Gozoku

The Lake of Sorrows Part I

394, 6th Shinjo

Finally there is respite to be found from both the ravages of War and Winter. There is a cease-fire with the Crab, as an early snow starts covering crab lands, it will probably last at least one more month.

Having secured the Miya’s Blessing to fall upon the project of Bakufu, Doji Raigu designated the war hero Doji Kasugo as supreme authority on Bakufu, head of this project. To assist Doji Kasuyo – and his eventual replacements when the Clan War went back to its due course, – Doji Raigu sent the Paragons. Three of them were particularly noticeable in their pursuit of the Senzo family and in the betterment of the Alliance’s cause: Asako Manabu, Doji Mikan and Shosuro Miki; as the dubious rewarding position of acting governors of the hub regions of the lake, tasked to assure that heimins would provide Kasuyo and his project with the materials, builders and taxes required.

Arriving at Manabu’s White Shore and its village of Daikoku Gift, the Paragons were expecting Doji Kasuyo or one of his officers to be waiting for them. A maimed Daidoji bushi,* Daidoji Kiri*, came instead. He informed the Paragons that Kasuyo was a little out of his environment, dealing with some troublesome local monks that resided on one of the major islands. They were not only willing to relocate, they weren’t even happy to provide a roof to the heimin workers laying the foundations for the first bridges and docks. Replacing him he left Doji Rikki, the first and only magistrate of Bakufu. Turns out even Rikki heard the call of duty, after reports about a fugitive hiding on the ruined castle in the middle of the Lake – a fugitive that was none other but Ideko, the last scion of the Senzo.

Deciding to wait for the magistrate at the nearest of the hub zones – Mikan’s Gray zone and it’s village, Hidden Elk – then Paragons were visited by a mysterious giant in Kaiu armor and accompanied by a large dog-wolf. This man, *Kuni Takan, requests an audience with an figure of authority. He then tells Mikan that there were hanged bodies on the castle.

The Paragons make way towards the castle, were they find the corpses of Daidoji and Doji yokiri and Doji Rikki hanged like a heimin criminal. They also find the corpses of four bandits that felt battling the magistrate and his men. There are no signs of any living being on the castle, and Takan urges the Paragons not to linger at this place.

Returning to Hidden Elk, the Paragons feel divided. Daidoji Kiri is very upset, seeing this as an affront to the Celestial Order and every samurai, but a very deliberate and cutting one to the Crane clan and the Doji family. Mikan disagrees that this demands her attention, and both delegates delivering justify and satisfying honor to Daidoji Kiri – raising him to acting magistrate. She then retreats for tea in the company of Shosuro Miki and Asako Manabu’s, composing a letter to later inform Doji Raigu about these events. Mikan also examines the accounts of the taxes, finding out that more than 100 koku, about 25% of the food produced during the year were taken by ronin. Tansaku Ryobe, Asako Inu, Matsu Susumara and Kakita Naomi joined Kiri in hunting down the responsible for this blasphemy.

They found Otomo Ideko, hiding in a cave. She wasn’t alone, accompanied by a one-harmed man in Dragon colors, carrying the most beautiful blade they ever saw. Ideko was unfit, sick and in the middle of an epileptic attack. The man presented himself as Ikko, and was adamant that he didn’t want to hurt anyone but will not anyone touch Ideko. After confronting the Paragons about their injustice to the Senzo, specially Mikan and Naomi, Inu manages to get them “house arrested on the cave.” Ikko promises he isn’t going anywhere.

Following another trail, they find five groups around oxens carrying massive amount of rice, bandits in a variety of armors and colors. A woman in Lion armor captures their attention…

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