The Drowning Empire is a weekly serial based on the events which occured during the Writer Nerd Game Night monthly Legend of the Five Rings game. It is a tale of samurai adventure set in the magical world of Rokugan.
If you would like to read all of these in one convenient place, along with a bunch of additional game related stuff, behind the scenes info, and detailed session recaps, I’ve been posting everything to one thread on the L5R forum, http://www.alderac.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=295&t=101206
There are two episodes in this post. I was at LibertyCon last Friday.
These bits are from the same session as the last two, where the PCs had to enter the haunted ruins of the former capitol, Otosan Uchi, in search of a cursed dagger. You’ll notice that our first bit, written by Zach Hill, who is playing the odd, gullible Suzume Shintaro reads a lot more like an oddball buddy cop comedy that the super dark stuff from Pat Tracy and Steve Diamond. But that’s how Zach rolls. Or it was, until I abused the hell out of his poor character later. 🙂
The second part is a recap from Paul Genesse, who is playing the group’s leader, Akodo Toranaka.
As remembered by Suzume Shintaro. Actual names, places, events, and times may have been changed.
Shintaro thought the museum was possibly the worst museum he had ever been to. In his travels he had found time to visit several museums, each one unique and priceless. This one however, he would leave off of his list of recommendations.
Cobwebs were in every corner, dust coated every surface and the whole place smelled of…he couldn’t place it but it was somewhere between “five day old dead dog” and “eta’s soiled underwear that’s been worn for three weeks straight.”
The place felt foul. It wasn’t just a physical foulness. There was a tangible unnaturalness to the ancient museum.
The displays were rotted and shattered and whatever was of any worth was long gone now. Even if he did find something, he doubted he’d want to touch it. Otosan Uchi was officially the worst place he had ever visited.
Shintaro followed his companions into what must have been the main room of the museum. Racks of rotted scrolls covered the cold walls. If the scrolls had been intact they would have been a treasure worth all their lives.
“Hey, um…guys?” Oki said.
“Yes?” Toranaka asked.
He glanced over and saw that Oki was pointing behind them.
Shintaro turned to look and saw that the door they had entered from was gone. All that was there was a stone wall.
“This is bad, right?” Shintaro asked.
“Yes, Shintaro. I do believe this qualifies as a bad thing,”Subotai said.
Shintaro gripped his bisento tighter and tried to keep his mind focused on what was around him.
“Any sign of Miya Waru?” Shintaro asked.
“I’m right here,” a harsh, male voice said.
Shintaro looked around but couldn’t pinpoint the source of the sound.
“Who’s there?” Toranaka called out.
“I’m the curator here. It’s been too long since we had visitors. What do you think of my museum?” The voice said.
“It’s very…unique,” Toranaka said.
“Isn’t it? I’ve spent so much time working on it.”
“I am Toranaka and these are my companions. Am I speaking to Miya Waru?”
“Indeed you are.”
“We’ve come here seeking aid. We are looking for a dagger that may have come from this museum.”
Shintaro held up a drawing of the dagger.
“Why, yes! I do know that dagger. It was here, but it is gone now.”
“Who took it and when?” Toranaka asked.
As Toranaka and the strange voice of Miya Waru discussed the dagger which was apparently named “Corruption” and came from the Ivory Kingdoms, Shintaro kept his attention on the museum. Something wasn’t right here and he wasn’t going to be caught unaware.
Then he heard something that caught his attention.
“Why, we happen to have a historian with us,” Toranaka said.
“You do? Intriguing. What manner of historian are you?”
“My name in Shintaro and I have made it a lifetime work of mine to study history.”
“You wish to leave my museum?”
No, he wanted to run from it and never look back.
“I do not wish to leave such a fine collection of antiquities, but I’m afraid our work demands our attention.”
“But you mustn’t leave! You and I have much to discuss. I want to hear your opinions on the displays of our artifacts.”
“That would be a great honor and I will be pleased to return once our work is finished.”
“No, no, no. You must stay. How could you ever want to leave my museum? I don’t.”
Perhaps this disembodied voice wasn’t the most rational of beings.
“I’m afraid I must decline. Our orders are clear and our mission is important.”
“I will accept no refusal.”
“Oh, but the…um…the fields are ready for harvest and…”
“Fields?” Miya asked.
He looked to his companions, and they looked as confused as Miya sounded. Shintaro threw his hands in the air to tell them that he had no idea what to say.
“Yes, Currator Miya Waru. There’s this widow who’s field I have to plow and…”
“You leave my museum to bed a widow? The insult!”
“Bed a widow? I didn’t say anything about –“
“Silence! You clearly do not appreciate the grandeur and magnificence of my museum! My life’s work! I insist that you stay.”
Suddenly a dark cloud began forming at the top of the stairs at the far side of the room. A hunched, twisted figure emerged from the mist. Then a clawed hand stretched out and pointed at them.
“You will never leave my museum. Staff!”
Then sounds of shuffling steps came from the darkness. Out of smaller doors on the sides of the room came skeletal, undead creatures wearing rusted armor and pitted swords.
“That’s the last time we let Shintaro handle the negotiations,” Oki said.
Two staircases led to a “U” shaped balcony area covered by undead archers. Miya was in the middle. Zombies armed with katanas and spears were shuffling their way towards them.
A giant stone platform in the middle of the room offered cover from the arrows but not the approaching zombies.
Toranaka turned to the group.
“We have to take Miya out quickly or we’ll be overwhelmed. Oki, you and I will move up those stairs to get him within range of your bow. Everyone else, cover our advance. Keep those zombies off of us.”
