As the village recovered, and gathered the dead to burn, a number of funerals were preformed. Kaneka was given Toku’s sword to hold and keep on the way to the island. The fallen corrupted samurai’s blades were given to the Tiger’s Maw Elite Unit, as well as a grand crystal that held some scroll within it. They retired for the evening, and found that Daidoji Uji and Hakumei were resting down stairs in the morning. They have arrived at the guidance of Favorable Wind, who knew that Kuni Hisui had been trying to desperately reach him. The two explained that their safe house was assulted by the Obsidian Legion and that Daidoji Tancho stood fast to allow the two time to escape. Uji heard what happened and looked at the crystal, Hisui determined that maho was involved with the protection of the crystal, and Uji suggested that they go see a ‘friend’ of his in South Hub Village. The unit gathered up, and left the nameless village, after they helped the farmers find spirituality once more with the Fortune of Rice.
On the road, they encountered few to no samurai, this gave them a chance to catch up, and start explaining to the curious Kaneka the code of Bushido. They also discovered that he had a wild and reckless style of fighting that was unrefined. So bit by bit the unit took a chance to advise the boy, teach him a lesson or two and ask him of his own life. The boy had been inducted into the Forest Killers early, and learned the sword under the bandit lord Fade. He can count, but cannot read, he is good at ambushes and deception, and lacks a true understanding of honor. Matsu Nobu began to teach him honor and Bushido, Kuni Hisui gave lessons of how to read and write along with knowledge of the spiritual order, Toku Gattsu taught him the blade, Hiruma Genshu began with go and also katana work. Uji taught knives and refined his deception, while Hakumei ranged ahead to keep them aware of danger.
As they entered the Scorpion lands they noticed a great deal of change. The land was recovered from the brutal march and much of the castles, homes and towers were being restored. Near the Scorpion Capital, the unit found that a number of peasants were fleeing from the south saying that the Oni of the Legion of Jigoku were swarming the The Unbroken Crab in waves of darkness. Leading them was the new little teacher Honzo. He spoke with the group, gave them guidance and wished them luck as he made sure the peasants were being led far from the battle that raged in the south. Nishimura, unable to stomach the threat to his allies, his lord and his wife, bade the unit luck, and headed south to aid how he could against the oni. Hisui also bade Favorable Wind to go find out what happened in the south and the group, knowing that even if they pressed forward with all of their might would arrive well after the battle was over, continued towards South Hub Village.
There, for the first time in days they started to see signs of other Samurai, and they were still few in number. There they went into a bar and Uji asked for the group to see Tiger. Uji warned them that they could not trust Tiger fully, but he was a nessisary thing. When the unit was taken to the back they found Akodo Kage, the kolat master. He was looking at a table of clay figures in three groups over the map of the empire. He greeted them warmly, and disarmed them with is charming words and smile. The former sensei, noted that he felt that the false Emperor can be fought in other ways then with swords and finding the death trap riddled 12th Black Scroll. He claims to have already inspired rifts within the court and that these will sunder the Dark Lord.
Setting aside talk, he got down to business and took up the crystal scroll, noting that the Empire now uses these to secure messages. He handed the crystal over to an aid who took it, and said that his blood speaker in a cage will open the device up. Nobu expressed his dislike of this tactic, but Kage explained that the leisure of time is demanding otherwise. While the scroll was away, Kage tried to offer Uji a job within the Kolat, saying that ‘the Temple’ had fallen and new masters were needed to guide the hand of man against the gods. Uji dismissed him, but Kage continued, and offered a way for his to have revenge on Hoturi the Heartless, and produced a bottle of ashura blood, preserved before its death. As Uji eyed the bottle, the aid returned with the letter. The letter was passed about, and the letter was a recall of all samurai for the Obsidian Legion near the capital. Nobu noticed that the bottle of blood had disappeared while everyone was distracted reading and reacting to the letter. Kage knew that this meant that the Emperor was going to strike at the Islands of Spice and Silk, Uji agreed and asked the older man for a ways to get to the islands. Kage knew of a way, but they would not be able to arrive before the armies, they would arrive with them. His aid brought out the black armor of the Obsidian Magistrates and everyone donned them, and as they left Kage told them that should they survive any of them are welcomed to join him in the kolat. The unit disguised took the papers of recall with them to the capital.
