The sun sets upon the Emerald Empire…

The year is 1150, the 27th Year of the Shoju Shogunate. In 1123, the Champion of the Scorpion, Bayushi Shoju, met in a private meeting with the emperor, Hantei XXXVIII. Whatever happened in that meeting with the emperor is unknown, but immediately afterward, the emperor proclaimed that Shoju was being elevated to the position of Shogun of Rokugan, a previously hypothetical governmental position that would act as a supreme commander for Imperial forces and defend the Emperor, infringing upon many of the traditional responsibilities of the Lion Champion and the Emerald Champion.

Twenty-seven years later, the Empire is at peace, but the hand of the Shogunate is everywhere. Taking advantage of the 1128 war against the Naga and the 1132 gaijin invasion, shogunate officials have replaced emerald magistrates in most bureaucratic areas and make sure the will of the shogun is known. The clans are divided, against the emperor and against the shogun.

Shoju knows he is a tyrant, but he knows that if he wavers, even for a moment, then Rokugan will fall. He will do what it takes to save Rokugan, even if it demands that he weaken the clans. Even if it means cutting out his own heart.

Hantei Sotorii, now Hantei XXXIX looks upon his empire and feels nothing but despair. Shoju talks about saving the empire, but all he can see is its decay. He muses with bitter irony how an emperor can be made so powerless in his own empire.

Hida Kisada, the Terrible Old Man, looks north with hate in his ancient heart. The Champion of the Crab, and master of the largest army in Rokugan, has seen the sons and daughters of the Crab die for too long for the weakling on the throne and the manipulative parasite that guides him. He may be old and his flesh weak, but Hida Kisada can still smile when he thinks about how he will remedy this situation.

Doji Kuwanan, the Champion of the Crane, struggles to keep the Crane afloat. Besieged by the Lion to the west and the sabotaged by the Scorpion in the Imperial Courts, the Crane find themselves on increasingly precarious footing. Still, the Crane have the Emperor’s ear when they can reach it, and Daidoji Uji, the sinister daimyo of the Daidoji family, has reached it indeed.

The lands of the Dragon have been quiet for years, but now the Mirumoto armies are moving, fortifying their borders to the south. Togashi Yokuni, champion of the Dragon looks south with his golden eyes, seeing only the coming dark and starless night.

For Matsu Gohei, known as the Butcher, all that matters is the destruction of the Kakita family of the Crane. The Shogun may have usurped the duties of the Lion, but he have made the Crane even more vulnerable than ever. Without the leadership of the Akodo, however, the Lion find themselves losing focus, focus the Shogun is all to willing to restore. The few remaining Akodo, however, look at the direction the Lion are going and wonder if they have truly lost.

The Elemental Masters of the Phoenix are pleased. Aside from the conflicts of the Lion and Crane, Shoju has brought peace, and even the Shadowlands has grown quiet. Shiba Ningen, the Master of Void, however, knows that this is merely the calm before the storm, but the other masters seem determined to support Shoju and ignore his warnings.

Bayushi Yojiro, Champion of the Scorpion, looks at what Shoju has wrought and knows that Shoju has lost sight of his duty. He wonders if he can find the strength to betray his former master for the good of the empire. He was never an ambitious man, but he has found help from an unexpected quarter.

Shinjo Shono looks west and smiles. The Lion are weakened from their endless war against the Crane. There is a growing tension between the Shogun and the Emperor, one that could lead into open conflict if pushed further. Shoju must fall, and with his fall, another must become Shogun. Who better than noble Shinjo Shono, honourable samurai and champion of the Unicorn? Who better than cunning Shinjo Shono, Kolat Master?

You belong to none of these clans. You are those who are to be caught in the middle. You are the overlooked, the ignored, and the weak. Where one arrow may break, however, three will hold strong. This is the time for heroes of humble origins. This is the time for the Minor Clans.

L5R - The Great Dusk

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