Eh, did you have rice today ? I’m Yoritomo Okuma, a Mantis clan storyteller, and I’m here to take you to the new Imperial City. Yes, not that new, but I’m so sold. I’m gonna show you and tell you things you may not believe about this city, but trust me all of it is true. (I rewrote some of the text, some are direct quotes from stories, but all the places are actually taken out of fictions and rpg books).
*History : *
Let’s start with a little history lesson about Toshi Ranbo Wo Shien Shite Reigisaho, Violence behind courtliness city. I’ll not go far into the past, just the most recent events who shaped the transformation of a contested Lion holding to the Imperial Capital. We got times to travel until we reach the actual city.
Two generations before 1160, Tsume Retsu, daimyo of the Tsume (The talon) vassal family of the Doji, took over Kyotei castle (wiping out the Damasu vassal family of the Akodo that owned it) before moving to take over Toshi Ranbo. Later, a general (I heard the name Kakita Nakazo, but not certain) of the Crane came and Retsu conceded ownership of the city. The Crane deplored Tsume’s methods, but were forced to grant him some rewards. The Tsume family was rewarded Kyotei castle and the Crane kept Toshi Ranbo. Retsu was later assassinated in his own castle by the last Damasu (See Secrets of the Crane p 49 and Honor’s veil).
1120 : Akodo Arasou, champion of the Lion clan, is killed why attempting to retake Toshi Ranbo Wo Shien Shite Reigisaho, Violence behind courtliness city, from the Crane clan. His younger brother Akodo Toturi was took out of his forced retirement to assume the championship.
Around Serpent 1127 : Otomo Banu declares the ownership of the city will go for 5 years to the clan that would recover the daisho of Matsu Goseki, founder of the Goseki vassal family (See Time of the Void, Shadowlands chapter). The last survivor of the Goseki family lived at this time in Nanashi Mura raised by a servant of the family, Mochiko, as her adopted daughter. Her whereabouts are unknown.
The Crane and Lion fights for the control of the city, Matsu Nimuro earning the name Golden Lion of Toshi Ranbo during those battles, which traded control many times. The first time Nimuro took the city, he sent maps of the area with the city as a Lion city to Kurohito. Battles are frequent until around 1159 civil unrest created by the Order of the Tessen (who wanted both Lions and Cranes out of the city) made that Naseru gave the ownership to the Crane.
The event known as the Curse of Chukandomo lifted happened in Hare 1160. Doji Kurohito offers the city without any fight to the Lion, who at first sent a group of Kitsu Sodan-senzo. They are caught in a fight between the cursed spirits of the sword Chukandomo and the ancestors’ spirits of the sword Naichi. Chukandomo who was created at first to heal the blood feud between the Kakita and Matsu families, but failed and since the sword stole the souls of all the Crane who bore it and failed. Naichi was a Kenku gift, and Doji Yasuyo carried it to this battle, while Kurohio carried Chukandomo. By giving the city to the Lion without a fight, he has failed and the gaki of the sword attacked him. Reinforced by the Kitsu’s prayers, the spirits of Naichi won the fight and the curse was broke. Kurohito left the city as promised to the Lion, and Matsu Nimuro appointed Akodo Rokuro as governor. (See Secrets of the Crane p 62).
Illegal duels (many by Kakita Aikawa) and others bar fights are pretty common during the first year, as many Lions and Cranes lives in the city, and tensions are still high.
The city became the new capital city on Serpent 1160, when Doji Kurohito, champion of the Crane, and Matsu Nimuro, champion of the Lion, offers the city to the Emperor. They accept to share half of the city for administration. The city grows at a scary rate, quickly reaching place as one of the three greatest city in Rokugan’s history.
The next important event is known as the Fires of Toshi Ranbo in Serpent 1165. 5 exact years after the city became the new capital, fires spread thorough the city and threaten the Imperial Palace. Cranes and Lions blame each other for this failure, as Gaijin Pepper is found hidden under buildings. The Gozoku conspiracy planned to destroy the center of the Imperial Bureaucracy, but a gaijin discovered the plot and attempted by setting mostly abandoned parts of the city in fire to caught peoples’ attention, so they would discover the explosives. Cornejo didn’t have much time to think about his plan, and it backfired, as more explosives were hidden that he thought. Difficult times for both clans, and it is more than likely after those events that the districts of the city were given to many clans like it was in Otosan Uchi.
