Out of the Darkness


Once upon a time I was
I was falling in love
But now I’m only falling apart
There’s nothing I can do
A total eclipse of the heart










A Thought

I have been thinking on my own heritage, and on my companions.

It is a curious thing.

One hides behind a mask and disdains honor. Yet against him few secrets may hide.

Another disdains the mask, courts only honor. The face of honor is her mask.

She does not read the Tao.

How many Lion have found enlightenment in honor and not the Tao?

Akodo did not speak on this.

Neither will I.

The Enemy of My Enemy


I write to you on a matter of no urgency whatsoever. For there is nothing untoward with regard to the diligent servant of the Crab, Shoku Mifune, who had absolutely nothing to hide. His nocturnal ventures, I am sure, were merely a conscientious attendance to his duties as a vinegar merchant and not, say, an opportunity for vampiric predation upon the heimin of the nearby village. While some would view the touching of blood—to say nothing of of its consumption—as unclean and would seek out a torii arch for purification immediately, Mifune-san was so focused on serving his masters well that he lets no such compunctions deter him from his tasks. Indeed, not even the fact that his head had the ability to separate from his body, trailing viscera as it flew through the darkness, seemed to dissuade Mifune-san from slaking his hunger for getting every ounce of energy from his servants.

Thus it is with unfortunate sorrow that I report that Togashi Kenta-san and I have encouraged Mifune-san to rest from his nightly labors, productive as they may have been. Purely out of concern for his own well-being, you understand. In fact, if one were to go to his warehouse this very night, one might find him—or at least portions of him—resting comfortably in a pool of warm, sticky liquid—a contribution thoughtfully provided by one of the aforementioned heimin. While we ourselves have inspired this current state of affairs, there is one further observation that I would humbly offer: I would say that such uncleanliness does not become a servant of the Emperor operating so close to Seppun-sama’s estate. Perhaps it would be wise for us to discreetly assist Mifune-san in ordering his affairs, the better to preserve Seppun-sama’s on. I will await the arrival of your servants to assist in this matter.

Also of no import is the matter which Mifune-san shared with us to us prior to undertaking his rest. While he claimed that he was not in league with the most honorable and upright Kuni Yuke (who likewise had nothing to hide), he did express to us that, despite her unfortunate and abrupt departure from Seppun-sama’s Winter Court, we could nevertheless expect the upcoming festivities to be crowned with a bountiful increase in the number of souls who would soon be reunited with their blessed forebears. Not only was Mifune-san diligent in his efforts for the Empire, I now see how particularly blessed he was to have such keen insight into the minds of so many men’s Ancestors as well!

Curiously, he also claimed that such unmediated reverence of the souls in Yomi would not be facilitated by his own hand, but by another’s—and that he alone had the knowledge to curtail this increased commerce between Ningen-do and Yomi. While he unfortunately did not share the identity of the one behind these plans, he did see fit to share that the servant Rosemary was involved, much like a piece on the go board in the hands of a master gamesman. This was a most interesting revelation, as Rosemary herself was the one who alerted me to Mifune-san’s peculiar evening habits, and directed me to where I might find Mifune-san’s warehouse. And further, she provided me with a most curious amulet which had been a gift to her from her new master. As the possession of a meager servant, the amulet itself has no special distinguishing characteristics whatsoever, and cannot possibly render its bearer hidden from the sight of those nearby. I in no way wish to impugn Rosemary’s choice of master, hidden as he may be, and would not ever ask for this amulet to be scrutinized by one versed in the ways of the Kami.

It seems this unseen benefactor was quite solicitous in helping her to further her noble plans for vengeance justice against the ones who named her to be placed under the ministrations of certain of Seppun-sama’s Leatherworkers. On the morrow, I hope to receive an audience with this individual; perhaps given my recent interactions with Mifune-san, he will see fit to entertain me and provide me with further wisdom on this matter. Such a knowledgeable and influential man would no doubt have a most insightful answer to one of Bayushi Tangen—sama’s most famous riddles: The enemy of my enemy—is he my friend, or is he, too, my foe?

Schemes within Plots within Machinations


This has been a most enlightening period for my fellow Junior Magistrates and me. Kimiko-san found the end of a Scorpion’s blade, Togashi-san found several bodies in the lake and I found a ninja who is not, in fact, a relative of ours.
Further insight came from the Kakita artisan who is paying Mirumoto-sama a visit. He was able to confirm that the ninja is not simply a manifestation of the overactive dreams of the Junion Magistrates. Also, using his visit as a pretext, I was able to glean some further information about Kage-sama from the personal journals of Seppun Ayumu-sama, may he rest in blessed Yomi. Transcriptions of the journal entries relating to Kage-sama are appended.
Kage-sama himself also related stories of this ninja, and their occasional past conflicts, stories which I have transcribed directly from his words, and included as well. If this ninja is truly not one of us, then perhaps the Kitsuki would be quite useful in unmasking him. As Tangen said, why defeat your enemies when you can allow them to defeat each other?
Perhaps the most interesting interaction of all, however, was with the Crab vinegar merchant, Shoku Mifune. His gift of a Jade Wakizashi was most generous. The only possible conclusion is that there must be more koku to profit from in in the vinegar trade than in the opium trade! I will do all I can to learn the secrets of this highly successful businessman, that I might pass them on for our own merchants to profit from. Perhaps the Crab servant that he framed for the murder of Smooth would be a useful tool…

Thoughts from The Unenlightened

A band of color, the essence of a man. All it is to be, to know. Distillation of the conscious. This is not enlightenment. To abandon the flesh, to seek only consciousness and being, this can not be. Man was made mortal, man was made flesh. The kami themselves were flesh, the kami themselves took lovers, knew shame, knew glory, knew sobriety, knew drink. Were they not enlightened?

