L5R : Jade Winds

Tears of a Fox's Heart (Part 1)

Using pregen adventure “Tears of a Fox’s Heart” plus some stuff kugelblitz made up, originally posted on LJ

The PCs are invited by an Otomo to the wedding of an Ikeda to an Otomo bride, in Shira Matsu; a Lion fortress city. The Otomo connection is important to the Ikedas, yet still a minor affair as weddings go. The Lions are rolling out the red carpet.

GM note: The invite was the result of the PCs helping a certain Otomo recover his son and more importantly take his reputation out of danger (abetted by a useful and friendly Scorpion!).

Dramatis Personae

Ikeda Taneka – Aged Daimyo (58) of the Ikeda vassal family / Akodo Bushi Rank 3
Long past his prime. Veteran of many minor skirmishes but no battles as he missed the War of Bleeding Flowers by 2 years.

Ikeda Akimitsu – Groom & heir (age 17) / Akodo Warden
A self effacing and humble young man (rare among the Lion)

Otomo Hisayo – Bride (age 16) – Imperial Courtier
Fresh from her gempukku, shy, quiet, reserved and deeply devout.

Seppun Tadashiro – (age 32) Imperial Yojimbo
A dedicated, humorless man consumed by duty.

Guests

Kitsu Mokuna – Lion Shugenja (age 20)
Enthusiastic, extroverted half-blooded Kitsu sent to perform the wedding blessings.

Yasuki Arinori – Crab Courtier (age 30)
A blunt, squat, stolid and acerbic man who looks more like a heimin than a bushi.

Doji Inoe – Crane Courtier (age 20)
A surprisingly plain woman trained by lesser sensei in the Doji school. Shy but poised.

Moshi Keiko – Mantis Shugenja-ko (age 18)
Bright eyed, eager and just stepping into the Mantis envoy position in Shiro Matsu.

Isawa Gidayu – Phoenix Courtier (age 25)
A distant, haunted looking young man with shadows under his eyes.

Bayushi Reiko – Scorpion Courtier (age 32)
A severe, hatchet-faced spinster beginning to show her age despite expensive cosmetics. Wears a silk lace mask which enhances her features rather than obscures them.

Ide Shizuyo – Unicorn Envoy (age 22)
A surprisingly sophisticated and polite maiden with an exotic complexion.

Kitsune Mara – Advisor (age 68?)
An elderly woman with wrinkled skin and white hair who is cheerful and energetic. She smiles a lot.

Tama – Ikeda Peasant Priest (age 55?)
Quiet and contemplative layman who carries out his duties with dignity and honor

The town is packed with Lion bushi, and nearly everyone is unarmed because of the holiday. Wedding banners with kanji blessings for the Ikeda abound, the city gate guards are even friendly to the Dragons and the Crabs. At one point a few Lion bushi even talked directly to the Mantis bushi1. Amazing.

The large town has hundred foot high walls and over 50,000 Lion samurai train and are barracked here. No wonder they are so proud. The festival is, of course the Cherry Blossom Festival, which is propitious for romance, marriage and for the Fortune of Agriculture (Kuroshin). So everyone except yojimbos, magistrates and patrols go around unarmed because drawing blood would an Extremely Bad Thing during the festival.

Everyone groaned at me, what? The PCs stowed the big swords.

The Crab shops for a bonsai wedding gift after arriving, then discovers that his efforts were spotted by one of the Hida clan ladies who were in town. She pays for the bonsai via a Crab courtier, never leaving her palanquin. Ho!

Mantis bushi checked out a pound of black pepper from the Chandler in Dragon’s Guard City for a clan gift before he left there.

Dragon Shugenja wrote a poem and included some rice. Those wacky Dragons and their riddle gifts.

1 zeni’s worth heinin-grade rice. 1 bu’s worth elaborate wrapping

Tasty Heinen Treat
Imperial Throne Bedrock
Foundation of Wealth

Dragon bushi went along with this, thinking it a good way to remind them of their duty to the people. He brought his own gift, a kemari ball to remind them to play and suggest his hope that they would produce heirs.

Anyway, afterwards everyone trotted down to the Ikeda house (medium large two-story, out buildings, wide expansive garden and koi ponds, fine dojo and a large stable) and gifted Ikeda Akimitsu who was awaiting guests personally on his doorstep (he quietly scoped out everyone’s horses). Regardless of the gifts2, he accepted everything gracefully.

Everyone settled into their various rooms, except at this point we all discovered that edwardstanford’s Shugenja was actually a woman, so s/he roomed with the Unicorn Envoy. Ok, fine.

The PCs mooch around gathering intel-

The wedding is set to occur on the last day of the festival (2 days from now), ensuring that Imperial guests have time to make the trip from the capital.

