Hidden Monkey, Severed Head... An Oriental Adventure

Aust Meliamne

First Post
Just starting a space for my ongoing Oriental Adventures game in the Eternal Empire more info forthcoming. High flying wuxia with shogunate sensibilities, and well monkeys, well one monkey. But he is a cool monkey.


*Note: I am porting these stories to the new boards for Tokiwong.*

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Aust Meliamne

First Post
Brief primer on the campaign setting.
The Eternal Empire

In the four centuries since the Eternal Ascendant Dynasty took root in the city of Red-Jade, the island nation of Zanshin-Ryung has been at peace. The Jade Emperor has ruled from Red-Jade with an iron hand keeping the scheming noble houses of the Empire at bay. The city of Red-Jade is the capitol of the Eternal Jade Empire, the center of the world. The grandest city in all of the world; pilgrims flock from all across Zanshin-Ryung to see the cherry blossom trees lining the roads of Red-Jade, and the Eternal Jade Palace. The structure is a maze of buildings and only those closest to the royal family have any hope of entering the massive complex, nearly a city in its own right. Red-Jade is located on the central island of Mokaido, one of the smaller islands in Zanshin-Ryung. The city dominates the small island, with small villages in the outlying regions, most focused on rice farming, although the villages in the northern Red Mountains, focus on goat farming and mining.

The northern island of Yoshihara, is the largest in all of Zanshin-Ryung, nearly seven times the size of Mokaido and home to four noble clans. In the northernmost part of the island, is the Black-Tortoise Clan, stout and proud, with a hearty dedication to the martial arts. Their main stronghold is in the city of Black-Jade, once the home of the now fallen Withered-Scorpion Clan. The Black-Tortoise Clan are stalwart supporters of the Jade Emperor, and many of their best samurai serve as his yojimbo when he travels about. The province of the Black-Tortoise is rugged and hard, mostly mountainous, the people reflect this; they are tough and resourceful and tend to be a simple lot.

On the southern border of the Black-Tortoise province are the masterful jade-smiths of the Hidden-Dragon Clan. They are a canny lot and tend to push the boundaries of Bushido; their samurai are not unknown to take advantage of an opponent, even if it goes against the code of Bushido. Despite this they are favored for there is no better place to purchase jade weaponry and artifacts then within the Hidden-Dragon province, and most particularly from Fire-Jade, the main stronghold and city of the Hidden-Dragon. The Hidden-Dragon although famed for their jade-smiths, they are also feared for their shinobi of House Koji. The Koji are impressive masters of stealth and are not above removing bothersome threats with skill and silence. The people of the Hidden-Dragon province tend to be insular and secretive, with reason, the eyes and ears of the Hidden-Dragon are everywhere.

Sharing the southeastern border of the Hidden-Dragon province is the feared Iaijutsu Masters of the Green-Tiger Clan, one of the smaller clans in Zanshin-Ryung there martial prowess on the field makes up for their smaller size. Despite their small size they are one of the richest houses, the bountiful deposits of jade and gold flow freely through the empire. The Green-Tiger maintain one of the most beautiful cities in the world, besides Red-Jade, in the palatial waterfront city of White-Pearl. The Green-Tiger maintain a fierce stance of neutrality in most political matters and try not to involve themselves in the schemes of the Eternal Court, they are slow to anger it seems, but when forced to act, it is a bloody sight to behold. The people of the Green-Tiger province have a stern sense of worth and good head for trade and numbers. They also love fishing and the art of Kabuki is very popular here.

Occupying the rest of the island is the Fire-Snake Clan, the masters of magic, with a specialty in necromancy and the elemental forces. The Fire-Snake Clan samurai tend to be reserved and well mannered, and have a thorough understanding of magic and its place on the battlefield. Their wu-jen are feared throughout the empire, with reason. The Fire-Snake trains not only some of the best wu-jen in the empire, but House Isa trains an exotic group of shinobi, known only as the Ghost-Faced Killers. It is unknown how many may exist, but their handiwork is undeniable. Many of the other clans resent the house for its dark- mysterious ways but the Fire-Snake weather the criticism with a mirthful smile. The province of the Fire-Snake is rich with rice paddies and villages centered around Cold-Jade, their main stronghold and largest city. The people are gentle and very respectful of the magic-wielding class; this land is also rife with peasant class sorcerers and wu-jen, both noble and peasant.