The Battle of Toshi Ranbo changed a lot the face of the capital. In Dragon 1168, after the Khan’s march who started in Ox 1168, Moto Chagatai and his armies attacked the Imperial City. The Lion had just arrived into the city and defended it as much as they could, with the help of the few forces the Imperial Protector of the Imperial city, Bayushi Norachai, could muster. Battles ensue in the streets as the Mantis opened a way for the Khan. Chagatai kills the Shogun Kaneka before his brother Sezaru turn mad and burn parts of the city. The Wolf’s wife, Soshi / Isawa Angai kills him with the Last Wish’s dagger, before an explosion cleans all traces.
As Lion, Unicorn and Mantis fight, the Phoenix arrives and take control of the city. The apparition of the Dragon of Fire itself over the city forces everyone to agree, and everyone goes back to their own houses, the Phoenix forbidding infighting. (More about the Battle of Toshi Ranbo in Vacant Throne).
Others important events did happen, like the expulsion of Lion and Mantis out of the city (in Monkey 1169), the return of the Lion following Matsu Kenji into the city or the departure of the Fire Dragon who ended the Phoenix control over the city, the first arrival of the new Empress in the Imperial city or the threat of the Son Of Fire during the War of Dark Fire, but they didn’t changed as much the shape of the capital as the other events I told you about.
*Outside : *
Now we are travelling through the countryside of the former Lion territory. It has been given back to the Emperor with the city, and has many interesting places to visit. We have still many hours of travel by horse, so I’ll tell you about some of those, if you don’t mind.
Two days ride south of Toshi Ranbo are some of the best crop field you can find in Rokugan. Even late in the season, in the chilling breeze, they are still golden. It is among those fields that Kitsu Katsuko, daimyo of the Kitsu, chooses to meditate. She selected a small shrine to a minor, local kami; only peasants ever frequented the place to pray for good crops for the year. She surprised everyone by walking to it by feet every day, despite being a few miles away of the Lion clan encampment created after the Phoenix forbidden them the Imperial City.
Now the Lion are back in the city, but it was an interesting sight.
On the other side of the city, there is a series of forests. I have never explored them much during my stay in the capital, but I can imagine they are used for some wood and mostly for hunting. They are heavily patrolled anyway.
The most important location around the city is the diamond mine, a well kept secret by both the Crane and the Lion clan during centuries as the city changed of hands. While the taxes were paid, it was hidden from others clans so the resources would be only used by the two hands of the Emperor. I heard since the city became the capital that the price of diamonds has gone down (CCG private joke : the price of the Diamond Mine holding was lowered with Celestial Edition).
Ah, we are getting close to the Imperial City itself : it is nearly always surrounded by impromptu cluster of tents. These were typically set up by pilgrims visiting the city, or occasionally by merchants hoping to capitalize on heavy traffic during certain times of the year.
*General view : *
Here is the crown jewel of Rokugan. While I’ll always prefer Otosan Uchi, it is a marvelous place to see. Follow me as we are going around it to see the general architecture of the town.
Whether or not the city of Toshi Ranbo was the largest in the Empire was a matter of some debate among those who were interested in such topics. A decade earlier none would ever have made such a claim, but since it had become the new Imperial City it had expanded at a rate that was simply staggering to witness for long-time residents. Some claimed that Toshi Ranbo had exceeded the size of Ryoko Owari Toshi, the largest city in the Scorpion lands, but most agreed that there was no way to be certain, and indeed many were of the opinion that it did not matter in the least.
If debate and discussion are here the usual day to day activity of many samourais, be warned that rumors are the first thing the Imperial City produces. As Yoritomo Yoyonagi put it, “What else do the legions of fools have to occupy their time but speculate and confuse their gossip with reality?”
From here you can see the massive walls that protect the city. While they do not match in size and magical power those of Otosan Uchi, they have seen for some many more battles than those of the old Imperial City. The numerous watchtowers were important when the Unicorn reached the city before attacking the main gate. Most of them have a large gong installed to warn the others watchtowers, each of them having there own gong alarm.
The guard of the city is shared between many different troops. Otomo Hoketuhime has appointed the Seppun as the guardians of the Imperial lines and their residences, and the Lion of the city as a whole. But as an insult, she chooses the Phoenix clan as custodians of all sacred sites, temples, libraries and repositories of art, within the Imperial City. It did created quite some tensions.