“Wait,” Shintaro said. “I’ve never fought zombies before. Is there special tactic or weak spot to go for?”
“Yeah, do I need to, I don’t know, shoot them in the head or pinky finger?” Oki asked.
“I like chopping off heads,” Subotai said.
“I fail to see how decapitation wouldn’t hurt them. Yes, go for the heads,” Toranaka said and then motioned for Oki to follow.
Shintaro readied his bisento for the oncoming undead horde.
As soon as they were within range he made a quick chop to one of their necks. His curved blade came in between the rusted helmet and the crumbling armor to strike the neck. The neck gave resistance like old leather and his blade cut clean through. The severed head flew back and hit one of the other zombies who didn’t seem to notice much.
The headless corpse collapsed to the ground in a cloud of dust and the sound of metal on stone.
“Go for the head,” Shintaro said. It seemed appropriate to say.
He spared a moment to glance back at Oki and Toranaka’s progress. They were fighting their way up the stone stairs to the balcony area.
Shintaro focused and struck another zombie’s head from its putrid shoulders.
Despite the cursed city, twisted curator and army of undead, this all felt sort of familiar. It was almost like harvest time when the wheat came in.
That thought almost made him smile. Yes, he was reaping the wheat.
He harvested another zombie head.
This museum wasn’t so bad after all.
Year 1191, the second day of the month of the Monkey, the First Year of the reign of the Divine Empress Hantei Yuni, Daughter of Heaven
To the Honorable Shogun Hida O-Hinku,
I, Akodo Toranaka, humble servant of the Empress Hantei Yuni live to serve the Empire of Rokugan. I must report that my companions and I have done what you asked of us. We have gone into the blighted heart of Otosan Uchi and found out much information. We suffered some wounds, but we are all alive and ready to carry out your will in the future, if it pleases you.
We learned that the dagger of which you sent us to investigate is called Corruption. It came from the temple of some dark god or goddess in the Ivory Kingdoms. A shugenja named Kuni Hazu found it in those distant lands some four hundred years ago and brought it to the Imperial Museum of Antiquity. The blade stayed there until just over two years ago. The dagger Corruption was then taken from the ruins of the museum by a Yodotai named Tullis Hostilius not that long before the night attack on the river Tsuma.
Tullis Hostilius matches the description of the gaijin that my friends saw on the barge.
We humbly beg forgiveness, as we did not find out what properties the dagger possesses, but we suspect it is a weapon infused with some dark gaijin power. The temple in the Ivory Kingdoms may hold more information about the blade, and we have some clues to its location.
Honorable Shogun, I submit to you that this information would have never been learned had it not been for a very brave man, Yotsu Ueda, Gunso of the Sword of Yotsu. He guided us through the ruins and back out, and fought at our side when a dozen deathless samurai with withered flesh and bare bones, and a frightening demon ghost, attacked us.
The ronin family of Yotsu have much honor and have guarded the haunted and deadly ruins for many long years, protecting the people of Rokugan from harm and suffering many losses of their own warriors. They are lowly ronin and very poor, but they serve the Empire defending the people of their district with fierce determination. They man their watch towers, patrol endlessly, and fight the creatures of darkness in a never ending war that drives men mad and leaves their souls permanently broken. Still, the Yotsu have sworn to die rather than leave their posts. Their dedication was inspiring to me, and reminded me of the brave sacrifices the Crab Clan makes every day to defend the Great Carpenter Wall from the wretched beasts of the Shadow Lands.
As a military man, I studied the Yotsu carefully. They are outnumbered by their enemies and in a precarious position. I found that they are in dire need of powdered jade, which they apply to their weapons, allowing them to inflict damage upon the walking dead, and other foul creatures, which lurk in the ruins. Without the powdered jade, even the strongest katana has little effect.
The Yotsu gave my companions and I a large quantity of this powdered jade to fight the walking dead, and without it, our bones would have joined the others in that cursed city, and you would not be reading this letter.
If it pleases you, Honorable Shogun, I humbly request that the Yotsu be sent as large an amount of powdered jade as can be managed by the Shogunate. My friend, Yasuki Dokansuto of the Jolly Crab trading company might be the perfect man to facilitate the shipment of such a valuable commodity and he will be discreet about the source of the order for this substance. Honorable Dokansuto-san helped us travel south and from what I understand, he has suppliers who could provide the powdered jade the brave Yotsu require to help defend the Empire.
Honorable Shogun, I have planned to hand this letter to you upon our return to Toshi Ranbo, but if this missive is taken off my dead body and brought to you later, I beg forgiveness for dying before I could deliver this myself. The Spider clan knew we were coming to Otosan Uchi and threatened us when we arrived there. If my friends and I turn up dead, please look at the Spider Clan.
I live to serve the Empire and if it pleases you, I volunteer to travel to the Ivory Kingdoms and find the temple from which the blade, Corruption, originated.
Most humbly and with the deepest respect,
Akodo Toranaka, son of Goro
P.S. My companions and I have plans to bring you a live tortoise from the coast, as they are hardy creatures and should survive the journey inland, but most importantly, their flesh makes a delicious soup.
To be continued next week: http://larrycorreia.wordpress.com/2013/07/12/the-drowning-empire-episode-26-shame-on-bu/
And to check out some of these guy’s regular work, Paul wrote one of the stories in this anthology, and Zach illustrated it. http://rcm-na.amazon-adsystem.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=B00CP7YW7S