- There has arisen speculation that Kaiu Shinya's wife Sakyo is something other than she appears to be. She is not beautiful enough to be a fox or crane, but legends also tell of frogs, clams, and other small creatures also taking human form and husbands. She is certainly small and timid. While many say that her seclusion at home is just the result of the pregnancy taking its toll on her health there are others claiming that she is afraid that the birth of the child will reveal her true nature.
The magistrates traveled to the town of Turo-Kojiri along the road to Shiro Ide, just north of the Shinomen Forest. Resting there as they prepared to head into the forest they heard no end of stories about the dangerous, strange things that can befall someone who ventures in too deeply. From a man who suddenly found that the path he had been walking on was instead the limb of a great tree, only a step away from falling to his death to those who simply vanished forever, never to be heard from again.
In more temporal concerns, there was a group of Mereneans present, who despite being in the usually welcoming Unicorn lands were trying their best to be unobtrusive. A traveler related the latest news from the east. A Phoenix daimyo was traveling through Omoidasu Province on his way to Otosan Uchi when his procession encountered a Merenean man riding along the center of the road. The gaijin refused to move aside nor bow in respect and was therefore slain by one of the daimyo's retainers. Despite being a completely legal and expected outcome for such impudence, the Merenaen Trading Consortium is livid about this. They are demanding not only the arrest of the samurai but the also an indemnity of the utterly absurd figure of 100,000 koku for what they claim was a barbaric and unjustified murder of a guest. So far the Phoenix have rebuffed such outrageous demands, and the Emperor has refused to hear them. Given the Order to Expel Barbarians is scheduled to take effect in only three months, the miscreants will likely just be ejected, putting an end to such nonsense and reminding any remaining gaijin that they are guests and in no place to make such demands.
The magistrates set off early in the morning for the day-long trip from town into the forest. Reaching the outskirts by late afternoon they encountered several trees marked with a shimenawa, indicating their sacred nature, likely home to a kodama spirit.
A vague, worn-out old path was found into the woods and the magistrates followed it for some time. Conveniently as the sun was setting they happened upon a small inn located in a clearing. Heading inside it was occupied by many surly heimin busily eating while they were graciously welcomed by a very beautiful young woman, the proprietress of the establishment. She stated how honored she was to host samurai at her small, rural inn, typically accustomed only to receiving those few local peasants in the area. After bringing out the best food that she was able to offer, she entertained them with a song. While the majority of the party was entranced by her fair looks and seductive voice, Ichiro Bando's heart, as cold and rocky as his mountain homeland, remained unmoved. His keen eyes noticed something appeared to be off and when the young lady attempted to subtly cover part of her face he seized her hand, unintentionally tearing away the flesh mask she had been covering herself with and revealing her true nature as a bog hag. The illusion shattered, the true nature of the inn quickly became apparent: a grisly place populated by gaki — hungry ghosts — that are voraciously eating decaying human flesh, the same thing that had been served to the magistrates. The magistrates were able to fight off the foul creatures and escape.
Outside the inn the magistrates encountered Mirumoto Tetsuzae, who, having to transact some business in town before their departure, had been following behind. After describing the encounter to him, however, when they sought to show him the cursed inn to confirm their story the clearing was found to be completely empty. As far as could be determined, no such place had ever existed.
Despite the late hour the magistrate chose to return to town in order to purify themselves after having accidentally consumed human flesh and come into contact with such spiritually unclean creatures. Arriving back in Turo-Kojiri after midnight, they were able to rest, tend to their wounds, and seek out a local temple before making plans to return to the forest.
Matters of Interest
Threats to Public Order in Ryoko Owari
- Doji Satsume
By far the most serious threat is the blatant murder of an Emerald Magistrate. An attack on a magistrate is an attack on the Emperor, and therefore an attack on Rokugan. Any city where the magistrates are not feared or respected is a cancer in the throat of our nation. Ashidaka Naritoki (P25) died, along with one of his deputies, a man called True Word (P33), between the hours of the Ox and the Hare (1 - 5 AM), on the third day of the month of the Snake. He was found in the neighborhood of the Little Gate (L15). There were no witnesses.
Naritoki was found inside the burned wreckage of his own carriage. His body was examined by an eta called Eyebrows (P53) who said that the body had been burned and stabbed through the carriage walls. The carriage itself was badly burned, and the harnesses were cut. Furthermore, the door of the carriage had apparently been blocked by a wooden pole.
