Rise of the Army of Sorrow
Players: Jason, Logan, Bobby, Fritz, Lindsey (in absentia)
Date: 20 APR 2014
1173, Last Year in the Reign of Emperor Tadaka I
Final Days in the Court of the Iron Flower
All Hell Breaks Loose
Bayushi Konitsu and Daidoji Ishi engage full on in a mass battle between Konitsu’s few defenders (and the courtiers) and the Han Shan Otokodate. Despite plans to ambush his own caravan, Konitsu knew he must hold off the ronin brotherhood long enough for his own reinforcements to come to his aid.
Daidoji Ishi spent the first round of the snow-filled battle rushing headlong into the opposing force after the fleeing Ikoma Jidai. In the chase, Ishi hacks off Jidai’s left foot (his right hand missing from the previous assault) with the Reforged Spear. As the willful Ikoma fell, however, he utilized an amulet of power and whispered a prayer for aid. Ishi watched as the amulet cracked in the Ikoma’s hand and a spirit portal awakened in the woods. Twin tsuno warriors climbed through to defend it as a Soultwister on the other side stood between NIngen-Do and Toshigoku trying to hold the portal for more of his kind.
Konitsu took advantage of the confusion and chaos of the battle to ride down the fleeing Ide Hito and his yojimbo, an unnamed Moto bushi. Konitsu cut down the Moto and rode down Hito even as he called for mercy. The Scorpion gave not a pause for the dead Unicorn before turning back to the battle at hand.
Death and Politics
Ikoma Jun discussed the strange spiritual matters plaguing Kyuden Kurogane Hana with his lady, Tadaka Eideiyohime. Each agreed that the matters of state paled in importance against the terrible threat the Gate of the Dead provided. They discussed matters of the kami, mysticism, and the need to have a strong force to control the Gate. Jun suggestion was for a clan to have the sole purpose of guarding the Gate of the Dead – a clan that could not be touched by any other according to Imperial Law. A Minor Clan.
Doji Seiyami revealed to Jun and Eideiyohime her most recent transgression: she had seduced the lord Rikishi and was with his child. Jun confirmed the knowledge by utilizing the power of the Kitsu to gaze into the soul of the life within her. He could feel the pulsating power of great destiny surging forth and the three understood that Rikishi may no longer be necessary to their plans.
Weary from long hours of investigation and the unrelenting fatigue caused by being both the Emerald Magistrate and the temporary Captain of the Guard, Bayushi Kiwadoiwas nearly caught unawares by an assassination attempt. At first, the Scorpion Topaz Champion believed herself to be seeing things – perhaps caused by her exhaustion. However, it became obvious to the master investigator in short order she was about to be assaulted. The shadows in the room slid away from their normal angles, each being drawn back in silent stealth to a point behind her. Prepared, Kiwadoi was able to dodge the assault from the assailant and even strike in return. Her first attack flew through nothing, but her second hit home sending the would-be assassin fleeing through a portal of shadow.
Ikoma Jun and his company witnessed the portal of shadow appear in the heart of Jun’s tea house. The assassin flew through in an attempt to flee, but the Emerald Magistrate followed and cut him down. At first, the assassin appeared to have the face of Kitsuki Rinjin, Kiwadoi’s loyal yoriki, but that did not stop the Scorpion from cutting him down. As the man died, his face slid away to reveal an older man of the Shosuro family – perhaps the traitor, Shosuro Kumade.
Kiwadoi removed a vial of poison (the sleeping poison which had been used previously) and a gaijin blade inscribed with a strange kanji (a Senpet blade). Tadaka Eideiyohime demanded to see the weapon and revealed the kanji to be the personal mon of her brother, the missing Tadaka Nobunaga.
Battle of Bloody Snow: Round 2
Despite overwhelming numbers on the part of the ronin band, Konitsu was able to maintain his men in enough of a formation to stall. The loyal Scorpion held their own in a near tie against the suicidal Cold Mountain Gang giving Ishi and Konitsu time to rally.
Ishi surged forward with the Reforged Spear in a blaze of speed and skill and cut down both Tsuno defenders before piercing the very heart of the Tsuno Soultwister. The spirit portal collapsed before any further warriors could come through. Staggered and injured from arrows and various wounds, Ishi turned to the fallen Ikoma, considered for a moment, and finally removed Ikoma Jun’s father of his head. As he looked back at the failing portal, Ishi saw the daunting form of Tsuno Abbadon, the massive warrior he faced down at the Battle of Tsuma. Then, the portal vanished.
Konitsu barreled out of the woods shouting direction and coordination to his men, then spied three of the illusory Han Shan in the guise of Oroku Saki/Amigawa. Without pause, the Ghost General charged into battle with the three men and in a matter of short order, they lay dead.