It added to the many tensions already present, the city is ever-changing, always shifting to adopt the mood of those within it. After the Phoenix occupation, there was quiet tension to the place, but resentment has been growing among the lesser classes. They were really careful to not anger their lords, always feeling in danger. It is possible the nomination of the Empress eased the population, but I haven’t been in the City since the Battle of Toshi Ranbo. After the terrible fire that ravaged nearly a quarter of the city, tensions were really hard between the Lion and the Crane, but this city is after all Violence behind Courtliness city, and as such it is a habit of the inhabitants. The inhabitants had little to celebrate for centuries, always living in fear of the next battle for the control of the city. But those fears are starting to disappear with the new dynasty.
Let’s follow this track; you will have a better view of the city. I often come here to listen to the clear ring of the morning bell that starts the day. It is an impressive city, sprawling in so many directions while still managing beauty despite the lack of planning and the outgrowth of the original walls. Both Doji’s and Akodo’s children have left their mark on the city, shaping its essence despite all the changes that happened since it became the capital.
The city has been rebuilt so many times, but the builders here are now quite trained. That allowed them to support the growth of the town and allow it to reach its actual size, mixing styles with those brought by artisans of others clans.
The city has little traces of the last battles it has gone through, but still some part of the Market Quarter hasn’t been rebuilt, last scars of the most terrible event the city suffered. While Otosan Uchi was known for earthquakes, Toshi Ranbo’s destruction were only man-made and sometimes take much longer to recover.
Notice you can see at some place a particular symbol, it’s the symbol of the Imperial protector of the Imperial City. An office really old, restored during the Four Winds Era for Ikoma Otemi, then Bayushi Norachai has been nominated and occupies the office now.
The city, like Otosan Uchi and Ryoko Owari no Toshi, is divided into districts. The Okura district and the Lion estates are in the north of the city. The Mantis estates are west, the Phoenix estates are south, with the merchant and artisan quarters. The Market district itself is North-east, the noble and military quarter is next to it. The Imperial palace is at the center of the city, above the river that cut the city in half.
*Sake house : *
Here we go, we are about to enter. I’m going to show you some interesting touristic places. But remember, I’m only here to be a touristic guide. If you want more about politics, wars and knowledge, you’ll have to get the guide named Strongholds of the Empire that will give you that information. He is written by a group of writers, they’ll show you places I wouldn’t know about.
There are different districts in the city. We’ll be crossing from one another many times so I’m going to divide things by activities instead of districts. We are going to start by the sake houses, tea houses and such where a samourai can find some rest. You can notice many of the sake houses have Tanuki for good-luck next to their door. It’s a tradition that goes back the long dead Tanuki clan. It didn’t lasted for more than two generations, and the only notable thing they did was owning some of the finest sake houses of the Empire.
Here we are at the House of the Blue Chrysanthemum. It’s a pretty classical place, not really for the Kuge, but the Buke find it nice and comfortable. It is independently owned, at least as much as you can in the Imperial City, and the Silver Room is often used for discreet meetings.
The Lucky Bear over there had known better days. It has known better days, he suffered from the economical war between the Crane and the Crab during the last Yasuki war, as it’s a Crab owned establishment. A sento, a public bath house, is next to it and visited by the same peoples. The traditional curtain depicting the nature of the building had fallen off, and after the death of Toritaka Teriuchi and 2 others Crabs, the place burned. It has been rebuilt since, but the losses were important.
The House of the White Jade Fan, is known for her shakuhachi flute players, and also being the house arrest place of Rama Singh, Ivory Kingdom ambassador before he joined my clan as Yoritomo Singh. I heard it is still often used as a house arrest place for samourais of high rank while investigations are ongoing.
The Liquid Pearl sake house did not serve the finest sake in Toshi Ranbo, but the elegant severity of its interior design and the quality of the storyteller who made her base there had won it a following with the Lion samurai who lived in the city. Placed east of a small shrine to Bishamon, quite close to the Mantis Estates, this sake house was the place were started the fights between the Lion and the Mantis that leads to their expulsion by the Phoenix.
*Clan estates :*
Each clan have their own estates, like they used to in Otosan Uchi, but while only the Fox and the Mantis as minor clans has an estates in the former Imperial City, all the Minor Clans share one in Toshi Ranbo. We are right now in the Kurai district, often called the noble quarter, for its home to many of the city’s nobles and prominent samourai, and also more of the Clan embassies and diplomatic residences. This is the largest district of the city, and it may in the future as the city grow, be divided in two. The second most important court of the city resides here, and everything beneath the notice of the Imperial Court is discussed here. The governor is Ikoma Kometsu (more about Kurai district in Master of Court page 174).
