A War in the Snow
The Battle of Iron and Sorrow
Players: Jason, Logan, Bobby, Fritz, Lindsey (in absentia)
Date: 8 JUN 2014
1173, Last Year in the Reign of Emperor Tadaka I
OOC: This is the final Adventure Log in the Reign of Peace L5R Campaign, though perhaps not the last time we will see the characters included herein.
Winter fell in a flood of white atop the arched rooftops of the Palace of the Iron Flower. Gentle at first, the snowflakes whispered softly onto the trudging peasants and samurai alike. A hush, somber and definitive, had fallen over the city and all could feel the presence of the Land of Death as it leaked into the mortal world. As each person prepared for the coming battle each would become distracted by a memory, a fleeting glimpse of the past as it was taken. The scent of freshly cooked rice reminded the blacksmith of his now dead wife, her smile, and the warmth of her body in the winter. The clatter of dropped logs caused an Imperial Legionnaire to drift away into the past as he remember bokken upon bokken in the halls of his old dojo. A crying child, lost within the confused and broken Kurawa Pathways, gave Doji Seiyami pause. Her frozen arms clutched tightly at the blossoming life within her belly and she looked outwards to the walls of the city.
Meido touched this castle from the living Gate of the Dead and the new broken Lord of Death brushed the living with a soft caress. An army of old souls was coming. An army composed of things best left forgotten; of things best remembered in song and story over a hot cup of sake. Winter and death, iron and sorrow, only pain awaited the living this day.
Preparing for Death
Hiruma Renzo, loyal scout and ally of the PCs from the Battle of Tsuma ventured out into the coming blizzard to discover what fresh hell the long-dead monk Zenshin had in store. Hours carefully trudging through ice and snow led him to a small hillock where he watched the coming army in all its terrifying glory. Hundreds of dead souls, their lower extremities lost in the snow, marched without a leaving a single track in their wake. Most were mindless, empty spirits, but as Renzo watched he saw two of them rest their touch upon peasants frozen in fear. The heimin screamed without sound and the Crab saw their spirits tear and rend, shredded beyond hope. Farther back, two large groups of the dead stood out. One marched in perfect unison, each soldier dressed exactly as the other, each dressed in mock-up of their leader, the dead Amigawa. He heard their whispered prayers and knew they were coming for the Ghost General, Konitsu. Flanking the former Han Shan Otokodate were spirits more solid than incorporeal. They were disparate in their guise and clothing. Some wore armor hundreds of years out of date and others bore broken weapons long beyond proper use. But each had the glint of fury, of unbridled rage and pain that Renzo knew to be the sign of the Realm of Slaughter. These were the first wave of the Legacy, the Legacy of the Forge.
At the very back, hundreds of feet behind the coming army, a kaisha of Tsuno led by the terrible Abaddon with his massive horns filed to sharpened points raced through the snow. In their center, riding the most massive steed Renzo had ever seen, a single man covered in furs and the pelts of lions rode calm and casual through the winter storm. The Herald of Slaughter was here to observe and Renzo knew when his cue to leave had come. He raced back to the waiting city to relay his information in the hope that something of use could be found to combat this Army of Sorrow.
Marching Into Hell
Ikoma Jun stood atop the Splendid Ramp and gazed down at the Defenders of Kyuden Kurogane Hana down below. Akodo Morito, the Deathseeker with the blade of Hunger, stood at their forefront and knelt to offer up his blade. The storyteller nodded and spoke out in full volume, his voice trained from years of use. ‘They come’ he said and the army of living men understood. ‘You are all that stands between them and the death of thousands.’ Jun spoke for long minutes about the power of the ancestors and how they looked down upon these living souls and offered protection, guidance, and peace. Then, he spoke of the unquiet spirits of the dead and the terror their villainous leaders hoped to unleash. The Ikoma spoke and spoke until he felt the cold bite deep into his throat and knew precisely the moment to step aside.
