The Drowning Empire, Episode 54: Second City Stories

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 was written by Paul Genesse, recounting the events of a session where we got our gang warfare on. 

Continued from:



Letter from Akodo Toranaka to Utaku Yanai
Written on the Tenth Day of the Month of the Rat
Second City, The Ivory Kingdoms

Dear Yanai-san,

I have thought of you every day since our parting at the Teika Pass. I remember often our time together at Journey’s End Keep, the trek to the Crab lands, the battle at the Teika Pass, and the last ride we took with your dutiful entourage into the mountains. It gives me great comfort to know you are always surrounded by such fine warriors, and know that I too am in good company. My companions are never far from my side, and even if we are separated, there is little I would not do if any of them were in danger. I must admit I would tarnish my own honor to help them, but I hope it will not come to that.

Yanai-san, if ever you need me or my friends to help you, please send a message and I shall come as quickly as I can.

I do not know when we will see each other again, but it may be a very long time. Until our next meeting these letters will have to suffice.

Do not think I am overly distracted, but when we walk the muddy streets of Second City and I hear horses or see riders, I look up and hope it is you.

We are both bound by our current duties, but I look forward to the day when we can travel together and wage war against our enemies, shedding blood together as we did in the Battle of Teika Pass. To be on campaign with you will undoubtedly be one of the most memorable times of my life, and something I will work tirelessly to achieve.

I dream of what it will be like to see you in command of a host of Battle Maidens at the head of a vast host. It will be as we discussed: None shall prevail against the might of the Unicorn cavalry, and the Lion infantry I hope to command. Together we shall fight for our beloved Empire against all enemies, and the chroniclers of the history of warfare will write at least one chapter about us, and our use of the time tested tactics, and those new stratagems we have considered. Perhaps then, your Utaku, and my Akodo ancestors will judge us worthy to bear their ancient and famous family names.

It is still my intention to become your husband, but we are both patient samurai, and any desires of the flesh we have, must wait until the time is right, when it is no longer imperative for you to lead the Battle Maidens. However, I believe that a betrothal, even one of several years in length, is the right course at this time, both for us personally, and for our esteemed clans.

I believe that this is the time for such a bond between us, and our two families. I wish to become your betrothed, and will be asking for an arrangement to me made. If those far above me in status and power agree, it will come to pass.

It is my hope that such a betrothal will occur as soon as possible, for I must tell you that I will be leaving on an expedition into a distant and dangerous jungle. The location of the temple under the waterfall has been discovered, and an Ivendi man, Jagdish, of whom you know, will lead us there. My friends and I will travel to this place regardless of our circumstances, but we have learned that with only a large force of samurai and porters will we be successful. The Jolly Crab trading company is going to financially support this venture, but we need samurai who possess great fortitude and courage.

The strength of the Unicorn clan is sorely needed now. Subotai will be going on this journey, and the honored son of Kohatsu-sama, and all of us, will need as much support as can be found.

I will not ask you to go on this journey, and I must admit I do not want you to risk your life on this mission. The time will come when you will wager everything, but not now.

Your Daimyo has made it clear that your duty is in and around Journey’s End Keep, but if you know of any samurai, or even ronin, who are trustworthy and honorable, please have them come to Second City and find me. I can promise them the most difficult journey of their lives. The jungle and the worst monstrosities of the Ivory Kingdoms will try to kill them. Many will die, and many others will likely have their minds and their will broken.

When we reach the temple behind the waterfall, we will likely face the Dark Oracle of Water himself, or perhaps the tiger demons known as Rakasha. We believe at least one of these Rakasha is trying to bring back the banished Ivendi goddess, Kali-ma. We will not let this happen. The Destroyers were defeated and they must not return.

It is also likely that the remaining members of the Ten Killer gang will try to murder us. My friends and I have personally slain four of them now, and driven off two others. They will be back, and perhaps now they will understand that we are not merely young samurai who have earned renown by chance.

My friends and I, Subotai-san, Uso-san, Isao-san, Oki-san, and Shintaro-san, are the servants of the Fortunes and our respected lineages. We have been chosen to accomplish more than most samurai, and shall do our duty regardless of the challenges, or our youth and inexperience. Young samurai often believe they are immune to death, invincible, and beyond reproach. This is not true, but beliefs like these will serve us well in the weeks ahead. We will need all the courage we can muster, for we will face the worst of the Ivory Kingdoms.

Those samurai or ronin who join us will have glory and renown. Those who die will be honored and I can promise that their spirits will come to understand the magnitude of their sacrifice, even if they do not realize it now.

We are going after the greatest enemy of our age, The Dark Oracle of Water, Junzo the Vile. He will drown our people and the Emerald Empire if he is not stopped. My friends and I confront him.

If we die, we die, but we shall not fall easily. The Ten Killer gang, dishonorable lackeys of Junzo will come after us again. They abducted Uso-san a day ago, but we freed him, and slew two of the Ten Killers, driving two others away. The pair that escaped, an archer nearly as deadly as Oki-san, and a monk of great skill who was able to paralyze Shintaro-san with one blow, will not escape us forever.

They did not expect us to come to their meeting with so many allies, and through overwhelming force we routed them, despite their clever trap in the Crab foundry known as the Eye of Jigoku.

I personally took the head of a Ten Killer. A bushi from the Mirumoto School. His pair of swords were no match for my Akodo training, and I slew him before he could kill any of my friends or allies.

A Crab Berserker recruited by the Ten Killer gang, an axe man called the Woodcutter, did not fall so quickly. My friends and I learned that men such as him must be decapitated, or pierced through the spine. He would not fall from slashes or blood loss. I wish I had been closer to him in the fray. He was a dead man, but his body refused to fall and he continued his vicious fight. I would have taken his head and ended his resistance.