True Word was found eight paces from the front of the wagon, several scrolls scattered around his body. Again, the eta Eyebrows examined the body and said that he had been beaten and stabbed by short, bladed weapons - possibly kama, yari or tanto. True Word was found clutching his katana, but he had not drawn it. The position of his body indicates that he died on his knees. The eta said that there was a strong, acrid smell around the body's face, and that True Word's face, hair and kimono were wet. It is believed that someone sprayed strong vinegar in True Word's eyes in order to prevent him from reading his scrolls, and then cut him down while he was blinded.
At the same time that True Word was being attacked, it seems likely that someone wedged the door of Naritoki's carriage shut and set the carriage on fire. The speed with which the coach burned on a wet and rainy night raises the suspicion that the coach was sabotaged earlier - coated with some flammable substance to aid the assassination. While he was trapped in the burning carriage, Naritoki's assassins struck at him through the walls. In all likelihood, they intended only to keep him trapped until the flames and smoke could finish him off.
- Doji Satsume
The nickname "Fade" has been given to a bandit who has plagued Ryoko Owari and its vicinity for two years running. It stems from his ability to evade pursuit - an ability that is fast becoming legendary, to the chagrin of both the Emperor's magistrates and the Thunder Guards (G10) of Shosuro Hyobu (P1). A list of crimes attributed to him follows.
• Two years ago, in the month of the Tiger, Fade took a silk caravan by surprise and captured the entire cargo. Reports vary, but it seems that he and six of his followers were mounted. These mounted bandits were engaged to draw off the caravan's guards. When most of the guards were off in pursuit, another dozen bandits, on foot, attacked the main body of the caravan and captured it.
• That same year, in the month of the Snake, Fade and his gang intercepted a shipment of gold on the Road Once Hidden. This time, they attacked an inn in the middle of the night, capturing everyone inside and locking them in the basement. When the shipment arrived, Fade and his bandits were masquerading as the innkeep and guests. After drugging most of the guards, the remaining defenders were easily overpowered.
• Also, in the month of the Monkey, Fade and his gang assaulted a Scorpion village while the tax collector was present. The bandits made off with the entire tax payment. Reliable reports describe at least twenty bandits - all mounted, and several in armor.
• The next year, again in the month of the Tiger, the bandits assaulted a merchant caravan at night in pitch blackness. Possibly the bandits had some sort of black magic to help them see at night, but another theory is that they simply kept their eyes hidden for some days (or weeks?) before the raid, giving them sensitive night eyes. In any event, they were there and gone before the caravan could even mount a coherent defense.
The caravan leader, who was formerly an officer in the Scorpion cavalry, said that the attack resembled a "classic Unicorn lightning raid."
• In the month of the Dragon, Fade ambushed a group of Scorpion shugenja who were travelling from Yogo Shiro to Shiro no Soshi. A fierce battle ended with two of the priests dead, along with six of the bandits. After the shugenja surrendered, Fade made them strip naked, and it was in that condition that they returned to Yogo Shiro. The three chief shugenja were ordered to commit seppuku; and three of their four acolytes followed suit.
• In the month of the Horse that same year, Fade and his bandits attacked a group on their way from Kyuden Bayushi to celebrate Shosuro Hyobu's (P1) birthday. For the first time, the bandit underestimated his opponents. Not only were the bandits repulsed with heavy casualties, one of Fade's henchmen was captured alive. At first the bandit was too afraid of his master to speak, but under torture he revealed the location of one of Fade's hideouts in the Hidden Forest. However, before he could be persuaded to reveal more information, he escaped from prison (L7) - quite possibly with aid from the outside.
As an aside, it was not long after that escape that Naritoki executed one of the prison guards for involvement in a similar jail break (T3).
• In the Month of the Monkey, a tax collector returning from several local villages was ambushed. Though he was heavily guarded, the bandits attacked first with a volley of arrows - ensuring that their numbers compensated for the superior skill of the tax collector's guards. Four guards died in the ensuing melee, and took only two bandits with them.
• Fade's depredations have become so well known that by this year, many merchants are choosing to move their goods by boat rather than caravan. Fade has adapted. In the month of the Tiger, a barge was assaulted with burning arrows and stones from a crude catapult as it passed a cliff to the south of Ryoko Owari. As the sailors tried to quench the flames and escape, the barge was surrounded by three small fishing boats full of bandits. The sailors were overwhelmed and put ashore. Their boat was found the next day, ten miles downstream. Interestingly, the bandits had gone to the trouble of scuttling it; instead of abandoning it for salvage, they chose instead to prevent its rightful owners from reclaiming it.
