The Century Before Thunder

Topaz Championship, Part 2

The Feast and Second Day

Topaz Scoreboard (prior to the Great Hunt)

8 points: Togashi Fumei
6 points: Kakita Suteki, Akodo Sosenkawa, Matsu Yuma, Bayushi Tsukage, Shinjo Iruko
5 points: Soshi Otsu, Daidoji Mina, Mirumoto Kenzan
4 points: Hida Tanjiro, Koguchi, Suzume Kimiko
3 points FAILURE: Isawa Ayako, Shiba Murai
Disqualified: Daidoji Yoichi
Dead: Shitomeru

Location: Tsuma

Time: Month of the Serpent, 1001

NPCs: NPC Contestants, The Judges, Topaz Attendants

The Feast

Soshi Otsu and Kakita Suteki were invited to a Topaz feast by Doji Kaibara and both decided to attend. Due to his status as the son of the Emerald Champion, Suteki was seated among some of the more prominent guests at the festivities, though not the most prestigious. Otsu, however, was seated in the last table with most of the other Topaz Contestants. Suteki and Otsu both noticed that the Crab Champion, Crane Champion, and Phoenix Master of Water were all catering to the Badger Clan Champion and his two sons. While this struck them as odd, they thought that there must be some political machinations at work and continued with their own conversations and meals.

During the course of the evening Bayushi Tsukage had in some way offended Doji Tatsuno, neither Otsu or Suteki noticed the exchange until Tatsuno got up and challenged Tsukage to a courtly contest. They both excuses themselves and left. Otsu was curious as to what plot her brother was up to and decided to leave to attend the contest. Suteki, loving competitions, also wanted to go watch, but was approached by Suzume Kimiko, who had been harboring a crush on him. She requested a walk around Tsuma with him and with the combination of not wanting to offend Kimiko along with his sister, Kakita Kinuyo’s insistence, he agreed to walk with her.

The Contest

Several people gathered to watch this “friendly” competition between Bayushi Tsukage and Doji Tatsuno. Among these were Otsu, Akodo Sosenkawa, Kakita Kinuyo, Iuchi Atsumori, and Shinjo Iruko. Tsukage suggested that the future Lion Champion, Sosenkawa, be the judge and Otsu saw this as an attempt to play the Lion against the Crane and Scorpion in some way. After two matches in music and storytelling but neither one had outdone the other, and Sosenkawa deemed it a tie, but Doji Tatsuno was unhappy with this and demanded a third match. Otsu selected poetry as their competition, ignoring Atsumori’s suggestion of a calligraphy competition. Tatsuno’s poem was deemed superior when Tsukage produced a veiled insult towards the Lion Clan.

At this time Togashi Fumei showed up, interested in gathering what wisdom he could from the festivities, he began inquiring as to what had transpired. Shinjo Iruko was happy to tell him about the competitions and Otsu noticed an interest Iruko held for the Ise Zumi. Iruko began to inquire into Fumei’s tattoos and if they held a story to them, she was particularly interested in his Ki-Rin tattoo, but Fumei responded that not all has a story, some simply are.

Walk through Tsuma

Reluctantly Suteki shared a walk through Tsuma with Suzume Kimiko, and while he remained courteous and friendly, he did not wish to lead the obviously enamored Sparrow on any more than he already had. Kimiko did most of the talking, as Sparrow are want to do, and insisted that they talk a walk through the gardens of Shiro Tsuma. After a romantic walk (in the mind of Kimiko that is), she leaned in as if to kiss Suteki when he was alerted by a noise he heard within the gardens. Suteki rushed to investigate and Kimiko followed suite.

What he saw shocked him, four men lay dead in the gardens of Shiro Tsuma. Judging from the Mon they were of the Badger Clan. He recognized them as the Badger Daimyo, his two sons, and a bodyguard. He quickly noticed a shuriken embedded in the throat and chest of one of the bodies, but it appeared to have been forced in, what actually killed each of them where katana.

After a quick moment of investigating the Ronin contestant Shitomeru showed up, katana in hand. He demanded an explanation and when Suteki and Kimiko said they had just arrived and saw the dead bodies, Shitomeru claimed a similar story. Suteki and Kimiko both noticed that Shitomeru carried a different katana than the one he had been carrying previously, but Suteki decided to keep that to himself. Shitomeru ran off to alert the guards and Suteki continued to investigate.

The guards quickly arrived, led by Doji Sahashi, and demanded an explanation. Suteki told all he knew and he, Kimiko, and Shitomeru were drug off to meet the Crane Champion and give their testimonies. Suteki saw his father Kakita Ikiruken arrive with a stoic face, but he simply nodded in recognition to his son as he proceeded to the Crane Champion. After waiting for quite awhile the three were called in to give their testimony.

Ikiruken lead the questioning and told them to only give him the facts and not speculation. Suteki obeyed and only gave what he knew for certain and did not provide his beliefs that Shitomeru was in someway behind this. When Shitomeru testified he added a story of seeing a man clad in black disappear in a puff of smoke when he arrived at the scene, obviously alluding to the legendary ninja. Ikiruken threw out Shitomeru’s story immediately as “foolish nonsense.” He asked Suteki to speak with him in private.

Ikiruken revealed to Suteki that the situation is much graver for the Crane and the Empire than the Badger Daimyo being murdered. Ikiruken lost his stoicism for a moment and appeared genuinely pained when he admitted that it was not the Badger Daimyo and his sons who were murdered but actually Emperor Hantei XXXIV and his two heirs. Unbeknownst to Ikiruken, the Emperor decided to dress as the Badger Daimyo so he could enjoy the festivities in peace, with few knowing his true identity. Ikiruken confided in his son that this will mean a great disgrace for the Crane Clan who allowed the Emperor to be murdered under their watch, and result in the seppuku in both he and Doji Gennai.

It was with this that Suteki told of his suspicions that Shitomeru was involved in the murders, and Ikiruken agreed, but said the Crab Clan would support Shitomeru’s innocence to save face themselves who invited him to Topaz. Suteki decided to give his testimony in accusation of Shitomeru and challenge the ronin to an irrefutable duel to the death. While Shitomeru was martially skilled, he was no match for Suteki in an iaijutsu duel and when Suteki cut the ronin down his guilt was determined. The Crab would share in the Crane’s guilt and punishment for supporting a man who murdered the Emperor and his two heirs. Suteki and Kimiko were sent off and told to not discuss these events with anyone.

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