The Burning Throne, Episode 40: The Road to Toshi Ranbo

During last week’s episode we got a glimpse of how this campaign ends, and this week we head into the final act.  The Paper Lanterns, now famous across the Empire, are on their way to the capitol city of Toshi Ranbo.  Soon a new emperor will be picked so there are a lot of politics going on. Hida Makoto is on his way to meet the woman he loves, though she has never actually met him.

Most of my readers aren’t Legend of the Five Rings players obviously, so to explain one of the references, Zuko joined the Spider clan. The Spider clan are secretly evil and worship the god of hell. They are pretending to be normal to infiltrate the empire. However, even they don’t know that Zuko has been chosen to be the avatar of the Lord Moon, and it is slowly driving him crazy. 

Continued from:

Twenty Sixth Entry

From the journal of Hida Makoto, Crab Clan

The days immediately after the battle for Pale Oak Castle are a blur. I remember entering the nearby village and seeing paper lanterns lit everywhere in our honor. The Phoenix, long having been so adversarial to us, have now dispatched samurai to join us, including our guide, Shiba Sougai. The reputation of the Paper Lanterns has grown as a result of this victory, and I have done almost nothing but interview new volunteers all day.

Ide Todo has been showered with praise and adoration from the powerful courtiers gathered at Pale Oak. However, he seems distant. He has been spending much time writing letters to the families of our dead samurai. I do not envy him this task.

I myself was able to speak with the noble Akodo Goro, general of the Fourth Imperial Legion. We traded ideas about how best to fight the Yobanjin. He is a wise and skilled tactician, and it was an enlightening conversation. Due to the events of the battle, I was offered the position as his second in command, the office formerly held by Hiruma Tadori. It was a great honor, but my path is to follow Ide Todo, as the voice of the Fortune Kisada commanded. Soon we are to leave for the capitol city of Toshi Ranbo, where we will be guests in the court of Otomo Hoketuhime.

And I will be able to see Otomo Yuni. Just the thought fills me with nervousness. I have fought man and demon, and nothing makes me quake like the idea of telling Yuni that I am in love with her. Though I have had some measure of success in my quest to become a great warrior, I am still a Crab of low status. What if she laughs at me? If that is the case, then it is probably a good thing that her mother will have me executed for my impertinence in asking for her daughter’s hand in marriage.

But anyway, the Lanterns leave for Toshi Ranbo tomorrow, and there is pressing business yet to attend to. My armor was badly damaged during the battle, warped and charred by the heat, and my helmet was irreparably broken by a falling stone. As much as I cherish Death’s Hat, Ide Todo has already informed me that I am not to wear it in polite company. So, with my armor burned, I am certainly in no shape to present myself before the Imperial family looking like this. Yasuki Boketsu has informed me that one of his father’s Jolly Crab Trading Company caravans is passing through town, and that there is an actual suit of Crab armor that they have been unable to sell. Boketsu even thinks it may fit a man of my size. I do believe it may be time to call in that favor Yasuki Murato promised us after our Lanterns saved his life at Red Falls Village.


Twenty Seventh Entry

From the journal of Hida Makoto, Crab Clan

A brief note along the trail south.

The new recruits are adapting well, though I do not trust the other Spider that have joined with Zuko. The monk, Michio, leaves me with a certain unease. I was happy for the ronin Zuko when he found a home among the Spider, and I had nothing but respect for Iko, but there is something odd about this minor clan. I do not trust them, and I know that Magatsu shares this feeling.

Zuko has not been himself since his return. His behavior is odd… It is difficult to explain, but sometimes it is as if there is more than one person inside his body, and he does not know which character he wishes to play.

The Paper Lanterns numbers have swelled. The stories about us destroying the shame sword and defeating the Son of Fire have spread, no doubt helped by Ikoma Katsu, so many young samurai have asked their lords to go on their Musha Shugyo, their warrior pilgrimage, to join our ranks. We are now a small army in our own right. Feeding this many men has become quite a chore, but luckily some of our new recruits are excellent scouts and foragers. My duties as gunso have kept me busy, but not too busy for Todo-sama to keep trying to teach me courtly ways. I am afraid that he is worried I will embarrass him in front of the Imperials. He is a wise man, but I will be on my best behavior.

I almost forgot, my new armor fits perfectly, as if it was made for me specifically. To an untrained eye, it may seem plain, but I can attest that it is the work of a master armorer. It is sturdy, solid as earth, but as light as the breeze. It feels as if the kami are awakened within this armor. I know that sounds silly, since this armor has obviously never been worn, and even Magatsu says it takes time and experience for the kami within an item to wake up, but I could almost swear that this armor is some form of nemurani.

No one else may think so, but I believe the tetsubo of my grandfather, Moshibaru Junaro, has had the fire kami within awoken. How else could it have survived the lick of flames so many times? And it surely strikes with the fury of fire… And Shinjo Braga gave me this hat, that he said he’d taken from the Lords of Death… Sure, Ide Todo just thinks it is a big straw hat, and an ugly one at that, but I’m fairly certain that it too is blessed by the Fortunes. It would seem that I have become a collector of powerful nemurani.

Wishful thinking, I know, but nonetheless, I feel the Fortunes have smiled upon me once again. I am excited to reach Toshi Ranbo and to meet my true love.

Twenty Eighth Entry

From the journal of Hida Makoto, Crab Clan

I must write this quickly. Otomo Yuni’s life is in danger.

We arrived at the Imperial City inside Toshi Ranbo and at first I’d thought that today was the greatest day of my life, for Kisada himself, the returned Fortune, was present! He addressed Magatsu and I and recognized our achievements on behalf of the Crab Clan.

Most of the great and powerful leaders of Rokugan had gathered here, playing courtly games against each other and gathering their alliances, all of them striving to become the new emperor. Daimyo of most of the Clans, as well as the Emerald Champion were all there. The politics were far over my head.

But then we received word that Yuni was gravely ill. Fear clenched my guts. She had been sick, unconscious for nearly a month.

Because of Magatsu’s reputation for being a healer of strange illnesses, we were given permission to try and help her.

The stress is too much, my hands shake as I write this. There she was, the Winter Chrysanthemum, so thin and pale and wasting away to nothing. Healers were fretting about, trying their best, but all to no avail.

Magatsu and Tsuze tried everything they could think of. All they could ascertain was that Yuni was afflicted with some manner of illness which originated from one of the spirit realms. Lanterns were dispatched to seek out the Toritaka and the Kitsu, masters of the spirit realms. Magatsu was able to use the kami to get her to speak, oh so briefly.

She looked right at me and said “I see you… destroying everything.”


To be continued next week while the Lanterns try to figure out how to save the life of Otomo Yuni.

Today is my birthday
The Pale Horse AR-15

5 thoughts on “The Burning Throne, Episode 40: The Road to Toshi Ranbo”

  1. Mr. Correia, There wouldn’t perhaps be a file with all the burning throne episodes, for those of us that started following the story late?

  2. Mr. Correia, I recently read your first novel and enjoyed it immensely. I’ve ordered the second and third and look forward to their arrival. Discovering you were a fan of the L5R RPG was very surreal for me, but I did save one of the event kits from our GenCon RPG special event for you. I’m just not quite sure how to get it to you! Please feel free to drop me a line if you’d like me to send it to your agency.

    1. That’s awesome. 😀

      Shawn, I’m a big fan of your stuff. Email on the way.

      And you ain’t seen nothing yet on the fan fiction. The new campaign is ridiculous compared to this one.

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