The Drowning Empire, Episode 52: Stranger in a Crab Land

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,

This week’s episode is a journal recap by Paul Genesse. If you want to get the GM behind the scenes info that Toranaka couldn’t see, check out the link above. He finally caught up with the guy who caused the seppuku of a respected man back at the Topaz Championship years before.

Continued from:


Journal of Akodo Toranaka, Twenty-first Entry

First Year of the Reign of Empress Hantei Yumi

Twenty-fifth Day of the Month of the Boar

Three days away from Shiro Makoto, Crab Fortress in the Ivory Kingdoms

Ten days travel from Second City

My knuckles are still swollen and bruised from knocking the teeth from a lying, gutless, and honorless pig-dog named Okuda. I broke his nose with a spinning heel kick, but I could not resist feeling my fist crushing his face, and now must live with this temporary pain in my hand, which has kept me from writing these past three days.

I have not missed a single day of sword practice, as one must learn to endure pain and still fight on.

Now I know what it is like to wield my katana with a weakened hand. If I had two hands to grip my sword, it would not be so difficult, but I have a heavy burden to bear, and a lot to prove. The next time I must fight without my sword, I shall use my elbow instead of my fist to knock out a man’s teeth.

Regardless, my pain is nothing compared to what the family of Daidoji Kenru has gone through, or the great man himself, who made the two cuts, opening his gut and plunging a blade deep into his body, before he was ritually beheaded. A man as noble as Kenru-sama should be alive today, and Okuda, the dung eating, bottom feeding, back-stabbing excuse for a samurai should be dead and buried where pigs can defecate on his grave.

I still feel the anger now, though it was three days ago when we had been ushered into Shiro Makoto. We had been given a place to rest and refresh ourselves, and I had been able to write down my thoughts about bidding farewell to Yanai and about visiting Guru Gopti. We had learned the true nature of our enemy, Doji Chonitsu, and it was him I was thinking when the vile Okuda showed his face.

We were speaking to the fort’s commander, Rikushogun Hida Kenzan, when Okuda delivered a message to him. At first I did not recognize the filthy lout, as he wore a Crab soldier’s uniform and had grown facial hair.

General Kenzan saw me react, as I lost my composure. Kenzan asked what was the matter, as Okuda seemed utterly shocked as well.

“I see an honorless dog I wish to kill,” I said, and put my hand on my sword, ready to draw. Ready to duel to the death.

Kenzan asked and I explained how Okuda had disgraced himself and stabbed the young Spider Samurai, Daigotsu Bofana, on the field of the first mass battle ever held at the Topaz Championship. A battle I had been in command of, and which I won against the honorable Daidoji Kenru, who commanded Okuda and some Crane bushi.

Okuda’s hatred of the Spider, a hatred I share, had been taken too far, and Bofana would have died had not noble Isao summoned the healing kami, and kind Shintaro helped staunch the bleeding and saved Bofana’s life.

I asked General Kenzan if I could meet Okuda in a duel. Kenzan was not keen on losing a soldier to assuage my honor, or risk me dying and having to deal with “That bastard Tetsuru in Second City,” who for some strange reason has been placed in charge of the Lion forces here.

Kenzan asked Okuda to explain himself, and the man with the tongue of a snake lied in front of his Crab Commander and all the soldiers. Okuda claimed that he had asked to commit seppuku when the Shogun spoke to him, instead of his commander, but I was there. Okuda denied doing anything wrong by attacking and attempting to murder the young Bofana to the Shogun. He was unrepentant then, and watched as his commander, his sensei, Daidoji Kenru stepped forward and offered his own life to preserve the honor of the Crane Clan. Okuda made an impassioned plea and said he loved his commander, Kenru-sama, but his words were false.

I vowed then to kill Okuda if I ever met him again. His lies to save face in front of his new clan will not be forgotten either.

Hida Kenzan refused my request for a duel to the death. He instead said we would settle this “Crab Style” and proposed a brawl. The Crab are not known for their strict adherence to Bushido, but at least I would face Okuda in combat.

I agreed to the brawl, and Kenzan asked my companions if they would stand with me in the fight. All of them volunteered, except for Ikoma Uso. I was saddened by this, but he had just fought one battle for my life, acting as my champion in a duel against Xiong, and I cannot completely fault him for sitting this one out. Perhaps he was afraid he would lose control and kill Okuda? Uso is a vicious warrior, and I have little doubt he could rip out Okuda’s throat if the passion of battle was upon him.

Kenzan asked who would stand with Okuda, and the whole garrison wanted to fight. I am certain most did so out of boredom and their natural love of combat, but a few did respect Okuda, as they had fought Spider Clan and Okuda had slain several of the enemy.

