings and patience of Toshimoko-sensei have never failed me. It would be my pleasure to share what small amount of skill and wisdom I have learned from him with you, so that the newest of Jade Magistrates may pursue our investigations with words or blades, as necessary."

 

Zoyu added Isawa Akiri to her offer with another smile and a nod. "And with you as well, Isawa-san. If the Kami and the Elements are having difficulty responding to your call through the stench of maho and the Taint, it would do well to learn to wield the blade at your hip. And perhaps, in turn, you can explain to me some of the workings of the Kami and the Elements?"

 

When Akiri finishes her toast, Zoyu raises her cup with the rest. "Banzaii!" Zoyu responds with the rest, her voice clear and smooth, and finishes her tea.

 

The dead has walked in Tsuma, but they had been put down once more, even as her star and glory rose ever higher. There was much she would need to learn to enact her duties as a Jade Magistrate with the excellence expected of all Kakita but Zoyu was ever confident that she would rise to the occasion.

 

Information

Kamiza: The best seat at a dinner, generally reserved for the guest of honor

Itadakimasu*: Roughly means “I humbly receive.” This acknowledges all of the work that went into the meal and also expresses gratitude for whichever living things died to provide it (in accordance with Shinseist belief)

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"Hai Toshi -san" Taka replied, "I have heard of three methods of creating zombies, although perhaps there are others. Firstly, all humans who die in the Shadowlands rise as zombies within a matter of hours at most, sometimes as little as minutes. Secondly the bodies of the dead can be reanimated by a maho spell. And lastly as we saw today the bodies can be reanimated by the use of an enchanted porcelain mask."

He pauses to consider something for a moment before continuing, "Although the ones we faced today are the first I have heard of connected to a scroll and seemed to be easier to damage than those I have faced before. Perhaps the two things are connected and it was simply a weaker spell than those I have seen in the Shadowlands. "

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"Banzai!" room responds to Akiri's toast, raising their cups and taking a drink.

 

Dark minions were slain, Prince Satorii was safe, Lord Kuni, the new Jade Champion, was on the trail of the maho-tsukai and in just hours everybody would becomes adults and Jade Magistrates. It was a good day.

 

The conversations continued, interrupted by occasional toasts and chants of "Banzai!". Talk of zombies, kenjutsu, iaijutsu, fighting undead hand to hand, maho lore and much more filled the air and the nearly two dozen people ate, drank and talked. Through the course of the conversations some things did come to light...

 

Bayushi Daisuke did indeed come to the Topaz Championship to make a name for himself and his sensei, Bayushi Tangen. Daisuke had been studying under Tangen and is the first student to successfully learn and apply his method towards iaijutsu called The Dark Sword of Bitter Lies. Despite being defeated by Zoyu, Daisuke made it to the semifinal round, defeating skilled opponents and was only defeated by one of the top students of a millennia-old iaijutsu academy.

 

The Vipers, Mamushi Kichiro and Mitsuko are more than just bother and sister. They are twins! It was by Lord Miya's urging and sponsorship they they attended the Topaz Championship.

 

Akodo Yokasu is to become a minor daimyo upon his Gempukku. He stood to inherit a small castle along the Lion/Scorpion border from his brother who died in combat and was taking in his nephew as well.

 

"You are all welcome at my castle any time. If there is a lack of facilities for the Jade Champion and Magistrates to operate from, then I intend to offer my castle as such." Akodo states.

 

Word arrives that Lord Kuni tracked down and slew the maho-tsukai, but not till after the foul sorcerer managed to kill a seppun. Apparently, he 'acquired' the masks from a traveling merchant...

 

"Hmm.. I do remember a merchant sweeping up some broken porcelain as we made our way to dinner one night. Maybe I should consult Ikoma." Kageko said, half thinking aloud.

 

With the luncheon over and the threat apparently ended the guard all throughout Tsuma and the Academy are doubled as a precaution, allowing the rest of the festivities to continue. With a few hours till sunset everybody has some time to relax, mingle and prepare for the closing ceremonies as Lady Sun begins to reach the horizon. Some meditate, fish, play music, spar and any number of activities to relax and burn off nervous tension untill finally all are gathered in their finery and led by Lord Miya through town and across the bridge to the Kakita Dueling Academy once more.

