Rokugan: Shadow Creeping
Travelogue of Shiba Zejuko
I do not enjoy this world into which I have been thrown. I have completed enough training to go on my own, but I had hoped to stay with my sensai for longer. I am learning quickly on my own, but I would learn at an even faster rate under his tutelage. People are so easily offended, and I am unsure of my ability to defend myself in close combat. I fear what will happen.
Also, our group is a mutt of a group if I ever saw one. I do not mind the Dragon or Crane, but the Lion is beyond me. I feel for his people and realize that his people believe he completed a great act by giving them a koku, but I do not understand why this is so. Perhaps I should learn more about money….my thirst for knowledge will get me into trouble, I know this for a fact. The rules of society are so restricting.
The Lion told the Hare daimyo Usagi Oda of our plan. I worry that this was a far cry from our orders. Chokuku stated very clearly that our object of the mission was to be kept secret at all costs. Then the Lion just states our mission objective as if we were on our way to the table to eat rice. IF I knew a spell to make one forget or silence someone instantly, I would have used it. How could the Lion who is so determined to be honorable above all else betray his master so blatantly. The Lion has also sent us on a death mission into the Shadowlands. I do not wish to go. I have heard the stories the Crab have spoken. They have made it all the way into the Phoenix’s land. I do not know how much truth is contained in these stories, but if half of them are true, the Shadowlands is no place for our party with only 3 fingers worth of jade. It is a suicide mission. I will lose honor before I die for a Hare.
Conflicted, that is how I feel. I understand the wish to have that which has been taken from you, but there must be a better way. The Shadowlands…perhaps I am overreacting and it will be fine. Perhaps I am not…
I still worry of my interaction with my sensai’s Crane friend Asahina Kazuma when he completed our traveling papers. I know such interactions should not worry me so when they do not affect me currently. However, I worry what could become of that interaction later down the road. As I said before, how strict the rules concerning interactions are. It is a shame I cannot marry and have one to speak with informally. Or perhaps I am thinking of this all wrong.
I feel that Chokuku sent us on an impossible mission. How can four unconnected people find this scroll when an entire clan is most likely hiding it from us? My time would be better used studying magic. How I miss my studies. Spellcraft is so intriguing. How some bushi go through their lives without ever becoming fully engrossed in magic is baffling. I must be odd. I must be odd because the possibility of 80% of those in my world being odd is much lower than the possibility that I am odd. Perhaps the Dragon could teach me some of her magic. I have always wished to know of Dragon spellcraft…
The stench was overwhelming. I was fortunate to strike the beast with lightning, but he did not fall. Am I not as powerful as I was told or are these beasts a more formidable opponent than I have yet to understand? I do not wish to depend on a bushi, but I do admire the Crane’s effectiveness in battle. He is strong to set his blade so deeply into the ogre’s flesh and bone. The Lion must have felt somewhat lacking in his presence. His arrow flew so far off target that we could not find it after the battle. How impressive…
I ran quickly to the aid of the fallen Hare to assist him as he lay there dying. But in my hurry to complete the magick, I felt something become twisted inside of me. I cannot say what happened, but I knew that the Hare would not be saved by my hand alone. I hope that the magick and herbs of those at the Hare castle will bring him to full health. Or that may have been the case if Ozaki would stay put for a few days.
I do not know if I wish to go on this adventure. Enough jade will take us through, but the oni and other monsters that live beyond the wall are terrors not to be taken lightly. With a troubled mind in more ways than one, I embark on this mission that I wish I had not agreed to. Had I known the sending that would come, I would not have left my sensai’s side. Why did I agree? My sensai sent me, but he must have known to some degree what was to come. I fear that I will die if I am unable to focus on the task at hand which will prove difficult given the circumstances. Focus, Zejuko. Enter the void, and find solace in it. It will lead me to the answers I require.
