The Story of Togashi Koshiu

Many years ago the armies of the Lion general Matsu Okari made war upon their weaker neighbours the Hare Clan, against whom they had a long standing feud. It seemed that the smaller Clan would certainly be overwhelmed by the armies of bushi that came against their border. The Hare Clan, however, was at that time on good terms with the Clan of the Scorpion, who, having no love for the Lion, sent their armies to turn back Matsu Okari's armies and send them back to Oshio province from where they had come.

Not long after the Lions had returned to their lands Okari's son, Amari, was kidnapped from the lion castle by ninja. Okari's chief shugenja, Kitsu Toro, assured him that the Scorpion had been responsible for this henious act and so Okari launched his troops across the border into the Scorpion mountains. Though the courtiers of the Clan tried to have the Matsu restrained in the Imperial Courts yet Okari, spurred on by the words of his advisor Toro, who had sought to contact the fortunes to find Amari-san, continued his attack.

When the Daimyo of the Hare Clan heard of what had happened he knew that it could only be his duty to try and help the Scorpion Clan as they had helped him so recently, though he did not know how. He determined that his only course was to attempt to find the ninja who had kidnapped Amari and prove that the Scorpion had been blameless. With this in mind the Usagi Daimyo attempted to find a mercenary who could be entrusted with the task of making his way through the Lion lines to look for Amari, for no Hare would have been allowed to pass, but none was found. Though he sent missives even to the Mantis islands there was no one who wished to be involved.

In the Hare Clan capital, however, there was one of the Ise Zumi, who called himself Togashi Koshiu. This enligtened man was very close to the elements, and he was sure that the fortunes had not come to tell Kitsu Toro of the location of Matsu Amari, and so he was interested in the matter. When he heard of the Daimyo's plea for a mercenary he decided to offer his services. The Hare Daimyo happily accepted the help of a tattooed man, and sent him on his way with his blessings.

From the lands of the Hare Togashi Koshiu travelled into the Scorpion mountains, throught he devestated villages left behind by the Lion army. Though many Lion bushi remained to watch the roads and supervise the long train of supplies, none of them dared to bother the Ise Zumi, and so he went from village to village, farm to farm, always asking the frightened peasents, refugees from the war, if they might have seen anything strange. At last he spoke even to the eta, who the Lion had not even deigned to speak with, and learnt of an abbandoned temple high in the mountains where they whispered that strange shadows gathered.

Seeking out the temple Koshiu found it to be surrounded by an army of dark spirits, creatues of the shadowlands, and had no doubt that it was the hideout of the kidnappers of Amari. Using his skills he slipped past the army of swamp spirits, setting a fire to distract them as he crept within the temple. There he saw the bound form of Amari being held prisoner by ninja, and knew he had come to the right place. He felt that with suprise on his side he might have been able to rescue them then and there, but something told him instead to wait, and he did so as the creatures prepared the temple for the arrival of their Master.

At last the doors of the temple opened and in came the creature's master, none other than Kitsu Toro himself, come to kill Amari and leave his body where it would be found in Scorpion hands and turn the war into an even greater bloodbath. When Koshiu saw this he stepped down from his hiding place and demanded that the boy be handed to him. Toro laughed at this and shrugged off his human form, revealing himself to be a foul beast of the shadow or the shadowlands, as tall as an ogre and strong enough to snap a man in half with either hand. "You will regret the day you came here human!" the creatrue laughed, "Even your precious fortunes could not save you now!" But Koshiu trusted in the path that he had followed, for he had the Dragon's wisdom, and stepped forward. "Strike me if you will" he said, and the creature did, but the moment it struck at him there was a great flash of light and the temple was split assunder by the wrath of Osano-Wo, the forturne, for the creature that had been Toro had taken their names in vain, and to tempt the wrath of the Fortunes is to invite your own destruction.

At the death of their master the ninja fled and the army of spirits was destroyed. Koshiu took the boy and the body of Toro and with them both returned to the camp of Matsu Okari. There he presented the Daimyo with his son and the body of Toro and testified that it had been no Scorpion but the creature in his advisor's own form that had taken his son. Confronted with this evidence Okari had no choice but to call off his attack upon the Scorpion and return to his own lands, from which he never again made war. Thus was the will of the fortunes satisfied and the debt of the Hare Clan repaid to the Scorpion.

Note. This story was an experiment based on drawing a random set of legend of the five rings cards, in this case from a single Jade booster, and then basing a story around them. This story was especially difficult. The cards used for this story were...

 Matsu Goemon  (The Lion Daimyo matsu Okari)
 Spearmen  (The Lion army)
 Ninja Kidnapper  (Amari's kidnapp, also suggested the Scorpions)
 Kitsu Okura  (The treacherous Kitsu Toro, Okura is bad himself)
 Yoritomo Kanbe  (The search for the mercenary)
 Agasha Gennai  (Togashi Koshiu)
 Enlightenment  (Suggested that the dragon was a monk)
 Small Farm  (The Scorpion villages)
 Refugees  (The villagers and the eta)
 Sanctified Temple  (The abbandoned temple)
 Swamp Spirits  (The spirit army, helped suggest the shadowlands ninja)
 Superior Tactics  (Koshiu finding a way in to the ruin)
 Outflank  (Sneaking past the ninja and the swamp spirits)
 Ogre Bushi  (The true form of Toro, Enligtement inspired the wait)
 The Wrath of Osano-Wo  (The magic that helped Koshiu win)