On the central island of Mokaido along with Red-Jade, there is the large northern city of Winter-Fox. The seat of power for the Ghost-Fox Clan, a clan of loyalists they are small but hold their own admirably. Their samurai rival the Green-Tiger as far as the mastery of iaijutsu goes, but they also work to master a variety of martial forms, many of the lands great martial arts come from the Ghost-Fox province. The majority of the Ghost-Fox families also do double duty as the generals and soldiers in the Eternal Imperial Army, and are thus well funded, and in many circles hated.

The southern island of Mosawa is home to the last major clan of the Eternal Empire. In the northern part of the isle are the scions of the Silent-Wind Clan, a collection of families who have a fierce dedication to both archery and the consummate masters of the horse. The Silent-Wind are aloof from the clans and tend to deal with the Eternal Emperor sparingly, if there was a civil war many fear it would be they who would spear-head the movement against law and order. The Silent-Wind is not only feared for their horsemanship but also for cadre of riders collectively called the Scarlet-Riders, master riders and bow-men who combine those two disparate arts into a work of beautiful fury. The Silent-Wind maintains the fortress-city of Silent-Jade, along the northern coast of the flat island. The people of the Silent-Wind province are rugged and in ways barbaric. They have their own customs and cling to them with vicious loyalty. They consider themselves a stock above the rest of the populace in the Eternal Empire.

In the southern part of Mosawa lies the distant and blasted waste of the Black March, once the home of a Clan whose name is best forgotten. Though their name is known to but a few scholars the clan is said to have made deals with dark powers, namely the Blood-Jade-Demon-Emperor Oda no Oni, enemy of the Five Elemental Dragons. Oda no Oni granted the clan use of his armies, and they cut a bloody swath of destruction across Zanshin-Ryung before the coming of the Eternal Emperor. If it were not for the sacrifice of the Withering-Scorpion Clan and the leadership of the first Eternal Emperor, Hazama Fong, the lands might have been lost. The threat was quelled in the battle of Blue-Dragon Harbor as Fong led the forces of the clans against the might of the demon armies, the clash was epic and forever blighted the southern regions of Mosawa. The region is now a place left uninhabited; the Grand Wall of White-Jade was constructed to halt the advance of the blight, by the famed jade-smiths of the Hidden-Dragon clan. With Fong’s victory he was crowned the first Eternal Emperor, the dynasty has continued on strong for nearly four centuries. The current Eternal Emperor is Hazama Yoshi, a young man with a bright future.

Aust Meliamne

First Post
The religious backdrop and info.
Religion and Cosmology

The people of Zanshin-Ryung tend to be contemplative and religious lot. They have a multitude of spirits, both nature and ancestor spirits, they pray to. The physical world is often referred to as the “Floating World”, although physical it is but one part of a shifting wheel of worlds. The Spirit Realm exists beneath the floating world, and is divided into two distinct worlds. The Yin World is dark and cold, the land of the dead; here the Magistrates of the Yin Court usher the newly dead to their rewards. The Yang World is a place of nature where the bountiful natural spirits reside; these are spirits of animals, trees, and forces of nature. These two respective worlds make up the Spirit World, and are both connected. The last realm is the Celestial Realm made up of Heaven and the Yomi World. The dark and inauspicious Yomi World, the realm of the Yomi Demon-King who are the enemies of the Five Elemental Dragons and the would-be destroyers of Heaven, plot and scheme in from their twisted bone thrones. It is a place where punishment and evil rule the day, and unimaginable torment is prepared for corrupt mortal souls. In Heaven exist the magnates of the Celestial Order, the high deities of the Eternal Empire.

The Floating World is unique in that any spirit from any of the other worlds can manifest themselves there. The other worlds are only the domains of their respective spirits, the strict law of the Celestial Order. The people of the Eternal Empire tend to worship at shrines, while temples tend to be places where monks gather to train and ponder the meanings of the world. Most peasants believe that the nobility are the descendents of gods, with the Emperor being the rightful descendent of Amuro the Blazing-Sun. Most common folk do not worship the deities outright but focus on nature and animist prayer. Shamans are common and interpret the will of the spirits to the people, while the nobility tend to focus on the will of the gods and interpret them as they see fit. They also make up the bulk of the court historians and maintain various calendars and charts of celestial events.