The Mantis Estates in the Imperial City could be politely described as opulent, perhaps even lavish. Many in Toshi Ranbo eschewed politeness on this particular subject, however, and instead used words like “ostentatious,” “shameful,” or even “disgusting.” I would not call it home, but it is how peoples describe it. During the second winter court of Iweko I, Kyuden Gotei was choose and Yoritomo Yashinko had most of our decorations removed so peoples wouldn’t make comments about it.
After some of the best public gardens of the city, lush gardens where you can find delicate lotus and the main temple to Benten, we arrive at the Crane estate. The gardens of the main Crane estate at Toshi Ranbo were quite small compared to the grand gardens at Kyuden Doji, and yet they were the largest private gardens in the entire city. Exquisitely designed and meticulously maintained, they served as living art, meeting space, mediation areas and sometimes of outdoor dojo. The gardens have splendid camellia. This estate isn’t really old, since it has been only built since the city became the new capital. Even in that short time, however, it had become well known throughout the Empire for its beauty and serenity. Exquisite marble and the finest hardwood had been crafted by the clan’s greatest artists and carpenters, inlaid with precious metals in a way that was subtle but impressive all the same. It was no wonder that so many prominent Crane chose to conduct their business there. Most guests did not object in the least. Even if allowing the Crane to meet in their own home allowed them a certain advantage, many were willing to endure it in order to enjoy one the luxuries offered there. The walls of the estate were tall and wide, a legacy of the years Toshi Ranbo had spent being swapped between the Lion and the Crane. But defenses can be brought to turn this into a fortress n a really short time, a legacy of the numerous battles the Crane had to fought here.
The Crane Estate isn’t the only Crane building in the city. As a former Crane city, you can find many others. The Daidoji daimyo even had is own mansion, near the merchant quarter. It wasn’t a really memorable building, but when it burned during the fires of the merchant quarter (some says it was more related to the Dragon-Crane war, the War of Fire and Silk), it wasn’t rebuilt. Otomo Hoketuhime then offered the Emperor’s blessing to the clan so they could rebuild it, but they decided instead to build a dojo in its place.
The Minor clan Alliance embassy is sadly pretty small for all the Minor clans, and often those who can’t find a place here are forced to sleep at a dingy inn and tea house deep in the merchant quarter.
The Lion Estate in Toshi Ranbo is located in the Okura District. Contrary to Otosan uchi, were the districts were named from their governor and changed regulary of names, the districts of Toshi Ranbo bears names choose by the first governor. Akodo Ieshige, now known as Togashi Ieshige, chooses to name his own from the Oni who was redeemed by his Lion name. It is a symbol of honor, redemption and the power of one’s dedication to bushido. While Ieshige isn’t the governor, neither a Lion, anymore, the district still bears the name he chooses. With thick wooden doors and little decoration, the Lion Estate look like more a military fortification than a diplomatic facility, but the Lion like it this way.
The Crab Embassy looks like the Lion one, and in some way every structure by the Crab. More a barrack than a diplomatic facility, it matched the Crab’s view of court. The head of the deleguation here is Yasuki Takai, a famed sumo fighter. His battle against Shindana at Kyuden Hida is quite famous among Crabs, but sumo is mostly only a topic of discussion more than of interest in the court. Crabs here often order their food from the Lit Lantern establishment nearby.
I can’t tell you a lot about the others clans’ estates, for I had never been invited there. I can tell you that Bayushi Katsura is the head guard of the Scorpion delegation honor guard, and Shiba Naoya, captain of the Watch of the Phoenix clan, Shiba Mirabu’s twin brother, was the head commander of the city during the Phoenix’s control of the city.
*Market district :*
The market district of the Imperial City Toshi Ranbo is one of the most important place of the whole city. It’s her hearth, her blood, where peoples trade resources and so on. While you will rarely see any samourais involving themselves with commerce, you can find a lot of merchant patron hidden in the houses around here, checking what the heimins they have the charge of do. You can also see often samourais wearing a deep basket hat hiding their face, it is not unusual for those wanting to go in the poorer quarters to watch the puppet troupes or just to be incognito.