 

The closing ceremony begins with a celebration of each adulthood gained. This has truly been one of the best years for the Topaz Championship with every contestant passing into adulthood. The last to be celebrated is that of the Topaz Champion.

 

As with each samurai before, Zoyu approaches the Emperor who sits on a raised dais. A shugenja of the Seppun family steps forward, blessing her as she kneels and bows, resting her hands on the ground and pressing her forehead to it before straightening up in her sitting position with her katana at her side. She withdraws her wakizashi, the physical embodiment of a samurai's honor, still in the saya, from her obi and holds it up with both hands in offering to the Emperor. With a strong, clear and purposeful voice Zoyu pledges her fealty, her very life, to the Kakita Family Daimyo, Kakita Yoshi, and through him to the Crane Clan Daimyo, Doji Satsume, and finally on through him to the Emperor.

 

"Rise Kakita Zoyu of the Crane Clan, My Topaz Champion!" the Emperor commands.

 

Zoyu slips her wakizashi back into her obi and bows deeply once more before picking up her sheathed katana and rising, slipping it into her obi. She then turns and bows several times in each direction as the crowd cheers.

 

"May the beauty and strength of this armor reflect the depth and strength of your Honor." the Emperor states as a beautiful shoji screen is folded to reveal the Topaz Armor.

 

The Topaz Armor

This remarkable suit of heavy armor has become a symbol of excellence and nobility throughout Rokugan. Since the creation of the Topaz Championship this intricate armor has been passed down to each successive champion of the tournament. This intricate suit of heavy armor is made of various pieces of different shades of blues and grays, trimmed with black and gold leather, silk, and steel pieces. Although the suit itself offers a fine display with all the complex designs that decorate its torso, it is the kabuto that completes it which looks most impressive. The dark blue helmet covers almost the entire face, masking it with the dreadful visage of a mighty warrior. From the front of it, a wide pair of ivory horns protrudes, forming strange, white wings that stand above the helm.

 

Prince Satorii steps forward, holding out a beautiful, topaz blue haori, the Mantle of the Topaz Champion, which he helps Zoyu slip on.

 

"Congratulations, Zoyu-san." the Prince says softly to her, offering a deep, respectful bow which Zoyu returns.

 

"Bear witness, for these noble samurai are the future of Rokugan." Lord Miya announced in a voice much louder than one would think he could manage.

 

Beside the Emperor stands Doji Satsume in his own emerald green haori, the Mantle of the Emerald Champion. His stern, stoic face shows the faintest hint of a smile of approval as he bows to Zoyu, which she also returns to Lord Doji and all the rest of the luminaries who offer their respects. Last though, is probably the respect she was waiting the most for, as her mother and father gave her deep, respectful bows, the pride evident on their faces.

 

As the ceremony comes to it's end, you gather together with your new-found friends to reflect upon your successes, the happenings that transpired and look to the future.

 

Lord and Lady Kachiko walk over to congratulate you as you mingle and talk among yourselves. She smiles and bows, closing her eyes for a moment as she does.

 

"Congratulations on the completion of your gempukku.." Lady Kachiko says and then added, much more softly, "... and appointments."

 

"I am sure will serve us.. The Empire.. well." Lord Shoju's booms from behind his mask before they both bow and move along.

 

Lord Kuni must travel to Otosan Uchi, but in the meantime he instructs you to remain in Tsuma and has arranged for tutors to arrive and assist you on a variety of subjects. He expects his trip will take weeks.

 

Notes. Please Read
That's an official wrap on this introductory adventure. I hope everybody had fun. I know I sure did running it!

I will post XP awards in another thread as well as some items you will be receiving

 

You are welcome to continue RPing in Tsuma as well. I am sure people will need to consider their xp expenditures. Heh.

 

And again, I cannot possibly cover every single justification for every skill and advantage each PC could have possibly earned. If you want to buy a skill or advantage, buy off a disadvantage, raise a skill, raise an advantage not listed, just run it by me.

