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Flavor Text: Soul of the Empire

Air Dragon - "---"

Amoro's Honor - "Death is the answer to honor's fall. Death - and revenge."

Armor of the Ebony Samurai - "The armies of Toturi marched first to the Shadowlands, overcoming all who would oppose their right to lead. Their general, Saigorei, shouted, "I have lived an honorable life. Now I will die an honorable death."

Armor of the Monkey Clan - "After the slaughter of the Ikoma at Unicorn hands, it was deemed necessary to maintain a house of magistrates answering only to the Emperor. Toku-san volunteered." - Tzurui

Armor of the Twilight Mountains - "The ghost was not a ghost at all, but spirits of Lion samurai escaped from Oblivion's Gate and wounded by the Shadow. They dressed me in Iron and steel." - from Turi's Tale, Part I

Armored Steeds - "Tsume's blade carved through the Ki-Rin, shattering scimitars like a scythe. He forged through the ranks to Kamoko, screaming for blood to repay her betrayal." - from Loss of Innocence, Part III

Asahina Archers - "Not all Asahina cast spells."

Ashiaru - "---"

Ashida - "He spends his life in prayer. He will atone for the sins of the Lion, but his heart remains with the Kitsu who folloed Tsanuri to the south."

Ashigaru Token - "---"

Bayushi Aramoro - "---"

Bayushi Goshiu - "In war, prepare for peace. In peace, prepare for war. Thus is the way of balance" - Hanoshi

Bayushi Hisa - "We have harbored the monster for too long. Now we must burn it out with crystal and fire."

Bayushi Ikita - "He gained all of his mother'sgrace and none of his father's strength. A pity." - Bayushi Goshiu

Bayushi Meharu - "I saw her face, once within the lake's waters. She-they-were at peace, whole at last in Bayushi's arms."

Bhakarash - "Once, her clever tricks caused the Bright Eye to weep. But that was long ago."

Bide your time - "It is not enough to die with honor. You must also live with honor, and then death will hold no fear for you." - Kakita Aihara

Blessings of the Celestial Heavens - "Hitomi sought to understand the Shadow by reaching Shosuro's captive soul. Her actions shook the Akasha, warning the Naga of danger. When Shosuro escaped the Dragon prison, the Naga knew only one way to fight the Shadow's growing strength, by giving the Qatol rebirth." - The Daini

Blood Rite - "When Ryoshun died, his anguish awoke the Sun from grief. The Sun stepped down from the heavens and her eyes were cold and hard." - from Suru's Madness, Part III

Bloodstained Forest - "The blood of the elements shall be our weapon. What force can defy us, when the earth fights under our command?" - Mohai

Bokatu - "Afraid? Of a woman? Hiyeahhh!"

Brothers in Blood - "Ichiro staggered away from Toshimoko, his knife falling as Seppun Toshiken's sword cut open his belly. "He is our father." The Seppun's eyes flared as he watched his traitorous brother die."

Burning the Ashes - "Okura leapt in front of the fallen Lion general, throwing herself upon Akuma's claws. Though bloodied from her wound, she stood and freed her weapon from its sheath." - from Death of Honor, Part II

Cavalry Token - "---"

Cavalry Screen - "We defeated the Shadow at Morikage with the strength of our steeds; we will not fail the Empire now." - Shinjo Hanari

Chains of Jigoku - "Not all the spirits that escaped through Jigoku's arch joined in the battle with their descendants. Some fled into the Empire's heart, and others died at the hands of the Goju long after the war ended." - Lord Sun

City of Empty Dreams - "Why?" Kage whispered. The Storyteller smiled through tears. "To show you that some tales of honor come true." Kage knelt with her until death came, then scattered her ashes in the Doji seas." - The fifth city

City of Living Flames - "Kage seized the knife and cut open the nighthaunts throat. As the creature fell, Kage saw blood pooling around his fallen captive." - The fourth city

City of Loyalty - "Gathering her courage, Shizue lifted the dagger and buried it deep into the Goju's thigh." - The second city

City of Tears - "The Goju nighthaunt dropped Kage, howling in pain at the crystal thorn in its side." - The third city

City of White Clouds - "It struck, unseen and claws of shadow and blood tore into Kahe's arm. With a shout, Kage parried, but it caught his hand and twisted the crystal knife to the ground. "Die, Kolat," the Goju smiled." - The first city

Cornering Maneuver - "Fight for your Empire, fight for your honor, and fight that your descendants will remember your name!" - Matsu Turi

Daidoji Rekai - "All stories must one day end - even our own." - Doji Shizue

Daidoji Technique - "Twenty Crane followed the dragon to Volturnum."

Dairya - "Dairya drew his sword in a single stroke, cutting the Crane in two."

Dark Plains - "Akuma has fallen, and Yori is entombed in a sphere of pearl. Deep within the Shadowlands, the last of the oni overlords laughs over a festering pit, claiming her right to rule... until her master returns."

Deadly Fright - "With the call answered, a great light shone upon the blood ritual. Suru drove his knife deep into the Kami's back... but discovered too late that it was not Shinjo who had been summoned." - from Suru's Madness, Part II

Death-Seeker Technique - "Ketsui roared a challenge: "Let all those who dare insult the honor of my clan fight me!" A thousand died that day, but still Ketsui stood, a rock of courage in a land of darkness."