Behind him strode Bayushi Konitsu, the Ghost General, his voice quieter, but still able to be heard by virtue of the little kami of air directed by Isawa Riako and her magic. ‘Give up your lives. March into death. But do it on your own terms.’ The Ghost General removed his mask and flared to life in full revelation of his Returned Spirit state. He asked his loyal soldiers to march one by one into the mouth of the Gate of the Dead and return to stand and fight against the mindless horde arrayed against them.
Coming close, the Army of Sorrow felt the dying men as they returned from Meido to stand against their foes. In the heart of the army, the cunning monk Zenshin whispered a prayer and used his power to call forth spirits long dead. A soul formed before him, the soul of a spirit dead years before. Isawa Mitsuko, former Elemental Master of Air and High Inquisitor, was beckoned and controlled. Zenshin knew of her power and existence and the Battle of Tsuma. It was only fitting she should be here, too. Zenshin commanded her to leash the storm and the dead Master whispered her prayer. All around the major kami of the Lake of Sorrow cried out in pain and anguish and raged upward into the sky. The blizzard became a furious inferno of frozen fire, wind, and death and rolled forward as the spearpoint of the Army of Sorrow.
The Battle of Iron and Sorrow
The battle began in Bayushi’s Hour, the night frozen and quiet. Ikoma Jun beseeched the kami of water and air to combat Sorrow’s Storm and unleashed and endless deluge upon the approaching force. The frozen rain did little to harm the unquiet souls, but the Tsuno forces were alive and could not stand such cold. Dozens fell under icy death over the course of minutes and the hours to come.
Sorrow’s Storm slammed hard into the Palace of the Iron Flower in return and the few living souls within felt the icy depths of the Lake of Sorrows pierce their hearts and freeze their veins. The cold claimed lives on both sides with uncaring precision.
- Round 1
Ikoma Jun stood beside the Reflection Pool and called forth the spirits of Yomi to add proper ancestral forces to their army in order to combat the foe. Atop the Star Observatory, Bayushi Kiwadoi coerced the Bat Champion Komori to offer up his wisdom in preparation for the war and the monk Roshugan shuttered his eyes in meditation. He called out to the mindless souls of Meido in the opposing army and released them from Zenshin’s yoke. Chaos broke out as Sorrowful Warriors fell upon one another in mass melee. The Ghost General Konitsu stood atop the Splendid Ramp and directed his forces, perceiving the battle as a grand drama in ice and snow._
- Round 2
Zenshin once again used his will to call forth the recently dead Doji O and aimed her directly at the head of the living defenders. Roshugan called out to the dead Elemental Master within the storm and by sheer willpower ripped away the yoke Zenshin laid upon her. Mitsuko flew into the Sorrowful Storm in ecstatic release. Kiwadoi spoke further still to the Steel Magistrate cousins, Saotome and Bushime, and convinced them to ride out and hold the line in a breach against the onslaught. Jun called to the Kitsu of his past and a healing wave washed over the defenders repairing wounds of the soul and body. Konitsu, the Ghost General, focused his power on the Tsuno Soultwisters, slaying one even as the opened a gate into the heart of the city itself.
- Round 3
Zenshin’s will forced the line, advancing his army into the Palace by raw willpower. Roshugan tried and failed to take control of the coming Doji O while Jun whispered to the kami of the earth beneath the snow and shaped the earth to block the coming forces. Tsuno Abaddon appeared from the fresh-made gate with his allies in the Temple of Emma-O and Amigawa’s Cold Mountain Gang raged up the Splendid Ramp to try and kill Konitsu. Kiwadoi looked out over the coming army and witnessed a single spirit, the lost Daidoji Ninku, break away from the mindless horde and begin to tear into hated army in full alliance with her living compatriots. Standing stock still atop the Splendid Ramp, the Ghost General gave a brief signal and turned away. Behind him, the ramp lit up in full blaze and destroyed the easy path to the heart of the castle while burning away lost souls. Konitsu thought he could hear the screams of Amigawa amid the flame, but did not see her go down.