Before they were at the capital they were met on the road and sent to the Tower of the Dawn, and found the massing army along with a fleet made of the wood of the Fox Lands. The massive army was swollen with almost ever samurai in the Empire. Uji gave lead of the unit to Nobu, as Uji could not hide his blue eyes with his armor, and Nobu registered them with the army…. and their registrar was Kitsuki Kaagi. He apparently had been saved form death somehow, and claimed to be free from the clutches of The Lying Darkness. Nobu did not probe further, but Kaagi did ask if there would be an ‘issues’ while he was here, and Kaagi said he would cover them up best he could.
The unit then met back together and they broke apart into three groups to better explore the camps. Uji, Hakumei and Gattsu left for the docks to sabotage boats (disabling three before they were forced to quit) and Kitsuki Kaagi seemed to cover up their interference. Nobu and Kaneka went about the camp city gathering rumors:
1. A Dragon was overheard saying that the gathering was for attacking the islands, but obviously since the Wall of Bone has fallen, the Imperial Armies will march north instead he is sure.
2. The Crab and the Legion of Jigoku is at odds over territory. Skirmishes may devolve into war between the two factions. The Crab wish for their ancestral lands returned.
3. The Kitsu Tombs have fallen into disarray, with the Kitsu attendants, guards and now investigatory magistrates found dead and in some cases scattered about the Tombs. The Lion worry that the ancestors do not approve of their wars.
4. The Crane who is being tortured by the Heartless, he is one of Uji’s students. All the sabotage as of late, it must be him. If Uji is here… do the Islands know we are coming?
6. The Necromancer, Isawa Tanayama, has presented a bounty to any who will give the location of Traitor’s Grove.
9. The Lion have noticed that Minor Clans lands have become a nest of trouble. They should be purged completely, in the name of honor and glory.
Meanwhile Hisui and Genshu both made their way to all of the food carts and found the main pavilion, and there found Daidoji Tancho strapped to a post and was being tortured and questioned by Shosuro Nobukazo, while the Heartless watched on. An issue was that his tongue had been removed, so his questioning and torture were pointless. The pair then overheard Hantei Kachiko and the Heartless get into a courtly argument to end the torture, and just before the Empress one her debate, Hantei the 39th ended the fued, stating that Yogo Junzo would end the Crane’s life with a ritual meant to fuel the coming attack. The two left at that point and returned to meet with the group and all exchanged what they had learned.
The gongs were sounded, summoning the unit and all of the assembled samurai together before the assembled court of Fu Leng. There Miya Satoshi spoke before the troops, allowing the unit a quick view into the world of the Imperial samurai. This is a summary of what he said:
“Crab: A Hida has always ruled the Crab, and a Hida will again. Kuni Yori shall select someone pure of blood to take up the Hida leadership. Should none alive be worthy… perhaps tensions with the Maw will lesson and one of his prizes shall be able to be bartered with from his display. In that effort, the Empress has suggested that the coveted southern Crane lands be gifted to the Crab to expand to. (Hoturi looks angered) His magnificent and divine lord has agreed.
Crane: Gurifisu step forward. Due to your daring and resourcefulness in taming the rebel Crab you shall be recognized. You are made lord of a minor Clan. The Hawk Clan Champion, and your duty is to watch over the Crane Lands, for the Crane Clan Champion.
Dragon: Togashi Okkio, step forward. Due to your courtly favor and often insightful words, the child of heaven and hell shall make your Champion of your Clan. Your responsibility shall be to contain your ancestral lands. The command of the Wall of Bone is yours. Take what supplies you have need of, after the war and hold it.