Defenders of the Wall - "If we must, Hitomi, we will build a wall so high and so thick that even you cannot harm the Empire, and we will shoot at you until you fall screaming to the ground." - Kuni Utagu

Devastation - "A hundred thousand oni clawed their way through the Empire's defenders, forcing the armies to part. One army held the line; the other slipped away toward Volturnum, praying it would arrive in time." - from Oblivion's Gate, Part I

Doji Benku - "---"

Doji Kuwanan - "---"

Draft Notice - "Tell me, samurai, do you truly believe Kuwanan ordered his troops to strike at the rear of the Mantis armies, or are you beginning to understand? And what could he say once the battle had been joined?" - The Ninja Shadow-Walker

Dragon of Fire - "---"

Dragons Tooth - "Ryoshun, Tenth Kami-when you return and seal the gate to Jigoku, what will become of us?"

Earth Dragon - "---"

Elder Goju - "I have been Uji, and i have been Kuwanan. Perhaps you are next."

Empty Crevasse - "It ran out of iron years ago. Now, we just make enough to shore up the walls." - Hida Kaze

Eternal Halls of the Shiba -

The Broken Blade

Tsukune turned the wakizashi in her hands, marvelling at its magnificent detail. Ryoshun had left it in her care, to protect the Empire. It had stolen many lives and bloodied many hands.

The five Elemental Masters stood near, their eyes darting from her hands to the blade, waiting for her to lift her mind from Ambition's sheen. So many had fallen already.

"The Tenth Kami left this with us for a reason," Hoichu said.

"It must be guarded. Protected." Tamoko.

"Dark secrets must be contained if they cannot be destroyed," Tomo said, his voice resonating with the wisdom of Jigoku. "They must be locked away and forgotten. This lesson scarred the Phoenix once. Let us remember it now."

Even young Ningen looked worried, and he gently tugged the Phoenix Champion's sleeve. "Let it go, Tsukune-sama. Let it rest."

It took great effort to comply, to fight the power that the blade held over the mortal part of her soul. With shaking fingers, Tsukune lowered the blade back into its sheath. "It is not my place to care for it," she whispered. "Let the Elemental Masters take it, and let a great spell be cast upon its resting place."

Her companions nodded. They were equals now, as it should have been since Shiba first came to the city of Isawa. Kneeling to lift the fractured saya from the ground, the Master of Air spoke.

"Twice has it drawn the blood of an Emperor. Now let the Phoenix bear the burden of its hunger. Let it sleep forever, away from mortal hands. It shall harm the Empire no more."

Eyes Shall not See - "Kamoko rode forward from the ranks of the undead as the Moto chanted her name. She paused between the armies, drew her sword, and turned. With a roar, the Ki-Rin followered her to victory...or to death." - from Loss of Innocence, Part II

Farmer Token - "---"

Fearful Soul - "Moto fought Moto in the Twilight Mountains, turing the rocks to blood."

Fields of Courage - "Let them remember. Let the Empire know, when the Ikoma read the histories, that a thousand Lion fought against all the strength of the Shadowlands, and that we brought them to their knees." - Ikoma Tsanuri

Fields of the Moon - "A white light shone from the blood of the Sun, engulfing both the Qatol and the Bright Eye. When it faded, the Sun was gone-and the Qatol had ascended to the heavens. At last, there came a shining dawn." - from Fall and Rebirth, Part V

Firefly Tattoo - "On the other side of the gate, a great light shone above the armies of Jigoku. Ryoshun had returned."

For My Clan - "Give me your twenty strongest, and I will take them to Volturnum," the dragon said. But Yoritomo's troops were wounded, and his clan would die if they should go. Knowing his duty, he turned alone to the dragon. "I am my twenty strongest."

Fortified Ground - "They fought back to back against the horde but saw no sign of victory. The ronin snarled, "Before I die, I need one question answered...." - from The Ronin and the Crane, Part I

From Broken Ground - "While the Empire's samurai fought to the South, the creatures slipped behind their borders." - from Chronicles of War, Part IV

Fulfilling my Duty - "Amoro led them, as he had sworn to do. When he had finished his duty, the Crab offered him a single tear of jade. The Crane watched in silence as a hero's soul was put to rest...forever."

Fully Armed - "Reju stood beside Kuwanan, defending him from all who would dare attack the campion of the Crane. "Have you returned to the Crane?" Kuwanan asked. "Yes, my lord. She had no further need of me...and you will."

Ginawa - "---"

Glory Grounds - "I am not a servant of Shadow-I am the Master of the Dark. I stood beneath the sky when the Sun and Moon first walked the earth, and I offered my body to stand between their brightness and the Eternal Night. Fight me, mortals, and know what it is to die in fear." - from Goju's Celestial Agonies."

Goju Adorai - "---"

Half-beat Strike - "Who is better, old man, you or me? Let us finish it now, before the oni claim our lives and our souls." - Dairya

Heavy Barde - "The Burning Words shall lead us, my lady, and Moto will fight Moto again. To victory, beneath an empty mon!" - war cry of Moto Tsume, Loss of Innocence, Part I

Hida Tsuru - "The old Crab died defending his daughter's life. Yet, after his fall, we could hear him fighting on the other side of the arch, refusing toadmidt defeat even in death." - Hiruma Yugure

Hiruma Abun - "In the darkness of Jigoku, past the Shadow that tore apart the arch, a thousand soldiers marched beyond death. Those who once served the Empire in its time of greatest need have not forgotten their debt to Emperor Toturi or their duty to his cause."

Hitomi Iyojin - "She watches us still."

Hoshi Eisai - "I will return," Hoshi said to his wife as he led his troops away from Shiro Morumoto. "I know," she whispered, and then was silent once more."

