Flame erupted nearby, the force of the explosion throwing earth and rock in every direction. The sound of the battlefield was a cacophony of drum beats, furious warcries, screams of pain, and pleas for help from the dying.
In the middle of everything the Hooded Ronin led a group of heroes.
Hida Yakamo – who had killed the Oni which bore his name earlier in the day on that very battlefield.
Doji Hoturi – a former captive who escaped and destroyed the pretender that had assumed his identity to destroy the pride and honor of his clan.
Mirumoto Hitomi – who had defeated Hida Yakamo, the object of her hate for many years, in a duel during the earlier battle, but had spared his life for the good of Rokugan.
Akodo Toturi – whose leadership had marshaled the might of the Empires ronin and turned that might to the defense of its people.
Isawa Tadaka – nearly debilitated by his exposure to the Black Scrolls and their menace. Helped by his sisters, he accompanied the other heroes to fulfill his role in the redemption of the Empire and his Clan.
Otaku Kamoko – vanguard for the small group, she had the image of the ﬁrst Otaku, and Otaku’s devotion to the Ki-Rin clan, forever engraved upon her mind.
The small group wound its way across the battlefield toward the wall of Otosan Uchi. Short one member, the Thunders would not prevail against the Empire’s oldest and most powerful enemy unless that member joined them.
Hidden behind a locked gate, the last member of the band awaited the moment when her colleagues would most need her services. At her side was a man whose life she had sought to take on a number of occasions.
Seppun Ishikawa glanced at the Emperors wife, Kachiko, the Lady of Scorpions. He found it almost comical that, after two years of trying to uncover Kachiko’s plotting within the halls of the Imperial Palace, he was back at the capital commanding his elite Imperial troops, about to aid an attack upon the Emperor himself. It seemed mad.
Eight figures neared the wall of the Palace. They would soon be safe within — if pitting themselves against a kami could be considered safe.
The huge gate loomed before them. Suddenly, a horde of Shadowlands creatures broke from a nearby engagement and took position between the Thunders and the gate. There was no way for the small band to fight through. Then the great doors of the gate slammed open and the sounds of battle erupted, as Ishikawa led his Imperial troops against the rear flank of the creatures trying to prevent the Thunders’ entry into the palace.
Though outnumbered four to one, Ishikawa and his men cut a path nearly all the way through the Shadowlands force, using their swords and sheer determination to part the tainted monsters and create a gap through the slavering horde. But they could not force themselves all the way through. The tide turned against the Imperial force, the Shadowlands troops threatening to overwhelm the determined soldiers and end their attempt to reach the Thunders.
Without warning a Naga unit broke from the fighting nearby and attacked the flank of Fu Leng’s horrors driving back the evil forces and completing the path the Imperial soldiers had begun.
The Thunders raced to the gate without hesitation, knowing the meager Naga and Imperial forces could not hold off the horde for long. Behind them, the creatures broke through and the combat turned into a massacre of Imperial and Naga troops, but the Thunders had made it into the palace and would soon confront Fu Leng.