GM’s Log: The Iron Flower Blooms, Part III
1173, XXXVIII Year in the Reign of Emperor Tadaka I
4.5 years after the Battle at Tsuma
3rd Day of the Monkey (September, Last month of Summer)
Out of Character
The Gossip Column
Each game, any PC may attempt to uncover “important” gossip, rumor, slander, or other fun tidbits of the court with a Courtier (Gossip)/Awareness Roll (TN 25). Choices of Topic can be specific or you may simply choose “Most Repeated” to hear the ‘juiciest bits.’ Raises may be made for truth (though that is always up for grabs), detail, and/or origin.
Konitsu inquired about the Han Shan Otokodate (The Cold Mountain Gang) and heard that rumor states that Oyami has been seen in Kyuden Kurogane Hana before. The person he was meeting hid their identity.
Kiwadoi inquired about the juiciest rumor in the court and heard the following: “Did you know that Miya Santomu keeps having to deny rumors about having a love child – by a hinin! The old man can still pack a punch! Of course he’ll probably kill the next person who mentions it. He’s deathly afraid that Daimyo Rikishi will find out.”
Seiyami was uninterested in gossip this week.
Kuoroku inquired about the red tape surrounding Mirumoto Shinbatsu’s mission and learned that because the Wyrmbone Katana is a symbol of death, the Abbot and Monks of Emma-O believe it should be in their care.
Meeting in the Star Observatory
During the days after the Court Battle, the PCs arranged to meet privately in the Star Observatory, unseen by others, so that they might hash out a plan of attack against their adversary. The monk Kuoroku offered to aid Bayushi Konitsu’s quest regarding the Wyrmbone Katana and stated that he is willing to give up the Water Hammer Tanto in order to help the process. Doji Seiyami brought up that she is attempting to place herself as suitable match to the daimyo in lieu of finding him a wife otherwise. She specifically speaks to Konitsu and Jun for possible aid. Konitsu briefly mentions the possibility of having Bayushi Kiwadoi be an option instead.
The PCs get down to tactics about Abbot Zenshin and determine that it might be useful if one of them “turned traitor” and pretended to be a spy for the Abbot against the group. Doji Seiyami was selected as the most suitable. It was suggested that she offer up Bayushi Konitsu’s true interaction with Matsu Hitomi at the Topaz Champion as the first morsel of truth.
Seiyami and Konitsu discuss ways to avoid Doji O’s marriage proposal. Also, the PCs realize that during the conversations, Ikoma Jun became increasingly distant, talking of spirits that only he could see surrounding each of the individual PCs. Kuoroku used a kiho to be able to temporarily observe impurities in the area and was able to partially see some of the spirits. (see below for information).
Finally, the PCs brought up the dangerous topic of assassinating Abbot Zenshin.
Ikoma Jun experienced a greater connection to the Spirit Realms while under the moonlight of the Star Observatory. Something about the place called out to the Spirits and he saw the following:
- Bayushi Konitsu has a ghostly ninja following him, longing to kill him.
- Bayushi Kiwadoi has an old Shiba spirit with a desperately sad expression (as well as a slit throat) watching her every move.
- Kuoroku has varying spirits drifting about him, all different, all violently slain by some dark handed assassin.
- Doji Seiyami has her twin paramours from the Topaz Championship following her, pining for her affection, trying to get her attention with displays of emotion.
Moving On (Days Go By and Still I Dream About You)
Doji Seiyami has a dream wherein she sees a heavy tide of mist rolling out from the Lake of Sorrows. As it crossed the vast plain towards Kyuden Kurogane Hana, the mist began to break apart and transform into individual spirits of the dead, a veritable army of the ghosts laying siege to the Palace of the Iron Flower. She awakens suddenly and sees the child, Omaru, playing quietly in the corner of her room with two origami she had made him earlier in the week. He smiled at her beatifically and went back to playing.
Later, Seiyami made an arrangement to meet with the Daimyo Rikishi and spoke with Ide Hito in the waiting area. She attempted to use Cadence and found that Hito responded [OOC: means he has a Courtier of 5 or higher.]. Through the course of the conversation, Hito comes across as a cold, calculating man with a heavy focus on trade and mercantile activities. She also discovered that while he is not in charge of the Unicorn contingent at the Palace, he is in charge of all Unicorn court scheduling. Seiyami made a quick effort to gain him as an ally, offering him a minor obligation from Doji O (via her Blackmail) in exchange. [Gained Ide Hito as a 1 Devotion/2 Influence Ally]
Upon meeting with Rikishi, Seiyami was able to convince the naïve daimyo that she secretly desired him to be the one who gave her the gift in court, even if it was not true. He became embarrassed and flustered and is now considering her as a romantic tie.
