Today it’s getting the Legend of the Five Rings log caught up to date for the last four sessions…
The Planar War: The Powers Of The Earth, A Dark Mirror, Adrift Upon A River Of Stars, Into The Ivory Kingdoms. Kochige, Michio, Shigure, Kochige, Okari, Shin, Alex, the Ki’Rin Elder.
Unable to come up with anything to say at Shigure’s memorial, Ninsei settled for burning a few of the usual paper offerings.
Down in Jigoku, Shigure had located a minor lordling – a patron of destructive forest and city fires – and was working on planting the seeds of an uprising when he was rather abruptly bombarded by a variety of goods, monies, chattels, and even a ceremonial dragon-boat. Such things were rare in Jigoku – few spirits there received much in the way of funeral offerings, much less ones given potency by such a collection of powerful shugenja – but he could have done without being buried under the pile.
Still, evidently there was some sort of link. Perhaps even a non-demon could use it somehow – and the supplies might come in handy anyway. Even the boat. He could keep the rest of the stuff in it or rebuild it into a wagon or something. This might be possible: even most of the powers of Jigoku knew that it wasn’t time for them to tear down the universe yet.
Back at Toshi Ranbo, Ninsei and Kochige were out on the river (to stay as far as possible from anyone else) running a fairly extensive investigation into the magical properties – and potential magical properties – of various sorts of stones. Fortunately, there were more than enough merchants around the city to have supplied them with a fair variety to play with. Perhaps unsurprisingly where Ninsei was concerned, this wound up in a considerable explosion and a bit of panic about “Fu Leng attacking the city!” (yet again). Obsidian stored magical energy, but there appeared to be upper limits.
Michio’s Mother was after him to do his duty by the clan – as in: get married and produce some children – instead of “fooling around on river cruises with concubines” (that priest had been sending letters), so Michio exerted himself to write some very flowery stalling letters home and made sure that all of the young women were purged of any taint they’d picked up and returned to their families. He’d been meaning to do that anyway, but if his mother was going to take the rescue that way it was a bit more urgent.
Madness magic was potentially disastrous – so they headed on over to the City of Jewels to check with the priests there, and got some information, albeit not much (information on the madness tattoos can be found HERE), and then returned with a present: the Evil Grand Vizier had presented Shin with a small slave-boy – apparently on the theory that Shin would either learn control to avoid hurting him, or might learn it out of guilt after accidently killing the child. Either way, the cost was small.
Ninsei had an idea: obsidian seemed to store magical power, so maybe he could tap into Shin’s tattoos and drain off some of the excess power.
That actually worked, although it created another major explosion or two when they experimented with how much the obsidian could hold. It didn’t seem to drain the tattoos any, but the stored effects could still be useful.
It also looked like sunstones had the capacity to store heavenly energy. Unfortunately, with Tengoku distant from Ningen-Do, that was pretty hard to come by even during the dimensional conjunction. Still, Shigure had reached the heavens – ok, a gaijin heaven, but still a heaven – by simply going high enough. They could really use some information if they could get it – and even the gaijin gods seemed to have quite a lot of it (as well as – so far – being tolerably reasonable in most cases). They didn’t have access to the cloud chariot, but perhaps if they used a spell to keep from losing speed until they reached the zone where the Kami of Ningen-Do ceased to operate, used Kochige’s dimension-shifting talents, got Okari to help them endure the forces involved, and got Michio to use his phoenix disciplines with a bit of encouragement, he could simply throw them fast enough to get them through the zone between the realms where elemental magic couldn’t help them.
Given enough encouragement (and donated void points), Michio certainly could – and proceeded to toss Ninsei and Kochige so far into the sky that they didn’t come back down, a procedure which considerably upset Shin, badly confused the Ki’Rin Elder, and caused much consternation in the city.
Back on Ningen-Do, the Ki’Rin Elder had drafted a few peasant children as guides: he had some messages for the Emperor and the Lion – and needed to find them. He’d been delayed really badly already. He promptly towed Michio and the peasant kids along on a trip to the capital and off to see the Emperor – who was amused to receive the message that the Ki’Rin were calling themselves the Unicorn now, and were coming back – and somewhat impressed when his Shugenja informed him that yes, this somewhat senile old fellow was indeed that old and his credentials appeared to be in order – even if he had been presumed dead and lost by the Unicorn three hundred years ago. The records also indicated that he’d delivered at least some of his messages some centuries ago, and had probably just gotten senile and forgotten.
Then the old man nearly started a war between the Lion and the Unicorn on the spot. That was no longer amusing – but he did claim to have messages for the Founding Kami as well (which the Seppun Truthsayers also confirmed), so it was easy enough to send him, Michio, and the kids they were still dragging along, off to Tengoku and get them out of the way.
The gatekeeper of Tengoku cheerily informed Michio that his deeds had been observed, and the celestial committee on exaltation had decided to award him the title of “Celestial Kami of Sumo Tossing” – a title which at least let him and his “guests” in and out and let the Ki’Rin Elder deliver his (badly outdated) messages. Fortunately for him, the Elder found a new purpose to keep him going: Shinjo was nowhere to be found, and none of the other Kami knew what had happened to her. He would have to locate her.
