A Distant Sound of Thunder
Soft-hearted Crane Duelist
Earth Ring: 3
Water Ring: 2
Air Ring: 4
Fire Ring: 3
Iaijutsu (Focus, Assessment) 7
Kenjutsu (Katana) 3
Etiquette (Bureaucracy) 3
Courtier (Rhetoric) 4
Tea Ceremony 2
Perform: Storytelling 1
Lore: Bushido 1
Lore: Heraldry 1
Lore: History 1
Lore: Law 1
Lore: Maho 1
Lore: Shadowlands 1
Lore: Shugenja 1
Artisan: Poetry 2
Games: Go 3
Kakita Bushi: Rank 4
Armor TN: 28
Attack Roll: 8k3 (Kenjutsu)
Damage Roll: 7k2 (Katana)
Major Ally: Unicorn Clan (from Heritage Table)
Gear: Kandaisa, Kaiu Light Armor, Fine Sturdy Clothing, Fine Wakizashi, Fine Yumi, Fine Chopsticks, Fine Tea Set, Fine Daisho Stand, Fine Miniature Go Set, Fine Small Tent, Fine Spare Kimono and Sandals, Fine Week’s Rations, Fine Ink Brush Kit, Fine Blanket, Fine Tatami Mat, Fine Haori, Fine Personal Chop, Fine Paper, Fine Willow Leaf Arrows, Gaijin Horse and Tack, Jitte, Fine Boken.
Born in 1104, one month after the death of his father, Kakita Tetsuo, in a border skirmish with the Lion, Kakita Daiken only had six months with his mother, Doji Harumi, before she was killed by bandits near Kosaten Shiro. Now orphaned, Daiken was raised by Asahina Michiko until he reached the age of 7. Being unsuited for the life of a shugenja, he chose to follow his heritage to the Kakita Academy, although his Asahina upbringing has left him deeply averse to killing.
Daiken has two groups against whom he is prejudiced: the Lion (they killed his dad), and the Daidoji (they failed to protect his mom). However, he has has learned to hide his prejudice and strives to master it. He has studied battle from talking with Daidoji tacticians, and respects their generals and approach to war.
Daiken’s best friend growing up was Asahina Mamoru, the son of one of the Shugenja of the temple. Mamoru knows more about Daiken than anyone else in Rokugan does, including many of Daiken’s deepest secrets.
When Mamoru chose the Daidoji school, a schism formed in their friendship. As the years went on, Mamoru became more of a Daidoji and came to look upon the pacifistic teachings of his family as foolish, changing his life plan to protecting the Asahina from themselves. Daiken and Mamoru’s last several meetings have degraded into confrontations just barely controlled from breaking the harmony.
In 1118, Daiken passed his gempukku at the Topaz Championship. When Badger Clan Champion Ichiro Akitomo was killed, Utako Shiko accused Bayushi Sugai of the act, and he challenged her to a duel. By the manueuverings of Bayushi Hidetaka, Shiko was allowed to call for a champion. She chose Daiken. The next morning, Daiken faced Sugai in front of the Emperor and many of the highest-ranking Samurai in Rokugan after taking as many precautions as he could before facing the Scorpion. Daiken scored the first hit with a strike framed specifically to show that it would have killed Sugai had he not pulled it.
Daiken did well enough in the early stages of the Championship to advance to the Iaijutsu tournament. However, he found himself sorely lacking in the physical competitions. In the first round of the duels, he faced Hida Susumu and failed to end the fight with one blow. The ensuing melee taught him the weakness of his battle prowess in a prolonged combat. Once it was clear Daiken could not win Susumu bowed to him to honor him for removing his armor before the fight to level the battlefield. In the next round, Daiken bowed to Utaku Lily when he failed to win the first strike.
Daiken was impressed with many of the other competitors and decided to keep track of their future careers, a decision made easier to follow through on several months later when he and many of the fellow competitors were summoned to Seppun lands to watch the wind. On the way, the group found themselves pursuing a stolen daisho. When they caught the thief, they learned it was the Seppun lord’s daughter, Seppun Kezumi, whom Daiken had begun to make inroads toward courting. She destroyed the blades before they could reach her.
Daiken escourted Kezumi home with Matsu Torako and Mirumoto Tatianna acting as unofficial chaperones. Daiken spent a week watching the wind and failing to impress Seppun Ryota, his prospective father-in-law, before Asako Kokuei failed to return for dinner one night. It was then that Daiken learned that the stolen daisho had contained the restive spirit of the Samurai who had born the blades. The rest of the group had spent the week attempting to exorcise the spirit. The group helped to contain the spirit, but could not exorcise it with their current knowledge. Ryota arranged to have the group of young Samurai made Emerald Magistrates to help their abilities to research the problem.
