Firestorm Series: Embers in the Darkness, A Heart of Flames, The Passing of the Torch. Michio, Smoke, Shigure, Kochige, Okari, and Ninsei.
So – at least as some would put it – now that they’d assaulted the largest group of shugenja in the empire in their own palace, it was time to upset some other groups. Next thing up on the list was the prospective new Oracle of Fire, due to be assassinated by the Scorpion (Say, wasn’t that just a tad more suicidal than even sticking their own noses into the mess would be?) Still, they had four shugenja, and advance notice of something which – presumably – no one else in the empire knew as yet.
The group elected to simply call on the spirits of fire to carry a message to the oracle and advise him that they had a prophecy stating that his prospective heir was in danger and that they wanted to protect her: they just needed to know here current location. Presumably the fact that they knew about her at all would get their message at least some consideration.
It did, and a little more discussion told them which village to visit and got them charged with protecting the girl. Apparently the Oracle wasn’t used to either being opposed or to providing clear directions. The stopped in with the local Scorpion lordling first, and informed him that they had a prophecy that grave harm would come to the Scorpion lands unless they were permitted to build a fortified house suitable for ten people in one of the Eta villages. Once again, they spent most of their time convincing the local lordling that they were, at worst, benignly crazy. After a bit of stalling and covert checking (yes sir, there’s nothing there that’s of any importance, the place is totally nonstrategic, one of them is a scorpion, they do have some hush-hush connections higher up in the clan, and the dragon have apparently been fussing over their involvement with some prophecies… Besides, what’s the harm? They want to build a house) they got permission.
Hunting for the right girl eventually led them to a young eta girl who had just enough fire magic to get fires to light quickly and easily. She wasn’t even aware of it. They didn’t even notice until they realized that the fires she tended in the smoking sheds burned evenly enough to keep the smoke and temperature precisely on target, that the pottery in the village kiln never cracked, that she never burned herself or got chilled, and that she could massage just a few degrees of comforting heat into chilled muscles or frostbitten fingers. All unconsciously using a field of magic that normally only found applications on the battlefield. Not much power – presumably becoming an Oracle would take care of that – but such control… First they ran a bunch of cleansing rituals (and a general cleaning spell), Smoke started creating a house (with a bunch of iron sphinxes for decoration) while Ninsei, Okari, and Kochige got started on teaching and filling the building with random weirdness. There was plenty of potential there at least. Eventually the Scorpion sent a shugenja – Yogo Velath – around to find out what all the fire magic was about and Smoke explained a bit more than some of the others thought was wise – whereupon the group decided that the diversion was sufficient and evacuated back to Alex’s old fief (now being managed by Shigure until Alex either returned or was determined to be dead) while Shigure brought through the Yodatai he’d been trying to turn into his own private army under the pretext that they were all distant relatives, and therefore Samurai. This was thin to the point of absurdity – but the fief was distant, hidden among the mountains, and thinly populated. Smoke was a master of transformation magic – and even against the innate Yodatai resistance could help them fit in and lost their accent. Acclimating to the culture might take a lifetime, but they might pass at a glance. At the moment they had a potential Oracle to train and guard, as well as an assortment of personal projects (Kochige’s school translation project, Okari’s jade magic research, and Michio and Shigure’s military training projects – as well as Michio’s attempt to explain what all this was about to the Dragon Clan and the general, and somewhat exasperated, attempt to get Shigure to at least speak to that girl he was attracted to – including a blunt approach by their six-year-old magical prodigy). Perhaps fortunately, Smoke decided t0 try her own experiment. Feeling that – while dealing with spirits was apparently useful in a variety of ways, he still preferred to channel power directly – he attempted to get the young lady to try and draw on the power of fire directly, rather than by imploring spirits. The resulting holocaust required a dramatic rescue, nearly melted down a mountain, and required the massed efforts of the group to restrain (and was very hard to explain to the Clan), but it was surprisingly good preparation for when – a bit later – a foolish scorpion woman tried to assassinate the Oracle of Fire and steal his power. His chosen successor, already experienced at handling such an abrupt power surge, smoothly handled the power overflow for long enough for the Oracle – undistracted by power surges and with someone ready to take that power rather than allowing it to be diverted to empowering his assailant – to incinerate his attackers and heal himself. He delivered a stern – but not especially destructive – rebuke to the scorpion before finally passing on the rest of the Fire Dragons power and passing from Rokugan. Evidently he’d been hoping for a successor who could support the use of fire magic in less destructive ways.
The new Oracle of Fire retired to the high mountains to meditate.
8/8/6 XP. All Shugenja in the group gain a +1K1 bonus to rolls involving fire magic. Nonshugenja receive a +1 bonus to either their Agility or Intelligence. Everyone may consider the new Oracle of Fire as an ally: unfortunately, she isn’t going to be available often. She has to grow into her power and has many other responsibilities.