These entries were from a B Team night. Our GM, Dan Wells, couldn’t make it at the last minute, so I threw together a quick game. Same timeline, same world, only the PCs were made up of characters that are usually supporting NPCs, and we came up with backstory for them on the fly. These are some of the same guys we used in the last B Team game.
Paul played Tamori Fubatsu, a cursed swordsman who is currently serving as Kuni Magatsu’s yojimbo. The backstory I came up with for him was that his first assignment was to serve as the bodyguard of a promising young shugenja girl. They secretly fell in love. However, she turned to blood magic, was corrupted, and Fubatsu had no choice but to kill her. But the fact that she brought it on her self, Fubatsu kept secret, and as far as anyone knows he simply failed as a yojimbo. Hence, why he wound up serving Magatsu. (who knows the truth, and is in fact the man that discovered Fubatsu’s original charge had been tainted by evil).
During this game, Fubatsu had to go check on his old girlfriend’s father, to make sure he hadn’t been taken out during the Night of Assassins. Oh, the assassins had tried, only the hungry ghost that had moved in wasted them, and our guys wound up fighting their zombie ninja corpses. (This game was near Halloween so I went for horror).
From the journal of Hida Makoto, Crab Clan.
This will be brief. There has been much activity since the attack upon Shiro Tamori by foul assassins. The Tamori house guard asked for some assistance concerning an internal matter. One of their local lords was believed to have been a potential target of assassins as well, and there had been no word from his isolated estate. It turned out that this was the family of the deceased shugenja that Tamori Fubatsu had once served as yojimbo for. So I ordered Kakita Fujo to gather some horses and accompany Fubatsu on this errand.
They returned this morning on foot, exhausted and wounded, but with another Lantern volunteer who had been stuck outside the city walls after the gates were sealed because of the attack. His name is Matsu Abiru, a spearman of the Lion Clan. They had also been accompanied by a suspicious Scorpion ruffian, who I have not yet met, named Hideyoshi (a likely story). It turned out that the estate of Tamori Nitobi had in fact been attacked by assassins, but the assassins had all been dispatched. During Fubatsu’s investigation it was discovered that a gaki, impersonating the deceased shugenja girl, had taken up residence in the estate and had been feeding upon the grief of her father. Fubatsu was able to expose the creature for what it was by playing a song on his flute that only he and the shugenja had known. It flew into a rage and attacked.
I understand the solemn Tamori Fubatsu now. I believe he was in love with his charge. The dishonor of her death is what has brought him to the Paper Lanterns. So be it. He is a skilled swordsman.
The Lanterns were able to defeat the gaki, grown fat and powerful on grief, and its undead minions, but in the aftermath the estate was burned down and Tamori Nitobe committed seppuku. Fubatsu recorded Nitobe’s death poem.
Fleeting is the lie
Corrupted, a father’s wish
fog on the mountain
The men were dismayed that they had been unable to retrieve Nitobe as ordered. I told them there was no shame, and they had done Nitobe a favor. The hungry dead can be very tricky. I know them well. They are never pleasant, but some are far worse than others, and all of them feed upon different things. Some feed upon death, others sadness, or pain. I’ve even heard rumors of some that feed upon positive things, such as courage. This beast of Nitobe’s sounded particularly foul.
My little sister, O-Hinku has her own personal gaki that has shadowed her since birth. Step-father is a master ghost hunter, and says that her particular gaki feeds upon violence, and where O-Hinku goes, violence is sure to follow. Since he was unable to banish it, and it only causes harm to O-Hinku’s enemies, we accepted its presence, and in time grew used to it. You could not actually see it, but you could feel when it was near. Waiting, always hungry for death… Many nights of my childhood, I would awake, knowing that it was in the darkest corner of our room, watching.
Reminder: I must send a letter to each of those bushi’s daimyos, telling them of the courage their warriors showed for battling the foul beast. Fujo earned a wonderful claw scar across his face. Only a few days with the Paper Lanterns, and he looks less like a Crane and more like a Crab already. Good for him. A warrior should not be so pretty.
To My Brother, Daidoji Arak,
I won’t lie to you, brother, I was frightened.
There is a terrifying quality to mist. So often we describe the blood from those we slay in battle as a “spray” or a “mist” of blood as our weapons cleave through our foes. I used to think it was just an expression, but now I wonder if it isn’t some sort of mental connection we have between the horrors of battle and our fears that hide in the mists.
I was only with the Paper Lanterns for a day, brother, when I was sent away on an errand. Do not think poorly of me, as it was for a good cause. Things go poorly here in Shiro Tamori. The Daimyo lies dead and we have fought strange creatures thought to be myth—Goju. They are no myth, and you know that I am not one to sully my honor with false proclamations.
I apologize. I have strayed from the subject.
Fear, brother. A good warrior embraces small amounts of fear. It keeps the samurai wary and prepared. A day’s ride from Shiro Tamori we entered the estate of Tamori Nitobe. I could feel a wrongness right from the beginning. I won’t bore you with the trivial details—though I know how you say it the little details that make all the difference when tracking—but a gaki was preying on the shugenja’s grief. We first fought its undead minions, then the gaki itself.
I have been studying with a shugenja from the Crab Clan. A Kuni. He has given me the most basic teachings on the shadowlands. The instant I felt the mist grow denser and the temperature drop unnaturally I knew we were dealing with pure evil. I recognized the gaki for what it was and pushed myself to the forefront of the melee. My sensei, as you know, always said I made for an imposing figure, and even the creature must have recognized it. I took the best punishment it could deliver. I guarded my companions with my life as I was taught.
We were victorious. I don’t take pride in killing, but I couldn’t help but feel the roaring of the blood through my veins after vanquishing the monster and seeing all my traveling companions live through the danger. We lived, but did not come through unscathed. I was nearly blinding by the claws of the creature, and now wear the scars of the victory across my face. The deluded shugenja Nitobe killed himself before we could take him to Shiro Tamori. His dishonor harms us all.
Brother, I trust that you are well, and that this letter does not make you concerned for my well-being. I will leave you with news to uplift your heart.
I have found my true love. The Topaz Champion, Chiyoko, is here as the Lord of the Paper Lanterns’, Ide Todo, yojimbo. We have heard of her beauty, but it is meaningless until seeing her in person. She is the most beautiful woman I have ever seen.
You know my past. You know I was removed from being a duelist. I have dedicated myself to improving upon the art as an homage to her. I will not shirk in the skills my sensei taught me, but I am taken by the woman and will do my utmost to gain her favor. There is rumor that Ide Todo serves as a nakado…perhaps I will talk to him when I have earned more honor in his eyes.
What would she think of the fear I felt upon facing the gaki? Would she be ashamed of my fright at the unnatural mist? Will she feel I am weak upon seeing my marred face? I will keep you apprised, brother, until we see each other again…I still owe you sake for that time in the woods hunting a boar.
Until then, know that I am in good hands. I bring honor to our clan. I also am learning to respect our neighbors. The Crab, while brutish, continue to impress me. One day I will stand on the wall with their revered Defenders. Ide Todo is, as we have been led to believe, a most honorable man. He makes the hard decisions and battles well with his words…he even asked for defensive training from a Crab. A smart man.
You taught me to always learn from my surroundings. Seeing as I am surrounded by people of other clans, I apply your wisdom to them.
Be well, brother,
PS – If you desire, I will tell you of what I learn from the Kuni. You once mentioned your desire to understand more of the shadowlands. Do you still wish this?
To be continued next week, when the Paper Lanterns get to watch a god die. http://larrycorreia.wordpress.com/2012/06/01/the-burning-throne-episode-30-return-of-the-dead-moon/