Legend of the Five Rings: Set in a location which is startingly similar to feudal Japan, a bunch of weebs play at samurai.
Legend of the Five Rings is bought to you by:
Ken - Mantis Clan face and master of words. A ladies man trying to save himself for one particular woman; the duality of man embodied.
Togashi Chiho - Dragon clan monk of the Togashi order; filled with Wisdom. Required to check her fists in as lethal weapons.
Mirumoto Same - Dragon clan duellist; according to him, the best in the land, the trouble is not killing everyone in his way. A distant relative of the Jade throne, and also your narrator!
Yogo Asuka - Scorpion Clan Shugenja.
The sun rises once again on Rokugan, and our journey begins.
Arashi no Seifuku (Kura) "Ken" has been sailing down to the Estate; his captain was similarly invited to the Black Crane Estates. The ship's making it's way up the river when Ken decides to banter with the navigator, Daigo. Captain Nogomi, AKA "The Typhoon" tells them to knock it off, and gets Ken up to the bow for a talk. She talks about Lord Yasuke having given in to some of their more... diplomatic... overtures. She reckons it's a matter of jade, which is weird because Crab gets first dibs on jade, so what could the problem be? Probably pricing -- Crane's jacked up prices, so there's room for undercutting.
Mind on business, Ken wants to know if Yasuke's got any daughters -- he's got one, just about to come of age. People who have his ear are few and far between, mostly related to his bodyguard, who is a large man, as Crab Clanners are wont to be. The matter of money -- Mantis has room to undercut the Crane by ~30%, but obviously undercutting as little as possible is preferred. Competition is Daidoji Eisaku, a little man of nasty words once a fan goes up.
When the ship docks, they're boarded by an unusual sight -- Crab Shugenja, who scan the ship and it's crew. Once they're satisfied, everyone disembarks. Nogomi rounds up the delegation, and leads them in -- at the gate, they are again checked with jade. There's a one-armed shugenja, an older lady, who seems to be accompanied by a young Scorpion clan shugenja, who is doing her best to not stand out -- a tough ask since she's the only one not wearing face paint.
The one-armed shugenja is Suzune -- she's in charge of security around here. She welcomes the delegation, and guides them in; the castle itself radiates a sense of aesthetic function; it looks good, but it's also clearly used by people, and not just a decorative building. She invites them to get comfortable, before dinner, where business will be conducted.
The Scorpion accompanying her was Yogo, who is apprenticing under her.
Meanwhile the Dragons have taken a boat down from the City of Lies, after travelling there by foot. Yasuke Shingen has invited us (me and Togashi Chiho) down from the Dragon Lands to the Black Crane Estates, in the Crab Lands. He is, as far as we know, held in high regard and is an Important Person. In our care is Agasha Renzo, Dragon Clan Diplomat and second son of the lord Agasha, who is very young, and very chatty.
Lord Togashi himself sent Chiho down, which is unusual -- it's rare for one to leave the monastery, and yet here's a monk, and part of the security delegation, no less.
Kaiyo is wearing functional and tidy, but clearly-patchworked robes. He's carrying three swords -- the standard daisho at the hip in Dragon colors, and one katana across his back; the one across the back clearly sees much less use, and is in a black scabbard with a very light green hilt.
Chiho gets to talking with Renzo, and learns that he's not actually much of a shugenja. Indeed, he is not one at all; he's never heard the "call of the Kami", despite his father's legendary proficiency. So this delegation is an important deal for him, a sign that his family places faith in him.
"Some men are skilled with a sword over words, and some... uh, don't." - Chihiro Wisdom #42
Renzo and Chiho get to gossiping about Same, speculating about him. He's quite probably an insult to Renzo's father of some sort.
Meanwhile I'm trying not to hurl, I get seasick easily.
Several months prior, I and Suzaku-San were summoned before Lord Mirumoto. We're in full kowtow, and I'm sweating for fear of the reason why.
I've recently passed genpuku, and in fantastic fashion. I had unfortuantely wagered on coming third.