• Finally, just last month, Fade and his gang - now numbering at least thirty-five men - brazenly attacked a caravan of weapons and armor destined for the Towers of the East and West Eyes (L28). Initially the soldiers seemed to repulse the attackers, but Fade continued to harass them. Making quick attacks whenever they moved, he forced them to stand and face him in disadvantageous terrain. In the end, nine guards were killed, along with a dozen of Fade's men, but the convoy was captured. It included ten suits of heavy armor, twenty suits of light armor, fifty longbows, three score of arrows, sixty spears and twenty swords.
Fade now has a fortune in stolen weapons to sell, but it is my suspicion that he will keep as much armament as he can. His band has grown from a small nuisance to a major menace in a short span of years; at this rate, he will lead a private army within four years.
Naritoki strongly suspected Fade of being a disgraced samurai. His skills at mounted strategy argue for a former Unicorn, while his leadership skills and ability to recruit loyal followers might indicate a Lion. Both clans deny even the possibility, of course.
The most noteworthy thing about Fade's actions and strategy is his agenda. Bandits seek gold, and so does Fade. However, most bandits are content to make one raid a year and live off the proceeds until they're out of cash. Fade is much more active, which argues for a purpose beyond survival or greed.
A majority of the commerce around Ryoko Owari occurs on behalf of the Scorpion clan, but there is a significant amount of trade for other clans as well. Fade, however, attacks only Scorpion caravans and tax collectors.
Perhaps he has a grudge against Scorpions. Perhaps he has some source of intelligence that only spies on Scorpions. Perhaps he strikes at Scorpions because there are more of them. Perhaps you will find out when you catch him - but I find it more likely that you will not catch him until you find out.
- Doji Satsume
Periodically, Matsu Shigeko would report that a crime in Ryoko Owari had been blamed on "ninja". While both of us scoffed at the idea, it has now become clear that there is a criminal gang operating in Ryoko Owari who claim to be the mythical "ninja" in order to intimidate peasants.
Though hardly the supernatural opponents that ninja stories describe, this gang is still widespread, violent and capable. Naritoki had made them his first priority in recent years, and succeeded in breaking part of their power before his death. One plausible theory is that his assassins were these fraudulent "ninja." A timeline of "ninja" activity in Ryoko Owari follows.
• In Matsu Shigeko's first year as magistrate (five years ago), a store that sold kimono was burned to the ground in the Month of the Dragon. The shopkeeper claimed that "the ninja" had done it, but no further progress was made.
• That same year, in the Month of the Dog, a merchant's wife claimed that a "dark clad ninja" had accosted her, threatened her with a shuriken, and stole a valuable necklace from her while she was in the Licensed Quarter.
• The next year, in the Month of the Tiger, a samurai claimed that he was assaulted by a gang of ten ninja. Upon investigation, Shigeko learned that the samurai had in fact been beaten by a ronin called Ample (P32). Ample was arrested, and when questioned denied any connection to ninja, claiming that the samurai had defaulted on a gambling debt When confronted with Ample's testimony, the samurai recanted, admitting that he'd been ashamed to admit defeat at the hands of a ronin.
• In the Month of the Monkey, a merchant made a curious complaint to Shigeko. He claimed that he had been extorted by "phony ninja" who threatened to burn down his shop in the Merchant Quarter if he didn't pay them. He said that he'd seen "real ninja" and knew that these thugs were fakes. However, Shigeko was unable to find any "ninja" in the area and was also unable to prevent the merchant from being murdered.
• The next year, another merchant was killed in the Fisherman Quarter. It happened during the Month of the Dragon; he was apparently tortured and killed in his own home, and his shop burned to the ground.
• In the Month of the Horse there was a dockside scuffle between the Moment's Edge Firemen (G12) and a group of "ninja". Two firemen were injured and no ninja were captured.
• The next month, Naritoki was installed as magistrate. He made pursuit of the "ninja" his first task.
• Two months after his arrival, in the Month of the Monkey, Naritoki captured and unmasked a "ninja" - in reality a dock worker with a record for public drinking - and executed him.
• After that, the"ninja" laid low for almost seven months. The next "ninja" associated crime was the murder of a merchant in the Licensed Quarter during the Month of the Dragon.
• In the first month of the next year, there was another melee between firemen and "ninja"- this time in the Merchant Quarter, with the Firemen of Daikoku's Garden. This seems to mark an increase in "ninja" activity. Naritoki believed that the gang had new leadership.