Hoshi Sensei - "The mind contains all possibilities."

Hoshi Wayan - "---"

Hoturi Sensei - "Even from death I will rise and I will fight. Swear your sword to the same oath, and the Empire will never fall again." - Doji Hoturi, from beyond Oblivion's Gate."

Hurlspit Goblins - "I watched in fury as the goblin horde came over the hill, their blades already reddened with Lion blood." - Matsu Seijuro

Ide Tadaji - "Visions are not so different from nightmares, in the end."

Imperial Wedding - "'You must be my wife, Kaede,' the dying Emperor whispered. 'Rule well. Bring peace to the Empire once I am gone. The Shadow cannot harm you.'" - from Ryoshun's Blessing, Part II

Increased Production - "Throughout the Empire, the Kolat emerged from hiding wielding crystal and steel. One by one, the Shadows fell."

Into The Heavens - "Shinjo lifted Kamoko's still form. 'She will not die,' the Kami whispered, 'but like me, her place is no longer here. She shall live forever among the stars of the night sky-and at my side.'" - from Loss of Innocence, Part V

Iron Mountain -

Hitomi's Last Gift

Togashi Hoshi led the Dragon army toward Volturnum's great stone gates. Darkness thundered around them, the sound echoing from their marching feet. They were the first to the city's gate, where they saw a hundred thousand more of the Shadow, some bearing the faces of their ancestors - spirits stolen from Jigoku and turned to Goju's will.

"Let me drive them from the walls," growled Hitomi Iyojin. "This is the duty for which we were born. This is the reason our lady left us behind. We will not fail her - or you."

Hoshi nodded, and the last of Hitomi's chosen charged.

A whisper of wind pushed aside the clouds, and a momentary shaft of moonlight gleamed upon the arch. As the light touched the ancient stone, the Dragon smashed the gate open. Some mystic force, drawn from their hands and from the moonlight, crushed the stone.

The Darkness gathered its strength once more. The ise zumi tore at it, falling one by one. As they fell, their bodies flared into brilliant light, forcing the Shadow to retreat. It was Hitomi's last gift, her clan's last weapon against Goju and his servants. They were driving back the Shadow at last.

As the Empire's armies burst into cheers and flooded into the city, the Dragon legions raised a mighty war cry. With the Crab and Lion armies, they drove the Goju before them, shattering the Shadow's hold. But as they neared the ancient archway to Jigoku, Hoshi heard a bitter, echoing laugh. The Darkness swarmed around Oblivion's Gate, whispering like the buzz of stinging flies.

"You may capture my city," the First Goju smiled, "but you cannot rebuild what I have already destroyed."

Isawa Tomo - "---"

Jal-Pur Raiders - "They followed Gaheris through the fire and the sky, riding on the wings given by the sound of their Kami's horn. The Moto would never see the Sands again." - from Shinjo's Call, part II

Jama Suru - "Blood is power."

Kaede's Tears - "The Emperor was dead, free of the Shadow. In Jigoku, his soul found an old friend waiting." - from Ryoshun's Blessing, Part IV

Kage - "---"

Kakita Kyruko - "Fight if you dare, samurai. Are you afraid of a little girl?"

Kakita Yoshi - "Most mortals have only one life to conquer destiny."

Karmic link - "Toturi knelt at the window as Ryoshun spoke. 'You know what you must do, Hiroru.'" - from Ryoshun's Blessing, Part I

Katana of the Twilight Mountains - "...And as I held the ancient katana, I was the spirits stand in flesh to fight at my side. Behind them, I was Tsuko's soul rise, and I raised my sword in her name." - from Turi's Tale, Part II

Keda - "The Sun fell from the sky, and fire consumed us. We looked to the north and saw a great flame standing atop the mountains, burning the land as she walked slowly south."

Kingdom of Ghosts - "You say you work for the Age of Man, yet you stand by as the Shadow turns Empire into a kingdom of ghosts. If the Kolat do not fight now, Kage, they never will." - Doji Shizue

Kitsu Motso - "When we reached Volturnum and looked through Oblivion's Gate, we saw the armies of Rokugan's past spread across Jigoku's fields, arrayed and fighting the Shadow."

Kolat Chambers - "---"

Kolat Courtiers - "In the throne room of Otosan Uchi, twin courtiers bow before an empty throne. "The Shadow shall have no power here," one whispers, opening a crystal fan. "So right, my sister," the other agrees in a single breath. "Nor shall kami rule. Humanity shall lead us, or none at all."

Kosaten Shiro - "---"

Kosaten Shiro -

Rise of Honor

Toshimoko leapt from his grey steed into the heart of the Crane unit, shouting down their fear. Though wounded, he struck at the Shadow, carving bone from featureless faces with the swipe of a crystal sword.

"You are Crane!" he roared, throwing his helmet to the ground. "Even in death you cannot be defeated!" Across the battlefield, a horn sounded, and a white-haired spearman raised his weapon in salute to the old warrior. Even with a battlefield betwen them, they fought as a pair.

One by one, the Crane fell in the Shadow's onslaught, their pale faces bloodied by the Darkness of Volturnum's guardians. They marched beside Toturi's legions, gaining strength as their numbers failed, but even with the whirling blade of the old sensei beside them, the last of Kuwanan's samurai fell.

At last, only one ronin fought beside the old Crane, his single eye gleaming with hatred. Turning as the last of the fighters fell, the ronin shouted to his enemy, venom hanging from his words.