We are deep in the Shadowlands it seems within a few hours of travel at a speed that is tiresome to me. I welcome the rest that comes at the end of the day even if it is troubled at best. I am awakened by a scream and images of deathly shadows enter my thoughts. I almost run into the darkness alone before I catch myself and wait for a partner to traverse the space between our separate camps to the screams. It is Seiki who is screaming. During his watch, it can be assumed that he sat on a rock and some sort of creatures forced their way into his leg causing terrible, gut-wrenching pain. I know he will die if we do not aid him. The Dragon does what she is able, but the Shadowlands creatures are too much. Note to self, REALLY do not sit on or stand near rocks. The Hiruma scouts had warned us of this danger. Why did Seiki still do what he was specifically instructed not to do? Well, at least in his dying moments we learned that he got Ozaki and his sister involved in “this scroll business.” If we are lucky, the Lion who abandoned us will be doing something useful on the other side of the wall in regards to that scroll. Oh, what a “fun” situation that scroll has gotten us into.
I detested the goblin we encountered the next day. Its pleas for its life were humiliating at best. Regardless, we learned what we needed about the castle in the Shadowlands. Preferably there will not be “a million” goblins at the castle…
After arriving and scouting the castle, the scouts have left us. I was bothered by there hurry to leave, but I was gifted a Kuni Ward Stone before their departure. I will remember this gift and am honored by it.
My venture into the Void to scout the castle was lucky. I did not believe I would be able to find a kuni to help me, but I was fortunate. The castle is large, and I am wary of venturing into it. However, we must do what we have come here to do. Since the Ratlings have joined us, I have more faith in our possible success. Their stealth is beyond that of any creature I have ever seen, but perhaps that is simply because the other more stealthy creatures went unnoticed by me…I must be more aware of my surroundings.
Our venture into the castle went as well as we could have hoped, but I feel I was worthless in this endeavor. In all actuality, I believe because of my near obsession with ghosts, I put our party in more danger without the ability to help. I have angered whatever creatures take place of the kuni here. After my Sense Void spell, I was unable to find a kuni to assist me and some twisted inversion of a kuni offered me its help. I know little of the Shadowlands, but what I do know is to not trust the creatures here. Oh how I detest not being able to do my magic!!! However, after seeing that tongue crawl out of Masago’s mouth, I know my decisions not to give in to the distorted versions of spirits here was the right one. The temptation was maddening and my feeling of worthlessness has yet to dissipate, but perhaps I will cast a spell for the enjoyment of it now that we are on the other side of the wall. Masago…why would she whisper her name to an oni? Such an awful idea…that poor, tormented soul without a family.
Now that we are on the other side, I must find that damn scroll and return to pay homage to my dead sensai as soon as possible. If I am able, I may enlist the help of the Dragon and the Crane to help me stop this black-clad man. My mind is always concentrated on my sensai to some degree. The fact that he is gone and that I may no longer be with him or learn from him or benefit from our friendship. He would be so excited to learn of the new scrolls I have acquired and the bones I have helped put to rest. New scrolls! I must study them! My fascination with spells is nearly as strong as my compulsion for studying ghosts, so after putting the ghosts to rest, I must learn these old spells. They intrigue me to an extremely high degree, to say the least.
So much information must be put in order in my mind. Sei has been brutally murdered, but the accuser of Tushiro is Asahina Kazuma whom I know to be a fraud. I know this to be true, but I may have to enlist the help of Zunika, Isoroku, and Busaru if I am going to be able to prove my knowledge. This murder has sparked the Lion and Crane into a war. Knowing that Asahina Kazuma is actually what is most likely a bloodspeaker who said that the Lion and the Crane “must have their war” and is most likely the murderer of not only my sensai and the true Asahina Kazuma but also the murderer of the Void Master Shugenja means that this war was made to happen and this fraud has something to gain from the Lion and the Crane fighting. This war is not a true war and must be thwarted.
Isoroku and Busaru may follow me and be willing to help since both of their clans are involved in this fight. Also, the Dragon Zunika and I have become closer over our journey, so I may be able to convince her to come with me. Isoroku, Zunika, and I have proved strong together, and Busaru was a strong asset during the fight at the Hare castle. Now that the Lion and Crane have had their duel, I believe the issue of the Lion abandoning us has been thoroughly dealt with. I believe I may have killed the Lion by the shear force of my spells if I had dueled him, or I could have been killed by one fell swoop of his blade. I am fortunate that the dueler Crane took care of the matter. I hope the Lion has enough sense not to abandon us again. Perhaps we can strike a deal and finish more than one business at a time. The Lion’s path may be similar enough to mine that we could traverse both simultaneously…
I am angered that the Scorpion has the scroll. Admittedly, we have deciphered it, but it will only be a matter of days before the Scorpions are able to do so as well. We must act quickly if we are to have the advantage. I must converse with Zunika, Isoroku, and Busaru to determine the true meaning of this scroll.
