Game Time: 1 March (Evening) – 3 March (Morning) 1175
Location: Aboard the White Sparrow, and on the docks of Shorai no Kiban (Bridge Village – Foundation of the Future)
In the aftermath of the encounter with the Dawning Moon, Chiroku expresses displeasure at the party’s gentle encounter with the ship. She explains that a ship that damaged and crew that bedraggled could only result from some combination of a cursed ship and/or incompetent captain. The Mantis believe it would be better to put them to the sword, but defer to the Crane in their territory. The party defends their actions well, but notes the captain’s displeasure.
That evening, the day shift of the crew relax a bit, and some friendly games of Fortunes and Winds are played before everyone retires for the night.
As the following day progresses, Byakuya notes an inked handprint on his kimono which may have had something to do with the snickers from the Mantis crew the day before. He assumes that Shiba Masaru had something to do with it and enlists Masataro’s skills in cleaning the stain. Additionally, while there are clearly no Iaijutsu students aboard the ship, Byakuya does draw some interest as he practices his forms, attempting to compensate for the motion of the ship. Eventually he teaches some pointers to a couple mantis crew and performs some practice sparring with Shoutaro as well.
During break times Utamuro valiantly attempts to keep up with some of the physical contests of the Mantis crew, such as racing to the top of the ship’s rigging and such. Akiyama entertains the crew, and furthers the renown of Utamuro, regaling everyone with the stirring tale of the party’s first encounter with the Three Boulders Falling bandits. Toshiro also continues to befriend Masako, eventually proving his use in summoning the air kami to speed the ship along. Despite initial misgivings, he performs this skillfully, and does not damage the ship. He also creates a beautiful origami white sparrow for her amusement. In general, the crew seems increasingly impressed with the Crane, who were initially assumed to be bumbling, pompous idiots.
Late in the day of nominal arrival to Shorai no Kiban, the river becomes very turbulent, forcing all hands on deck to help save the ship. Everyone pitches in, to varying degrees of success, and manage to safe the ship until the turbulence passes. While the ship is still a ways off from the docks, some of the party note one or more figures on the docks at this time. Given the lateness of the evening, and the unusual turbulence, Chiroku decides to stand off at anchor for the night and dock in the morning.
As they approach closer, the party can make out the bridge, which currently spans approximately 1/3 of the river, anchored at strangely uniform and evenly spaced islands. It’s arches stand high enough and wide enough for at least one kobune, such as the White Sparrow to pass underneath with reasonable clearance. Near the bridge is a large, high island which appears to house some sort of ruined buildings. To the west, lies a small port village on the Lion side of the river, while the town on the Crane side appears to be fairly large and bustling, with an extensive dock network making up most of the riverfront.
While the boat is anchored, Toshiro summons a still angry water kami, and questions what has made them so angry, to which he is shown flashing images of the small, regularly spaced islands which are serving as anchor points for the bridge construction, and a man standing at the docks gesturing and cutting his arm, to let blood drop into the water. Toshiro knows that this seems to be blood magic of some sort, which is a forbidden and rarely spoken of practice. Masako, seems to concur that evil magic is at work, and is very disquieted, but knows little more of the subject than Toshiro. Additionally, Toshiro asks where the man pictured is, the kami rushes off in the direction of the Crane docks.
In the middle of the night, the entire boat is woken by some sort of strange nightmares, which sap the energy of half the party. Shoutaro and Utamuro go up onto the deck, and Illuminated by a full moon, they can see a very large figure emerge from the river and walk into town, as well as another figure standing on the docks. Both move into the town and don’t return for at least fifteen minutes, after which both go back below to get some further sleep.
As the party arrives at the docks of Shorai no Kiban the next morning, they tie up at the dock and see the following:
1) Three well-dressed peasants standing nearby, having a discussion.
The party asks the peasants for directions to the Imperial (Otomo) sisters, and immediately gets the peasants off on bad footing. The peasants appear to be full of themselves (being wealthy business men in an area with relatively few local samurai) and clearly displeased with the Imperial presence.