"Ten years ago you took my eye, but we never finished our fight, old man! If I am to die, then I would happily knowing which of us would have won. Your blade or mine, Toshimoko? And to Jigoku with the Shadow! It will not take our souls!"

Dropping his crystal weapon, the ronin drew his sword in a single stroke...

Kyoso no Oni - "Thank you, Akuma, for being a fool. Where one oni falls, another shall rise."

Kyuden Kitsune -

Son of my Heart

The Water Dragon moved among the Mantis isles, its sinuous body rising with each gust of wind that churned the waves. It coiled, then lifted its massive head. The sea began to part.

Come, son of Osano-Wo, it called, and the roar of the waves echoed in its voice. It no more spoke with words than the sky could shout a battle-cry, yet its voice echoed within the Celestial Heavens and resounded through Kyuden Gotei, home of the Mantis Clan. Come, son of Gusai and of Yoshitsune. Give me your twenty strongest samurai, and I will take them to Volturnum to fight the Shadow.

Your twenty strongest samurai. Yoritomo removed his helm, looking across his lands' battered beaches. The last few Mantis samurai - weary, bloodied, and beaten by the Phoenix - turned their eyes towards him. They were prepared to fight once more - and to die, if he but asked them. Twenty bush to save the Empire... and if they went to war now, Yoritomo knew, they would never return from Volturnum and the Shadowlands. Without samurai, the Mantis would fall - his clan, his loyal bushi, and all of his accomplishments.

His clan. His twenty strongest samurai.

He could not let them go.

Yoritomo turned to the Dragon, lifting his kamas from their sheaths. "I am my twenty strongest samurai!" he roared. "Take me, and I shall show you how the Son of Storms faces death!"

The Dragon rolled through sea foam and salt tears, prepared to work its magic, when another voice echoed from beside the Mantis general. Aramasu, Bayushi no more, stood at his father's side.

"And I am twenty-one."

Lessons of Honor - "---"

Lost Souls - "The Kumo feeds on hatred. When the Crane war ended, the Kumo turned its hunger on the rest of the Empire. It would have succeeded if not for the valiant efforts of the Fox." - from Chronicles of War, Part VI

Magistrates Blade - "---"

Master Courtier - "The rumors of my death have not been exaggerated," Yoshi smiled winningly, "but the Empire still needs me. Did you think I could forget my duty to the Crane, when there is so much to do?"

Mat'tck - "The Ratlings guided the parted legions to the gates of Volturnum, at each step giving their lives for ours."- Kakita Kaiten, Oblivion's Gate, Part II

Matsu Agetoki - "Do not waste your breath with blame. Seek to restore what has been lost; theLion will stand proud again."

Matsu Domotai - "He is young but clever. If he can fight with his mind as he does with his sword, he will be worthy of the hero's name he has claimed." - Kitsu Motso

Mirumoto Taki - "The Dragon uncovered the Shadow first, and Hitomi threatened Shosuro with death at the Siege of Sleeping Mountain. When the end came, they used the knowledge Hitomi had gained and sliced away the Darkness with the sting of crystal blades." - from Chronicles of War, Part I

Moon and Sun - "...And ever after, the Moon and the Sun circled in the heavens, always seeking to finish their final duel. The cycle of Atman has begun again, ang again the world has found peace." - from Fall and Rebirth, Part VI

Moto Chargers - "Three times Shinjo blew her strange horn, and three times the echo shook the world. I saw the spectral steeds over the mountains, their strides covering vallys in a single leap. The Moto of the Sands had come, as they had promised, and now the Ki-Rin were whole." - from Shinjo's Call, part I

Moto Gaheris - "---"

Moto Tsugi - "'Someone must lead the troops of the Empire to Volturnum. It is a hero's duty to defend the Empire.' "'I will go,' Saigorei said. We watched lead the troops,and knew that Toturi's Samurai had not lost their honor."

Mujina Token - "---"

Mukami - "The Wasp will stand with the Mantis, and I will stand by my lord."

Naga Token - "---"

Naga Vipers - "'The Shadow is not of our making, Amaterasu-sama,' her champion said, and pointed to where the Sun had walked. Looking behind at the fields of charred ground, the Sun saw where her own shadow fell. 'If we must die for our dishonor,' the champion continued, 'then let my life pay for humanity's deeds.'" - from Fall and Rebirth, Part II

Naka Kuro - "He died alone on Whie Oak Plain, but his soul will live forever within his students' hearts."

Nature Provides - "Though the Empire has been salted, the land destroyed, we shall bring it back again to prosperity." - Hoshi Maseru

Ninja Mystic - "---"

Ninja Shadow-Walker - "When we claim our prize, you will all become children of Goju!"

Nori Farm - "The only clan we could not infiltrate was that of the half-serpents, but their isolation allowed us to control them, driving their Akasha mad...until they could bear no more." - from Secrets of Shadow, Part III

Norikesh - "The Akasha is our guide, the Bright and Pale our allies. Where the darkness has gone, my Qatol, the light must follow."

Northern Provinces of the Moto - "---"

Northern Provinces of the Moto -

Dealing with Darkness

"Now!" Kamoko gasped, gripping the Moto general's bone wrists and ignoring the lacing pain through her chest. Pulling herself up and tightening her grip, she felt his steel slide further into her body. "Fulfill your bargain!"

Tsume's skull was empty, uncomprehending, until he saw a darker presence within Kamoko's soul. Kamoko was not speaking to him. A voice wailed ant the Taint began to slide from Kamoko's body into his. Tendrils of Darkness clutched his bone arms, wrapping fleshy tentacles around his chest. Squeezing. Destroying.

