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Magnus Grendel

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Everything posted by Magnus Grendel

  1. The Ivory Kingdoms seem to combine elements of both India and some of south-east Asia.
  2. Not sure about 4e, but when they popped up in d20 oriental adventures their default feat - the Kami Revealed - let you do an at-will detect magic, (in D&D terms) so...Yeah, I guess so. What might work, looking at the old Inquisitor tree - is what was the Inquisitor's highest feat: Stealing the Kami. 5e has no real equivalent of the 'counterspell' (except with ivory kingdoms divine artefacts, but they're rarely going to feature in a rokugani samurai campaign). A jade magistrate has the legal and spiritual authority to say 'no, don't do that' to both a shujenga and the spirits they call on - being able to either react with a counter-invocation, or make invocations (and maybe Maho?) harder if the Inquisitor is close to either caster or target sounds like a character ability.
  3. There's the Asako Inquisitor school ability, which is pretty much the equivalent: Traces of Passage (School Ability): Once per scene as a Support action, you may scry to detect any super- natural abilities used at range 0–3 in the last day (such as invocations, mahō, and kihō). Reduce the TN of your checks to investigate this phenomenon by your school rank. But using something too close to that does rather leave an Asako Jade Magistrate (which isn't too unlikely in a setting where the Jade Magistrature exists) rather screwed over by giving them a title ability basically identical to their school ability.
  4. Indeed. Most fiction is posted on FFGs page to give you background on big political events like "The Edict" (which deserves it's capital letters).
  5. No - my suggestion above was for the Jade Champion title. whilst it's never been created, I think it can be assumed it was meant to say 'tainted' - compare the Jade Strike in the published rulebook to the beta version: the beta jade strike was for tainted, not otherworldly, targets.
  6. Yes, but we don't have a title for the Emerald Champion (and I'm not sure we're likely to).
  7. I think a standard yoriki title would be fine, and I'm not sure about a 'champion' title - that's too huge a thing to compare to any example we have. As to magistrates... The 4th edition version:
  8. It is - or was - a fairly widespread scheme called "Bits and Mortar" - I think it was Drivethru that sponsored it? I'd wait if it meant we got FAQs and Errata a month after release, and got the changes in the book. Given how long we seem to wait for errata I'm not sure that's a realistic hope, though.
  9. Although the 'taster/booster' .pdf adventure is usually at the original release. Given the subject matter of the new adventure I'll be fascinated to see what they pick....
  10. Given 2020's track record to date, I'm not convinced it wouldn't be worth confirming every now and then.
  11. Unless she ends up the Clan Champion the Unicorn deserve instead...
  12. Indeed. Stuff with a side-effect would be nice; I'm not a fan of 'easy choices'. I'd consider doing it the other way; rather than making a manoeuvre blue, maybe make blue manoeuvres 'extra blue' - a trigger like "after you fully execute a blue manoeuvre" means that it's harder to trigger on a TIE bomber or punisher (but may be proportionately more valuable) whilst a TIE interceptor can trigger it all the time....but it's a flimsy ship that may not get the benefit out of it. Maybe something like a charge-based "remove extra red tokens" effect? That sort of fits a ship which can stabilize from extreme manoeuvres fast. Alternatively, maybe a superior boost/roll ability. Rather than daredevil's optional hard-turn-red-boost, how about an optional speed-2-red-boost?
