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 Topaz Endings

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TheDiddler
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Posts : 383
Join date : 2014-09-12
Age : 35
Location : Germany

PostSubject: Topaz Endings   Sun Apr 08, 2018 5:18 am

Topaz Endings
 
The following are a few cut scenes/vignettes with some mechanical bonuses (or penalties) in the aftermath of the Topaz Championship. They are (mostly) unrelated to your Two Good, One Bad.
 


In the Shadow of Victory 
 
A brief reaction to the end of the Topaz…
 
Kakita Toshimoko loomed over the bloody corpse of Shinjo Maja-Kahl. The Grey Crane’s lips pursed paper-thin. His fingers clenched and unclenched as he fought to control his breathing.
 
All around the affected - the possessed, Toshimoko thought – members of the court shook off the strange effects of the past few minutes. Daidoji samurai formed a light ring about the field. Without making more of a scene, they escorted the guests from the Kakita Dueling Academy, directing their attention elsewhere.
 
“This is a dishonor upon your clan,” whispered the Mistress of Secrets.
 
Toshimoko’s fists clenched tight at the silken voice and poison words. He glanced back, eyed the meticulously exposed slit along the hipline of Kachiko’s kimono, and sniffed.
 
“You are the face of the Emperor. You were affected as well.” The old sensei lifted his chin. “You will not want word of this to leave this place any more than I.”
 
The Imperial Chancellor snapped open her fan. “You will concoct a story. Poisoned tea, fabricated by the Shinjo.” She paused, looked down at the dead Maja-Kahl. “The contestant, of course.”
 
“And you will back it up with whispers and lies.”
 
Bayushi Kachiko slipped as close as decorum allowed and held her fan in front of her face. “There is still a problem, Kakita-san.”
 
Kakita Toshimoko scanned the crowd, his eyes pausing at each of the Topaz Contestants.
 
“I know.”
 
*****

 
Hours passed and no one in the town of Tsuma spoke an open word about the strange events of the Iaijutsu Contest. Kakita swordsmen added to the regiment of Daidoji guards who patrolled the city and all the guests remained indoors.
 
The Topaz Contestants, minus two, were all gathered in the private dining hall of the Kakita Dueling Academy. Traditionally, this would be the great gathering place of the students of the Crane techniques.
 
Tonight, it was the sight of interrogation.
 
From somewhere in the depths of the castle, a muffled scream arose. It was not the first. It would not be the last.
 
Kakita Toshimoko sat on a raised dais, fingers steepled. His eyes were closed and had been for hours. The contestants were brought to this chamber. Told to sit. And waited.
 
Another scream, this one cut off abruptly. Tense moments passed, but there were no others. Not yet.
 
Instead, the immaculate form of Kuni Akira, Governor of Otosan Uchi, and Emerald Magistrate, strode into the chamber. Despite the horrific screams, not a drop of blood touched his form.
 
“Your torturers are lacking.” His voice was dull and flat. “The cultist peasants know nothing of any value. We will get nowhere with them. They were controlled by another, in spirit or in person. This ‘Basket Hat Man’ did not reveal to them his plans.”
 
Toshimoko’s eyes opened slowly.
 
“And what of these?”
 
The Emerald Magistrate seemed to notice the Topaz Contestants for the first time. His gaze lingered for but a moment longer upon certain individuals. He waved his hand.

“They were not involved. They saved us.”

 
Kakita Toshimoko laughed, hard, but without feeling.
 
“Saved by children.”
 
“Children no longer, by their actions and by the rules of your contest.” Akira’s hands disappeared together into his robes. Jade bracelets hung down over connected arms.
 
“As you say.” Toshimoko strode down off the dais and walked straight to Hida Ao.
 
“A boy no longer, you are the Topaz Champion. This will be known to all, announced to every clan across the Empire. The words of your great deeds will echo across all Rokugan.”
 
Toshimoko paced around the Crab with purpose.
 
“You will don the Topaz Armor. An escort of Crane and Imperial Legionnaires will take you back to Kyuden Hida, the Palace of the Crab.”
 
The Grey Crane stopped behind Hida Ao and eyed the others.
 
“All of you shall leave this place with the proper glory. Neither the Crane, nor the Imperial Chancellor will forget what you have done here.”
 
“Nor the Emerald Magistrates,” Akira whispered.
 
“But you will not speak of this other…event, by Imperial Decree issued from the lips of the honorable Imperial Chancellor herself.”
 
The old sensei closed his eyes once again, lifted his hand, and waved casually away.
 
“You are free to go.”
 
*****
 
 
Shosuro Ria knelt before Bayushi Kachiko with her head bowed in obeisance. She had been that way for hours. She was not waiting. The Imperial Chancellor sat in a seiza stance mere feet away. She thought she was being punished.
 
Ria accepted her fate. The Scorpion favored Sugai. He had lost. And they blamed part of it on her, it seemed. She had more on her mind that the arrogant whining of a spoiled Bayushi.
 
