Wednesday, June 26, 2013

[Actual Play] L5R: Sins of the Family - Out of the Frying Pan...



Warning: The following actual play report contains some dark and horrible details which some readers might find disturbing. Read with caution.

The Cast
Bayushi Kiyoshi (played by me): A Scorpion magistrate's assistant, trained at the Soshi Magistrate School. Kiyoshi is a Junshin (Pure of Heart) who has an idealised view of Bushido and struggles to live up to it, despite his Scorpion upbringing. He is also secretly the son of the late governor, Shiba Takuya, of the Phoenix clan.

Doji Aoitori (played by Martin): Aoitori is a shugenja (mage) gifted in the use of Void magic. He is in a loveless marriage with Akodo Tsuchiro of the Lion clan, and is having a secret affair with his lover, a Crane courtier called Asahina Kazuroku.

Doji Tsubasa (played by Ruaridh): Tsubasa has earned acclaim as a skilled duellist, and his iconoclastic views and brash manner get him into enough trouble that he has plenty of opportunities to keep in practice. He is the brother of Doji Aoitori, and envies him for the prestige and special training Aoitori has received because of his gift.

Shiba Aku (played by Doc): Aku is an archivist for the Phoenix clan who, until recently, believed his son Shogo had been killed by creatures from the Shadowlands while training with the Crab. After encountering his son alive and in the thrall of the Maho sorceror Chuuda Rinozo, Aku was informed by the Crab that Shogo and several of his fellow students had in fact been taken captive, but the Crab kept this from him to spare his feelings. Aku has since pursued Rinozo in the hopes of rescuing his son.

Absent
Doji Katsuko (played by Lauren)

...And Into The Fire
Doji Aoitori is watching the Mantis woman, Moshi Ritsuko, who they arrested earlier, having been told by Kuni Soh not to give her any peace in order to push her to reveal her tainted nature. He discusses philosophy with her, since she claimed to have an interest in such matters, but her answers don't reflect any such interest.

Shiba Aku talks with his son, Shogo, about his time as a hostage of the Maho sorceror Chuuda Rinozo. Shogo tells of how he and several other students at the Crab school he was attending were sent into the shelter during the Shadowlands attack and told to lock it and not to unlock it unless they hear a specific pattern of knocks. They heard the knocking pattern and opened the door to find one of their teachers who had been reanimated from death. The older students tried to fight him off, but many were killed, and the rest were taken prisoner by Rinozo and his followers. They travelled into the Shadowlands, with Rinozu periodically bleeding - and killing - the students in order to cast spells to avoid patrols. Eventually there was only Shogo and another left, and Shogo begged Rinozu to take the other student and not him. Rinozu did so, and they arrived at his estate in the Shadowlands, where he kept Shogo as his servent.

Recently, Rinozu made plans to return to the Empire, and took Shogo with him on the journey. Shogo was bled to help avoid patrols, but he was now old enough and strong enough to survive the bleeding. His mind was corrupted by kansen (tainted spirits) to make him obey Rinozu. Later, once they were in Yukan-se Mura, Shogo was bound to the oni the party defeated last session. According to him, Rinozo can read minds. He's wary of admitting that he knows anything of Rinozo's techniques, but after some coaxing from his father he admits that he's seen some things, but nothing to do with Maho. He also said Rinozo worked with a woman, who could kill people and steal their faces.

After finishing the talk with his son, Aku writes back to his clan informing them of his son's return. He doesn't tell them that the Crab were aware his son had been taken into the Shadowlands - having been told this during a visit to the Crab before coming to Yukan-se Mura, and promising to let the matter drop - and simply says the Crab must have been deceived.

Meanwhile, the Emerald Magistrate Daidoji Utaemon approaches Kiyoshi and Tsubasa, who has a young boy held in custody. He is clearly still angry with Tsubasa for abandoning the party in the sewers, but says he will deal with him later, after they have investigated Tsubasa's findings. Tsubasa explains that he has tracked Rinozo to a shop not far from here, that he saw the boy approaching the house and recognised him from a description Shiba Aku gave of the boy he saw taking orders from a mysterious woman in one of his visions. Tsubasa chased after the boy and apprehended him, at which point the boy dropped a bundle containing a scroll with a black stone (obsidion) on it, which started melting through the snow and turning it red. He then sent a runner to summon Daidoji Utaemon, and one or two shugenja to deal with the scroll.