  13. So... now defeated, the two fire spirits collapsed; their flaming halos dissipating to reveal the horrifically burned corpses of two villagers. By process of elimination, the survivors identified them as two lovers who had been missing - presumably in each other's company - for most of the afternoon. The heimin hadn't really seen what had happened - they'd been much to focused on fighting the fire - and certainly hadn't seen the burning man who the PCs had seen, apparently directing the carnage. They did say, after being asked if anything else untoward had happened, that they'd heard what they'd assumed at the time were fireworks coming from the direction of Shiro no Shosuro. There was no festival happening they were aware of, though. Quite a few villagers had been killed. Whilst the PCs didn't get involved in handling the bodies, Horonigai did aid the priest in reconsecrating the tiny village shrine, whilst Uiri and Goriate tried to win friends and influence people - the latter (who wasn't here for the session) by the time-honoured Hida method of lifting heavy objects - in this case helping heft some heavy beams supporting the burned-but-still-serviceable roof of the main barn, which would be the only shelter for quite a few grateful families. Uiri tried to offer some advice to the carpenter (who had thankfully survived) on repairs, but - thanks to a poor roll - got a respectful response whose tone had a carefully suppressed subtext of "Yes, samurai-sama, of course, samurai-sama, whatever you say, samurai-sama, thank you for telling me how to do the trade I've been expert at for about twice as long as you've been alive, samurai-sama". Uiri decided not to press the issue given how traumatised the villagers were, especially since the carpenter hadn't actually said anything disrespectful (even if he was clearly thinking it). After a few hours respite (given how burned and bruised everyone was) they set out for Shiro no Shosuro, with rather more haste than previously. They had connected the strange figure with the rumours of the Elemental Oracle of Fire being in the region, though why he'd decided to start barbequing Scorpion Clan holdings ("beyond sensible general principles" - Uiri's player "Oi!" - Suiren's player) was a mystery. Shiro no Shosuro was....not doing well, when it finally hoved into view. No small number of towers and buildings were fire-damaged, and a few were destroyed outright. Rather blatant twenty-foot-high kanji had been scorched into the wall in a gigantic display of pyrographic calligraphy, reading "RETURN WHAT WAS MINE OR BURN". Much of the hillside was scorched, with gardens and vegetation destroyed. Most worryingly, the white sand of the path crunched underfoot in chunks of crudely fuzed glass. "So....it seems he might be a tad annoyed about something." - Uiri's player. At this point, a cadre of armoured Scorpion Bushi poured out from behind a rocky scree, holding the PCs at arrow-point and demanding to know their business. After "what had happened" they had orders to admit no-one to the castle and they fully intended to shoot the PCs if they tried to bypass them. Fortunately, Suiren managed not to screw up a courtesy check for once. He passed a tough check, and rolled a handful of opportunities to boot - noticing that one of the bushi was Shosuro Kitsami; a friend of his. Making his way to the front of the group, he was able to successfully identify himself - and, critically, convince the bushi that the edict probably shouldn't apply to him since he was a senior member of the Shosuro family and as such had a right to be in the castle. They still weren't inclined to let him pass, but Kitsami volunteered to go and seek clarification from Shosuro Juberu; Suiren was a family member, and in turn was vouching for the other three as Emerald Magistrates. This did the trick. After a few more nervous minutes, Juberu hurried apologetically out of the gates, and welcomed them, taking them through the busy, fire-damaged castle to a meeting room in a central building, where they were introduced to Shosuro Hametsu himself (though the daimyo barely spoke to them). Interestingly, given an extremely good roll with many, many explosive successes, Uiri (though not the other two magistrates) placed Shosuro Hametsu as someone he'd met before, though it took him a while to figure out where - eventually realising that the man in front of him was 'Bayushi Ago', the Scorpion 'Magistrate' who they'd spoken to in Shiro Yogasha during the investigation into Doji Satsume's death. Precisely why the Shosuro Daimyo was lurking in the Emerald Champion's castle in disguise in person and trying to persuade people to blame Doji Hotaru for her father's murder was an awkward question, but when Suiren filled in the missing detail that Shosuro Hametsu and Bayushi Kachiko were siblings and not, supposedly, well disposed to one another, it made a lot more sense. It was also clear Hametsu wasn't Suiren's biggest fan, though at the time it wasn't clear why. The party were given a brief outline of what had happened; Shosuro Medu had sought out the Oracle to ask questions on behalf of the Daimyo. He'd encountered the Oracle with a hinin girl in a mountain cave, and on Medu asking for the Oracle's aid, had become angry and driven him away. Not content with this, he'd chased Medu down and attacked the castle during the evening, demanding the return of some ill-specified stolen item, which Medu swore he'd not taken. The Shosuro were under no illusions how an envoy from the castle would be received...and therefore would the PCs consider acting as mediators? The PCs were...not impressed, but there's no diplomatic way to say 'get lost' to the daimyo of a Great Clan family. Suiren - who was Shosuro, but had not been in the region until that day - would attend to represent the Scorpion. The fact that supposedly the Oracle might well kill him didn't seem to concern his family Daimyo as much as Suiren would have hoped. He later discovered from Kitsami this was because a letter to Shosuro Hametsu from Kachiko had arrived a few days before they had. Kachiko being angry with Suiren was hardly a black mark in her brother's books, but any suggestion of someone putting any loyalty before the Clan was, however petty or vague the order - so if Suiren was torched by the Oracle, he "So....do we believe their story?" "Like heck. But until we figure out exactly how they're lying through their teeth, we have to play along." Uiri and Horonigai's players. So now the PCs are going to visit a potentially insane Oracle, to try and persuade him to maybe not kill them long enough for them to negotiate on behalf of a Daimyo they're convinced is lying to them. They then let Goriate's player know how things had gone... "YOU PROMISED THE SCORPION CLAN WHAT!?!?!?!" ...every single time...
