As sensai Shinsei teaches, “A messenger with bad news is better than no messenger at all.” All that we have to offer you, my brother, is bad news.
Our armies in the Crane territory have fallen, but Shiba Tsukune’s failure had nothing to do with the courage or tactics of the Lion. No, the unorthodox strategies of Lady Tsukune held off the enraged Lady Lion for nearly three weeks, but it was the arrival of a Shadowlands army – led by the blazing-eyed shadow of Doji Hoturi – that forced her to retreat back to the temples of the Asahina family. She and the Cranes barely escaped with their lives, let alone with their armies. There they wait for the arrival of Matsu Tsuko and her allies from the Shadowlands. It is obvious now that she cares not who sits on the Throne, she merely wishes to ensure her place beside it. As things now stand, it seems as if nothing can stop her from razing the Crane to the ground and sealing the doom of us all. We can only pray that the Lion Champion can somehow be made to see reason, or that the rumors of a Naga army massing near the Crane lands have some basis in truth. Desperate hopes, indeed.
But the worst news, I fear, lies not on the battlefield, but within our own walls. The Black Scrolls continue to work their dark magic on our sugenja, even as they gain startling new insight into the nature of our foe. More have arrived, coming from the most unspeakable depths of the Empire, and the terrible cost of this war demands that their hidden secrets be unmasked. Now, it is Isawa Uona who has fallen under their corrupting spell, taking the ashen pallor and skeletal countenance of her brother Tadaka. She walks the halls of our temples alone, muttering prayers to stave off the terrible whispers she hears on the wind. I fear that others may soon follow, and indeed that our entire clan may be lost to this darkness we toy with. But I also know that this price must be paid. Both Tadaka and Uona have spoken of terrible dreams, of a dark and horrifying evil reaching from the Shadowlands to engulf us all. We must learn more of this threat if we are to have any hope of combating it. The price is high, but we of all clans understand the need to pay it. May the Seven Thunders have mercy on our souls.