Part 1: Legacy of the Forge

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Our heroes make their way towards Toshi Ranbo wo Shien Shite Reigisaho to meet with Tankenka the Imperial regent. However, once they arrive the see that the Lion and Crane armies are just about to engage hostilities. At the gates they encounter a group of lion Junshi, and their honourable conduct allows the heroes to add these to their travelling troupe. 
When they arrive in the location where the meeting is supposed to take place they learn that the imperial official has already deceased. The follow him in the afterlife where they see a host of spirits possessing both armies and degenerate the scene in an all encompassing slaughter, with no regard for sides. The spirit of Tankenka explains the Legacy of the Forge and gives the heroes a spell scroll to stop it. It's two prerequisites are: a battle of significant worth and a sacrifice in the ritual to return the Legacy. 
Knowing that Daidoji Uji will lay siege on Shiro no Yojin, the heroes quickly make their way to where this battle will take place.
Our heroes arrive to see that Daidoji armies are already preparing their siege. . With a quick decision from Hida Buruke they charge towards the Shiro no Yojin while the Lion general is assassinated from somewhere within the fortress. 
Once they start the ritual the heroes are suddenly attacked by Goju Ninja. A fierce battle ensues but in the end they succeed in returning the Legacy to the proper spirit realm. In hindsight  it is clear that The Lying Darkness was behind the summoning of the spirits from the Realm of Slaughter.
At the end of the battle, an imperial messenger delivers them the following letter:
A quick examination yields a hidden message, when folded correctly the letter reads: "Be careful in the Imperial court. Our Emperor is not himself. Great danger awaits all of you. Do not stay long in the forbidden City"

Part 2: The Sentaku Tribunal

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The heroes arrive in the capital of Rokugan; Otosan Uchi. They are welcomed by Hida Kosuga, who governs the Kosuga district. He explains that their letter is no free pass into the Forbidden City but that they must apply to see the emperor trough the Sentaku tribunal.
The heroes relocate to the Karada district, governed by Hida Reitaan where they recieve the information about three possible Sentaku backers: Yasuki Maro, Daidoji Jikkyo and Otaku Geshiko. Each of these have their own idiosyncrasies and prerequisites before they will pledge to back the heroes.
Furthermore, the heroes are required to display their cultural skills by folding an origami crane.
By performing various tasks and investigating several options the heroes finally get the backing of several Sentaku members.

Part 3: The Emperor Retuned

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Finally the heroes are allowed to enter the Forbidden City. They are summoned to court where they enjoy a lavish feast. Kuni Shidjiro is almost poisoned here but is warned by his Jade chopsticks. When Kyoshi and Yorito use their shadowsight they immediately see that the emperor has been compromised by the Shadow. However, at this point they get an uncontrollable urge to kill the emperor.
Meanwhile the heroes have received the new status of Emerald Magistrates. Yorito manages to suppress his feelings but Kyoshi starts casting a spell in the middle of court. This results in the entire group being arrested and thrown in jail. 
A week later, all are released and the magistrates learn further news about what transpired in court:

The Emperor stalked forward without warning, cutting off the sentence mid-query. His hand fell to his sword and he struck with Akodo precision.

Isawa Osugi’s headless corpse slumped to the ground. “Kolat,” Toturi the First whispered. The word reverberated around the silent court chamber with the force of an Imperial decree. He sheathed his blade with slow deliberate motions. A hundred courtiers watched in stunned silence as the Emperor of Rokugan gave his victim a disinterested glance. Without another word, he turned and sauntered out of the room.

Silence reigned in the Imperial Court long after the Emperor’s last steps faded into oblivion. Every samurai in the room was trained from childhood to navigate the treacherous waves of political intrigue, but their training had not prepared them for this.

“I had always heard of the Kolat as a myth,” Kitsu Sanetori said slowly.

“The Kolat is a myth,” Yasuki Tansa quickly interjected.

“They are peasant tales, myths of boogeymen and phantoms creeping in the night…” His voice trailed off into an embarrassed silence. No one stated the obvious: when the Emperor of Rokugan publicly named them, the Kolat were no longer a myth.

“We are fortunate the Glorious Emperor is ever vigilant,” Kakita Aihara murmured. His small voice was barely audible in the quiet room. “He has only just returned to us from his difficult ordeal, and he is already protecting the Empire from those who would threaten it.”

Sanetori smiled and his foot stamped the floor in approval. “The Emperor is a true warrior who will not hesitate to act! True Lion blood courses in his veins! Our enemies stand no chance, and no Kolat could ever stand his might.”

Shinjo Tanimuro smiled, but it did not reach his eyes. “You cannot defeat every enemy with your katana, Kitsusan. The Emperor’s disappearance was not solved with brute force but by the cleverness of our Otaku Battle Maidens. No one knows how much this… Kolat infestation… has spread. We should proceed with caution.”

Yoritomo Hogosha raised his wrinkled hands into the air with a theatrical flourish. Despite his advanced age, his voice rang clearly through the court. “You ignore the obvious! The Emperor has spoken clearly with his actions. The young Isawa was the pearl of the Phoenix Clan and she was a treacherous whelp. Their entire clan is suspect and they cannot be trusted. Surely now no one can protest the Mantis Clan’s rightful claim of our Imperial Charter. We will continue our venture into unaligned lands as per our mandate from the Emperor.”

The room silenced once more as all heads turned toward the Phoenix detachment. They shared quick glances, struggling to ignore Osugi’s cooling body. Finally, a young girl stepped forward and cleared her throat.

“Your armies march into Phoenix lands, Hogosha-san. They are Phoenix lands, and Phoenix ancestors tended to those lands. You cannot confuse the issue. We will not stand idly by while your tyrannical Champion attacks us.” Hogosha snorted. “Your brightest was a traitor, and the rest of your—”

“Enough,” Bayushi Muraisan shouted. “Your petty insults can continue soon enough, Hogosha-san. You cannot ignore the threat of the Kolat. We have heard the tales. We have heard of their strengths. They are our true enemies. The Scorpion stand ready to face them. Do you?”

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After they learn about this events the magistrates confer about the nature of the Kolat, most of which is unknown to them at this point. Mitsurugi leaves to warn his wife-to-be and she explains much more about the Kolat.
However, when he returns to discuss what he has learned, that the Kolat is a powerful enemy of the Lying Darkness, suddenly the conversation switches towards the loyalties of the two shadow-tainted companions. Tempers flare up and katana's are drawn.
Kakita Yorito decides to leave his companions but Yasuki Kyoshi sees no such alternative as a solution. Realising his tool has been compromised, the Lying Darkness floods Kyoshi with shadow taint and transforms him into a shadow-beast.
A brutal fight ensues but in the end the magistrates are victorious and succeed in defeating the shadow...


 


Comments

Shidjiro
25/05/2013 5:26pm

(out of game comment; thanks for a super weekend of roleplaying GM!!!) It is now clear, all that are corrupted by the LD must die, if they do take the honour a committing sepoku they will be slain relentlessly. I had the "luck" of being able to experiment on my late brother Kyoshi, injecting crystal , smoking and eating it but nothing seemed to help. There is only one problem, the Emperor himself has been infected! I hope these Kolat will be able to help us with this but I fear we will have to leave the capital as soon as possible.
I have also stopped writing down my story because I now realise that this way the LD can spread, if other people read about it. Every evening I will shine my crystal lantern upon my brothers to see if they have been infected.

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