- Round 4
Roshugan, the former Daidoji Ishi, Chosen of the Lord of Death and Bearer of the Reforged Spear, stood alone in single combat against the Tsuno leader Abaddon. The two danced amid the warring forces for long moments, blood and flesh, horn and bone, heavy blade against flashing spear. Near the end, as Abaddon stood gushing blood, he drove his massive steel down again and again and again forcing the monk to his knees. In the final seconds of the duel, just as the servant of Slaughter was about to finish his foe, Roshugan’s spear flashed upwards, the tip piercing through armor and plate, flesh and bone, biting deep into the still beating heart of his enemy. As Abaddon fell, the Tsuno army fled into yet another gateway.
Zenshin tried another trick and summoned forth the dead ronin lord, Rikishi, in the hopes the daimyo’s appearance would trouble his foes. Roshugan reached out with his will just after the duel and released Doji O from her bondage.
Ikoma Jun raced through the Kurawa Pathways to stand beside the Red Crane as hundreds of former Sorrowful Souls encircled the villainous monk Zenshin. Doji O was ripped apart by the gentle touch of repose, but in her distraction Jun was able to locate the source of Zenshin’s power. The Ikoma reached deep into Zenshin’s soul and separated the dark stain, the touch of the Dark Oracle of Void, Isawa Ujina-Uo. The Dark Oracle removed his blessing from the monk and, as Jun stepped backwards into the raging army of spirits, Zenshin’s soul was ripped apart piece by devoured piece.
The Voice of Slaughter
In the final hours of battle, as the winds died down and the blizzards began to calm, a beacon of light fell from the heavens and a single soul stepped forth. Dressed all in red and white and black with a blindfold across his eyes, Atari, the Voice of Slaughter, strode forth in glory. Behind him trudged Hiruma Iniko, upon whose hate he fed, consuming her with Slaughter and Blood.
The Voice of Slaughter revealed himself and the power of his dread lord. Zansatsu, the Fortune of Slaughter and Champion of Toshigoku did not wish to destroy this world, but merely to test it. The former Matsu Tadaka wished for the Empire to become a finely honed blade to be used against the coming death from beyond. Atari waxed on and demanded the agents of Susumu kneel, granting the Gate of the Dead to his care and the Lord of Slaughter’s Will.
Ikoma Jun strode forth and in an extreme effort of will and power called to one of the most powerful spirits he could summon. Hida, the Kami of the Crab, rose up tall as a house. His simple existence was enough to cow the Chosen of Slaughter and in that instance, Atari fled.
The Immortal Engine of Destruction
Roshugan felt the call of the Gate of the Dead and knew his lord in Meido required his aid. His allies were forewarned by the Kami Hida of the need to aid their monk brother. As a group, the stood around the Gate of the Dead as Arugai no Oni, the Immortal Engine of Destruction, representative of Jigoku in this fight, bellowed his anger. In a flash of blades and fury the Oni tore into the defenders, his flesh molten hot and tempered as steel. But even the darkness of Hell was not enough and in mere seconds the Oni’s heart beat no more.
In the hours after the final blow was felt, the defenders of the city gathered in the Grand Hall of the Kyuden. The heroes were surprised to find a waiting hall of courtiers gathered and their benefactor, Susumu, the Imperial Advisor, waiting for their arrival. The Advisor revealed himself as Regent of the new-formed Owl, a Great Clan which had just this day come into power. His story is told elsewhere, but the heroes understood his word to be true. Susumu revealed to them that through his political machinations, each of them had been released from the “bondage of their clans” in order that they may offer up fealty to this new lord.
The heroes refused Susumu and requested that Tadaka Eideiyohime, daughter of one Emperor and sister to the next, petition for them instead to take up the cause of protecting the Gate of the Dead. They would not join this new Great Clan, but create their own Minor Clan with the sole purpose of maintaining the integrity of Shinden Kowareta and the Gate.
Eideiyohime backed her allies fully and the heroes took up the emblem of the Lotus, a flower of life and death. Upon hearing the intent of Susumu to take the name of the Great Golden Victor for a vassal family within his own clan, the heroes chose instead to take the Domen name for their own. Each hero swore to devote their lives to the defense of the city and the Gate…save one.
