The Drowning Empire, Episode 9: Letters of Moto Subotai

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 additional game related information, here is the L5R forum:

EDIT: Just a thought, if you are interested in reading this story, I do recommend hitting that link above because it does go into a lot more background information about what is going on.

This week’s episode was written by Pat Tracy, who is playing our barbaric Moto (sort of like a Mongol) who has turned out to be surprisingly polite and poetic.

This was written after our second session and the swamp fight against the ronin. The players suspect that there is more to Bayushi Arashii than meets the eye because of how deferential many of the high ranking people have been toward him, so they are doing their best to suck up. 🙂

Continued from:


Letter to Shinjo Namori, Subotai’s betrothed:

Dear One,

The hour is late. The false dawn will soon bloom in iron and amber from the east, and I have lain in bed, fruitlessly attempting to rest for tomorrow’s challenges. It seems as if it has been weeks since my previous letter, though it has been less than two day’s span. Those days, Namori-san, have been full of portent, strife, and struggle. I will not bore you with every moment of competition, but know that I have fallen in with a group of the finest young men in the Empire. I have no doubt that they will all go on to do great and momentous things. The Fortunes must be at work, as we have been thrown together, taken to forge temperature, and hammered into a stalwart whole in these last few days. I would trust my small circle of fellows with my life, and would lay my life down for any of them without the slightest hesitation.

Just a few short hours ago, I imagined that we young Samurai would have occasion to fulfill Bushido’s greatest maxim, for we were drawn into a battle in the true sense of the word, with steel bared and blood upon the muddy ground. Had any of the company flinched, we would have been forfeit, bound to die the death of young and idealistic fools. With that being said, none flinched, none showed a lack of resolve when it came time to buy back our lives from the hands of the spirit world. I had the honor of fighting beside these stalwart young men, these men who have shown me much and taught me all that my own character lacks. One amongst us, Tamori Isao, demonstrated how fearsome the shugenja of the Dragon Clan are. After having struggled so mightily against tests poorly chosen for his talents, Isao-san proved that, in true battle, his ties to the kami allow him to strike with more force than any sword or hammer. Without him, this letter would have surely been one of condolence.

It would be a breach of trust and etiquette to outline all the reasons for this fight, but I can happily say that none of us were gravely injured, and that Isao-san was able to mend the wounds that were taken on the spot. Oh, and in the aftermath, you may be interested in the fact that we were lauded personally by the Shogun, to which I had the great honor of bearing a few paltry gifts. My heart thudded like the hoof beats of three horses together as I bowed low before her. She is refreshingly plain-spoken, and I enjoy her wit. After her words, I spoke to the honorable Uso-san, and he indicated that their import was that we had been offered, at some future time, the possibility of working directly for the Shogunate.

For a guileless and humble horseman such as myself, this is an opportunity I cannot truly comprehend at this moment. I have thought it merely a story that Uso-san concocted in order to entertain himself at my expense, though all of my fellows appear to be under the same impression. Time will tell, should I survive. I hope, one day, that you will regard me with enough fondness to hope for my continued existence, even prosperity. I recognize that I will have to earn that regard, and the tasks before me will be those that will test me to the uttermost. We shall see if I am made of stern enough stuff to discharge them and gain the grace of your smile one day.

In my time here, I have come to associate with another competitor, Bayushi Arashii. Due to the prevailing opinion about the Scorpion Clan, I had been initially suspect of his outward demeanor. He seems to be the most humble, generous, and sincere of all men. Perhaps this is an act, but if so, he is the most consummate actor I have ever had the pleasure of watching, and missed his calling in life. In our time together, as he has attached himself to the periphery of our group, we have also come to know that he is a person of great importance. Daidoji Iron Warriors guard him at all times, and when things became fraught with danger, the Daidoji were far more concerned with his safety than the rest of us as a group. The fact that, with Uso-san, Toranaka-san, and Isao-san, all people of high status, we were an afterthought, grouped more with the horses and camp followers, leads us to believe that he is someone of the highest noble birth. The fact that we saw to it that no harm came to him, and that after the battle, he gave me a gift of a beautiful yumi, leads me to hope that he will serve as a good and influential friend to us in the future.

Well, my beloved, I will say no more for tonight, but for a few of my sloppily constructed poems. Know that I strive to bring honor to you and to the Shinjo school, in life and death alike.



Awake, exhausted

the memory of battle

burning in my veins

Wind in my hair–brisk

the stuttered call of swamp birds

a beast ahead roars

Up from the mire

poison men, venomous tongues

hint at dishonor

As blade touches throat

a child’s game forgotten

truth grins-its face, death

Torchlight and the moon

renders blood as ink and oil

dark ambition’s end


Letter to the Honorable Bayushi Arashii


I fear that, in the aftermath of the battle some hours hence, I failed to do you all the honor that was warranted, and I wish to try and redress this lack of grace on my part with a letter. I apologize for the crudeness of my writing and my plain words. I am but a Moto, my early years spent in a yurt upon the steppes. My teachers did all that could be done to make me presentable to society, but I am sad to state that their base material was both intractable and coarse.

That being said, please let me formally thank you for the wonderful gift of this yumi that I gaze upon as it lays across my bed. It is a beautifully constructed weapon, and I will use it with honor. No arrow shall loose from its string and arc across the air without my thinking of your generosity.

I also wish to thank you for your kind forbearance and generosity when you hosted the tea ceremony for myself and my comrades. I have never seen it done with more artistry, and I am sure that the calming effect of the ceremony helped me to perform at my best in the competitions of the day.

Last, I wish to apologize for unwittingly bringing you into a dangerous circumstance in the course of the hunt. That was, of course, never our intent. You acted with the true spirit of a Samurai, however, in holding your nerve and being ready to take advantage of any opportunity that might arise.

I have been honored to make your acquaintance, and to learn from your wise words on many subjects. If you find yourself in want of advice about what few subjects I have knowledge of, or wish to have a less, shall we say, vigorous foray at hunting, please let me know, and I would be glad to help you in any way that my meager skills will allow.

With Compassion and Sincerity,

Moto Subotai, Son of Kohatsu


To be continued next week:

If you want to check out some more of Pat’s writing, he wrote the cover story in this anthology:

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