As Stars' Fall, Does the World of Man Burn? : A Tale of Ten Falling Stars

The Furious Feathers of Fate
Judged to be innocent, and pulped by victory.

The fall of the Otomo Lands.

The travel to the steppes of the north for horses.

A Duel with an Ancient Master.

The Silken Robes of Fate
What to do with the entrails of endearment...

After dealing with the repercussions of Mako’s encounter with Bai Bon Wei the group and Ward Otomo

By the Pond and Around the Hill
New friends, and fun with ropes and horses...

As things continue to develop in the Otomo lands the group of protagonists go on a small pheasant hunt with the Ward Otomo and his half brother Hatshuro (and retinue). Taiki makes a quick stop to find some good, and strong, alcohol (which he trades for the haunch of a boar and bone to a wily old man).

During this trip Ishida encounters a strange man with a large nose and rice picker hat traveling with a loud Raven and young boy named Shinsei. He shares lunch and some conversation with him.

Later Ishida encounters Salacious Salamander wading in a pond, whilst searching for water lily tubers. After talking to Salamander he invites him back to their hunting camp to share in lunch, which he accepts.

Taiki and Mako are able to hunt a large Pea Hen, and find 5 large eggs (for later use and eating).

Taiki is not taken at all with Salamander’s countenance and personage. Mako engages him in friendly conversation and questions.

Otomo’s relatives return to town along a more direct route, and the fellows take their time traveling back shortly after, giving them time to talk about things and plan the way they can help the Zokujin and deal with the malign magical interference in Otomo lands.

Returning to town Ishida encounters Takehiko in the hot springs, the older brother of Otomo, but from Lord Otomo’s second wife (therefore second in line for the tribes holdings). Takehiko engages Ishida in conversation and asks if he is interested in aiding him in future endeavours, such endeavours that will require his skill as a swordsman. Ishida agrees tentatively to such a possible event.

During the dinner at Lord Otomo’s hall Taiki begins sizing up the cane Lord Otomo uses to form a better manner of plan to replace the corrupted gem it holds. Later on he also makes a trade for a boar haunch for his previous arrangement for the strong and illicit alcohol.

Later that night the Ward Otomo gathers the men from the tribe of Seppun and takes them out of the town to aid him in his evenings business. As they are sworn to aid him as they would Lady Seppun they comply. Taiki automatically understands what is about to happen and is ill at ease.

They travel to a small house north of Otomo Hill, in the woods alongside the old trail they had returned on from their hunting trip. They can hear the sounds of horses near it and when they go behind the home they find two riders robed in blacks and dark colours who are attending to their horses over the form of a badly beaten young man.

The young man appears to be a smith, and has two dozen of so steel blades that he has been slowly forging nearby. The Ward Otomo takes his gag off and begins to question him concerning what he is doing, why he is doing it, which of his brothers he is working for, and who has given him the knowledge and skill to work with steel (which only a few rumoured individuals know how to do). The young man seems unable to answer the questions, and is eventually tied to the horses on the right and left while they start to walk apart from each other, pulling the young mans limbs in a horribly painful fashion. The torture seemingly goes nowhere and no answer is given. Mako sees that magic may be at work controlling this young man’s tongue, preventing him from speaking.

When given the command to end the boy’s pain, Ishida refuses to do so, knowing the boys skill as a steelworker is invaluable to the Seppun (and to his own ambitions). Otomo agrees and as he sends away his horsemen (Right and Left) he takes the group and the smith to a shrine nearby where he can rest and be held securely without anyone knowing.

The Shrine is that of his Mother’s Ancestors, created years ago while she was alive. No on in Otomo lands use it, and very few know if it.

At this Shrine Mako begins to heal the boys wounds and take away his pain. Using skill and magic to reset his bones and seal his wounds. During which he beings to meditate and sense the spirits surrounding the boy, attempting to diving what prevents him from speaking of his masters, even to save his life. He finds the cold touch of black magic surrounding the boy, his spirit subdued after a fashion by the foulness of one of the darker spirit realms. In his attempts to break the control and speak to the spirits to free him he inadvertently calls forth the power of the sorcerer who has put the hex upon the young smith. In an arcane struggle the boy rises before the near catatonic Mako, speaking from the voice of the spells master, and begins to pour out malevolent energy towards the kindly Seppun seemingly killing him for the termity of interfering with his plans. With a quick action Taiki hurls his spear towards the possessed boys throat, crippling his magical voice and killing the lad, thus saving Mako.

