“You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”
The town of Ichikai, a small Crane village bordering both Lion and Imperial territories, hosted a Festival of Ancestors. Invitations were sent to each of the Great Clans, who reciprocated by sending a representative to celebrate with them. The Festival’s host, Daimyo Daidoji Kohiro and his wife, Asahina Mitsuo, welcomed guests upon their arrival and had their servants show them to their rooms.
Several guests had already arrived prior to the players:
- Matsu Tetsuko, a fierce Lion warrior
- Kuni Miro, a typical Kuni Shugenja…really set the mood for the Ancestor’s Festival
- Yoritomo Kanachi, a peasant-looking Mantis bushi
The remaining representatives had just arrived and settled into their rooms before heading to dinner:
- Ida Sayuri, a fierce Battle-Maiden and the Unicorn Clan representative
- Kakita Tokutsuken, a Crane warrior-poet who settles for nothing less than perfection.
- Ichoma Habiki, an eloquent historian and bard from the Lion Clan.
- Togashi Ryuu, a disturbing and knowledge-thirsty young monk experiencing life outside the Dragon’s mountains for the first time.
- Tron, a Brotherhood of Shinsei monk from the Temple of a Thousand Fortunes with knowledge of healing.
- Hida Grom, a Crab mountain of a man wielding a lumberjack-like axe as if it were a toothpick.
- Soshuro Xun-Xi, a Scorpion shugenja eager for revenge against those who caused the death of his wife.
Once the party had settled, the Feast of the Ancestors began! As night fell, a rainbow variety of colored lanterns could be seen lighting up around the village from within the Daimyo’s home. Seafood and rice dishes were brought out for the many courses of the meal, and guests were informed there would be a haiku competition to honor their ancestors.
Unfortunately, Daidoji Kohiro’s recorder and historian was missing while the haikus were recited, and they have gone missing. The recorder, one Kawasa Shima, has been summarily executed for the loss of such great gifts.
The winner of the haiku competition, the honorary Shosuro Xun-Xi, received an intricate Obsidian Hairbrush from the Lady Asahina Mitsuo for his eloquent poetry and sincerity to the Festival of Ancients.
Following the Feast, the guests were taken to the town square where statues had been erected to each of the Kami:
- Hida of the Crab Clan
- Lady Doji of the Crane Clan
- Togashi of the Dragon Clan
- Akodo of the Lion Clan
- Shiba of the Phoenix Clan
- Bayushi of the Scorpion Clan
- Lady Shinjo of the Unicorn Clan
The center of the square contained a stonework seal of the Emperor inlaid into the ground, and the Kami were set into a semi-circle north of the seal. A small shrine to Shinsei stood opposite the Kami in the southern portion of the square.
As the guests approached the statues, a few were individuals notably missing: Yoritomo Kanachi, Kuni Miro, Matsu Tetsuko, and Asahina Mitsuo. Regardless, each present representative kneeled/prayed/meditated at their shrine, they felt a serene calm come over them as if the Kami themselves were looking down on them. The peace didn’t last, however; screams erupted from the village moments later. Daidoji Kohiro stormed forth with his men to deal with whatever problems might lie ahead.
Left alone in the darkness of the village’s square, a few of the more perceptive samurai noticed decomposing forms emerging from the darkness. As they shambled closer, their formless faces emerged into the light: no eyes, no noses, no mouths…just smooth skin ironed over an otherwise normal body.
The following fight was bloody, and Hida Grom suffered grevious injuries as one of the zombies landed a nearly lethal barrage of blows from his spiked club, but was saved as the protective spirit of Hida himself granted him mystical healing. Soshuro Xun-Xi launched the Obsidian Hairbrush at one of the zombies, and the spectral form of Bayushi himself appeared from behind the zombie to cut its throat and ferried it off to the spirit realms.
After the battle concluded, Soshuro retrieved the hairbrush and discovered a packet of parchments on the ground where the zombie had been: “A Farmer’s Guide to Rice.” Daidoji Kohiro returned, having succeeded in fighting similar creatures, and bid everyone return to his home to ponder the sudden arrival of Jigoku’s creatures so far into the Empire. Upon arriving back at his home, a servant informed him that there had been a murder in his home while the village was being attacked…