Greetings Esteemed Ikoma Akiyama!
I humbly offer this, my latest contribution to the collected Ikoma Libraries. This is the fifth entry in my annals of heroism that I have witnessed on my current travels.
Continuing on from my previous missive, Makoto began dragging his wakizashi along the outline of the giant spider carved into the ground. Where the tip of the sword traced the ground, the lines of the spider glowed an ever brighter green.
Strider, our new Mantis companion, let his arrows fly – the first through one foot, dropping Makoto with the second. As he fell, the floor erupted as three huge Kamu no Oni burst into the room. The huge bright red headless monsters with enormous jaws attacked as Makoto lay on the floor mumbling, backlit by the bright green light from below. In an instant Kakita Tokutsuken was gone, and Tron, the follower of Shinsei, was swallowed whole. Togashi Ryuu, Shosuro Xun-si, Strider and I quickly left the cavern in order to warn the village and find a better position from which to launch an attack.
As we ran, we saw the Kamu no Oni cower as an even greater oni – Arugai no Oni, the Immortal Engine of Destruction – rose from the green pit. Xun-si called upon the earth kami to create an earthquake, but suddenly, the center of the village collapsed into the pit and behind Arugai, Jigoku spewed forth a sea of oni.
At this point, allow me to pause in the narrative of our experiences, as I take a few moments to detail the experiences of our two companions lost in Jigoku. My source will become apparent momentarily.
Tron and Tokutsuken woke to find themselves in the sickly greenish world of Jigoku. They walked endlessly without advancing, a figure resembling a crow watching from the top of a mountain. Suddenly they found themselves confronting an old oni in a kimono leaning against a tree. He offered to show them the way out for a price. The Crane gave the old oni a warfan, and told the monk to tell a particular Matsu that he had given himself for her, and suddenly Tron found himself surrounded by flame and transported to a giant obsidian gate.
Meanwhile, we reported the dire news of the Jigoku invasion to the Daimyo who pointed out that the Crane were already preparing to fight a Lion army on the verge of attacking. Strider took a horse to inform the Lion commander about the Jigoku invasion, and as you know, the Akodo army moved in to assist the Crane in this emergency. The rest of our group went to research our foes to determine possible defensive strategies. We determined the nature of many of the oni we would be fighting and it quickly became clear that we would be fighting a battle for the safety and security of all of Rokugan.
Appropriately then, when we returned, we found that the Lion and Crane armies had been joined by a contingent of Seppun and the Jade Champion and his entourage.
Our group separated to join the fight where we would be most useful. Our Scorpion Shujenga attached himself to the Jade Champion, the Mantis joined the Lion archers, our tattooed Dragon moved to the front lines, and I attempted to assist the Crane Daimyo with his tactical decisions. As we moved forward, we were joined by Tron, who, after stepping through the obsidian gate, found himself returned to us. There was no sign of Tokutsuken.
Swiftly the battle began. The combined armies were initially able to smash into the forces of Jigoku before they were able to organize, inflicting heavy damage. Although the Scorpion and I were injured, our companions were able to make their presence felt.
Then the battle began to turn against us. Many on our side were wounded or killed. Strider managed to save a squad of archers single-handedly. Tron and Xun-si each took down their own oni opponents. I found myself facing an Oni no Nosloc. Tragically, the only Dragon on the field, Togashi Ryuu, fell taking on the Arugai himself.
In part due to Ryuu’s sacrifice, the battle once again began to turn in our favor. The oni found themselves caught between the Lion and Crane armies, and the Arugai was destroyed through the efforts of the Mantis and the incredible power of the Jade Champion and his followers, guided by the skill of Xun-si. I was able to take out a Wakeru no Oni.
From that point, the combined clan army began the slow and steady push until the oni were routed and we were victorious.
Afterwards, after we received healing, we were commended by both the Crane Daimyo and the Lion Commander, an act that I hope will strengthen relations between our clans. As you know, the Jade Champion has commissioned an octagonal wall to be built around the Jigoku pit, now referred to as the Scar of Kakita. Each corner tower is to be manned by one of the Great Clans.
Observation: The Crane’s failure to protest the permanent presence of other clans so close to the Kakita Academy is most likely due to their unwillingness to admit their failure to protect against the invasion in the first place. I’m sure the term “Scar of Kakita” will forever burn in their memory.
Final notes: I will be returning to Lion lands soon after sending this missive, as I have discovered that even an historian needs to be able to fight to defend the honor of the Lion, and I am woefully lacking in that endeavor.
As I was leaving, the Dragon were erecting a statue to Togashi Ryuu, the only Dragon in the battle, and the only one of our companions to fall. It was an honor to have served with him, and may I be so bold as to say that his honor and battle prowess made him as worthy as any of our Lion heroes.
Finally, Doji magistrates have been relentless in their inquires as to our experiences and of the fate of Kakita Tokutsuken. I am amused at the image of Tokutsuken, bringing his Crane perfection to Jigoku. What a poem that will make!