 

 

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The city of Tsuma settles back down to its normal pace as all the spectators for the Topaz Championship leave town over a week or so after the Emperor, Emerald Champion and Jade Champion leaves with the imperial entourage on the Imperial Barge.The once festive, bustling city settles back into its quiet, day to day life. Kakita Toshimoko remains though, seen from time to time in town when not tending to his duties as head-sensei of the Kakita Dueling Academy. Unfortunately, Doji Noriaki is still absent, though Yedo informs Rin that he has managed to locate a Crane tattoo artist in Niwa Shita No Kage Toshi (Garden Under Shadow City) who will meet with her.

 

The next several weeks are spent preparing for your new duties as Jade Magistrates. The tutors instruct you on the Law and Heraldry to ensure you can carry out your duties as magistrates, Horsemanship to expedite your travel and pursuit of fugitives, Shugenja Lore and Spellcraft to aid or increase your understanding of magic, and Maho-tsukai Lore to prepare you to recognize and deal with the dark magic

 

Aside from the tutoring, a great deal of cross-training takes place as well, with Hitoe offering to teach the use of the jitte, which she begins to dual wield in place of her previous twin-kama. Taka and Sota, along with Sota's uncle Hiruma Hanroi, teach a crash course in Kobo Ichi-Kai Juijitsu to any who are willing to learn. The Chinatsu offers lessons in Etiquette while the Topaz Champion herself teaches the basiscs of Iaijutsu. Kageko even offers a History primer for those willing to learn.

 

A week into your studies several Miya arrive, leading gear-laden horses. They have been sent by the Jade Champion to equip you all for your office.

 

Everybody is issued the following:

 

A jitte with the handle wrapped in beautiful jade a gold colored cording (Fine quality - Ornate).

The jitte immediately marks you as a magistrate to any who view it tucked into your obi. The jitte is the most obvious badge of a magistrate, as they all magistrates (of every kind) carry them tucked in their obi. Most magistrates never even use the jitte and simply wear it as a badge.

 

A beautifully carved orb of jade.

The jade orbs are the official badge of office for the Jade Magistrates. As well as doubling as a gavel the orbs also provide some protection from the taint.

 

A finely carved stamp with your chop as a Jade Magistrate.

The chop stamp has a small handle made of a fragrant cherrywood, with jade embedded on the head of the stamp, the pieces raised so they can be used to imprint a symbol on paper. The symbol itself is quite elaborate: the kanji for Jade overlaid Imperial Chrysanthemum, and beneath it is your own name. It is a symbol of a level of authority and a sign of the great trust put in the appointed magistrate.

 

A horse (Average quality) is also provided for those without one.

 

In addition, several spells are given to the shugenja if they do not already have them:

 

Basic - Counterspell
Earth - Elemental Ward, Jade Strike, Tomb of Jade
Water - Reflections of Pan Ku
Fire - Evil Ward
Air - Accounts of Shorihotsu

 

Notes. Please Read.
Niwa Shita No Kage Toshi: Garden Under Shadow City is the home of the Daidoji Family of the Crane Clan and is located near the Tidal Landbridge at the mouth of Earthquake Fish Bay at the southernmost end of the Crane Provinces.

 

Jitte (Nofujutsu) / 2k2 Damage / Skilled use of a jitte grants 1 Free Raise for disarming an opponent as well as a +5 to the wielder's TN to be hit vs melee attacks when in Full Defense.

 

 

In addition, here are the stats for the Topaz Armor that Zoyu gets the use of for one year..

 

The Topaz Armor

TN Bonus: +10 + (Glory)

Encumbrance: +5

This remarkable suit of heavy armor has become a symbol of excellence and nobility throughout Rokugan. Since the creation of the Topaz Championship this intricate armor has been passed down to each successive champion of the tournament. This intricate suit of heavy armor is made of various pieces of different shades of blues and grays, trimmed with black and gold leather, silk, and steel pieces. Although the suit itself offers a fine display with all the complex designs that decorate its torso, it is the kabuto that completes it which looks most impressive. The dark blue helmet covers almost the entire face, masking it with the dreadful visage of a mighty warrior. From the front of it, a wide pair of ivory horns protrudes, forming strange, white wings that stand above the helm.

When worn by anyone but the true Topaz Champion, this fabulous suit functions as a mundane heavy armor of Fine Quality (Ornate). When used by its rightful owner, however, the Topaz Armor grants a 1 Rank (+1.0) bonus to both Glory and Honor (to the natural maximum of both). It also provides a bonus to the wearer's TN to Be Hit equal to the wearer’s Glory Rank (including the bonus it provides to Glory). The bonus to the wearer's TN to Be Hit is doubled when the wearer is performing a Full Defense.


