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Greetings Brothers,

I have spent my days scourging the Shinomen Mori for signs of our emperor. I have found remnants of tainted Crab Bushi, leftover from the Clan Wars. I have found Gaki, Ronin bandits that call themselves the Forest Killers. I have found ancient ruins of the Naga, talked with roaming Nezumi tribes and fought with Oni and Bloodspeakers and suffered terrible wounds. But nowhere have I found any sign of our beloved Emperor.

I have further discovered that a bandit leader who is half Gaijin and goes by the name Rodrigo is currently looking for the Masks of Iuchiban, to this end he attacks Crab, crane and Phoenix caravans. Our Daimyo Kuni Utagu-Sama has charged me to find this bandit and to protect our caravans. It has also come to my attention that a secret meeting is taking place in Kyuden Kitsune, between the Mantis, Crane, Lion and Unicorn. We will accompany the Unicorn Emerald Magistrates to Kyuden Kitsune to determine what is being discussed as the result of this meeting could impact both the Crab and Crane clans as well. I will await your arrival in the House of Magistrates in Kuda Mura village.

As for the rest of the empire:

The dragon surrounded by the indomitable peaks and crags of the northern mountains, the dark crasp of the Champion's black hand tightens around the Dragon Clan, driving them farther into the enigmas they once sought to understand. The last bastion of magic and myth, they struggle against waves of invaders, striking back with a fury that comes from the heart of madness.

From within the deep forests of the Empire, the ancient race of Naga stirs its mighty armies. The Daini, once a brother of the Dragon Clan but now sworn to lead his new allies, commands the slaughter of the Clan he once served. Soon they will climb the peak of the Mirumoto mountains and conquer the secret heart of the Empire beneath a blackened sky.

From the wide oceans, a fleet of ships bearing the colors of the Mantis have set sail toward Otosan Uchi, the heart of the Empire. Led by Yoritomo, the boldest warrior in Rokugan, the Alliance is forging a new house to lead the Empire into its new age. Some say he vies for the throne himself. The Mantis say they come in the name of peace, with the Emperor's seal to defend their actions, but now the Alliance must choose between duty and power.

There are shadows on the wall, and strange figures in the southlands. Know that a Crab has no fear of the demons of that dark realm, but these are something different. Something we have not seen before... Deep in the Twilight Mountains, near the ruins of the Boar Clan Palace, our scouts report strange markings in the trees and unknown tracks. The moon shines brightly over those forsaken lands, and the men whisper superstitous nonsense- of ninja and ghosts. I have removed these men from active duty. Perhaps the strain of constant fighting along the Wall has broken their minds. Yet, I cannot forget the faces of the men who have died under my command these last months, and when I hear their voices calling me from the western mounitains, I can only question my own sanity. It is as if Jigoju itmself has refused their souls, forcing them to walk the empire forever, lost to the fortunes. The dead walk in the Shadowlands, but these spirits are nothing I have ever seen before.

The Crab will prevail.

Kuni Rashomon

 
 
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Our magistrates arrive at the Watchtower of the east. This tower predates the Kaiu Kabe itself. It once served as a northern guard, looking for signal fires from the south from troops stationed to defend against a Shadowlands attack. Since the building of the Carpenter Wall it had been rendered almost completely useless, and had remained largely abandoned. Those who now served here were mostly criminals, dishonored samurai and those fallen into disfavor.
The athmosphere is grim and reminds our heroes of a prison, The Tower's Taisa (captain) Hida Banruken welcomes the magistrates and their traveling compainions and appoints them their rooms. Some time after dark, Kuni shidjiro joins them and they discuss what happened before and their next course of action.
Being a bit paranoid, the group decides to post guards throughout the night.
During Yasuki Kyoshi's watch, he lights a quick opium pipe in his room whe he suddely hears the blood curdling scream of someone falling to his death flashing by his window. However, when he looks outside, there is nothing to be seen. Kyoshi summons an air spirit that confirms to him something is amiss, the Tower is haunted. He goes out in the yard where he encounters some Hida.
Meanwhile Hoshi Eisai has come under attack, the Magistrates wake up to the sound of fighting. Mirumoto Sadamasa is fighting a Ghost Maho Bujin and with the help of our heroes the attacker is defeated.
While Kyoshi continues his investigations, Kakita Mitsurugi prepares to do another performance of his play. he recieves help from a local Kaiu with building a proper stage.

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Kyoshi discovers there are three power groups operating in the tower: The Iron Pincers, backed by the Hida, The Syndicate, backed by the Yasuki and the Ghostfaces, backed by the Kuni. It is clear these groups operate outside the laws of Rokugan and that at least one of these had something to do with the death of the ronin. The other members largely ignore his investigations and the athmosphere is getting grimmer by the minute, leaders of the three groups all claim innocence and point fingers at the others. Only when Kuni Shidjiro and Hida Buruke interfere the magistrates make a break trough. Apparently the Ghostfaces killed the ronin in order of the Yasuki Syndicate whom the victim owed money to.
Heads roll and tainted individuals meet their death at the hands of the Magistrates and in the end, the leader of the Syndicate is granted permission to ask his lord for Sepukku.
In the evening Kakita Mitsurugi performs an excellent rendition of the play with suberb Mae Dancing skill, all the onlookers are greatly impressed and Doji Harudoki even comments she will sponsor Mitsurugi should he ever wish to perform the play in Otosan Uchi.
Content with their actions, the heroes continue their journey and arrive a couple of days later in "The Belly of the Crab" Kuda Mura village.