The Drowning Empire, Episode 55: On Discarded Parchment

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 Pat Tracy, as our resident poet does his thing.

Continued from:

The Drowning Empire, Episode 54: Second City Stories

On Discarded Parchment
By Patrick M. Tracy
Within the empty room where the visiting samurai stay, the smell of burnt fabric yet lingered. Kiyoshi gathered the bundle of clothing and held it at arms length. It was thick with sweat and blood and worse things. She didn’t care to examine it, but carted it to the back of the Radiant Fog and tossed it into the trash.

She gathered her cleaning supplies and went to work, changing the bedclothes and putting the place back to order. As was normal for samurai, the place looked as if a great wind had come through, and everything was thrown across the scene in casual disorder. The writing board had been left in the middle of the floor, obviously well used. A dob of sealing wax still lingered on the split boards, looking almost like a child’s candy. Kiyoshi sighed and pried it away with a long thumbnail she lacquered for that purpose alone.

“Samurai,” she whispered. Lonely young samurai, at that. They had not been purchasing the company of the Geisha, though she had seen evidence to suggest that they had the koku to do so.

When she picked up the writing board, a piece of rice paper fell from beneath it, drifting to rest upon the polished bamboo slats. The masculine, forceful hand that had wielded the brush had been tired, rushed, imprecise. Smudges of what looked like charcoal in the shape of a hand’s heel impressed upon the far edge of the page.

“Do not read it, Kiyoshi,” she told herself. As with many times before, she could not take her own advice to heart. She lifted the page, obviously filled with poetry, and read.

we fight in hell

the furnace heat

and breath of

Jigoku upon our


withered from

the inferno

tinged red

in the forge

spirals ever


the hollow

aperture of doom
Raging ever upward

like the arm of a

maimed god held

forever within the

tomb of the earth;

impossibly yearning

upward into the

heavens it can

never hoped to reach
And inside the

maelstrom, with

flashing swords we

hew away at our

enemies as our

kimonos burn away

Kiyoshi knelt on the floor for several moments, her fingertips against the thin paper, her mouth slightly open, aware of her own heart’s beat. She put the page down on the ground and stood, then reached down and picked it up again, carrying it with her as she left the room and hastily retreated to the cramped closet where she kept her treasures. Lifting a loose board, she nestled the poem with all the other things she had found. She replaced the board, patting it carefully. A small smile stole across her plain face, the one that none of the samurai lingered upon. It mattered little. Unseen, she was the keeper of little slivers of their souls.


To be continued next week:

The Drowning Empire, Episode 56: 12 Angry Bu

Fisking the Guardian's Village Idiot: Part 1
The likeness is uncanny

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