To Shiba Tsukune, Champion of the Phoenix
Even in the wake of your disappearance, I find myself with no one else willing to listen. At least, no one with whom I wish to have words. No one but Mirabu, and his influence among our clan is as limited as my own. So I write this scroll to you, all the while praying that you are well, and will return to read it.
We have lost, mother. Our forces have been driven back from the Dragon mountains in a disastrous rout. I recommended against taking such a small force to aid the Elemental Masters, but of course they would not listen. Once they were defeated by the harlot Shaitung, our forces could not stand against the fury of the Dragon’s more experienced generals. It is yet another failure for which the Shiba will be blamed while the true fault lies only with the arrogance of Taeruko.
With the Masters gone, our soldiers are demoralized. If the great Council could not defeat the Dragon, what chance do ordinary men armed only with steel have? They underestimate themselves terribly, but there is nothing I can do to persuade them otherwise. They do not see me as a leader. They see me only as your son.
All of my life, the Isawa have looked upon me as little more than a curiosity, a laughable imbecile. I cannot command the kami, nor will I ever lead the Shiba. In time, they would have replaced you with a petty pawn of their choosing. I will be little more than a footnote in the histories of our clan, the son of the finest daimyo the Phoenix have ever known. I have seen my destiny, and it is empty.
I will not have it.
I have heard whispers of a lost artifact, a potent magical construct created by Isawa’s last wish before he journeyed into the Shadowlands – a wish for the Phoenix to become a unified people. This artifact possessed such unimaginable power that the Isawa and Asako were forced to abandon it lest it consume them. They abandoned it to the Shiba, the ones capable of protecting it. I have thought of it often, and there have been times when I could even imagine that I heard it calling to me, such as when foul Scorpion and Crane treachery robbed me of the chance to claim the Emerald Championship.
When the Masters were swallowed by the earth in the Dragon lands, I knew my course had been set. If the Council is truly dead, as I suspect they are, then we have nothing left to lose. I shall find this relic of power, and I will return with it to face the Dragon. I know that you would think me rash, mother. I know that you would try to discourage my actions. This is why I will have already left by the time you find this letter. Do not fear. If I am destroyed by the Last Wish’s power, it will cost the clan little. Mirabu walks by my side, and he believes that in these desperate times such actions are justified. I hope that I can find this artifact, master its power, and use it to defend the Phoenix against the incursions of the accursed Dragon.
I will restore peace to our lands and at last prove that I am fit to lead the clan, or I will die and prove that everyone was right. In the end, what was lost? Nothing.
But if I succeed I will prove at last that I am worthy.
- Your son, Aikune