The Lion: Ikoma Uijaki, your responsibility to the Obsidian Legions and acting as defacto leader of the Lion has been commendable. However, his most majestic of kami, needs you to be one mind. You shall find a Champion worthy of the Lion. And the Emperor is willing to forgive the Akodo their sins and recognize them once more, should Toturi the black be brought before him to beg for mercy. Alive or dead.
Phoenix: Isawa Tsuke, your influence within the court has been delightful beyond belief. You have the honor of hosting a championship, to determine who the Grand Master of the Elements shall be. Before winter court is called, this shall be done.
Scorpion: Yogo Junzo, the Scorpion are without a Champion. The Ninth Kami offers you the chance to redeem your fallen lord’s work. Seek out a Bayushi, or raise one.
Unicorn: Moto Tsume, an alliance has been struck with the Immortal Califf, trade shall begin with the Jewel of the Desert. This is a great moment of triumph for your Clan. Your clan shall establish a strong rout of travel to our newest ‘neighbor.’
Minor Clan Mantis: The minor clan known as the Mantis has largely been in a state of rebellion, however a few of this ancient clan still know their allegiance. Your islands shall be returned to you, and the seas will be your undisputed homes. The Mantis shall inherit the weight of producing the greatest navy that the Empire has ever seen, and vengeance shall be had for the Battle of White Stag."
The Heartless then took the stage, and began as war speech that invigorated the samurai, and during his speech told of the death of Hida O-Ushi and the breaking of the Unbroken Crab. He then surrender Ikoma Ujiaki the command. There, he stated his strategy and asked for the Emperor’s blessing. As the Emperor came forward, Hisui and Genshu saw that the Emperor was not a young man caught in immortality, but he was an aged man. He was getting older. Finally the Heartless left control of the Obsidian Magistrates remaining behind to protect the Emperor and his family in command of Matsu Toshiro, who was not as dead as when the Unit last left him. Then Yogo Junzo used the the youngest pure Crane left alive, and made a hurricane mixed with the Skull Tide, and sent it before the fleet to destroy the Islands of the Mantis.
The Unit made its way to the docks, when Gattsu heard his name being shouted. He stopped and the Unit turned to see a massive black oni that loosely resembled a hound. It was sniffing the air and spoke, saying taht he felt ‘he’ was near. Then The Hawk, Gurifisu was upon the creature, berating Gattsu no Oni for straying and commanded that it follow him. The unit gave an unsettling look to Gattsu, who suggested they get on the boat.
The ship was the Sea Spear, captained by a Yasuki who had been corrupted since the Crab’s great fall in the Clan Wars. The Unit made their way onto it and met the crew. 10 ashugaru who looked more frightened of their captain then the coming war on the islands, were a number of fresh recruits:
Hida Jūbunna (a big man with dim wits and smells like a horrid swamp)
Matsu Anga and Hisan (brother and sister, one angry and looks normal the other repentant and the start of a hard growth is started on his arms)
Shoshuro Himitsu (she is pale as death with fair looking white hair and secretive)
Isawa Hakana (with glowing eyes and a serene look upon his features)
The young samurai are all eager to speak with the Obsidian magistrates, assuming they have gone through great battles, know stories of the rise of the Obsidian Empire, and seem to also long to hear stories of what it was like before. Nobu and the other became convinced they may be able to sway the younger soldiers, but they knew that the Captain was too far gone. They were to stage their uprising deep at sea before the battle.
Just before they left the coast line, the saw the great current of the sea spider, and to their horror and relief the current ended and it seemed for a moment that the sea spider was coming for them, when they realized it was The Maw, with the freshly slain Sea Spider, headless, in its jaws and he left it on the beach with as the crabs swarmed around it as the Maw took to the sea once more to the cheers of the Obsidian fleet.
