The Burning Throne, Episode 32: Road to Pale Oak Castle

The stakes have risen. There is a war in the celestial heavens and it is spilling over into the mortal world.

Continued from: http://larrycorreia.wordpress.com/2012/06/08/the-burning-throne-episode-31-the-toymakers-craft/ 

Kuni Magatsu is played by Paul Genesse, who is an awesome author. If you’ve not read his series of fantasy novels, you are really missing out. http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?lt1=_blank&bc1=000000&IS2=1&bg1=FFFFFF&fc1=000000&lc1=0000FF&t=monshuntnati-20&o=1&p=8&l=as4&m=amazon&f=ifr&ref=ss_til&asins=B006PU7PIE

 

Twenty First Entry

From the journal of Hida Makoto, Crab Clan.

I write these words while on the path to Pale Oak Castle deep within Phoenix territory.  We travel to find Hiruma Todori, and to persuade him to kill himself with the shamesword for the good of the empire. If he is unwilling, then I will do it for him, but he is Crab, and therefore I know he will do the honorable thing.

The morning after the death of Lady Moon, we gathered in a war council at Shiro Tamori. Otomo Hoketuhime was present, and Mirumoto Kai, daimyo of the Dragon had arrived during the night of madness. Ide Todo reported the entirety of what we’d seen and what had been told to us by Satsu. Hoketuhime demanded to see the shamesword.

This was nerve wracking. I know that the evil sword has a powerful pull, tempting even the mighty will of Kuni Magatsu, and now we were to display it openly in a room full of courtiers? I would stop anyone that attempted to pick up the blade. Hoketuhime will be my mother in law someday, though she does not know that yet, so being forced to club her would be particularly awkward.

But the courtiers surprised me with their wisdom. No one attempted to lay hands upon the sword. There was some debate over whether we should take the sword to Todori, who was serving in the Fourth Imperial Legion in Phoenix lands, or take the sword to Hoketuhime’s palace for safe keeping and send a messenger to bring Hiruma Todori to us… In the end, Ide Todo decided that time and distance favored going to Todori directly at the war front.

Hoketuhime surprised me with her generosity, and provided thirty of her Seppun guardsmen to accompany us. I believe Ide Todo thinks those Imperial guard are more to keep an eye on us, but I like to think that the Fortunes are softening my future mother in law’s heart. The Tamori house guard provided six bushi, and we will be travelling with Bayushi Ujiro and his twelve men. The decoy sword was placed on a palanquin and I ordered Shinjo Braga to protect it all costs. With Braga’s tendency to run his mouth, the whole of the empire will soon think the shamesword is in that box. We departed immediately thereafter.

Even moving quickly, the journey will take many weeks. While we ride I will continue to speak with every one of the Lantern bushi. I have much to learn from them, and will listen to their experiences in battle, and try to apply those lessons to my own plans as Nikutai. I will coordinate with them so that when the time comes for the Lanterns to enter combat, they will know how to react without hesitation.

We will provide glory and honor to the name of Ide Todo.

Oh, I almost forgot. Should we not die battling the Army of Dark Fire in Phoenix lands shortly, Otomo Hoketuhime has invited the Paper Lanterns to stay at her personal court. This is an incredible honor, and Otomo Yuni will be there. My reputation as a warrior has grown greatly since I was sent on this quest by Kisada, I have learned much about the ways of the court, and with Ide Todo himself serving as my nakado, I will be sure to win Lady Yuni’s hand in marriage.

I would like very much not to perish until I do that.

Twenty Second Entry

From the journal of Hida Makoto, Crab Clan

I must be brief. I take only a moment to update this scroll. As the moon fell a few days ago, today the sun fell. I fear Lord Sun is no more.

The sun did not rise this morning. It was not hidden by clouds or fog, it simply did not rise. It rose late, and then we saw similar erratic behavior as last time. I write this in futility, for surely everyone in Rokugan witnessed the events. The sun was cast down from the sky and fell somewhere far to the south east of us. A new sun took its place.

Hida Yakamo was Lord Sun, a mortal Crab champion who died and lived again, raised to the status of a god in the celestial heavens upon the death of Lady Sun many years ago… My mother is a distant cousin of Hida Kuon, direct descendent of Hida Yakamo, so thus I was related to the Lord Sun. If there is truly a war in heaven, then I fear that with Lord Sun cast down, the heavens have lost their greatest warrior. I am certain Yakamo fought a battle worthy of the Crab Clan. As soon as I know for certain who is the other side in this celestial war, I would very much like to kill a multitude of them.

#

From the Private Scrolls of Kuni Magatsu, Crab Clan Shugenja

Phoenix Clan Lands, at Pale Oak Castle

We have arrived and found out that Hiruma Todori has gone missing behind the lines of the Yobanjin horde. In three days the castle may be under siege and we have few options. The path around their lines through the mountains would take too long. The path out across the plains would also take too long, so we are faced with one option, break through their front and find him. I sense that he still lives, but my powers of prediction are not infallible, though the vision I saw in the bottom of the bowl of sake was clear: Todori’s covetous eyes staring at the sword I laid at his feet.

If the generals agree, we will stage a maneuver done often at the Wall, a false feint. We will build up our forces, allowing the enemy to see some of our movements—not too much or they will be suspicious. We will force them to draw men away from the area where we will sneak through the line. If they fail to reinforce their line at our area of strength, we will burst through there instead. If they attack in the area where we were going to go through, we will turn, meet them, and crush them there, as they will be drawn into a trap as the reserves will be waiting for them. As our forces kill them, we will slip through in the fog and rain.

The drums and horns of the Crab Clan will announce our attack, and many banners—to confuse them and exaggerate our numbers—will wave in the twilight before we launch a false attack. Archers will volley and there may be a charge, but we will draw them close and I will strike with all the strength of the kami.

I will use the Fury of Osono-Wo to sow fear and chaos in their ranks. Thunder clouds and their kami watch us every day now, for it is their time of the season and they think themselves triumphant. They will not expect my hand to reach so high and pluck them from the clouds, tearing them loose from the heavens as if they were eyeballs that I so easily ripped from a dead oni.

After the chaos of the attack, some of the Paper Lanterns and I will go behind the lines of the Yobanjin with or without the help of the warriors guarding Pale Oak Castle. We will find Hiruma Todori and allow him to save the Empire.

If Todori is already dead, or we are overwhelmed by our enemies, I shall face a dark decision. The sword must not fall into the hands of the Oracle of Dark Fire. My companions will undoubtedly die gloriously in oceans of blood before they let that happen—except for Makoto, as he is too stubborn to die now, and has a different fate altogether; but Fubatsu will fall before he sees me killed.

After my grim yojimbo is gone, and only Makoto and I remain with our tetsubos covered in the blood and brains of our enemies, I will have to draw the blade myself. It will corrupt me someday, but before it does and I am slain, there will be a Unicorn Vizier serving a Crab who sits on the Emerald Throne, and the Emperor will be the grandson of an eta who killed more than twenty goblins one winter in the Shadowlands not so long ago.

#

To be continued next week when the characters head outside of the Empire for the very first time.  http://larrycorreia.wordpress.com/2012/06/22/the-burning-throne-episode-33-leaving-the-empire/ 

2 Responses

  1. Love the last 2 paragraphs. Such determination, and faith in Crab Clan. Is that a teaser we see with the last lines involving the future Emperor?

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