 

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The Day After the Topaz Championship Concluded...

 

After requesting an audience with the Lord and Lady Bayushi, Toshi was summoned to meet with them, though instead of receiving him in a chamber, they had decided to talk as they go on a stroll through the streets of Tsuma. The couple was followed by the tall Scorpion dressed mostly in black while Toshi walked along beside them.

 

In one hand Lady Kachiko held her parasol over her bared shoulder while the other slipped her fan from her obi. The Lady began to speak about the weather and championship, making idle conversation as she fans herself.

 

"I believe introductions have not been made, Toshi-san." Lady Kachiko said as she looked over her shoulder at the tall scorpion trailing them. "That is Bayushi Aramaro, my yojimbo and brother in-law." she explained. Being a yojimbo, and on duty, bows were not expected and instead he walked behind, his eyes passing back and forth along the crowd.

 

"Such warm weather we are having." she said as she fanned herself.

 

Occasionally Lady Kachiko would lift the fan, holding it in front of her mouth for a moment, and that was when the real conversation happens.

 

"So Toshi-san, I understand you wished to speak with us?" Lady Kachiko asked from behind her fan.

 

"Yes, Kachiko-sama." Toshi said. Aramaro, could be absolutely trusted, or at least Lord Shoju and Lady Kachiko seemed to for private conversations. "I wanted to thank you once more for your gift. It did indeed carry the blessings of the Fortunes..."

 

His fan flipped in front of his face. "And I have concerns to share you with the both of you... about the attack on Prince Satorii."

 

"Concerns beyond the obvious of a maho-tsukai striking at the Lord Prince in the very backyard of the Emperor?" Lord Shoju asked in a tone much softer than his normal, booming voice.

 

"I am glad I was able to help extend you any good fortune in the competition, Toshi-san. You represented the Clan well." Lady Kachiko said as she fanned herself.

 

"You are too kind." Toshi simpered before more quietly returning to the business behind the fan. "But, the obvious oddly becomes less so, having directly engaged the zombies Shoju-sama. There were.. contradictions. The attack was a well-planned ambush. They were waiting for us. Akodo Yokatsu identified them trying to use sophisticated tactics. Yet the instruments of the attack were so curiously ineffective."

 

"Had you not been with an Akodo master tactician and two Crabs well-versed in the minions of the Dark One, I doubt you would be saying that." Lord Shoju mused as Lady Kachiko fanned herself.

"Killing four Seppun miharu is no small task." She offered from behind her fan.

 

"There's an element to this though that is... very unusual." Toshi demurred, softly. "The scroll on which the threat against the Hantei was scribed controlled all the zombies. Though all had porcelain masks, cutting the scroll was sufficient to make them stop moving. I discussed the matter with Kuni Taka at the following meal. He said that not only were the zombies weaker than any encountered in the Shadowlands, but also that he had never heard of anything like the scroll before. Why add an extra, obvious point of failure?"

 

"Hmm. Perhaps you are right. How unusual for an honorless, barely literate peasant, toying the dark magic beyond his comprehension, not perfectly learn or cast a foul spell his mind cannot even fully grasp." Lord Shoju mused again.

"The foul abominations may have even been weakened by the mere presence of a Hantei." Lady Kachiko added from behind her fan in-between the idle, public conversation.

 

Toshi sighed. Had his rhetorical skills been upended by his concerns? He should just say it - it was the entire reason for this audience. "I should simply move to the point. I suspect the zombies were sent by someone more interested in a threat to the Prince than it actually succeeding. Lord Kuni Yori."

 

Even with the full, elaborate mask on, one could imagine the look on Lord Shoju's face at Toshi's statement.

"Why would he, of all people, not only wish to do that, but use the tools of which you speak to do so?" Kachiko asked in a brief moment from behind her fan.

 

"Necessary villainy." Toshi said, simply and directly. "He - in genuine honesty, I believe - feels the Empire to be threatened severely to the point of requring the Jade Champion's return. But the Emperor - buttressed by the clear opposition of Doiji Satsume, is not convinced. So Lord Kuni chooses to create a threat the Emperor cannot avoid. He chooses the Prince as the perfect target - but doesn't want to kill him. So he animates the zombies with a spell that is weak and possesses a point of failure - especially since the Lord Prince made his company with us as fellow tournament competitors. Possessing the knowledge and skill to make sure no actual harm comes his way."