After they were able to provide useful information from the Miya library, the group was assigned as yoriki to the Magistrate in Toshi Ranbo. After a week of acting like incompetants so people would underestimate them, they were put on the trail of a scroll stolen from the Daidoji governor’s palace. After the investigation produced inadmissible proof that the governor had faked the theft to dishonor the Lion clan, Daiken took custody of the recovered scroll and returned it to the governor.
Daiken told the governor he had recovered the scroll under circumstances that proved to him the Lion were not responsible. During the delicate courtier dance wherein Daiken attempted to have the governor drop the issue to save face or enrage him enough to challenge a duel, Akako Kokuei openly accused the governor of lying about the theft. The governor challenged Kokuei to a duel to the death. Kokuei called upon Daiken to be his champion, and the duel was fought the next day.
Daiken made the first and last strike against the Daidoji general, but pulled the blow slightly to keep from killing him. Daiken chose not to bow to the downed man because he had chosen a duel to the death over simply dropping the ruse when given the chance.
After being made an Emerald Magistrate with jurisdiction over the roads of Rokugan, Daiken returned with his group to the Topaz Championship as spectators. At the Kakita Academy, he was challenged to duels to the death by 4 low-level Daidojis. Bayushi Hidetaka, being Daiken’s second, arranged for the Daidojis to petitition Doji Satsumi, Emerald Champion and Crane Champion, for permission for Daiken to fight the duels. Daiken obtained a boken from the academy on the the advice of Kakita Toshimoko that the best way to deal with a drunk challenging you to a duel is to beat them down with a boken.
At the same time, ninja attempted to kill Mirumoto Tatianna, and the investigation brought to light a conspiracy involving the heir of the Lion. Following leads brought the group to the Monestary of Lost Souls in Phoenix lands. There, they met Tot’riko, the shame of the Lion, and during the interview with him, an army of ninja attacked the monestary. Taking commands from Tot’riko, who had studied “Leadership” thousands of times, the group and the former-shugenja (retired for being too violent for Phoenix society) monks repelled the ninja. During the battle, Daiken heroically faced several ninja at once and emerged with only cosmetic injuries, which ony made him look more dashing.
The group left the monastery in a rush to find Akodo Arasou, fearing the same group might attempt to assassinate him. He was holed up in an abandoned Lion clan fort besiged by about 50 ninja. During the fight, Daiken embarassed himself by failiing to hit his opponents almost every time. When the dust settled, the group made sure Arasou returned safely to Shiro Akodo and followed the evidence trail to the fort where the ninja army was raised. The fort was in Scorpion clan hands when the group arrived and was turned over to Lion clan shortly thereafter.
Still smarting from his poor perfomance against the ninja, Daiken went to Matsu Torako to request Kenjutsu training in return for teaching her Iaijutsu.
In response to the vast number of requests for Iaijutsu duels, the group’s lord gave Daiken a scroll giving him permission to fight any duel he wants to fight. Daiken gave the scroll to Hidetaka, his usual second, to hold, and Hidetaka advised him that the scroll could also be interpreted to mean that Daiken does not have his lord’s permission to fight in a duel if Daiken does not want to fight it.
The group escorted the Master of Earth to the Shadowlands to track down a young Phoenix Shugenja who had gone missing. When they found the missing Shugenja, he refused to return and challenged the Master of Earth to a duel. The young man defeated the Master of Earth, becoming the new Master. The ousted Master, now exiled from the Phoenix started a bidding war with the major clans for which one would take him in. Daiken stood as one of the witnesses of the duel and its outcome.
After returning to Phoenix lands with the new Master of Earth, the group spent winter in the court of a minor Daimyo. Daiken spent his time enjoying the company and making contacts, with neither great success nor failure.
The group returned to Shiro Sano Kakita to witness another Topaz Championship. While taking tea, Daiken overheard a Scorpion mocking a young Samurai’s wife openly, and Daiken spoke up, intercepting a planned assassination by duel. The night after word began to spread of Daiken’s upcoming duel, Kakita Toshimoko woke Daiken in the middle of the night. What followed was several nights of no sleep where Daiken stood for hours in his Stance, and Toshimoko beat him with a stick every time it faltered. The spectacle, though it happened from evening to shortly before dawn every night began to draw crowds.