The northeastern quarter of the city, where the market district is located, has suffered much of the shockwave of the last remnant of Isawa’s last wish exploded after the death of Isawa Sezaru. While most of it has been rebuilt, you can still find many buildings who haven’t been touched since.
The Shijou district is one the four districts to actually promote a noteworthy court. The major markets and riverside docks of Toshi Ranbo belong to this district. Trade agreements and other economics treaties are discussed here, and the Mantis have always maintained a strong presence here, one of the major Mantis ambassadorial residences is located here. The governor is Daidoji Kuro, of the Daidoji Trading Council, and the district is active all the year expect for a few months at winter. (More about Shijou district in Master of Court page 175).
Toshi Ranbo is quite a religious city. It is home of the Order of the Ten Thousand Temples, born from the Order of the Four Temples. This old order was linked to the magnificent four temples of Otosan Uchi, and the Seppun made great efforts so the new Ten Thousand Temples, dedicated to all the Fortunes known to men, would surpass it. Most Seppun sponsor a temple as a patron, and carries with them a small trinket, amulet or netsuke that represents the Fortune of kami honored by the shrine they have sponsored. Any time a Seppun visits the Imperial City, he is expected to visit the shrine he has sponsored and pay his respects to the kami. Those who dwell in the city do so at least once a week, sometimes daily.
The Ichidou district is home to most of the city’s major temples and shrines, including the temples to the 7 fortunes, to Shinsei, to the 7 Thunders and the controversial shrine to Te’tik’kir. Close to the Imperial palace, the court of this district mostly discusses religion and festivals, as relations with the Brotherhood of Shinsei. Asako Raizaburo is the actual governor since the death of Seppun Tohaku during the Khan’s march. (More about Ichidou district’s court in Master of Court page 173). The shrine to Te’tik’kir has been sponsored by the Lion as the ralting shaman transformed Tsuno Nintai into Kitsu Nintai, the last remaining living kitsu of all Rokugan (you can still meet some in Yomi, but that a difficult travel). While Nintai was killed by the Spider, honoring his memory is a duty to Akodo’s children.
The Ten Thousand Temples Monastery is the most important religious building of the city. It has a majestic tree at the entrance. The central temple is so immense that it dwarfs the house Seppun Kiharu use as head of the Ten Thousand Temples that is next to it. Many say that Kiharu-sama often came here to take a break of the duties of the daimyoship. I had the chances to come and discuss theology with him a couple of times there. The high temple is the center of Brotherhood activity in the city, and one of the most heavily visited site of all the Empire. Thousands make a pilgrimage here, and many each year. The high priest was killed during the battle of Toshi Ranbo and Isawa Nomi was nominated in his place.
There is many others religious sites in the city, and only one man can name them all, and it’s Seppun Kiharu-sama. Miya Shoin-sama once said “Even if one lived within the city the whole of the year, it would be nearly impossible to visit and know them all. The number of monks who served quiet lives of contemplation, rarely if ever leaving the grounds of their assigned temples, must surely number in the hundreds, perhaps even thousands. [I] simply could not imagine that there was anyone who could remember every member of the Brotherhood, every tiny shrine and altar, every ritual and remembrance throughout the entire city of Toshi Ranbo. And yet [he] knew very well that at least one such man did exist.” But he knew that the Seppun daimyo was such a man. I can show you a few : this temple over there was a shrine to those who had lost their lives during the attack of the Khan. It creates many tensions when Unicorns samourais came in it, but so far no bloody accidents.
The massive shrine to Bishamon, fortune of strength, was desecrated during the Rain of Blood but it’s over now. There is also a particularly interesting stone garden near the Mantis Estates : many seek the monks here to look at the patterns and find some solace.
One of the most special shrines of all is the one devoted to those who died against the Bloodspeakers. So many lost their lives during the three Rise of Iuchiban. Among the names you can found those of the long-dead Boar clan, wiped out by Agasha Ryuden to create the Anvil of Despair. I heard the Kitsu daimyo was besieged by a very unpleasant diplomat of the Alliance of Minor Clans until she accepted to sent Matsu Robun pick up something for the memorial of the dead minor clan.
The Temple of the Seven Fortunes was perhaps the largest and greatest temple in all of Toshi Ranbo. The gardens surrounding those are among the most beautiful of the city.
Certainly it attracted the most visitors, as thousands came in and out of it each day. The monks who tended to the temple were quiet and unassuming, and went about their daily tasks with such discretion that often visitors were not even aware of their presence.
