It has been almost two hundred years since the Destroyer Wars. The Empire has known peace for generations. Some say the Way of the Warrior is losing its purpose in an era of diplomacy.

But darkness looms on the horizon. Are there those yet brave enough to stand against it?

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What Pieces Remain
Kitsune Osano opened his eyes to the most beautiful sight. In front of him, sitting adjacent on the silk blanket underneath a Sakaki tree in full bloom was his precious love, Tsuruchi Chinatsu. Osano admired her beautiful smile, more radiant than the shining sun, her lovely eyes deeper than Yakamo's Heart. He was lost in her laughter, the touch of her hands, the joy of her presence.

Chinatsu rose to her feet elegantly, holding out the crook of her elbow to Osano. Following suit, he took her slender arm into the bend of his muscular one with a delicate grasp. They began walking toward the coy pond, the place they met as kids and spent countless hours. Upon reaching the water Chinatsu gazed into it's depths. Osano observed her with infatuated wonderment. A sudden change came over her pristine features, as if she'd seen something she hadn't expected. She looked up to the sky, which darkened with astounding quickness. Her brow furrowed so Osano followed her eyes to the foreboding skies. Although it appeared that an unpleasant storm brewed, he couldn't seem to see what worried her so. Something caught his eye. With all his focus he tried to discern what it could be...a bird of some sort? It was quite long and flew with an arrogance he found disgusting. But then, before he could do anything to stop her, Chinatsu buckled and fell into the shallow pond beneath her. Osano looked back down at the water, but his precious fiance had vanished. He stared dumbfounded, waiting for her to reappear, drenched and chuckling at her clumsiness, but she did not. From behind the reeds next to the pond, there was a rustling. His attention divided, his happiness shattered, Osano still struggled to perceive what had just happened as well as prepare himself for the potential threat of an attack. Was there one more coy in the pond than before or was he imagining it? A bright movement made him finally divert his gaze from the rippling water beneath. A pure white fox had stepped out of the underbrush and was staring very deliberately at Osano with an understanding that seemed deeper than could be natural. The fox turned and dashed away. Having no other pieces of an idea of how to respond to the transpiring events, Osano took chase of the creature.

With incredible speed the small animal spirited away as the dumbfounded Mantis struggled to keep up. It lead him past Kitsune house where he witnessed the arrogant bird perched on the roof next to where his room was. He thought it curious but didn't stop to ponder on it, still busy running after the white fox. Eventually he reached the bustling port city. But the fox did not hesitate to dash and dart through the legs of the hustling citizens, so Osano pushed his way into the crowd. Busting out of the commotion on the other side of the central market, he spotted the brilliant-white quadruped sitting at the very edge of the dock, sitting completely still, staring out over the sea towards the mainland. Osano reached the pier and slowed to a walk, approaching the unusual animal with caution. Coming to a stop right next to it, he tried to see what it saw. Looking over the churning waves, not knowing what to expect after such peculiar circumstances, Osano waited impatiently.

It only took a moment before he realized what the fox was trying to show him. There was a swift whoosh over his head. Instinctively, Osano ducked. When he looked up he saw it again, the arrogant bird. A Crane, flying with a coy fish in it's mouth and something else in the grasp of it's talons. It was a katana, Osano's katana to be exact. Being dumbfounded escalated to stupefied as he stood, helpless to gain his possession back. Anger began to well in him, and contempt for that blasted bird! The sea responded to his fury and began to swell with greater intensity. The Seven Fortunes curse that bird! Or if they wouldn't, then Osano would end his arrogance himself. A powerful spray of sea hit him full in the face and he was jerked awake.

Dripping in a cold sweat, Osano wiped his brow and attempted to steady his shallow breathing. How many times had he had that dream since Chinatsu was taken? He couldn't remember anymore. What he did know was that he had been dealt with unfairly and underhandedly by that Doji bastard. And he intended to get even. Revenge for anything less than a family member dishonored wasn't looked upon highly for a samurai to do, it showed a lack of adherence to Chugo. But to Osano, little else mattered besides reclaiming Chinatsu. And his sword, of course. But that he could live without for now.

Osano rose from his bed, walked to the door of his porch and slid it open. His room flooded with pale moon light. It was the night before his wedding but the horizon promised that the sun would rise soon. There had been months of planning involved, many koku went into the preparation of the ceremony and reception. It was happening on time, just like it was planned. Except for one small change; the bride.