Ikeda Akimitsu is the only son of Ikeda Taneka, the current Ikeda Daimyo, who is a widower. (Akimitsu better make some heirs).

• The bride, Otomo Hisayo is an important match for the minor Ikeda family.

• The Ikeda are the cavalry arm of the Lion, and were formed after the Unicorn came back, ~500 years or so back by Matsu Ikeda who was fostered by the Unicorn. Ikeda impressed an emperor, hence the minor family status. Minor because the Lion think of cavalry as merely a supporting arm.

A modest welcome feast follows that evening for the PCs, guests and hosts. The food is not high caliber fare (like the Emerald Champion’s) but it is prepared with considerable care and attention to detail. Socializing happens, the Scorpion drops the rumor of an earlier failed marriage attempt and Strings Were Pulled to get this one set up, someone else thinks Matsu Nimuro, the Lion Clan Champion might make an appearance later at the ceremony. Wow.

After dinner a special event is hosted in the very pretty garden, a story telling contest is offered by Ikeda Taneka-sama himself! The Lion love to tell stories about ancestors, of course. The prize is a unique lantern brought by Kitsu Mokuna-san, it is said it will protect your house from evil spirits…

Since the GoH is the bride to be, she gets to decide the topic for tonight, which is rather surprising. Ghosts. She starts with a tale of a woman who committed jigai over a lost love and haunted a grove where she and her lover had frequented, beckoning to any man who passed by. The men were never seen again! Great tale, but she gets a few weird looks from her betrothed and some other guests.

Kitsu Mokuna speaks of a samurai who continues to challenge anyone who happens by the site of his death, which is disputed some because ghosts just don’t do this. Meh. At least he said he wouldn’t vie for his own prize be brought.

Mirumoto Miko tells of man who was murdered by a jealous rival, who in his quest for revenge becomes a hideous gaki! He finally finds his killer and achieve vengeance after many years. Doji Inoe actually finds it interesting. Okaaaay.

Ide Shizuyo busts out a real ripper about a Moto patrol slain to nearly the last man in the Twilight Mountains. The survivor was preternaturally aged and retired soon after returning from the horrible event. She describes the events well, says it is a true story and manages to scare Yasuki Arinori. Nervous applause. Good story.

Yasuki Arinori gets her wits together and tells the story of “Passion” the Bloodsword. More conventional, yes, not precisely a ghost story. Arinori dwells a bit too much on the romantic indiscretions of the Crane Champion, perhaps educating some listeners on certain fetishes.

The Hida Nakamuro knocks one out of the park, right over the Eskay Scoreboard. Drawing one his rather extensive knowledge of ghosts, the Shadowlands and a pretty damned good roll, he scares the living crap out of the women, and has the listening servants nervously crowded together down by the fishpond, riveted with fright. After he wraps up his gruesome tale, everyone just sits there for a while in silence. Kitsune Mara begins clapping and breaks the mood a bit, she is delighted by the tale.

She then tells a story about a cat in love with a fox. The fox is slain by a hunter’s arrow and her spirit haunts the home of the cat. The fox is lost and the cat has found another love. Surreal but powerful and sad.

A fine quality paper lantern, ribbed with fragrant sandalwood is presented to the Crab by the daimyo himself. Inside it a small, dark candle laced with an herbal scent. As the Crab admires the simple gift, Kitsune Mara approaches Mirumoto Yonaka and hands him a string of glossy red and white striped prayer beads, saying “You have a noble heart, take these for they will aid you when you pray to your ancestors.”. She then eels into the party and is gone.

(Nobody rolled to see what the beads were, or at least successfully, they are cheap and have minute kanji on them)

The guests retire.

To be continued…

1 Mainly bitching about how recent harsher punishments are a pain in the ass because discipline has grown somewhat lax. The last time anything happened around here was the collapsing of nearby Beiden Pass 300 years ago. Mainly some bushi sharing gripes, they do that.

2 I mentioned that the Ikeda were from a long line of cavalry troops but the hint fell on stony ground. Maybe the bonsai can be fed to a horse? Kidding.

Comments

The Dragon Bushi did not advise the Tamori against the gift of rice thinking it clever and a good way to remind them of their duty to the people, but did purchased his own gift for the couple. he presented them with a kemari ball, as a reminder to make time for play as well as suggesting the hope that they may produce heirs.

Tears of a Fox's Heart (Part 1)
 

Also, the prayers beads were given to the Mirumoto, who desperately tried to refuse it but did not have the courtly skills to stand a chance against Kitsune Mara.

Tears of a Fox's Heart (Part 1)
ednoria

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