Three years have passed since the Battle of the Bloodied South, and Toturi’s Army finds itself in a strange place. After nine years of hardships, loss, near starvation, watching the old ways being corrupted or put to the flame, constant threat of battle or being overwhelmed by the elements or shadowlands… it was nine years of a nightmare. The bloodied path that The Legion of the Black Lion through the Spine of the World Mountains to the rocky forgotten shores of the Crane Lands was harrowing. When the Mantis fleet arrived, nearly all hope had been lost as the samurai of the Empire fought valiantly and on their last legs as the tide of foes began to overwhelm them. As the junks and skiffs flooded onto the beach and the unspent power of the Mantis unleashed itself, blessed hope poured into their souls. Truly, the Fortunes must not have abandoned them, certainly their Ancestors watched over them. When the dawn rose, and the Mantis ships which were sped along by their shugjena, the first sight of the Islands of Spice and Silk rose from the blue horizon. A tropical paradise blossomed out before Toturi’s followers, scattered across what seemed to be countless islands. Cities rich with food, lands not yet fully tamed or settled, ships moving to and fro, and safety from the Empire… nine years of nightmare ended. Three years of peace began…
This was not to say that things were so easy, or lacked for battle of survival. No, those things were present. But compared to the mainland, this was peaceful. Living on the Mantis Isles was very different. Bushi patrolled the streets to break up drunken brawls, and help direct lost non-Mantis along their paths. Food grew well within the soil of the islands, the shugenja say that the soil from the volcano’s is rich with life. However even the food is different, rice is rare and most food is actually pulled from the sea. Samurai drill, train the youth that have been tempered by the horrors on the mainland, teach the peasants how to use blade as well as tool, but no great battles are fought.
The Mantis raid the coast line, and volunteers go out into the Empire on missions. But these tasks are rarely life and death struggles, as small groups on missions are often over looked and the Mantis strike without warning and leave before true resistance can be mustered. In three years, only a handful of samurai have gone to join their ancestors.
The Mainland too has known peace for sometime, from the stories that are told. Apparently it too is rebuilding, no longer locked in near constant warfare, however their armies are no less active in preparation for the inevitable…
Toturi and Yoritomo and his alliance spent the first year recovering and making the Mantis islands suitable to the influx of so many people. New housing was built, the cities expanded, and new cities rose from islands not fully tamed by the wilds. By the end of that year, new clan districts rose up and each samurai had their own roof once more. In fact many of the more renowned ashugara were given houses of their own. Many of the Minor Clans that most assumed were slain had survivors who had escaped the calamities of the great clans, and reunions occurred with those who had been separated for years.
In such safety, many samurai bent to the task of marriage, forming alliances of old and breeding a new generation of samurai in this place of peace. A two months into the setting of the Islands, Isawa Kaede gave birth to another baby boy. Toturi would often be seen bringing his daughter with him everywhere, while Kaede looked to her new born and her eldest son who seemed to have an affinity for the magical arts.
At the start of the last two years, Kuni Osaku and The Shashakak ventured out into the sea, and preformed a powerful spell in tandem, purifying the Great Sea Spider. Both then convinced the great beast to strike out at the Dark God in vengeance for the injustice doe to it, and thus, the Mantis islands were protected form invasion as the Great Sea Spider destroyed any and all boats commanded by the corrupted. In response, Toturi and Yoritomo’s alliance have raided, moved stashes of weapons and supplies deeper inland. But a foot hold can never seem to gained. A few targeted raids have attempted to breach further inland to face some specific targets, but most attacks seem fruitless. By the end of the second year, Yoritomo himself seems to have withdrawn more and more, letting Toturi attend to his own tactics and he to his own. The strain between Yoritomo and his guests is starting to be felt by most, even from within his own alliance.
Toturi has come to realize that to truely make a foothold within the Empire he will need more forces, more allies. This will mean reaching out to those who hate Fu Leng’s Empire and all of those who are outside of the Empire who may side with Toturi and his forces. He has sent out envoys to all who will listen.
Isawa Kaede was sent speak with Diagotsu.
Moto Qaradei was sent to speak with the Unicorn in the Stepps.
Diadoji Uji was sent to speak with the Unbroken Crab.
Yoritomo agreed to speak with the Yobanjin, and sent word to the Ivory Kingdoms.
A great debate began, but Hida Yakamo stood firm in resisting asking the aid of Hitomi and her Dragon.
The Crab: The Crab within Toturi’s Army have been helping with building ships, expending ship yards, building new homes, expanding cities, and preparing and planning siege items. During the Battle of the Bloodied South a number of heroes arose, each earning a name and reputation of their own.
The Crane: The Crane began the march with its few numbers safe and secure. By the time it ended, and the fog of war cleared, there was only one. Kakita Deashi died due to trechery at the hand of the Heartless, a story well retold in the Mantis Islands as those who wish to honor her bravery. The death of Doji Tancho was later retold by the Unicorn. When the dead Diadoji rose form Kuni Yori’s dark magic, Tancho rushed to the defense of the children who were kept on the shore line. He bought them time to escape, and it cost him his life in doing so. When his brother came of age, he took the name Diadoji Tancho in his honor.
The Dragon: The Dragon Clan are led by the duel leadership of Mitsu and Kokujin. The Clan has dwindled in Toturi’s armies, and they are well aware of it. The Mirumoto have been teaching their skills to the ashigaru and their monks assisting within the temples and libraries. The two monks have been trying to encourage Toturi to reach out to the Dragon Clan in the Mountains, sure that there is something is aims there and it may behoove Toturi to solve the riddle.