  14. The suggestion about opportunities is for minions, rather than adversaries, though. Acknowledged about dangerous terrain, though - it does specify physical damage, so Horonigai's point of resistance would apply (I had it mixed up with bleeding, I suspect, which directly inflicts fatigue on a pretty much identical trigger)
  15. Marksmanship is a nice option - make those centre line lances really sting. I think - for a Bughouse swarm - that leaves you with three choices of second talent: - marksmanship adds auto-criticals to the centre line gun. That's a nice-to-have but as you say will totally brutalize a tough large-base ship. - intimidation feels like the best option as it works in various situations: if someone blocks you with a low initiative generic, you get easy kills on them, and it makes a dense swarm of bugs a nightmare for a high-agility, token dependant ace. - treacherous doubles down on making your ship's tougher. A treacherous charge is basically a free evade, which is awesome, provided you're obscured by another ship. You can use your own ships (giving you further options to make it hard to finish targets off - tractor one ship in front of another and the ship at the back gets full agility, deflection AND treacherous, so is nigh on untouchable) but it's really, really good when facing swarms - when facing 5+ ship's they invariably come in in multiple ranks - treacherous means either the back rank is neutered or they'll have to spread out, which also gives you an advantage.
  16. So...the PCs have now reached the southern end of the pass, and are heading West from Beiden towards Shiro no Shosuro. The Shosuro family fortress is one of the easiest places to catch a riverboat South into the minor clan territories near Hirosaka, and it's where Suiren plans to 'stash' Ikue. Regardless, they were - broadly speaking - enjoying the journey. It was now early spring and months of snow and miles of mountain winds had given way to a pleasant spring morning. Scorpion clan highways are scrupulously clean and well-maintained and the traveling inns are comfortable (if inevitably laced with spies). They were less than a day's journey from their destination when they smelled - then saw - smoke from a settlement ahead. Huge swathes of the large village were on fire, and villagers were rushing back and forth trying to fight numerous blazes in a disorganised fashion. A few moments later they registered the strangest aspects of the scene. Two burning figures were running amok in the village - looking like villagers caught in a burning building and set alight but rather than collapsing they continued to rush back and forth, setting more fires in their wake. In addition, a more imposing figure - a man wrapped head to toe in a fiery glow - stood in the road ahead of them. The PCs advanced, and the figure turned, wild-eyed, warning them to stay back. The flames around it increased in intensity and brightness for a moment and then it was gone - leaving behind a scene of incendiary chaos. Uiri decided to try and take command of the firefighting efforts whilst the other three dealt with the fire creatures. I used two tiny fire Kami for their statlines. The skirmish was short but brutal as heck. Suiren started, drawing his katana and taking a wide track to the side to flank the creatures. He's not that great in a 'fair fight' and was aware his best chance to contribute was a Path of Shadows - enhanced attack on one busy attacking another foe. Horonigai resorted to using Sacred Arrows to imbue Tempest of Air. With Sacred Arrows now dropping this to TN1, she was left with a sheaf of opportunities and was able to tailor the blast area of the invocation quite substantially. Goriate shafted his tetsubo, moved up and assumed a guard stance. He failed the tactics check, but did trigger Crescent Moon Style, giving him the option of a counter-strike. Then the fire Kami lit him up like a Christmas tree. The first one landed over half his endurance in a single attack that- being supernatural damage - bypassed his lacquered armour. His counter-strike likewise did a lot of damage but the tiny kami's combination of dangerous terrain and take-strife-equal-to-half-damage-dealt took him up to his endurance. The second tiny Kami incapacitated him, leaving him on 22 fatigue, 8 points over his endurance and basically out of the fight. Uiri, on the other side of the village, passed a command check with Voice of Authority to whip eight villagers into a more organised group, and set them to work creating firebreaks to separate the blazes so they could be dealt with one at a time and didn't overwhelm the villagers. Suiren chose this moment to 'introduce' himself, lunging out of the smoke with a flicker of steel. He landed a massive strike on the already wounded target, inflicting a maiming critical strike on its arm and incapacitating it...and then became instantly compromised from the amount of strife he'd had to accept on the check, as well as being halfway to incapacitated from the furnace-heat of the dangerous terrain. Horonigai loosed her blessed arrow at the unwounded