(Region 10 – Feeding Hills, MA, USA; made public by L5R)
Maigo no Samurai Mura, Unicorn Lands
Tamori Nobuyoki had always considered himself a good and honorable man, a scholar foremost. Thus his motivations for joining the Bloodspeakers had been simple. He was not driven by a thirst for vengeance or resentment for his fellow man. He had no particular distaste for the Celestial Order nor any contempt for the Emperor. He was merely curious. He knew the Bloodspeaker’s reputation, of course, but most of that was so shrouded in the past it was difficult to tell what was true and what was legend. When they had approached him, they seemed harmless enough. It was a Tamori’s duty to gather knowledge, and maho was no exception. The Bloodspeakers had a greater mastery of the subject than most, showing a greater ability to resist its corruptive influence than those who served Fu Leng directly. Thus he had willingly joined their order and eventually come to lead the small cell here in Maigo no Samurai Mura.
When the Rain of Blood came, Nobuyoki began to doubt his allegiances. He had not truly understood the extent of the Bloodspeakers’ villainy or depravity the legends were not only true, they were understated. Of course the realization had come too late. He could not withdraw from their order without retribution, and his own clan would show no mercy for a former Bloodspeaker. So he merely hid in his secluded village, participated in the minor rituals of his small cell, tried to harm as few people as possible, and hoped that neither Iuchiban nor his enemies would notice him here.
That hope died this morning, when Nobuyoki awoke with a searing pain in his skull. He felt the will of Iuchiban clamped tight around his soul, urging him to gather his followers, urging him to kill. He watched, a numb and helpless observer within his own body, as he and his followers gathered dozens of samurai and peasant alike into the small shrine in the heart of the city and then proceeded to set the building ablaze. He watched as his fellow cultists animated the dead from the remains and set them against the living. He watched with a certain sense of relief as a legion of the Khan’s soldiers rode into Maigo no Samurai Mura, bolstering the surviving Dragon defenders.
The part of him that was still free wondered why the Unicorn had come. Their soldiers had ridden into the village expecting combat, but Nobuyoki himself had not known the horrible things his master would drive him to do until he had done them. Yet even as the Unicorn allied with the Dragon against his undead troops, Nobuyoki felt Iuchiban’s grip on him beginning to weaken. Had something happened to his distant master? Or was Iuchiban merely content to abandon his followers to their fates now that the damage had been done?
Nobuyoki ran. He hid among the rough eta shacks at the edge of the village, watching as the Unicorn and Dragon routed his former comrades. He wanted to flee, but where would he go? Even if he escaped the narrow pass leading out of the village, where would he go then?
“There is always opportunity for those with the talent to recognize it,” whispered a voice within him. “Take what you have learned and escape, Nobuyoki.”
“Begone, kansen,” Nobuyoki whispered, shaking his head to clear the voice from his mind.
“I am no trickster, no taunting spirit,” the voice replied. “I am here to help. Look to your right.”
Nobuyoki glanced that way and saw a narrow fissure in the rocky terrain. The zokujin who shared this village with his clan were said to have countless caverns underneath the mountains, though they hid the entrances well.”
“I do not know what awaits there,” he whispered.
“But you know what awaits you here, Nobuyoki,” the voice said. “Your life as a Dragon is over. Do you have the courage& do you have the curiosity& to seek something new?”
Nobuyoki took one final glance at the village, then ran into the darkness.