Toshimoko allowed Daiken to be healed only immediately before the duel, which Daiken won handily. The Emperor and many of Rokugan’s highest status Samurai, including Doji Satsume and Kakita Yoshi, attended the duel. Afterward, Toshimoko commented that Daiken’s performance would do.
Immediately after the duel, an Oni erupted from the ground. Toshimoko tossed Daiken his sword, Kandaisa, because Daiken’s could not harm an Oni. Hidetaka grappled the Oni, with Susumu casting Strength of the Crow to keep the taint off him. Daiken drew first blood, Torako hit ineffectually, and Lily finshed off the Oni. Daiken offered Kandaisa back to Toshimoko, who told him to keep it and took Daiken’s sword in exchange.
On a tip from Togashi Yokuni, the group traveled to the Kaiu Wall to serve a tour. The Crab were hesitant to take on newbies, but the group showed their merit, largely through Hidetaka beating down a Crab Samurai in a Jiujutsu duel.
At the wall, they met a Daidoji who had been serving there for a few months. He asked Daiken to demonstrate Iaijutsu dueling with him so the Crab would take him seriously. The Daidoji defeated Daiken soundly, but pulled him aside and pointed out that he thinks Daiken is actually the better duelist, but when the Daidoji assessed him, he could see every little flaw in Daiken’s stance. Daiken found that anyone who assesses him now sees the same, and he believes it is an effect created by the spirit of the sword Kandaisa. Daiken immediately started to use it to become a better duelist by repeating Toshimoko’s training with others providing the feedback. Torako has volunteered to beat him with a boken as much as he wants her to.
A few days later, the group accompanied Hiruma Makasu on a Shadowlands patrol. The patrol was ambushed and forced to death march out of the Shadowlands pursued by hundreds of goblins. With Makasu doing nothing, Hidetaka took the role of gunso and arranged the retreat, and Daiken motivated the troops to keep walking although they were exhausted. During an attack by zombies, Daiken cut one’s head off with two swings, making it the first creature he had ever killed.
The group lead the broken patrol to the river and launched them in boats. Then things got much worse. An enormous army of the Shadowlands appeared behind them and a huge oni appeared. Daiken completely lost his mind to panic at the oni, but managed to escape on a boat while Hidetaka grappled it. The group returned to the wall, and the Shadowlands army withdrew.
The group went on a scout mission, guided by nezumi. The small group was able to reach the gorge Makasu had been trying to reach and see beyond it. They discovered a massing army larger than anything in living memory and returned to the wall. The largest assault in generations hit the wall shortly thereafter.
During the fighting, Daiken acquitted himself well, but distinguished himself by shouting encouragement to the troops and providing them moments of respite, wherein they could re-center themselves. In the final moments of the assault, he rallied the remaining defenders to hurl at the remaining enemy, but they broke under Torako’s intimidating presence before Daiken’s reached the front. As a result of spending the entire last day of battle shouting encouragement over the din, he was hoarse for the next two weeks.
Daiken accompanied his group to Dragon lands to report to Togashi Yakuni. There, Yakuni took each of the Samurai aside and did with them what they did best. When he took Daiken aside, he played Go and repeatedly destroyed Daiken at it. Afterward, he told Daiken that the skill of playing Go would be the most important skill to save the empire within 3 years, bowed and left.
From Dragon lands, they traveled to the Seppun lands for Daiken’s wedding to Seppun Kezumi. Upon arrival, it was clear something was up. It seemed the entire Seppun family was in attendance. Then Bayushi Shoju showed up, followed by Hida Kisada, Doji Satsume, Akodo Arasou and Matsu Tsuko, and Shinjo Yokatsu. Ten Togashi monks arrived to represent their Champion, and the Master of Water also attended. The ceremony was conducted by the Master of Fire. The reception started a couple of hours late because it was held for the emperor’s arrival.
At the reception, the emperor and clan champions presented each of the group members with land, and Kisada gifted them with Kaiu weapons or armor. Daiken received a set of Kaiu light armor. Shinjo Yokatsu presented each of them with a Unicorn-bred Gaijin horse.
In recognition of the wedding conventions, Daiken and his group departed the next day. Passing through Crane lands, they learned that Doji Kuwanan’s wife had committed suicide. They also found that a small force of Lion had seized the lands of the Doji for whom Daiken had fought the Scorpion. They investigated and learned the Doji’s daughter was held hostage. They went to negotiate, and after hours of negotiations were offered beds.