Though saved, Mako is seemingly scarred by the magic, and has aged nearly 20 years in a few seconds, drained and wracked with that pain he falls to the ground trying to understand what just happened.

An Interesting Thing Happened on the Hunting Trip....
The black robes of darkness unfurl

The plot thickens as our protagonists more thoroughly involve themselves in the affairs of the Otomo (some deeper and more penetrating than others….but that is a story for another time).

The threat to the Zokujin is more fully revealed. A magical barrier put forth by some dark Necromancer has sealed their egg chamber from them and kills all who attempt to cross it’s barrier.

Katsu, the youngest son of Lord Otomo is killed during a boar hunt, however the woods are no longer inhabited by Boar’s and they are merely hunting recently released pigs from the local farm. He is found horribly gored (by some large animal) but no trace of it’s tracks are found.

The Ward Otomo continues to spend time making lasting favours and deals with many Otomo tribesman, and some foreigners.

Mako divines the ill intentions of the necromancer, finding his identity to be “A Dark Cloud Blowing on the Wind from the East”, or some such omen.

Strange cloaked figures on horseback are seen on the farthest hills from the town riding late at night, but are never seen leaving the town or entering it.

The true nature of Lord Otomo’s prized stone and the stones he is mining for are revealed, and suspicion is cast upon one of his aides, Sora the Scarred.

Ishida learns some interesting new games and tactical moves from the Ward Otomo.

Taiki is further involved in this developing plot.

At the Home of Otomo
Bathing in the Caves, Feasting in the Hall

As the protagonists prepare for there journey towards Otomo lands they spend a week with their families.

Mako speaks to Otter concerning many mundane things, and Taiki also spends some time with Otter when he is looking for Goju (who may be stalking young Ishida). Taiki tricks Otter into giving him a “Scale of P’an Ku”(the Celestial Dragon who helped form the world with Lady Sun and Lord Moon at the dawn of all things) that Goju had possession of in the place of the Horn from the creature that Taiki slew in the forest days before.

After receiving lessons on how to ride ponies the group head out in the vast wilds towards the Otomo lands. The journey is peaceful for the most part, however, several times during the wee hours of the morning both Ishida and Mako see that a creature (or spirit) seems to be watching them from some distance. Only being able to see the reflected light from it’s huge eyes any attempts to move closer to it seeming cause it to disappear.

Reaching the edge of the Tribe of Otomo’s hilly lands they come to see that much has bee done to alter the landscape, great sections of the Otomo Hill have been deforested and many wooden structures have been built, and secured by wooden and earthen buttresses. Large structures have been built near the waterfall, and a large water wheel has been erected, endlessly moving as the water flows over it. Small bands of wagons come from the wooded west and east to and fro the Village of Otomo. The people working in the forest, the river, and the hills seem to pay no mind to the travelers and focus diligently upon their work, each large group overseen by an individual task master.

After reaching the gates of the Hill fort the travelers meet with Lord Otomo and are taken to the hot springs on the rocky cave filled precipice of the the hill’s nothern face. There in the find a mineral rich, and heated, series of pools perpetually fed from the deep earth. Aside from the washing ladies taking there clothes to clean a lone creature carrying a massive bag of coal to the steam baths is seen. Small i stature and size it appears to be nonhuman, with light blue green leathery skin and huge golden orb like eyes. A creature called a Zokujin, once happened upon by the heroes of the Five Tribes in their quest to find the Oracle of Earth.

A large, and lengthy, feast is held in the honour of the younger Otomo and the portly and somewhat rude in tone speaking Lord Otomo boasts the gathered clan during the meal with lewd humour and offerings of food. He eventually leaves after hours of feasting to his evening bath, his massive girth carried by servants and his oaken walking stick, it’s handle a worked and polished piece of obsidian.

