Empire of Secrets

Session 2

Pursuit!

Before departing Wachimasu village, the three companions are approached by the Crab mercenary whom they had encountered on the road into the village. He introduces himself as Hida Hiroyuki and asks if he could accompany them, given how dangerous the road ahead is likely to be. The trio agrees and becomes a classic four-piece.

Hiroyuki-san’s prediction of danger soon appears prescient as, only a couple of hours from Wachimasu, the quartet is set upon by five Fire Tiger Bandits, hiding in the forest.

Forest.jpg

Doji Ashiro steps forward to parley with the bandit leader but, on learning that man is of no social station whatsoever, the young Crane dismissively turns his back and walks back to his horse. Slightly bemused, the bandits close in to attack, covered by two concealed archers. The first bandit meets a sticky end as Hiroyuki-san’s giant tetsubo pulps his head, whilst the more refined and elegant Jubei-san settles for the simple removal of a bandit’s hand. The now terrified archers fire from cover, winging Jubei-san, before fleeing into the forest along with the remaining swordsman. Jubei-san’s sharp eyes spot a dropped purse containing freshly-minted Seppun koku.

The companions eventually catch-up with their quarry atop a wind-swept hill. They arrive just in time to see the daisho blades snapped by a large ono. The thief is revealed as a Samurai-ko of the Seppun family, who introduces herself as Seppun Kazumi. Ashiro-san offers to duel for the broken blades and the right to take Kazumi back to Tochigi. The confident Crane is somewhat surprised to be beaten, but honours his word by allowing Kazumi to leave. As she prepares to depart, the air is filled with a sound like that of a gigantic heart beating, faster and faster. The samurai soon find themselves surrounded by a sickly, green mist before the appearance of the gaki of Seppun Daiori. Fortunately the hungry dead is no match for the combined skills of Kazumi, Hiroyuki and Jubei, with the latter delivering the final blow.

In the aftermath, Kazumi is allowed to leave with the broken daisho. She promises to never return to these lands, instead choosing exile and the life of a ronin. In turn, Ashiro and Kiyashi inform Doji Haruki that, alas, they were unable to find and recover the daisho of Seppun Daiori. Haruki-sama takes this stoically and says that the companions have his undying friendship. Meanwhile, unable to stomach such dishonesty, Jubei and Hiroyuki withdraw to the the local sake house, wherein waits Isawa Keiko

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