During the night a group of Daidoji surrounded the house, and the Akodo commander panicked, taking the Doji’s daughter as a human shield. Daiken tried to talk him into releasing her, but a sound spooked him, and he attempted to harm the girl. Hidetaka and Kokuei stopped him and arrested him. His men were outraged by his heinous act, and his gunso volunteered to act as executioner. Hidetaka conducted a reading of the charges, condemned him to die, and the gunso beheaded the Akodo. Hidetaka and Daiken facilitated the return of the land to its previous owner and the withdrawal of the remaining Lion.
The group was then sent to the Lion city Kenson Gakka for the Festival of the Humble Turtle. The festival celebrates the recapture of the city from the Scorpion centuries earlier. While in the city, they became aware of a plot brewing. Ultimately, they were unable to stop the murder of two dozen Crane monks by the Lion Governor, who had been replaced by a Shosuro actor. The plot culminated with a Scorpion attack on the city that the group helped repel. They were aided by a man possessed by the Kami of the nearby river.
They returned to Toshi Ranbo to try to avert war was the Lion had it surrounded. Akodo Arasou had promised it to Matsu Tsuko for a wedding present. During the time in Toshi Ranbo, Daidoji Uji informed Daiken that the Daidoji who were constantly challenging him to duels had nothing to do with the previous Governor, whom Daiken had defeated in a duel and sent into ignominy. Instead, they were prodded on by a young daidoji warrior who considered Daiken a danger to the clan. Daiken immediately thought of Asahina Mamoru, but decided he couldn’t believe that Mamoru’s affection for him has fallen so far, and that the instigator must be some other slighted warrior.
They met the man formerly possessed by the river Kami, a former Scorpion bushi Junshin. He has been working to prevent the war and is trusted by Daidoji Uji. Daiken hired him as his yoriki, considering that a Scorpion-trained ronin might make an excellent tool.
With political machinations and connecting the dots of the plots they had foiled, the group convinced both the Lion and Crane that they were being deceived into battle by another power bent on destroying the Empire. Unfortunately, just before the peace was made, Daidoji soldiers under maho compulsion attacked the Lion, killing several. Honor did not allow peace, but they arranged for Daidoji Uji and Akodo Arasou to meet for a first touch duel to settle honor. Before the duel, Uji turned Toshi Ranbo over to the Lion as the Crane’s sacrifice for peace, having been authorized by Satsume to do so in the extremity. Then They fought and Uji struck Arasou down in an obvious seppuko-by-duel.
Before he died, Arasou gave Utaku Lily the Lion Champion’s daisho and urged her to deliver it to his brother Toturi at the Phoenix monastery and naming Toturi his heir. He urged the group not to let the evil conspirators hurt the emperor and claimed that only Toturi would be smart enough to defeat them.
The group rode hard to reach the monastery where Lily gave the daisho to Tot’riko and informed him of his brother’s death. Tot’riko’s entire bearing changed and he announced that he was now Akodo Toturi. We told him of the situation in Lion lands and he immediately began planning for the campaign. Matsu Torako, Utaku Lily, and Daiken accompanied Toturi on a dash to claim Shiro Akodo before others could claim it, and Daiken spent time training Toturi in dueling. As the other armies arrived, they arrayed themselves to siege Shiro Akodo. Then Matsu Tsuko arrived. She brought her troops forward, and obviously unwillingly, swore fealty to Toturi as Arasou’s heir.
Daiken spent a week as a constant companion with Akodo Toturi and played many unusual games of Go that pitted multiple sides against each other in a variety of combinations. Toturi brought the disparate Lion factions together and bound them to himself by declaring war against the Crane. Daiken was forced to swallow the dishonor heaped upon himself and his clan. He understood what Toturi was doing and realized that it would ultimately be best for the Crane if the Lion became a stable clan, but the dishonor still hurt.
The group was invited to attend winter court at Shiro Akodo, and at the same time Daiken received word that Kezumi is pregnant with their child. After the first week, Daiken became quite ill with intestinal problems for several weeks. While he was sick, the plague ran through the shiro, sickening Hidetaka and Lily and killing approximately 25% of the court attendees. After the plague ended, Toturi became ill with the same intestinal distress Daiken had and disappeared from public for a month.
The group also uncovered evidence of some kind of infiltration practice that had been going on at various winter courts for countless years. They also helped prevent a bomb plot on Shiro Akodo. Before leaving, Daiken gave Toturi the use of his yoriki for missions to help stabilize his power.
