K5R History

What has happened, what has sort of happened, and what has not happened…

Being an irregularly updated timeline of events in Jade Winds, otherwise known as K(ugelblitz)5R

Regarding K5R History, everything up to but not including the Scorpion Clan Coup happened according to canon (with the exception of the destruction of the Hare Clan, which happened much later). So in L5R Editions 3/3.5, that would be the history through page 17 (“The Oracle of Fire prepares to depart the mortal realm: year 1123”). The year is conjectured to be 1150-something, but that hasn’t been pinned down yet. This document is an ongoing attempt to elucidate the alternate history of Jade Winds.

Was there a Scorpion Clan Coup? (1123)

Not exactly.

In 1123, Bayushi Shoju was faced with the bleak prophecy that a living Hantei would bring disaster to Rokugan. He and a small group of Scorpion did indeed kill his friend, Emperor Hantei XXXVIII, as well as someone that he thought was his son. The fact that he used the Bloodsword Ambition may have helped his reasoning. Convinced he had eliminated the threat to the Empire, Bayushi Shoju calmly wrote out his death poem and committed seppuku as his friend lay dying. Several other high-ranking Scorpion courtiers who aided him also died this way. The Scorpion Clan disavowed all knowledge of Bayushi’s actions, and repercussions for the Scorpion, while harsh, did not (as canon dictates) include dissolution and exile of the clan.

So how did Toturi become Emperor? (1123-1128)

After the assassination, the Phoenix Elemental Master of Void promptly appeared with what he called the true son of the Emperor, whom he claimed had been “spirited away” in secrecy shortly before Bayushi Shoju’s treacherous attack. At the time, this was accepted by the Imperial Court (not least to avoid a Clan war).

The young Emperor Hantei XXXIX decreed that Bayushi Shoju’s body should be flung onto a common funeral pyre and that no prayers or rites would be observed for his death. A senior Lion General, Akodo Toturi, disagreed, as Shoju had made it patently clear that his actions, while odious, were committed in order to save the Empire from a terrible fate. Would Shoju otherwise have killed his lifelong friend?

Hantei XXXIX disagreed, and his wrath fell upon the Akodo. As his first act as Emperor, he stripped Toturi of his titles, name and family and told him he was not allowed to kill himself as Bayushi Shoju had. Toturi discarded his belongings except for a simple kimono and daisho and walked from the room. The shocked court politely did not watch his departure. Hantei XXXIX then announced he would wed Bayushi Shoju’s wife, Bayushi Kachiko.

It is rumored that when the Scorpion daimyos met after the slaying of Hantei XXXVIII, the discussions over whether the prophecy had been foiled were heated. Daimyo Yogo Junzo afterwards proceeded to open the Black Scroll that was stored in the Scorpion archives. The reasons he did so are disputed, but the fact that he opened the scroll is not. A certain number of samurai, including Junzo, disappeared at this point. Due to certain internal practices of the Scorpion, his absence went unreported for some time. The missing may have passed through the Kaiu Wall, but there are no records supporting this in the Crab archives.

The particular effects of the Black Scroll’s opening are a matter of debate, but certain events followed it, including Junzo’s relocation to the Shadowlands.

1) The Spirit of Fu Leng awoke
Due to signs and portents the Elemental Masters came to the horrifying conclusion that Fu Leng was aware again. Using their art, they discovered that a Black Scroll had been unsealed. A terrible debate ensued, as the contents of the scroll were heretofore unknown, yet the gestalt of all the Scrolls was theoretically known. The Elemental Master of Earth travelled into the Shadowlands and stole another Black Scroll, this one unopened, from Yogo Junzo.

2) The Elemental Masters decided to act
The Phoenix Masters now possessed four of the 12 Black Scrolls. They came to the conclusion that they were powerful enough to open the Scrolls and thereby know the dangers facing the empire. The Elemental Master of Void’s emphatic disagreement with this course of action is well-known. After lengthy preparations, the four Scrolls were opened under powerful magics and excruciating security, the best the Phoenix could make. Their efforts were to no avail, as the Masters of Earth, Air, Fire, and Water were immediately corrupted by the Scrolls’ powers. The outcome of this event is unknown, but the Master of Void survived and four new Phoenix Masters were elevated before the year ended. After the Second Day of Thunder, the Phoenix spent many years recovering from their losses.

3) Fu Leng began to influence the Young Emperor
As a result of Fu Leng’s advice, the Emperor decreed that the tithes to support the Crab were to be discontinued, an event that disturbed the Crab greatly yet quieted other Great Clans as their revenues steadily increased.

4) The Shadowlands went completely dormant
1125 to 1128 was a time of quiet in the Shadowlands. During this time the Crab were forced into ruin by the upkeep of their standing armies and the Wall. The price of jade soared and hugely expensive loans were floated by the Yasuki in order to keep a bare modicum of the clan’s arsenal in readiness. Despite careful and draconian measures, the Crab were seriously weakened by the Emperor’s decree. The Emperor’s Edict was widely seen in the North as provident, since it seemed that the Crab were no longer needed to defend Rokugan against the Shadowlands.

Meanwhile Toturi’s travels eventually brought him into the Dragon lands where ronin are at least tolerated, if not respected. The Lion Clan Champion had declared the Akodo family disbanded, and most of his family had either sworn allegiance to other Lion families or taken their lives in shame. A few Akodo had become ronin and joined him in an okodate of sorts.

It was in Hanashi Mura that Togashi revealed himself for the first time in centuries to an outsider. He advised Toturi to stay loyal to the Empire and to gather men to him in preparation, although being Togashi this was probably phrased as a carefully structured series of nearly impenetrable koans. In any case, Togashi aided Toturi and his okodate grew in numbers.

By this time the Crab were in terrible straits. They must either begin dismantling their powerful defenses or engage in a desperate attempt to rebalance the Empire. During this period, Yogo Junzo opened negotiations with the Crab Clan Champion. In exchange for the weakened Crab Clan’s cooperation, the forces of Junzo would attack and destroy the Emperor, whom Junzo revealed was steadily being invested by the spirit of Fu Leng. Or Junzo could simply overrun the Wall and do this anyway, so great were his forces.

In 1128, after getting confirmation from the Kuni that the Emperor was indeed possessed, Hida Kisada, faced with two equally bad choices, agreed to let Junzo’s Shadowlands army pass into Rokugan. Crab sources point out that Kisada planned to fall upon and destroy the army of Junzo once the Emperor had been destroyed and Kisada had taken the throne. Then the tithe would be restored and the Crab would be able to stand against the threat of the Shadowlands once again.

A vast army of tainted samurai and Shadowlands creatures passed through the Wall and were followed by the First Crab Army. Upon reaching Otosan Uchi after sacking several cities along the way, Yogo Junzo and Hida Kisada stormed the Imperial Palace, where Hida Kasada was mortally wounded by Fu Leng in the guise of Hantei XXXIX. He was carried to safety by his son, Hida Yakamo. The Shadowlands army that surrounded Otosan Uchi then turned on the Crab.

At the urging of his sons, the despairing Hida Kisada commanded the Crab to join forces with Toturi, at the head of a composite force of Dragon, Unicorn allies and ronin. The alliance of minor clans under Yoritomo arrived, and the Brotherhood of Shinsei and the Naga reinforced them in their attack on the Shadowlands army in the battle called the Second Day of Thunder, the largest battle in Rokugani history.

The events of the Second Day of Thunder happened as written. Afterwards, Toturi worked to heal the rifts in the Empire and was crowned Emperor by the Clans and blessed by Lady Sun.

K5R History

L5R : Jade Winds ednoria