L5R - The Great Dusk
The Battle at Kyuden Kitsune occured after tensions between the long-antagonistic Hare and Fox Clans came to a head. A series of border skirmishes to increase their respective holdings threatened to quickly escalate into full-blown war. Emissaries of the Crane Clan were dispatched to find a peaceful solution and managed to mediate a temporary truce, but when the Fox dignitaries were assassinated, the Fox accused the Hare. The Hare denied any part in the assassination, but the Fox Clan Champion Kitsune Oshirin declared war upon the Hare nonetheless, and the Crane supported them. Even winning, the daimyo of the Fox blamed the Crane diplomats for the whole battle, and challenged the Crane emissary, Kakita Toshimoko, to a duel. Toshimoko easily won.
Upon hearing of the battle and its result, the Emperor decreed that the Crane Clan should be the advisers of both the Fox and Hare Clans. The advisers to the Fox court had some trouble, but over the years the relations between the two clans became more amicable. The Hare however were not so pleased, and the Hare Clan Champion would repeatedly appeal the Imperial Command to relieve them of the unwanted adviser.
The Battle at Fate Gorge was a challenge between the Lion Clan and the Phoenix Clan to determine if shugenja were usable in the armies of Rokugan. In the end, though the shugenja were not removed from the imperial armies, the battle was nonetheless a source of much shame for the Phoenix because of their tactics.
The Lion general Matsu Uniri had long been an outspoken critic of the use of shugenja in armies. He made a challenge in open court that shugenja were unneccessary in the armies of the Emperor. The Isawa countered that their magics were unsurpassed and that an army of bushi was no match for an army of Isawa Shugenja. The Shiba joined the argument, agreeing that an army of Isawa would certainly defeat an army of Matsu warriors. Uniri took this as a challenge and war was declared.
Three months later, Master of Water Isawa Kaiyoko stood ready to launch a very daring plan. Eight Shiba Bushi stood in her chambers, prepared to be transported by her magic into the command tent of Matsu Uniri with the intent of killing Uniri and Matsu Yunaki, his wife and also an able commander in her own right. To the rest of Rokugan, the act would likely be seen as a cowardly assassination plot, but to the Isawa, it seemed an effective use of surprise tactics combined with their special magical aptitude.
The Shiba succeeded in killing Uniri, but failed to kill Matsu Yunaki and their daughter, Matsu Tsuko. The following day, the armies of the Lion crushed those of the Phoenix.
At the age of 26, Hantei Jodan is crowned the 38th Emperor of Rokugan. A daring and spirited young man, Hantei XXXVIII quickly finds his spirit crushed by the relentless conflicts and petty intrigues between the Great Clans
After the death of his first wife from illness, Hantei XXXVIII took up the company of a Crane concubine, Doji Hochiahime. As soon as she bore him a son who survived, the Emperor marries her and makes Sotorii the heir to his throne.
Bayushi Uchinore, master of Kyuden Ashinagabachi, had a long affair with Akodo Tameko, and the two married without either daimyo’s permission. The Lion were outraged, but the Scorpion shielded them at first, believing they could use Tameko and any child she bore to claim Lion lands. They were frustrated, however, by the fact that Uchinore refused to hand his son, Tsuruchi, into their care for training, instead instructing the boy with his wife.
Finally, the Bayushi decided to remove Uchinore. The weakened their defenses near Kyuden Ashinagabachi to allow a Lion force led by Tameko’s brother to break through and lay siege. As the Lion army arrived at the gates of Kyuden Ashinagabachi, the young Tsuruchi found his parents assassinated by the Bayushi.
The boy moved quickly, killing any troops that were not loyal to him and his parents. He realized however, that he could not hope to withstand the attack by his uncle, so he negotiated an honourable surrender. He would open his gates and would be taken prisoner to be executed and his loyalists and their families would be free to leave.
After this agreement had been reached, however, Tsuruchi’s uncle recieved a message from his superior to wipe out all of the castle’s inhabitants. When Tsuruchi opened the castle gates, the Lion poured in, killing everyone they could find.
Tsuruchi, however, escaped with seventy men, vowing to never trust the word of samurai and swearing bloody revenge.
Tsuruchi and his followers returned to Kyuden Ashinagabachi, sneaking in under the cover of darkness through the secret passages only they knew about, killing the Lion garrison to the last man, personally putting an arrow through the throat of his uncle.
Knowing that the Scorpion and Lion would be quick to move against him, he contacted Doji Satsume, the Emerald Champion, for assistance. Satsume, always looking to undermine the Scorpion and Lion, declared the castle to be a permanent garrison for magistrates under his protection, and pressured the Emperor to grant Tsuruchi and his followers Minor Clan status. Thus was the Wasp Clan founded. Impressed by Tsuruchi, the Emperor gave the Wasp dispensation to follow a different code of honour, the Code of the Wasp, which Tsuruchi saw as more honest than bushido.
Taken by his father Yoshistune to the cliffs above Kyuden Gotei, Yoritomo, ten years of age, is given control of the Mantis after his father jumps off the cliffs. Yoritomo, despite his young age, quickly becomes a competent leader.