Celestial Order

Five Elemental Dragons: The Five Elemental Dragons are not gods per se but the apex of Elemental Force, each exists in a realm dominated by its chosen element. They are neither good nor evil, but more or less natural neutrality. They exist in a state above the gods, but do not receive prayer. Though there are monasteries dedicated to them, they have no formal form of worship or dogma. They represent Air, Earth, Fire, Water, and Wood respectively, and they are all of equal power. Rarely if ever have they ever interfered in the matters of gods or men. They simply exist.

Amuro, The Blazing Sun: Amuro is first among the gods, he is the Celestial Emperor and supposedly the father of Hazama Fong. The truth of this is highly debatable though. He is a neutral god, and weighs all things evenly; he is both stern and fair. Although few men of the common class pray to him, the noble Shugenja class often invokes him. He is an aloof godhead and tends to remain distant from his court. He is rarely moved and slow to act, but when goaded to action is a furious foe. He is the patron of leadership and set the foundations of Bushido it is said. His son Mitsurugi refined the code.

Sakura, Magistrate of the Harvest: The bountiful abundance to a good rice crop is often given credit to Sakura, for she is the minister of the harvest. Farmers tend to have shrines to Sakura in their homes and make pilgrimages to her shrines when the harvest looks lean. She is harsh and will punish those for sometimes it seems no reason at all. She is hard to please, at times. Many shamans make a point to make sacrifices to Sakura to hopefully ensure a good harvest. To anger her could mean death, and hardships for those you leave behind.
Hirokama, Daimyo of the Dead: Although the dead go to the Yin World, they are under the auspice of Heaven, and in particular Hirokama, the Daimyo of the Dead. A cold master and lord, his agents scour the land for fresh souls to bring to the underworld. His ghostly samurai can be seen on battlefields leading the freshly dead to their just rewards. Hirokama is rarely if ever prayed to, unless someone expects to die in the near future. He is cold but not evil, he is simply the ruler of the realm of the dead, the Daimyo of the Yin World. Though it is whispered that the shugenja of the Fire-Snake Clan have made tacit deals with the minions of Hirokama, many of which are less then savory or good.

Mitsurugi, Magistrate of War: The strongest of the gods in battle, Mitsurugi is the pinnacle of war. Yet he abides by all of the strictures of Bushido, for he is said to be the creator of the code. He is war, and battle, from a scuffle between youths, to the famed iaijutsu matches in the Eternal Court, to the massive battles across the Eternal Empire. He is a master of all weapons, though he specializes in the Katana, the gentleman’s weapon. Mitsurugi is a refined killer; he is the sword arm of the gods. Nearly any samurai worth his blade has a shrine to Mitsurugi somewhere in his household, and often carries a charm into battle to grant him strength over his enemies.

Kotozama, Minister of the Seas: The people of the Zanshin-Ryung islands depend on the seas for food, trade, and travel. Kotozama is a prominent name in many households, especially coastal locales. The common folk of fishing villages tend to have shrines in their homes to appease the taciturn deity. Kotozama is chaotic, calm as a summer day, and as crazed as a typhoon, he is chaos. He also holds the distinction of being Mitsurugi’s younger brother. Kotozama like most of the gods does not demand devout servitude, but he expects his due and for mortals to pay homage when they have need of him.

Tenchi, Shogun of the Night: Tenchi is the brother of Amuro, he is the night and the moon and stars. He is contemplative and is said to have been the first to understand the workings of magic. He has domain over the night and the things that lurk within, yet he is also the father of Kadeshi, Yomi Emperoress and enemy to the Celestial Order. Tenchi is aloof and at times grim, and tends to lend his advice sparingly. He has few shrines in the world, but is respected nonetheless. Most wu-jen and sorcerers tend to give Tenchi praise for it is by his gift to man that they are able to cast and use magic.

10,000 Spirit Ministers: These are the greater spirits of the world, referred to as “Nushi”, they fulfill all the roles beneath the Celestial Order. This does not mean there are only 10,000 spirits, but these are the most powerful or prominent in the Celestial Order. They are countless, and naming them all is an exercise in futility. On that subject though the 10,000 Spirit Ministers tend to have pompous and lyrical names. For example; Tanuki, First Minister of the Seven Petaled Lotus, the names tend to represent their place in the order and in a round about way at times describe what they do. The general populace and some of the more superstitious nobility pray to the Nushi, they tend to interact with mortals the most when there is a need. It should be noted that the 10,000 Spirit Ministers represent even the Yomi World, as even hell has a place in the Celestial Order.