target. It took seven fatigue, and then the blast rendered the other, incapacitated one unconscious. The only reason Goriate didn't follow suit was her keeping opportunities allowing her to exclude one character from the area of effect. The remaining creature lunged at her in response to her arrow shot. Since she was in air stance, and with the supernatural resistance if her robes, she took much less damage than Goriate...but was rendered burning by the attack. Uiri passed a reason/Labour check to get the fire contained, if not under control, and was able to use an opportunity to reduce Suiren's strife slightly. Suiren went next, taking a claming breath to recover his composure and darting in to attack again. This time his opponent was aware of his presence, so the result was less dramatic, but he still incapacitated the target as it was already heavily fatigued after Horonigai's daikyu shot. Despite a deliberate effort to avoid strife on the check, he nevertheless ended up both compromised again and incapacitated (albeit by a single point of fatigue) by the effects of the attack. Horonigai had the opportunity to attack, but the creature was now inside the effective minimum range of her daikyu - and with the burning condition she couldn't afford a prepare action to draw her sword. So, true to her less-than-genteel childhood habits, she moved up and kicked it - hard. With the creature already incapacitated, this was sufficient to render it unconscious - but the extra damage and strife from Living Fire Spirit and Mantle of Smoke and Ash left her incapacitated and compromised, and then the damage from the burning condition rendered her unconscious and damaged her robes, slumping down beside the burning figure. "Totally worth it" - Horonigai's player on kicking a fire Kami unconscious.* Goriate tried a calming breath but was way too exhausted to be any use. Uiri passed the Labour check again, no me getting the fires fully under control. Again - crucially - a bolstering earth opportunity got Suiren back in the fight. Suiren - albeit with a bit of luck on his compromised roll - was able to pass the fitness check and extinguish the fires burning Horonigai. The villagers were very grateful - and helped the PCs move Horonigai to safety until she recovered - but couldn't tell them much about what had happened. Few had seen the burning man the PCs had initially seen, and the lesser fire spirits - now the fires had burned out - proved to be the cremated corpses of two young villagers known to be lovers who had been missing - presumed to be in one another's company - most of the afternoon. Worryingly they'd also seen lights and heard bangs coming from the Shosuro stronghold up the road - they'd assumed it was firecrackers for a festival or celebration.... * The Tiny Fire Kami is a surprisingly serious opponent. It's rules stack in a worrying fashion, especially if it's opponent lacks a long weapon or worse fights unarmed. Horonigai's "knee to the spirituals" attack which finished it is a good example: Since the Kami had used fire opportunities in the previous turn, attacking it required Horonigai to take 2 strife. She had to keep a fair amount of strife results to succeed in the check. That meant she took 3 more strife. Since Mantle of Smoke and Ash makes the area at range 0-1 of the Kami dangerous, she also took 3 fatigue. Since she'd caused 3 damage (a kick's base damage of 2 plus one bonus success to get through the kami's resistance) she took a further 2 strife due to Living Fire Spirit. Touching it with her flesh left her forced to make a TN5 meditation check due to Mantle of Smoke and Ash, which she failed (sensibly keeping no strife results!) causing 2 more strife. Finally, after her strike action, the Burning condition caused by Scorching Touch in the Kami's last attack triggered, causing 3 more strife and 3 more fatigue. That's a grand total of 12 strife and 6 fatigue, caused to her by her attacking it, rather than the other way around....
  17. Laughs in Bughouse Swarm If I've done the numbers right, what was a swarm of five Hive Guard with Gravetic Deflection are now Arena Aces with Intimidation as well, and still get a better initiative bid on top of initiative 4....
  18. No time travel but that's not an awful outline of its physical appearance; all spikes, spines, tendrils and insubstantialness.
  19. I have read it, and she would be. The question was raised about other spirits which might be responsible by Horonigai's player, and I was specifically thinking about the Kaito's personal ghostly curse when answering. Yes, spirits from Toshigoku or Gaki-Do can compel and possess, and are also vulnerable to jade, but they are generally the ghosts of a person, rather than a spined-metal-torture-nightmare-squid-thing. A second other realm is involved (which is why the thing was able to escape, as Horonigai's threshold barrier existed in three dimensions and it slithered off at right angles to that), but the 'primary' force is indeed that of Jigoku. True, but it's remarkable how many outcomes are a better option than "horrible maho-ey death".