During the Topaz championship the next year, a bushi from the Sparrow clan faced off against a deceitful Scorpion and showed up the Scorpion at every turn. The Scorpion challenged the Sparrow to a duel before the last stage of the competition, and Daiken trained and Seconded the Sparrow. The Sparrow made first touch, but the Scorpion struck him down. The Sparrow survived thanks to Susumu’s intervention.
After the championship ended, Satsume called the group into his office and chastised them for not preventing the political problems caused by the Sparrow humiliating the Scorpion. The Scorpion’s uncle was one of the greatest generals in the Scorpion Clan, and Satsume’s intelligence suggested that the man was marching toward the Sparrow lands. He tasked the group with stopping the nascent war from destroying the Sparrow. The group knew nothing they could say would stop the Scorpion from attacking, and if they brought any of the major clans to bear, it would justify the Scorpion attack because it is a violation of Imperial law for a major clan to attack a minor, but not for two major clans to fight.
The group chose to enlist the aid of minor clans. Daiken and Kokuei visited the Wasp and Fox clans and enlisted their aid. The Fox insisted on helping as something of a joke on the Sparrow and only agreed on the condition that the Sparrow not know they would come. Susumu enlisted the Centipede to come as humanitarian medical aid. Torako talked Yoritomo into coming to observe with a small group of elite soldiers. Lily rode ahead to warn the Sparrow.
The plan went off perfectly, and Daiken charged when the Fox and Wasp joined the battle. During the battle, the Sparrow youth were routed and Daiken organized their retreat. When it became clear that the Scorpion would not allow them to escape, Daiken made a stand in a narrow place, knowing that he could not survive doing so, but knowing his sacrifice would allow the children to escape to safety. Shortly before he would be overwhelmed by the press, the spirit of Daidoji Masashigi appeared at his side and helped him hold. Still, Daiken was ultimately overcome and was found beside two piles of Scorpion bushi, one pile unconscious, the other dead. Only Susumu’s ministrations kept Daiken alive. Beside the pile of corpses, he found Masashigi’s helmet, and made a pilgrimage to the shrine on the land bridge to return it and make offerings.
The group returned to Otosan Uchi to recover from the battle. Around this time, Kezumi gave birth to Daiken’s son. After a few weeks, the group was given the light work of going to Ryoko Owari for the Bon Festival. They were to support the (absent) local Emerald Magistrate without bringing him dishonor for being absent. Unfortunately, the plan to spend a week signing travel papers vanished when an Oni attacked the town. The group dispatched the Oni, but soon became aware of a plot by the Moon Cultists to prevent the lighting ritual for the Orb of the Sun. The plot culminated with a battle with hundreds of Zombies created with porcelain masks and controlled by a maho-tsukai. The group defended the priestess of Amatarasu and ended the fight by killing the maho-tsugai.
The group brought the master mask to Kuni Yori for safe keeping and reported the bad omen of its discovery to Satsume. Satsume thanked them for their work and sent them to Mantis lands for a week before sending them on to Shiro Akodo.
After a few weeks of quiet in Shiro Akodo, the local Emerald Magistrate returned and the group prepared to leave. Just before they left, an assassination was attempted on Akodo Toturi. The local magistrate gave testimony that the would-be assassin had been a Kakita who used a bow, and began a manhunt. The group was immediately suspicious of the attempt because it seemed like it failed intentionally.
During the investigation, the group found the Kakita and learned that he was a frequent visitor to the shiro and regularly met privately with Toturi. Convinced that this was a frame job, the group helped the Kakita escape the dragnet and confronted the local Magistrate. During the confrontation, Torako jostled a wardrobe and a bow and arrows with strands of Kakita-white hair fell from behind it. Torako drew her sword, and Hidetaka punched the Magistrate, resulting in the local magistrate impaling his throat on Torako’s sword. Hidetaka had Susumu banish the spirits lest their testimony bring dishonor on the emerald magistrates. Toturi thanked the group for finding the assassin.
After reporting back to Satsume. The group was sent to Unicorn lands to meet a procession en route to Phoenix lands and provide an escort for the dozens of spell scrolls it carried. Shortly before they reached Phoenix lands, a group of Ronin attacked the caravan. The group drove them off, killing several, but letting many flee.