The young men of the Seppun tribe (and their ward) head to bed. During the wee hours of the night they are awoken by earth and rock filled dreams only to find themselve’s surrounded by two dozen Zokujin, one of not being ancient and wizened looking. They beg the young men follow them deep into the earth so that they may speak of and show them a great danger to the realm of man and the Tribe of Seppun. Something the young men must help them stop. When asked by Taiki why they must help the Zokujin stop this evil (the leader points to the red scale-stone Taiki bears as well) the Leader on pleads with them to come.

Both Ishida and Mako follow the creatures into the hole dug in the floor and disappear in to the night, leaving Taiki to guard Otomo.

Between a Rock, a Horn, and a Hard Place
and other half remembered lessons from Pedantic Bear

During the Planting Festival three members of the Tribe of the Seppun are set to guard duty along the northern forests.

In the wee hours of the night a wounded, and ferociously large creature, is spotted moving slowly through the underbrush in the direction of the settled areas of the tribe.

It is startled and single-handedly knocks over the tree the lookout (and the protagonists) are in.

The beast is twice as tall as a man, 4 times wide, and massively muscled. It’s Black and Silver fur covers most of it’s body and it has the thick hands of a man. Upon it’s brow is a velvet covered horn, nearly 8 inches long.

With skill and a quick hand Taiki fells the wounded beast with a single piercing thrust through the roof of it’s roaring mouth and into it’s brain, it falls with great weight to the ground.

The beast, to the keen eyed fellows, seems to have been lashed and bound forcibly at sometime recent, and it’s chest is pierced with a gashing mark plunging into it’s chest. A stone of some sort lies within, and as it is cut away at and removed hastily it turns out to be a obsidian stone of unworked quality. It is coated in puss, blood, and a inky pitch like substance that glitters in the moonlight.

When the guards turn to meet oncoming tribesman the body mysteriously disappears, as if it melted into nothing.

The Seppun commands they take the stone to Goju so he may identify it’s nature and determine if it is dangerous.

Goju seems very disturbed by the intrusion into his privacy, and the rock itself. After much confusing conversation and immovable stances he demands to be given it, but is not, and is left to his own devices (though secretly exchanging a heavy pot for the rock as his guests leave).

Later the next day after morning rituals and daily routines, the three men are summoned to the Seppun’s residence.

As Taiki and Ishida arrive, they are forced to wait by a truant Mako who is involved in a very lengthy and exasperating conversation with Pedantic Bear (in which Mako’s spirit is yet again spirited away during a fairly important portion of the speech).

Later as everyone is finally gathered and laurels are giving to the brave guards Lady Seppun interrogates the group in the presence of Goju, Otomo, and Chief Akagi, and determines that this threat likely comes from the northern lands of Otomo’s people and that those suspicions should be investigated. She assigns the three men (and two others) to act as her Ward Otomo’s personal guards during his trip to his ancestral lands for his annual one month visit (as per the terms of the Seppun-Otomo Treaty).

It is also discussed the the Horn of the creature (which Taiki took as a trophy) may house the negative remains of the creatures spirit and could cause great harm to the tribe. It is commanded to be brought forth and given to Goju to ascertain (which Taiki intercepts and delivers himself).

Later that night the protagonists gather at Goju’s home, upon Mako’s insistance, for both Taiki and Ishida have some knowledge of their foreign ancestors written language, in which they can assist Mako read through old Sang Woo’s foreign scrolls to identify the beast and it’s dangers (as Goju is too busy investigating the Horn and other such things).

Goju also gives Taiki a quickly scrawled map of an area close to the lands of the Tribe of Otomo, in which he has secured a small cache of crystals (in regards to a previous bargain he made with Taiki). Taiki may take the weight of the creature-rock of crystal from the cache.

A New Chapter Begins
Three of our protagonists emerge from the mists of history...

As the celestial wheel turns a new generation of actors set foot upon the stage of Destiny;

A Warrior and descendant of Wei Kim the Great; a young Shugenja descended from Aiko herself; and a nameless swordsman looking to make his mark upon the world and improve the art he calls Kenjutsu.

What will the vicissitudes of fate hold for them ? And who could possibly know of it ? Mayhaps these queries will be answered in the future.


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