  20. There was a degree of animated discussion after this. The general agreement was that Maho was, after all, "Maho-Cheaty-Bull***", but it was concerning in the extreme that it seemed to be now breaking its own rules rather than just everyone else's. "Oh, great. New, Improved Maho-Cheaty-Bull***" - Horonigai's player. Uiri's player observed that whatever the new danger Doji Satsume's ghost had been warning them about was, it was likely they'd just had their first taste of it.
  21. Eiko continued to scream, struggling against Uiri's grip. Goriate used Voice of Authority with a command check, throwing a void point and his imposing Large Stature into it, to order Itagawa Yua - and the handful of Itagawa servants rushing into the room and starting to advance on the PCs - to stand down. It only bought a moment, but the servants froze and Yua paused long enough to register the spreading metal was pushing its way out from inside her daughter, and watched as a lump of jade trapped in her involuntarily clenched fingers turned black and flaking away in droplets of foul black liquid, before finally clattering out of her grip to the floor. Her sword clattered to the floor, and she pushed past Horonigai, composure lost, snarling at the phoenix to help her daughter. She helped Uiri hold Eiko for another round - but, concerningly, Eiko's strength seemed to be growing exponentially, and even with Yua's assistance, Uiri only just managed to hold her. Goriate grabbed the terrified younger Chinami and bodily dragged her to a safer distance whilst Horonigai stared in shock, trying to figure out what she could do to help. The problem was....there really wasn't much. The Kaito didn't know Jade Strike or any similar techniques, and lacked anything on her person which might make a suitable offering for an importune invocation. Besides which, she wanted the thing inside Eiko to leave without killing the young Lion girl in the process. Goriate moved the pair trying to hold Eiko down, leaving her younger sister scrabbling backwards in fear. Even with the three samurai combined, Eiko was only just held in check, and jagged spikes were now starting to flex and curl into an enclosing mask that looked disturbingly familiar. In a moment of desperation, Horonigai tore the menpo from its stand. She'd been watching it out of the corner of her eye to see if it reacted in any way but it had stayed inert - because whatever monstrosity had hidden inside it was now inside Eiko. Snatching up what was left of the jade from the floor, she pushed the hugely oversized menpo onto Itagawa Eiko, whilst at the same time pushing the lump of jade into contact with the rapidly dwindling bare skin on the girl's face. The skin began to blister, and the jade started smoking again. Eiko's screams became louder and increasingly inhuman, but the shards of the mask flexed and rippled, trying to find refuge from the burning jade. The slowly-growing metal started to flood out of the wounds in Eiko's face like liquid mercury, spattering over the menpo and being absorbed by it. By the time the remains of the jade had burned itself out, the flood had stopped and Eiko collapsed bonelessly backwards, blood running down cuts and tears in her face, crying in agony and confusion. Horonigai wrapped the menpo in a layer of cloth in one swift move and dropped it as if it was red hot. It struck the ground with a dull thud out of all proportion to its weight, and the Phoenix (with Goriate's assistance) wasted no time in beginning a threshold barrier ritual to seal the area against any further spiritual manifestation whilst Uiri staunched Eiko's blood loss. The cuts in the girl's face were nasty, but not life-threatening - she looked rather like someone had been dragged through a viciously spiked thorn bush, with some rips showing flashes of white in their deepest recesses. Eiko kept sobbing, as her mother cradled and tried to reassure her. Chinami - despite her earlier terror - rushed over to her sister and embraced her too, sidestepping Uiri's attempt to keep her at a safe distance with a combination of small size and a degree of agility which suggested the tiny wannabe bushi might prove a swordsman to be reckoned with after a decade or so of further training. It was some minutes before the other two magistrates stepped back from the innocent-looking bundle of cloth covering the menpo. Horonigai was confident that no otherworldly spirit could escape from the 'bubble' she'd established around it, and certainly not without her knowledge. Between tearful sobs, Uiri got the story of what had happened. Itagawa Chinami blamed herself, now she'd seen the thing that had taken up residence inside her sister. It had been her idea, some days ago, to spar with Eiko when their parents were both absent one evening. She had bugged her older sister to wear the oversized menpo for a few minutes - wanting to recreate her mother's great triumph. The bout hadn't gone to plan, as Eiko had battered her to the floor and left her covered with bruises. Her normally caring older sister had been distant since, spending most of her time in their father's forge, and Chinami had been content to hide from her, terrified of another beating. Eiko's memory was vague, coloured entirely by an overwhelming haze of rage. She knew she'd hurt Chinami but at