The Void Elemental Master is dead and my sensai is also dead. Who will take the place of the Elemental Master of Void? With the amount of knowledge I have concerning this Maho-tsuki, perhaps I believe myself to be a prime choice. If I were to become the Void Master, I would be a target for the Asahina Kazuma fraud. I must learn more about Maho so that I can be more prepared to duel it. As the Elemental Master of Void, would more people support me if I challenged Asahina Kazuma to a duel on the grounds of him being a fraud and Maho-tsuki? Regardless of their beliefs, the winner of the duel would be considered the honest one. Knowing what I know, I must become the Elemental Master or perhaps the Jade Champion and fight this monster! My sensai will be avenged. I have decided the best way to accomplish this task, but I must not appear too head-strong. I cannot have these spots simply because I want them. I must duel for them. However, I have never dueled before. I will prepare myself for this duel but I will wait to see if the Council of Elemental Masters chooses me to duel the other upcoming Void Shugenja. She is above me in Void, but I have passion on my side. I will not let it overwhelm me, but it will power me. The more time I have to prepare, the better I will be. I will wait as a snake in the grass waits to pounce on its prey and prepare myself for the duel I know must come.
I wish I knew how close my kami came to defeating Isawa Kaede’s kami. It must have been close because I could see that it was greatly wounded. If my kami had done just the slightest amount better then maybe I would be the Elemental Master of the Void. Ah, perhaps my destiny was not to win this battle. Regardless of the outcome, my new place in society has changed quite quickly. I must adapt to this new amount of authority and recognizability.
I tried to have all of my companions escort me as Jade Magistrates. Kitsu Busaru still denied my offer after the third time. I do not know why he would turn down such an offer. He stated that he might be more willing to accept my offer in the future. I am slightly offended that he would not accept because I consider it a very great honor to be offered the position of a Jade Magistrate. If I offer the position to him again, I will only do so once more.
We have business in the City of Emerald Walls. The idea of entering a city with so many Scorpions is disturbing to me. After our encounter with Shosuro Rei and Bayushi Tomaru, I trust the Scorpion Clan even less than I had previously, and that was not much. I pray to the kami that this endeavor will bring me knowledge about my sensai’s murder so that I may avenge him. Perhaps I could meet his ghost, and he could assist me. Just a small amount of truthful knowledge would take me so much farther than where I am. I have divulged everything about my sensai’s death to Isaroku and Zunika. I hope that this trust was not misplaced. The brother and sister pair are a strong one with which only the ignorant would trifle. With them by my side, perhaps I can avenge my sensai and bring order back to Rokugan more quickly.
What has become of our Lion turned Scorpion? I cannot sense him. I wish to keep him as an ally and believe he would be an asset as a Jade Magistrate, but I offer this position to him warily. How can I offer a position to a person who does not exist in a sense? I…worry that a poor choice may be made by making him my ally. But perhaps a worse choice would be making him an enemy. I will offer him the position again, and if I have to, I will eliminate him if he proves to be insubordinate.
I will not sleep well for several nights knowing that I could have saved that girl and did not do so. The innkeeper’s daughter’s face is burned into my mind. I must not let one lost life irk me so. The oni killed that young girl, not me. However, if I had just taken the time to save her…But I have other business I must attend to, first.
The Crane Lord Magistrate, Doji Oruku, who spoke with us near the end of the day after the oni attacked was intriguing. I must speak with him again. As long as I am able to control Isoroku-san, I will speak with the new Scorpion. I understand to some degree the need Isoroku has to hurt Toshiro, but it must be done honorably. Isoroku has agreed not to kill Toshiro for now, and that will suffice. However, I will most likely not kill the murderer of my sensai honorably. Perhaps I will let Isoroku kill Toshiro when I am not looking.