The Imperials: The Miya and the last few Seppun are present. They however seem to be sapped of most of their once vaunted power and mostly act as support to Yoritomo’s Alliance, keeping it solid and strong.
The Lion: The Lion have been breeding, training, and after three years… hungering for battle once more. Matsu Yofun has taken the leadership of the Matsu, as Gohei never fully recovered from his wound in battle. He, much to his gruff dislike has become a teacher, and for once is learning the direction of troops rather then the leading of a charge.
The Mantis: The Mantis are the host of the refuges of the mainland. They have done much to alter their way of life and home to suit their guests needs. They continue the fight in their own way. Many seem to be of the mind that they are safe here, and that this new life of raiding and retreating to their paradise is the new way of things, that the mainland will never be home again. Perhaps this is the reason that Yoritomo, the son of storms has become so distant and brooding as of late. Perhaps that is why it seems a look of disapproval washes over the Mantis’s faces as they watch the other Clans on their islands.
The Naga: The Naga are seen about the southern islands the most, and those have been given to their purposes. They are as alien and reclusive as ever, but when their guidance or assistance is asked, they are present and invaluable. As of late they have taken to sharing form of their secrects of pearl magic with the priests of the samurai, and even Togashi Kokujin has taken an interest in the Naga.
The Phoenix: The Phoenix have all heard the tails, and they are looking zealously for their lost Thunder, Isawa Tadaka. More then one samurai saw him defending them as they pressed form the mainland, all of them sure that he rose an army from the rocks. Yet, no one can find him. Rumors run wild, as do the believability of the stories. Many believe that he survived the Dark God, was in a prison, and escaped and came to save them. Some say his ghost saved the Thunders one last time. Others think is was an illusion. However, everyone agrees, he does not seem to wish to be found. However, rumors of an army springing forth from the ground to fight the Obsidian Legion have started to spread across the mainland, and often time this happens in defense of the peasants who are being abused. If anything, the Phoenix which have felt the burden of loss, seem to have been rekindled with hope.
The Scorpion: The Scorpion Clan have been devastated by the match south. The loss of Hisa and many of his best warriors against the shadow horror at the lake has been felt deeply. However knowing that Bayushi-kami had not abandoned them has given them a grim resolve. The Scorpion have taken this period to try and rebuild. They recruit form the Ashugara, looking even to the over looked Eta as new agents. Bayushi Goshiu has taken lead of the Clan, stating that he will only hold the position until the time for war comes again. By that time, he feels a new warrior will rise to lead the Clan. Until then, he will do as Shoju commanded… survive.
The Spider: The Spider Clan is nestled into the remains of Unicorn and Badger Clan territories. The fertile fields in the region give the Spider great wealth in terms of food. The remote mountians and cave systems allow them to train soilders. They are one of the last few factions yet to loose their grip on the mainland. For years they have carefully guarded their lands, hidden amongst the peasants who toil, protected their peasants and taught them how to deceive the Imperials. Under Diagotsu, the Clan has flourished with those who orginaly sided with the Emperor but turned on him in disgust as he cast aside honor. The Spider have made a number of promising achievements. They have made a pact with the Oni Lord Akuma, so that he will not aid the Dark God. They have slain any and all Ashura that have come into their territory. They have formed a new philosophy of thinking, that of Shourido. They have forged a new monetarist order dedicated to strength. And they have made a loose alliance with Hitomi and Toturi’s armies. Even now they have been invited to a seat at the table for a summit dedicated to their redemption and revenge.
The Unicorn: The Unicorn Clan is not fond of the islands. They enjoy the refuge, and their horses may run free range across their island sanctuary they have been given to breed their heard, but they feel confined. The open water seems to defy their very way of life. Although this period of life may not sing with their accolades, everyone recalls their two week campaign where they defied the tactics of Moto Tsume. Many heroes rose and fell during that time. These last three years they have spent their time breeding horses, teaching the younger generation how to ride and battle, and long for the day of riding across the Empire once more to the sound of thundering hooves.
“The Merciful Fu Leng purged his Empire of the filth of Toturi’s corrupted touch. And thus the Empire became a bastion of greatness and prosperity unlike any other. Now the magnificent Emperor turns his gaze south to pure the last pointless cries of the harlot of the South.”
- Miya Satoshi, Imperial Herald, 1141 by the Isawa Calendar
This Episode: This episode, we find Toturi’s Army looking to the future. If they are to remove the blight of the false Emperor, they must find allies, more so then those that exist, and they must convince their current allies to work together if there is to ever be hope of dethroning and slaying the god Fu Leng. A call has gone out and many are answering, as Yoritomo has consented to host a summit of leaders and chosen representatives from across the world. You find yourselves, a newly forged group, forged from battle, shared hardships, and newly made political alliances. Your task at the summit will be equal parts diplomats and security, your names have started to become the things of legend and your presence shall both impress the guests and make them feel secure at the summit (reduce your Glory only by 1/3 for none new characters, as Goshiu has kept your reputations well spoken of in the Mantis Courts).
You shall be assisting Kitsuki Kaagi with security at the summit, and his gut suspects treachery, and already he has seen some unknown hand moving in the shadows.
Meanwhile Bayushi Goshiu advises your group in how to speak with and sooth the many guests ruffled feathers.