"The Taint you feel is not hers, but mine. She is still pure," a voice whispered. "I protected her in exchange for this moment - the moment when I could destroy you."

Tsume snarled and tried to break free, but Kamoko's grip was as solid as the stone of the mountain around them.

"Akuma has gone to his death at the Lion's hands," the oni overlord continued, "but your end will not be so simple. The skull of Fu Leng should have been mine from the beginning." The Kyoso materialized out of Kamoko, sinking her fangs into his rotted flesh and drawing out his power. "Now I shall claim my place at his side."

Tsume's skull flared once, twice, shining a ghastly green light across the war-torn plain. As Tsume's essence dissolved into the oni's growing body, Kamoko sank to the ground. Tsume's screams faded into nothingness, and the Kyoso allowed the body to fall before her vessel's kneeling form.

"You have fulfilled our bargain," Kyoso no Oni hissed. "But I offer you another, Kamoko-san. Join us... and live." She held out her hand, offering a Tainted immortality.

The Unicorn Thunder shook her head. Death stood at her heart. When the end came, Kamoko met it with courageous silence.

O-Ushi Sensei - "Courage brings victory."

O-Ushi's Hammer - "If she falls, I will already be dead." - Hida Yasamura

Oni no Byoki - "There will always be names to steal, humans to corrupt, and honor to destroy."

Oni no Gorusei - "It rose as tall as three samurai, made of stone and fire. It was as if the creature could smell our blood and knew how best to strike us down." - Ichiro Kihongo

Oni no Okura - "Honor is borne within the soul."

Oni Podling - "Akuma tore effortlessly through Lion lines. Motso Staggered, blood trailing from his wounded arm, as the oni lifted its claws for a final blow." - from Death of Honor, Part I

Orochi Tattoo - "Many died, prepared for this since Hitomi's blood entered their bodies. The Shadow recoiled and fled." - Togashi Jodome

Otaku Kamoko - "---"

Otaku Sahijir - "She followed the Moto to Rokugan at the Kami's command, but when she arrived, another destiny awaited her."

Otomo Sensei - "No matter how difficult the past, you can always begin anew."

Otomo Towers - "There shall be Five." Kuro had been right: Tomo completed their circle of old and new. A new age had dawned, and the Phoenix had been fully reborn."

Overwhelm - "The oni came by the thousands, blocking the army's path. It was the Lion who stood their ground and held them at bay as a small group headed to the south...toward Volturnum."

Passage of time - "Deep beneath the Bayushi palace lies a lake of smooth water, a mirror in which to see your own soul. "We are one soul," Kachiko said to Shosuro. "One death...one life. It is time, daughter of Bayushi, to return home."

Past Glories - "---"

Political Favours - "They call themselves "the Wolf Legion," and they fight for the people."

Public Ridicule - "At the end, Sanzo wandered the Empire alone, wakizashi as shattered as his mind. Peasants stop to listen to his wild tales from time to time, but none would ever the truth: ambition's cost; destiny's pawn."

Question Without an Answer - "Only one half of Shinsei's words remain to bring about the next age. We must be a guide." - Takao

Rank Hath Privaliege - "The Empire will fall unless the Great Clans of the Empire stand beside us and fight. It is the end of the Age of Man, seize your destiny or step aside! - "Toku, champion of the Monkey Clan

Ratling Pack Token - "---"

Rebirth of the Dark Daughter - "Do not believe that I am lost, Grandfather. I now have all eternity to find the fourth mask."

Regional Travel Papers - "The Scorpion brought us weapons of crystal and steel. Their design seemed a thousand years old."

Restoring the Age of Myth - "Hitomi sent the child of the Ki-Rin to seek the Dragons and bring their power back to the Empire. As they returned, the Age of Man began to fall."

Return of Thunder - "Our place is here, Toturi, guarding Jigoku from the Shadow. We cannot come across the rift with you, my friend, but we will always remember you. The Thunder shall never leave your soul." - Isawa Tadaka

Riding Yari - "When the Unicorn rode to fight the Moto, Tetsuko's young daughter watched from the hills of the Otaku. The girl wept, holding in her arms her mother's sword. The Unicorn would live on." - from The Smallest Otaku Sword-Bearer

Ruined Earth - "Below us, ten thousand undead Moto charged and an army of Ki-Rin cavalry sounded a battle cry. Then the earth collapsed beneath us, and the mountain fell." - from Shinjo's Call, part III

Ryoshun's Last Words - "I died within my father's belly, a thousand years ago. I shall die once more before this tale is done. My place is with the dead, to guard them and bear the burden of their souls. I must seal the gate and purge Jigoku of Shadow.'" - Ryoshun's last words, Suru's Madness, Part I

Seppun Toshiken - "I will serve the Empire, as did my father before me."

Shadow Assasins - "Aramasu did not move from Yoritomo's side. "And I am twenty-one."

Shadowed Wastes - "'The Phoenix were so easily manipulated, their students-like Hosigeru-encouraged and destroyed. A broken house has many cracks that let our Shadow in.'" - from Secrets of Shadow, Part I

Shiba Kiku - "Her mother was a battle maiden, and she was born on the back of an Otaku steed. But her heart wept Phoenix blood as she fought for her clan, and I would give my life for hers." - Shiba Raigen

Shiba Tsukune - "Walk with faith, not by sight, and we shall win the day."