The monastery of the Four Temples Order in Toshi Ranbo is located right next to the district of Okura. It has long stone paths with trees around it, sand gardens spread around. The path that lead from the gate to the building itself is lined with large stones steps that were carved into the hill. It is an enormous monastery, and one of the biggest buildings of the city. On top of the hill, the steps led onto a courtyard that could assemble thousands of men. Four giant buildings lined the courtyard, where hundreds of monks tend to their duties.
One of the most notable places here is the first temple of the Keepers. This really recent order of the Brotherhood was created to study the teachings of the Keepers of the Element, those who won Rosoku’s challenge. The book of the elements are particular teachings and this new order has much to discover.
The Sacred temple of the Lion that predates Toshi ranbo as capital, was mostly built with the city itself. After all, it is a Lion city at the origin ! While the Crane did destroy most of the city many times, and the Lion did same when recovering it, the temple survived. It is now the base for the Stone Fangs Kitsu order created by Kitsu Ryukinzen in 1159. (See Vacant Throne page 73 for more information).
*Others : *
Among the other places around, here you have Otomo Atsutane’s private estate. An expensive, really well protected estate. But rumors are numerous on this guy. He has targeted Bayushi Kurumi of his interest, before coming the next day saying that Bayushi Katsura, head guard of the Scorpion delegation honor guard, has threatened him in his own estate about stopping his attempts on Kurumi. Investigations shamed him as they proven Katsura was with other peoples at this time Later, the Scorpion supported Atsutane’s candidature for the Otomo daimyoship in the vacuum of Hoketuhime’s death
The Sapphire blade dojo over here is one of the most important institutions of the town. Seppun Katsura, master sensei of the Sapphire blade dojo, is a great man and a great magistrate. This place was created by the Seppun over the considerable shame they felt over their failures since the death of Hantei XXXVIII. Constructed shortly after the coronation of Toturi III, blessed by the Hidden Guard so the wards would curse anyone who enters with dishonorable intentions, this place trains the Seppun Magistrates. Now they are quite demanded by the new Imperial treasurer to deal with taxes. Dueling is a main training too here. (See Art of Duel page 139 for more information).
The Otomo counterpart of the Sapphire blade dojo is the House of the White Chrysanthemum, a young courtier training school. This isn’t the only Otomo holding here, many are around like libraries, tax offices and such. This one is more noticeable because they often invite peoples for small courts and dinners, minor diplomats and artists. It is so their students can try in real life what court is without endangering the family itself. (See Art of Duel page 140 for more information).
The estate of Seppun Toshiaki is as impressive, but since the death of the Hidden Guard head, I haven’t seen anyone come near it. Rumors, as the rumor mill of the city goes, says he was executed for being a Gozoku spy, and that he has an illegitimate child.
Here is one of the biggest libraries of the city, actually under the Phoenix’s care. It has many walls full of endless stack of scrolls, placed inside protective cases with kanji explaining their contents. Still, peoples are working to recover all the knowledge lost during the Battle of Toshi Ranbo, and most will be more than likely be lost forever. Near the Ichidou district you can see the ruins of a former Miya library. The Phoenix sometimes comes here to mourn the loss of documents of great age and prestige, many of which had no other copies in existence.
Among the notable places you will rarely hear about, here is this discreet building over there. It’s the home of the Iron Fan ronin group, a group of ronin that assumed the roles of vigilantes to protect the lower classes from the numerous battles between Cranes and Lions. They took their name from the use of the iron fan as a weapon, for the Crane issued an edict forbidding any non-Crane residents to bear weapons within the city. The Lion maintained the same law after, both afraid the war-weary populace would revolt, but leaving the lower classes unable to defend themselves. The Iron Fans was born of those ronins who took tessens to defend them. The Otokodate is fairly honorable, but really independent, and bound to infighting because many of the ronins are former Cranes and Lions. (More information about the Iron Fans in Way of the Wolf).
Kakita Hirotada, the Crane’s famous master painter, lives over here. His wife is known for inviting peoples over really often, dinners where gossip and rumor are made, and she takes great pride in the talent of her chefs, who are specialized in the rich cuisine of the northern provinces of the Crane.
The Senzai District is home to the most beautiful gardens, the Noh theaters and the Imperial Museum. Kakita Kannabe rules the court here, a really small one where peoples attempt to promote their own theater troop or other entertainment group to impress the other nobles. (More about Senzai district in Master of Court page 175).
