Murders Mysterious

   Since the Legend of the Five Rings characters are currently trying to pin down the assassination crew that’s been wreaking havoc with Crab preparedness for the upcoming Second Day of Thunder, here’s a quick summary of their current investigations. If there are any additional questions, tests anyone wants to make, or other elaborations, either ask here or during the game. The characters usually get to spend more time on such things than the players do and have firsthand access to the evidence, rather than game master descriptions.

   To summarize the current murder mysteries, the basic pattern of all the assassinations investigated so far includes:

  1. They are all carried out well behind the great carpenter wall, while the targets are off-duty – and presumably off-guard – at home.
  2. In each case, there has been a complete household massacre, including family, servants, guards, visitors, and pets.
  3. A dismissal spell – chasing off the local Kami – has been performed at each location so far.

   Since the investigation was proceeding in reverse chronological order, here are the results of the first three.

Case One:

  • Location: a lightly-fortified (fairly typical for Crab holdings) manor house, consisting of a primary compound with several detached buildings, including a kitchen beside the main house, the servants quarters, four guardposts at the corners, and a selection of other minor structures.
  • Time: Three days ago.
  • Interference with the scene: the local villagers responded to put out the fire fairly rapidly, although they hesitated briefly about forcing the gates of the compound. They did so after there were no responses to their calls. The local Eta were called on to remove and burn the bodies before they rose as undead. Information from speaking with them has been included in the summaries below.
  • Servants quarters: Most of the guards and almost all the servants were found here. They were apparently trapped inside while – judging from the completeness and apparent speed – some sort of flame spell was applied to the building. Several bodies, including several of the guards were found near the door, apparently attempting to escape. Another three were found towards the left rear of the building, where they had apparently been attempting to knock a hole in the wall. The escape door – a fairly standard feature of Crab architecture – had apparently been jammed close with pieces of wood, partially-burned fragments of which were found at the scene. One child’s body was found on the left frontal side of the building, severely burned and partially crushed by falling material from the roof.
  • Main House: The bodies of two guards were found by the entrance to the master bedroom. Both were reportedly killed by swordthrusts, although at least one – from Kochige’s analysis of the remaining bloodstains – remained standing still while he bled to death. Given that there was no damage to the area, nor signs of an attempt to give an alarm a spellcaster with some form of paralytic and/or paralyzing magic seems likely. The husband and wife were both found in their chambers: the husband was reportedly killed by a single knife or sword-thrust to the chest, with no signs of resistance. The wife was found next to the bed, and had apparently attempted to protect herself with some of the bedding. She had several slash-wounds on her hands and forearms, but died from a swordthrust through the abdomen and partial disembowelment. A bloodied shortsword was found against the wall near the bed, but appears to have been one of the family weapons. An older boy was found in the hallway to the childrens chambers, dead of a knife or sword thrust to the heart. A young girl was found in one of the childrens rooms, dead of a knife blow to the stomach. The corpses of two cats and a dog were found with her, all dead of sword wounds.
  • Anomalies: Apparently no guards were posted in the watchtowers. This may, however, simply be because the family had relatively few guards.

Case Two:

  • Location: A small holding, in one of the villages surrounding one of the Crab staging areas. In particular, the dining hall.
  • Time: Five days ago.
  • Interference with the scene: There was an initial investigation by the local magistrate once the massacre was discovered, after which the Eta took away the bodies and removed the perishable food items from the table. There has been some basic tidying up around most of the house, but no one has disturbed the dining room yet; rumors are already spreading that the place is haunted.
  • This particular massacre was carried out during dinner; the local lordling was apparently in the habit of hosting periodic household meals – even the servants served, and then ate at another table – which the attackers apparently saw as a perfect opportunity. Virtually all of the diners had their throats slit. It was considered obvious that most of the victims were paralyzed at the time; the investigators noted that many of the victims bled to death smiling, holding cups, or otherwise eating. (The Eta found this particularly disturbing, but who pays attention to them?). While it looked rather like someone simply ran up the table with knives outstretched, there was no damage to the table – or much in the way of disturbed dishes – to support the theory. There were a few atypical deaths: one individual (a samurai) took a knife wound to the shoulder before having his throat slit, two servants apparently attempted to flee and were knifed from behind before having their throats slit, one youngster had a stab wound to the side as well as having his throat slit, and one young woman was nailed to the wall with a short spear. Her throat was slit as well, but she was obviously already dead at the time. The Spear used on the young woman was left in place, but showed no particular distinguishing marks.

Case Three:

  • Location: A local administrators house in one of the crab towns.
  • Time: Eight days ago.
  • Interference with the scene: Thanks to the Maho involvement, a Witch Hunter was called in, and ran his own investigation. Afterwards, of course, the bodies were properly disposed of by the local Eta.
  • Most of the victims were killed with knife or sword thrusts to the heart. The total included eight servants, three guards, the husband and wife, and their four children, two of whom died in their rooms and one of whom was found with her parents. For the most part, there were no signs of resistance. The exception was one son who was approaching Gempukku; he was killed by a maho spell which apparently summoned some sort of spiderlike monster – mostly made of blood – to explode out of his chest. His opponent – the household cook – was found dead as well, with a severe stab wound to the side and massive blood loss from apparently-spontaneous wounds on her arms – a blatant sign of maho use. The fact that she was tainted, carrying corrupted jade, and had more corrupted jade hidden in her room, made it an open-and-shut case. The cook had obviously used her position of trust, and maho, to begin eliminating the family; the boy had been lucky enough to resist somehow, and had wounded the witch sufficiently badly that – in the excitement of combat – she accidently drained herself to death casting the spell that killed the boy. Case closed, house cleansed, and a general inspection of servants ordered.
  • The groups followup investigation was a little more puzzling. The cook had moved away from the wall a few years ago after being badly mauled by an Oni that attacked her village. The local reports on her indicated that she was a bit shrewish, short-tempered, and unpleasant, but that everyone in the markets had been quite surprised to hear that she was tainted. One merchant had even made quite a few advances and proposals, but had always been soundly rebuffed. She’d had some nasty scars on one arm, but had otherwise been quite pretty – which clashed a bit with the report of her injuries from her original village (which indicated some massive scarring of the face, torso, and left arm), but there wasn’t anything else out of order, and some people did just heal well over time.

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