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.

After an arduous and dangeous climb up the face of the volcano, the Heroes come face to face with an spectral apparition of their old enemy: Opawang, the Dead Spirit King. The malignant entity remembers them well, and tortures their senses with previously unknown and powerful illusions. They narrowly survive the encounter (and the subsequent hundreds’ foot dive into the ocean below) due to the influence of kami who may be Megumi, the Fortune of Heroic Fate. The fortune explains that the Heroes do not have the means to defeat Opawang this time; too many things work against them, and more shall be coming. In order to gain the knowledge to defeat the Dead Spirit King, the Heroes must seek a famous Noh Theater which was destroyed early in Rokugan’s history and which has now – somehow – returned. What they will find there, or even what, where or how to find this place remains a mystery.

The Heroes are picked up days later by a Mantis ship. The sea junk bears them to Wan no Asaguroi Mizu (“Bay of Dark Water”) and the Islands of Silks and Spice beyond it. There, they will meet with Ko Mein Ko once again, and seek further aid.

Upon their return to the Mantis Islands, the Heroes make the acquaintance of Kakita Toshiro, just disembarked from his Uncle’s junk. The ship of a Lion Magistrate is spotted boldly (and ill-fortuitiously) crossing Wan no Asaguiroi Mizu; at the insistance of Daidoji Yosai, Mirumoto Shuzento boards Toshiro’s Uncle’s junk, to sail back to the mainland and report to his daimyo. Clearly, the action is not taken to prevent a incident between the Dragon Hero and the representatives of the Shogun, Akodo Gohei. Kakita Toshiro, on a long term journey from his lord to gauge the political climate among the neighbors and allies of the Crane, joins up with the Heroes.

Ko Mein Ko greets the Samurai in fine style, and listens to their words with great intent and dread interest. Before matters can be completed, however, a most dishonorable incident occurs: the Matsu yojimbo to the Lion Magstrate kills the Phoenix yojimbo (and cousin) to the visiting Isawa Ikahashi over a matter of honor. The entire “duel” takes place in seconds, just outside Ko Mein Ko’s chambers. The horrible repercusions of the event quickly unfold: the Mantis *hang* the Matsu from the highest tower of their piers before all comers. The grave insult of killing a guest of the Mantis in their own Palace offends all. The Lion Magistrate lobbies against the action, but accepts it. He leaves with his party immediately after, promising reribution for the Mantis’ shaming of the Lion.

The Heroes quickly act on their limited knowledge, seeking out a retired Kakita trained playwright to help them unravel the few clues they have gained. Luckily, such a playwright lives on one of the myriad of the Mantis Islands, living out his remaining days as a humble bee keeper. With the loan of a small craft, the Heroes seek out the bee keeper/playwright. After dealing with a nest of kappa, the Samurai find and discuss their situation with the elderly bee keeper. They given the name of Kakita Sato, a playwright of great worth, but known mostly only to those educated on such things; Sata-sama created great works over seven hundred years ago ~ works which have since become esoteric and unknown. The bee keeper relates that Sato end his life after his last play, as he realized any further works would be lesser. It is said his theater burned to the ground days afterwards. The exact location ofd the Tsuma Theater, however, is unknown ~ at least to the bee keeper.

The Heroes opt to return to Kyuden Mantis, and then to the northern Crane shores.

(original story. Also see Ochimo, Season One)

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