Shinjo Hanari - "'Moto Tsume struck, and beneath his blade, I saw Kamoko fall.'" - from Loss of Innocence, Part IV

Shirasu Sensei - "Karma is judgement. Under the gaze of an honorable Emperor, justice will prevail."

Shiryo No Chiroku - "Do you believe what I tell you? Only a believer walks on water, and great men have drowned in these seas...."

Shiryo no Gohei - "His spear cut through the Senpet general with the roar of a thousand winds. "Here is your 'butcher' gaijin," he snarled, then turned to fight by Ketsui's side."

Shiryo no Hantei - "Remember, Toturi, Nobility is no found in the blood, but in the heart."

Shiryo no Kunliu - "If honor lies within your soul, your sword can be silent and still your enemies will fall."

Shrine of the Dead - "The souls of the dead fought valiantly against Goju's faceless followers, but, in the end, Jigoku was nearly destroyed-erased by the darkness of the Shadow." - Lady Moon

Shrines of the Emperor - "---"

Sniping - "The Fox do not fight for the Crane, Kuwanan, nor do they fight for the Mantis. They fight for the Empire." - Ruosei

Something Worth Dying For - "The Crab died to bring the oni down. Without their leader, the goblins scattered and were lost." - from Chronicles of War, Part II

Son of the Clan - "They are my family!" Toshiken shouted. His blows fell like rain, but Shosuro only laughed, then cocked her head and vanished."

Soul of the Empire - "'Be my second,' the Emperor commanded, and at the end that was all there was in the world-one man's honor and one man's blade." - from Ryoshun's Blessing, Part III

Spy Network - "No messages passed through the Empire that did not alter, destroy, or misdirect. Mortals are easily ruined by words." - Goju

Steel and Iron - "We have broken the souls of your ancestors, and now we shall shatter yours as well." - Goju

Strike from Behind - "Not this time, Crab." - Shasyahkar

Suana - "---"

Swamp Marsh - "'We have been Tsukune, Kuro, and even Toju, but the greatest trick of all was to become Itako and tell the destiny you would create for yourselves.'" - from secrets of Shadow, Part II

Temples of the Crow -

Seven Dragons

The sky flowed, and seven great forms rose, carrying the last of Rokugan's greatest heroes toward Volturnum's gates. In the monastery, faint chants began. To the far south, a Shadow boiled, blocking the moon's faint light.

"The Shadow...," Hizuka whispered, afraid. Takao stood at the temple gate and watched the Darkness move. To the north, a brilliant flame fell from the skay, its light washing across the land. "And the Sun," Takao added.

In the temple, the Brotherhood gathered their weapons and prayer beads for the final attack. Takao held out his hand, and the bell at the top of the Mountain of the Seven Thunders began to ring. It would not stop until the Sun's rebirth... or the Darkness's consumption of the world.

"The Shadow must be named," the Lady Moon's voice came to Takao now, as he had known it would. "If it is defined, we can destroy it."

"Destroy?" Takao smiled. "Destruction only clears the path for new evil, Hitomi. You know that."

"A name must be chosen, to give it form."

Into the pause that followed, Takao whispered a single word, unheard under the ringing of the temple bell. A stunned moment of enlightenment pssed, then came a rush of agreement. The Shadow would receive its answer - a simple answer - and would be prevented from opening itself to all things. It would receive the name that would shape its existence forever after. No name would be taken from the heavens, nor would its form be stolen from the Kami or from the Fortunes.

Takao smiled. The answer had come, as all things must, from mortal destiny.

Temples of the New Tao - "Though half of the Tao has been lost through our arrogance, what remains holds the future of the Empire. And we shall protect it, no matter what destiny awaits." - oath of Asahina Dorai, Kolat master

Tetsuya Sensei - "Even loss and betrayal can bring about an awakening."

The Citadel of the Hiruma -

My Life for Yours

When the Empire's armies met the Shadowlands forces, the Crab Champion roared into the fray beside Yasamura's Hida riders. O-Ushi smashed all enemies who dared approach her hammer.

"Where is your wall, oni?" she yelled. "Where is your cresting wave? We have kept you at bay for a thousand years! Can you not hold us for one day?"

The Shadowlands beasts fled, howling as the Crab legions slaughtered them. Blackened and bruised, O-Ushi turned to see a massive oni claw apart Yasamura's steed. Yasamura landed hard, reeling.

"No!" O-Ushi shouted, sweeping her hammer toward the beast. She battered its tough carapace, which tore her skin. When she gained the upper hand, she raised her hammer for the finishing blow - but the oni twisted aside just as she struck. The hammer's handle shattered and lodged into O-Ushi's thigh. Screaming, she fell to the ground. Blood ran down her leg as she pushed herself to her feet. She would not die on her knees.

The oni plunged its claws into her neck. O-Ushi felt sharp pain, and then, suddenly, the creature fell, steel bursting through its throat from behind. Yasamura's blade had impaled it.

Yasamura helped O-Ushi stand. "I owe you my life," he murmured.

"You once saved me," she said matter-of-factly. "We are even."

"No. You are worth a thousand deaths." Yasamura held her shoulder a second longer, then let it go. "Without you, I would march south, as Hida did, and give my life to defeat your enemies."

O-Ushi smiled with fierce mischief. "You are right - we are not even," she said, eyes shining. "You have saved two lives this day."

