Vortex of Time Series: The Social Whirl, Orrery of Dream, A Pride of Lions, The Paths Beyond, City of Jewels, Sun of the Desert, Night of Ten Thousand Knives. Alex, Shigure, Michio, Okari, and Kochige. Arriving in the imperial capital after economic analysis, retrieving vacationing young lions, and bureaucratic problems, everyone visited shrines, libraries, relatives, and ancestors. Between clan reports and obligations, Shigure’s siblings working for the Cat Clan, and imperial contests and tournaments, things were busy. Michio won at kite-fighting but did some damage to the city doing so, Kochige put up a fair showing in sumo, Shigure tried the Seppun Challenge, and registered to find a security hole. He flew a kite into the highest tower of the palace, tangled something at random in the tail, and pulled it back – but wound up holding Shard-Of-The-Midnight-Heart, the Obsidian Blade of Shosuro (normally secured in its private sunlit room). Having Shosuro as an ancestor, it didn’t kill him.
Summoned before the Jade Champion, the group told their tales. The Shugenja’s interim appointments were confirmed. Michio and company were summoned to court in three days for Michio to receive his appointment as Master of Kites (the Emperor had been amused). They would need appropriate clothing and gifts. Throwing the Obsidian Blade at Shigure confirmed that it had chosen him, would not harm him, and would come to him when needed – and that he was a descendent of Shosuro’s, and therefore he and his siblings were Samurai. Besides: he’d never been removed from the Crab promotion list, which would have made him Ronin anyway.
At the presentation the heirloom Orrery Alex had been carrying since his gempukku – the “pocket organizer” of the Dream Dragon – activated and swept the group into year 70 of the Thousand Years of Darkness. Oddly enough, it was the safest, if nastiest, place they’d visited in some time. With Fu Leng at his summer palace in the Shadowlands, the undead Seppun guards were quite apathetic – and the groups invitation to the palace had never been rescinded. They weren’t free to leave; Fu Leng would want to see them when he got back, at least as curiosities – but they had the freedom of the palace and city and the chance to study in what was left of the imperial schools to pass the time if they wanted. They found out all they could about how this had come to pass, checked out all the books they could from the imperial library, found that they’d vanished from court and never returned a bit over 70 years ago (without day, night, or seasons, time measurement was a bit confused), and found that several groups of heroes had tried to stop Fu Leng – and all had failed. Shigure also found that he had an eleven-year-old nephew here, since his sister had married the Cat Clan fellow she’d been working for and both of them were using youth potions. They survived some traps, gathered a lot of information, the nephew, and a skilled astronomer-priest to help them work the Orrery, spent a week or so, and departed for the past just a bit ahead of Fu Lengs arrival. Back before the Emperor, they had to come up with an explanation quickly and settled on “the gods did it – and gave us a mission”.
Departing for the Dragon lands with Shigure’s younger brother via the Lion Territories led to Shigure provoking several duels along the way and their first official investigation; mysterious fires being blamed on Maho-using youngsters, but actually the unconscious work of an untrained young shugenja. Shigure fought a duel with the local Governors champion and they took the entire group of accused youngsters along. Unfortunately, the Kami of Vacations was still hanging around Alex’s fief, and all sorts of people – including two magistrates, two sizable parties of phoenix, and many ronin and traders had gone “on vacation”, and there was a message from Tamori Kiang, asking them to check in immediately. After dealing with a group of Ronin, the group found that an Emerald Magistrate had arrived to deal with the disappearances, the rumors of an escape route out of the empire, and other problems. The group had already put a temporary hold on most vacations, this gave them a brief time to clear up the mess before the Emerald Magistrates took action. A series of quick excursions into Gaijin territories collected a variety of people who hadn’t known about “round trips” from a variety of local entanglements – but the trip to the City of Jewels was more complex: most of the Pheonix, and many of the Ronin and Merchants had gone there – and so had a Phoenix Yojimbo carrying two black scrolls, which he’d carried into the desert. Negotiating with the Sultan for the surviving Phoenix took quite some time: they had to promise to assist him against the menacing Yodatai.
Meanwhile, Shigure, Okari, and Michio had taken a side trip to assault a Yodatai outpost along the way, assaulting some undead who were making one-shot solar-imbued weaponry, using powdered undead as poison, and bribing one mercenary mage to desert along the way. They didn’t exactly “win”, but they caused a lot of trouble and got away, arriving back before the negotiations were over.
8/8/6/6/8/7 XP, Free Emphasis (on Sword or Courtier), Shigure acquires the Obsidian Dagger, Samurai Status, and aNephew to look after, Alex, Okari, and Kochige confirmed as Jade Magistrates, gaining Status 4, Michio becomes Imperial Master of Kites, gaining Status 4 (and Glory 1), everyone gains a selection of 7 texts from the imperial library, the basics (allowing later purchase at the base price) of any one school available to the Imperial Court, Lore: the Thousand Years of Darkness 2, a rough timeline of future events important in the rise of Fu Leng, and a contact with a skilled priest-astrologer. The group acquires a selection of one-shot gaijin solar weapon-talismans, notably offend the Lion clan, and upset a high-ranking Emerald Magistrate with more Gaijin contact than is normally allowed.