Kouroku _is praised by the daimyo for the gift of golden statue of Shinsei. It seems that Yasuki Jinn-Kuen sent a letter to Rikishi along with the statue stating that Kouroku maneuvered to have the Yasuki Daimyo offer the large statue (as big as a child) to the daimyo. Rikishi becomes quite fond of the statue and suggests that he hopes there is more to come [Rikishi at Like for Kuoroku]
_Kouroku also made an effort to speak with Mirumoto Shinbatsu about the Water Hammer Tanto. Shinbatsu stated that if Kuoroku is able to succeed at getting the monks to let his lost lover’s ashes into the Temple of Emma-O, he will be forever indebted to the monk. Shinbatsu intends to stay behind for a few weeks in Kyuden Kurogane Hana after the funeral ceremony, shave his head, and retire as a monk (not of Emma-O). As reward for his offer of help, Shinbatsu gifts Kouroku with the last crafted item of Tamori Oji (the dead woman/ashes). The bottle appears as sake on the outside, but in fact contains a Tamori Potion [One shot item: replicates the use of the spell Never Alone for 5 Rounds at Fire Ring 5; Kuoroku gains 4 Glory for the gift]
At a different point, Kouroku followed up a lead and shadowed Shiba Akiko to a public bathhouse [losing honor for using a Low Skill: -6] and noted a tattoo of a poppy flower blooming on her back. While distracted by the view of the beautiful and quite nude Akiko, Kuoroku was ambushed. He quickly discerned the attacker to be a former Henshin, brainwashed by the Kolat Master Dream. The Sleeper Agent fled within the first 3 rounds when he realized that he couldn’t take Kuoroku quietly and Kuoroku fled the scene in darkness so as not to be seen having observed Akiko.
Bayushi Konitsu speaks with the ronin Oyami; on his way in, he drops a stone into the bowl of the two brothers of Emma-O that were preparing the ronin for death (ritual cleansing). Konitsu learned in the conversation about the special Sorrowful Sake created from the waters of the Lake of Sorrows and distilled in the Temple of Emma-O. He also learned that Oyami’s secret correspondent was Bayushi Kyogi (possibly the Scorpion Traitor). In exchange for the information, Konitsu offers to help Oyami commit seppuku in lieu of being executed by hanging. They quickly perform the ritual and, for the briefest of moments, Konitsu noticed Oyami’s spirit hovering around his body. There is punishment for Konitsu’s actions (see below)._
Bayushi Kiwadoi received a secret missive with the following: “Be prepared to offer me anything and everything to keep quiet.”
Investigations at the Hut
Bayushi Kiwadoi brought her brother Konitsu with her to perform a basic investigation assigned by the Emerald Magistrate. During construction near the merchant quarter of town, a support beam fell into a peasant’s home and destroyed it. The destruction revealed a secret room hidden under the hut in which rested three supernaturally preserved bodies wrapped in shawls.
The Twins discovered 5 masks used to cover the faces of the dead with a thick ichor inside them as well as ofuda (mystic scrolls) tacked to the backs of each of the dead bodies. They also found a box which contained multiple empty cremation urns (for placing the ashes of the dead into) that looked as if they were hastily made. Finally, the noted that the straw mats from the room above the secret cellar had the skins of dead snakes interwoven into each. Kiwadoi ordered all of the evidence and the bodies taken to the Magistrate’s Station and the house was burned and purified by Isawa Riako.
_While investigating, the Scorpion noted a Dragon watching their scene with great interest. They
interacted with Kitsuki Rinjin (Book of Air) and he introduces himself as the “head of the Dragon” in the city, though they are not well enough organized to require such. He is, however, fascinated with the dead and all things related to death. Moreover, he is able to recognize one of the dead bodies as one Kakita Dorusen because Rinjin attended the man’s cremation a month ago (obviously, that was not the body of Dorusen).
Afternoon Delight (Court)
_Before the assembled court, Bayushi Konitsu is publicly shamed for his crime of disobeying the Emerald Magistrate’s Edict. By allowing the ronin Oyami to commit seppuku, Konitsu ignored the Magistrate’s Decree that Oyami was to be executed by hanging. This also angers Akodo Morito, but the Lion restrained his anger. Daidoji Ninku (the Emerald Magistrate) ordered her new Yoriki (Bayushi Kiwadoi) to perform the punishment. Kiwadoi placed Iron Cuffs (heavy manacles that cover most of the forearm) upon her brother that are to remain for the next four days, removed on the Setsuban Festival. [Konitsu Honor Loss for Disobeying a Lord’s Command. Konitsu Glory loss for Family Dishonor (8 boxes). Konitsu/Kiwadoi Infamy gain for public dishonor (4 boxes). Konitsu gains Emerald Magistrate at Dislike.]
Doji Seiyami spreads a rumor about a gift that Kuoroku intends to offer the monks of Emma-O the following day.
