Withering Empire

Confrontations
While the Crab and the Scorpion face off in Court, the Crane investigate one of their own.

10th day of the Month of the Boar, 1248

The day of Asahina Meiji's duel against Bayushi Kameko is finally at hand. The Crane duelist forgoes his usual morning sake to meditate. The Crane Ambassadorial staff meets with the Scorpions in one of the Palace's many gardens. As the two duelists mentally prepare themselves, a group of Seppun guardsmen round the corner, escorting what seems to be most of the Imperial Court including Toturi VII, Toturi Jakuchu and Otomo Teika. While the Crane are somewhat displeased with this surprise audience, the Scorpion, who are expected to win this duel, are glad for this opportunity to publicly shame their rivals. The day is cold, and as both duelist stand facing eachother, their breath steams in the air. Daidoji Ise takes a long analytical look at both contestants and realises that Meiji is severely outmatched by the more experienced Scorpion. The Crane duelist comes to the same conclusion and bows to his opponent, admiting his defeat and apologizes for having insulted the Scorpion. Doji Kunio is visibly relieved, as it is known to take great wisdom to recognize a superior opponent, and much humility to admit to it. His vassal's honorable act is commendable. However, the Empress disagrees. She orders the two duelist to perform the duel, complaining that she doesn't want to have come for nothing. The Chancellor tries to reason with her but she silences him with a threat. Confused but with no other option, the two Bushi return to their duelling positions. They draw at the same time, but the Bayushi is quicker, striking the Asahina's left hand and twisting his weapon from his hands. His katana spins through the air and she catches it with her off-hand. She sheathes her own and offers him his sword back. Meiji's face is red with shame and anger. Slowly he takes the sword's handle and pulls it towards him. While the blade gently brushes against the Scorpion's arm, the other Crane fear the worst, but their comrade keeps his calm and sheathes his sword. He bows to his opponent, then to the Empress and leaves at a brisk pace. Having thoroughly enjoyed the experience, Toturi VII declares, to the horror of many that are still assembled, that duels to the first blood cannot be refused if they were called for a valid reason and that the two would be duelists do not need their superiors' approval anymore. While the Scorpion seem thrilled, with them having the top duelist in the Imperial City, the Crane have trouble digesting this complete negation of a long-standing tradition. They return to their Embassy worrying about the future of the Empire.

12th day of the Month of the Boar

With the four days of mourning completed, Toturi VI's funerals are held.

 to be completed

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Joy and Sorrow in Toshi Ranbo
Toturi Sayori marries Kakita Jakuchu. Toturi VI dies following his daughter's wedding. Toturi VII ascends to the Throne.

to be completed

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Union
The Crane Ambassador's hatamoto arrive at Toshi Ranbo with the Imperial spouse-to-be. Weddings are on the air as Yasuki Kugayama is married to Suzume Tokiko.

to be completed

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Balancing act
The Crane travel through Lion lands escorting Kakita Jakuchu to Toshi Ranbo.
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Delays
While the Crane Clan Champion organises her travel to Toshi Ranbo with the future Imperial spouse, the Crane Ambassador's hatamoto investigate the disappearance of a cart of gifts for the Imperial families.
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Melodrama
The hatamoto make their way to Benten Seido to meet the Toturi Sayori's future spouse. While escorting him back from the shrine, they must deal with a scorned lover.
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Storm
The Crane Ambassador's hatamoto travel to Kyuden Doji. A storm forces their boat to stop in Otosan Uchi where they run into an old friend of Daidoji Ise.
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Beginnings
While the Clans negotiate with the Otomo for the marriage of Toturi Sayori, the Crane Ambassador's hatamoto try to discover why the Scorpion are staying out of the negotiations.
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