Legend of the Five Rings: The Fallen Mountains

Session Eleven: The final sacrifice

The Fallen Mountains
Consume all who stand unbowed,
Their souls, forsaken

The Valley of the Lost Legion, now
The narrowing of the walls proved costly to Terrel’s forces, allowing the magistrates to cut apart their foes while remaining protected from the archers further down the tunnel. It took time but eventually the monks broke through from sheer force of numbers. The samurai were forced to fall back towards the spiritual maelstrom, making use of the defences they had prepared earlier. Down in the valley Atarashi found she had drawn the attention of spirits that had broken from the Legion, a spectral hand attempting to slice through her before it was drawn into battle with souls still loyal and uncorrupted. It was clear that the spells were weakening… only time would tell if Shugeki would return in time.

The Unicorn encampment, a day earlier.
The machinations of her Aunt provided an ideal opportunity for Shugeki, a force of samurai whose loyalty could be commanded by the orders of a fellow Unicorn. Arriving at the ranch she had once called home Shugeki found it surrounded by a force much larger than expected and fully capable of taking the city. She quickly gained an audience with both her Aunt and sister, who were more than willing to hear her tale. Their response was not what she had expected – after recounting the details her Aunt declared that Shugeki had clearly snapped following the stress of her wedding, providing yet another reason to dispose of Governor Saburo while the clearly delusional Shugeki could be presented at court to provide justification for the annexation of the city. Her new husband, detained in another part of the house, would be offered up further proof of the Scorpion scheming..

Shugeki’s only option was clear to her. Making to leave she recovered her blade from where it rested before turning and striking down her aunt with a swift blow, leaving her barely alive on the floor. A scream erupted from her sister across the room and after a short chase Shugeki struck down just as swiftly before she could escape and find aid. She made no attempt to rescue her husband, a man who did nothing but remind of her lost love. As the only senior member of the Unicorn left standing she headed out, drawing forth the commanders and informing that they would ride for the city immediately. They were to follow her lead and not to attack unless explicitly ordered to do so, for arrangements had been made that would allow easy access to the city.

Returning to the city Shugeki found a small Scorpion force awaiting at the temple, not as enemies but allies as promised by the Governor. Taking command of the joint force Shugeki led them down into the tunnels and towards the valley. They could only hope they would arrive in time.

The Valley of the Lost Legion, now.
The fight for the magistrates had progressed better than they could have hoped, with adversary after adversary falling to their combined skill. Despite this they had been forced to fall back to their next line of defence and Hotaka had finally engaged in single combat with Terrel, the fanatical monk who had been at large for months. While the battle raged around them the two exchanged blow after blow but it was Hotaka’s resilience (bolstered by Naruto’s magics) that won the day. Terrel’s reign was ended, struck down by the mighty force of Hotaka. Shin’ichi meanwhile had drawn back to protect Atarashi. While she had found the raging spirits resistant to her magics the monks proved more than susceptible to the kami she summounded. The tide was turning, however. Every time one monk was felled another took their place.

Then came the sound of a war horn. Shugeki had arrived.

Naruto, knowing that time was of the essence abandoned the fight, making his way towards the maelstrom. His action proved costly, with Atarashi and Shin’ichi finding themselves suddenly overwhelmed. Knowing they were soon to die Atarashi let her regrets and hate of Shin’ichi free, revealing her true identity as Chiaki. She knew that Shin’ichi had been drugging her to maintain her compliance and that she was little more than a tool to the Scorpion. Drawing forth a final spark of power she summoned the raging oceans, flooding his lungs with her hate. Atarashi lived just long enough to watch Shin’ichi die before she too was felled. Hotaka, knowing the end approach faced a dilemma, to face death with honour or to escape and return to his wife in the city. The choice was easier than he had expected. Turning his back from the battle he fled to the tunnels, ignored amongst the building chaos.

Shugeki, riding in at the head of the combined Unicorn and Scorpion force quickly found that the Governor had not acted in full faith, with many of the Scorpion fleeing from the sight of battle. These were not even regular troops but conscripted peasants and could not match the will or the honour of the Unicorn detachment that rode by her side. With time short she headed for the centre, correctly trusting that Naruto had heard the horn. Racing ahead, the remainder of the force unable to keep up, she spotted a lone figure concealed by the spiritual energy flying around. As she approached the scene cleared to reveal not one of the other magistrates but a lone samurai, divine and majestic. His hands, raised and struggling to hold back a force that she could feel building in the back of her head. The mountain that consumes.