There will be more like the Woodcutter, and we will deal with them with sharp steel.

To be a warrior and fight for the Empire is the highest form of service. You and I shall do our duty, and perhaps someday we will be gifted with the opportunity to fight once again against our enemies. Until then, I shall think of you often, and pray for your health and well-being in the shrines of Hachiman, the God of Battle.

I shall write as soon as I hear any news of my betrothal request.

My sword and my soul are yours in this life and the next.

Akodo Toranaka

Secret Letter from Akodo Toranaka to the Voice of the Empress, Miya Todo, in the Winter Cipher
Written on the Ninth Day of the Month of the Rat
Ivory Kingdoms, Second City, at the House of Radiant Fog

Most Honored Miya Todo-sama,

We have made great progress in our mission to uncover the truth behind the dagger known as Corruption, which wounded the Imperial Heir. We believe that Kuni Hazu found the dagger in a temple behind a waterfall in the Demon Jungle, and now, a trustworthy Ivindi man called Jagdish will lead us to this place.

That temple beneath the falls lies in an extremely dangerous part of the kingdom, filled with monsters, demons, killer plants, diseases, and foul magic. It is a horrible, evil place, avoided by the Ivindi for the last 400 years. There was a great war called the War of Maharajas which ripped the kingdom apart, and this place has been abandoned ever since. Since that time, the region has become even more corrupted and overgrown. It is where the dregs of Kali-Ma’s cult fled. It is far to the northeast, in the deep jungles where no Rokugani has ever settled. This jungle is past the watchtowers that guard the jungle, which borders the Shadowlands to the north of it. This place is the home of the Red Hunger, a snake so large that it eats elephants, and other unspeakable beasts.

We have been told that the demons of the Shadowlands don’t ever try to cross this jungle, because it is dangerous even to them.

We shall go to this place with as large an expedition as we can muster. Is the Shogunate able to fund our expedition and help provide us with trusted samurai from any of the major clans? I believe that Crab samurai would be extremely valuable in such an endeavor.

If there is any way you could use your influence to persuade the Governess, Otomo Sukihime, to approve our expedition that would also be very helpful. She appears to be very difficult to work with, and her son, Otomo Akio has already made a veiled threat to me, hinting that he knew about my opposition to his tiger demon friend, Doji Chonitsu.

My companions and I will await your response, and will follow whatever orders you give.


Akodo Toranaka, Son of Goro

Letter from The Voice of the Empress, Miya Todo to Akodo Toranaka
Written on the Tenth Day of the Month of the Rat in the Winter Cipher


Thank you for your letter and the information you have acquired. It is vital for you and your companions to go to this temple behind the waterfall.

From what I have learned about this territory, the Demon Jungle you have mentioned, a large contingent of men is required for this expedition. The Shogunate regrets to inform you that it cannot be directly involved with this venture. No direct support can be provided at this time as far as samurai. However, we will order your friend, Yasuki Dokansuto, to fund this endeavor under the auspices of the Jolly Crab Trading Company.

We cannot attempt to influence Otomo Sukihime or her son Akio either. Be very careful in your dealings with them.

Miya Todo, The Voice of the Empress

Secret Letter from Akodo Toranaka to the Voice of the Empress, Miya Todo, written in the Winter Cypher
Written on the Eleventh Day of the Month of the Rat
Ivory Kingdoms, Second City, at the House of Radiant Fog

Most Honored Miya Todo-sama,

We have received your letter and will proceed accordingly. We have a plan to recruit samurai to our cause, and will first attempt to gain the approval of the Imperial Explorers. Their help will be critical, but we will need assistance from many samurai.

I do have an idea that will help us succeed on our mission and will keep the Shogunate’s involvement a secret. It involves the Unicorn Clan. Moto Subotai is still officially the Lion Clan’s hostage, and under my guard. It will soon be known that he will be going on this mission to the Demon Jungle. The Unicorn will likely want to send some of their samurai along to help protect the esteemed son of Moto Kohatsu.

Another reason they would send along samurai would be if I were betrothed to Utaku Yanai. She and I became close during my time at Journey’s End Keep, as you already know. Ide Zhao had begun to arrange our marriage when he was murdered by Xiong’s assassin. If such a marriage were arranged, there could be peace between the Lion and Unicorn clans once again. I am in no rush to take Yanai-san away from her duty among the Battle Maidens. I believe that a long betrothal, perhaps many years in duration would be perfectly acceptable to both of us. The Empire and its security come before everything.

I humbly ask that you, Most Honored Miya Todo-sama, secretly if you choose, appoint a Nakado to arrange the marriage, which will help bring peace between the Lion and Unicorn.

I believe that if a betrothal were arranged, even more Unicorn samurai would be sent on this expedition, and help guarantee our success in finding out what effect the dagger Corruption may have on the Imperial Heir.

If the Unicorn samurai came with us, Lion samurai would also be sent, to show that there was peace, and to keep up appearances. Subotai-san would still be considered the Lions’ hostage until the marriage perhaps, and if many Unicorn came with us, Lion would have to accompany us as well to maintain the appearance of still controlling the son of Kohatsu.

My strategy to gain the assistance of the Unicorn will likely cause the Lion to follow. The Shogunate will be able to keep its distance, as the arranged marriage is already known to have come from Ide Zhao, and the Ide family.

My companions and I will await your response, and will follow whatever orders you give.

Humbly and with Greatest Esteem,

Akodo Toranaka, Son of Goro


To be continued next week:

The Drowning Empire, Episode 55: On Discarded Parchment

LAST CHANCE to Punch Mental Illness in the FACE!
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One thought on “The Drowning Empire, Episode 54: Second City Stories”

  1. Hey, Larry, am I the only one getting kind of an Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom vibe from this campaign? 😀

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