The time for the mutiny was at dinner, and the unit was quick about it, and keep control of the ship, convincing the young men and women to join their cause in redemption. The ship then was taken captain by Genshu, and he followed the fleet into battle the following morning. The Island of Silk had been hit hard by the storm, with ships unprepared for the winds and waves taken into the skull tide turned the seas into a nightmare of gnashing teeth. The first wave had been repelled by Yoritomo’s First Storm, but the second wave attacked on the heels of the other fleet and the Mantis Champion faltered. As the Sea Spear was making its way toward land fall, it stopped to save a sinking ship’s crew of Mantis, which gained the ire of the Obsidian Legion and they were forced to beach the ship a few miles from Kyuden Gotei.
As the crew of the Sea Spear crawled ashore, they saw Isawa Kaede over head on the sheer cliffs above, as she cast a massive spell that summoned up fog, allowing the Mantis Fleet to retreat. The Unit made its way towards the Phoenix, as they over heard her talking to her youngest son, which was interrupted by Isawa Tsuke, Kuni Yori and Yogo Junzo. Kaede bade Jiro run, as Yori moved to take the child, knowing that Kaede could do nothing as an Oracle, was violently set ablaze by the Phoenix, clearly showing she was not the Oracle of Thunder any more. Tsuke then took her down, relishing in the chance to have vengeance upon her and who ever she passed the mantle of Thunder onto. Yori, in his anger of being set ablaze awoke the sleeping volcano in Silk, setting the earth to tremble and sway as the violent eruption of the island began to build. Junzo gave chase to Jiro, and only Gattsu got close, but was not fast enough to save the child from being abducted by the Dark Master of Air.
Behind them unit, a wall of ash began to swallow the island and they ran for the Mantis docks, praying that there was a way off the island. Along the way, burning rocks began to pelt the jungle, and they heard bushi burning to death as they fled towards safety. They arrived at the Mantis capital to find it largely abandoned, bu they heard screams and the strange sounds of oni within the city. They had three avenues to choose from to get to the docks, and chose the rout that took them into the Temple district, they saw the great Temple to Daikoku burning and fall into its self. As the group passed by New Amaterasu Seido, they heard fighting within, and a massive shriek of something inhuman, and a call for aid. The Unit left the Obsidian Legionnaires to watch the ground level, and the Tiger’s Maw Unit took to the temple. Within the Library of the Fiery Centipede the unit found Yoritomo Wakiza and 8 of her Moshi subdued and almost slain by a very old Wanyudo. The Unit fought quickly to end the blazing undead’s terror, and save the Moshi and as many of their scrolls as possible, as they knew the ash cloud was behind them.
After the fight, they gathered up the injured Moshi and what scrolls they could carry and moved towards the docks, which were in ruins. The hurricane had been savage and quick, Yoritomo’s fleet had been at anchor and smashed against his own harbor. A number of ships were being discarded and scuttled after the battles, as the Flag ship The Storm was the last one in dock and preparing to leave.
However The Shashakar was laying on the docks, injured and dying along side a battle maiden. It explained in its odd telepathic way that, that Furu no Oni had come for his Naga and it had all but slain them all. They saw a vision of Furu no Oni, a parasite of flame that had hunted and taken Naga from a time before man, stealing not only their corpses, but removing all of the Naga from the Akasha. The battle maiden had attempted to save the Naga’s life, and she had been nearly killed in the process. The Shashakar managed to escape with her, and pulled out a pearl, in an attempt to save his people’s legacy of the Akasha he used the pearl to merge his essence with hers, and then he died. The Unit took the young lady, just as Furu no Oni came bursting through a wall for the dead Naga’s corpse.
The Unit poured onto the ship, as the ash cloud consumed the city, and headed out to sea. As the ship sailed past the reef of destroyed ships, the mysterious woman recovered from her ordeal with the Pearl and dealt with so many memories in her mind. Lacking a true identity for herself, she named herself Akasha.