the time she was so angry with the world she couldn't make herself care. She knew she'd made a 'fake' menpo - which was now hidden in her rooms - and she'd slept with the real one curled up in her arms like a pet, listening to it 'whisper her to sleep'. Gingerly, Horonigai used the tip of her sword to lift one corner of the cloth, but aside from a deeply menacing air, the menpo appeared completely inert. Refusing to be fooled, she decided to take the same approach they'd had with the Oni's weapon they'd captured on the Islands of Spice and Silk; wrapping it up with jade bound up inside the wrappings. Since Chinami had the other half of the finger of jade they'd brought, she turned, asking the young Itagawa samurai for its return... ...and stopped as Goriate stared at Yua's daughters. "What?" Horonigai asked. Goriate pointed at Chinami. "She's hugging her." "And?" "She's wearing the jade." Horonigai shook her head in confusion. "So?" "Her sister's touching the Jade. It's not burning her." "The...thing...went back into the menpo." "That..." Goriate's shoulder's slumped from a thousand horrible memories. "..that doesn't matter. Once you've been tainted to the point jade starts to burn you when you touch it you don't just 'get better'. I've known too many relatives sent to the damned or put to death from being splashed with blood on the field - from just being on the field a day too long - and she's had an oni rip its way out from inside her head." "But...she's...you can see..." Horonigai half-stammered. "This isn't some trick or deception. She's a young girl, half-comatose with pain. She's not conscious enough to use some kind of deceptive maho, even if she knew how." "I know. The fact that we're watching it happen means it can happen, but it can't. That's not how the taint works." Shaking her head, Horonigai focused on the important matter at hand. Retrieving the jade, she dropped it into their makeshift wrappings - and jumped back in shock at a molten hiss and an ear-splitting crack! as the menpo shattered into pieces. The fabric contained the chunks of metal, which, when she nervously inspected them, proved completely inert - and despite Horonigai's best efforts, there was no sign of any spiritual presence inside the barrier. "...Another impossible thing, then. That...whatever it is...could not pass through the barrier without us knowing. But it was inside it and now it's not." "...this can't be good." This was more or less the active end of the adventure. Eiko survived, but - yes - will have a badly scarred face. Despite the PCs best efforts, they couldn't find any indication of lasting effect of the 'possession' bar her mutilation, so they weren't inclined to report it. Goriate had no illusions whatsoever what would happen if, say, the Kuni heard about Itagawa Eiko's fate - either she would be investigated by a zealot who would not believe her and would want her put to death "to make certain" or else (maybe worse) by a radical who would and would have her investigated - potentially dissected - to uncover exactly what had happened and try to replicate it. With the malefic spirit gone, they decided to confide as much as they dared in Itagawa Yua. Soshi Giichi had been trying to act in the best interests of the Empire and had made a mistake. He had tried to solve the problem without starting a war. Yua was furious - and the PCs were left with no illusions about what would happen if the two ever met again. But despite her anger and offended sense of honour, Itagawa Yua could not accuse Giichi without condemning her daughter - and she was too much the Lion samurai to take revenge secretly or anonymously. Despite herself, that left her with no option other than to keep the secret. Later that day she confided in her armourer husband, Isao, and they - reluctantly - agreed to claim Eiko had been scarred in an accident in the forge, where she'd been working unsupervised whilst her father competed in the shrine. The handful of servants hadn't seen clearly what had happened, but were sworn to silence by their Lord anyway. Given that they'd initially been prepared to confront a trio of armed samurai to protect Itagawa Eiko, the PCs were prepared to take them at their word, despite them being heimin. The 'fake' was retrieved from Eiko's room and placed on the stand in the armoury, so no-one needed to explain how the menpo had disappeared. Of course, this wasn't the 'fake' Eiko had made, which was hidden in Goriate's room at the Verdant Plenty inn, but the 'fake' Yuu and Kage had made for Uiri. Fortunately, Itagawa Eiko's memories were sufficiently disturbed that this evidently slipped her notice. Of course, Yuu and Kage were about to start mass-producing and selling suspiciously similar items through the festival market, which could lead to even more confusion. With the original gone, it hopefully wouldn't matter. Several days later, at the southern end of Beiden Pass, a Soshi official introduced himself to a trio of travel-weary Emerald Magistrates, saying he'd been sent to meet them by Soshi Giichi-sama. He was rather surprised to find the Magistrates who were supposed to be expecting him didn't even break stride, and mildly offended to have a bag of loose, ugly-looking metal shards shoved rather discourteously in his face. "Tell Giichi-san: No. More. Favours."
