Heart of Darkness

Blade of Gaki-do

Daigotsu Katsuchiyo grinned as the ronin bandits stepped out from the boulder to the side of the rocky path. At last — an enemy who didn’t hide behind bandied words or half-truths. As the dishonorable cur began to open his mouth to demand their koku — or whatever else such unsavory sorts could desire — lights danced across the rocks as the sun reflected from newly drawn katanas. Arrows flew and battle cries roared as the engagement swiftly began and ended. Katsuchiyo felt his blade drink deeply of one of the lordless samurai, and knew his duty complete when his opponent fell to the ground and joined his ancestors. He turned to face another, while Mirumoto-san and the others, too, rendered a service to the Crab Clan by dispatching bandits along their roads.

Although a few arrow wounds had been suffered, none appeared life threatening, and their task from Doji Haruki remained incomplete. Nariaki reacquired the trail of Seppun Kazumi, and they traversed the rocky terrain. Finally, coming upon Seppun Kazumi, the group saw her silhouetted in the setting sun, just as she destroyed the ancestral daisho with the blow of a heavy ono.

“What business do you have here in the Crab lands?” Nariaki asked.

“I’ve been unlawfully pursued, forcing me here,” she claimed. “I have business here, but you diverted me, and now this course of action had to be taken.”

Shosuro Jinko knew she was hiding behind half-truths, and ferreted out her true purpose — her Lord had sent her to destroy the ancestral blades of Seppun Ayuma, claiming a curse had been laid upon them. “Mine was not to question, but to do,” was her final comment before submitting to the other samurai for judgement.

After some debate, it was decided to return her to Doji Haruki, with the blades sullied and broken. Returning to the village of Tochi, the group informed Haruki of their tale of pursuit, and Hiruma Nariaki presented the broken blades to the Crane daimyo.

In the dim light of dusk, the blades of Seppun Ayuma began to glow with a sickly green light, and Ningen-do began to bend and warp as Gaki-do parted reality, and a ghostly visage of a samurai rose up from the blades, and reaching into the now empty saya, withdrew a glowing blade of nothing. Shiba Yoto reacted quickly, slashing at the gaki with his katana, but only received a life-draining slash in return for his efforts. Before the other bushi could react, however, Shosuro Jinko, courtier of the Scorpion Clan, struck at the gaki with his wakizashi — and surely the kami of Bayushi himself guided the blade, as it bit deep into the essence of the gaki. The pale green light of Gaki-do slowly faded, and the ghostly samurai bowed to the group, returning his weapons to their saya and merging them with the broken blades.

Haruki understandably desired an explanation, and the group attempted to explain the actions and supposed motivations for Seppun Kazumi’s actions — and her unsuccessful and foolish attempt to lift the curse. Doji Haruki decided to bring Kazumi-san to the party at the Festival of Falling Lights, where the party would meet with her lord and discuss the final resolution to the stolen blade saga.

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