This is not the last entry in the Writer Nerd Game Night Serial. There will be one more posted next Friday by Paul Genesse, and then we are done. But this is my last entry. Hida Makoto has reached the end of the line. Next week’s episode is the finale, and will wrap up this story.
If you have not read these, but you like my books, you should check it out. This weekly serial is based up on the Legend of the Five Rings RPG ran by Dan Wells, and participated in by a bunch of writers. It started out just for fun, as we’d take turns writing up the events of the game in a fictionalized manner, but then it sorta turned into a complete novel. We had a ton of fun writhing them, and I hope you enjoyed them.
I am going to miss Makoto.
If you would like to read all of these in one place, I’ve been posting them to the Legend of the Five Rings forum: http://www.alderac.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=295&t=94523
From the journal of General Hida Makoto, husband to Otomo Yuni, and Shogun of the Empire of Rokugan.
It feels as if I haven’t written on this scroll in a decade, when in reality, here in the realm of mortals, it has only been a few days.
Since last I’ve written, I have travelled across seven spirit realms. I have fought all manner of ghost and devil. My companions were heroes from the Realm of Thwarted Destiny, and together we battled our way across the Plains of Hell, through the Realm of Slaughter, and pierced through the Realm of the Hungry Dead. There I saved the life of Otomo Yuni. We were wed in the realm of our blessed ancestors and fought our way home through the Legion of Blood.
Ten years of my mortal life were consumed in ten minutes. It was worth every second.
Yuni safe, I returned to Ningen-Do and killed the man that poisoned my bride. We had confirmed the truth during our travels. Jimen revealed his truth to us deep in the Realm of Dreams. Knowing what we had taken from him, the Emerald Champion challenged me to a duel, but that did not end so well for him. Do not let your desperation overcome sense, and challenge a Crab to a duel while he is still wearing a blessed suit of Kaiu armor, for he will take your best shot, laugh in your face, and then drown you in a koi pond.
It was an ignominious end for an Emerald Champion.
Then we all nearly died at the obsidian hand of a man who I’d thought was my friend.
I had seen firsthand that the War in the Heavens was not going well for Lord Moon. Driven mad, Lord Moon possessed his avatar in the mortal world and attempted to claim this last realm for himself. Little did any of realize that Lord Moon’s chosen vessel had been in our midst all along.
Only a day had passed since my return. After Jimen’s death it was politics as usual as Hoketuhime maneuvered against her remaining rivals. I had saved her daughter, but the idea of the heir of an Imperial family being married to a simple Crab warrior was more than Hoketuhime could stand. But Yuni was as skilled a combatant in the courts as I was on the field of battle, so I passed those hours in Yuni’s company, while her mother plotted how to have me killed with the least amount of embarrassment.
Many of the most important personages in the empire had gathered in the palace to discuss the successor to the throne, when Fosuta Zuko barged in. He had been missing for several days. He named himself Togashi Shichiroji, the one known as the Poisoned Dragon, causing much turmoil among the courtiers. He proclaimed himself the representative of Lord Moon, and that Lord Moon said no puny mortals were worthy of the title of emperor, and with a single touch of his obsidian hand many leaders of the empire were obliterated.
The other imperials fled for their lives as the Seppun guard nobly threw themselves at the maddened Zuko to buy time for their charges to escape.
The entire castle was torn to pieces as every samurai in Toshi Ranbo assembled to fight him. Zuko was consumed by power beyond all comprehension. I was shocked to find out that a man that I had thought of as a friend and companion had actually been a murderous fiend all along. Magatsu and I were easily defeated, our best attacks doing virtually nothing to damage Zuko’s possessed form. Only someone pure of heart could strike the down the Moon.
Kakita Chiyoko was one of such purity, but she hesitated, unable to take a life, and Zuko brutally ended her without mercy. Hundreds died as the Imperial Castle was torn apart. Asako Keiko, Ide Todo’s betrothed, was disintegrated by the Obsidian Hand. Many Paper Lanterns died, including Tsuruchi Machio. Others, like Fubatsu and Katsu, were severely injured.
Then Ide Todo drew his blade in anger for the first time in his life and drove it through Zuko’s heart, saving the empire and all of our lives.
The Jade and Obsidian Dragons ascended to the station of Lord Moon and Lady Sun. The War in Heaven was over.