Mirumoto asks if I can engage in honorable combat. I say "As much as combat can be honorable." He gives me a look. "I mean, yes, Mirumoto-Sama."
It irritates Mirumoto, but he's been tasked to send a samurai to escort Agasha-san's son. He's loath to send a well-regarded one after the last Topaz Championship. So he's got me in mind.
Sensei assents to sending me. I agree also, and escape the room with relief; I was sure he'd find out about the gambling.
I'm given a pony (the runtiest kind) and sent on my way with no delay.
In the present, the trip passes with little incident; Renzo gets to know me a little better, and suggests there could be a spot in the next Topaz Championship for a job well done. I aim to please. I reveal that I'm more materially-minded, than spiritually; that's a concern for other samurai to worry about.
Renzo advises us to be polite; we're here to make a deal with the Crab, and it could be very profitable. We're greeted by shugenja at the dock; on our way up to the castle, I spot a few places that might be gambling dens.
We're greeted at the gate by security, as usual, and tested again with jade. I try not to look at the missing arm.
As we're shown to the room, the Security Shugenja informs me about the missing arm; lost to something on the other side of the wall, and paid for in full, "you can still see the jade from the wall today".
Like the Mantis, we've got some time before dinner, to which I am permitted to wear my full daisho. I stash the third sword in my room, though, and do my job, keeping an eye on Renzo while we wait.
We're fetched for dinner by servants. The Yasuke family's in full force.
Sitting at the head of the table is a large guy, and the guy next to him is even larger still. The head is introduced as Yasuke Shingen-Sama, Damiyo of the Yasuke family. We bow (deeply) and take our seats.
Following us is the Mantis Clan delegation:
- A real tough-looking lady; scars, muscles, and the whole nine yards.
- Some skeevy-looking crab guy
- The most handsome man I've ever seen.
We begin dinner, and business, just the two of us; the handsome Mantis asks where the Crane are. Yasuke-dono says that the Crane don't really need to be a part of this particular talk.
The business is indeed about Jade -- Crab needs it, and by imperial mandate, they get it. They pay the Dragon clan with no questions, and the price is fair, but there is the matter of transport, and until now, that's been Crane Clan business. But of late, the price has not been right, and so they are open to other overtures... like the Mantis clan's.
Mantis lays out their plan. It looks like a 25% savings on whatever the Mantis is doing.
We're interrupted by a thousand and one apologies; he's Crane clan, and his master has incredibly urgent business. Yasuke gives them permission to enter, and an incredibly angry little man storms in, followed by a samurai bodyguard. The angry little man, Daidoji Azka is, somewhat understandably, upset at being cut out. He says he's got half a mind to challenge to a duel, and that gets the attention of the bodyguards in the world.
Mantis asks Chihiro for some wisdom in this trying time.
"Wisdom is easy. You simply think of something unwise to say, and then don't say it." - Chihiro Wisdom #43
After blustering, Crane declares that he'll be back tomorrow with a counteroffer that'll blow the Mantis out of the water, and storms off.
It's reasonably clear that the Crane and the Mantis are being pitted against each other.
After dinner, we have baths, and strategize a little. Renzo expects the Crane to make the first overture, but it's actually Mantis, and they want to see Chihiro first? Renzo tasks me to watch over her.
It's Ken-san, and he'd like to take us out for tea. We get to a nice upper-mid class joint, and after some tea, he lays out the plan. He wants Chihiro to pick a fight with the Crane, and trigger a duel; I would champion it, and win, ideally rendering the Crane duelist out of action and stopping them from initiating another duel with the Mantis.
In exchange, we'd get better deals on food shipments if the deal goes through.
We thank him for the offer, and say we'll think about it.
We go back to Renzo, and he kiboshes the plan -- it has no real benefit for us despite the risk.
The next morning, we're woken up suddenly, someone Crane has been killed, and we need to see it.
The Crane Clan ambassador has been slain, and the murder weapon looks like a tanto, done in green and gold.