It was then the powerful shugenja who aided me drew on the powers of the air and water to permit us passage into the briny depths of the sea. Beneath the waves was a mysterious world of topaz and emerald, glittering as the sunlight filtered through the waters above. The colors reminded me of my duties both as the Topaz Champion and a servant of the Emerald Magistrate. A sobering consideration, for the pressure of the water above my head was not unlike the pressure I felt from those Thunderous* duties I had undertaken. As we moved beneath the waves, I led our little band consisting of S- and M- and our new companion Double M- who had joined us in deference to the majesty of the Topaz Magistrate.
Before our path was a cloud of glowing jellyfish, like a million floating moons in the water. S- could commune with them; for his years of living as a beast had stained his very soul with the stripe of Chikushudo. Every animal was his friend, and he was friend to every animal. A ronin, true, but noble and wild in his heart as the animals he so friended. The mysterious fish told him a tale of woe; they had been enslaved into the service of a great monster, a foul beast of the depths who knew not but malice and terror, a beast of the S-Lands, if you get my meaning.
M- had some lore of these beasts, for she was trained by those who had tried to master them and failed. In their failing, however, much was learned. She could tell us the path we needed to follow, and where it would go. Yet she and her spirit allies led us astray, to some horrid fishmen with hands like knives and feet like fins. They were easily dispatched, for Kakita steel knows neither fear nor mercy. Yet they were sorry things, neither thinking thing nor entirely animal. S- could have no truck with them in spite of his great gifts, but Double M was wise to the ways of the sea and suggested they may have a village nearby.
We followed her directions, for she was as the water to my fire, and S- was the earth to M-’s air, and thus we were complete in ourselves and went to an amazing undersea village with great towers and marvelously clever villages and all manner of things. Their warriors approached us, but quickly we found one that could speak the language of men. He was in awe of the Topaz Champion, and wished to give aid, but they were too weak from hunger and sickness to give much aid. I suggested the peasants above could offer aid of their own, a bond between earth and sea, a bridge of hope and mercy and understanding.
Compassion. It may be the greatest of the virtues. I would know.
Thrilled at the prospect of not dying from hunger as well as the chance to serve the Empire in the person of the Topaz Champion, they agreed. They then gave us directions to a secret lair, a place of hoary darkness in the briny deeps…
*Thunderous: Worthy of a Thunder, difficult, a task of great import.