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Rebuilding the Empire (Origins 2003 Storyline)
By Rich Wulf


Two years ago, in the halls of Kyuden Miya, the end of winter brought the end of peace for the Empire as the Four Winds went their separate ways. Now, as the heat of summer covered the plains of the Empire, the hope for peace was born in Kyuden Miya once more.

Miya Shoin stood before the assembled court. The call had echoed across the Empire, summoning the finest servants of the Empire to serve its new court. Warriors, scholars, mystics, and diplomats now stood, one beside the other, in Kyuden Miya. Dragon and Phoenix, Crane and Lion.

"I never thought I would see such a sight," Shoin whispered. "I never thought so many would answer the call."

"I would not congratulate yourself yet, Shoin-san," replied the parchment voice of Ide Tadaji. "Look closely. The Lion and Phoenix have not spoken to one another since they have arrived. The Scorpion and Mantis have been cold at best. These diplomats, for all their education and talent, cannot even agree where the new capital will stand. One false word, one misstep, and this fledgling court will crumble."

"I do not understand," Shoin replied. "The Empire has united in a common cause before. Surely this is no different. Surely they can see the threat Daigotsu poses."

Across the chamber, Shoin could see that Shosuro Higatsuku, the Scorpion representative, had fallen into a heated dispute with Toritaka Tatsune, the old Crab sensei. Kitsu Juri of the Lion watched the silent Dragons on the far side of the chamber with a pensive, suspicious expression.

"Surely they do see the threat," Tadaji replied with a wry grin. "But they disagree in how to deal with it. Yes, Rokugan has joined temporarily in brotherhood in recent memory, but that was different. Do you know why?"

Shoin frowned. "Toturi," he replied, bowing his head. "Toturi was always there to unite them."

Tadaji nodded. "The Four Winds are much like their father, and that, I think, is the problem. With one Toturi to lead the Empire, our course is clear. With four, things have grown more complicated."

"I am not asking for peace across the Empire," Shoin asked. "If we can do just this one thing, agree upon this one decision, that may be enough of a start."

"A single pebble?" Tadaji asked with a chuckle.

"Is that so much to ask?" Shoin asked, looking at the old courtier.

"One must sow hope to reap peace," Tadaji replied. "The fields of Rokugan have been barren of late, I fear." The old courtier sighed deeply, his shoulders slumped and his eyes trailed to the floor. For a moment, he truly looked as ancient as he was said to be.

"Have patience, Tadaji," Shoin said. "The Emperor may be dead, but his blessing may yet save us all."

"The Emperor's Blessing?" Tadaji replied, absorbing the hidden meaning in Shoin's words. Since the first war against Fu Leng, the Miya had been one the poorest of the Imperial Families. Much of their wealth was dedicated to a tradition known as the Emperor's Blessing, in which the Miya would hire builders and merchants to feed and repair the most desperate areas of the Empire. Tadaji looked at the Miya curiously, but the younger man said nothing. Across the chamber, the wide doors of the court opened. For a few brief instants, the assembled court continued their bickering, ignoring the new arrival. Then, a hushed silence fell over the city as all assembled realized who had entered the chamber.

The tall samurai strode to the center of the room, white hair falling loose over his broad shoulders. At his hip, the ivory hilt of a fine katana gleamed in the lantern light. A faint smirk painted his fine features. He strode to the center of the center of the chambers, turned to face Shoin and Tadaji, and bowed deeply, far more deeply than required for a samurai of his station.

"Miya Shoin, Herald of the Emperor, I am Doji Kurohito of the Crane Clan," the samurai said. "I have come to report the dispensation of the Emperor's Blessing. The construction of the new capital has begun."

Hitomi Vedau rose from his seat, a glare darkening his heavy features. "What is the meaning of this?" Vedau demanded. "We have only begun to discuss the location of the capital. Am I to believe it has already begun construction?"

Kurohito turned to face the Dragon. "Do not interrupt me," he said coolly.

Vedau's eyes narrowed, but Kitsuki Tadashi quickly placed a hand on the young enforcer's shoulder. With a scowl, Vedau returned to his seat.

"To guard the Imperial Capital is a difficult task," Kurohito said. "As we have seen in Otosan Uchi, it is not a task to be taken lightly. Yes, we have begun construction of the capital in a Crane city. We have done this as a form of penance. Had not our eagerness to pursue our rightful claim on the Yasuki lands distracted the noble Crab from their duty, the Imperial City might never have fallen. Thus, we make it our responsibility to protect the new Imperial City."

"And where shall this city stand?" Shosuro Higatsuku asked. "What Crane city shall inherit this& responsibility?"

"Toshi Ranbo," Kurohito replied.

"Toshi Ranbo is not a Crane city," Moto Chen said with a confused frown. "It was my understanding that the Lion ruled that city."

"Toshi Ranbo has ever been as much a city of the Lion as of the Crane," said a deep voice from the rear of the room. A second samurai entered the room, a tall warrior in golden armor, a lion mempo tucked under one arm. "Our two clans have fought over Toshi Ranbo for decades but, in the end, all cities belong to the Emperor."

A hush fell over the room as Doji Kurohito and Matsu Nimuro stood side by side, facing the assembled court. The two champions watched the court with the cool, deadly patience of warriors.

With that Miya Shoin stepped forward.

"Would any man or woman here challenge the Lion and the Crane their right to protect the Empire as they deem fit?" Shoin demanded. "Would any dispute their right to rebuild what has been lost in Violence Behind Courtliness City?"

There was no argument, only stunned silence.

"So be it," Shoin said, bowing to the Champions.

As one, the Lion and the Crane bowed to the Imperial Herald once more. The court rose to their feet and bowed as well, united for the first time, if only for a time.

"There is your pebble, Tadaji," Shoin whispered over his shoulder as he rose.

The old Unicorn grinned.


 

 

 

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