The Drowning Empire, Episode 26: Shame on Bu

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,

A lot of stuff happened in this session. I’ll post a much more detailed behind the scenes at the L5R forum link above, as I’m just posting the guy’s fiction here on the blog.

After leaving the haunted city of Otosan Uchi, the PCs went to Sunset Tower, which is controlled by the Tortoise clan. They were steered there by Yoritomo Oki, who is secretly trying to find the shipwrecked gaijin the Tortoise clan may have as a prisoner. However, when they get there they find that some sort of strange water curse is affecting the countryside and the Tortoise need help.

This week’s episode was written by Zach Hill, who is playing the clueless, gullible, constantly bewhildered Shintaro. One of the fun things about the Shintaro fictions is that he becomes smarter as the game goes on. 🙂

And one last note… The reason Tamori Isao got sick and had embarrassing things happen?  Poor Brad Torgersen… That’s what happens when you miss a session of Writer Nerd Game Night!

Continued from:

Shame on Bu

Shintaro looked down on the feverish Isao and shook his head.

“This is bad, gentlemen,” Shintaro said. He had seen fevers like this before and the only way to break them was to keep the patient cool. He looked around at his fellow samurai. They wore stone faced expressions but he could see the worry in their eyes. “I know how to help Isao.”

Uso looked up and raised an eyebrow. “You do?”

“Indeed. Back in my village we have remedy for such ailments. The highest priority is to keep him cool before the fever can ravage his mind.”

“And how is this accomplished?” Toranaka asked.

“Simple. He has a fever and the only remedy is to shave all the hair from his body.” Shintaro punctuated his prescription with a stern nod.

There was a moment of silence.

Toranaka covered his mouth and looked away. Uso nodded sagely while seeming to ponder the wisdom of the remedy. Subotai raised an eyebrow and then a smile grew on his face larger than any Shintaro had seen. Oki just started laughing; probably from the obviousness of the cure.

Subotai walked up and put a firm hand on Shintaro’s shoulder.

“Yes, Shintaro. This is a fine cure. We shall tell the monks to begin immediately.”

Shintaro watched the monk shave poor Isao to make sure it was done properly.


Later that evening they were in the stronghold of the Tortoise clan having a pleasant dinner with Kusuga Ayane, the local governor. They had agreed to help the governor and had seen the last survivor of an attack at a nearby village. Whatever had happened to him had turned him…watery.

Shintaro refused to let that happen to him or his friends.

Oki seemed adamant about finding out about a certain gaijin that had been shipwrecked over a year ago. Shintaro cared nothing for uncivilized gaijin and paid more attention to the shark fin soup than the wild tales of stranded foreigners

After dinner they walked back to their quarters.

“So, tell me, Oki: what does this gaijin of yours look like?” Shintaro asked.

Oki had one arm in his kimono and the other held a tooth pick that he was using to get some chicken out of his teeth.

“Well, He’s got blue eyes and yellow hair and apparently he’s taller than you, Shintaro.”

Shintaro thought of this for a moment.

“Blue eyes, yellow hair and a giant?” Shintaro asked.

“Yup, that’s about right,” Oki said.

Shintaro laughed and slapped his thigh. “That is a tall tale if I’ve ever heard one. It is too ridiculous to believe that they look like that. You can’t pull one over on Suzume Shintaro!”

There was a moment of silence.

Then his friends all nodded sagely in agreement that the story was preposterous.


The next morning they rode for Blacksand village, leaving the feverish Isao in the care of the monks.

It was a small town in the swamp and the people seemed very glad to have them there. They came out cheering and clapping. They looked more relieved than anything else. The peasants told wild stories of a monster and a murdered priest. Their story didn’t seem entirely plausible, but something strange was going on.

Shintaro would find the answers to the mystery of Blacksand Village.


“The monster prayed at the shrine?” Toranaka asked the peasants incredulously.

The shrine was ruined. It had been smashed to pieces. This simply could not stand.

“We must repair this shrine if the gods are to favor us on this mission,” Shintaro said.

If there was one thing he was good at besides decapitating people with his bisento, swamp dragon, it was motivating peasants to do what was required of them. Shintaro organized a group of villagers that included men, children, women and the elderly to repair the shrine and carve new statues of kami. Even Shintaro rolled up his sleeves and helped out. The kami he carved was perhaps his finest work.

After that was finished he met back up with the others and began to make plans.

“The monster will enter from there,” Toranaka said. “It comes from the swamp and moves in this way to the shrine.”

“Ambush,” Oki suggested.

“With arrows,” Subotai said.

“I like long range,” Shintaro said after seeing what had happened to the survivor of the last group of bushi that came here.

“It is made up of plants. Perhaps fire is its weakness?” Uso said.

“So, let’s blow the @#$%^& up,” Oki said with a shrug.

There was a moment of silence.

“Oki, that’s brilliant!” Subotai said.


Shintaro crouched in the doorway of the hut and watched the shrine in the silver light of the moon. Everything was silent. Well, except for the constant droning of the innumerable bugs, and the croaking of thousands of frogs. Other than those almost deafening sounds it was silent.

He looked up to the roof where he knew Oki and Uso were. If he hadn’t known where to look he would never have spotted them.

Toranaka waited next to him with remarkable stillness. Didn’t he ever have to scratch his nose? Such self mastery was evidence of a true samurai.

A true samurai does not scratch his nose. Hmm… He’d have to come up with something more grand for his book of wisdom he was going to write.

