Fans and Blades

Day 1 - Tournament Standings
Scene: The Center Tournament Grounds

You all leave the testing ground and make your way to the center of the tournament grounds, where you begin to see a crowd forming.  The crowd is mumbling and whispering behind fans about the day's events.  [Raw Perception Roll: DC 20] There is a raised dais in the center of the crowd, and you've seen the Miya use this stand in order to deliver the opening address at the begining of the day's festivities.  Over ten minutes pass by, and finally the crowd's murmuring comes to silence as the Miya walks to the center.   

"The current standings have been posted."  He motions toward a post in a corner where several attendants step back from adhering a scroll.  "Let me inform all of you that Akodo Shotaka will be sitting out of the rest of the competition in order to heal from his injuries."  A brief spout of exciting murmoring begins to cut through the Miya's discussion and a wave of annoyance flashes across his face.  "Now hear this.  I stand before you now to ensure that today's incidents will not happen again.  We have an investigation being organized into these events, and justice will be met out if any foul play is found.  That being said, the competition will convene tomorrow morning as planned.  I look forward to seeing the progress of our competitors.  I invite the competitors to rest tonight, because tomorrow's competitions will be difficult."

The crowd sort of sticks around for a few minutes after the Miya steps down, sort of unsure what to do, and then they break apart all heading back into the main town.  Some within the crowd congregate around the post erected to display the current standings, which read:


Honor and Deceit

Miya-sama has honored me and declared me his assistant during the Topaz Championship. This noble task does me good as I can now focus on my duty instead of Yoshi.  I am of one mind while I fulfill my obligations. Daidoji-san will compete this year, and he is like the falcon that strains against its bindings during the hunt. While I greeted guests and informed them about their quarters, Daidoji-san scrutinized the other competitors. Of course, the others responded in kind, lending the Inn the air of a summer evening just before the storm. It was exhilarating.

We have a most unusual competitor, Togashi-san. He is a kindly monk who reminds me of an older Todashi-san. His actions are like the time I went with Todashi-san to have a picnic by the mountain. We tried to find a proper view of the mountain to help us build wa (roughly “peace of mind”), and we explored several spots before Todashi-san declared we had discovered the best view. I told him that a nearby rock was far too large for us to get a view of the mountain, and he replied, “We now have the best view of the rock.” Like a true monk, he proceeded to take seiza (a kneeling position) and eat his rice balls.

During the tournament, we discovered treachery. Tsurutchi-san, Isawa-san, and Togashi-san discovered Akodo-san had been bitten by a snake and disregarded the competition to help the samurai get the care he needed. Their courage, sincerity, and honor did not go unnoticed, and so I have recruited them to help Daidoji-san and myself solve the mystery. Akodo-san will no longer be able to compete, and, most unfortunately, Kitsu-san perished to the fangs of the serpents—serpents that were not native to this area. We discovered the snakes were brought to the tournament, and the basket they were brought in bears the marks of Otosan Uchi, the capital. I have had the basket brought to the meeting house I have been leant.

Though I was unable to see the horsemanship competition, I have heard that my new allies showed great prowess and have brought some measure of honor to their families. Their abilities give me confidence in my earlier choices. Now, we must part the fog surrounding events at the race and bring the light to dark places.

Topaz Championship

Today is the beginning of the great Topaz Championships.  You stand in the village center of Tsuma, a modest-sized city within the Crane borders next to a minor river and home to one of the major Kakita Dueling Academy dojos.  Just to the south of you is the tower of Shiro Sano Kakita, the ancient seat of the Kakita family.  

You have come here today to prove yourself worthy of the title "samurai."  And perhaps one of you will walk away the Topaz Champion, thus being invited into the prestigious imperial magistrates.

This contest will test you on a number of skills required for a true samurai.  Those contests may include the following:

  1. Athletics
  2. Courtship
  3. Go
  4. Heraldry
  5. Horsemanship
  6. Hunting
  7. Law, Etiquette, and Bushido
  8. Poetry
  9. Sumai
  10. Weapons
  11. and finally Iaijutsu Dueling

After all of the various contests, the competitors will be judged and the individual who is found to be the most capable throughout will be awarded the title of Topaz Champion.  

History of the Topaz Championship

The Topaz Championship is an elaborate gempukku tradition at the local Kakita dojo. The set of competitions, traditionally ending in an iaijutsu tournament, has drawn the notice of many Emperors – including the first emperor Hantei. The spectacle is so highly entertaining, and Tsuma’s closeness to Otosan Uchi allows the Imperial entourage to travel there easily. At his first visit the Emperor Hantei so enjoyed the tournament that it became the talk of the imperial courts for weeks afterward. Within a few months, the other clans – Great and Minor – solicited the Crane for the right to send one of their own to this tournament. Thus was born the Topaz Championship, the single most prestigious gempukku ceremony in the Empire. Either the Emperor or one of his Chosen is always present at this tournament to bestow glory on its contests. The winner gains the title of Topaz Champion for a year (until the next tournament) and can usually expect to receive prestigious appointments, such as admission to the offices of the Emerald or Jade Magistrates or some other branch of the Imperial bureaucracy.


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