The Seven Samurai-Ko: It is unknown just where these seven mysterious spirits fit into the whole Celestial Order. These seven Nushi, though there is even contention there, seem to serve Hirokama as the gatherers of souls. But they have also been known to meat out justice for the Celestial Order when it is needed. They always appear as female samurai, samurai-ko, dressed in black and white armor of the highest quality. They are said to be incredible warriors, and wield exquisite daisho with unearthly skill. They fulfill many roles yet they go about their roles in silence. The phrase, “You fight as if you are one of the Seven,” is a praise that is not spoken lightly in the Eternal Empire.

Kadeshi, Yomi Empress: She is evil incarnate, mixed with pain, betrayal, and vindictiveness. She was once the youthful goddess of the morning, now she is the master of the corrupting pit of Yomi. Yomi has always been hell, but it once was a place a redemption where the soul was brutally cleansed of its sins. Once cleansed the mortal soul was once again released into the Celestial Order to be either sent to a final resting place or reincarnated. This has subsided with the ascension of Kadeshi, she has found that souls can be a power all their own, and she now plots and schemes to overthrow the Celestial Order. There are no shrines to her in public, but the mad, foolish, or just plain dumb offer her prayers in turn for power. Though few deal with her directly, she uses either proxies, equally rare, or the Yomi Daimyo intercede on her behalf. Though the Yomi Daimyo, is a fractious lot, she prefers it this way, they stay under control and rarely plot to take her throne. Although she is against the Celestial Order, she still serves the Mandate of Heaven, for Yomi is still a twisted place of evil and pain. She is a temptress and she is evil, the wise man would do well to remember both.

10,000 Yomi Demons: Just as there are servants of the Celestial Order, so are their servants for Yomi. In addition to the few 10,000 Spirit Ministers that represent Yomi are the 10,000 demons. From the incredibly powerful Yomi Daimyo down to the petty curse spirits, that causes cankers and ill-fated trips. They all have a place in Yomi, and all serve in one way or another Kadeshi. They tend to have similar names to their Nushi counterparts, i.e. Kodamo, First Golden Oni of the Poison Fanged Sword, just with a darker and more horrific focus. It should be noted that there are in all likelihood much, much more then 10,000 demons in Yomi. This is just a term to refer to them, the 10,000 Yomi Demons. They work to make man miserable and to tempt through dark pacts of power, but all they desire is souls. Souls are the currency of the day in Yomi just as rice is in the Eternal Empire.

Aust Meliamne

First Post
The city where the adventures shall begin for our dramatis personae.

Population: 48,000 inhabitants (86% Human, 8% Spirit Folk, 4% Hengeyokai, and 2% Genasi)
Ruler: Governor Shomu Hanza of the Hiro family
Military Leader: Lord Hiro Matsumato (Samurai 8/ Iaijutsu Master 2)
Military: 800 ashigaru, 100 bushi, and 40 samurai comprise the ground troops. They have 4 war ships and 200 sailors that comprise the Black-Pearl navy.
Trade: Fishing, Rice Crops, Jade
Description: The City of Black-Pearl is typical for Eternal Empire cities, it is well kept and maintained. The streets are kept orderly by the city guards, who patrol usually on foot. The city is located right on the southern coast in a natural harbor, and is a major hub for trade from the central island of Mokaido.

If one were to approach the city on foot, they would first see the numerous villages that huddle closely to the outer black walls of the city. This where the majority eta live, in these outlying suburbs and villages. These villages tend to be poorly developed with dirt streets and shanties placed haphazardly wherever there is room. They tend to smell of refuse, livestock, and unwashed eta. The average eta can afford to bathe in the public baths maybe once a month, most are used to the odor. The outlying villages are divided into various districts and wards, but these tend to change with the seasons, only the locals know where these boundaries end and begin. The only real set boundary is that of the Unclean, the district where the butchers, morticians, tanners, and other similar occupations do business. They fulfill needed roles but since their jobs are unsightly, most avoid them even the other eta. This district tends to be the most insular, as these people tend to band together for support.

The city itself is walled with massive 40 feet high black stone walls. Flags fly from towers, a white flag with a stalking Green-Tiger emblazoned on them, the symbol of the Green-Tiger clan. The walls are constantly manned by ashigaru, peasant soldiers culled from the local populace. There are three main gates into the city, the North Gate, East Gate, and West Gate. There is no South Gate since the city faces out to the ocean on its southern side overlooking Oshi Harbor. The majorities of the buildings are painted black, and are lined neatly in rows along the clean streets of the city.

