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:
- Law, Etiquette, and Bushido
- 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.