Islands of Silk and Spice

The Heroes journey to the distant Mantis Islands, meeting briefly with Ko Mein Ko aboard Chung Szu Ao (“Loyal Silk Tortoise”), his pleasure junk. There, arrangements are made for the Samurai to journey south about a Mantis ship to Ikari Isle.

The Samurai arrive at Ikari Isle, now an enormous, dark volcano shrouded in storm clouds at its peak. Tomoyori attempts to commune with the kami of the volcano, but fails to make a sacrifice, and awakens some of its ire: in the form of magma serpent which slips into the water and steams towards the boat. The Heroes disembark, making for the volcano to dispell the dark spirit. The serpent strike the junk, destroying in. The Samurai watch the boiled corpses of the soliders bob on a steaming bay before turning to head into the thick, lush jungle at the beachslopes of the volcano. Read the rest of this entry »

Cold Winter Snow

5th Year in the Reign of Hantei 39th, 12th Day of the Tiger

The Heroes make landfall along the northern edge of the Crane coast in the dead of winter. Arriving only a hours before a snow storm, they find shelter in a teahouse by a small mura (“village”) in Yushikishi (“Snow Beach”) province. There, they are joined by two Phoenix holy men who have come on foot, bearing the storm at their backs. Isawa Sodan, a Phoenix Shugenja, and Lao Jen Sha (“Old Man Shark”) greet their cousin, Isawa Ikahashi in the teahouse. They have been sent to aid him, and doubly Sodan-san was entrusted to protect his sensei, Lao Jen Sha – who is not a priest at all. He is a fisherman of many years, a quiet master at his craft, and he is greatly revered by several Phoenix. Unfortunately, he does not know how he is to aid the Heroes.

As the fury of the storm unfolds about them, battering the simple teahouse, the Heroes begin to feel a nearby dread. They learn that peasants have been dying of the cold as of late; and later that evening, the encounter a Crane bushi at the beachside shrine.

The unknown bushi is frozen solid in prayer at the shrine. The Heroes become hard pressed to travel, even about the small village, by the increasingly violent snow. The “murders” seem to increase, with the villagers remaining ignorant. Investigation only reveals that “…it is winter…it is cold…people die” as a matter of fact.

Even communing with the kami proves pointless, for the kami’s warning falls on deaf ears. It is only when the hidden blood sorcerer, a maho-tsukai, assaults the ancient Lao Jen Sha that their enemy is revealed.

The Heroes destroy the vile sorcerer too late to save Lao Jen Sha, but the Fortunes smile upon them still: the Old Man Shark saves his last breath to relay one elusive fact to Isawa Ikahashi and Isawa Sodan: there is a great pain far to the east, in the great sea.

And then, with a cold last breath, the Master Fisherman joined his ancestors, leaving the Heroes alone in the night storm.