The city is divided into three wards, which are pretty well delineated. The city is divided into three concentric rings, with the outer most rings being consisting of the eta and the merchant houses. Various open air-markets dot this ward, collectively known as the “Streets of Rice”. This is where one can find nearly anything for a price, and many less then savory establishments can be found. The ashigaru patrol here, infrequently and even less so at night. Crime is not an overt problem but it is well known, that various small time tongs compete with the Omni-present Bamboo Princes for control of the vice markets and crime in this section. It is actually more common for gangs of local toughs to patrol the streets then it is for the ashigaru. For the most part the governor and the more affluent families look the other way, and allow this since it has not caused a problem yet. Or at least a problem that has affected them yet.

The next ring is dotted with large estates and well-to-do establishments. From up-scale tea houses to sophisticated geisha houses, commonly called dragonfly maids. This is ward is commonly called the “Steps of Silk”, and is home to the more influential families and merchants in the city. This area is clean and has only one large market place, large but well kept and patrolled by the ashigaru, both day and night. The homes here tend to be spacious with large interior courtyards and fanciful design. Many of the cities shrines are located in one of three parks in this ward; Black Stone Garden, Path of Flowers, and the Hanging Blossom Park. Each is large and spacious and spaced out evenly throughout the ward.

The final ward, which is walled, is the home of the governor and his family. The Governor’s Estate, as it is called is the largest building in the city and stands at the center of the city looming over it. The estate is made of a mixture black stone, marble and jade and is a grand structure to behold. Few ever see the interior of it unless they work for the governor or are a part of the family. It is well guarded and is warded with various charms and magic against intrusion. Governor Shomu Hanza currently resides here with his family and an army of attendants and courtiers.

Player Notes: The characters will begin their adventures here in this city as agents of an Imperial Magistrate, Hiro Kusanagi, an esteemed member of the Green-Tiger clan and also a veteran of several conflicts in the south with the Black-Talon barbarians. Kusanagi’s role is to maintain the peace essentially but to also attend to any sensitive matters that may affect the empire in any way. He does much of his work through agents, who attend to matters that are not pressing but must be dealt with one way or the other. They have some police authority, but must work with the utmost subtlety in some situations since honor and appearances must be maintained, in the upper echelons of society. These agents can come from many walks of life, as there is a need for a variety of experiences to draw from if there is need.

Typically Imperial Magistrates focus there activities on rooting out any Yomi influences they may find or curtailing the depredations of bandits, to even negotiating disputes between rival houses. Kusanagi is rarely idle, as there is always something that must be done. Especially in the recent months with the fact that the current Eternal Emperor is to wed a Green-Tiger bride, activity has been very high. This does not include the plague that is affecting the southern region of the Green-Tiger, which is thankfully on the decline. But life should be interesting indeed. The characters have just been chosen for this task, and will be meeting the other various characters for the first time, when they meet with Hiro Kusanagi.

Important People in Black Pearl

Governor Shomu Hanza (Aristocrat 4): An old man approaching his 64th birthday, he has been the governor of Black-Pearl for nearly 24 years. He is a quiet reflective man and is rarely seen outside of the Governor’s Estate, he is a member of the Kosamu family but chooses to use his own family name instead of the name of the great house. He is an astute politician with a keen mind, but he has no real military expertise and no desire either. He focuses much of his time now to poetry and the more artistic arts, when he has time for such things.

He is of slight build with bushy eye brows and short graying hair upon his scalp. His eyes are black and soft, and he rarely smiles but keeps a calm look upon his face, even at the midst of a crisis.

Shomu Kyone (Aristocrat 4): Perhaps the single most influential woman in Black-Pearl. Kyone is the wife of the governor and a ruthless politician. She is scheming and relatively young being in her mid-twenties. She has two sons Hanza, Tien and Honji, and she takes great pride in them. But she is also a shrewd and calculating woman with ambition to boot. She is a child of the Kakita family by birth, but was wed when only 15 to Hanza in a move to patch relations between the Green-Tiger and Fire-Snake clans to avert outright conflict. The move has had varying degrees of success.

Kyone is a thin woman, she is not particularly beautiful, but has an air of genteel sophistication about her. She is respectful and very considerate of others, unless they prove themselves to be useless to her. She is dressed in the finest kimonos and she is often the envy of the wealthy women within Black-Pearl.

