“And remember I want it done neatly the first time! No more poor attempts Hiroshi-san! This is to be recorded for posterity. Entered into the Imperial Annals, a work of history to be reflected upon and considered for the praise that it shows our Emperor, long may he shine his blessings upon us! Don’t stop till you get it all done, either. And for Kami’s sake, make sure that you cast the warriors in the most favourable light possible. The last thing that I need is for the Chancellor or worse, Kachiko-dono, to reprimand me!”
Sighing to himself, Otomo Hiroshi, newest of the Imperial Historians, looked at a blank sheet of parchment. The battle had ended over a day ago, yet here he was still with a blank page.
Perhaps if I committed seppukku in protest? He thought absent-mindedly before shaking his head. No I don’t think so, he thought, stretching out toward the table, Knowing my unfortunate lot, Otomo-sama would probably be waiting in Meido telling me how badly I failed at that!
He picked up the brush again, his kimono already stained from the drips waiting for inspiration to strike.
Then slowly he thought hard about his life prior to the Crab Clan Coup, or perhaps Kisada’s Folly, as he often joked about it – out of earshot of any Crab of course. He was a no one, a nothing, a mere functionary. Until that moment. He wasn’t sure why he did it. He just did. But the flying leech creature that had been about to strike the Empress! Before he had known what he had done his arm was in the creatures stomach, his wakizashi in his hand and the creature impaled.
And for his reward? To be stuck writing endless streams of historical nonsense that no one was going to read! But as he thought back to that moment, and the look of gratitude in her eyes…
His hand began moving of its own accord.
The 20th day of the month of Hantei in the Imperial Year of IC 1125
The Hida led Crab Clan forces, allied with their Shadowlands creatures, to an assault on the capital of Otosan Uchi. They attempted to take the life of our beloved Emperor, Hantei XXXVIII, known at the court as the Topaz Emperor.
The battle began just past dawn, the Crab took to the field attacking from the North, attacking the Outer Walls of the city where the ancient battlements offered least defence.
While many, including the Hida strategists, had expected the Crab to easily take the outer walls, in a surprising move, the new Lion Clan Champion, Akodo Kotaro, lead the coalition forces from the front! Early scouts were repelled repeatedly from the front lines, the Crab force being delayed substantially as the Champion proved the loyalty and the courage that the Emperor had in him by pushing the horde back again and again. In the end the Crab were forced to overcommit, allowing a Lion army to lure a larger bulk of the forces into the city. Kotaro then left to rejoin the main force of Lion behind the Crab who would take them from behind later in the day.
However the Crab had multiple approaches prepared for the assault.
Taking the Emperor’s road into the city, the Hida lead the Kaiu siege equipment straight up into the heart of Otosan Uchi. However much to their chagrin, the Crab samurai who had stayed loyal to the Emperor had foreseen this stratagem and took to the field against their former kin.
Backed by samurai of both the Daidoji and the Matsu, these former enemies decimated the tainted Hida troops and their Shadowlands allies, the fury and carnality of their assault stunning the would be attackers.
The Master Smith, Kaiu Kurran, not only dismantled the incoming siege engines but directed the use of these parts to build additional fortifications, sealing this entrance off from the enemies of the Emperor.
Not only on land had the forces of the Emperor to contend with the rigours of war, but also on the sea. Yoritomo of the Lion clan lead the valiant defence of the bay, sinking the Koutesukan vessels of the Crab and destroying several foul Oni of the sea, no small thanks in part to their tamed Orochi riders.
However the main battle would be fought on the land.
The overcommitted forces of the Hida made their way along the three main routes towards Otosan Uchi’s Inner Walls.
Here is where the tactics of the Scorpion and the Dragon took to the field.
Luring the enemy toward and then upon the three main bridges, the Scorpion, Daidoji, and Dragon Clan samurai succeeded in destroying the bridges while fighting rear guard actions. Many attribute the success of this ploy to the Emerald Magistrate Kitsuki Ryouichi, who had convinced the Emperor of the validity of using large explosions on the bridges as ‘celebrations to the kami’, allowing them to condemn the bridges and their enemies at the same time.
At this stage, the tides seemed to be in the favour of the defenders with each of these tactics confounding and frustrating the Hida leaders. However it was here that they played their greatest strength, the Ujina brothers, Tomo and Tadaka – formerly the Phoenix masters of Water and Earth.