While visiting the Test of the Topaz Champion in Crane lands, the Badger Clan Champion is assassinated. There are whispers that the assassination was a result of the increasing tension between the Lion and the Crane, but the killer is never caught. The Badger are outraged and cut all ties to the Crane.
Following a series of minor squabbles over borders in court, Bayushi Shoju dispatches the master Scorpion tactician Bayushi Tomaru to deal with the Sparrow Clan. Supremely confident that his forces can defeat whatever resistence the tiny Minor Clan can offer, Tomaru is caught completely off-guard when the Sparrow are aided in battle by the archers of the Wasp and the shugenja of the Fox, both of which have holdings near the Sparrow. Tomaru’s forces are crushed and the Scorpion are forced to retreat. Shoju publicly rebukes Tomaru for failing against such lesser opponents and demotes him, denying him the right to seppuku. The daimyo of the three minor clans meet following their unexpected victory and agree to form a permanent alliance against the aggression of the Scorpion Clan.
After Soshi Yukio is attacked and killed by Usagi Ozaki, Bayushi Tomaru is dispatched to wipe out the Hare. Shiro Usagi is destroyed and the daimyo, Usagi Oda, is killed. Tomaru takes Oda’s daughter Usagi Tomoe hostage while Oda’s son Ozaki disappears with the Hare’s ancestral blade. After the castle’s destruction, the Emperor disbands the Hare after hearing sworn testimony that the Hare were practicing maho.
Bayushi Shoju, champion of the Scorpion, meets privately with the emperor Hantei XXXVIII. What is said over the course of the meeting is unknown, but afterward, Hantei announces the creation of a new position in the empire, that of shogun, a hypothetical political position proposed by ronin tactician Sun Tao in his Tactics. A radical reorganization of the imperial bureaucracy ensues. The Lion are greatly angered by this, as the position of Shogun usurped many of the traditional responsibilities of the Lion Champion, but Champion Akodo Toturi restrains them. This move outrages the Matsu and Toturi finds himself battling growing dissent within his clan.
In a surprise move, the imperial heir, Sotorii, is married to a young Scorpion of good stock, Soshi Kurumi. The flies in the face of tradition that all Hantei marry well-born Cranes. Sotorii also acquires a large number of concubines from the Scorpion Clan. The Emerald Champion, Doji Satsume, commits seppuku in protest.
Following the death of Doji Satsume, the Test of the Emerald Champion is held and is won by Mirumoto Hitomi. A great deal of pressure is immediately brought down against the Crab by the Emerald Champion, who desires revenge against Hida Yakamo, the son of the Crab Clan champion and the man who killed her brother.
The empire celebrates the birth of Sotorii’s six children, born to his wife and concubines.
Reports from the Falcon Clan and Scorpion Clan indicate the presence of man-snakes being spotted in the Shinomen. Hida Kisada, concerned about the recent quiet in the Shadowlands, send a few Himura scouts confirm the presence of the creatures. While they do not appear to be tainted, the Shogun agrees with Kisada’s recommendation that a force be sent in to wipe them out. A great campaign, lead by the Emerald Champion Mirumoto Hitomi, ensues and open war breaks out along the boarders of the Shinomen forest as the newly awakened Naga find themselves besieged by the forces of humanity.
Shoju, upon discovering the true purpose of the Tortoise Clan, offers them a chance to join the Shosuro as vassals, as he is determined to control the Tortoise spies in gaijin ports. The Tortoise do not entirely trust Shoju’s intentions and refuse. Shoju, not willing to sacrifice any control for the good of the Empire, arranges for the destruction of the Tortoise on suspicion of consorting with gaijin nations. While he intends to take over their network, he finds to his horror that the Tortoise left almost no information about their network and who they contact. Kasuga Kemmei, the Tortoise Champion, had the foresight to foresee his clan’s destruction and arranges for his contacts to contact instead the Mantis, who also make illegal contact with gaijin nations.
Following the heroic efforts of Usagi Ozaki and his companions to clear the Hare’s reputation, having exposed a maho-tsuki conspiracy in the Soshi family, the Emperor restores the Hare to honour, reinstating the clan’s holdings and family name. Though the Hare’s castle lies in ruins and many look on the Hare with suspicion, they are a clan once more and their pride is overwhelming. The Hare begin the long process of rebuilding.
The forces of the Shadowlands attack the wall with a fury that has not been seen since the Dawn of the Empire. The Wall is breached in several place, but the Crab manage to stem the tide, thanks to the leadership of Hida Kisada. This attack is only the beginning, however, as Moto Tsume and the various Oni Lords begin waging a total war. [[Hida O-Ushi]] sacrifices herself to banish Tsubaru no Oni.
Yoritomo receives news from the former Tortoise contacts in the Ivory Kingdoms that House Rafiq had taken control of the Ivory Kingdoms and were pushing for an invasion of Rokugan. The champion of the Mantis finds himself in an untenable position, as the Mantis’s gaijin relations are highly illegal, but the threat cannot be ignored. The Mantis Clan champion begins to plan his defence.
