A Scorpion On Your Back
Chapter 26 - An Imperial Engagement
Following their rescue of the Empress, the Magistrates and their yoriki travel to Otosan Uchi to be rewarded for their efforts
Session 71 A Celebration
September 2010 XP: 4 Glory: 0.2 Honor: 0.2
82 (Mojojojen – Courtier)
Miramoto Sukune, Togashi Taika, Mojojojen, Matsu Junko, Shiba Isamu, Agasha Osano
The Magistrates and company travelled to Otosan Uchi in the company of Yotsu the Ronin and Otomo Kuro. It was a pleasant trip through the remainder of the hills and then down in to the fertile lands surrounding the capital of Rokugan. Otomo Kuro managed the trip in a very efficient manner and arranged for them to stay in first-class accommodation. Yotsu was quite reticent, but he opened up somewhat when the party treated him with some respect despite being a ronin. Born a ronin (his grandfather was once a Lion) and now in his late forties, he was battle-worn and weary from his life as a ronin but clearly very competent and honourable.
Upon their arrival in Otosan Uchi, Otomo Kuro lead them to a palace near the Imperial Quarter and informed them that a celebration in their name would take place at the palace hosted by the Emerald Champion. There was much frantic preparation to be ready for the celebration, but the palace servants worked quickly and efficiently to ensure that all looked their best.
Heading into the grand hall, each of the heroes was announced as they entered to some of the leading lights of Otosan Uchi. Everyone managed to behave in an appropriate manner as they were introduced with the exception of Agasha Osano who unfortunately stumbled a little as he walked in as he was a bit overawed at the company he was keeping. The celebration was magnificent with exquisite food and drink and scintillating entertainment. However, it was difficult for anyone to relax as the courts of Otosan Uchi are filled with sharks in the guise of samurai and all the party had to face some diplomatic challenges:
- Taika was approached and subtly challenged by Yori, a priest of the Diamond Sutra sect, as to his knowledge of Shintao. Clearly the priest was aiming to embarrass the Tattooed Man, but Taika more than held his own and was able to turn Yori’s snake-tongued questions back upon him. He felt that maybe Yori was for some reason prejudiced against the Tattooed Man sect.
- Matsu Junko found herself talking to both Akodo Totori in line to be the next Clan daimyo and Matsu Junko, in line to be the next Matsu daimyo and both clearly not liking each other as is often the case with Akodo and Matsu. Junko dealt with the situation competently and managed to not offend either.
- Shiba Isamu ran in to his brother-in-law Bayushi Taro who works for the Scorpion Ambassador and who was keen to talk to him about when he was going to arrange for his sister-in-law and nephew to join Isamu in Ryoko Owari.
- Mojojojen run into General Hida Arata who was the great-uncle of his former fiancee and who at first seemed quite displeased with him, but his sincere apologies for the problems that he had unwittingly caused his family and some clever story-telling about battles seemed to bring the General around and at the end indicated that he’d never been too fond of his niece anyway.
- Miramoto Sukune met Bayushi Ryobo who acted as if he had some claim on Yogo Ryn. Ryoto was quite rude and obviously looked down on Sukune, perhaps the fact that he was the nephew of Bayushi Shoju the Scorpion Clan Daimyo made him put on airs. Sukune held his own in the verbal duel. He also met Yogo Masuyo the Yogo Family Ambassador at the Imperial Court who was a much more congenial guest.
- Agasha Osano spent a pleasant, if tongue-tied, time with Bayushi Kachiko; a beautiful Scorpion courtesan. Bayushi Kachiko was very interested in Osano’s adventures and he was happy to talk about them with her, and he thinks that he didn’t tell her anything that he shouldn’t have.
As the celebration headed towards a close, the Emerald Champion called upon the heroes to speak to the assembled crowd.
