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New L5R Campaign – Episode 1 – On the Road

4 September, 2011

We begin at the Kitsu Tombs, finding our heroes: the two Lions (Akodo Arihito and Akodo Noriko) making prayers to their ancestors before heading south.  On the road they meet a Phoenix, Isawa Moeru, and roust a monk, Tora, sleeping by the road.  Finding that they are all traveling to the Monkey Clan Lands to see the Imperial Magistrate Toku Kobo, they decide (well the Phoenix decides) that they should go together.

We next find them, where the River of the Hour of the Wolf defines the southern edge of the Lion lands.  The Phoenix and monk stay in the inn there, which is festooned with protective ofuda as the river is thought by some to be cursed, while the Lions are put up at the barracks and fort there (The Wolf’s Watch) after Noriko goes and fishes on the river bank.  The next day, they cross the river on the ferry along with a grizzled ronin, who gives his name as Watcher, who tells them how the river got its name:

Look to the far shore, that now placid land was once the sight of one of the greatest battles between the Lion and Scorpion.  It is said that at the height of the battle, during the hour of the Wolf, that ten thousand samurai died.  The river – which had a different name at that time – ran crimson red with the blood, the blood staining the water as far as the sea itself.   Priests and monks have spent years purifying the river, but even today there are those who refuse to drink from it.  Due to this terrible battle, the Hour of the Wolf was renamed the Hour of the Dog, as the river was renamed to ensure that the loss of life would never be forgotten.

The ronin leaves them on the south side of the river, heading west, while our heroes continue south.  The land on the river bank was obviously once fields, many years ago, but have been so long abandoned that no trace of the villages that must have once been there remained.  At the end of the day they find themselves at the Inn of the Willow Branch.  It is a typical ryokan built next to a natural hot spring.  The inn has stood in it current form for two hundred year and earlier incarnation trace back a further four hundred years.  It is build in a style popular in the time it was build and thus seems a little antique or quaint to modern eyes.

The interior is very well kept and much of it is more modern than the exterior.  A jade seal showing the Miya mon is prominently displayed on one of the roof beams, showing that it is under the aegis of the Miya family.  The stables has a full quarter of its space set aside just for the use of the Miya messengers.

It is run by the widow Hinagiku and her four daughters assisted by two grooms, two stable boys and a cook.  They take rooms and bathe, after the monk and shugenja were asked by the widow Hinagiku to look at one of her other guests, Bayushi Douaku, who is deathly sick and tended by his two servants.  Moeru realizes that nothing can be done to cure him and recommends opium to ease his pain.

Later that evening a Miya messenger arrives on his route north after most have retired to bed.  Shortly after the last person fell asleep, the night was torn by screams.  Our heroes ran out into the hall and cut their way into the Bayushi’s room, causing the corpse of one of his servants to fall out.  Inside was a long limbed white skinned oni with spikes on all of its joints and burning red eyes.  Between fire from the Phoenix, the steel of the Akodo and the monk’s martial skills to keep it from escaping, and they slay the oni who melts away.  The Bayushi is missing, though his two servants are clearly dead.  The Isawa questions the elements and comes to the conclusion that the Bayushi became the oni, which is very troubling.

The staff cleared away the mess, but not the bodies waiting for the eta to come in the morning, and everything returns to normal.  Until Tora decides to sneak downstairs for a small drink and runs into a trio of bandits heading up the stairs.  Combat ensues.  The monk manages to hold off the bandits, by throwing one bandit down the stairs into the other, until the rest of our heroes can arrive.  At that point, things go badly for the bandits on the stairs and the two others looting the inn.  One of whom is captured and questioned, revealing that there are five more bandits.  The samurai put on armor and then pushed the bandit out the door in front of them to find . . . nothing.  The other bandit have looted the non-Miya part of the stable and fled.  The staff was soon found tied up and gagged.

As the day dawned, our heroes and their prisoner continued to Monkey lands and the Miya headed North.

Notes: First game of the so far unnamed new L5R campaign.  Everything seemed to go well, though we were down a couple of players whose characters should join us at the Vigilant Keep of the Monkey.

Also, I am reminded that Fire shugenja sure can project a lot of damage.

Onward to Episode 2.

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