• In the Month of the Dragon, the "ninja" surprised and killed the leader of the Little Gate Firemen. That same month, Naritoki arrested and executed two "ninja" - both peasant criminals from the Merchant Quarter.
• It was in the Month of the Dog that the "ninja" first moved against a noble family, stealing a set of official trade documents from a home in the Noble Quarter.
• Two months later, in the Month of the Ox, Naritoki arrested a "ninja" for the crime - a ronin burglar from Niwa Shita no Kage Toshi. The "ninja" escaped from prison within a day.
• It took Naritoki five months, but in the Month of the Horse, he found the burglar "ninja" who was killed while resisting arrest.
• The next month, Naritoki ended a thorough investigation of the prison with the execution of a prison guard (L7). (You will recall that this was not long after one of the bandit Fade's men also escaped from prison.)
• That same year, in the Month of the Dog, valuables were stolen from the Otaku household. The "ninja" were suspected. The very next month (Month of the Pig), the magistrate's own mansion was burgled - possibly by the "ninja".
• This year, in the Month of the Ox, Naritoki staged a raid on Teardrop Island with thirty deputies. He killed four supposed "ninja" and captured three others (all of whom have since died during questioning).
• In the Month of the Rabbit, a smaller raid on a private home in the Fisherman Quarter resulted in the death of three more "ninja." This was only two months before Naritoki's assassination.
Reading this list might create the impression that the "ninja" of Ryoko Owari are everywhere, skilled at all manner of perfidy and able to engage in crimes with near impunity. This is certainly not the case. Not only was Naritoki able to strike decisive blows against this organization, it is also very likely that some (possibly many) of the crimes attributed to the "ninja" or in which their participation is suspected, were in fact committed by others. The menacing reputation of the ninja is surely a tempting cloak to any number of criminals. Not all of them are necessarily associated with a single, central organization.
- Doji Satsume
For the last two years, there have been numerous reports from nobles of robberies in their own homes. The reports are always very similar; the household goes to sleep at night. The guards neither see nor hear anything unusual; no one is awakened or alarmed. In the morning, however, a single item of value is missing. Such comparatively small losses may seem insignificant compared with the threats of Fade (T2) and the "ninja" (T3), but the problem with this cunning burglar (nicknamed "The Wind" because of his or her ability to come and go unobserved) is that in addition to objects of value, he is stealing the sense of safety that the nobles have within their own homes. He has not engaged in violence; but there is a persistent feeling that he could do so at any moment, with impunity. In short, the Wind contributes to the general lawlessness of Ryoko Owari - a sensation that the Emerald Magistrates are powerless to stop him. This, more than any theft, is his greatest crime.
That said, it is worthwhile noting a number of unusual aspects of the crimes of the Wind.
• In every instance, he steals only a single object.
• These objects are invariably small but precious - jewelry,
gold or silver. The largest object ever taken was a necklace with a pendant the length of a finger.
• In several cases, the Wind has taken objects of lesser value that were left lying out when more valuable items were nearby, but out of sight.
Naritoki's theory was that the Wind (possibly like Fade) is a wayward noble. The ingenuity required by these crimes certainly argues for an intellect higher than that possessed by peasants. Furthermore, the taking of a single object argues for a motive other than pure profit - perhaps a misplaced sense of adventure.
At the welcoming banquet, both Shosuro Kimi and Iuchi Michisuna described their experiences of having objects stolen from their chambers in the night, presumably by the elusive thief known as "The Wind". Kimi had a silver hairpin taken from her third-story room. Michisuna had a peony blossom removed from his while the valuable lacquered box it rested on was not so much as nudged aside.
Having held the monkey Hiccup in custody for over a week without any further incidents, the magistrates suspect that they have successfully resolved the situation. Upon returning the monkey, they found that Genki herself had gone missing. She told her father she was visiting her mother's grave and he has not seen her since.
Without a confession or the recovery of any of the stolen objects, only time will tell.
- Kasuga Nana
Kasuga Nana came into the possession of a barrel of sake lacking a tax stamp, the seller claiming it had "fallen off a cart". Upon opening it, however, it was found to be packed with gunpowder. Investigating the matter it was found that the seller apparently had made off with several barrels but was totally unaware of the contents. He had paid off a carter to "lose" a few barrels from a load on its way from the docks. The carter in question working for a local haulage company located in the Merchant Quarter, Ryo Cart Owari.
Ryo's records indicate that the shipment the barrels went missing from was supposed to be picked up from a ship at the Northwest Dock owned by a man named Kazuki. From there it was supposed to be taken to a nearby warehouse, Ichiban Storage.