Kiyoshi takes the boy aside and interrogates him, discovering that the boy was employed by a woman - who was most likely Rinozo's accomplice - who told him she was covertly assisting the Emerald Magistrates, and that the scroll was a ward to protect against evil. He was told to place it in the room next door to Shiba Aku's, check on it periodically and remove it if it was disturbed. He met with the woman in the shop, and was given koku for his services. Kiyoshi relates these details to Daidoji Utaemon, and voices his suspicion that the woman the boy describes was Moshi Ritsuko. The boy is sent to the temple of Daikoku, where he will be asked to identify the woman.

Utaemon tells Tsubasa that Doji Katsuko has spoken in his defense, and that he will see how Tsubasa performs in this investigation before passing judgement and deciding how to discipline him for his previous conduct.

Aoitori, having been summoned to offer his skills as a shugenja, arrives along with Kitsu Michi and examines the scroll. He advises it be burned, and Daidoji Utaemon agrees, ordering Kitsu Michi to do so. The scroll explodes, and all those present see a brief flash of a dark, bloody forest at night.

The group (consisting of Kiyoshi, Tsubasa, Aoitori, Daidoji Utaemon, Kitsu Michi and Toku Juso) head to the shop, and Aoitori goes invisible and intangible to scout inside. He finds nobody lying in wait, and lets the others in. Investigation of the building reveals signs of it being lived in, by about three or four people. Kiyoshi finds a collection of pillow books, which the shop clearly sells, and examines the ledger, finding one familiar name: Asawa Hiso. The most recent entry says: '-1 koku, misc expenses.'

Questioning of locals reveals that the shop was run by a man named Hiso, who had grown thin and nervous in the past year, and had been bringing different women to his shop on a regular basis.

Kiyoshi discovers a secret hatch in the floor of the meeting room in the house, and they go down the ladder to find a small anteroom containing some bedrolls, there is a beaded doorway with an impenetrable darkness on the other side, which Kiyoshi and Tsubasa recognise from before, having discovered a tainted shrine with a similar doorway in a cave back in Jukamimura. Aoitori also senses the presence of a kansen. Indeed, once Kitsu casts a spell to illuminate the darkness, they step through to find another tainted shrine identical to the one in the caves, and two other chambers leading off from it. In one room, the investigators find some papers, which Aoitori bags. Meanwhile, Kiyoshi checks the next room and finds five dead women piled on the floor, and a sixth woman chained to the wall, still breathing. When he goes to check on her, he sees that she has something in her mouth and pulls it out to find a sheet of crumpled up paper. He also discovers that the woman's tongue has been cut out. He straightens out the piece of paper to find a message written on it: 'Hello Tsubasa, give my regards to your brother.'

It is at this point that he smells smoke, and alerts the others. The smoke is coming  from upstairs, where someone has set a fire above the ladder. Kitsu Michi attempts to use a water spell to blast a path to safety through the flames, but the water becomes dark and soiled as it forms in her hands, due to the interference of the kansen in the area. Meanwhile, Toku Juso frees the woman from her chains and brings her into the anteroom with him. They find a wall behind the fire pit in the room that is next to the sewers, and start pushing against it to try and break through. As they do so, they hear zombie moans from the next room. Luckily, the wall collapses under their combined efforts and they retreat into the sewers, with Aoitori freezing the ground behind them to slow the zombies' progress. They find an opening into the streets above, but it's boarded up and Kiyoshi and Tsubasa start cutting their way through with their swords. As they do so, they hear noises from above, with somebody ordering their men to 'hold them off'. Aoitori recognises the voice as that of his wife, Akodo Tsuchiro, and once they are able to convince her that they are who they claim to be, she unblocks the exit and lets them out.

When they return to the shop they find it fully ablaze, and Aoitori uses fire magic to extinguish some of the flames and make things easier for the peasants working to put out the blaze. Daidoji Utaemon sends a runner to fetch three jugs of sake from the nearby sake house and distributes cups among the party. Once the fire is contained, Utaemon hands the tray of sake to Aoitori, takes one of the jugs, and orders the party to get themselves cleansed and then look at what little evidence Aoitori was able to bag while they were in the tainted shrine. He walks off, looking utterly defeated.

TO BE CONTINUED...

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