Hiro Kusanagi (Aristocrat 2/Samurai 5): Often called the Green Bear by those that have seen him fight on the battlefield. He has eschewed the Green Tiger predilection for finesse and devotes his training to overwhelming power using his great strength to good effect. Yet he is without reproach when it comes to honor and is well respected in his Black-Pearl. He was appointed to the position of the Imperial Magistrate nearly 4 month’s prior and has been kept fairly busy ever since. He is in good standing with the Hiro family as well, and is recognized as an honest and good man. Yet he often puts his political aspirations aside for his dedication to the Eternal Emperor and his role as the Imperial Magistrate. He maintains a sizeable manse in the Steps of Silk, and also owns large tracts of farmland outside of the city.

Kusanagi is of average height, being only 5’ 8”, but is of a thick build. His dark black hair is balding and he has it neatly pulled back into a bun on the back of his head. He is not prone to fits of anger, and tends to weight both sides of a given situation before acting. He is stern though and expects much of his charges and subordinates.

Lord Hiro Matsumato (Samurai 8/Iaijutsu Master 2): The famous general of Black-Pearl is well known for his skills with the blade. He is not a Hiro by birth, but has taken the name for the honor and glory that comes with such a prestigious house. He is a native of Black-Pearl and a distant cousin to the governor. He is in charge of both the navy and the army of Black-Pearl and oversees much of the training administered to the troops. He is harsh and to the point, and lacks tact when dealing with “civilians”. He has little patience for incompetence and tends to be harsh in punishments. Course he is also beaming with pride as well his daughter, Hiro Satchiko, is to be wed to the Eternal Emperor at the end of winter. This coup has assured for himself an honored place in the Imperial family, and the wealth and prestige that come along with such honors.

The general of Black-Pearl, is a willowy gentleman with long hair tied neatly into a bun. He wears spectacles when not engaged for combat, and dresses in dark kimonos when not in battle regalia. He is of average height and build and is rather unremarkable physically, despite his political standing.

Lady Hiro Satchiko (Aristocrat 3): This young woman has a bright future ahead of herself. She is only 16 but will soon be wed to the Eternal Emperor, and become the most powerful woman in all of the Eternal Empire. She is well cultured, and very knowledgeable on all of the proper responsibilities of a noble woman. She is fairly quiet and soft-spoken; she expresses herself through music mostly, and is very skilled with various instruments. She is intelligent and very charming. She is usually seen in the company of her mother, when out and about, along with a trio of loyal Green-Tiger yojimbo.

Yet her beauty often outshines her other favorable qualities. She is slight in build with cream-like skin free from any blemishes and a dainty pearl-like smile. Her eyes are soft and green; they accentuate her face well. Her hair is worn long and black, and cascades along her back like silk. She dresses in colorful kimonos and walks with a casual grace, which is not so ladylike at times.
Important Organizations in Black-Pearl

Black-Pearl Government: The Governor rules from his estate, but the bureaucracy oversees much of the day-to-day operations in the city. They execute his mandates with all the speed a complicated, and at times clueless, bureaucracy can. They maintain the streets, the army, and the taxes. They fund the public projects, commission new buildings, and establish the laws that govern the city. They run everything that needs to be done to keep the city going. Most bureaucrats are eta, while the upper echelons are predominately nobles and some samurai.

Bamboo Princes: This shadowy guild of thieves and bandits works to provide various services; smuggling, prostitution, slaves, and less savory subjects, to anyone willing to pay their prices. They work for the most part in secret, and have safe houses all across the Eternal Empire, and their organization is massive in scale. It is suspected that some noble houses may back them, along with well-to-do merchants. The majority of the Bamboo Princes are thugs who do all the street work; the true members tend to refrain from dirtying their hands with such grunt work.

The Bamboo Princes are the closest thing to organized crime in the Eternal Empire, but their influence cannot be overlooked. They are a loose collection of groups who have banded under one name and work to line their pockets with gold, and so far they have been very successful. They have frequent clashes with small-scale tongs, local thugs, but tend to either subjugate them, or eliminate them at their earliest convenience if they prove to meddlesome.

Tongs: This is not one group but actually comprises various groups in the outlying suburbs and the Streets of Rice. They are common thugs, who like to taunt and threaten the local populace. They tend to have gaudy names, “Yellow-Lotus-Monkeys” as an example, and often rely on protection rackets to make money. Most despise the Bamboo Prices for muscling in on their turf, ironically enough though the Bamboo Princes often hires one Tong to take out another when they need their dirty work done. The tongs are violent, and led by often-callous miscreants who want to get rich quick, no matter the consequences. Most rarely ever get beyond their small territories in influence or size. Tongs shrink, die, and sprout anew fairly often. They also tend to be supported by their neighbors either forcefully or sometimes as a matter of pride. Depending on the circumstances.