- First off was Agasha Osano who delivered a competent and simple speech of thanks, no one was particularly impressed by the speech, but he didn’t offend anyone either. (Etiquette roll of 22)
- Mojojojen then gave an impassioned thank you praising the Emperor that had everyone in the room moved to tears, later guests were heard to say that it was the best speech that they had ever heard. (Courtier roll of 82)
- Matsu Junko had a hard act to follow but while nor reaching the heights of the previous speaker delivered an excellent speech stating how honoured and humbled she was to be in such esteemed company and that all she had done was just her duty as a yoriki to the Magistrates. (Courtier roll of 49)
- Shiba Isamu decided to take a poetic route and composed a poem that was both humorous and martial, that ended with the drinking of sake and called for peace throughout the Empire, it was very Shiba and was exceptionally well-received by all the guests. (Poetry roll of 68)
- Taika decided to deliver a sermon to the gathering, in a very polite and formal manner he told the story of the Empire, and how the wisdom of the Emperor and Shinsei had guided the Empire since it began, which all led up to how wisdom can lead one to enlightenment. There was much agreement from those assembled with the quiet exception of Yori. (Shintao – 52)
- Sukune then delivered a speech which brought together all the previous presentations, being thankful for their successful journey to the capital and how humble everyone was to be so honoured. He then praised Yotsu for his honourable deeds and did everything he could to set Yotsu up for a successful speech. People were amazed at how Sukune had brought the speeches together, revealing links that many had missed. (Courtier – 69)
- Yotsu then did a haiku, which emphasised loyalty, duty and death and did it with great passion though it was not particularly subtle. People were quite surprised that a rough ronin like Yotsu could come up with such a good haiku. (Poetry – 38)
The celebration then went on for a while and the magistrates, the yoriki and Yotsu enjoyed themselves a lot and despite much probing from the other guests managed to be quite discreet about what exactly was being celebrated.
Session 72 Dinner with Yogo Junzo
26 October 2010 XP: 3 Glory: 0.0 Honor: 0.0
Characters: Miramoto Sukune, Togashi Taika, Mojojojen, Matsu Junko, Agasha Osano
The next day, the Magistrates and the yoriki after a late breakfast went off to a variety of tasks:
- Matsu Junko reported in to Matsu Tsuko as the ranking Matsu in Otosan Uchi. She told her in detail of everything that they had done, except for their suspicions as to what lay beneath Shiro Sōshi-san no Sandā. Matsu Tsuko was pleased with her report and approved for her to train up in rank with her Sensei.
- Mojojojen visited the Seppun to discuss his experiences and what they may mean in terms of threats to the Empire. He talked with Seppun Kazuo about the Shadowlands, Moon cultists and the mysterious shadow people that the Magistrates had encountered and their connection with the strange drug Golden Dream.
- Miramoto Sukune went shopping with Yogo Ryn. They also went boating on one of the beautiful lakes in Otosan Uchi and then had a lovely afternoon tea together.
- Taika visited Seppun Hill where the tattooed man Togashi Kenjin has camped in the outdoors for many years. Taika felt that the hill had a particular aura, though he couldn’t quite work out what it was. He attempted to put himself in harmony with the hill, but was unable to. He also found that Togashi Kenjin was strange even for a Tattooed Man.
- Agasha Osano visited the Agasha Shugenja School and dis some meditation.
In the evening, the Magistrates and yoriki went to dine at Yogo Junzo’s mansion. It was a small gathering with the following attending:
- Yogo Junzo
- Bayushi Kachiko
- Bayushi Ryobo
- Yogo Ryn
Sukune was very keen to make a good impression with Yogo Ryn’s grandfather, so he present him with a barrel of Ice Wine as a gift, which was clearly appreciated even by the very sombre Yogo daimyo. Yogo Junzo was very polite to them all, but he gave off a very strange aura and it was difficult to take a liking to him. It was interesting that Yogo Ryn seemed quite nervous in his company and perhaps even scared of him, for a women who had rarely if ever shown fear, this seemed quite unusual. Sukune showed off even more than normal trying to impress Yogo Junzo with his list of accomplishments such as being the youngest ever Emerald Magistrate, having been praised by the Master of Void (Isawa Eju), and had met several important Scorpions such Shoshuro Hyobo, the Governor of Ryoko Owari. He also commented that he really liked the lands of the Scorpion.
Bayushi Ryobo seemed very unimpressed by Miramoto Sukune and made several very rude remarks about him and the Dragon during the dinner, but Sukune wishing to show his maturity didn’t show offense at them. Eventually Yogo Junzo silenced Bayushi Ryobo and then offered to attempt to fix Mojojojen’s leg for him using a ritual that he had just developed. Mojojojen, a little bit unsure of whether he wanted to be the subject in a magical experiment agreed to return the next day to discuss the matter with Yogo Junzo. Given the
Session 73 Prelude to a Duel
14 December 2010 2010 XP: 3 Glory: 0.0 Honor: 0.0
Characters: Miramoto Sukune, Taika, Mojojojen, Matsu Junko, Agasha Osano
High Roll: Sukune – 50 with Courtier
The next morning dawned and again the magistrates and their yoriki were busy about a variety of tasks:
- Taika, Sukune and Doji Tohaku had to report to the Emerald Champion. Upon arrival at his offices, they found a number of other Emerald Magistrates also waiting to see him, so while they waited they conversed with them. Taika mainly talked with Hida Susumu, a gizzled and very large Emerald Magistrate stationed near the Kaiu Wall, about the Oni they had met and defeated. Sukune chatted with Otaku Hana, who normally served in the far west of the Empire on the edge of the Unicorn lands. The two of them had a lengthy discussion about the use of cavalry in battles and Sukune learnt a thing or two from her, as of course did the Unicorn magistrate from him.