Each day finds the world expanded. Honor is a code by which men can live, but at what price? Will the rabbit teach the sparrow to fly? Can the snake teach the rabbit to run? A strange thing, to bind one to a code so closely yet to never examine it. I have discussed this, the future, the past, with my mentors. The best of them have only smiled, as if to say the very question was a delight.

Is this why the enlightened remove themselves from the world? Or is there some other reason, some darker thing. I see two great weights on the scale, I stand in the balance. One so burdened with honor the chains may drown the soul; the other so lacking he may float away on the breeze as the cherry blossom petal. Somewhere there is the answer.

On the horizon a great storm gathering. The Togashi know of such things, the dark gatherings of clouds. Yet to speak the name Kolat is to give them form. I will speak with Kage, I must meditate on this. I fear we are in the heart of some greater force that pushes on us with unseen hands.

A Letter to Bayushi Matahari (II)


Yume-chan is mine. It will only be a matter of time before I have plumbed the depths of the secrets that she possesses, including most importantly her Clan’s cipher. Apart from the intrinsic benefits this knowledge has for us, Yume will also provide me with a great many opportunities to learn more from (and about) Kage-sama in particular.

Next, I have also discovered information that may be of use to our Crab cousins. The servants of “Kuni Yuke” have spoken freely, with little pressure needed from the torturers. They tell me that they replaced the true Yuke and members of her entourage while they were still traveling from the south. They had intended to marry “Yuke” off and to insinuate themselves even further into Rokugani society, by occasionally replacing the hag’s skin with that of future victims once Yuke’s skin began to deteriorate. But as it happens, the kami and all the Fortunes smiled upon the Empire and her faithful servants; the freakish early winter storm prevented “Yuke” from leaving prior to her unmasking and destruction at our hands.
Further interesting information: one of the servants I interrogated was posing as a chef for “Yuke”. This could prove most useful if it becomes necessary to find an alternate explanation for the death of poor old Seppun-sama.

Finally, I had the pleasure of entertaining a most interesting visitor last night. He took great pains to avoid disturbing anyone else within the estate, climbing several sheer external walls as well as multiple stories of the internal buildings in order to enter my chambers and rouse me from my slumber. Furthermore, after our most enlightening conversation, he abruptly disappeared in the same manner as he first appeared, leaving only sparse tracks in the direction of the village on the road toward Otosan Uchi. Given his demeanor during his visit, I assume he is a distant cousin on my mother’s side sent with information of vital interest to me. If you should happen to encounter him, please convey my thanks for the warnings he provided about Kitsuki-sama, though if, in the future, he could be more specific as to the nature of the threat that Kage-sama poses, I would find it much easier to act appropriately upon his warnings.


Dearest Yume-Chan

These last two days with you have been most pleasant and rewarding. I enjoyed our time beyond the walls of the estate and in the quaint village nearby. I do hope Kakita-sama calls on you in the near future; I am looking forward to finally meeting him and witnessing his artistic talent.
I am also greatly desirous to learn as much of your method of secret communication as possible, that Shiba-sama may not ever discover what transpires between us. Because of your willingness to share this secret with me, I can finally be secure in the knowledge that our relationship will continue to bloom throughout our time together—and even our time apart, if my master decrees that our duties lie elsewhere.

Your devoted Shunsaku

Prayers to ancestors

The lion kneels in her room, praying her her ancestors. “Guide my arm that I might deal justice, guide my spirit that I might see where the darkness lies, guide my mind that I see through deceptions.”

She will soon cross steel with a scorpion. “My honor belongs to the my family that is bound to the Toku that covered their backs in battle. My service to my daimyo that has put me in imperial service that I must defend the honor of others in that service. My sword will strike for justice.” Still this worries her. When a scorpion is so blatant about insult, not even trying to disguise it with the court skills, there is something more going on. Was this a ruse to pull her into the duel? Who are the players in the court and what are they up to.

She continues her prayers of her ancestors going back to the time of Akodo and then begins the process of redoing the wrapping on her hilt to insure it is right and all is in readiness for the duel ahead. Her last prayer is to Ikoma, the ancestor through her mother’s line, “May my fight be one worthy of being talking about with honor to the clan.”

A Curious Thing, My Brothers,

I took part in the cleansing of a blasphemous shrine this week. A strange idol, marked of face, some form of outlawed spirit perhaps. It may have been a corrupted spirit, or a kansen playing false with his quarry or even a malicious creature of some kind. Whatever it was, when I took the hammer to the stone, as one does, blood spurted. Shinsei once spoke on that subject, he may have been wrong. You can get blood from a stone, I have seen it. I have drawn it. It was most foul. The blood pooled into small creatures, creepy crawly creatures. I worked the hammer to break the power of the stone while my new Akodo pal chopped them to bloody bits. Once the work was done with the hammer, I set to use the hammers on the ends of my legs and kicked them about. Togashi once said there is no problem that a man can have that will not end if you kick him in the head hard enough, and I think I understand. These things tore my legs to bits, but eventually we saw through. I said prayers over the blasted thing, but it was not enough.

Oh, also there will be a duel soon! Some rogue has offended the honor of the Toku, and the lion has taken the orphaned monkey to her teat and is defending him bravely. There will be a blooding, I suspect. Perhaps I should find a katana and duel someone myself, I have never been in an Iajatsu duel. I think I would be good at it!

More later my Togs,


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