 

Lady Kachiko's lips curled into a knowing smile as Toshi spoke, matching his own confidence.

 

"Occasionally one may know the decision they should make, but needs... a push, if you will... in order to make it." Lady Kachio said as she handed a mochi cake she purchased to a peasant child with a smile and watched the child run away giggling with a mouth full of the sweet rice cake.

 

"And you can drink at the Poisoned Water safely. The sake was not bad. It was not that difficult to ascertain Lord Kuni's line of thinking. We simply needed to make sure there were enough bodies to allow for what would at least look like a sizable threat, so that he would take the next step on his own. The Empire would be safer with a Jade Champion, so it was a cause worthy of our clandestine support." Lord Shoju clarified.

 

"Why do you think that there are three Scorpions close to him, as his own magistrates? As well as members of every single Great Clan? One in a position of power like that should never be allowed handpick all of his appointees. That opens the door to cronyism and possibly even total corruption. You will help keep an eye on him in case that... incident.. is not his last transgressions against the Hantei and the Empire. A failsafe, if you will." Lady Kachiko explained.

 

"It is good that you have kept your eyes open to notice what you did and then came to us with it, Toshi-san. Keep up the good work. And remember, we are counting on you and the others to be ever watchful as well." Lord Shoju said, resting a hand on Toshi's shoulder as he spoke to him from behind his elaborate mask, finally giving his shoulder a squeeze before releasing.

 

Toshi bowed his head in respect and gratitude, very much relieved as much as satisfied. It had almost seemed as if he would have looked like an idiot in front of the Clan Champion and his wife, ridiculous to squander the regard he had been given. But... the contrary in the end.

 

His elders were simply prodding him to improve his deductions... and presentation thereof. That would be essential for the future. "Your praise heartens me, Shoju-sama. I shall inform Daisuke-san and Ujimitsu-san of your wishes."

 

"You can wait on Ujimitsu. He needs some time to... acclimate. When he comes home, we will see to it that he comes to understand his new clan much better." the Lady Kachiko instructed as she fanned herself.

 

"Daisuke though, was focused on representing 'The Dark Sword of Bitter Lies' well, so he may have missed some of what you did not. Make sure you inform him alone." Lord Shoju said as he held out his hand in which Aramaro placed a wooden scroll tube.

 

"And do make sure you write us, Toshi-san." Lord Shoju said as he handed the tube to Toshi before he and Kachiko offered a small bow and continued on their way, followed by Aramaro.

 

The tube was nondescript, though had a bit of weight. Within the tube sat a letter curled around a small stack of coins.

 

When given a chance to look at it more closely in private, Toshi could see the beginning of the letter read, 'Commit this to memory and then ensure it's complete destruction.' It was then followed by a explanation of a simple cipher, while the coins were obviously for the payment of couriers.

 

Not long thereafter, Toshi called upon Daisuke, and paper burned into ashes...

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(Any or all PCs who like can be here for this scene)

 

Tsuma settles down and the tutoring and cross-training continues. For the moment, it seems almost every bugei, lore and courtly skill is being taught in Tsuma as bushi, shugenja and courtier alike try to prepare themselves for their new duties.

 

One morning as the new magistrates enter the dojo for more combat training, Doji Chinatsu is found already inside, slowly strolling around the perimeter of the main room of the dojo, deep in thought as she lightly runs a hand along the wall and examines things in the room.

 

gallery_185_75_207456.jpg

 

 

"You know..." Chinatsu said as she turned to face her fellow magistrates, "..this dojo is where the Lord Prince was ambushed as we rose to his defense. The very place that the minions of the Dark Lord assaulted the Hantei. Now this dojo has become the very place where we train to hunt down and destroy such evil on the behalf of the Hantei. It has a certain pleasing symmetry, I think."

 

Chinatsu nodded to herself, as if she had made up her mind about something before she continued speaking,

 

"Since there is no Castle of the Jade Champion or formal school for our training, I think it is only fitting that I ask Lord Kuni if we can make this our dojo. The Dojo of the Jade Magistrates. " Chinatsu said with a pleased smile.

