Rokugan: Shadow Creeping
Act I Part one
Rumors of drought, war, and plague are all being spoken of in whispers. The Lion clan needs relief, as its provences wilt under the second year of a disaterous drought. The Crane, seeing an opportunity for political gain, have offered to assist the Lion for a price. That price is the return of all lands and property taken from them during The Night of the Falling Stars, the castle of Shiro no Yojin. Our heroes find themselves drawn into the delicate diplomatic negotiations being hosted at that haunted castle. The Lion have invited the Crane there for talks, a deliberate insult. So tense are the negotiations that the diplomats and their companions find themselves locked in a battle of wits as the crysanthamum feastival passes them by without celebrating. The stakes are high, the Lion are prideful and the Crane are refusing to help unless they humble themselves.
Set apart from the negotiations, our heroes find themselves being summoned by a well respected Lion, Matsu Chokoku. It seems there is a very delicate matter involving a stolen scroll taken from the Akodo family by an minor clan ally of the Lion, the Hare clan. Trusting to their descretion, Chokoku sends the heroes to retreive it. Procuring the legal papers for traveling prooves diffcult. It seems Chokoku trusts them to see to the details of their journey, and ‘trusts to their honor’. Confused by the potential legal trouble they might get into, yet unwilling to cause insult with Chokoku, the heroes enlist the aid of the Crane diplomat, Asahina Kazuma. Kazuma understands their need is great, and that the matter requires a delicate touch. As an Emerald Magistrate, is able to fill out their traveling papers, giving them the room they need to maneuver subtly to Hare Clan lands. Days of travel find our heroes on the Imperial roads in Lion lands heading south. The Lion are active. Troops, in armor, are moving all along the Lion-Crane border. Villages they pass are full of peasants in need of food. Some have been abandoned. There is an undescribable wrongness to the land, and it feels as if the whole situation is one spark away from igniting into a firey conflaguration of war.
Chokoku’s desire for subtlety and discretion, but not haste, is soon forgotten as our heroes reach the opulent lands of the Scorpion, past Beiden Pass. The Beiden Roka Doro road takes them past famous geisha houses, comfortable inns, and magistrate stations. Four days of fast traveling in these lands brings them within one day of Castle Usagi, with one hitch; a Lion bushi, a Crane duelist, a Phoenix Ishiken, and a Dragon Ise Zumi make for strange company, especially on a spiritual pilgrimage according to their travelling papers. The clan of secrets knows a secret when it sees one. Just a few hours away from the border our heroes are stopped by Shosuro Rei, a Scorpion samurai-ko who claims to be a magistrate. She is extremely apologetic, as it seems that our hero’s travelling papers weren’t properly authorized at the last magistrate station. She politely clears the matter up, and allows them an uncomplicated journey to Hare lands…