The scrolls reached Reihaido sano Ki-Rin safely where they were given to the winner of an empire-wide shugenja tournament. Susumu and Kokuei made it to the finals, but did not win. In addition to the tournament, Susumu was ordered by his clan to court an imperial princess in attendance. He asked Daiken for help, and Daiken helped him clean up his appearance and helped him with poetry.
After the tournament, the group attended Phoenix Winter Court at Shiro Gisu. The courting of the princess continued through the beginning of Winter Court until Shiba Himitsu accused the princess of being a false imperial. He was challenged to a duel by Matsu Ryuden. Himitsu was murdered that night, and an eyewitness named Ryuden as the murderer.
The investigation showed that the spirits in the area had been banished before the murder was reported, and that and other circumstances made the group suspicious. Eventually, with the help of a group of Shosuro actors, they determined that the culprit was the princess’s missing Kakita maid, who was an insane Scorpion spy. Unfortunately the local Emerald Magistrate and his servant were murdered shortly before the group discovered the identity of the killer.
The group found the maid hiding in a disused area of the basement. The maid was tainted with some unknown evil force that gave her the ability to shape shift. During the combat, the group discovered that only Torako’s crystal blade could harm the maid, and eventually they killed the maid.
To save the honor of the imperial line, the party covered up the maid’s role by blaming the deaths on a random ronin. They set out on a few day’s trip to support their story of hunting down the ronin and executing him. During their trip, Hidetaka decided to check in on the village of the ronin who had attacked the scroll caravan (whom he had promised a place in Scorpion lands). About halfway there they met a ronin from the village en route to Shiro Gisu. Suspicious of her story of gathering supplies, Hidetaka insisted she accompany the group back to the village.
Once the group arrived at the village, they were met with arms. The ronin from the road denounced the group as being with the Unicorn and come to kill the village. Daiken gave an unconvincing plea for the ronin to drop their weapons, and a few dozen fired arrows at Hidetaka, doing no real damage. Kokuei hid the party from the village to prevent further violence while Torako and Lily pursued the ronin from the road. All the while, Susumu itched to unleash an earthquake on the village and Daiken sued for peace.
Lily found the ronin, knocked her unconscious, and dragged her behind her horse back to the front of the village. That did not help matters. While Hidetaka negotiated with the village headman to stop further violence, Daiken cut the ronin from behind Lily’s horse and administered medical treatment to keep her alive. When she was conscious she admitted that she had been travelling to Shiro Gisu to kidnap the princess, and she denounced the group to cause a battle so the ronin could have the honor of dying in battle. Hidetaka gave judgement to the village and headman, and the ronin was hanged like a peasant.
The rest of Winter Court passed uneventfully, the princess ultimately choosing to marry a Crane. The group returned to Otosan Uchi and reported in. They learned that an Ikoma play about the Battle of the Three Man Alliance had been performed by the Imperial troop of Shosuro actors. Apparently, Daiken was the protagonist. A few days later, a Matsu man entered the tea house where Daiken and others were drinking and insulted the Kakita Family. Daiken returned the insult, and the Matsu told him it was a shame Daiken’s free dueling rights had been suspended.
When Daiken returned to his inn that night, he was doused with blood from a cup set above his door, and found the Matsu man dead in his room. He called Hidetaka to him, and asked Hidetaka to help hide this obvious set-up. Hidetaka put into motion a whole production of Scorpion aides who completely cleaned up the scene, eta disposed of the body, and a hairdresser fixed Daiken’s hair. The whole process took more than an hour, during which time Susumu kept people from going onto that floor of the inn.
When the mess was disposed of, they began an investigation. Susumu summoned a water spirit that showed a Scorpion, who had been in the tea house during the altercation, kill the Matsu, effectively wink at the camera, and then the scene replayed with Daiken in the role of murderer. Susumu banished the spirits.
The next day, Hidetaka searched Daiken’s rooms during dinner and found a jeweled brooch. He removed it, tracked down the owner, and returned it. Susumu found a frightened fire spirit in the owner’s jewelry closet. The other spirits were corrupted to the point where they would lie. They summoned an earth spirit and it told them that if anyone asked, it would say Kakita Daiken stole from the room.
Susumu attempted to Jade Strike the earth spirit, but the spirit summoned for the spell physically manifested instead. It took up a back-to-back stance with Susumu to defend against the corrupted spirits, and told him Jade Strike would not effect them. It suggested that the corruption was likely the result of an artifact, perhaps of Iuchiban. Susumu banished the spirits before leaving.