While trying to comprehend the implications of Nobunaga’s Blade, a knock at the door and quick investigation revealed the real Kitsuki Rinjin. He was dressed in the guise of a merchant and had fled through the streets seeking to find Jun (he was unable to locate Kiwadoi and believed her dead, but was happy to see her living).
Rinjin revealed to Kiwadoi that somehow Shosuro Mieko and her ilk had uncovered Konitsu’s plot to ravage the court and decided to turn it against him. The Scorpion and her allies sent a purge of death through the castle and gathered their forces (and hostages) within the Court. Rinjin confirmed that Yasuki Uboe, an ally of Ikoma Jun from the Topaz Championship, and Ide Bojun, the Unicorn Ambassador, were slain. Over time, they also discovered that Shiba Akiko turned traitor against her liege and killed Asako Nishi.
The group split up with Jun, Eideiyohime, and Seppun Tachibana going to speak to Akodo Morito, the Deathseeker who wielded Hunger. Jun ordered the man to grant protection to those individuals they knew to be allies and protect them from the assault. Morito revealed that about a third of his own troops were traitors, loyal servants of Zenshin and their opponents. Jun attempted to summon forth Ide Bojun to speak with the man, but the more powerful spirit of Doji Midoru pushed him from the summoning and appeared. Midoru gave his Kakita Blade to Jun, who in turn offered it to Eideiyohime for safe-keeping. Midoru revealed important details of Zenshin’s War and the rise of the spirits from the Lake of Sorrows.
Kiwadoi, Rinjin, and Seiyami met with the Scorpion still defending the Temple of Emma-O. They discovered the dead bodies of six Scorpion at the gate and entered warily. They found the rest inside, hidden and waiting, defending Susumu (the Imperial Advisor), Shinjo Usuiai (the Ruby Champion), the Akasha, and Togashi Ango (the Dragon Ambassador).
Battle of Bloody Snow: Round 3
In the final long hour of the battle, blood and snow commingled in a froth of death and destruction. From all sides the Cold Mountain Gang battled the defenders, too few remaining to fight. More than a few courtiers and their defenders had fallen and for a moment, Konitsu wondered. Then, out of the woods, his reinforcements sprang forth in a rally and the Ghost General turned the tide of battle. Amigawa, also known as Oroku Saki, knew her defeat and played her final hand. She shouted above the din: “FOR ZENSHIN AND THE LORD OF SLAUGHTER!” and strode forth to meet Konitsu. The fight was quick and despite the rending gash Konitsu felt deep within his heart at felling the former lover, he ended her life on that field.
As soul departed flesh, each of the Han Shan Otokodate rose up and began to march without feet towards an unknown draw. Konitsu witnessed Amigawa and her suicidal men join together as if death had been their plan all along. In his heart, he felt the terrible wound, and in his soul he felt her curse. Amigawa’s touch caused him to spit blood, but he knew he must return to the Iron Fortress.
[See below for mechanics of Amigawa’s Curse]
About 60 of the Loyal Scorpion remained at the end of the battle. Doji Mikohime stood amid 5 of the dead Han Shan Otokodate, but Kakita Natsune, Ikoma Kazue, Atari Damare, and Ide Hito met their ends on that field.
As Konitsu and Ishi rallied the forces and began the fast return to the Palace of the Iron Flower they noted a strange enemy drawing the spirits of the dead Han Shan. The man sat astride a massive gaijin steed larger than any seen before. Even from a distance, the mortal samurai could feel a feral wrath and a primal draw. The man had the skins of lions about his form, one with a large mane atop the head of his horse. He wore a necklace of dead Matsu bushi and somewhere in the distance, amid the snow, an entire pack of loyal, but stolen lions strode forth. Konitsu and Ishi each noted different aspects about the man, but both saw a single, tear-shaped gem of jade about his throat.
Horiuchi Kesshite – the Herald of Slaughter
The former Emerald Champion revealed the final loss of Emma-O, the Fortune of Death, and how Kowareta (the former awakened soul of the Spear of Emma-O) was vying for control of the newfound Meifumado as Lord of Meido. An army of spirits of slaughter lay siege to the Gate of the Dead on Meido’s side and the Army of Sorrow was Zenshin’s plan to do the same in Ningen-Do. The Han Shan Otokodate’s entire purpose had been to weaken the defenders of the Palace of the Iron Flower and sacrifice themselves so they may join the Army of Sorrow.
If the Gate of the Dead is lost from both sides, Toshigoku will devour the Empire from within its very heart and soul. The revelation that the spirits cannot be harmed by mere mortal weapons was followed fast by the knowledge of how to possibly combat them. Midoru revealed that any mortal which willingly passed through the Gate of the Dead would be given a choice: remain in Meido (instead of being forced to remain wandering in Ningen-Do) or turn back and re-enter Ningen-Do, but as a spirit. This means that any man or woman brave enough to enter and willful enough to return, would be dead.