Along the way, Bayushi granted the peasant children they’d hauled along Samurai status by adoption – apparently a crack at the current Scorpion Champion (as in “even these peasant brats are more worthy to be Scorpion Samurai than many who currently hold that title) – and they got the Kami of Vacations to send them home.
Off in the Heavens, Kochige and Ninsei had been hurled into the pastoral afterlife party of the Senpet. This was surprisingly unremarked: apparently the lesser deities of Senpet – half of who claimed to predate the cosmos and to be intermediate between the local deities and the Elder Gods – had seen it all before. The locals didn’t mind making room at the feasts, although some local war deity promptly put Ninsei through a day of intensive weapon-training when he wandered into the practice ground to ask about his sword (it seemed to be linked to him and mirrored all his probes). They argued with crocodiles, discussed magical weapons, climbed the mountain of creation, and got quite a lot of information.
It was a bit upsetting that the Senpet gods claimed seniority by virtue of being a social system copied from a prior world and being the middle management in charge of evaluating the various social operating systems implemented in this world, that they viewed the Empire as being locked in a loop and had activated a series of emergency probes and operations to try and get it reset before the competing systems took it over prematurely, and that they viewed Rokugan as just one cosmos amongst many that their senior gods operated in – but it was even more upsetting that they seemed to know enough to back up most of their positions. They just didn’t act like a bunch who simply believed in their own mythology.
They even managed to pick up a supply of holy energy while on a day-cruise with Ra, as well as avoiding being infected by the lurking shadow-serpents of Apep. Returning was a bit awkward: sliding down the path of rising souls was easy enough, as was getting out of the tomb – but explaining things to the guards and human priests was a bit awkward. Still, at least they were back in the correct realm – which made opening a portal to Toshi Ranbo relatively easy.
Reassuring everyone back in the city was mildly awkward, but they were getting used to their ruler’s shenanigans.
Unfortunately, Michio wasn’t back yet, and so he wasn’t available when The Designer sent a clockwork killer-golem equipped with special defenses against most of the abilities they’d displayed, a variety of vicious stored spells, incredible toughness, and remarkable combat abilities to either kill Kochige or to fail and provide more data (apparently either would do). If it hadn’t been for the intervention of a young Monkey clansman (currently in the service of the Turtle and attempting to find out where the Ki’Rin Elder had come from) who demonstrated both an incredible skill with knives and a remarkable knack for avoiding notice the golem-assassin might well have succeeded.
For a second annoyance, at least some groups of assassins apparently hadn’t yet gotten the word that Shigure was dead and/or that the task had been re-assigned, and had shown up looking for Shigure. Being unable to pass the protective spells on the city gates, but aware that Shigure always came to rescue his peasants in person, they had simply taken hostages and demanded that he come out.
At least that relieved the tension a bit.
Down in Jigoku, Shigure heard people near his funeral pyre calling on him (the thing flared up again every time Ninsei thought about it), and the ensuing blast of hellfire gave rise to speculation that “Shigure” had become a demonic name of power (the player was not amused).
Kochige tried to find a way to protect Shin from his own powers – first attempting to explain, than attempting to suppress his knowledge of them (which only made him more dangerous), and then attempting to explain again with far more graphic examples. It was only when he accidently ruptured a bunch of the internal organs of the little kid that the Evil Grand Vizier had supplied that he seemed to get the point. Blast it: why did the Evil Grand Vizier have to be right so much of the time? If only he didn’t cackle so…
The golem-thing contained clues to a lot of secrets – as well as a vicious selection of poisons – but revealed that they REALLY didn’t know enough. There wasn’t much about the Designer in particular or the Rakasha in general available save that they mostly existed elsewhere and their presence was usually mostly illusions. Who could they check with? The Squirrel, the Turtle, the Mantis, and the Eel all might know something – and several of them had representatives in Toshi Ranbo. Unfortunately, none of them could tell them all that much: it wasn’t like any of the minor diplomats they had were experts on obscure gaijin magic systems. The Eel and Mantis had heard of such things, and had some stories, and the Turtle could refer them to the Squirrel (and provide some directions) though.
Along the way Kochige opted to leave Shin with the Turtle for the moment. Bad enough that’d he’d somehow managed to include himself on a trip to the Shadowlands, he WASN’T taking his young son out of the Empire – if only because his wife would NEVER speak to him again.
The Squirrel Clan stronghold turned out to be burrowed deep into the heart of a mountain – and packed full of gaijin and extra-dimensional artifacts. Their entrance test was odd too: apparently they asked for solutions to obscure mathematical and logical puzzles. (That mathematical education from the Naga finally came in handy). Unfortunately, while they had some samples of stone magic, and parts of a couple of the clockwork-golem things, they were strong on examples and weak on theory.
It was useful, but it wasn’t enough. It looked like there was no getting out of it: a trip to the Ivory Kingdoms was in order. At least the Mantis could provide some general information on the place and a language teacher.
10/8/12/8 XP. I’ll try to fill in the minor benefits later on.