GM’s Log: The Iron Flower Blooms, Part V
The Reflection Pool
1173, XXXVIII Year in the Reign of Emperor Tadaka I
4.5 years after the Battle at Tsuma
5th Day of the Monkey (September, Last month of Summer)
3 Days before the Setsuban Festival
Out of Character
* Jumped Right In
The Great Golden Victor and the Five Arrows
Upon the Splendid Ramp, five yoriki of the Emerald Magistrate led by Akodo Unedo stood, bows ready to fire. At the bottom of the ramp, alone and unarmored waited Bayushi Kiwadoi, the Topaz Champion, ready to strike. The assembled Court of Kurogane Hana lined the pathway, intermingled amongst them the ever-present Monks of Emma-O.
As the situation settled and the archers prepared to fire, Bayushi Konitsu, the target’s cunning twin, noted the half-dozen monks planning to interfere, yet again. He moved close and interrupted their leader, Bera, as he had palms pressed tight against the wooden ramp. The confrontation caused a ruckus, but drew attention to the monks and prevented their disturbance. Also amid the crowd, more than a few parted to allow the young albino child Omaru to make his way to Seiyami – the disgust of the crowd at the “cursed thing” caused anger to rise within the Crane.
Ikoma Jun noted the young Crab, Yasuki Jin, taking bets alongside Yoritomo Gendou, about the likely success of this endeavor. Knowing that his ally would pass this test with ease, he laid a bet then joined the archers to pray over their arrows so that they might find their mark. Unknown to the yoriki, Jun’s whispered prayers were an request to the kami of air to guide the arrows to a different mark – Kiwadoi’s blade itself.
Of course, as the archers fired, Kiwadoi made a dramatic gesture of slicing all five arrows in a single stroke, taking not a whit of punishment in the process. However, amid the chaos of cheering and applause, the Heroes of Tsuman noticed their rivals, the monks of Emma-O, racing through the crowd to retrieve the pieces of the arrows for some nefarious purpose.
As clouds began to gather around Temple of Emma-O – a fact noted by Kouroku and Omaru, kami swirling about the Shinden – a confrontation over the pieces of the arrows arose. “Weapons meant for death, defied by mortal power, must surely be blessed! We must offer these as prayers to Emma-O” the monks said.
“Certainly not! These arrows are proof of the success of the tale and should be dipped in gold, placed in honor within the walls of the Kyuden!” replied Doji Seiyami, backed by her ally Ikoma Jun. The daimyo, Rikishi, stood unsure as others joined the argument on both sides. In the end, however, Rikishi sided with those who said the moment should be honored and he assigned young Seiyami the task of “bronzing the arrows” and finding a place for them in his keep. One monk, defiant to the end, tossed a tiny piece of an arrow over the side of the bridge, hoping not to be seen. Kouroku leapt the side and Bayushi Konitsu sent the yoriki down to retrieve the piece.
Upon return to the bridge, covered in the smell of refuse and unlcean, Kouroku spoke against the monk. Their leader, Bera, said “He will be chastised, publicly. Flogged each day until the rise of the sun on the day of the Setsuban.”
OOC: Kouroku used 8 Direction Awareness and noticed that the boy, Omaru, is not “among the living.”
Jun was paid 300 koku (50 to 1 odds) for winning the bet. The rest of the payment was repaid by Yasuki Jin in the form of a debt (6pt Obligation).
Also, Kiwadoi used manipulation along with Jun and Seiyami to sow the seeds of distrust against the monks of Emma-O, temporarily at least weakening his trust in their ilk.
A Reminder About the Child
- He is an orphan. Appeared/was found in the village
- He is afraid of the monks of Emma-O
- He is disconnected with the Void (Momoku)
- He is shunned/hated/feared by Every Spirit Realm (Cursed by the Realms)
- He can see kami
- He is an albino (White is the color of Death)
Letters and Conversations
Doji Seiyami "A Letter from “the Paramour”
“You wound me, my love, with your deliberate shift of my interest to that filthy ronin lord (Rikishi). However, I think I understand your game. Lovers are not meant to be wed – such fortuitous circumstance is a once in a live time occurrence. Lovers, instead, are meant to have secret trysts, open romance in the court hidden behind pseudonym and poetry.”