- When they met Doji Satsume, he interrogated them in some detail over their trip to Otosan Uchi. Overall he seemed quite happy with them, though at the end he did make a point of reminding them that they still hadn’t discovered who had killed the previous Emerald Magistrate and given their excellent performance in other areas of the job, that he was a bit disappointed that this task hadn’t been attended to.
- Meanwhile, Matsu Junko was investigating the backgrounds of some of the people that they had met. Matsu Junko looked in to Yogo Junzo and found out that he had been the daimyo of the Yogo family for many years and was renowned as one of the greatest shugenja in the Empire. More worringly, he was also known as a a shugenja that was prepared to press the boundaries of magic, sometimes in disturbing ways. Of course as a Scorpion, he is also known as an inveterate and cunning schemer. Her other target was Bayushi Ryobo, and she discovered that he was a Scorpion courtier who is the nephew of the Scorpion Daimyo and thus well-regarded in court circles. He is also known as a very competent duelist having won dozens of duels to the first blood and six to the death. Apparently he has been trained in the Kakita School.
- Mojojojen and Agasha Osano went and visited Yogo Junzo’s laboratory to hear how he planned to cure Mojojojen’s leg. Yogo Junzo gave them a detailed tour of his laboratory and explanation of how he was going to perform the experiment. It all sounded reasonable to Agasha Osano, though very complex, in fact it reminded him of some of the secret techniques used by the Agasha, though a Yogo should not know of those! Mojojojen could sense no trace of maho or Taint, so he agreed that Yogo Junzo could do him the honour of performing his experimental ritual on him.
- Later that morning, Agasha Osano investigated someone who was a more personal target, Bayushi Kachiko. He discovered that she was a beautiful and skilled Scorpion courtier who was having considerable success at the Imperial Court.
- To their outrage, both picked up rumours about their dinner last night. Apparently someone was saying that Miramoto Sukune had been badly insulted by Bayushi Ryobo at the dinner last night and had cravenly done nothing about it. It was being said that Sukune was afraid to duel Bayushi Ryobo.
- On his return from afternoon tea with Yogo Ryn, Sukune went and visited his second cousin Miramoto Ken at the Dragon Embassy. There, his cousin confirmed that the rumours were being spread, though he had no idea who started them. Incensed, Sukune decided to challenge Bayushi Ryobo to a duel.
- Asking around he found that Bayushi Ryobo was likely to be found at a very fashionable restaurant most nights. So he organised with the others to accompany him to the restaurant that night, to partake in dinner and challenge the uppity Scorpion at the same time.
- In the meantime, there was much discussion by the magistrates and their yoriki as to the motivations for the rumours. Some thought it was Ryobo just being arrogant, or perhaps to harm a potential challenger for the hand of Yogo Ryn. Others more cynical felt that Yogo Ryn might be spreading the rumours to get Sukune to get rid of Ryobo for her. Yet more cynical, was that it was a plan to get rid of Sukune by Yogo Ryn. Sukune dismissed that out of hand, why would Yogo Ryn possibly want to get rid of him? Further discussion about duels and the fact that Bayushi Ryobo had trained in the Kakita School seemed to indicate that it might be wise for Miramoto Sukune to brush up on his dueling against a Kakita.
- So they visited the Kakita school and even on such short notice: Kakita Katsu, the Sensei of the Dansukurēn dojo (Dancing Crane) would allow them to visit, as he had heard of the excellent service that they had done for the Empire. Sukune and Mojojojen both practiced their dueling at the dojo and both acquitted themselves well. Taika commented on the training duels and their participants and talked with the Sensei and everyone was very impressed that a monk was so knowledgeable about dueling.