The next day, rumors that Daiken had an eta lover began circulating the city. Daiken received a terse summons from Satsume, and Hidetaka received an official one. They traveled with Lily to Rokugan Yogasha Heigan. After a seven hour wait, Satsume saw them. He was fuming at a letter supposedly from Daiken that libeled Satsume. Hidetaka inspected the letter and showed the points that named it a forgery. Satsume dismissed them, telling them to fix this before he had to do it himself.
During Daiken’s absence, the others decided to be proactive in combating the slander against Daiken. They put up a total of 500 koku to patronize a production of the Ikoma play about the Three Man Alliance. A couple of days later, they were summoned to an audience with Kakita Yoshi. Yoshi offered to help them do the play right, and offered 1500 koku for the production. His money manager and Susumu worked out a deal granting the party member investors 20% of the gate.
Shortly after Daiken returned from his audience with Satsume, he learned that his dueling rights had not been revoked. He also received a letter from his wife, Kezumi. She had been receiving unwanted advanced from a Bayushi and felt it necessary to increase her personal guard to protect her. The letter showed no sign of forgery. Daiken informed Hidetaka and set out to defend his wife and son.
The rest of the group (except Hidetaka and Lily) accompanied Daiken under a veil of invisibility. Daiken found overturned lanterns threatening to burn down his house when he arrived. After dousing the flames, he found his guards and servants murdered. Upon searching the house, he found Kezumi and his son hiding by the family shrine. She informed him that the Bayushi had come and started killing. He had apparently left ten minutes earlier.
A storm began outside, and in a flash of lightning, a silhouette was visible through the door. Daiken threw open the door, and the Bayushi stood on the other side, his katana bared. Kezumi screamed, and Daiken fell into his iaijustu stance. The Bayushi followed, and Daiken easily won the first strike, with which he destroyed both of the Bayushi’s eyes. The Bayushi attempted to strike back, but he missed. Then Daiken took his right hand off at the wrist and destroyed his left knee.
Torako shouted that Daiken was dishonoring both his opponent and himself, and Daiken relented. He asked Susumu to staunch the Bayushi’s bleeding, and shouted questions about the Bayushi’s motives. When the Bayushi refused to answer, Daiken cut him twice, and Tatianna applied pressure to the stumps. On the third questioning, the Bayushi answered that he was trying to stop Daiken from further betraying the Emperor.
He explained that the sequence of events that began with the group’s appointment as Emerald Magistrates pointed to a plot against the Empire. His task was to determine if the group was a threat and assassinate them if they were. Daiken was tempted beyond measure to kill the Bayushi, but when he looked at Kezumi, the terror he saw on her face was directed at him. This realization shook him to the core, and sent him into deep introspection.
He realized that he had come in wrath to destroy someone whose intentions had been the peace and security of the Empire. This reminded him of the lessons of his childhood, with himself cast in the role of Asahina, come in wrath to destroy the Crane until he found the path. He murmured, “No more must die in the name of peace,” and sheathed his katana.
Kezumi noted that while the Bayushi looked like the man who had attacked the house, he sounded nothing like him. Daiken realized that he had been duped by the false visions to dishonor himself and abandon everything he believed, and he wept bitterly.
He pled for Susumu and Kokuei to do everything they could to repair the damage he had done to the Bayushi, but they were only able to repair the knee. Kokuei commented that the Master of Void would be able to heal him entirely, but that there was no way to know where the Master was. Daiken immediately left with the Bayushi and Torako to ride to Otosan Uchi, in hopes that fate would have them meet the Master of Void there.
Kokuei contacted the Master of Void, who was in Kyuden Asako. The Master showed willingness to help, but could find no way to do so. Neither he nor any of his students with the ability to help were within the range to be physically able to do so.
Daiken arrived in Otosan Uchi, and finding no intercession of fate, brought the Bayushi to the Asahina embassy with hopes that they might have a nemuranai that might be able to aid the Bayushi. Daiken explained what had happened to the leader of the embassy, completely confessing his faults and guilt. The leader did not know of anything that could help him, but he promised to inquire of Shinden Asahina, and if they could do no else, they would train the Bayushi to live with his disabilities.
When Daiken returned to his inn, he received an unsigned letter giving him a time and a place on a hill in the middle of nowhere. The note told him to be there with Kezumi and no one else. If he brought anyone else, the note said the sender would know, and he would not be there. Daiken brought the party in to the situation. They decided to have Hichi watch the place but not go. The hilltop was visited by spirits and two men, who left angrily.
