Hell and Heaven are in the Hearts of Men

Report of Asako Ueda, Emerald Magistrate

Hige-sama,

I pray you will forgive any lack of decorum within, but I felt haste in this report to be of greater import than social niceties. Hida An-sama has left the Carpenter Wall and now leads an army of fresh Crab soldiers against the Unicorn. The death of his eldest, Hida Renmazuo-sama, at the literal hands of the Unicorn raider’s commander, Shinjo O-shite-sama, has impelled the Champion to take the field personally.

Shinjo Katsuko-sama and Utaku O-Kiri-sama mustered their own forces to repel the Crab. The two forces met just north of Tani Hitokage, the holding of the Crab’s allies in the Falcon Clan, and engaged in a parlay. Katsuko-sama brought forth Shinjo Koichiro-san, the last known relative of O-Shite-sama, who was willing to commit seppuku to assuage An-sama’s anger. The Champions discussed much, but for the sake of haste, I shall cut to the heart. An-sama called Koichiro-san’s seppuku a token gesture and insufficient, at which point Katsuko-sama ended parlay and both parties rejoined their forces.

The Crab proved to be an inexorable force, bolstered as they were by the Falcon Clan. The Unicorn retreated to Shiro Ide and I made immediately for Kyuden Miya. I shall entrust this message of one of their Heralds and return to Shiro Ide to continue my observations.

Asako Ueda
26 Horse, IC 1198

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Travel log for Azuma from the Castle of the Emerald Champion to the North/Eastern Unicorn lands.

Travel log for Azuma from the Castle of the Emerald Champion to the North/Eastern Unicorn lands.

For this trip, Asako Ueda is my traveling companion. He is an experienced traveler and the knowledge he imparted to me of the road will surely be invaluable for the rest of my days as a Samurai.

Phoenix Consulate:

We stopped at the Phoenix consulate on the border of the Phoenix and Lion lands. The town was astir with preparations for the Topaz Championship. I had the pleasure of meeting Isawa Yuzriha and Shiba Korhime, the two Phoenix competitors. I was sure to prepare offerings to the Kami for both before leaving the consulate. I made a pinwheel for the Yuzriha and a scroll for Korhime.

I contacted a Shiba scout in the area who had traveled recently to the Unicorn lands. I was glad to hear that the territory I traveled to will be calm. Learning the ways of long travel is in and of itself a trial. To prepare, I also traveled the Unicorn lands in Yume-do. I hoped to find Shinjo Young-Il there to ensure we traveled in the right direction. I was able to acclimate to the wide ranging plains of the Unicorn. I imagine every land of the Empire holds lessons unique to themselves, and I have personally had the pleasure to experience those mysteries of the plains of the horse lords. I did eventually find Young-Il there.

Unicorn Lands

The travel through the Unicorn lands was enjoyable as one could wish travel to be. Little of note happened until we found the residence of Shinjo Young-Il’s father. By happenstance we arrived the night before Young-il’s wedding to Agasha Umino. The wedding was another time of bountiful learning. The Unicorns’ blend of Rokugani and unique traditions was quite fascinating. I spoke with a few of note at the wedding and before it.

The Ide

The artisans and courtiers of the Unicorn are putting forth efforts to share the Unicorn with the rest of the Empire. They wish to show a singular view of the Unicorn to the rest of the Empire though their song and story, something I will surely hear about in the years to come. As one who learns, we Isawa should also teach. As such I prepared a scroll (ink of the void) sharing with the Unicorn my experiences with the artisans of the Crane at Shinden Asahina.

Phoenix in the Unicorn lands:

It seems that the Phoenix are establishing a presence in the Unicorn lands. Courtiers are visiting many of the Unicorn courts. To what specific end, I could not say, but surely this is related to the conflict between the Unicorn and Phoenix.
I spoke with Asako Wataru. He spoke of Kyuden Hida; from everything he said and would not say, it must have been a trying experience. The scar it left on Rokugan is apparent: may the wound knit well.

Shinjo Young-Il and Agasha Umino

I spoke with Shinjo Young-Il and Agasha Umino. At first, I suspected my reason for traveling might be solely to speak with Umino-san. She had prior knowledge of the tablet and a mind sharper than most. Both she and Young-il-san appeared on the tablet, as our conference with Yuuko-san revealed. There we had a fascinating discussion of the potential meaning of the tablet and the nothing who wishes to become something.
I brought both Shinjo Young-Il and Agasha Umino to the Castle of the Emerald Champion. As they are both on the tablet I thought they should, at minimum, be presented to the Hige-sama and could also provide some assistance with tablet. I personally saw to both of their travel papers before leaving the Unicorn lands.

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If My Fan Knew My Design
Who killed Yasuki Egetsunai?

Coming soon!

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A Wise Man Hears One and Understands Ten
Topaz Championship 1197

Akodo Hizashi’s victory a year ago has secured for the Lion Clan the right to hold the Topaz Championship, funded by the daimyo of the Ikoma family, Sakon. His wealth notwithstanding, the event is still spartan in comparison to previous years. Sakon counters this criticism with the promise of security during this year’s procedings.

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Not speaking is a Flower

Across the Empire, the practices of divination and prophecy have begun to behave erratically. Readings began being irreconcilably incorrect, then gibberish, and finally completely silent. Shortly after these bizarre events, a single peasant in a village near Ryoko Owari has begun to deliver unerringly accurate divinations. Hoping to find some answers to this event, the Phoenix’s Master of Air has recruited the Topaz Champion to investigate the matter.

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Topaz Championship 1196

Following last year’s scandal in which a band of Ronin sabotaged several events and slew a judge, the Emperor declared that this year’s Topaz Championship would be held in Imperial lands. This year’s victor will not only recieve the title and accolades of Topaz Champion, but also secure for his clan the right to host the tournament from then on. The Crane have vowed to claim victory and retain their age-old right to host the tournament, but several other Clans are all too eager to claim this glory for themselves.

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Kosaten Shiro - Winter Court 1195

Using the justification that the disruption of the Topaz Championship proved that the Crane Clan are unable to properly defend their lands, the Lion Clan attacked and claimed Kosaten Shiro shortly before the onset of winter. The Lion Clan’s champion, Akodo Tetsunori, has declared that he will hold his winter court in the newly acquired castle.

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Topaz Championship 1195

The Topaz Championship is the Empire’s most prestigious gempukku ceremony, held annually in the Crane town of Tsuma. Over the course of three days, young samurai compete to show mastery in the skills taught to them by their clan. The victor gains the title of Topaz Champion for a year, bestowing it onto the best the next year has to offer.

Among the usual plots, egos, and ambitions of the contestants and attendees, something unforseen is transpiring…

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