The Drowning Empire, Episode 5: After a Dozen Sake

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 place, along with additional game related information, here is the L5R forum:

This week’s episode was written by Steve Diamond.

For background, none of this was in the acutal game (you’ll see that a lot with these guys)  this was written right after our second session, Tony Battalingo, who plays Yoritomo Oki, had to miss that night’s game. This was a lesson about what happens to guys who miss a session. Tony is playing a guy who has a drinking problem, a gambling problem, and the lechery disadvantage, so it worked out well. 🙂

Continued from:

After A Dozen Sake

Finally, the evening shift, Yasuki Tonta thought with a smile. There’s only so long a girl can wait for a tumble.

If she was honest, it wasn’t much of a smile. In the cracked mirror—thankfully not my doing—she gave herself a quick once-over. Her teeth were…well, there were all present and accounted for. It was about the only nice thought she could place on them. And they were white. Mostly.

How would the patrons of the Laughing Carp—all those young, delicious, and drunk Topaz hopefuls—want her hair arranged? Her tangled hair was untamable, but Tonta pulled it up into what she imagined was the current trend. No, she thought, because then they will see my ears that make an ogre’s look small. She let her hair down again. Now she looked more like a wet nezumi…but at least the ears were covered.

Tonta considered plucking her eyebrow so it loosely resembled two, but after yanking out at least thirty of the beastly hairs the prior evening, she wasn’t looking forward to the pain.

No, there was no way to make her pretty. Not even by squinting.

Bah. After a dozen or two cups of sake, I will look like every samurai’s wet, Crane dream.

After wrapping a kimono around her large body, careful to push all the bulges into, more or less, the correct places, she walked down from her room into the kitchen. She took a small tray holding an order of sake from her father, the owner of the Laughing Carp, and strode into the common area to hunt for this night’s lucky samurai.

She took them all in at a glance. There was skill in this practice, a skill she’d trained and refined like a samurai with a sensei. The Topaz hopefuls—young, soft, and ready to be ravaged—looked exhausted. Some were boisterous, and others subdued.

A couple of Lion’s sat at a near-by table with a contingent of Crab. One Lion, a severe fellow, she recognized as the one who had almost been poisoned earlier that day. He had such an expression of discipline. Tonta sniffed. He wasn’t even drinking.

The one next to him though. The storyteller. That one would make for an adventure. She frowned as she watched the storyteller drink. He wasn’t getting drunk. At all. How disappointing.

A Moto barbarian sat next to the Lion. At the last championship she had gotten a Unicorn so drunk that he’d called her by his horse’s name during the entire process. It rather took the fun out of it. No, not the Moto then. There are limits to even what I will put up with.

The big, strapping Sparrow then.

“Hello, my handsome,” she said in his ear as she put a cup of sake in front of him. She bent low, giving him a view. Not necessarily a pleasant view, but a view nonetheless. “Enjoying the view?”

“Yes,” he said with a genuine smile. “These Crane lands are wondrous. I’d heard tales of them, but never imagined I’d be able to personally see them.”

Is he referring to my bosoms? Or is he being serious.

“I don’t think that is what she means, friend Shintaro,” the storyteller said, smirking.

Tonta glared at him, then leaned back down to whisper—quieter this time—into this Shintaro’s ear. “Maybe you’d like a private tour, eh? Show you some of the hills and lands you’ve never seen before?”

“No doubt,” the storyteller said. How had he heard? “This one will not be to your liking, I’m afraid. Perhaps you can offer your…tour…to someone with more sake in them?”

Tonta started to glare again…but there was something in his eyes. She felt a shiver go down her spine. When she didn’t leave immediately, the storyteller’s gaze seemed to grow more sinister. She felt cold inside, and wanted nothing more than to curl in her blankets—with or without a companion.

“I see the wisdom in your words, honorable samurai.” She managed. Fear was growing in her gut.

The storyteller smiled, all menace gone. “I’m glad you do. I am, like your father whom I met earlier, simply looking out for your best interests. And surely you would not want to upset your two younger sisters, Helia and Kanrei with your behavior? They are such young and pretty things. Why, I hear one is betrothed to a promising Hida. It wouldn’t do to have that…disturbed. Would it?”

The appearance of menace was gone, yes, but nevertheless she was scared witless. How could he know all that? Any of it? She dipped into a low bow and tried not to run.

“I don’t understand,” Tonta heard the Sparrow say. “I thought she was going to give me a tour of the lands?”

“Just let her go, friend Shintaro,” came the storyteller’s reply. “You are too busy to wander the Crane lands as of yet. I’d rather you rest well and perform admirably in the tasks tomorrow. I understand that we will be dealing with Law and Heraldry; both are tasks I feel you will do well at. Now, did I ever tell you the story of the only person Ide Todo ever killed? We called his victim the Poison Dragon…”

Their voices faded into the sounds of eating, drinking and laughing. Tonta fought to keep her hands from trembling. Never in her life had she met someone who frightened her so terribly…all the while saying nothing that would be perceived as a threat to anyone listening.

Regardless of her attempts, her hands shook like leaves blowing on a tree. She looked at the cups of sake on her small tray – I forgot to deliver it – and it suddenly looked incredibly enticing.

Tonta downed the liquid in one of the ceramic cups a swallow.

Then drank another.

And another.

She felt much better.


Tonta awoke to the harsh morning light directly in her eyes. It was as if the Sun had descended like in the stories and was standing right in front of her. “Fortunes save me…” she muttered. Three attempts got her into a sitting position.

She was in a barn.


One too many sake, she thought. Or was it eleven too many.

Her mouth tasted like the hay she had apparently slept on. Head pounding, she gathered up what she could and began dressing. It was at that moment when she noticed the goat.

It was asleep and snoring the way goats do, and next to its head was a water-pitcher. She lifted pitcher, thinking it would wash the taste from her mouth.

Except it wasn’t water.

It was sake.

Tonta turned to spit out the mouthful…

…which was when she noticed the barn’s other inhabitant.

The sake hit him in the face, and he jerked awake sputtering. Judging from the clothing surrounding him, he was a Mantis. He was thinner than a man of his size should be, but not unhandsome. She then had the vague recollection of sitting on his lap, pouring sake into his mouth from a pitcher—


The young samurai didn’t clutch his head the way her conquests usually did. In fact, he seemed to be sobering by the moment.

His eyes took her in, considering. Then he shrugged, resigned.

When he noticed the goat, his expression fell.

“Not again.


To be continued next week:

Chris Kyle, American Hero
It's the FINAL COUNTDOWN (to register to nominate for the Hugos!)

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