Rokugan: Shadow Creeping
Act I Part four Scene two
The Kaiu Wall fades in the distance behind our Lion Bushi. His mind is in turmoil as his thoughts scatter into the wind. His companions have been left behind on a mission into the Shadowlands without him. What is the meaning of Loyalty? Who is he loyal too?
He reads the letter again:
They say that if people must choose between a painful truth and a pretty lie, they will generally choose the lie. I wonder if this will be true for you Busaru-san. Do you seek truth, or will you be content to live the lie?
I knew your father. No not the pretender, the Lion who has taken the title. His treatment of you only reveals his fear of you. Does the good of a man’s actions lie in the intent of his actions or the outcome? What has become of the outcome Busaru-san?
I don’t care what color you wear. You have Scorpion blood in your heart, and that’s all that matters. Perhaps that is all your Lion Junshin* father sees as well? Who has the better sight?
If you could choose from a thousand yesterdays, and the past was today, who would you be?
I can reveal no more here, for everyone knows that secrets and porcelain have one thing in common. Drop either of them, and all the world hears it.
However, as your Uncle, I will leave you with this lesson:
Once there was a Lion, sleeping in a sunny field. A Scorpion came to him, and said, “Lion, you are so large. I suppose you are the largest creature in all the lands.”
The Lion replied, “Yes, I believe that I am.”
“And,” said the Scorpion, “You must be the bravest and strongest creature as well.”
“That is what they say,” said the Lion.
“My only advantage is my poison tail,” the Scorpion said. “And I suppose you could smash me underfoot before I could sting you even once.”
“I could, quite easily,” the Lion said, rising and stretching.
“In fact, if I stung you, I doubt you would even notice.”
The Lion looked down at the little Scorpion curiously. “Perhaps. But I believe that I will step on you now, tiny one, and you will never have the chance.”
“Oh, but great Lion,” the Scorpion said smiling, “I stung you five minutes ago.”
And the Lion had nothing further to say.
If you need answers you can find them at Hayashi no Uragirimono (Traitor’s Grove).
A day in the opposite direction of his companions and a thought crosses his mind; he has seen a woman with a black hand across her face before. Masago was once a student of the Kitsu family and is now a wanted criminal of the Lion Clan. What is the meaning of honor? Where does his duty lie?
His journey takes him back to Hare Clan lands. Usagi Ozaki entrusted him with information, and regardless of the mysterious letter he has been asked to protect Tomoe. It seems Ozaki and Tomoe had the scroll all along, and Ozaki is concerned that he may not return from the Shadowlands. He has asked our Lion to help his sister, as Ozaki feels that they are in over their heads. Do his words meet his actions?
When he arrives at the Hare Clan lands he sees all is not well. Peasants are clogging the road, moving as quickly as they can to the protective walls of their lords castle. The arrival of a Scorpion army is expected to arrive at the castle sometime before nightfall.
The Lion is escorted to Usagi Oda, who expresses his displeasure at the Lion’s arrival without his son. Do actions and their consequences define those who take them? Tomoe denies any involvement with the scroll. Our Lion leaves the castle and continues north.
He meets a familiar face on the dusty road. She wears Scorpion Clan livery, it is Shosuro Rei, and she carries a flag of truce. She explains that she remembers the Lion, and that she knew his traveling papers had been forged. She recognized the seal of Matsu Chokoku, but not the elegant handwriting that accompanied it. She states that she is a secret magistrate, under the direction of the Emerald Champion and working with Matsu Chokoku to investigate a developing situation. She thinks that she has uncovered clues indicating treason being plotted at high levels—both within and without her own Clan. She elaborates that she has an interest in justice, and while some things are wrong (like forgery) she is more concerned with crimes that cause the deaths of innocents, and threats to the Empire and her Clan.
She explains that Oda has given Bayushi Shoju a longed-for excuse to destroy him by killing a Scorpion vassal and stealing from him. She is negotiating on behalf of Bayushi Tomaru, the general leading the Scorpion army, and may be able to get Shoju to limit himself to a symbolic victory in return for the scroll.
Our Lion hero returns to Usagi Castle with his news. He gives his word that if the Hare Clan turns over the scroll to him that he can save them from their fate. Oda and Tomoe do not trust him, but it is apparent that they need an intervention of the divine if they hope to outlast a Scorpion siege. Reluctantly, Tomoe explains how Ozaki and she discovered the scroll. She then turns it over to our Lion companion.
The Scorpion army is only a few hours away.
Six days away, Ozaki and the party that went with him into the Shadowlands have just acquired the sword of the Hare Clan.
Time is running out. What is the meaning of courage?