“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” – The Tao of Shinsei
The Test of the Topaz Champion, Day 1 (Part 1)
“Can you believe that we were once the same as these students, Yoshi-sama? Full of hope, proud, and even nervous?”
“Honored Sensei, do you mean to imply that you have lost those traits in the intervening years between now and then? I would be gravely upset to know that you had lost hope, refuse to believe that your pride has fled you, and be surprised indeed if you did not ever feel the nervous giddiness prior to the flowering of possibility.”
“Yoshi-sama, as always, your words express the truth of the matter. Perhaps I am becoming cynical and merely hope that these young students are able to draw forth from my aged and decrepit mind a glimmer of optimism. Let these games begin.”
- Akodo Kage to Kakita Yoshi prior to the start of the Topaz Championship
The characters are young samurai who are about to be tested before undergoing their gempukku ceremony, after which they will be symbolically awarded their daisho, signifying their status as adult samurai.
Arrival in Tsuma
Although there are those who would dispute such a claim, the vast majority of samurai regard the Topaz Championship as the most prestigious gempukku ceremony in the Empire. The ceremony is open to any who wish to attend, but the Great Clans tend to be very selective in determining who represents them at the Championship. To permit just anyone to enter the contest would risk embarrassment, and no Great Clan would risk such a thing in front of their Crane hosts. Minor Clan samurai and ronin candidates require a Great Clan sponsor to be admitted to the competition. The Topaz Championship has been held in the Kakita town of Tsuma for centuries, at one of the largest dojo for the Kakita Dueling Academy.
Competitors typically arrive in Tsuma by land. There is a river that passes through the city, and it does connect to the coast eventually, but it is relatively shallow and quite difficult to navigate. In previous years, the Imperial Barge would make the trek, but the river is rarely used by anyone other than the Crane. Two major roads cross the city, one east-west, leading toward the Dragon and Seppun holdings, and the other southwest-northeast, leading to Lion lands and Phoenix lands. Both roads are heavily patrolled by Doji magistrates, and anyone arriving for the contest will likely have met several patrols during their travels.
Although Tsuma has grown much larger than most descriptions of it in literature and folklore, it is still a relatively small city, little more than a large village. There are no formal embassies maintained by other clans, since most only have business within the city once per year, so the characters probably stay in an inn. The inn, like the city, is extremely crowded during this time of year.
Akodo Unmei was harried by Daidoji guards and various members of the Crane. He convinced some of his fellow Lion to allow the mocking to continue to such an extent as to cause the Crane to be obviously dishonoring themselves for their show of disrespect.
Ide Imizu. Offered a gift of a bu (1 silver; 1/5 koku) in exchange for an unusual small rug from far-off lands. “Blessings be upon you.”ventured to Medinaat-al-salaam and spoke with the proprietor
Shosuro Atari and attendant Tokuguru Mokato (female; Shosuro Vassal Family) quickly learn information regarding Doji Wakao, Bayushi Denbe and Kakita Akemi (whose father is a Kenshinzen – Kakita Iaijutsu Master – and instructor at the Dueling Academy). He also learns of and is invited to a Storytelling contest held the first evening at The Laughing Carp by Doji Shizue (invitation offered by Doji Akai, Crane Courtier). Acquits himself as friendly to the Crane and even converses with Kakita Yoshi
Togashi Gohan is challenged by Togashi Mitsu to out drink as many Crab as he can during the tournament. He encounters Hida Jiten (Bushi), Kuni Yozai (Witch-Hunter), Hiruma Do (contestant), and Yasuki Irei (female courtier) and challenges them. He successfully defeats the Witch-Hunter in a test of Alcohol.
Day 1 of the Tournament
Akodo Unmei makes Doji Wakao look like an idiot in Sumai. Bayushi Denbe is pleased at this turn of events and with Shosuro Atari. Unmei also declares his intention to take Wakao’s undeserved Akodo Blade from him. Kakita Akemi looks on with disfavor at Wakao’s dishonorable behavior.
Awards for Session:
Glory: 2 boxes for Shosuro Atari (Sumai Match)