- After cooling down and washing up, they all went to intercept him at the Go Matsuri-gyo restaurant (Five Festive Fishes) but found he was not there that night and that no tables were available for them. The owner was very apologetic and offered them his first available booking for a week from now. The magistrates then decided to go somewhere else more available and there Sukune decided that next morning he would approach Ryobo at the Scorpion Embassy where he lived and challenge him to withdraw his allegations of cowardice or face him in a duel.
Session 74 Death on the line
25 January 2011 XP: 4 Glory: 0.5 (Sukune) Honor: 0.0
Characters: Miramoto Sukune, Taika, Mojojojen, Matsu Junko, Agasha Osano, Shiba Isamu
High Roll: Agasha Osano – 69 with Tea Ceremony
Early the next morning, Agasha Osano studied his horoscopes and determined that the best day for Miramoto Sukune to duel Bayushi Ryobo was two days from now. He also sent Bayushi Kachiko an invitation for a tea ceremony in the afternoon on the same day. Miramoto Sukune and Mojojojen then went to the Scorpion Embassy to front Bayushi Ryobo.
After a short time, Bayushi Ryobo and some of his friends left the Embassy and Sukune drew him aside. Sukune attempted to persuade him that he should withdraw his insults, but when Ryobo scornfully rejected his attempts to reconcile their differences, he had no choice but to challenge him to a duel.
Meanwhile, Agasha Osano received permission from Magistrate Sukune to buy a new tea set and kimono for the visit by Bayushi Kachiko. Yogo Ryn went with him to help him pick something elegant and it ended up costing 30 koku. They were both exquisite, but Sukune was a little bit shocked at the price.
The next morning before dawn, the air was only slightly cool, the late spring day fading into summmer. When they arrived at the dueling ground in the park, they found a large crowd had come to watch the duel. Bayushi Ryobo and his people were waiting for Sukune, as well as the priest who was to supervise the duel. The priest approached both of them and asked if they would be satisfied by a duel to first blood, when it was apparent that neither would, he asked them to take their places and start. Meanwhile numerous bets are being placed and the yoriki confident in their Magistrate’s victory find it easy to get good odds for him from other samurai. Sukune has them place a bet for himself.
Settling in to their stances, the two combatants eyed each other calming assessing their opponent, looking into their soul. Both saw deeply and it was then that Bayushi Ryobo had his first moment of doubt, the young Magistrate was not the callow and naive youth he had thought. Eyes locked upon eyes as their mind and spirit tried to dominate the other, short seconds pass, that seem like hours to the opponents. Ryobo has to draw upon depths that he has rarely needed in the past, yet still it is he whose spirit first flinches. Sukune having won the battle of the mind is exultant and lets himself be overconfident. Seeing his moment he strikes first but misses, leaving Ryobo an opportunity to recover all that he had lost only a second before. Ryobo strikes back, but deeply shaken he only just touches Sukune with his blade. The duel then turns into a sword fight and the Mirumoto technique proves superior to the Bayushi and Ryobo dies in two blows. Sukune lowers his swords and steps away.
The crowd are excited by the duel and much commenting takes place. Wise heads express the opinion that Sukune will make a fine duelist and that his chi is very strong, but that he must get over the impetuousness of youth and realise that the battle is not won until the blow has landed. The Dragon Ambassador, Mirumoto Shichiro, is very congratulatory and takes Sukune, Taika, Sakune’s cousin Ken, the yoriki and a number of other Dragon and follower-ons to breakfast to celebrate his victory of his first serious iaijutsu duel.
Later that afternoon, Bayushi Kachiko arrived for Agasha Osano’s tea ceremony and was he normal, courteous but enigmatic self. The tea ceremony was performed superlatively by Osano (with a roll of 69) and the new tea set was commented upon favourably by all there. Agasha Osano was overawed to an extent by the occasion, so Shiba Isamu stepped in and improvised some poetry quite well to help him out. The event seemed quite a success and Bayushi Kachiko was fulsome in her compliments as she was leaving, but given she is a Scorpion coutier, who could really know what she really thought.
That evening as the sun set, an Imperial messenger arrived at their residence to inform them that they had been commanded to attend the Imperial Palace tomorrow evening at dusk. It was generally agreed that this meant that an early night was in order.
Session 75 The Rewards of Duty
22 February 2011 XP: 3 Glory: 0 Honor: 0 Status: 1
Characters: Miramoto Sukune, Taika, Mojojojen, Agasha Osano, Shiba Isamu
High Roll: Togashi Taika – 80 with Poetry
Faced with the most important meeting of their lives, the magistrates and their yoriki prepared themselves as well as they could.