“I will support this game, my love, if you offer to mere proof of the return of your affection. In fact, I will continue to send you the most grandiose of gifts…in the name of that disgusting child so that others believe him to have grown a brain. All the while, you will know that it is I, your true lover, who possesses your heart.”
“Send me some sign that I may have your heart, if not your hand in marriage.”
Bayushi Konitsu The Han Shan Otokodate threaten a village near Kyuden Kurogane Hana. Mirumoto Shinbatsu wonders “Can you defeat them without slaughter? Can you turn a man’s mind instead of merely preventing him from thinking?”
Bayushi Kiwadoi Blackmail Letter
The Blackmailer will send her first demand: “You will turn over your holdings near this province to my proxy. Your servants will become hers. You will find a way to justify this or I will reveal your heritage in open court.”
Ikoma Jun receives an extraordinary response from Tadaka Eideiyohime
A rider atop a gaijin steed came barrelling down the passages of the second tier of the Kyuden leaving behind a trail of destruction. As he arrived at the door of Jun’s home, he fell from his horse, prostrate, holding a scroll and the horse fell over from exhaustion. The steed was obviously enhanced by the kami of water and near the verge of death. Jun received the scroll and read, afterwards using his magic to implore the kami to save the horse and rest the rider.
I have no desire to marry at this time. The mere idea fills me with the dread I never feel when in the mortal danger of a duel.
The man Konitsu is worse than an unknown, he is a disgrace and has shown himself to revel in infamous activity.
However, if the Sister of the Lord Doji seeks his hand, seeks to increase his status and power, fame and wealth I am interested. I find it difficult to hold back the bubbling surge of emotions that rise within me at the mere opportunity of facing Doji Mikohime (O) in a legitimate duel once more. Challenging her for what she desires seems the most opportune way of revealing to the world that I am the greatest duelist, able to defeat even the blessed Crane Lady.
I find another reason to concede to your suggestion. You will find a separate note upon the rider, he has it hidden from view. Reveal to him my personal mon and he will gift it to you. The missive is news, vital to the Empire, that will soon be released at the upcoming Winter Court. You will not open this second letter until the first day of Winter…then, you may reveal the information contained within before whatever assemblage you desire. The status you will gain as the bearer of such grandiose news will elevate you to significant authority.
Begin the process of showing my interest. I wish a full blown rivalry. I wish Doji Mikohime to challenge me for the right to her desired goal. You shall find me within the walls of Kyuden Kurogane Hana this Winter, to be certain.
Tadaka Eideiyohime, Imperial Daughter
OOC: Ikoma Jun discussed with Yasuki Jin a method of repayment. The Lion wants to patron location in the Kyuden, specifically a Tea House, a Geisha House, a Courtesean House and a Theatre. He does not want to patron the Gion’s House because he knows that the Daimyo already does so, but he wishes his interest shown, nonetheless. Jin, ever the merchant and dealer, promises to see what he can do to pay back the debt.
Kouroku and Mirumoto Shinbatsu discussed the Funeral Rites for Shinbatsu’s dead love.
The Great Golden Victor and the Underwater Tale
Night. Amid the warm gardens around the Reflecting Pool the court gathered to observe yet another attempt at the legendary feats of the Great Golden Victor. The striking constrast of vivid green flora and the pale white lotus blossoms represented the juxtaposition between life and death. In the distance, above Shinden Emma-O, a cluster of clouds brewed and blocked the light of the moon.
Lanterns were lit upon the shore and floating flames were dropped in paper form atop the water. At one end, Bayushi Konitsu, who would attempt this challenge, stood in a heavy robe. The monks of Emma-O, about a dozen in total, resided scattered about the edges of the waterway lining the near-300’ of the former moat. Atop the thin planks that served as a bridge, the higher status members of the court stood watch and waited.
“You must traverse the entire length of the moat, underwater the entire time.” Bayushi Konitsu nodded. “Are you prepared?”
“Always,” the Scorpion replied and dropped his robe. Beneath, the warrior of Bayushi’s clan stood stark naked, revealed for all to see, wearing only the heavy iron manacles of his punishment. Gasps and snapped fans echoed down the line and more than one disapproving stare turned his way. Without ado, Konitsu strode slowly into the crystal waters and began his trek. Within a few feet he grasped a bamboo reed and broke it from the pool, lifting it to his lips to breath.
_"He cheats!" cried a monk, after many feet. “He cheats!”