The rampage and fall of Lord Moon cost hundreds of lives. Zuko, empowered by the madness of the Dead Moon, killed many who were vital to the empire, including daimyos, generals, the Jade Champion, and the Shogun, before he was struck down by the righteous hand of Ide Todo himself.
Hoketuhime has claimed the throne and declared the Hantei line restored. There are very few of sufficient status still alive in the Imperial City to argue with her.
Ide Todo, knowing in his wisdom that this infighting needed to end once and for all, threw his now considerable reputation behind Hoketuhime. The last hold outs were won over by his pleas for peace. Ide Todo is now the Voice of the Empress. We leave the Empire in his capable hands.
Great shame was brought upon both the Dragon Clan and the Paper Lanterns when it was revealed that Zuko was really Togashi Shichiroji, the Poison Dragon, and bearer of the Obsidian Hand. Though he had joined the Spider, having revealed themselves to be honorless worshippers of Fu Leng, they fled back into the darkness like the cockroaches they are. The Dragon had just lost their leader, Mirumoto Kei, and Togashi Satsu had been killed in the War in Heaven. The Dragon Clan had spawned the Poison Dragon and he had hid in the midst of one of their acclaimed investigators. The other clans were furious at the weakened Dragon, and Ide Todo could sense another war coming as a result.
Kitsuki Tsuze was an investigator of some renown, yet the Empire’s most notorious criminal, a man who had once been his friend, had managed to hide before him in plain sight. The shame was unbearable. However, Kitsuki Tsuze protected the honor of his clan and his order by accepting full responsibility for this failure and asking for permission to commit seppuku.
Tsuze had been an unbeliever in the Celestial Order, and a doubter of the code of bushido, but at the end of his life he’d made the ultimate sacrifice on their behalf. He made the three cuts in the courtyard of the Imperial Palace in the shade of a pale oak. The other clans had no choice but to forget the Dragon Clan’s shame. Tsuze will be remembered for his selfless act.
I must end this scroll. My remaining time is precious. The Dark Oracle of Fire’s army has reentered the Empire and is cutting an unstoppable path of destruction toward the capitol. Word has come that they are led by the Branded Man, who has become the new Son of Fire, and that he leads an army so vast that it has surely depopulated all of the Yobanjin tribes of their warriors.
Yuni told her mother of my war across hell, so I have been chosen to lead the Paper Lanterns and an Imperial Legion to intercept and slow the Dark Oracle’s advance. Outnumbered a hundred to one, our orders are to survive long enough to give the Clans time to assemble their armies in the heart of the Empire.
I have been appointed to the office of Shogun. An honor that Hoketuhime obviously believes I will not hold for long. She wants to get rid of me as soon as possible so she can find a proper husband for her precocious heir. That is fine, for Yuni and I have both seen glimpses of the future, and I go forth willingly… The spirit realms are strange like that.
Kuni Magatsu, now wielding the Shame Sword Fear, pried from Jimen’s dead hand, accompanies me. If any man has the will to withstand the whispering of such a powerful, yet cursed, nemurani, it is Magatsu, and I know that he will use it to take the Dark Oracle’s head.
We depart for the north at dawn.
Tonight, Magatsu divined our future from the bottom of his empty sake cup. It confirmed what I already knew. The results were clearer than ever before. This will be my final entry upon this scroll. The Dark Oracle wields the power of a god, but Magatsu scoffs at gods. My nemesis, the Branded Man, is at the head of this dark army. We will meet one last time and finish our feud. The other clan armies will not be necessary. This war ends now.
When I began this scroll, I thought that it might only serve as a record of my failure, but instead, I have fulfilled the Fortune’s charge. I was born the son of a dishonored deserter, but I brought glory to the Crab, married the Imperial heir, and will soon lead an Imperial Legion into glorious combat. I have witnessed the fall of gods and the beginning of a new empire. The Paper Lanterns have done the impossible.
I finish this scroll now in order to spend my last few precious hours alone with Yuni.
The war in heaven
devils and gods wage battle
destroying our world
The throne lies vacant,
an empire in chaos burns
lanterns light the way
Called by the Fortunes,
Sincerity is my name
My story is done
To be continued next week with our final entry written by Paul Genesse. http://larrycorreia.wordpress.com/2012/10/05/the-burning-throne-episode-46-the-end/