At the other side of the maelstrom Naruto embarked upon the plan, drawing forth the spirits that surrounded them he bound them one by one, to his will. To his blood. To his soul. Harnessing their power he reached out, grabbing the souls of the Scorpion and Unicorn that had unwittingly been brought as sacrifice. Any regret he felt was consumed as the taint took him but it was too late. The spell could not be stopped now, time was already slowing to a standstill once again.

Shugeki pushed forward, her approach slowing as the spell took effect but her destiny clear. Dismounting from her loyal steed she stepped up to the figure, reaching out to steady his hands. She felt a touch of the heavens as she did, cleansing her doubts and sorrows, dreams and passions. Silence spread through The Fallen Mountains, it’s anger and hate held in place once again. The sacrifice of the magistrates unknown and uncelebrated by those who called the range their home.

Epilogue

Atarashi
The samurai known as Yogo Atarashi disappeared as quickly and as quietly as she had appeared. A creation of Governor Saburo to ensnare the disgraced Chiaki she had fulfilled her purpose and was forgotten about. Not only had she served her purpose but she had provided the opportunity to dispose of the troublesome Soshi Mirai, sacrificed to provide a body during the faked jigai ceremony. Fuelled by her anger and grief her spirit remained bound to the mortal realm, a spectre that haunted the Fallen Mountains, forever torn between love and hatred for those from the Scorpion Clan.

Shin’ichi
Shin’ichi died not at the blade of another warrior but drowning in the water summoned by the angry Atarashi. His death was worthy of a true Scorpion – serving the greater good at the cost of his own dishonour. Felled before the spell of binding took effect his soul found itself drifting away from the spirit realms of the Empire, drawn to a distant yet familiar place. He found himself welcomed to the great city Akasha, deep within Yume-Do, the realm of dreams. He took his place amongst not his human ancestors but those of the Naga, awaiting the time when their great slumber would come to an end and they would once again walk the mortal realm.

Hotaka
Fleeing from the battle Hotaka slowly made his way back to the White City and his home. On escaping the tunnels he found the Naga to be gone, their duty complete once again. He found his wife in preparation for mourning, having been told of the mission by the Governor. His return was greeted with celebrations in the household and promotion to a prominent role in court. Few ever learned what had happened on that fateful day and Hotaka made no effort to illuminate them. He dedicated himself to his family while fulfilling his duties to his adopted Clan. Those that did not know the truth would have described him as unexceptional, but in the end he was content with that. His family was all that truly mattered, though he carried the dishonour of abandoning his friends for the remainder of his life.

Shugeki
Cleansed by the divinity of the Hantei scion Shugeki found the peace and purpose that eluded her for so long. Together they held back the mountain, knowing that one day the spell would fall and that once again a descendent of Miya Ishi would be required to atone for their sins. Outside the name of Moto Shugeki became widely known, not for her heroic sacrifice but as true loves victim. Rumours spread that she had already been on the edge following the death of Takenshi and that the disaster of her wedding had thrown her headlong into madness. The loss of the Unicorn troops, widely believed to have been eradicated by a superior Scorpion force hidden within the city, was blamed on Shugeki. Both Governor Saburo and her Aunt Asano made quiet efforts to ensure this story was never questioned. Shugeki was the perfect scapegoat, presumed dead in the Valley of the Legion. Only Hotaka knew otherwise and he had his personal shame to deal with.

Naruto, 300 years later
Corrupted by the maho spell he had used and lacking somebody to cut him down immediately after casting it the Dragon samurai was caught on the edge of its effects, trapped but not completely cut off from the mortal realm. It took time but by sheer force of will the newly fledged maho-tsukai slowly worked himself free. He emerged into a Rokugan that had barely changed, one that remained blissfully ignorant of the truth of the Fallen Mountains. A Rokugan where power awaited those willing to seize it through any and all means…

Driven by duty
We sacrificed our honour
For the sun to rise

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