Quickly put in their place by the party, and instilled with new-found humbleness and respect, Kinen, a portly, and fairly disgusting middle-aged peasant is roped into guiding the party around town, after initially attempting to pawn the duty off on a local messenger boy. He also mentions some places in town to relax and get something to eat, such as the famous Geisha house ( Shinju no yuri – Pearl Lily), the local tea house ( Onwana hana – Genial Blossom), both of which also have rooms to rent, and the local sake house ( Nodo ga kawai – Thirsty Heron) which is a little on the less reputable side of things. He also mentions the few locals of note:
Kakita Bakin, the garrison commander, who stands nearby
Ranmaru, the Geisha mistress, who stands nearby
Hiramichi Miliko, the famous sculptor who is not currently here
Toshiro is able to summon an air kami that confirms that the previous night “brother river” was very angry two times, in addition to its generally irritated nature of late. It is also asked if the very large dock worker nearby (Ume) was the one coming out of the river the previous night. The kami inspects Ume to check, and returns, but seems oddly uncertain. It doesn’t think that Ume was in the river, but isn’t entirely sure. Toshiro also struggles to converse with a Water kami, which, when asked further about the figure seemingly performing blood magic, darts away under the dock, and causes Toshiro to note the odd looks from Yomi and Domogu, the other two peasants.
Toshiro sends them to arrange rooms for the party at the Genial Blossom tea house, and instills in them the fact that they should not be talking about what they may have overheard. They rush down the dock to Ranmaru, who sends he Geisha companion into town, presumably to arrange rooms. Akiyama also eventually enlists them to gather cartography supplies for him.
2) Two Dragon samurai examining the docks, and talking with a Crane bushi
On introducing themselves and declaring their charter as magistrates, the Crane, who introduces himself as Kakita Bakin, a Kakita duelist and local garrison commander, expresses relief and quickly punts responsibility for the area’s woes on the party (including the responsibility of dealing with the Dragon and Imperial presence). He lists the following recent events, but quickly establishes that he has his handful managing the military post in the area, without having to deal with all this other hullaballoo. The party is welcomed to contact him later at the garrison’s barracks.
a. The local peasant Doshin (magistrate) hasn’t been seen in about a week, and thus his duties keep getting foisted on Bakin, who has neither the time nor inclination to deal with them
b. There have been various reports of sabotaged building materials, workers and even an emergency at the bridge building site in recent days
c. These “illustrious” Dragon representatives are here also investigating the happenings related to the Bridge, and are now the party’s problem.
i. The Dragons are introduced as Kitsuki Doreni, a rude courtier, and Kitsuki Lixue an almost equally stand-offish bushi.
ii. They mention that they are here to learn more about the happenings about the bridge construction process, and repeatedly insult the party and the Crane, begrudgingly offering to introduce the party to the Otomo sisters, before the conversation escalates. Eventually Masataro and Toshiro soundly send them packing with razor sharp Crane with and intrigue
iii. As the Dragon leave, Toshiro catches sight of an odd event, as a shirtless, tattooed man, who had previously been standing absolutely still on one leg atop the roof of a nearby warehouse, turns to watch the departing Dragon and jumps out of sight off the roof.
3) Two lion samurai discussing something with a very large dock worker and a ferry operator with a notable wine-stain birthmark on his face.
a. Bakin mentions that the Lion have been causing a little trouble since they got here, but doesn’t go into more detail
4) A beautifully dressed, tattooed woman accompanied by a Geisha, and an armored samurai
As the party are about to retire to the tea house to refresh themselves before continuing on to the Otomo sisters, Shoutaro catches sight of the local water temple, and rushes off to pay his respects and purify himself. The rest of the party tag along, and step into the fairly large and well-appointed temple devoted to the water Kami and Diakoku (the Fortune of wealth). There they are greeted cordially by Abbot Ikage, the head monk at the temple, and shown to the elaborate purification fountain, as well as the altars where offerings are left, which are generously filled at present with small trade goods, fish and fruit from the local populous and travelling merchants.
Yorimoto Masako – Shugenja
Moshi Chiroku – Captain
Kakita Bakin – Garrison Commander
Kitsuki Doreni – Investigator
Kitsuki Lixue – Yojimbo
Dayu – Ferry Owner
Kinen – Older Ferry Owner
Domogu – Kinen’s Son
Yome – Disgusting Ferry Owner
Ume – Large Dock Worker
Ranmaru – Geisha Mistress
All Players receive 3 XP
Net 0, as the party encountered a lot of disrespect towards the Crane clan and/or the Imperial government, but responded appropriately and courteously while correcting the inappropriate comments and/or returning the insults skillfully. The party has reasonable cause (if desired) to issue a challenge to a duel to the Dragon clan samurai for their comments.
+1 pip for everyone for impressive skills aboard the White sparrow, and/or bragging about previous glory
As it becomes known that the party are provisional magistrates, all (except Utamuro) are now recognized as Status 1.5 (Utamuro is Status 1)