The Dark Path of Shadow -

Death lies Waiting

Volturnum's wide gates lay upon the ground, charred by ancient flames and devastated by the ravages of time. Within, the city's strange streets twisted through thick Darkness - Darkness that moved, that churned. Darkness whose empty face contorted in hideous laughter.

The troops of the Empire marched before the city in pitiful numbers, raising shining swords of light.

How amusing. How pathetic. Goju laughed. Black lightning arched through the Darkness, illuminating nothing.

The Lion charged, but tides of Darkness tore apart Motso's army. The creatures within the Darkness howled in glee. Only a shred of the Lion's numbers remained standing when the wave of Shadow ebbed.

The Crab charged next, but Goju caught their general in an immense hand and broke him in two with a single squeeze. A girl screamed and plunged her crystal weapon into the Goju's side, but the katana passed through him, spilling no blood.

"Did you truly think it would be so easy?" he asked, hurling her aside. "We control the gate; we control the destiny of all who have ever died for your Empire. Your heroes, your failures - all will be forgotten, wiped away by the Shadow. Take a final look at your ancestors, samurai, for your fall begins with their deaths." The Goju raised his arms once more, and red light cascaded from the heavens. From behind the gate screams began, and Jigoku burst into black flames.

The Emperor Returns - "'Give me your hand!' Ginawa yelled. Toturi reached, and Ginawa pulled him through to the Empire as the gate was sealed." - from Ryoshun's Blessing, Part V

The Grey Crane - "...But Toshimoko did not draw, leaving the ronin to die alone."

The Kitsu Tombs -

A Thousand Lion

Creatures swarmed through the Shadowlands, engaging the Empire's armies with blackened claws and poison fangs. The Lion held their ground, but it was not enough: the armies must continue marching to the Shadow's city, or lose the Empire.

Tsanuri frowned, looking at the maps. "It will take your small group only three days to reach the city. The armies can follow. If we lose more time, the Shadow will destroy the gate before we arrive and all will be for nothing."

Kitsu Motso's voice rumbled beneath the battle cries, "Someone must hold the Horde here."

Steel shone in Tsanuri's eyes. "While you go, we will attack from this flank" - she pointed to the map - " giving you time to make it to that pass."

Motso nodded. "Are you certain I should lead that unit?"

Tsanuri stared into his eyes. "They need someone they can trust. We both know the Lion do not trust me - any more than you do."

"Oni no Akuma has a hundred thousand beasts at his command. If you stay, you will die."

"Do not question my command, Motso-san." Her voice was calm despite the screams that echoed over the plain.

For a moment, the two commanders stood, silent in the battle's chaos. A flicker of respect passed between them. Then Motso bowed.

Tsanuri nodded, replaced her helmet, and grapsed her father's sword. "The Ikoma troops will not falter. You will have three days - but no more." She turned back toward the Lion legions. Motso watched her go.

"We are Lion," he said, saluting as she faded into the mist. "We will not fail."

But Akuma already knew the Lion's plans.

The New Akasha -

The Enemy of my Enemy

O-Ushi raised her hammer. Beside her, the Crab tensed for battle against an army of Naga gathered at the Shadowlands' edge.

"Your people have betrayed us." O-Ushi bit the words off sharply, her distaste apparent. Behind her, her honor guard shifted. "Leave our lands, Naga. We do not need your poison to win this war."

Behind his Qatol, one of the Asp slowly drew forth an arrow. His bow tensed.

"O-Ushi!" a Crab shouted, throwing his body before hers as the Asp released his shaft. He was too late. The arrow passed through O-Ushi's arm and into the chest of a man behind her. The man fell back, black blood oozing from his wound. As his life ebbed, his features slid into nothing and a Tainted black blade fell from his grasp.

O-Ushi's guard stared at their fallen comrade. They had fought with this man, lived with him, known his family. And yet... he was a Goju.

"They control our actions, even now," O-Ushi said softly. She turned to the Naga archer, who had lowered his bow. "You shot through me."

"He was behind you," the archer hissed. "I did not want the arrow to fail." He tested his bowstring, and it hummed faintly in the thin air. "Had I missed, you would have died at the Goju's hand, and your Crab would have attacked. None of us would have lived to see the true battle. I know where my enemies are." The Naga pointed to the Shadowlands.

O-Ushi nodded. Before the archer could go, she said, "I though Naga arrows never miss."

The Naga smiled thinly, displaying his fangs, and said nothing. Then Balash turned and was gone.

The Spawning Ground -

Death of the Last Thunder

Kamoko's blade cut into Tsume's armor, dtearing the rotted lacings and slashing toughened tendon and bone.

"Too late," Tsume hissed, his own weapon leaping toward her throat. "Even if you destroy me, the Shadowlands have claimed you. You have the Master's Taint."

Parrying the undead Moto's savage slash, the battle maiden felt something dark move within her, its Taint responding to Tsume's own. Kamoko's katana shattered. She fell to her knees, which sank into churned earth. With the sweep of Tsume's sword wiving above her, Kamoko looked up through blood and sweat.

"No, Tsume," she growled. "I would do anything to save my clan from the Darkness you offer them, but you are wrong. The only Taint in my soul is the Taint I chose to bear."

"Then die for them!" Tsume roared, stabbing through her chest with a furious thrust of his katana. "And may your last sight be of our victory!"

Tainted blood pouring from her wound, the Unicorn Thunder gripped Tsume's wrists with her last strength. Around her, undead Moto cut through the Unicorn with rusted blades and sharp cries of victory. Tsume's mad laughter echoed from the Twilight Mountains' high cliffs.

