Doku Sutorīmu - The Poisoned Stream

Ikoma's Tale; Part 1
The first drops of poison.

Ohayo-gozaimasu!

Greetings and welcome!  Sit, enjoy the sake and allow me to tell you the tale of the Poisoned Stream.  A tale of blood and jade, of great kami and the forsaken maho, of strong and noble samurai, and corrupt slaves to Jigoku!  Sit my friends, allow the geisha to attend to us, and listen as I tell you how I became known as Ikoma Byakko, the White Tiger.  Learn of my Otokodate, and learn of their noble glory.  Sit friend, sit!

The tale begins as we travelled from Kyuden Daigotsu to Ryoko Owari, having acquitted ourselves at gempukku and trained as yoriki we set out on the pilgrimage as was common at the time.  While our training was harsh, it would bore you to tears to hear how we perfected our swords and minds to serve our Lord, so we shall allow it to pass as the seasons do.  

The wilderness around Kyuden Daigotsu is strange at all times, with the seat of the Empire shifted, much of Heaven looks askance at the ancient lands, and finds much amiss, as too did we.  Predators with teeth longer than your tanto, with skin as thick as a Crab, and a temper to match any scorned Matsu!  The prey was scarce, the land blighted, as dark and twisted as the humor of a Scorpion.  On this day however, more was amiss than usual.

When one hunts in the lands of the Unicorn, one knows learns to watch not just for quarry but that one also does not become the prey.  Here, in these lands of the Spider, one must always be wary, and so we were.  Yet Kuni Kennshin was a young man of much wisdom, and saw what we had missed.  In the lands there was a stillness, much as that near the Kaiu Wall.  With our minds opened we noticed that though the game in these lands was fearful, terrified as it rightly should be, there was an absence of hunters.  Neither man nor beast roamed the forests, yet the animals huddled in abject fear, something darker lurked within.

Now, Iuchi Ashmita was one in touch with the Kami in ways that still disturb my ancestors.  Her mastery of fire and water both is astonishing and speaks to an inner harmony and understanding that I have seen in no other Shugenja.  Yet on this day she called on the kami of the earth to speak to her and reveal what had been hidden to us, to show with spirit’s sight what evaded mortal eyes.

Long spoke the two, as the earth is slow but powerful and wise.  With the assurance of Heaven, Iuchi-sama told us the tale of the lands poisoned heart.  A foulness seeped into all things that dwelt here; a sickness fouled the land and ate into the hearts of man and beasts, corrupting even the body of the earth, the coursing of the water upon it.  The kami spoke of the struggles of other shugenja to cleanse this land and spoke also of a source of corruption.  It was left to us to act.  Iuchi-sama and Kuni-sama raced ahead to inform Kyuden Chuda of the horrors on their lands, while the others of our band set forth to slay those men we could at the wellspring of corruption that the Kami spoke of.  No more brave and noble samurai have I ever stood beside.

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