Investigating Ichiban Storage showed that they had a number of other goods that were not listed on official records. The majority were of little consequence, untaxed sake, foreign goods without tarrif paid, etc. No gunpowder was discovered. However a barrel was found stamped with a blue oni symbol. Inside was grain but buried in it were several large parcels of Blue Flame.
The foreman stated that sometimes "extra" goods arrive unexpectedly that do not have a manifest. They are not logged into inventory but are simply passed on when someone comes and specifically asks for them. Occasionally they vanish overnight. The employees intentionally do not pay too much attention when this happens.
The warehouse was in a state of flux as the owner, Shuji, a merchant vassal of Bayushi Korechika, had recently been found drowned in the river in a fishing accident. Thankfully his body was spotted and recovered by sailors on a barge belonging to Sharp.
Kazuki was found by his ship. He claimed to frequently ply the waters up and down the River of Gold along with trips to the Islands of Spice and Silk. On one of those trips he made the acquaintance of a gaijin in Toshi no Inazuma named Nepoznato who hired him to carry some goods directly to Ryoko Owari. He has since taken on several shipping contracts from Cardoso finding him a reliable business partner. Sneaking onto the ship, Kasuga found nothing suspicious and that his logs support his story.
Checking with the various gates out of town the Gate of Increasing Fortune recorded someone matching his description leaving around the time that he vanished. This man was stated to be "Taro", a suspiciously generic name. The pass was valid for any destination in the Scorpion provinces. The authorizing authority was listed as Yogo Osako.
Consulting with Osako-san, she denied ever issuing such a pass and it was not accounted for in her records.
Ichiro Taiki was sent to investigate any records at way stations along the Road Once Hidden. The trail continued to lead north for several days. After crossing the border into An’ei province details get sketchy. It’s too remote for papers to be checked unless heading on the main roads towards Shiro no Soshior Pokau. Checking in some of the small fishing villages located along the lake, a man matching his description chartered a boat to take him across. That’s where the trail went cold. Locals said that there are a number of small villages off in the mountains. People come down occasionally to trade, but it would take a more concerted effort to investigate them. Taiki thought it best to return and report since he had exhausted all concrete leads.
Watchful summoned the magistrates to her warehouse where she presented signed documents authorizing her to store opium for medical purposes. Two people in black on horseback raided the warehouse the previous afternoon. Several guards had been killed and the rest chased off, when they returned an entire pallet of raw opium had been stolen. The description given of one of the horses matches Bayushi Otado's horse and a netsuke was found at the scene. When it was brought to him the next day, he identified it as his, claiming to have lost it a week earlier at the House of the Morning Star.
While responding to the request from Watchful the magistrates came upon a crime scene under investigation by Yogo Osako aided by Eyebrows. Two men were found dead in an alley. Osako remained insistent that this was her jurisdiction as a purely local matter.
Speaking to Eyebrows, he noted that both men had apparently been killed due to being struck by lightning due to the very distinctive burns present on both. He further noted that each had ligature marks on their wrists and ankles as if they had been bound, but no rope was found at the scene or any rope fibers on their bodies. Oddly they each had a sticky substance judged to be sap. Investigating it further showed that it was from a vine that only grows natively in the Island of Spice and Silk. Such sap would only be found in a fresh vine and though they could be grown in Ryoko Owari, it would take specific effort to do so.
Subtle arrived on the scene shortly, identifying both men as employees of his before conferring quietly with Osako.
Ichiro Taiki returned to the compound one evening with a man he had arrested in the North Rim of the Fisherman Quarter. Unfortunately the man was missing an arm and no longer alive. He found some Blue Flame on his body but Kasuga Osamu also noticed a tattoo on his arm (see attached files). It appears to be similar to one that was previously seen on a dead body found stabbed in the back in Samui Kaze Toshi.
While going to speak to Bayushi Korechika, Kasuga Osamu spotted a man leaving the estate with a hint of pale blue at his wrist. He followed him through the Merchant Quarter, across the Moment's Edge Bridge, and into the Fisherman Quarter until he vanished inside a large, well-maintained building whose sign indicated it as the Juniper Teahouse. Watching the building he observed all manner of disreputable sorts of characters come in and out, including a number who were intoxicated enough to pass out in the gutter, but not the man he had been following.
During The Poppy Invitational a hint of blue was briefly seen on the neck of Bayushi Shizuka when she met with a strange man in an alley late at night and handed him a small parcel. Later, in the bathhouse at the Scorpion Garden after the assassination attempt during the second day, she seemed to be particularly uncomfortable and kept her kimono tightly in place as she stood guard over Bayushi Kachiko, despite the heat and humidity of the bath.