Her thoughts drifted back to the White Wolf, her twin in spirit and body. Their shared connection through the dark spirit of Yajinden demanded they speak, but it seemed that the Otomo daughter could not bring herself to face Ria.
 
Once released from Toshimoko’s interrogation, the White Wolf bowed to the other contestants, just once, and left.
 
The thin rice-paper wall of the room slid open, drawing Ria out of her trance. She dared a single glance sideways and saw Bayushi Sugai…no, his name was Tomaru now.
 
“Excellent” said Kachiko. “You may rise, Ria-san. And please do choose a name soon.”
 
Bayushi Tomaru, nee Sugai, knelt beside Ria in a similar stance. He bowed deeply to Kachiko, the purple of his new silken mask contrasting wildly with his black and red kimono.
 
“I will not waste my time.” Kachiko’s soft tone held calculated contempt, and anger.
 
“Sugai. Tomaru. You failed. You had every opportunity, every chance, and yet you allowed yourself to be defeated by the wasted offerings of other clans.”
 
The Mistress of Secrets gestured with her closed fan to Ria.
 
“You were involved in some hidden plot which led to much of the court being possessed. I should have you both fall upon your swords in shame.”
 
The air was pregnant with the extended pause. After a long moment, Kachiko broke it with light-hearted laughter.
 
“But we are not the idiotic Lion slapping on white paint to die.  Look at me.” The two Scorpion looked up in unison to see the smirking features of their mistress.
 
“You have both failed me, but succeeded in other ways. Tomaru’s connections can be used. And you…”

Kachiko reached to her side and lifted a thin fold of finest crimson silk. She extended it between her and Ria, set it upon the ground, and laid her fan atop it.

 
“You will take these tools and your gained knowledge. We both know where you come from, and though your blood is not entirely Scorpion, we are honored by your service to the clan.
 
With a single hard stare, Kachiko held Ria’s gaze and uttered words that sounded like both a promise and a threat.
 
“We will see where your loyalty lies.”
 
Mechanics:
While wielding Kachiko’s fan, you gain +1 Free Raise on Courtier (Manipulation) rolls.
 
Whatever mask you choose to make from the fine silk, you note that there are hidden threads that repeat the same kanji over and over (Loyalty). When engaging with another Scorpion below Status 6.0, your Status is considered +0.5.
 


*****
 


Hida Ao returned a hero to Kyuden Hida, guided by a contingent of Daidoji, the so-called Iron Crane. With them, Kuni Akira and a full Legion of the Imperial Legionnaires. As per a long-forgotten agreement, the 1,000 warriors had come to stand along the Great Kaiu Wall for a full year. This agreement was honored whenever the Crab won the Topaz Championship – a feat that only rarely occurred.
 
The Crab hailed their hero and his superiors gifted him with favor, and rank. Within a month he was leading his own guntai, a full 20 men, deep into the Shadowlands as their Gunso, or sergeant. Within six months, he had risen to the rank of Chui, lieutenant in charge of more than a hundred men.
 
The Topaz Armor stood on display atop the Kaiu Wall, a testament to Crab glory and power in the face of the Shadowlands Horde. The Hida dared not bring it into the Shadowlands, for to lose such an artifact to the depredations of the Taint would bring shame upon their clan.
 
Instead, the Kaiu family took a shine to the armor. A family of siege-masters and strategists, many among them excelled at forging weapons and armor. The Kaiu mastersmiths made minor modifications to the Topaz Armor, unafraid of damaging the nemuranai because of their skill. By the time it was necessary for the young Hida to return the Topaz Armor to the Crane, it had been transformed into something greater.
 
The Crane saw the Kaiu’s gift and welcomed it with honor. In return, they bestowed upon the Topaz Champion a fine suit of heavy Daidoji Armor, emblazoned with the symbol of Topaz upon its back.
 
Mechanics:
Hida [Ao’s] Great Armor. Heavy Armor of remarkable beauty. Lowers the TN to recognize the wearer by 20. In addition, while using the Guard maneuver and in the Air or Earth stance, the TN of both the wearer and the guarded target increase by +5.
 


*****
 


Togashi Kaku found himself in the unlikeliest of places: kneeling at the feet of the Grey Crane, Kakita Toshimoko, Master of the Kakita Dueling Academy. Upon dismissing all others, the elder sensei begged Kaku to stay and sit. He vanished for a time behind the maze of shoji screens in the castle’s interior and when he returned, it was with familiar instruments.
 
“I am not as good as our finest painters, Togashi-san, but ask any young maiden and she will tell you these hands can do more than wield a blade.”
 
The Grey Crane set instruments of painting down to his right, the tools of tattooing to his left.
 
“We had a deal, Kaku-san. I would seal that deal and return with sincerity upon you the gift you have given the Crane.”
 
It was painful for Toshimoko was not as skilled as the Togashi brothers, but the old man etched a beautiful Crane in repose upon the tattooed-man’s flesh. Kaku felt the work of art dig deep into his soul. The pain set him into a restful state, near-meditative. And from that half-awake world he heard the pleased voice of the Dragon Champion. The blood of Togashi reacted hotly with Toshimoko’s artistry and as the last feather was scarred upon his flesh, Kaku felt the tattoo move. 
 