 

"What do you think of the idea, my fellow Jade Magistrates?" she asked.

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Rin had made the walk to the Dojo as she had every day since they had begun their formal instruction, she had given very little thought to the place where they studied and that day when she arrived she found Chinatsu walking around the dojo touching walls and examining the details of the dojo, Chinatsu's manner left Rin puzzled. That there was purpose in Chinatsu's action was apparent so Rin settled in and observed quietly so as not to disturb her.

 

Eventually everyone arrived and almost as if on Que, Chinatsu turned and addressed her fellow Magistrates.

 

"You know..." Chinatsu said as she turned to face her fellow magistrates, "..this dojo is where the Lord Prince was ambushed as we rose to his defense. The very place that the minions of the Dark Lord assaulted the Hantei. Now this dojo has become the very place where we train to hunt down and destroy such evil on the behalf of the Hantei. It has a certain pleasing symmetry, I think."

 

Chinatsu nodded to herself, as if she had made up her mind about something before she continued speaking,

 

"Since there is no Castle of the Jade Champion or formal school for our training, I think it is only fitting that I ask Lord Kuni if we can make this our dojo. The Dojo of the Jade Magistrates. " Chinatsu said with a pleased smile.

 

"What do you think of the idea, my fellow Jade Magistrates?" she asked.

 

Rin was surprised at this pronouncement again she had failed to see everything. Coming to this place as they had the past few days had meant nothing other than  the place they wished to instruct them. It was not the kind of place she preferred to train in, so she had paid it no mind. A lesson learned.

 

"I had not realized this was the same Dojo. Thank you for opening my eyes Doji-san." Rin speaks sincerely then bows in gratitude. "We should all remember that this is the place of beginnings. I think that having this Dojo named as such would forever serve as a reminder to all how the Jade Champion was named and his first Magistrates chosen."

 

 

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The Dojo was well-made, but plain, not like the elegant grounds of the Kakita Dueling Academy that had been tended to and perfected for generations. Simply a building in the large village of Tsuma that could be used for a variety of purposes. For now, it had been turned to the training of the new Jade Magistrates so the students of the Dueling Academy were not disturbed, until permanent accommodations for the Jade Magistrates were requested by the Jade Champion Lord Kuni and assigned by the Emperor.

 

Zoyu glided into the Dojo, her flowing kimono clinging to her lush figure, the rich blue haori of the Topaz Champion about her shoulders, prepared for another day of teaching some of her fellow Jade Magistrates in the rudiments of the Kakita Style of Iaijutsu, and of learning skills conducive to following her new duty. She returned Chinatsu's smile.

 

"Symmetry indeed, Chinatsu-san," Zoyu agreed, bowing her head at the Crane Courtier, then at the Dragon Bushi. There is a musing light in her mismatched eyes. "And it is as you say, Rin-san. It should never be forgotten where, through the actions taken here, the Jade Magistrates have been recalled to service after five centuries."

 

Zoyu looked around the plain, utilitarian space, full lips pursed, and nodded again at the two women. "Though I am sure the Emperor will have a Shiro conceded to or constructed for the Jade Magistrates at Lord Kuni's request, it started here. That should be known to all. I say the proposal should be made to Lord Kuni to name this place the First Dojo of the Jade Magistrates."

 

The idea pleased Zoyu for another reason as well. It was in Tsuma, so close to home and her parents, and in proximity to her honoured and beloved Toshimoko-Sensei, often in attendance at the Kakita Dueling Academy.

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Shun walks in for another day of training and listens to those that spoke already then says, "Yes, this will always be the place where it all started that led to the reinstatement of the Jade Champion and his Magistrates. The location fits well as it is relatively close the heart of the empire and some might seem it favors the Crane Clan as it is within their territory. However, regardless of location I will serve."

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Yokasu considers Chinatsu's question for a moment before speaking.

 

"Outside of the blessed walls of Otosan Uchi itself, the only time and place that the Emperor's divine presence can be reliably predicted is here in Tsuma, for the Topaz Championship, every year and virtually the entire Empire knows it. Some maho-tsukai could have planned for years, even decades, because they knew when the Emperor will be here, year after year. It stands to reason that fact is what led to the attack here. It is the only know point of vulnerability." the young Akodo Tactician says with a nod.