Black-Pearl Watch: The Black-Pearl Watch is the proper name of the military in Black-Pearl. They are under the control of Lord Hiro Matsumato and are relatively well trained, well except the ashigaru. The bushi and samurai are usually veterans of conflicts and reside inside the city and in the outlying regions in estates dotting the rice paddies. The Watch oversees the internal security providing a city watch made up of trios of ashigaru patrolling certain areas of the city; the frequency depends on the ward and the importance of the location. Generally more frequently the further one goes into the city.

Imperial Watch: The Imperial Watch are the eyes and ears of the Imperial Magistrate and report directly to him on all matters. In theory they work directly for the Imperial Court, but they take great pains to not step on toes unless it cannot be avoided. They investigate any problems in the city, and remove threats to the Eternal Empire as quietly or quickly as possible, depending on the situation.

They are not above the law, but they have certain enforcement powers that they can use as agents of the Eternal Court. They are allowed to detain citizens with reason and just cause, this applies to even nobility, though caution and the utmost respect should be exercised. They have the right to seize contraband or stolen items, if there is no local enforcement present. Despite social class or origin, they are to be respected as agents of the Eternal Court. This can cause problems as many nobles feel that the eta should know his place despite his position. They are the governing authority in any situation that deals with the dark forces of Yomi, and will be counseled if such a situation arrives. Outside of these strictures they will follow the local laws and edicts within reason as long as it does not compromise their role as agents in the Eternal Court.

If in the event that a member of the Imperial Watch is suspected of wrongdoing, they will be brought before the Eternal Court for trial. Under no circumstances are they to be tried locally, but only apprehended and brought before the court for formal trial and punishment. If found guilty, the punishment is death by cleansing fire. They will not be afforded an honorable death and their respective family will be charged with paying for the execution. One not only upholds their own personal honor but that of the Eternal Court, and the Eternal Emperor himself. They should act accordingly.

In the city of Black-Pearl, the Imperial watch is under the auspice of Hiro Kusanagi, the Imperial Magistrate. He is stern and honorable, but treats his subordinates fairly and justly.

Aust Meliamne

First Post
October 15th, 478th Year of the Eternal Empire

The provincial estate of the Kusan household in the Fire-Snake province was quiet as afternoon approached much of the rice crop had been gathered and the eta were settling in for a pleasant autumn and winter. The Kusan manse sat on a small hill overlooking vibrant rice paddies, and was of relatively simple design. It was angular with slight and ample curves and subtle hints of flare across the screen doors. The large central courtyard was a popular place for nighttime revelries or reflection in the stone garden immaculately constructed and maintained. It was a place that Kusan Falm, also know as Falm the Auric Eyed spent her time. Falm was a young woman, lithe in build with strange features. Her hair was a bright gold and her eyes matching the shade in her hair, a hint at the strange blood that runs through the Kusan family. She had a natural gift in magic, but was trained as a Wu-Jen in the school of the Iron Way, by Miho Chai a relatively famed wu-jen in the Fire-Snake province.

Falm rested in the courtyard working on her delicate calligraphy, not an overly enjoyable task for her, but it was something to pass the time. She was away from her training on a break and simply wanted to rest her mind. Yet even home had been less then enjoyable at times, her numerous sisters were often aloof to her, especially the ever so lovely Kobe. Though Falm was quite close with the youngest, Tani, who seemed bent on going the course of the samurai. Falm’s mind drifted as she danced the brush across the satin green paper as a servant entered the room. She looked up briefly and smiled, and continued her work, as the servant approached slowly.

The young girl bowed and smiled, “Mistress Kusan, you have a visitors, and your father has requested that you make haste to speak with our guests.”

Kusan looked up slightly confused, “Oh? Guests for me?” She stood quite confused; she was hardly a popular lady in the court. For many reasons, her odd appearance included among them. A courtly woman is expected to be mannered, and humble, and very respectful; she should be both beautiful yet reserved as to not draw attention to herself. Falm had none of these qualities, she was no mere dove in a cage, but a hawk that wished to be free and set her own course.

The serving girl replied brushing a dark lock of hair from her face, “Yes, Mistress Kusan, they are here for you.”

