The Century Before Thunder

Treacherous Terrain Part 1

After training at the Ruby Dojo for three months Soshi Otsu and Kakita Suteki are sent on their first task, escorting the Phoenix maiden, Asako Ryoko, back home to Pale Oak Castle. The Topaz Champion, Togashi Fumei, has been sent as their spiritual adviser. Also with them is fellow Ruby Dojo student, Matsu Sho.

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Topaz Championship Part 3

Topaz Champion:Togashi Fumei

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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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Topaz Championship
Test of Gempukku

Location: Tsuma

Time: Month of the Serpent, 1001

NPCs: NPC Contestants, The Judges, Topaz Attendants

Part One:

The group traveled to Tsuma and introduced themselves. On the way they met a mysterious old peasant named Sotan, who performed a tea ceremony for them. Due to the generosity of Soshi Otsu and Togashi Fumei, Sotan bestowed them with gifts. Otsu chose a scroll which contained the spell, Jade Strike, while Fumei chose a mahogany box which contained 20 koku, he gave the 20 koku back to Sotan and kept the box.

They registered for the Topaz Championship and went to greet the Emperor’s arrival to Tsuma. Along the way they encountered several of the other contestants.

The first event held was the Athletics competition, where they all went through an obstacle course designed to test their athletic ability. Only half of the 16 contestants would be able to grab a flag at the end of the course and be awarded one point. After an intense battle, Togashi Fumei and the ronin, Shitomeru, found themselves tied on the last leg, but Shitomeru pushed Fumei into the sand and finished first. Fumei finished second and Kakita Suteki also earned a point, finishing eighth.

The second event was the Heraldry competition where one of the judges, Doji Kaibara, dressed as historic figures and the contestants were asked to recognize the Clan, Family, School, Era, and Person that was depicted in the clothing. Amazingly Soshi Otsu and Togashi Fumei were able to name every detail asked of them, beating Suzume Kimiko and Shinjo Iruko respectfully. Kakita Suteki was not so lucky and was bested by Matsu Yuma.

The third event was the very popular Sumai match, the contestants were to throw each other out of the ring, best two out of three were awarded a point. Doji Kaibara had the contestants dress in traditional sumai attire and while given additional chest-wraps the women were greatly embarrassed by the whole proceeding. In the first match Togashi Fumei bested Hida Tanjiro in the third match and Fumei felt bad for the melancholy Tanjiro who faced a jeering Crab crowd. Kakita Suteki and Soshi Otsu faced off against each other and in an upset Otsu beat Suteki, much to the laughter of the Crab contingent.

The Horsemanship event was much like the Athletics, the top eight contestants would be awarded a point and individually they struck targets using a bow and a spear. Togashi Fumei and Kakita Suteki performed surprisingly well and were both awarded a point. Soshi Otsu missed both targets with the bow and it was too much to overcome to win a point.

The final event for the day was the Law Competition where contestants filled out a test of seven questions. Five correct answers were needed to gain a point. Soshi Otsu performed better than any other contestant and was the only one to answer all seven questions correctly. Togashi Fumei got the five answers he needed and was also awarded a point. Kakita Suteki only answered four correctly and missed out on the opportunity to gain his third point.

Topaz Score Board

5 Points: Togashi Fumei, Akodo Sosenkawa
4 Points: Matsu Yuma
3 Points: Soshi Otsu, Mirumoto Kenzan, Bayushi Tsukage, Shitomeru, Shinjo Iruko
2 Points: Kakita Suteki, Daidoji Mina, Koguchi, Isawa Ayako, Shiba Murai
1 Point: Hida Tanjiro, Suzume Kimiko
Disqualified: Daidoji Yoichi

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