Bayushi Kiwadoi, now simply Kiwadoi, stepped away from her allies, from her duty as an Emerald Magistrate, and from her twin brother Konitsu and knelt before Susumu, this Regent of the Owl. Unhappy with the others but pleased at this turn of events, Susumu instantly granted the beautiful Kiwadoi a lordship as daimyo over a vassal family to his name. Kiwadoi would retain the Kanashimi province around the Lake of Sorrows as her own, a tiny plot of Owl land.
Titles and Out of Character Detail
- Roshugan, Chosen of Kowareta (the Lord of Death), became Abbot of Shinden Kowareta
- Domen Jun, Herald of the Emerald Champion (Eideiyohime) and Yokozuna, became Regent of Kyuden Kurogane Hana and the Lotus
- Domen Konitsu, Defender of the Lotus, married Lady Eideiyohime (who took his name) and became the Rikugunshokan of the Imperial Legions
- Kiwadoi became the personal Yojimbo of Susumu, Regent of the Owl, and Governor of the Kanashimi Province
- Domen Seiyami, Mother of the Lotus Daimyo, became Hatamoto to the new Clan
- The Lotus took command of the Seto Province (where Kyuden Kurogane Hana resides) and the Ieyasu Province to the south.
The Child Daimyo
OOC: I gave Lindsey the right to choose the following information for her part in the story.
Domen Seiyami gave birth to a young male child who would become Domen Hiroko. In his time, the Magnanimous Child would learn the ways of the court at the knee of his mother and train in the arts of the politician in preparation to lead his clan. He was born with the perfect touch of Benten upon his soul and even as a small child it was as if the Fortunes favored the boy and his pedigree.
Enhancement of Characters
The downtime between the Battle of Iron and Sorrow and the beginning of the Campaign: A World of War is going to be about 12 years. Over that time, characters of the Lotus (and Owl, Fritz!) will grow, develop bonds, and expand in their abilities. With that in mind, the following are going to be some mechanical benefits each player may choose to advance their characters. They aren’t ridiculous because I might have us go back to these characters at some point to revisit their story. I may even try to focus one of the games on the Way of the Daimyo high-end stuff (Warlord, Ambassador, etc).
- Mechanical Benefits:
- Each PC may raise 1 Ring to include Void
- Each PC may spend an additional 50xp to advance their character. Note that this may allow you to purchase a new advantage if it makes sense in the game. It may also allow you to buy off a Disadvantage that no longer makes sense in the game.
- Each PC gains 10 Duty points to spend however they see fit. Remember to abide by the rules in Way of the Daimyo for purchasing Level 3 Stuff. If you want that stuff you should have more than enough XP above to purchase the appropriate Advantages.
- Kiwadoi (Vassal Family name To Be Determined), Daimyo of the Kanashimi Province, gains Social Position (Owl Vassal Family Daimyo) [Status 6.0], Ally 4/2 (Susumu, Regent of the Owl), and Sworn Enemy (Scorpion Clan) and loses her position as an Emerald Magistrate
- Domen Konitsu, the Ghost General, gains Social Position (Rikugunshokan of the Imperial Legions) [Status of 7.0], Blissful Betrothal (Domen Eideiyohime, Emerald Champion), Sworn Enemy (Owl Clan)
- Domen Jun, Yokozuna, gains Social Position (Regent of the Lotus Clan) [Status 7.0], Touch of the Spirit Realms (Yomi), and Sworn Enemy (Owl Clan)
- Roshugan, Chosen of Kowareta, gains Social Position (Abbot of Shinden Kowareta) [Status 1.5 – for the purposes of determining Duty Points, this counts as a Status 7.0], Higher Purpose (Elevation of Shinden Kowareta), and Sworn Enemy (Owl Clan)
- Domen Seiyami, the Jade Lotus, gains Social Position (Hatamoto of the Lotus) [Status 6.0], Shadowed Heart (EoE p49), and Sworn Enemy (Owl Clan)