Mechanics: Kakita Toshimoko himself tattoos Togashi Kaku with the Crane tattoo. It awakens with the Blood of Togashi and you gain the extra tattoo out of normal cycle.

Additionally, around Crane you are considered to have +1.0 Glory.

 


*****
 


Ide Kasumi made the long journey west across the Empire with an endless sorrow upon her shoulders. She was surrounded by a full contingent of Lion, led by Ikoma Ujiaki, who had promised to guide her to the border between their clans.

Though she could have rode in palanquin, or even borrowed a horse from the Lion, Kasumi walked. Each day she guided the horse of her sensei and mentor, unable to bear riding on its back. She realized somewhere along the way that she could not remember its name.

 
Matsu Ao, nee Aeki, walked silently beside her until the very last step through Lion lands. Without fanfare, the Lion turned and left the Unicorn alone on the Golden Plains of the Unicorn.
 
It took days to explain the situation to her lords and masters. Days more for them to come to twin realizations: Shinjo Konishi was corrupted, fallen from their ranks and Shinjo Maja-Kahl, the great sensei, was dead.
 
Kasumi stayed with the horse while they deliberated and pondered her fate.
 
In a month, she was summoned the halls of Shiro Ide, the Castle of the Ide Daimyo, Tadaji. Born with a clubbed foot, the wise courtier did not often travel outside of his domain.
 
Certain that she would be berated, blamed in part for the despicable violence of Konishi’s fall, Kasumi could only wait in anticipation.
 
Instead, Tadaji spoke briefly, and with passion.
 
“You honor your family by your victories at the Topaz Championship. Despite your prodigal training with the Hand of Peace, the Way of the Ide, you held yourself against the finest duelists in the Empire. Furthermore, I know you were instrumental in stopping the monstrous corruption Konishi has become.”
 
Kasumi looked up, somewhat confused by this praise.
 
Tadaji continued with a smile. “I have arranged with the Shinjo for you to take care of Maja-Kahl’s steed. It is yours now. Moreover, I give you a choice, Kasumi-san. A choice you were not afforded years ago.”
 
Tadaji held out two hands. “In one, the Hand of Peace. Continued learning in the Ide School. In the other, the Art of War. A chance to take on the ways of the Utaku and prove yourself a noble warrior.”
 
The daimyo of her family held her gaze with peace and welcome.
 
“Choose.”
 
Mechanics: You gain Shinjo Maja-Kahl’s steed. While riding it, you gain +1 Free Raise with all social rolls against other Unicorn. It is a Gaijin Riding Horse.

Additionally, you may choose to continue your next Rank as either an Ide Courtier or enter the path of the Utaku Bushi.

 


*****
 


Isawa Kenzan stood in a dank cellar near the shore of Kyuden Isawa, the Palace of the Elemental Masters. In his arms were a bundle of old scrolls, carefully preserved, though this was no library he had ever seen.
 
The scarred man before him set yet another case in Kenzan’s arms. Isawa Ujina, Elemental Master of the Void, continued his conversation in the tone of a teacher to a student.
 
“This corruption in the void will return. It claims your compatriot, Shosuro Ria, as its child. It rides the body of the Unicorn who calls the Hida nemesis.”
 
Ujina set one final scroll upon Kenzan’s pile, then gestured for his apprentice to set them upon a table.
 
“I sense its power and feel its dark fate will lead you to engage with it once more.”
 
Ujina rifled through the various scrolls until finally setting upon one in particular. He broke the seal, examined its contents, and smiled painfully.
 
“I will teach you what I can, but your path is your own, Acolyte. You know that the void chooses its vessels.”
 
The Master of Void held out the scroll and a small wooden inro box meant to be tied at the obi belt of the kimono.
 
“Take these gifts and with them discover the path of the void.”
 
Mechanics:
Ujia gifts Isawa Kenzan with the earth spell: Strength of the Crow (Mastery 3). In addition, he gifts Kenzan with his personal set of kawaru coins for divination. They grant +1 Free Raise on all Divination rolls.
 


*****
 


Shinjo Konishi rode with his horse day and night, week after week, never resting. Though tired, they did not sleep. Though starving, they did not eat. Though dying of thirst, they wasted away and travelled onward.

The Shadowlands Taint and Yajinden’s bottomless rage fed them and guided their path. They rode far to the west, north of the tip of the Kaiu Wall, and passed into the gaijin lands before turning south.

 
They entered the Shadowlands by the end of spring.
 
Konishi’s horse had wasted away, mostly dried flesh and rigid bone. As for the Shinjo, the dark scar upon his face had consumed it whole. Upon his shoulders rested a rictus grin of a skeleton, dark pits for eyes, and maniacal laughter somewhere deep inside.

_________________
C Thomas Hand
GM/Storyteller/Swell Guy

The wisest words fit into pithy sayings.

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