Heart of Darkness

The Twilight of the Mountains

As we recuperated from the events that transpired during the Festival of the Falling Lights, I was unsurprised to be summoned to meet with Shosuro Mieko.  In return for the aid she had given us, she asked that I travel to the Crab lands to meet with her mentor, Bayushi Tanaka.  It seems he has need for my assistance.  In hopes of freeing myself from her grip, I quickly agreed.

As it turns out, our resident scout, Nairaki, was also summoned to the Crab lands.  And so we left  Kyuden Kurogane-Hana and began our trip south.  After relatively uneventful trip, at least compared to our recent journeys, we arrived at Crossroads Village.  Crossroads Village needs only one word to describe it.  Crab.  A tower standing tall above its namesake, a crossroads.  As we approached, we could see a large number of guards manning the tower, but oddly they all seemed to be nervously watching west.

It did not take long for us to realize why their attention was focused west.  Mere moments later a massive earthquake began, coming out of the west and rolling across the hills like waves.  All around me, my companions fell to the ground as the earth refused to stay steady beneath their feet.  Although I was unaffected for some reason unbeknownst to me, the cloud of dust caused by the moving ground soon obscured my vision.

After the earthquakes subsided, our group collected themselves and started in toward the tower. All except for Osamu-san, who sat down by the side of the road and began to commune with the kami. To his surprise, the only Kami in the area were earth kami.  After much concentration, he was able to pick a single word out of the chaos. “Flee!”

Upon our arrival at the village surrounding the tower, we each went our separate ways. Nairaki-san entered the tower, to speak with the Yasuki seneshal of the town.  He is able to determine that they have sent out several groups of scouts to scout the western mountains, where the earthquakes seem to be originating, but none of them have ever returned. After many terse words between the two, Nairaki-san ordered an assembly of the troops of the town to begin an expedition I not the western mountains to deal with the source of the threat.

As Nairaki-san moved off toward the tower, I made my way to the inn, where I was told I would find Tanaka-sama. As I entered the inn, it was obvious to me where Tanaka-sama was sitting.  As the innkeepers and patrons were moving around cleaning up the mess, one man sat off to the side, making notations in a journal.

As I approached him, he eyed me and nodded to the chair across from him at the table.  After I sat, he filled me in on the task he has for me. It seems he has been tracking something from the colonies that should not exist and yet it is nearby. Unfortunately, that is as specific as he would get in regards to what exactly this is. It falls to me to assist in any action to finding and destroying this… thing…

Katsuchiyo-san went to the fields to talk to the peasants.  It seems these earthquakes have been happening for a time, every day precisely at sundown. No one seems to know what is causing them, but everyone is ready for them to cease.

At about this time, a messenger came to call us all to the tower.  As we arrived, the troops of the village had assembled and were waiting for Nairaki-san’s orders.  The rest of our group joined with Nairaki-san and the troops as we headed out toward the Twilight Mountains.

As we travelled toward the mountains, the sun was quickly covered by dark clouds, obscuring the light.  Several days I in, it was so dark that we could only tell the time of day by the earthquakes that occurred at sundown. After 8 days of travel, scouts returned to tell us they had found something.

They led us to a newly opened pass.  The pass was a new boars head opening into the mountains.  At the back of the cave was a puzzle.  Osamu-san is able to decipher the ancient Rokugani lettering that reads, “In the year 323 by order of the Son of Heaven, this temple has been sealed along with all living in it. Only these who live under the mandate of the Son of Heaven may enter here and only by answering this riddle. Nine stars did fall from Heaven’s gate to crash upon the land. Two apart did stand, One ascended to rule them all. Place the pawns correctly. Let the light of Seppun guide you. If you fail, let Jigoku hide you.”

As we discussed this riddle, it quickly became clear that this was in reference to the tournament that decided that Hantei would rule Rokugan. With the combined knowledge of Osumu-san and Katsuchiyo-san, we were able to find the correct ordering of the pawns and open the portal.

Nairaki-san is given a bag containing fingers of jade and leads the way into the portal.  As we follow, Osamu-san warns us that an Earth kansen hiding below. As we reached the bottom of the stairs, we were assaulted by a cloin smell, with a strong acrid smell of oil. Channels of oil ran down the floor and walls. As Nairaki-san touched his torch to the oil, it flamed green. The flames shot down the channels and soon the entire cavern was lit by the green eerie flames.

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Leketh CalvinKrug

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