9.2: The Battle for the Empire's Soul

The first night, the heroes heard the story of Shinsei’s Last Hope. In the morning, they were set as reserves in the middle of town, ready to reinforce anywhere they were needed. The first unusual event was when Hiruma Botan was returning to town, then was captured trying to break through, although she managed to launch a letter-arrow over the walls. Ratling runners from the White Paw tribe claimed to deliver it to the commander, but the heroes noticed that one of them had only pretended to hand off the letter and pocketed it instead. They confronted the ratlings, the shaman Tik’ki’titem arrived, and a confusing combat ensued. The ratlings other than Chan’ju’tem tried to escape, but only the Nametaker survived getting outside the walls. He was shot down, but the samurai were unable to recover his body due to the goblins rushing the walls; Old Man Ebi was outside the walls and took the ratling’s remains. However, as the goblins were piling up bodies to make a ramp, the ratling who had the message was recovered. It turned out that the Crab had found the White Paw’s pact with the Shadowlands. Having been betrayed by his brother and tribe, Chan’ju’tem lamented that he had no family, but by virtue of his prior conduct, he was adopted by the Yōtsu. Meanwhile, the archer who had shot down Tik’ki’titem claimed to have been Otaku Ranneko before the shaman had stolen her name. As no one could recognize her as such even after being told, she took the name Kageneko Shin.

Later that day, the Shadowlands forces summoned two beings that scattered the shugenja reinforcing the wards and made a breach in the wall. Some attackers managed to break through into the town. One ogre recognized Ohaitsu and Mako and rushed the center of town where the Kill-Stealers were. It turned out to be the one they fought during the Battle for the Last Tower, and it carried the goblins Vu and Glick. The heroes were unable to do much about the beasts’ mobility, but they had increased their skill in combat and were able to defeat their past enemies through attrition, with only Chan’ju’tem suffering serious injury. The enemy’s morale was broken as the attack was repelled, and there were no further strikes against the town.

In a few days, the Crab Champion, Hida Kuon, arrived with enough forces to chase off the besiegers. The Emerald Champion, Yasuki Hachi, claimed that he served the Empire as a whole, so could have fealty to both Crab and Crane, rendering the Second Yasuki War over. The Kill-Stealers were given the choice of where to strike back against the Shadowlands. Both Old Man Ebi and a nondescript Lost woman offered to lead them to the camp where the hostages (Hogosha Kengetsu, Hiruma Botan, and Otaku Ranneko’s name) and Utaku Randachi were, but the heroes had to decide to whose terms to agree. . . .



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