- They went to the temple and purified themselves
- Mirumoto Sukune ate duck eggs for lunch
- Yogo Ryn helped them with Imperial Court etiquette which is subtly different from normal court etiquette in a variety of ways, for example, a gift from the Emperor is never refused.
- They had their servants prepare their best clothes
- They sent to the Imperial Palace as a gift, two bottles of Ice Wine
- Sukune’s poet, Sho, writes a piece honouring his victory in the duel which is quite good (Poetry roll of 29). Taika thinking that it could be improved works with him and makes a number of brilliant suggestions as to how it could be improved (Poetry 80). Overall, the poem is now worthy of the Imperial Court (Poetry 46)
Then after dinner, Otomo Kuro arrived and escorted them to the Imperial Palace. Arriving they were escorted through the main gate. Passing through the gate, all of the party felt an eerie sensation, as though they were being watched by many eyes. They then crossed the magnificent gardens of the Imperial Ward, up to the palace proper, where they entered and handed over their weapons to a servant. As they walked through the palace grounds, they could sense how strong and orderly the kami were around them. They were then taken to a small but exquisitely decorated waiting room.
After a period, they were escorted into a small throne room and shortly thereafter Hantei XXXVIII entered the room, accompanied by the Emerald Champion. He gave all the assembled characters his thanks for saving his son and wife and that for their heroic efforts, he wished to reward them.
- Agasha Osano was made an Emerald Magistrate with an annual salary of 250 koku and was granted a jade and crystal chrysanthemum tsuba (+1 status) as a symbol of the high regard the Emperor holds him in.
- Shiba Isamu was made an Emerald Magistrate with an annual salary of 250 koku and was granted a jade and crystal chrysanthemum tsuba (+1 status) as a symbol of the high regard the Emperor holds him in
- Matsu Junko was made an Emerald Magistrate with an annual salary of 250 koku and was granted a jade and crystal chrysanthemum tsuba (+1 status) as a symbol of the high regard the Emperor holds her in
- Mojojojen was made an Emerald Magistrate with an annual salary of 250 koku and was granted a jade and crystal chrysanthemum tsuba (+1 status) as a symbol of the high regard the Emperor holds him in. He was also adopted in to the imperial family of the Otomo and can now be known as Otomo Mojojojen
- Togashi Taika was granted a jade and crystal chrysanthemum tsuba (+1 status) as a symbol of the high regard the Emperor holds him in. He was also appointed as Keeper of the Imperial Sutra, that is to be in charge of looking after the original copy of Hantei’s commentary on his discussions with Shinsei.
- Mirumoto Sukune was granted a jade and crystal chrysanthemum tsuba (+1 status) as a symbol of the high regard the Emperor holds him in. He was also granted the honour of marrying the Emperor’s niece Hantei Sakura and made a servant of the Imperial Household.
- Yotsu was granted the privilege of starting his own family, who are to be known as Protectors of the Imperial Family and granted lands to support his family. He was also granted a jade and crystal chrysanthemum tsuba (+1 status) as a symbol of the high regard the Emperor holds him in.
The Emperor then departed and the Emerald Champion took them to a dining room, where they were royally feasted and the Emerald Champion was actually quite affable and seemed pleased with them, which was a first for him. As a sign of his new respect, he informed them that if they wished, they may attend the Emerald Magistrate school.
The next morning, Mojojojen wrote to Yogo Junzo to let him know that he would be available. Sukune organised a lunch with Yogo Ryn for the next day and likewise Osano organised a lunch with Bayushi Kachiko. Some of them also organised gifts to Yotsu to celebrate the creation of his family. Sukune sent him a set of heavy armour, Mojojojen a copy of Akodo’s Tactics, Agasha Osano a tea set and Shiba Isamu a chop.
Session 76 A New Station in Life
22 March 2011 XP: 3 Glory: 0 Honor: 0 Status: 0
Taika decided that as he was now the Keeper of the Emperor’s Tao, he should go and visit the temple where the Tao is kept. The rest of the magistrates decided that it would also be interesting to visit as well. As they entered Temple of the Imperial Sutra, as small and elegant structure that sheltered beside one of the larger temples in the grounds of the Imperial Ward, a strange chill, full of potency run down their spines. They noticed that no one else seemed to be at the temple at first
Characters: Miramoto Sukune, Taika, Otomo Mojojojen, Agasha Osano, Shiba Isamu, Matsu Junko
High Roll: Mojojojen – 65 with Ritual
Session 77 From Otosan Uchi to Shiro Matsu