Falm smiled, “Thank you, please you are dismissed I will see to them at once.”

“Of course Mistress Kusan, they are waiting in the guest chambers,” she bowed and exited without another word.

Falm seemed surprised and gathered her thoughts repeating the proper way to extend greetings. She gathered herself up and went to the guest chamber which was strangely darkened, a single candle providing flickering light, even though the sun was up in earnest at mid-day. Kneeling next to a low table were two individuals. A lithe smiling form of a woman, typical of the nobility, beautiful and obedient, sipped at some tea provided by the servants of the Kusan household. At her side sat a man who wore a green jade mask, his hair neatly tied back in a bun. His eyes though glowed with unearthly fire and his presence was in a ways painfully abhorrent. The woman smiled as Falm entered and placed her cup of tea down gently and bowed her head. Falm returned the bow and sat across from then.

The woman looked to the man at her side who simply nodded, and then spoke, “Greetings Kusan Falm, I am pleased to meet you in person this day. Your reputation precedes you mistress, and your training in the Iron Way has progressed quite well, Falm. The Fire-Snake are pleased with your progress.”

Falm smiled taken aback, “I am surprised at this, and I thank you for the kind words madam.”

The woman smiled, “We of the Kakita household, have been impressed with your families contributions to the cause. You have exceeded many of our expectations thus far.”

Falm smiled, “I am pleased my family has proven its worth, but what may I ask is your business with me?”

The woman looked to the masked man again and then continued, “I have come with a request from the Kakita daimyo, that you represent the Fire-Snake clan in the city of Black-Pearl. It would help our cause in healing the rift between ourselves and the Green-Tiger court, and to celebrate the new Eternal Emperor’s bride Hiro Satchiko.”

Falm smiled, “That is quite an honor, but why myself. Could not my sisters be a better choice, I am not so skilled in the arts of the court. I am quite the outcast, at times madam.”

The woman nodded, “Well despite your lack of confidence, the task has fallen to you, Mistress Kusan. I am sure you will uphold great honor and represent the Fire-Snake in an honorable manner. You will be working with Lady Kakita Ameiko, another of our promising wu-jen. She can be quite difficult to get along with, but I am sure the two of you will bring great success and honor to the Fire-Snake.”

Falm nodded slowly, “So I am to assist Lady Kakita Ameiko in her duties then?”

The woman shook her head no in a smooth graceful motion; “You will serve the Eternal Court by working for the Imperial Magistrate of Black-Pearl.” She placed a wrapped bundle in front of Falm; “This is quite an honor for you and your family.”

Falm looked to the bundle and slowly unwrapped it revealing an exquisite wakizashi; the hilt was of white jade and carved into a writhing serpent. The symbol of the Eternal Emperor, a symbol of power and prestige. She could hardly contain herself; this was quite an honor indeed.

The woman glanced to the jade masked man nervously then spoke; “This path will bring great honor to you and your family.”

Falm nodded, admiring the blade in her hands, “This is beautiful, but why me, I do not understand. Why?”

Before the woman could speak the jade masked man made a quick motion and the woman collapsed unconscious. His eyes flared with fiery light as he spoke in a soft controlled tone, “Kusan Falm, your bloodline has power within it. The daimyo has chosen you for this task, do not question the ways of our betters.”

Falm bit her lip nervously, “And you are?”

“I am Master Kakita Kusanage, and I have been watching your progress for some time. But that is not the matter that concerns me, your task will be simple and that is to serve the Eternal Court. But I am here as a proxy for the Fire-Snake; it is our hope that you can befriend the future empress. I believe you have the talents, which will make you quite vital in such a role.”

Falm gulped, “I can only hope that I will bring honor to the clan and my family,” she was still quite nervous.

Kusanage nodded, “Failure young Falm is not an option you should ponder upon.” He waved his hand slowly over the collapsed young woman and she slowly rose as he once again settled into silence.

The woman looked around confused and then spoke, “I apologize, I must have fallen faint. My health has suffered some in my travel.”

Falm shivered slightly as her gaze stayed upon the silent Kusanage, “Please drink more tea madam, and regain your strength.”

“I wish I could but we must go, I am sure that you will serve well in Black-Pearl, Mistress Kusan,” she said standing helping Kusanage to his feet. They both bowed and exited. As they left the room, the light returned to normal. Sending a visible shiver down Falm’s spine. Interesting Times indeed, were forthcoming for the Falm the Auric Eyed.

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