The Sun Returns - "Hitomi's prediction was correct; Lady Sun committed jigai, sacrificing herself for a new world. But the moon did not foresee the light that would follow her death and carry his soul to the heavens and beyond." - from Fall and Rebirth, Part IV

The Towers of the Yogo -

A Small Price

Around the Empire's camped legions, tremendous bays of flame burned. Creatures scurried past.Guardians stood at every corner, their raised spears shining in the bonfires' brilliant light. In the darkness of the Shadowlands' edge, an army prepared for dawn.

Saigorei was the name of the one chosen to lead the small force that would race toward Volturnum when dawn arrived. He was the last of Toturi's faithful, ready to die in service to his lord.

He heard a disturbance outside his tent and looked out, squinting into the encampment's brightness. "Who comes?" he asked the guard.

"The Scorpion," came the quiet reply.

Yojiro and Aramoro. Aramoro remained behind his champion, his eyes dead and cold. A small army stood by, each samurai bearing a huge pack. "We wish to parlay," Yojiro said.

"On the eve of battle?"

"There will be no battle," Yojiro said. "You cannot fight the Shadow. Your courage does the Emperor honor, but your foolishness will destroy the very thing you fight to save. Hitomi has brought you knowledge of the Goju, but she has not armed you for this war." Yojiro raised his hand, and the Scorpion army laid down their packs and threw them open to reveal a hundred thousand katana, nagamaki, naginata, and arrows - all of purest crystal. The weapons reflected the blazing firelight. "The Scorpion will arm the Empire's clans, because if we do not, you will all die in Volturnum. In return, we request only that the clans know that you live not because of their honor... but because of ours." Yojiro smiled, and the trap was set.

The Emperor's servant nodded, and the deal was made.

Thunder Dragon - "There shall be ten thousand to hold back the horde."

Time of Destiny - "Her sword thrust true, destroying the beast. Together, the two oni died-and with Akuma's deah, Kitsu Okura saved the Lion general and freed her clan from the oni's curse. At the end, she was a Lion." - from Death of Honor, Part III

Togashi Mitsu - "---"

Togashi Senai - "The Lady of the Moon taught me all I need to know of strength, and Lord Hoshi has taught me much of honor. Against the Shadow, I will need both."

Toku - "---"

Toritaka Mariko - "When the first rays of morning tore through the sky, the Falcon struck. With crystal in their hands, they cleansed the Emperor's lands, driving out the Shadow beneath the light of the Sun."

Toturi the 1st - "For the Empire."

Travelling Caravan - "---"

Tsunami Legion - "Gensui was the Kolat's pawn, bought with Mantis blood. But now, Kage's orders lightened his heart: Save the Empire. Fight the Shadow."

Undead Token - "---"

Vigilant Keep of the Monkey - "---"

Vigilant Keep of the Monkey -

Death of a Ronin

The Shadow roared from Volturnum's fallen gates, its Darkness growing and white heat rippling through the tortured air. Suddenly, arrows and tremendous breaths of wind tore apart the last of Toturi's faithful. They fought beasts with their own faces, and more than one samurai died, betrayed, on a companion's sword.

Dairya plunged through the Shadow-creatures, slashing frantically across the shifting terrain. When he regained his footing, he saw nothing but carnage - and a single, grey-clad figure. "The Crane...," he cursed, throwing down his crystal weapon.

Dairya reached for his katana, and the Crane did the same. Around them, the Goju's faceless minions clustered, ready to finish their assault. With a shout, Dairya drew, and his blade struck flesh. Yet he felt no pain. His blow had not been returned.

The Crane stood, bleeding, as he watched the Shadow close around the ronin. It swirled and howled, eager to consume Dairya's soul and wipe his face as empty as the sky.

With a smile, the old Crane died, and the waiting Darkness swallowed the ronin's shout of betrayal and fury.

Void Dragon - "---"

Void Guard - "---"

Water Dragon - "...Joined by twenty more from each clan, borne on the breath of dragons." - Norikazu, oracle of fire."

When Spirits Walked - "Hiroru fell to his knees, feeling as though all joy, all honor, had left the world. The Emperor was dead by his own blade; Ryoshun had vanished-gone to seek his path back to Jigoku. Only one thing remained, one reason to live....He looked into the Empress's eyes and whispered his lady's name."

Where the Sun Walked - "This Shadow that ravages your Empire is your own darkness, and I will not help you name it,' Amaterasu said. As she walked through the Empire, she gathered the swords of each clan and placed them in the sky." - from Fall and Rebirth, Part I

Yaro - "When the Sun rose, the burned land began to heal and the peasants fled. One among them, Toturi's most faithful, remained standing. His crystal spear felled the Shadow's child." - from Chronicles of War, Part III

Yasuki Nokatsu - "'Our lord knelt and spoke in hushed tones. Then he rose, drew his sword, and stood behind the Sun-a second to her seppuku."-from Fall and Rebirth, PartIII

Yodin Sensei - "We walk a road of blood from which new life must again return."

Yoritomo - "Storms never fall."

Yoritomo Furikae - "He died at the Shadow's hand in Morikage but returned through the gate to fight at his lord's side. Not even death can stop a storm from gathering."

Yotsu Shoku - "The seven children of the ronin yotsu will never forget their father's oath. Each head they take in battle or through treachery is another step toward fulfilling their father's cause."

Z'orr'tek - "For each Ratling that dies under his command, he carries away a tooth. Soon he will have a pouch of fallen souls.




Kaze no Shiro Return


Togashi will return!