Then a horrible wailing came from somewhere deep in the swamp. It sounded like a furious crying of something almost human but more beast.

For the hundredth time Shintaro checked the jugs of oil. Everything was in place. He adjusted his grip on Swamp Dragon and kept looking at the black mass of trees where the crying had come from.

Something moved in the darkness. Perhaps it was a tree.

It wasn’t a tree.

What looked like a mound of dirt and vegetation burst from the tree line, shambling forward while wailing. The thing was massive, almost as big as the shack they were trying to lure it into. Its arms were long and almost dragged on the ground. One arm was bigger and longer and moved as if it had no bones.

But what really caught his attention were the thing’s eyes. It had two dark pits which had a look of such sadness and mourning that he couldn’t help but feel pity for the monster.

As the villagers said it would, the thing went straight for the shrine.

Now they had to get the monster to follow them into the hut, set the hut on fire and then get out without getting smashed by the monster or trapped in the burning hut.


Toranaka surprised him, he actually went out to speak with the monster. Shintaro couldn’t hear what was said, but it seemed to anger the monster.

Then Oki and Uso opened fire. Their flaming arrows streaked through the night and impacted on the beast’s swampy hide. The thing shrieked and turned towards the archers.

Shintaro shouted and waved his bisento. The creature turned towards him and let loose with an ear splitting wail. Perhaps he shouldn’t have done that. Now the giant monster was coming toward him. If he had to classify things into two categories; good and not good, he’d put that into the ‘not good’category.

More arrows hit the monster. The flames from the arrows were burning the creature and making it angry.


He scratched his nose as he thought. Why lure it into the hut when it had flames on it already?

Shintaro hefted the jug and tossed it at the beast. The jug burst and the liquid splashed all over. The flames erupted, engulfing the monster. It thrashed about but couldn’t move with an arrow pinning its foot to the ground.

The thing burned as more arrows struck it, but it quickly wrenched its foot loose and charged toward the hut.

“I think we should vacate this place,” Shintaro said.

“Agreed,” Toranaka said.

They kicked over the jugs of oil and made for the windows. Toranaka went first. He leapt and sailed through the window, landing in a roll and coming up to a crouch as one smooth motion.

Easy. Shintaro knew he could do that.

He ran and tucked his arms in as he leapt. He was sailing through the window like a marksman’s arrow.

Then his bisento caught the window sill. He hit the edge with the sound of what he hoped was breaking wood and tumbled out of the window, landing in a puddle of mud. He lay there with his breath knocked out of him wondering which was hurt worse, his leg or his pride.

When he got up he saw that the hut was bursting into flames with the creature inside.

It had worked!

Toranaka began speaking to the monk the thing used to be. He appealed to its humanity and told it to die with honor.

The monster surrendered its life and accepted death.

Shintaro was just glad he was still alive and not poisoned with a water curse like the last survivor had been.


The Tortoise clan seemed pleased at their help, and a few days later they received a summons to report back to the Shogun.

They made their way without incident to the Imperial City. Everyone at the Shogun’s palace seemed on edge and moved about with nervous glances and fearful eyes. While guarding Imperial heralds he had seen the palace several times and it had never looked like this. Something was wrong.

His group was ushered into room where many leaders of the Empire sat. Some wore masks and he couldn’t even guess at their identity. He wasn’t sure he wanted to know. The shogun, Hida O-Hinku was there, as was the Jade Champion, Kuni Magatsu. Finally they were joined by the Voice of the Empress, Miya Todo.

It was very overwhelming.

Bayushi Kuronobo the spy master arrived accompanied by a woman. A woman he recognized.


She was the peasant girl that had stolen his message and gotten him into serious trouble. She had humiliated him and here she was, walking in dressed like a Scorpion noble.

But she was here for a reason and it wouldn’t be honorable to presume to take justice into his own hands when surrounded by his superiors.

A true samurai does not leap across a table to strangle a woman.

That didn’t sound right either.


Shintaro remained silent during the meeting as they discussed the threat to the Imperial heir. This meeting was so secret even the heir didn’t know. There was a conspiracy greater than anything he could have imagined. The Dark Oracle of Water’s forces had infiltrated every facet of the Imperial government.

“Even the Emerald Magistrates aren’t immune,” one of the masked men said.

Shintaro held his tongue.

Then Sayako, whose real name turned out to be Bayushi Maemi, daughter of Kuronobo, spoke to him. “And that is why I stole your message. It was a message from our enemies. If I had thought for a second that you were party to this treachery I would have killed you as well.”

She apparently did not know his skill with the bisento.

But still, she had dishonored him in the service of the Empire. Was it honorable to have acted as she had? She had defended the Empire against secret enemies, but was the means of this goal honorable or was it of such necessity that it had to be?

Now he didn’t know if he should still hate her or honor her.

Shintaro hated being confused. One would have thought he’d be used to it by now.

A samurai does not get fooled by a thief in the service of the Empire and take vengeance against the…no, that wouldn’t work at all.

Sometimes a samurai shuts his mouth and accepts the decisions of his superiors.

He scratched his nose and pondered.


To be continued next week:

If you want to check out some of Zach’s writing where he’s not being gullible and bewhildered, we are Book Bombing his new history book on Monday:

Ballad of the SFWA Facists by Steven Brust.
MHI RPG & Employee Handbook is shipping!

One thought on “The Drowning Empire, Episode 26: Shame on Bu”

  1. It’s nice to see some of our old friends back with the players. I wonder what is going to happen next? Hmmm, is the heir to the Empire going to join them for a shirt while?

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