OOC – Sadly the new year took its toll on me keeping up with this.
Two days later, the Tiger’s Maw Elite Unit found itself drawn further into the plots and machinations of the Obsidian Empire with the arrival of Gurifisu and his Hawk Clan. He was well revived by Feydn Rafiq and the two remained close.
Disgusted, Toku Gattsu went to the gardens to clear his head but instead found a further complication in the form of Shiba Emiko laying face down in a fountain with a knife in her back. He was accused of murder by Devadas Rafiq, but fortunately Chander Surresh arrived and took over the investigation releasing Gattsu. He however was still seen as being involved.
Meanwhile, Matsu Nobu and Kuni Hisui went to meditate with Shaym. They spoke of magics and the history of the abuse that was done at the hands of the evil rakshasa, and the liberation of his peoples by a little old man. Nobu could not help but notice the similarities between this old man and his Shinsei. In the end, the meeting did not change anything, but both sides have a deeper respect for one another.
At lunch a poetry contest was about to be held, and suddenly Hisui found himself involved, as a judge. He was able to realize that Ide Hiro and Gobind Surresh had laid their revenge for him, from his earlier triumph over them. He felt he may have had what it took to over come their maneuver, but quickly found all the decks were stacked against him. The poetry contest ended in a clear Obsidian Empire victory on all sides, as Hisui looked like a rambling fool.
Just after the lunch, Togashi Kasumi spouts nonsense at Gattsu and Nobu, about the Hawk Clan, as the two watch Gurifisu and Feydn walk into the Rafiq wing. She departs looking as confused and frustrated as the other two.
As the Unit reconvenes they decide to investigate the death of Emiko. Nobu goes to talk with Rama Singh, and they decide to show the evidence of the treachery of house Surresh to the The Maharaja, Manish Singh will take the information that evening to his master. Gattsu talks with Kavi Singh, the only friend of the late Shiba and discovers that the Shiba was depressed. Hisui goes to Emiko’s room, and finds all of her letters burning, and someone did this recently too. K’mee helps them track the person who burned the letters, and it leads them to Kavi and Hisui interviews her as well, but she becomes defensive. Gattsu and Hisui let her go though, so that they can talk with Nobu, confident they can find her later.
Nishimura goes on a walk and encounters Kasumi, and recognizes her as a Spider Infiltrator. She relates that she doesn’t think House Surresh plans on cheating any, but winning through sheer ability. She however has noticed that every blood mage at Court seems to find favor with House Rafiq, and warns that something sinister may dwell there.
Nobu hears their report and ask Rama to have Kavi brought before him, but it appears she has fled the Singh wing and headed into the Rafiq wing. When the Unit inquires upon her with the Rafiq guards, they say they know nothing about her. Stone walled, the group goes to the play being shown that evening as they stew over what must be done.
The play is a heavily edited version of the Tournament of the Kami, where Fu Leng is cheated of his right to rule by the other Kami, and the Ivory Court was amused and enjoyed it for the art it was. The Emerald Samurai mock it as a joke, and the Obsidian Samurai try to make the Emerald look like uncouth fools, but the tables are turned when Kuni Tsuma in drawn into the conversation by the insulting Yasuki Tsuneo. He levels an insult to her, and the aged crane courtier punches him in the nose, reminding the court of Crab Politics, which everyone gets a great laugh at, and the Emerald Samurai claim a victory.
While the play went on, Nishimura got to over hear Mahavira Singh and Hiro talking, and it appears his advice and talk with Pranay Surresh seems to have taken hold as the General of the Ivory Kingdoms expresses concerns with the Obsidian Empire. He wants to meet these famed heroes of the Unicorn Clan that the Obsidian Samurai love so much, this Moto Tsume and Otaku Kamoko. Hiro realizing that he is loosing departs in disgust.
Returning to the Singh wing, they go and search Kavi’s room. As the group turns it over, they find letters long since burned. About to give up, Gattsu manages to find a hidden blade that has strange and dark marks upon it. They show the blade to Rama, who turns white with fear and rage, and informs the royal guards. He explains that this is a knife used in the Cult of Rhamul, and is a heresy.
When the royal guards search the Rafiq wing, they find Kavi who draws a blade and tried to end the life of Feydn. In response Chander, the royal guard locks down the Winter Court and puts House Singh under direct scrutiny of being worshipers of Kali-ma. And their accusations about House Surresh find they cannot go before the Maharaja.
Two days pass, and the Emerald Empire and its Patrons of House Singh had reviled in the courts, all of their gains ash in their mouth. House Rafiq is angered and pressing closer to the Obsidian Empire, who is on top with Surresh. Things look bleak, until Chander comes to the Unit to ask for their aid.
He explains that he can tell when he is being bullshitted, and feels that House Rafiq is hiding something. He knows that the guards must had been involved in getting , Kavi near Feydn. He also notices that House Rafiq is not upset with so much Surresh control, something any great House would be upset over. When he goes into the wing of the Rafiq he finds himself led form room to room under the guidance of his guests. So he has come to the honorable Samurai of the Emerald Empire to ask for them to investigate while he is being led about. They agree.
