Rokugan SRIU Episode 4 “Paper Street” (L5R Campaign Report)26 June, 2015
The characters have just returned from Ryu Bannin Toshi and their tiger hunting and temple building where they are rejoined by the Otaku and introduced to the new member of the unit:
Suzume Ryosuke, a brave and heroic Sparrow bushi . . . who likes the ladies. (Suzume bushi 2, Played by C1.)
The next morning they head to Kamimachi (“Paper Street”), this way station is just across the border from the Imperial lands in the Crane clan, it is clean and prosperous, and famous for its paper arts (thus the name) at the request of the proprietess of the honjin (Imperial Inn) Shiba Youki, a retired court yojimbo, who was on good terms with the Crane. She is missing most of the lower two fingers on her left hand and has a pale scar on the left side of her neck. She has been watching the growing feud between the consortia with alarm as it is only a matter of time before the violence spills out into murder or property destruction within the way station.
Upon their arrival, the yoriki are met by Shiba Youki and the situation explained. The paper trade is dominated by two rival family consortia, the Koi (sponsored by the Daidoji) and Kazoku (sponsored by the now distant Yasuki). With the rising popularity of woodblock printed erotica (shunga) and satires (kibyoshi) the two consortia have become greater rivals as the money involved is enough to corrupt the merchants involved. There have been bandit attacks on shipments of paper and books recently, oddly, all falling on the Kazoku’s trade. The yoriki call the heads of both consortia in for a discussion, which basically runs, “sort this out or we will sort it out for you.”
The Koi consortium is headed by “Daikoi”, who despite his name is slender, though tall, with a squint. He is very serious. The Kazoku consortium is headed by the widow Hariko, who is in her sixties and tolerates no misbehavior. While she has no proof that the Koi is behind the recent setbacks her consortium has suffered, she suspects and has responded with increased guards and appeals to her patrons.
Hariko arranges to meet with the yoriki later and explains that the Kazoku have done nothing wrong, even when some of their printing block were stolen and reused by the Koi, even has their people have been threatened and beaten by thugs. Her family has played by the rules and Hariko is extremely upset that their honor would be impinged. The yoriki are moved by her sincerity and decide to look into the actions of the Koi in greater detail.
The Suzume and the Bayushi go to investigate the lower quarters of the town while the Hida, Otaku and Akodo talk to other visitors in the inn. The Suzume manages to resist has baser impulses and not succumb to the charms of a prostitute and even manages to get some information from her. The Suzume brings information that rough men have been hired to make life difficult for the Kazuku, the Bayushi’s observations confirm that as well. When Wuya returns, her information confirms that a group of bandits have been hired to make life difficult for the Kazuku who have been hiring guards and keeping to themselves to avoid trouble. The yoriki are pretty sure the Koi are behind the troubles for the Kazoku, but they are being clever and ating through intermediaries and cutouts so it cannot be directly traced back to him. It seems that the supply manager of the Koi paper warehouse, Toshi, is involved. The Akodo follows him to a house on the edge of town and is able to approach close enough to hear an argument but not what it is about before being chased off by being spotted by the guards.
With this information, the Suzume and the Bayushi are sent out to gather more information while the rest keep watch on the town from the inn. So, the Suzume goes looking for the prostitute he talked to before, but cannot find her, but the Bayushi notices that he is being watched by some of the rough fellows. Leaving to try and find a better place for information, the Suzume finally realizes he is being watched/followed and confront the thug. Between bribery and supernatural threats from the Bayushi they find out that the collection of bandits and toughs are under the command of “Two-sword” Rondo, who has a camp outside of town in the nearby forest, which he gives directions before fleeing as far away from the Bayushi as he can (the rest of the night is cut with scene of him doggedly marching through the darkness). With this new information, they return and report and it is decided to assault the bandit camp the next morning.
The next morning they travel the stream bank, as directed by the fled bandit, until they see a path leading into the woods. The Lioness is spotted and quickly kills the sentry, but not before he raises an alarm. It is not enough as the yoriki charge in, the Otaku on her mighty steed, and proceed to slaughter the bandits, most of whom are barely awake. Only Two-Sword Ronbo puts up a serious fight, managing to wound the Battle Maiden before he falls, badly wounded but not dead. Wuya rejoined the group, having circled around, leading two prisoners added to the three bandits the rest had captured, they headed back to Paper Street.
Everyone was gathered in the center of the waystation, the charges against the bandits were publicly read out, the lesser bandits were sentenced to hard labor and Rondo was executed. Though the Akodo did her best to bully it out of him, he would only say that his employer was the warehouse manager the moment before his execution. The population of the waystation seemed to notably shrink as the other thugs scurried away as had Toshi, who get a warrant put out on him. Their adventure in the town is soon immortalized in a printed work which is quickly distributed throughout the Empire.
Notes: The basic structure of the campaign here Rokugan SRIU and the previous episodes: Episode 1 “. . . and a monkey“, Episode 2 “Cherry blossoms fall . . .” and Episode 3 “Tigers, Temples and Trouble.” M is out of town so no Doji this episode. Next Episode here.
Shunga image from Wikimedia Commons (mildly and artistically NSFW) and is in the Public Domain.