 

"It is certainly where I would have attacked." Yokasu casually added , thinking aloud.

 

"It is likely that this was the one and best window of opportunity they had to make their attack. Making this dojo in Tsuma the dojo for the Jade Magistrates closes and shutters that window, making it a fool's errand for the maho-tsukai to try and make another move against the Hantei here." Yokasu commented.

 

"That does not mean they cannot find another point at which to attack, but any other options are certainly going to be far more difficult and less reliable than the opportunity they had here if Lord Kuni approves of this idea." he clarified.

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Silently, inside his head, Toshi could not help the mirth at the irony of their proposals. Who knows, maybe Lord Kuni might well say yes alone to appreciate his handiwork. Behind his mask, he held a thin smile - but to the others, they really were seriously about it, so best act the same. And on a level of the future, Akodo Yokatsu was right.

 

"I cannot disagree with Akodo-san's reasoning. And of course, Lord Kuni is establishing a presence for our Magistracy in Otosan Uchi right now. So let us remember to make the appeal for later then. There is more training as ever."

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As was his won't Taka kept his own counsel whilst politely agreeing to the proposal. Inside he began listing the items needed for a cleansing ritual and tried to calculate the size of Evil Ward required to cover the dojo.

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With a consensus reached the shugenja set about purifying the dojo with incense and prayers. Though this was almost certainly done after the clash with the zombies weeks ago, performing another cleansing can only help. Once the dojo is suitably cleansed the shugenja then set about warning the dojo from the evil of shadowlands, claiming that anything with the taint that sets foot within the dojo will burst into magical flame.

 

Near dusk a courier arrives, bearing letters for each of the new Jade Magistrates. He delivers each of them with a bow and then retires to the House of the Laughing Carp to rest for the night.

 

The letters are all written by and signed with the chop of, Seppun Kyuichi, a Jade Magistrate. In addition they bear the chop of the Jade Champion himself, Kuni Yori.

 

By and large the letters all start largely the same, with Seppun Kyuichi introducing himself and stating he has been trained by the Ide of the Unicorn Clan and has been appointed as a Chief Magistrate and your direct superior. After that though, many contain specific instructions such as ensuring Akodo and Ujimitsu can return to their new homes to attend to their affairs. Some are permitted to return home and either return at their convenience or wait to be recalled, while others are given instructions to remain in Tsuma for various purposes (additional training, research and so forth), while Zoyu, Rin, Taka, Akari, Shun, Toshi and Kageko are instructed to meet Seppun Kyuichi in Mamoru Kyotei Toshi (Honored Treaty City) to the north.

 

 

Notes. Please Read.
Mamoru Kyotei Toshi #89: Honored Treaty City. Seven hundred years ago, a great war was held between the Phoenix and Lion Clans. The unmatched magical might of the Phoenix Shugenja faced off against the massive and highly trained armies of the Lion. The war raged many years and ended only when both sides sued for peace. Within the City of the Honored Treaty, the peace treaty between the Lion and Phoenix is held.

 

I am starting a new thread for the trip and events up to Honored Treaty City. You can post here if you like for anything before you leave Tsuma. ~Noir

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Shinjo Shun accepts the letter from the courier and offers a polite bow then goes about reading this letter. As he reads the letter he is thinking Kuni-sama was wise to selected a Chief Magistrate trained by the Unicorn clan because his clan was the wisest when it came to the different forms of magic beyond the empire's borders. As he continues, he sees he has been tasked to report to Mamoru KyoteiToshi to meet the Chief Magistrate and his thoughts are that he has potentially been selected for the first mission to be given to any of the Jade Magistrates. As he considers the letter he thinks this is a good time for him and any that were also selected to set themselves apart and bring glory and honor to themselves and their clans. After a moment of thought he looks up and asks the others,

 

"I have been instructed to report to Mamoru Kyotei Toshi. Has anyone else been given the same instruction?" Once the other six speak up that have also been instructed to go to meet the Chief Magistrate he will wish the others not going with him well. Once he and the six other that were selected can gather together he will speak up and say, "I suspect we will be given our first mission as Jade Magistrates. Maybe even the very first mission for any of the Jade Magistrates." 

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