*Imperial city :*
Here lies the center of the city, both because of the location, but also because it’s the beating heart of an Empire. The Imperial Palace and the other imperial buildings are located over and around the river at the actual center of Toshi Ranbo. Visiting here is quite difficult, but I can show you and speak to you of a few places here. I after all know personally Seppun Kiharu-sama and had some reputation as a good storyteller.
The Jade Champion’s residence resembled a vague mixture of temple and dojo. When you know that it was built for Ashina Sekawa, who supported the Asahina sohei, and later used by Kuni Daigo, it is no surprise. There is always a dozen of Jade Legionnaries around the city, serving the Jade champion or helping the Keepers, keeping an eye on the Temples and such.
The Shogun’s mansion is much bigger, and was designed to fit the first Shogun, Kaneka-sama. The audience chamber leading into the Shogun’s private quarters was small, barely large enough to accommodate an important personage and his private retinue, much less actually entertain guests of any sort. Typically, the chamber was reserved for the occupant to meet privately with a single visitor, perhaps two at the most. The original suite of chambers that the Shogun had claimed for himself, were quite modest, all things considered, little more than servants’ quarters to be honest, but the Shogun had always insisted that they were more than adequate for his needs. I dunno if the new Shogun had kept it that way or not, but as a servant of the Lords of Death, I believe he has.
They are next to the Imperial Barracks, known now as the Shogun’s barracks. They are close the palace, and once belonged to the Seppun guards.
Another imperial office has also a mansion here, the Emerald Champion itself.
The Imperial gardens are particularly impressive : every manner of plant from all across the Empire was represented, as well as a wide assortment from the Mantis islands and a handful of exotic blossoms the Unicorn kept from their days of travel beyond Rokugan’s borders. Shugenja in service to the palace ensured that the environment within the garden was always like that of spring, and so one could find delicate and beautiful blossoms even when a light snowfall was descending upon them, as it was now. If there was any serenity to be had within the palace, it was contained within the gardens. Like most of the gardens in Rokugan’s palaces, there are many go boards around here. Like many gardens, you can also find Taryu-jai dueling circles inscribed on the floor.
But one is different of the others. Created by the Emperor’s brother, written in a cipher of a shugenja that died without leaving any records, as far as the secret says, this circle has been made to prevent all spying. So the secret says The shugenja smiled innocently.
The private quarters of the Emerald Champion are quite large, even if they are not particularly lavish in their decoration. There had been but a single Emerald Champion in the years since Toshi Ranbo had become the new Imperial City, and thus the eclectic style of decoration that was so evident at the Emerald Champion’s castle north of the ruins of Otosan Uchi was not present here.
An amusing little story about another imperial location : the sanctuary of Heavenly fans, the imperial aviary. In boar 1167 all the tail feathers of the peacocks has been stolen, but since Toturi III didn’t required any to be in the Imperial Gardens, not many peoples cared about all this. I don’t know more about it, because even rumors didn’t cared about it.
The Imperial Palace hasn’t suffered any real damages during the recent events, but you can see some of the buildings around it didn’t had that chance, even if there is little trace now.
The last important buildings I can tell you about are the First Legion official’s headquarters. But actually, their actual headquarter is mobile, especially under Kitsu Dejiko’s command. So here are only the administrative and support troops of the Legion most of the time.
*Imperial Palace :*
Then the Imperial Palace itself : it’s a vast, sprawling building that incorporated hundreds of rooms and countless corridors that wound through an entire compound of buildings, making it difficult for most to determine exactly where the palace began and ended. It was a deliberate aspect of the building’s construction, of course; the first occupant to reside within as Emperor, Toturi III, had been specific about certain matters of security, one of which was to ensure that anyone attempting to seize and hold the palace would have tremendous difficulty locating all the entrances and exits. Those who secured the castle were of course familiar with them, save for a rumored few that only Toturi III supposedly knew of. If any of those exits still existed, no one had yet discovered them. It was a fact that made the Seppun guardsmen who protected the palace extremely unhappy. The guards stations are so well made that are barely noticeable to the untrained eye.
The palace is protected from the Shadowlands Taint. Wards were in place that could detect its touch upon a mortal soul and burn it out at the root. Even so, the Taint could be an elusive foe. A skilled tsukai could bury the evil deep inside, and pass through the strongest wards undetected. An enemy who did so would be severed from Jigoku’s influence, unable to call upon their dark power without exposing themselves to the deadly wards. Of course that meant very little against an enemy who was willing to pay the ultimate price.
