For eight years we have seen little activity from the Shadowlands. Only the occasional goblin mob harries the wall. Rare is the oni seen further north than Hiruma lands. The death of Toturi was an anomaly, a sudden eruption in dark power unlike any we have seen in a long time. Despite the death of the Emperor, the Shadowlands remains quiet still. Some of my brethren take this as a good sign, and see it as the Fortunes’ blessing upon our war with the Crane. Luckily there are many more like myself, who know better than to leave the Carpenter unprotected.
The Nezumi prophets of the Third Whisker, who scurry about the catacombs beneath the wall, say that a bad season is coming. This one will be worse than perhaps any that has ever been seen. Of course, if I were to heed every warning of the paranoid Nezumi prophets I would never leave my bed, but there is something different in their tone this time around.
I sense it as well. My sleep has been restless, haunted by nightmares of a terrible future. There is a growing trepidation among the men and women upon the Wall. I see their eye grow tired, haunted. I think I am not the only one who has found little sleep of late.
We all know the truth. There is something new out there, and it is growing stronger.
The Shadowlands are not asleep. They are merely waiting, like a predator preparing to pounce. The sudden change in appearance and behavior of the bakemono is only a piece of a larger puzzle. These strange new beasts – the Tsuno – sighted in the lands of the Lion and Scorpion are another piece. The Kuni shugenja who have studied these Tsuno report that they are more similar in nature to kitsune and tanuki – the shape-shifting spirits of Kitsune Mori – than the rabid beasts of the Shadowlands. More and more peculiar.
The Hiruma agree that something must be done. A band of them have asked me to accompany them on a mission into the heart of the Shadowlands, to determine what threat may be awaiting us. A handful of Nezumi warriors have also agreed to accompany us.
Wish us good fortune. Should I return, I shall share with you what I have found.