Taking a moment of remembrance, Osano thought back to the words of his mother on the day after his world fell apart:

"'My dear son, I am so sorry. He approached me with a a decree signed by the Emerald Champion. It read that we were to exchange brides from our two families or the Dojis would declare war on Kitsune. And they are closely related to the Kakita family, so you can bet that would be personally targeted by the Emerald Chamption. So you are to marry Doji Arisu. She's a woman of high status, that is something to be proud of.' Osano's face fell even further. Kitsune Amaterasu frowned and observed her son. 'You understand it was for the sake of the clan and our posterity, there was no other choice, Osano.' 'Yes, mother,' he replied. 'I understand. But that doesn't make this pain any easier. It doesn't quell my rage. And it doesn't deliver justice to the unjustly wronged nor the wrong-doer. I will go through with the wedding, for you and for Mantis. But after the wedding my sojourn will not be to our family shrine to pray for a happy marriage. I will be departing immediately to exact vengeance on that pretentious rat.' Amaterasu studied the young man whom she'd grown to admire for his tenacity. Tenacious, like his father. The man who insisted incessantly to marry the 'most beautiful girl on the Islands of Silk and Spice' that his father before him had so disapproved of. 'You remind me so much of your father sometimes.' This remark caught Osano off-guard. She didn't speak of his father much, and he didn't ask. Some unspoken bond between them established that the pain was too great to be acknowledged. Amaterasu stated, 'His persistence was annoying. But commendable. Which is why I fell in love with him...' A long pause ensued. Both Kitsunes stood in reverent silence. Snapping out of her trance, the matriarch continued, 'Every young samurai must embark on a journey, this shall be yours.' Osano brightened a little. 'Mother-' 'Don't!' she interrupted, 'you dare die on me Kitsune Osano. The fortunes have already claimed one of the dearest things in my life and I will not tolerate losing another!' This brought a smile to his face, 'I wouldn't dream of it, mother.'

Lady sun had peaked her radiant face over the edge of the sea, setting the clouds ablaze with red-golden light. He didn't have long before he'd be bitterly betrothed, he'd better prepare himself.
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Waves and Rocks
“A wave in the sea, seen in one way, seems to have a distinct identity, an end and a beginning, a birth and a death. Seen in another way, the wave doesn't really exist, but is just the behavior of water, “empty” of any separate identity, but “full” of water. So when you really think about the wave, you come to realize that it is something that has been made temporarily possible by wind and water, and is dependent on a set of constantly changing circumstances. You also realize that every wave is related to every other wave.”

This was the teaching Ide Toru had decided to meditate upon, and felt much the better for it. He had not realized the depth of its meaning until just now, he leaned back from his seated position on the riverbank, staring up at the stars with a much deeper appreciation for the void and those who studied it with the blade. He had thought his ronin companions young and quick to prove themselves, but now saw that at least the girl with the blade deserved his respect, admiration, protection and guidance.

He had come to the cliffs late in the afternoon, later than he had intended. He knew he would need to mediate late into the evening, and had not planned to spend the night indoors. He reached the bottom of the cliffs, sat upon a rocky outrcopping and listened. The kami were ancient and powerful here, the cliffs rumbling in response to the teasing of the wind and the challenges of the waves, and the fire kami that attend the Sun's majectic setting sang their praises. Toru found a waterfall to sit under, to test his endurance as he awaited the arrival of Moon, to pay his proper respects thus.

The events of the evening no longer weighed heavy on his mind, he was pleased that his actions then and his meditation since prevented much regret.

Although he had not been the one to end a life that afternoon, he knew how much ending a life, no matter how deserved, could weigh, especially when the death prevented a final chance at honor. He was glad he had been there though to perform the final rites of the fallen, and had ensured his eta attendant had prepared and cremated the bodies properly.

The Moon had risen above the cliffs, casting silvery light on the beautiful show the kami were providing, waves of when Toru decided to climb back up, and as he made his final bows to the great kami of the cliffs, ocean and sky he again began to listen to the minor kami. He was used to hearing mainly the light conversation of the wind and water, but this evening even the earth was talkative, and Toru could even hear the faint whisper of fire kami on the cliffs above. He hastened his climb, singing quietly to the kami beseeching their aid in scaling the cliff wet, cold, and tired. As he climbed he heard the kami speak of a peculiar bushi who had taught them all a moment of emptiness.

As Ide Toru reached the top of the cliff, he was slightly disappointed to see no one in sight. He approached the riverbank and sat, listening to the kami tell their tale of a young mist that stormed in like a thundercloud, full of anger. The air kami talked of how they had convinced the water kami to join in tripping up this bushi, and even the earth kami grumbled their disgust at the arrogance this flighty thing had to step upon them. They spoke of how she had slipped and fell, but then in a moment rose different, becoming as graceful as an ancient tree or flying bird, and they reverently murmured of the moment where they all became one; the water and stone under her feet, air whistling along the blade, even the fire burning in her blood all mere extensions of her katana and form.

As the kami described this bushi, the image clarified and he knew it to be the ronin he had spent the day with. He had been impressed with her skill with the blade, and as he contemplated the emptiness in the sky he wondered about the strange tide of encounters, how each moment connected and would connect in the days to come.
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Game Master:
Legend of the Five Rings (4th)
9 other campaigns in this setting
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