Hiruma Iniko has been seen speaking with Abbot Zenshin by allies of Ikoma Jun. In court, she steps forward before all, nervous at first, but she gained confidence as she began to speak. She begins by relating an early tale of Kitsu Domen (Daimyo Rikishi’s father) that took place more than three decades earlier and earned him the title of The Great Golden Victor
Iniko read from an ornate and old scroll that Domen, the Great Golden Victor, defended the Kyuden from an army led by Bayushi Rekisen-Jo. According to the legend, Domen boasted to the opposing Scorpion general that he could complete seven heroic tasks that the Scorpion had never before seen. Rekisen-Jo called a temporary truce, hoping to call the Lion’s bluff and demoralize the defenders, but Domen lived up to his word (see The Great Golden Victor Adventure Log for details on accomplishments).
Iniko made the claim that new findings about the Tale of the Great Golden Victor (the scroll she holds) suggest that the entire story might have been embellished. She is careful to phrase her skepticism in such a way as to avoid a duel, but the Daimyo Rikishi grows cold at the suggestion that his father’s reputation was false. Iniko suggested that it is unlikely that anyone, even a group of people, could ever accomplish the tasks set forth in the story, and conversation in the court ensues. Doji Seiyami stepped up and proclaims that she would be willing to accept that challenge. Rikishi then charged her and Ikoma Jun (since Iniko is his student!) with assembling a team of no more than 5 to prove the veracity of the tale by showing that the tasks can be accomplished. They have until the Setsuban Festival begins.
Failure to prove the Tale plausible will diminish Rikishi in the eyes of the court, weaken his standing as Daimyo, and increase the power that the Scorpion may hold. Furthermore, it will cause Iniko to gain notoriety as an enemy of the Lion. Success, however, might also prove dangerous for Ikoma Jun. If he disproves the tale, Iniko (and he, as her sensei) will have to answer for the audacity of the false claim.
Establishing a Timeline
_The PCs will have the next four days to make an effort to prove that the feats accomplished by the Great Golden Victor were indeed possible. On the 5th Day, the Setsuban Festival will take place in the city. Subsequently, during their 4 days of attempts, the city is preparing for the festival (see below about the Festival).
The Setsuban Festival
Just as blossoming cherry trees are a revered symbol of spring, the bright tones of leaves turning in the autumn are symbols of the fall. Even in the very earliest days of Rokugan, expeditions to view autumn foliage were a popular entertainment, and with the passage of time these activities became formalized into the Setsuban Festival. The festival’s timing—at the end of summer—soon came to grant it further significance: since spring and summer were the seasons favorable to war, the arrival of autumn came to symbolize the arrival of peace.
The Setsuban Festival is held on the eighth day of the Monkey, a day considered especially lucky and auspicious. No man may shed blood on that day—all executions are put off, battles and campaigns are halted, and criminals may even be granted freedom and clemency. Many of the more pious clans forbid their samurai from even carrying weapons in public on this day, lest they inadvertently break the sacred truce. The Empire of Rokugan may be a place governed by warriors, but on this day it sets war aside to celebrate the coming of peace.
The following are hanging story threads that I could think of:
- Marriage arrangements with the Daimyo Rikishi
- Locating the “hidden artifact” for the Asahina Family at Kyuden Kurogane Hana
- Increasing the reputation of Konitsu/Going against Doji O’s wishes in this regard
- Discovering her Secret Admirer
- Adopting Omaru (the albino boy)
- Obtaining the Wyrmbone Katana from Mirumoto Shinbatsu
- Removing the Han Shan Otokodate from power
- Locating the Scorpion Traitor
- Investigating the Preserved Bodies
- Being Blackmailed by the Playwright who knows her Dark Secret
- Investigate the location of Yogo Amira (Rikishi’s missing mother)
- Finding Master Dream’s Oyabun in Kyuden Kurogane Hana
- Shinbatsu and the Water Hammer Tanto
- Dealing with Yasuki Jinn-Kuen (and the Gray Chrysanthemum)
- Dealing with Iniko’s claim
- Writing a play about Kitsu Domen that prominently features Rikishi in a positive light
- Locating the individual who is secretly creating a “True History” of Hantei XL
- Unusual Spirit activity at Kyuden Kurogane Hana
- Akodo Morito, the Duel (with Kitsu Anoru)
- Removing Abbot Zenshin from power
- Taking over Kyuden Kurogane Hana for themselves
- Preparing Kyuden Kurogane Hana for a Championship in the Winter (for Susumu)
- Zenshin’s magic at court (following up on the phrases uttered)
* Experience (All): 7 (7 Total for Act II)
o Xp for Game 9/10 was Raise a 3 to a 4 without increasing Ring and a Free Emphasis
o Refer to Topaz and Downtime Adventure Logs for all Act I XP
* Karma Points (Cumulative Bonus XP):
o Hiruma Renzo: 2 (13)
o Bayushi Konitsu: 3 (15)
o Bayushi Kiwadoi: 3 (12)
o Asako Fujiko: 3 (17)
o Doji Seiyami: 2 (11)
o Ikoma Jun: 3 (13)
* Honor: See Above
* Glory/Infamy: See Above
* Other/Extra XP based on Disadvantages: Ikoma Jun gains +1xp for Dependent (Iniko); others TBD