Ninsei has apparently been contemplating the future: presuming that the Empire wins the upcoming wars – first the Clan War and then the Shadowlands War which lies behind it – he has some plans of his own to try and implement.
I plan to win this war. This means defeating Fu Leng and his minions in the coming Spring. How we shall unite the disparate threads of fate to do this is a work in progress: it is the aftermath that concerns me here. Once Fu Leng is defeated and his minions in the Empire either dead or fleeing, it will be time to take care of a problem that has been plaguing the Empire for a thousand years and more. The gateway to Jingoku in the Shadowlands – the Festering Pit of Fu Leng – must be sealed. I anticipate this being a lengthy and resource intensive campaign, but one which must be fought. If we do not close the gateway, then who knows what may come through to fill the vacuum that Fu Leng once occupied?
This will likely involve a substantial force of Samurai, Naga and Nezumi to hold off the forces of the Shadowlands while a small group sets about trying to close the gateway. I intend to lead this coalition myself: few others possess the necessary destructive power.
Even after the closuer of Jingoku, the Shadowlands are going to be in serious need of work. All the taint that has seeped into the land and people is going to need to be cleaned up. That is no small labor in itself, but I believe that we have the resources in our possession to accomplish the task. Afterwards, of course, some kind of administration will need to be set up to encourage the integration of the former Shadowlands into the Empire proper.
I think that carving the Shandowlands up and handing the pieces to the clans of the Empire would ultimately prove counterproductive. Not only would that simply reduplicate a thousand years of clan conflicts, but I suspect that there will be clan structures already existing there that might be integrated into the existing imperial structure once we insure that individuals conducive to our goals come to leadership positions in the clans of the Shadowlands. Fu Leng seems to mirror and mock the organization of the empire, rather than creating things of his own.
Integrating these clans into Rokugani society will likely prove to be time consuming and suffer many setbacks. I intend to see it through though. We will need the resources of the Shadowlands to face the challenges ahead of us – and it is only fair to assist the Nezumi in recovering their ancient homeland. They have, in their own way, fought the shadowlands for a thousand years in defense of all of us.
It is my hope that – if I am instrumental in defeating Fu Leng, and sealing Jingoku – my friendships with the Imperial daughters may lead the Emperor to honor me with the hand of one of them. Indeed, if saving the Empire isn’t enough to get that kind of honor, I doubt there is much that would. With a marriage to an Imperial daughter, it then falls to the task of proving myself talented and worthy enough to be proclaimed the Imperial heir. This may fall hand in hand with getting the marriage in the first place but if not, then there are some of the activities I have planned that might help things along.
In Toshi Ranbo, I hope to continue encouraging the formation of a Council of the Minor Clans; abandoning the project simply because we cannot personally guarantee to defend all of them is not progress. Even if such an alliance is little more than a social club and information exchange at first, I intend to slowly progress from social gatherings to discussions of events relevant to the minor clans. Hopefully I will be able to establish Toshi Ranbo as a neutral ground at which the minor – and perhaps, eventually, the major – clans can bring disputes forward to be arbitrated by a neutral party. Eventually, perhaps, we can progress from a social gathering, to discussions, to agreements and treaties between the clans, transitioning slowly from a social gathering to a political forum that helps bind the minor clans together.
As the minor clans organize and begin to rise in power, I shall attempt to “suggest” that the Major Clans form a council of their own as a counterbalance. I expect the bickering and infighting to be more intense than in the Council of Minor Clans, but this is to be expected. Indeed, I want the clans fighting in a forum like this and not on the battlefield. This may or may not be workable: I am no diplomat as yet, and it may be that the courts are already little more than warfare in disguise.
Still, it would then be time to introduce the idea that the Emperor would be the ultimate arbiter of disputes in the Councils and between Councils. Ultimately the goal would be to force the clans to deal with disputes in the Councils and forbid fighting between clans. The councils, in return, will be given limited authority to make Empire wide resolutions and decrees. Hopefully, through the use of such a carrot and stick, it will be possible to encourage the use of politics and discourage the use of swords.
The school of the Mandate of Heaven will be taught and those who progress along it’s ranks will be assured of first pick in administrative positions. At first, enrollment will be low and exact teachings will have to be modified as lessons are learned. Eventually, though, more and more positions will be filled with graduates of this school. As the ranks fill out, the powers of the Imperial line will be shared with new institutions designed to administrate specific duties. As these institutions gain an inertia of their own and reliance on the Emperor declines, the power can be formally transferred away from the Emperor and to these institutions filled with students of the Mandate of Heaven. This will prevent power from becoming too concentrated in one person and ensure that balance is maintained.
The Empire is ramshackle and haphazard. Roads between cities must be build, ports constructed, canals dug, irrigation managed, and fortifications built along the borders. There are bandits, local dangers, and wandering monsters that must be dealt with. That should help keep the restless in the empire occupied with something other than fomenting mischief.
We must eventually shift the Empire’s focus from internal squabbling to presenting a unified front to the outside world. World domination is not in the gameplan: there is no reward worth the effort and expenditure of resources it would take to conquer people we don’t understand and don’t understand us. Instead, we must focus on defense of what is ours, sending emissaries abroad to learn about the gaijin in more detail, and promote lucrative trade with our neighbors.
Ultimately, I hope to make the Empire no longer need an Emperor. In the distant future I hope to set up a system whereby talented individuals, trained to handle power responsibly, are put in charge and given only the power they need to do the job they have been trusted with. Human inertia should take care of the rest.