A short vignette dealing with the results from two of our GenCon events: the Imperial Yojimbo invitational event and the Shogun of the Empire War of Honor tournament!
A Matter of Honor
By Shawn Carman
Edited by Fred Wan
Summer, year 1198
The word fortress was often appropriated by bandits to describe their base of operations, but in the experience of Moto Chuko, it was very rarely applied correctly. The present bandit group that he and his men were facing, or had been facing until a few moments previously at least, was a pitiful, ramshackle affair in the middle of the wilderness. In all honesty, if the bandits had not foolishly given away their location through sloppy tactics, it seemed likely that a brisk wind might have collapsed their so-called fortress eventually anyway.
That no longer mattered, of course, as all the bandits were dead or dying, and what remained of their ‘fortress’ was about to be put to the torch. Wiping the smoke and soot from his face, Chuko exited the building’s interior and stepped back out into the bright sunlight of the Shinomen Forrest’s southern edge. “Chuko!” a voice called, and Chuko immediately jogged in the direction.
“Yes, my Shogun?” he asked.
Moto Taigo, a broad and powerful warrior, at atop his horse and scanned the remains of the tiny battlefield. “What is the status of our enemies, captain?”
Chuko bowed sharply. “All known and identified bandits are present and accounted for, Shogun!” he replied. “They did not yield, and as such none have survived.”
“Just as well,” the Shogun answered. He glanced to the side at an Imperial Herald who was waiting nervously. “And I am quite certain our honored guest is curious to know the fate of the stolen supplies we sought.”
“Yes,” the herald answered. “Did you locate the materials claimed from the caravan?”
Chuko produced a scroll. “We did find the scroll that the Imperial Herald mentioned, my lord,” he said, speaking only to the Shogun, “but of the gifts that accompanied the letter, we have found no sign.”
The herald’s face was a mask of conflicting emotions. “The letter is by far the most important,” he said, “but the stolen materials are extremely valuable as well.”
“Bandits such as these often have more than one hole into which they crawl,” the Shogun said. “They may have secreted them elsewhere, or they may have set fire to them when they realized the day was lost.”
“What? Why would they do that?” the herald asked.
“Who can say why bandits do anything?” the Shogun replied. “I am certain you are in a great hurry after all this delay.” He gestured to a grizzled warrior riding nearby. “My personal yojimbo will escort you back to the village.”
“No, no,” the herald said. “We are quite safe now, I think. The Shogunate has the gratitude of the Miya family and the Imperial Heralds. Taigo-sama, I shall be sure to mention your assistance to my lord. It was a great favor of the Heavens that you were in the area after the attack.”
Taigo shook his head. “It is my pleasure to serve, Miya-san. I regret only that we could not fully recover your lost materials. However, I will hear no dissent. You must have an escort, and Akodo Koyama is the finest man under my command.”
“You are far too gracious, my lord.”
“Not at all. For men of honor to allow an agent of the Empress to be threatened even for a moment would be unacceptable. Would you agree, Koyama?”
The Lion warrior nodded. “Without question, my lord.”
“Very well then. Again, safe travels, Miya-sama.”
The herald bowed slightly and smiled warmly at the Shogun, then turned and rode back toward the village, followed closely by Koyama. Taigo and Chuko watched them until they disappeared on the horizon. “The materials are secured, then?” Taigo asked.
Chuko looked down. “They are, Shogun.”
“Have trusted men remain behind as a rear guard. They can remove the materials to one of our hidden caches tonight.”
Chuko did not look up. “As you command, Shogun.”
Taigo turned to look at the other man. “Do you have difficulty with my orders?”
“I find it difficult to lie to an Imperial, my lord,” Chuko said honestly.
He hesitated. “When we began this duty, just after your appointment, the Unicorn were suffering. The funds your… our covert activities have generated have been an enormous boon to the clan. But the clan has recovered now and we continue these… indiscretions.”
“All you need concern yourself with is following orders, and the certainty that the funds generated by our endeavors are being used for the betterment of the Empire as a whole,” the Shogun said. “What work could be greater? Should we have left such riches to be shared among the Miya and Otomo when others have more dire need?”
Chuko hesitated. “I honestly do not know,” he admitted.
“Then just trust me, old friend,” Taigo said. “Just as your father trusted my father.”
“Lord Chagatai was a great man,” Chuko said. “I will follow you as my father followed him: until the bitter end, whatever it may be.”
Moto Taigo smiled. “I ask nothing more.”