Hida Yakamo, son of Hida Kisada and bearer of the artifact the Jade Hand is slain after his army breaks through to the ruins of Himura Castle deep in the Shadowlands. Yakamo manages to strike a decisive blow against the Shadowlands forces, but ultimately falls to the sneer number of oni. The Jade Hand is severed and he is rendered tremendously tainted. It is unknown how or why, but before dying, Yakamo gives his name to an oni, creating Yakamo no Oni, the newest Oni Lord.
With the creation of Yakamo no Oni, the hordes of the Shadowlands retreat, never to attack the Wall again.
After five years bitter fighting, the Naga finally strike a decisive blow against the Imperial forces. Using the secret magic of the Naga, the Shahadet teleports himself and a force of Asp Warriors into the heart of Ryoko Owari, where the naga quickly overwhelm the Scorpion forces there and take the city hostage. The ritual, however, takes a terrible price upon the Cobra caste and a great many of their sorcerers die to fuel the ritual. At the same time, the Isha lures the Imperial forces into a deadly trap in the ruins of the Naga city of Siksa, where naga archers exact a brutal toll upon the Imperial forces. Finally, the Qamar and the Dashmar press for an end to hostilities with to the Emperor.
After consultation with Shoju, the Hantei XXXVIII agrees to the Naga’s peace terms. Certain areas of the Shinomen are ceded to Rokugan contingent on a cessation of Rokugani interference in the rest of the Shinomen Forest. This peace is helped surprisingly enough through the Kuni, who realized early in the war that the Naga were not tainted and in fact were foes of the Shadowlands, and the Ide family. Ambassadorial posts and both sides agree to attempt to maintain the peace.
Mirumoto Hitomi, the Emerald Champion, is ordered to commit seppuku for her failure in the war and the majority of the control of the Imperial Legions is transferred to the Shogun, strengthening his position. Hantei XXXVIII, feeling shame for the defeat of the Rokugani forces, steps down, placing his son Sotorii upon the throne.
Seeing the final signs of the oncoming invasion from the Ivory Kingdoms, Yoritomo meets with the heads of all the Minor Clans. He, with evidence from one of the remaining Tortoise, warns them of the approaching threat and asks them to join as a unified force, as this provides the Minor Clans with an opportunity to prove their worth to the Great Clans. The Minor Clan daimyo agree, and a grant alliance is formed.
Yoritomo sends warning to Shoju, but Shoju believes that Yoritomo is making a power play and instead works to undermine the Alliance’s legitimacy. Yoritomo warns Akodo Toturi, who believes him, but is incapable of mustering the Lion due to the borderline rebellion of the Matsu family against him.
The forces of the gaijin Ivory Kingdoms finally make their move against the Emerald Empire. Their vast fleet meets that of the Mantis and a great battle ensues. The Mantis Isles are spared the Maharaja’s wrath, but the Mantis fleet alone cannot stop the onslaught. The vast fleet continues north, towards Otosan-Uchi.
The Minor Clan Alliance, forwarned of this, proceeds north to meet the gaijin in battle. Akodo Toturi of the Lion personally leads the Akodo family of the Lion to battle, bringing with him a vast army of ronin, whose contracts he had bought over the course of the previous year in preparation for this event.
The Battle of Otosan Uchi is a long and brutal one. The gaijin use elephants and dark magic to great effect, but the forces of the Empire hold strong, buying enough time for the rest of the empire to muster their forces. The cost is great, but the Rokugani eventually triumph, at great cost. Akodo Toturi lies dead, having succumed to his wounds after leading the last of the Akodo forces in a suicidal charge against the Ivory Kingdom’s general, the sinister Feyd Rafiq.
In the aftermath, the Monkey and the Ox are created as Minor Clans. Matsu Tsuko, who lead the rebellion against Akodo Toturi, denies herself seppuku for doubting Toturi’s honour and becomes a ronin. The Akodo family lies decimated, save for a few members. Otosan Uchi begins a long and painful reconstruction and Yoritomo is made Admiral of the Imperial Navy, which begins construction at Kouketsuken.
Impressed by Yoritomo’s leadership during the Gaijin War, Tsuruchi accepts an offer of fealty and the Wasp Clan join the Mantis, with the blessings of the Emperor, as the Tsuruchi family.
Shoju, looking to secure his position, decides to make overtures to Hida Kisada, hoping to lure the Great Bear to his side. He hopes to take advantage of the Crab’s grief over the loss of his children, but he drastically miscalculates and Hida Kisada, in a blind rage, throws the Shogun’s messenger, the Shogun’s own brother Shoju Aramoro, off the top of Kyuden Hida, and has the rest of the shogunate’s entourage killed.
Shoju does not retaliate, realizing that with the disappearnce of the Shadowlands horde, the Crab have the largest army in Rokugan, one that is used to long and bitter attrition warfare. He does not press the point, publicly condemning his brother for insulting the Crab. Secretly, however, he wonders what he will have to do to neutralize the possible threat of the Crab.
A second invasion fleet arrives in Rokugan’s waters, but is immediately attacked by the Imperial Navy, who inflict great damage to it. The crippled invasion force lands at the Tidal Landbridge, where they are set upon by the Crab and Crane.