  22. So....after a degree of concern, a few threats and generally a lot of strife all round, the PCs focused back on the problem they were supposed to be dealing with; namely the menpo. Horonigai tried to commune with the spirits; searching for any trace of the fire Kami from the forge where the 'fake' had been made, in the hopes of leading the PCs there. To her disappointment and concern, she felt nothing at all. Goriate and Uiri started examining the 'fake' more closely, to see if the smithing skill might offer up clues. After thirty seconds, Horonigai somewhat sheepishly remembered to dismiss the Threshold Barrier sealing the room against any otherworldly presence and repeated the attempt... ...this time receiving a clear impression of Itagawa Isao's forge. Horonigai drew people's attention to the young girl - presumably Yua and Isao's younger daughter - Goriate had seen watching him. Despite a significant degree of concern, none of the PCs could think of a pretext for entering Willow Forge now the gates had closed, and they weren't prepared to go with the 'nuclear option' of "because we're Emerald Magistrates and there is Maho afoot inside your walls, that's why!" Therefore it was first thing the following morning when they made their way back through the newly-reopened gates to visit Itagawa Yua. The theory was that since she'd killed one of Aoi's allies, tying up a loose thread of their investigation, it was perfectly sensible that the PCs might want to seek an audience to thank her. Since she was a vassal family samurai and they were fairly famous magistrates, for once they were holding the right end of the status stick, so Yua was hardly in a position to refuse. To provide a discrete test for Yua's daughter's, Horonigai split Goriate's finger of jade into two smaller pieces, each on a shorter cord suitable for a child. The idea was that since they were thanking her for facing down a Maho-Tsukai, a protective trinket would be an apt gift for her daughters. Yua was a very courteous host - and Horonigai (As Winter Court Champion) got to make use of her new preferential access ritual: Formal Tea Ceremony (to several groans from Goriate's player, who'd had his full of them at Kyuden Doji...). Despite his protests, Goriate and Horonigai came away strife free and with a void point and TN2 reduction on their next check each, which shows how awesome the technique can be... They then went to see the armoury again, this time accompanied by Yua herself. Goriate discretely confirmed the 'real' menpo was now back. With a fairly simple courtesy check, they talked Yua into letting them present the gifts. Eiko joined them from the family dojo, whilst Chinamu scurried in, noticeably keeping as far from her sister as possible. Yua went through the classic refusals for Chinamu, before the young lion accepted with an excessively cute and clearly a bit intimidated mumble of " 'gato 'zaimash..." as she dropped the cord over her head. Then Eiko also began the traditional refusals....but hers seemed a little more forceful than Yua's, and after her third she clearly looked like she was trying to find a reason to refuse yet again. Stuck for an argument, she gingerly took the jade....and screamed in pain as it burst into flames in her hand. For the second time in twenty-four hours, the PCs started talking very quickly as Itagawa Yua - a veteran Lion bushi - reacted exactly as you might imagine a mother would instinctively respond on hearing her daughter's cries of agony and assuming the person in front of them was responsible. Only the fact Goriate was half expecting this - and hence his initative was his Focus to Yua's vigilance - let him take a guard action to protect Horonigai before an Iai strike would otherwise have buried the Itagawa samurai's sword into the Phoenix. Uiri went to grab Eiko - and did so, winning an opposed fitness/earth check (Not especially hard, given his opponent), but was shocked when a series of metallic hooks and barbs started to raggedly push themselves through the young girl's skin from inside her jaw and cheekbones, steadily spreading across her face....
  23. Hiruma Aoi turns away from the shrine, and suggests the samurai should head back. "Whatever has happened, I think I should speak to the priests in Uimi Mura. To reach the festival before it gets too late and too dark, I should head off now." Getting the travelling lantern, he sets off back along the tracks cut into the turf.
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