The group tracked them from the hill the next day, and found a peasant family murdered in the closest village with a note saying they died because Kakita Daiken was too cowardly to meet him. They continued on tracking and were met by a messenger who gave Daiken a message with another place. The party attempted to lay a trap, and Daiken went to the place alone, having a Path to Inner Peace spell implanted within him by Kokuei. The men did not show up. Instead, he found a note with the name of a village where people would be murdered.
Daiken refused to deal on their terms any more and returned to Otosan Uchi. For 3 days, he continued to receive ultimatums and announcements of murders. Ultimately, he brought the situation to Kezumi, and both agreed to meet the man as requested. Daiken told Hidetaka and departed.
At the hill, Daiken met Asahina Mamoru dressed as the Bayushi. Mamoru challenged Daiken to a duel to the death to show Kezumi what kind of man Daiken really is. He told Daiken that Daiken if one of them did not die in the duel he had hired a group of Ronin to destroy a village of 750. Daiken took his stance and easily won the first strike, however, he did not draw.
Mamoru hacked at Daiken for nearly a minute before demanding that Daiken fight back. Daiken replied, “No more must die in the name of peace.” He fell moments later. He awoke several minutes later under the medical ministrations of Hidetaka. Mamoru lay beheaded nearby, and Hidetaka explained that he had killed him. Hichi informed Daiken that spirits had watched his duel, and the moment he fell, they left, apparently to report the results.
Daiken used the Path to Inner Peace spell Kokuei had implanted in him, and he and Kezumi returned to Otosan Uchi to send the shugenja to find the relic. They found that Mamoru had the Bloodsword Passion. They secured the Bloodsword and brought it to Doji Satsume, who had it walled up in an abandoned warehouse until the Kuni could come up with a more permanent solution. Daiken returned Mamoru’s ashes and personal effects to the Asahina. When he returned, Kezumi helped Daiken release his pain at the death of his friend without losing honor.
After a few weeks, they attended the Topaz Championship again. Daiken tried to return Kandaisa to Toshimoko, but Toshimoko wanted him to keep it longer. He took Daiken carousing every night and made drunken boasts of Daiken’s dueling prowess, calling him the up-and-coming greatest duelist in Rokugan. As a result, Daiken received challenges from many of the Kakita Academy students. He fought them with boken, and went easy when he struck them first. Several of the students protested that he treated them lightly, and Toshimoko suggested he teach them what it means to fight with boken, so Daiken beat them down.
After the Topaz Championship, they returned to Otosan Uchi where the play began it’s run. It was successful. The party was promoted as Emerald Magistrates and sent to Ryoko Owari to have jurisdiction over the City of Lies. They were told to stop off at Shiro Matsu to observe the succession for the Emperor.
Torako was recruited to fight for Matsu Tsuko. After a couple of days, during which Daiken laid low, being a sole Kakita surrounded by 250 Matsu, a battle broke out in the middle of the night. The group watched the battle, but soon they detected twitching eyes in many of the most ferocious fighters. They had seen twitching eyes in similar situations, and it meant those samurai had been possessed by some kind of spirit of rage.
The group intervened to prevent external influence from altering the succession. During the battle, Daiken flaunted his Kakita heritage and dodged the enraged attacks. This distraction helped Matsu Tsuko close ranks and bring the battle to a conclusion. Also during the battle, Matsu Gohei attempted to kill Hidetaka. He failed miserably, and Hidetaka killed him.
After the battle, the Shugenja summoned and bound one of the rage spirits and questioned it. They learned it came from the realm of Toshigoku, and that they were not summoned. They were merely attracted by the rage and came to amplify it. Only the sodan senzo could alter the bridge between the worlds.
After the succession, Torako was made an honorary member of the Lion’s Pride. They traveled to Ryoko Owari by way of the Kitsu Tombs, where Kokuei made arrangements to discuss the spirit situation with the Kitsu sodan senzo master when the master returned from his spirit voyages. When they arrived in Ryoko Owari, the group set about hiring yoriki and doshin.
While visiting the dojo of Kitsuke Jotomon with Torako, Daiken was impressed by her work with the peasants and offered her a position as a yoriki. She declined, it being well below her station, but offered to teach him. They practiced iaijutsu and kenjutsu, and Daiken found her his match at iaijutsu and far his superior at kenjutsu. He thanked her and arranged to study kenjutsu under her when his duties allowed. Torako later told him that she would like to practice kenjutsu with him following each of his lessons.