There is a particular balcony, where the chancellor Bayushi Kaukatsu lost his life during the battle of Toshi Ranbo. He was killed by gakis summoned by the Spider, because of portal toward Gaki-do existed here after all the atrocities the city has known. The portal is now closed, Kaukatsu’s yojimbo sacrified himself by jumping into it alive to feed the gaki for all eternity. Bayushi Kwanchai’s sacrifice in Hare 1170 closed the portal.
The personal chambers of Toturi III were expansive, but not as lavish as one might expect, and certainly not so much as previous Emperors. It was as Naseru preferred it, with the only decorations not only beautiful but also having considerable personal significance as well. A stone pedestal given him by his friend Shinjo Shono that bore a copy of Leadership the general Toku had once given his father stood in one corner. An exquisite painting Otomo Hoketuhime had commissioned for him hung on another wall. On another, a mask he had been given at his wedding a short time ago by Bayushi Paneki, the Scorpion Clan Champion and a trusted vassal. Everything had meaning. Everything served a purpose. I do not know if Iweko 1st has choose to take those chambers, changes them or leaves them as they were, but that how they were when Toturi III left for the Tomb of the Seven Thunders.
The chambers in which the Imperial Court was being held had been designed by the finest architects in the Empire. Since the new Imperial Palace had been constructed only a few short years ago, it also incorporated the most modern advances, including many things that families such as the Miya and Kaiu understood about acoustics. It allows poets and musicians to be heard perfectly from one side to another.
What I know is that our empress has an inner sanctum, where peoples who have been granted an audience can come. She sits behind a translucent screen while Togashi Satsu, her voice, ensured that her will was known : nearly no one is allowed to interact with her directly.
*Toshi Ranbo’s shadow : *
Now, we are reaching the end of our trip together. I’ll tell you now of little things that shouldn’t be talked about. But how could I show you the city without showing you it’s shadow ? You may ask how I know all this, why I’m not telling the magistrates about it ? I’m a special man in many ways. Some says I died during the battle of the Day of Thunder. Some says I died during the March to Volturnum. Some says I died killed by a spider-aligned Tortoise clan courtier. Or some says I just want others peoples to do the job for me. Pick your own story and start it. The shugenja smiled one last time and resumed.
Toshi Ranbo wo Shien Reigisaho was an old city, with a long history of violence. Before it became the Imperial Capital, it had been a focal point in the war between the Lion and Crane Clans. The common folk here had been forced to do what they could to survive in a city frequently consumed by war. As a result, the city was riddled with hidden rooms and escape tunnels, where refugees from the current regime could hide until friendly forces ruled again. These hidden parts of the city were like dark secrets, a memory of a much more violent past.
Beneath those there is rest of all the houses and streets of the multiple destructions and rebuilding of the city. A nezumi once told me they were many layers of those, caverns made of houses built over each other. Bloodspeakers used those to hide during the Blood Hunt, preparing their secrets meetings and such.
This particular sake house, despite the aspect, over there, is interesting. While it is the part of the market district that has barely cleaned the rumbles following the battle of Toshi Ranbo, and the aspect outside and inside are the same. It’s a dark place, and it’s for dark peoples. This is a Kolat meeting place.
They had previously a geisha house, large but not ostentatious. It was well made and discreet, no one could tell what it was without knowing it before hand. The inside was of the level of the best of Ryoko Owari. But Moto Chen and his vigilant put an end to it.
The small, nearly abandoned temple that burned here, near the former Daidoji daimyo’s mansion, was once used by Daidoji Kikaze to meet with his traitorous hatamoto Daidoji Shihei until his betrayal was discovered. Kikaze-sama killed him and burned the temple after. I know the place had secret tunnels, and some says it was used as a supply base for the harriers.
The Spider do not have an official presence in Toshi Ranbo, neither any permanent agent. They do own many business establishments thorough the city, in every quarter and every classes of society, but none of the proprietors are aware of the nature of the benefactors. (More about the Spider in Toshi Ranbo page 138 of Master of Court).
But they do have a hidden room that has a perfect view over the Imperial Palace, a nice play to get magical spying. In this spot, the ashigaru named Bozan was killed by his son, and that were the Spider made a deal with the numerous gaki and toshigoku spirits of the town to help them spies and assassinate peoples.