The daimyo did not respond, but his eyes narrowed and he watched closer. Beneath the Scorpion, a cloud of dirty water discolored his features and masked his exposed form. All present watched the Scorpion as he made his journey…until his twin, Kiwadoi, looked up to notice a strange thing. Across the pool one of the jealous heimin Caretakers was dropping petals from a tiny white lotus blossom into the waters. The petals floated in an unusual way making a subtle line to intercept Konitsu. Without hesitation, Kiwadoi leapt across the bridge and ran towards the man.
Under the water, Konitsu began to feel a sticking, each petal of the flowers sank around his form and formed a covering shield above him. It became difficult for others to look down at the Scorpion, to see him. Under the umbrella of white flowers, the lotus petals came to “life” and began burning…decaying the very flesh from the Bayushi. He held on to his air and strode on, but a petal ate away the reed and, of a sudden, the water changed. No longer pure and drinkable, the salt of the sea swirled around him and filled his lungs. Bayushi Konitsu was drowning, weighed down by the manacles he bore proudly.
The monk Kouroku summoned forth the power of water and ran, racing across the top of the Pool much to the dismay of many present. He scattered the petals and called for aid. Arguments began, the word “CHEATER!” was flung, and gossip tried to turn one side against the other. Ikoma Jun whispered a begging chant to the kami of air amid this chaos and summoned forth a bubble of air around Konitsu’s head. The Scorpion endured the pressure of a powerful spell and violently expelled the remaining seawater from his lungs. He gasped a quick breath and finished his journey.
Konitsu rose from the water, covered in burned pock marks from the White Lotus flower each falling to the ground around him as he strode forth. The daimyo moved forward and silenced all argument. “Kitsu Domen, my father, the Great Golden Victor himself, performed this trick and it is one of the few that I know how it was done.” The daimyo smiled and declared “You have not performed with dishonor, Konitsu, for my father used the very same trick upon this challenge that you yourself have managed. To all present, know this: this challenge is passed. Alas, the danger that has arisen at this test is cause for great concern, however.” The daimyo breathed in deep and closed his eyes before continuing.
“It is obvious to me that Emma-O has either cursed or blessed this place and I know not which. For now, the Reflection Pool must be considered off-limits to all. The monks of Emma-O must sanctify its waters and understand the meaning of this portent.” All sighed in dismay, but grew silent once more as the daimyo pointed at the lone caretaker. “And you…shall be interrogated, at length, to understand why you acted the way you did!”
Mysteries of the Dead
Abbot Zenshin sent a gift to Doji Seiyami through his intermediary, the monk Bera with the demand that in order to prove her loyalty, she must give the item to Bayushi Konitsu that very night. The item in the box is a pair of bone chopsticks used to pass bones from person to person after a cremation.
Seiyami took the forced opportunity to visit Konitsu in scandalous form. She arrived openly, without chaperone, at his rooms and brazenly made her way inside past two doshin in the very middle of the night! During the conversation, Konitsu reluctantly performed the requisite refusal of the gift before accepting and the two were interrupted by the arrival of Omaru, Seiyami’s adopted child.
Omaru was upset, afraid, and somehow unerringly capable of finding Seiyami even though he should not have known where she was. He stated that he had been seeing the dead, all around, waking and walking in the world, all moving towards a singular goal. Above the great Shinden to Emma-O, the swirling mass of clouds grew darker, blotting on the moon.
“Let us investigate,” replied Konitsu and he opened the door.
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
- Dealing with Yasuki Jinn-Kuen (and the Gray Chrysanthemum)
- Dealing with Iniko’s claim [Supplying Rumor that he put her up to the task so that he and his allies gain credit for the political ploy if/when they succeed]
- 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
- Attempting Patronage
- 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)
- The Tale of the Great Golden Victor
* Experience (All): 9 (24 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 (17)
o Bayushi Konitsu: 3 (21)
o Bayushi Kiwadoi: 3 (18)
o Asako Fujiko: 3 (23)
o Doji Seiyami: 2 (15)
o Ikoma Jun: 3 (19)
* Honor: TBD
* Glory/Infamy: -3 Glory to Kouroku for digging through the trash. +4 Infamy to Konitsu for his uncouth manner at the Splendid Ramp.
* Other/Extra XP based on Disadvantages: Seiyami and Konitsu gain Dislike from the Caretakers. Ikoma Jun gains Like from Yasuki Jin.