Kenzan waved all of them away and chose one man to stand with Okuda. He was a giant. Taller than all of the Crab present. He came forward and announced himself. “I am Hida Shimona. Pragmatist, student of Sensei Toritaka Iaibuchi, graduate of the Clear Water Dojo, and Fourth Dan in the art of Kobo Ichi Kai.”

My heart quailed then, for this dojo was known to me. Hida Shimona would have been able to defeat the five of us in unarmed combat by himself. None of my friends are particularly skilled in jujitsu, and those who have mastered Kobo Ichi Kai are infamously good brawlers. My only hope was to have time to teach Okuda a painful lesson.

“Thank you for standing with me,” I said and bowed to Shintaro-san, Oki-san, Subotai-san, and Isao-san. “If you can keep Shimona away from me, I shall destroy this lying dog, Okuda.”

They nodded, and Oki-san stripped off his kimono and sprang onto ground cleared for us inside Shiro Makoto. Oki raised his arms and excited the crowd with his bravado.

I had stone eyes only for Okuda, but I did see Oki charge at Shimona and attempt a double-footed kick. The Giant lifted Oki and launched him into the crowd as if he were throwing a piece of wood into a pile. The others used the distraction and attacked Shimona, trying to give me the chance to meet Okuda.

Once again, Subotai stood as my shield, and protected my flank. He turned aside the blows of Shimona, while the others tried to hurt the Giant and attacked him from the rear or the flank. Shintaro is our biggest warrior, but Shimona tossed him aside, as if his punches did nothing. Isao, who is as solid as a mountain, could not withstand Shimona’s onslaught either and fell unconscious after acquitting himself well.

I saw glimpses of what was happening beside me, but I could not lose focus on my enemy. I had the opening I needed and approached Okuda while my four friends kept the Giant busy.

I let Okuda enter my circle of pain. I spun to avoid his punch and delivered a kick to the underside of his chin. He came at me undeterred, tasting his own blood, and landed a glancing blow that took some of my wind. I pretended to be hurt, but I had set him up. He came for me overconfidently, a bigger, older and stronger samurai against a one-armed young Lion.

I struck like lightning, delivering a spinning heel keep that broke his nose and sent him reeling.

His legs had gone weak and I attacked, leaping in the air. He raised his guard and I feinted with my stump, poking it toward his eyes. What a fool. Okuda did not see the punch coming to his cheek that knocked teeth down his throat. I didn’t feel the pain in my hand until I considered how to finish him.

I let him swing at me once more, then I set my feet and felt the chi building inside me. I let out my breath, channeling the shout and all of my power. I erupted and struck my heel against the side of his head, just in front of his ear.

He hit the ground, eyes glazing over, and I kicked mud into his face. I should not have done so, for when I turned, the Giant, Shimona grabbed me by the front of my kimono. As he lifted me in the air I could see all of my friends knocked senseless around the Giant’s feet. Subotai lay in the mud and I wondered for the briefest of moments if he were dead.

Shimona smashed his forehead against my skull. I woke up a few moments later and remember Oki being carried by Shimona, who was taking a victory march to the cheers of the Crab samurai.

I needed help to stand, and Uso helped me regain my balance. My friends were not gravely hurt, and the Crab Clan hailed us as great warriors for providing such a challenge for Shimona-san. Oki had won us the crowd, and they will look upon us with favor in the times ahead.

Okuda was carried away and I did not see him again before we departed Shiro Makoto the next day. I believe it will be the only time any of us will find glory from losing a fight.

I cannot find it in myself to give mercy to Okuda. He still lives while honorable Kenru-sama is dead. It may be wrong of me, but I hope that Okuda will be sent to the hottest jungle outpost on the border with the Spider Clan, and that he will be captured by them, and they will give him the painful end that a gutless pig dogs deserves.


To be continued next week:

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2 thoughts on “The Drowning Empire, Episode 52: Stranger in a Crab Land”

  1. Hey buddy, take that back: At least Lando regretted betraying the noble principles of the rebellion, and actively sought to atone.

    Anyways, this was a very good post, Larry! I had no idea Crab thought brawling was an acceptable form of resolving disputes- sounds like a very interesting counterpoint to Iaijutsu. Been strongly contemplating a Hida Bushi with the Sumai school for just such a reason, even though it would make me lose that sweet, sweet Reduction.

    I see Kenzan’s moving up in the world- how appropriate, for him to be guarding Shiro Makoto! Is the fortress considered a prestigious position? It’s on the border of a major conflict, albeit a foreign one, and Makoto did die a Shogun.

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