A similar symbol was found stamped on a barrel in the Ichiban Storage warehouse. Though there were several items being stored that were not inventoried in the official ledger, this was the only one with that symbol on it. Inside the barrel was filled with grain with several large parcels of Blue Flame buried in it.
A bedraggled, homeless-looking, middle-aged man came to the compound and fell on his knees in front of Ichiro declaring him to be his lord, Ichiro-sama the son of the daimyo. He claims to have been searching for him for the past 30 years.
Although he barely remembers it, Nobu eventually recalls his own name, though he still frequently appears to be looking at things that aren't there.
Kasuga Osamu has heard rumors about NV from the less reputable parts of the city. It comes in bits and pieces, but is eventually able to be pieced together into a place known as Necessary Village. Few believe it to actually exist, but it's spoken of as a sort of El Dorado for opium. A place where vast quantities of processed opium exists, guarded jealously by an entire army in a fortress city. Even those who share these small scraps do so only after looking around carefully and speaking in hushed whispers. It is the sort of place men would kill to possess or to keep secret. That is, before nervously laughing it off entirely. Obviously the delusional fantasies of drug addicts and nothing more.
It's reputed to be somewhere near Ryoko Owari, but reports always differ: hidden in some high mountain valley inaccessible to the outside, deep inside the darkest part of the Shinomen Forest, deep under the city in some forgotten cave, right outside the walls hidden in plain sight but protected by all manner of devious traps and illusions, etc.
- Kasuga Nana
A number of shipments have been coming in on ships that are registered to front companies of theirs. Imperial law prevents them from doing business outside of the licensed ports, so they officially transfer shipments to domestic merchants all the time. It's technically illegal, but nobody cares because it makes the Tortoise's job easier. The problem is that, ironically, nothing is wrong. The shipments always arrive on time. They're carrying exactly what the manifests state. When inspected by customs officials everything bears the proper tax stamps. When overtures have been made to "lose" a few crates or carry a little extra cargo, the crews have proven remarkably incorruptible. Nothing functions this smoothly.
"... but what happened to her? This is weird and it's giving me a bad feeling."
"'What happened to her?' You should listen to yourself. What do you think happened to her? What happens to anyone?"
" I mean, if it was one of the other cartels she wouldn't just vanish like this."
"So now you're some big expert on the cartels? Please enlighten me, aniki."
"Shut up. You know what I mean. They would have moved in on the lab or something. They wouldn't just leave it. And the Firemen would have taken credit. No way would they pull off something this big and not want to be known for it."
"... which means I'm right."
"It doesn't prove anything. That's a myth."
"It totally isn't! You screw up and the Mountain gets you. Everybody knows that! It just shows how powerful he is that he didn't even care about upsetting Soshi-oyabun. For all we know he might be an actual oni!"
"There isn't some oni going around killing people! This is just like when you were claiming that there was a big war brewing between rival ninja clans. Besides, you said that Yuuki knew a guy who claims he was beat up by the Mountain. No oni would just beat a guy. Even if he exists — which he totally doesn't — he's probably only some big, tough guy. People just don't want to admit they got their asses kicked."
"Either way. What really matters is that Watchful isn't coming back. Whoever did it might come for us next. Or even worse, Soshi-oyabun will take it out on us anyway. I say we get the fuck out of town as soon as possible. Money's no good if you're not alive to spend it.
And oni are totally real! Why, a friend of mine was out in the fields outside of town a few weeks ago and he *swears* that he saw..."
- While returning through the woods after the boar hunt, about a half a mile from the road, they noticed a spot where the horses' hoof beats sounded different. Getting down and investigating the ground revealed a rough burlap sheet topped with dirt and leaves laid over wooden boards . Beneath them was a shallow pit in which several barrels of Friendly Traveler sake had been stashed. None of them with tax stamps. After opening discreet holes in the bottom to drain the product out in an apparent accident, it turned out that one of them was actually packed with gunpowder.
- Bayushi Korechika
expressed his concerns about the Crane control of gaijin shipping
arriving in western Rokugan. That a single clan being placed in control
of the licensed port operated primarily by the Thrane Rokugan Company at Jukami Mura could potentially invite corruption and evasion of imperial taxes. He also seemed knowledgeable about the actions of Ichiro Bando at The Topaz Championship along with Kasuga's time working in Kameyama Jima.
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