It was they and their followers who took their name that were controlling the minions of the Dark One. May he forever rot in the accursed realm of Jigoku! Both of these figures took to the field against the very inner walls themselves. Fighting alongside dreaded Oni, these brothers caused multiple breaches in the Inner Walls of Otosan Uchi, their foul magics overcoming the protective wards of the walls themselves.
All would have been lost if it were not for the valiant effort of the 3rd Imperial Legion, lead by Ikoma Soto. Her tactical brilliance allowed for the united forces of Rokugan to fight and defeat the Oni, driving the brothers back out of the breaches and securing the walls once again.
It was with this knowledge that the ultimate chance to end this had come. The Phoenix Champion, Isawa Uona and the Jade Champion, Yogo Junzo, gathered a small cadre of the Empires finest warriors and took the fight to the Ujina brothers. With swift and decisive action, aided by the Empires two most powerful shugenja, these forces were able to fight in the heart of darkness itself slaying both of these threats to the Empire while allowing the cadre to begin their fight towards the head of the beast, Hida Kisada.
With the brothers slain, the remaining Shadowlands creatures veered out of control, attacking all forces both those allied to the Emperor and to the Crab.
Seeing this as a moment of opportunity, the Emperor himself – long may he hear our pleas – took to the field, valiantly leading the charge into the fray himself! Purposefully he charged toward the standard of the daughter of Kisada, Hida O-Ushi, the sole remaining child of Hida Kisada.
Meeting up with the Lion forces attacking from the other side, the Emperor fought side by side with his Emerald Champion Doji Satsume and the Lion Champion.
However woe bestrode the Empire this day, and long may we rue the days that follow.
Madness overtook the Emerald Champion as he seemed to turn upon the Emperor himself! Foul magics were said to be at work as he attacked the Emperor, but his fellow samurai subdued him and returned him to the castle to be treated.
Worse was still to come, for in the heat of the battle the Emperor fell, to wounds sustained while fighting against the foul beasts of the Shadowlands to rescue Hida O-Ushi.
However, when the aid of a healing hand was offered, in a shocking moment that very healer instead dealt to the beloved Emperor a deathblow! This assassin, Asahina Tenkuu, had previously convinced all others of her inability to harm others, only to slay the Emperor with a knife to the back. Clearly the Emperor’s benevolence had blinded him to the viper within.
Concealing her true power till the end, the Asahina was able to call upon the air spirits to make her escape and to this moment, she is on the run from the justice of the Empire. In time she will be caught – for who can run from the judgement of the Heavens?
O-Ushi, having been rescued by the Emperor’s noble sacrifice, returned his body to the Imperial Palace to be treated and revered in the traditional manner, while she lead all the available samurai on an all out assault on her father.
In what has been described as an epic confrontation, many attacked the Great Bear, his strength mighty and his blade deadly. But decisively, the strength of the loyal Crab, the unified cadre of noble samurai and the support of Hida O-Ushi, defeated Hida Kisada and captured him to face his judgement.
With the Great Bear captured, the rest of the samurai fought the remains of the Shadowlands horde running amuck while the Crab surrendered, discarding their arms and falling to their knees around them. Those that bore the mon of the Ujina family however, fled, knowing their fate would be annihilation. Indeed bounties have been placed upon any surviving member of that family, larger than any save that on the wicked Asahina.
The fate of Doji Satsume, Emerald Champion, was to request seppukku for failing to protect his lord. While many would say that no one could have predicted such a betrayal, Satsume-dono, already ordained as a Fortune, would look to his honour, forever removing the stain from his family’s name.
This was a great and decisive victory for the forces of the Empire, overcoming such insurmountable odds. But at the cost of the Emperor himself and the Emerald Champion? There loss is a tantamount to the Empire that they both loved and cherished. We will thank them in the heavens, the Emperor and his Fortune of Courage, who we shall pray to smile down and strengthen us forever more.
Snapping out of his trance like state, Otomo Hiroshi, nodded at his work, hoping that even his masters would find this worthy of their liking. Hopefully now with this written, he would be able to take a small break and find himself a strong cup of Sake and warm bed to sleep in.
He was wrong.