The group goes into the courts, and for once is not drawn into scandal, although they do watch everyone preparing for the sadane contest. While the court is preparing for it, they are going to use it as a diversion with Chander to get into House Rafiq. Something Nobu feels sad about missing, as he is sure the sadane contest will be amazing given the groupings.
On a whim Nobu goes to confront Bayushi Ken, hoping to find out if the Hawk did kill his supposed lover. However, as the conversation unfolds, the mourning Scorpion suggests that he killed her out of duty, despite his love. Unable to do anything with that turn of information for now, Nobu leaves the man in his terrible despair.
As the contest gets underway, the Unit moves with Chander towards the Rafiq wing, but they lag behind as the royal guard rushes ahead. When Chander is taken inside with one of the guards, they then approach the second guard and ask to follow inside. The guard locked in a situation where he cannot leave his post and needs to allow the royal guard’s guests inside is forced to allow them to go inside unsupervised.
Inside they find Chander is asking all of the Seurresh guards present and the Rafiq guards to gather before him for questioning. The Unit they takes time to explore, and using their ratling’s nose and their own skills find signs of a fight and death in the halls up stairs. They follow the scent of blood down stairs and to a false wall hidden behind a mural. They go to inform Chander, but before they round the corner, they over hear the guards talking about someone will need to impersonate Chander now that they were forced to kill him. Nobu knowing he will need evidence that is strong enough to explain why they are where they are not supposed to be, and their only person to give testimony is dead, he chooses to go behind the false wall.
They find that it leads to a stair well, which stinks of death, and find that at the base of the stair well are meany dead men, naked. It is theorized that House Rafiq is replacing the Surresh Guards with their own men. They find that there is a further hand polished cave system ahead. They follow it into the darkness. Eventually they find themselves heading into a single lit chamber that stretches into darkness and a massive statue dedicated to the Destroyer Kali-ma stands before them. Along with a table that shows exactly where everyone will be on the wedding, and a listing of where their men are, and it appears that almost all of the House Surresh Guards are their own. They also find a letter from Fu Leng, personally crafted and shows them that what they found before was a forgery. The Emperor has offered Kali-ma placement in Jigoku, along with oni to help supplement her army in purging the Ivory Kingdoms of all non loyal followers, in return that he become the sovereign ruler of the ruins there after.
As the unit goes to leave, they find two massive iron statues that had flanked the door come to life. There is a brief battle, and with some minor difficulty the group cuts there way free to the stair well. Where the Cult of Rhamul has prepared an ambush for them, distracting them at the top of the stairs, while some of their men lay naked on the pile of corpses and go to cut at them find behind. Hiruma Genshu however sees the ambush coming and saves the life of the wards that were standing in the back.
With their assassins dealt with, the unit by passes the objections of the guards who give chase as the Tiger’s Maw Unit moves into the main chamber of the winter court. They then interrupt what looks like the greatest sadane contest ever, and quickly present their evidence that House Rafiq worship the destroyer. Feydn then stands up, shouting, “Kill them all!” All of the Surresh guards turn on their masters, and a few Obsidian Samurai join the attack. House Surresh is caught flat footed along with many of their Obsidian Samurai. House Singh being further away is able to rally with the Emerald Samurai, and move to protect the others.
Nobu launches himself at Feydn and the two become locked in a personal duel to the death, with the leader of House Rafiq laying dead before he could kill his Maharaja. Hisui and Genshu rush to the ruler of the Ivory Kingdoms and protect him from all incoming attacks. Gattsu sees Devadas slay Manish Singh, and that the royal guard is about to try and attack his master from behind, and Gattsu cuts the false drunken man in half. Nishamura comes out of no where, doing a flying kick to shatter the bones and ultimately kill the blood speaker Isawa Masashi.
When the fighting is over, the Maharaja calls on Nobu to explain in full what occurred. When his tale is told, the Maharaja commends him and says that he has earned the favor of the Ivory Kingdom. He asks how he may repay this favor, and Nobu knows that part of this is to help him choose a bride. Nobu wisely tells him to select one of his concubines as a new wife, and that he trusts him to choose the one he loves the most. The ruler looks upon his lovers, and chooses the most intellectually stimulating of them. He then asks Nobu how he wishes to call upon his favor. Nobu asks for aid in their war against the Obsidian Empire. The ruler nods and then steps forth and gives a royal proclamation. The Obsidian Samurai have over stayed their welcome and are to be escorted in banishment from the Ivory Kingdoms, by House Surresh. They are to take with them his concubine that was supported by House Rafiq as he cannot trust her anymore. She leaves in tears. House Sing and his guests the Emerald Samurai will help purge the Rafiq territories of all members of House Rafiq, and that the great house is disbanded. Then once this is done, and the lands resettled, the Ivory Kingdoms will aid in removing this demon Emperor from his throne for his treachery.