Tuesday, October 1, 2013

[RP Character Retrospective] Bayushi Kiyoshi - L5R: Sins of the Family

With our epic, year-long Legend of the Five Rings campaign now finished, here is an overview of my character's journey from beginning to end.

Bayushi Kiyoshi was trained at the Soshi Magistrate School and had a very strong sense of justice and honour, so much so that it earned him the disdain of his peers within the Scorpion clan. His fellow clan members would often whisper the word 'Junshin' behind his back, which means 'pure hearted' to anyone outside of the clan, but within the Scorpion it had a different meaning: 'Not of the blood'.

Kiyoshi had earned this reputation after refusing to set up an innocent ronin for an assault upon a geisha to clear the name of a Crab diplomat by the name of Yasuki Teika - who had been blamed for the attack - so that the Clan might use this as leverage against Yasuki. Rather than handle the matter as 'advised' by his superior, Kiyoshi instead did some actual investigative work and found evidence that exhonorated Yasuki Teika, and in so doing earned the Crab's favour as the Scorpion had intended. However, his unwillingness to dirty his hands led to his being all but ostracised by the Scorpion clan, assigned to dull administrative work at the Magistrate's office rather than being allowed to work on cases.

Kiyoshi's destiny lay beyond this menial assignment though, and when Shiba Takuya - governor of Ukaba province in Phoenix lands, and an old friend of his father's - died, Kiyoshi was sent by his father to represent the Bayushi family at the governor's funeral. Before he left, his father told him a story about a gardener, which he understood was intended as a warning, but the metaphor was too cryptic for him to decypher. While attending the funeral, Kiyoshi was suspicious of his fellow Scorpion delegates' true purpose at the funeral and the delegation leader's open disdain of him did nothing to ease his nerves.

At the reception, Kiyoshi was approached by Shiba Aku of the Phoenix, who indicated that his family owed a debt to the Bayushi family and that he had been called upon to repay it by sticking close to Kiyoshi, for reasons that were as yet unclear. He also learned that the governor's ancestor, Shiba Yukiko, was famous for having brokered a peace between the Lion and the Unicorn.

During the ceremony, Kiyoshi heard the voice of the governor, urging him to save a geisha by the name of Keiko from a nearby town, who was being sought out by others who would kill her if they found her. Kiyoshi consulted Shiba Aku, who was puzzled by this turn of events - after all, only the relatives of the deceased should be able to hear them during the ritual in question - but agreed they should find this Keiko and help her. They were joined as they leave by Doji Aoitori and Doji Katsuko who had noticed something was afoot and claimed they would like to help. Though distrustful of their motives, Kiyoshi accepted their help after Aku convinced him they would need allies. They also encountered a ronin - who later turned out to be Doji Tsubasa, Aoitori's brother, completing his Musha Shugyo - who joined the party as well.

After sneaking Keiko away from the magistrate's men - who were seeking to arrest and execute her as a thief for taking money from a Mantis merchant patron, which she used to buy rice for starving peasants - they soon discovered that she was the governor's daughter by his first wife, and that the governor wished for her to succeed him when she came of age, having hidden the family daisho for her to find later to back her claim. It also dawned on Kiyoshi - as well as the others - that she bore a striking resemblence to Kiyoshi himself. The group agreed to help Kiyoshi fulfil the governor's wishes, and arranged to train her and gather political support in order to see that she could succeed the governor.

After speaking with his father at Kyuden Bayushi, Kiyoshi learned that he was in fact Keiko's younger twin brother. The two of them were sent into hiding by their biological father, Shiba Takuya, in order to protect them from the woman who would later become his second wife. Shiba Maeko, then Shosuro Maeko, was originally placed within the courts of the Crane to keep her out of trouble. At some point, she used her position to pursue her own ends. It is believed that she murdered the governor's first wife, Agashi Kadiri - Kiyoshi and Keiko's mother - and pressured the governor into marrying her and bearing her a son, who would become his heir. Not long after their son - Shiba Taku - came of age, the governor himself died. The Shosuro had sent many assassins to try and deal with Shiba Maeko for her betrayal of the Clan and their ally, Shiba Takuya. None have ever been heard from again.

Through their clans' connections, the group was able to secure work within the entourage of an Emerald Magistrate by the name of Daidoji Utaemon, which they used as a cover while training Keiko in secret. Between clashes with the blood sorceror Chuuda Renozo and Spider clan assassins sent by Shiba Maeko - and with a new war brewing between the Lion and the Unicorn, which only the true successor to the legendary Shiba Yukiko could avert - Kiyoshi's idealism was slowly eroded away until, finally, as Keiko prepared to make her claim he was given orders in secret directly from the Scorpion Clan Champion: 'In order to protect the sister you can not admit to, Shiba Maeko must die.'

With Maeko dead, the Spider clan assassins would no longer be obliged to pursue Keiko, and with his mother out of the way, Shiba Takuya would likely be too weak to rule on his own. Officially, the Scorpion would oppose Keiko's claim to the governorship, while Kiyoshi would continue to back her in defiance of his Clan Champion. This would allow the Scorpion enough deniability to save face.

And so, armed with a capsule which he had been told contained a lethal toxin which would instantly kill anyone in the vicinity who inhaled it, Bayushi Kiyoshi sought an audience with Shiba Maeko. While Keiko was in another part of the governor's mansion defending her claim as the governor's heir to the Phoenix Clan Champion, Kiyoshi smashed the capsule. Within moments, he, Shiba Maeko and her bodyguards collapsed, apparently dead from the toxin's effects.

The following day, Bayushi Kiyoshi was denounced publicly as a traitor by the Scorpion for his murder of Shiba Maeko, even as the Phoenix clan officially recognised Keiko as Shiba Takuya's daughter. Shiba Taku refused to back down from his own claim to the governorship, and did not believe Keiko was not complicit in Kiyoshi's assassination of his mother. He chose to test Keiko's claim with steel, and challenged her to a duel to the death...

Not long after, the newly installed governor of Ukaba Province made the following declaration:


"The Lion Clan and the Unicorn Clan may meet upon the field of battle when the diamonds over which they fight are more valuable than Honour."
 So instructs Shiba Keiko-sama, Governess of the Ukabu Province in Phoenix Land, in accordance with the ruling of His Imperial Majesty Iweko VI.


Of course, neither Kiyoshi nor Shosuro Maeko actually died. The capsule, in fact, contained a very powerful sedative that created the illusion of death. Kiyoshi and Shiba Maeko were secretly transported to Scorpion lands, where Kiyoshi was reborn as Shosuro Koto to serve as a spymaster, watching over the Scorpion spy networks to ensure they were not abused as Shosuro Maeko abused her resources. He continued to keep tabs on his former friends in the Doji family and Shiba Aku, but he would never be able to see anyone from his former life as Bayushi Kiyoshi again - not even his father, mother or sister within the Scorpion, who all officially committed seppuku, but also took on new lives within the Clan.

The traitor Shosuro Maeko was executed for her crimes in the Traitor's Grove, her soul bound for all eternity to one of the trees there. Kiyoshi, in his new guise as Shosuro Koto, was in attendance at the ritual and was satisfied to see that justice had been served.


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