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    • Owlbear

    Bayushi Nitoshi, Champion of the Scorpion Clan, strolled through the hallways of Kyuden Baushi seemingly without a concern in the world. His demeanor was that of a carefree man, but those advisors who trailed behind him glanced at one another warily, all too familiar with the notion that Nitoshi-sama’s moods were rarely so obvious. “So,” he said casually, “the situation with the Lion continues to deteriorate, I understand?”

    The advisors glanced among one another again. “Yes, my lord,” one among them finally said. “The skirmishes at Shamate Pass are almost a daily occurrence, and our sources in the Imperial Court believe that the Otomo will grant the Lion leave to seek satisfaction in the name of the Empress very soon.”

    “Doubtless as you have planned, my lord!” the youngest among the advisors said.

    Nitoshi stopped in his tracks and turned slowly, regarding the young man intently, then turning to the eldest among the advisors. “Who is this?” he asked conversationally.

    The old man winced. “My wife’s great-nephew,” Shosuro Yasumasa explained. “Forgive me, my lord, I…”

    “I am Shosuro Ts…” the man started.

    Nitoshi moved so quickly that no one saw him in motion. He simply appeared next to the young man, a small blade in hand. The metal was pressed flat against the man’s face and his voice died instantly. Nothing had changed about Nitoshi’s demeanor, but up close, it allowed the young would-be-advisor to see the haunting emptiness in his eyes. “If you ever speak in my presence again,” the Scorpion Champion said cordially, “it will be the last time you speak.” He smiled and withdrew the blade. “You must be the greatest fool ever to walk the mortal realm,” he observed. “No sane human being ever plans for the Lion to attack them. That is the absolute worst folly that can be conceived.” He paused for a moment, then turned to Yasumasa. “We will of course imply otherwise to outsiders, but for now we need to distract the Lion as much as possible.”

    Yasumasa nodded. “The conflict between the heirs in the Colonies, my lord?”

    “Interesting,” mused Nitoshi, “but no. Too distant, too disconnected. No, the Lion are creatures of strategy and tradition, but also of barely suppressed rage and emotion. We must give them something to be incensed about. Something that will cause them to react rather than to think.”

    Yasumasa bowed his head. “If I may, my lord, I think I have a suggestion.”


    There were many in both the Empire and the Colonies who believed that, with the banishment of the mad dragon P’an Ku and the revelation of the Fudo cult’s disgraceful true nature, peace might reign once again. Sadly, those who believed such have become increasingly faced with the reality that peace is something that the Empire of Rokugan knows only infrequently.

    In the Empire, the Lion and Scorpion have been at odds throughout the summer, with Lion allegations that the Scorpion are using trade caravans to move information and spies through Shamate Pass under the pretense of supplying their fortifications at the Second Pit. The Scorpion have resolutely denied such claims, but skirmishes at the pass are becoming increasingly common, and many suspect that the Imperial families will soon sanction military action between the two clans, something the Lion would dearly love and the Scorpion can ill afford.

    Even as the Empire looks on as two of its most loyal clans prepare to go to war, the searing heat of the summer in the Colonies has driven even the most level-headed samurai to the precipice of irritation and annoyance. The discussions in court about the two heirs of the Divine Empress Iweko are heated under ideal circumstances, and the circumstances are far from ideal. As reason gives way to passion and passion gives way to violence, the first battleground between the forces loyal to the two different heirs becomes the one environment no one expected: the Colonial Court of the Imperial Governor.

    Iweko Seiken and Iweko Shibatsu have no desire to wage war with one another.

    Their supporters, however, are not quite as adamant about this point.

    The line has been drawn. The battle is about to begin.


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