The Crab Clan Lorekeeper's history to date of the Clan Wars
Note - Hida Thorgrimso is the lorekeeper for Crab Clan, and while this scroll is accurate and impartial, many of the smaller details of what happened to the other clans has been left out.
I have additionally added my annotations where appropriate in an attempt to correct some of my esteemed Crab colleague's misapprehensions. [OOC comments in brackets.] -- Kitsu Sei
Also, be sure to see Leon Stauffer's Annotations of this history for additional insights.
It has been a dark time for my clan.
Many know of what happened to our champion, Hida Kisada, and how the Shadowlands have betrayed us. We have been dealt a mortal blow, and no one knows if we will survive.
It is time now, while I am still alive, to tell of the events that have occured recently. If it is my only deed that I make to this war, I will die happy. Gather round samurai, and learn of what will become legend...
Many know of the fateful day that one of the seven Great Clans fell. Clan Scorpion, the Clan of Secrets, had killed the ruling Hantei Emperor, and claimed the Emerald Throne for themselves. Only a combined army of the other six clans prevented the Scorpion Champion, Bayushi Shoju, from becoming the new Emperor.
Clan Crab Played a decisive part in that battle. It was a part that I was made to tell in the Imperial Court, at the request of Bayushi Kachiko, the wife of the 27th 39th Hantei Emperor. But now, I have more to add, and it is not what you will expect.
The Scorpion Clan was known for it's use of the ninja and the dreaded Kolat [Knowledge of the Kolat by historians is considered apocryphal -- at the end of the Clan Wars, they were a secret to all save Bayushi Kachiko and themselves.]. But, Clan Scorpion also served another purpose. They were the caretakers of the Black Scrolls, legendary magical spells that had been used to bind and imprison a Dark God who had come from the Shadowlands.
One day, Bayushi Shoju made a dark discovery. Ancient prophecies hinted that the Dark God, Fu Leng, would return to Rokugan, and that the Emperor would be responcible for this being's return. Shoju contemplated as to what to do, and made his decision. The time was right, and using ninja and the Kolat [No Kolat were knowingly used in the Scorpion Clan Coup.] to cause distractions around the Empire, Shoju assembled his armies and attacked the Imperial Palace. It was swift, and in the space of a few nights, Bayushi Shoju had claimed the Emerald Throne.
For more information on the events leading up to Bayushi Shoju's betrayal of the Emperor, see the recently-discovered history of the Scorpion Clan Coup. Additionally, the gaijin bushi's History of Rokugan contains information on this time period.
One of the crucial early events in Shoju's coup was the removal of Akodo Toturi, general of the Imperial Armies. Toturi's lover, the geisha Hatsuko, was a Scorpion agent, and the Scorpion daimyo bid her poison Toturi. She did so, and in the confusion Shoju was able to assassinate the Emperor. However, Hatsuko's love for Toturi caused her to disobey Shoju's orders, and she simply drugged Toturi rather than killing him. When Toturi recovered, he was able to escape the palace and join the gatherered armies outside the Imperial Palace.
The other clans knew nothing of Shoju's revelation. To them, Clan Scorpion had committed a horrible atrocity. Clans Dragon, Crane, Lion, Phoenix and Unicorn lead an assault against the Scorpion, but Shoju was one of the best generals in Rokugan. An impasse was reached, and neither side gained any advantage.
Needing more force, Bayushi Shoju contacted Hida Kisada of Clan Crab. Shoju promised Kisada great favours if the Crab would ally. One morning, Shoju awoke to see the War Banner of the Crab approach the castle. It is said that Shoju laughed out loud as he felt the surge of victory soar through his body. Those who heard his laughter also heard it become a choked gurgle of surprise, for Bayushi Shoju watched as the Crab Clan joined with his opponents. The final battle was brief. Bayushi Shoju was executed by the Emerald Champion, and before his blood stopped flowing, the young Emperor took Shoju's wife, Bayushi Kachiko as his wife, in order to end the family line of Bayushi.
I am acquainted with a member of the Scorpion clan who refers to Hida Kisada's action as a "betrayal." However, I have found no evidence to support this insinuation that the Great Bear promised his support to the Scorpion at any point in the coup. I would be interested in seeing evidence to the contrary, if any exists.
Additional information from the Histories of the Scorpion Clan Coup suggest that Bayushi Shoju sent a letter to Hida Kisada, but perhaps it never reached the Crab Clan daimyo [probably because of Kolat interference -- Akodo Kage may have sent Matsu Hiroru to eliminate Shoju's messenger].
Further, current evidence suggests that it was not the Emerald Champion (Doji Satsume), but rather Akodo Toturi who either killed Bayushi Shoju in a final duel, or allowed him to take his own life. In the confrontation, Bayushi Shoju's sword, long believed to have been the Ancestral Sword of the Scorpion Clan, was broken. However, it has recently come to light that Shoju had replaced his own blade with an Iuchiban blade, spiriting the Ancestral Weapon to safety.
However, the new Emperor was not pleased at some of the Clans. Angered at the Crab's lack of support, the Emperor sent them back to guarding the Empire from the Shadowlands. As well, he took away the status of Champion from Akodo Toturi and disgraced the Akodo family. If any of us had found the prophecies that Bayushi Shoju had read, we would have been chilled at the following part: "when the last Akodo falls, so shall the last Emperor."
I have also seen the prophecy uncovered by Bayushi Shoju writtern as "When the last Akodo falls, so falls the last Hantei." This is the version given in the traditional history of Rokugan. Given who stands to ascend to the Emerald Throne, the exact wording could be important. If Hida Thorgrimso's research is correct, it could be interpreted to suggest that there will be no Emperors after the Akodos. Alternately, it is interesting to hypothesize that Bayushi Shoju's actions to remove Toturi (see The Scorpion Clan Coup) may have been based on his belief that the prophecy required him to eliminate the Akodo.
Toturi's dishonoring appears to be the result of his refusal to kill Hatsuko for her part in the coup, at least in part. Other factors include: his support of the Crab in the face of the 39th Hantei's rage, and (obviously) his failure to protect the 38th Hantei.
(The following appears to no longer be entirely accurate -- Junzo appears to have opened the First Black Scroll early in the coup, perhaps at the behest of Bayushi Shoju.) Here is another fact gleaned from the Scorpion I spoke with: when Shoju was defeated, the Scorpion clan was scattered and broken. One of the Scorpion clan shugenjas retreated to his fastness in the Shadowlands, where he protected one of the legendary Black Scrolls. He knew of Bayushi Shoju's discovery that the Hantei would be instrumental in the return of Fu Leng, and made a fateful decision. He opened the Black Scroll he possessed and used the forbidden knowledge contained within to curse the Emperor with a potent wasting disease. The shugenja paid a horrific price for his attempt to stop the prophecy from coming true. His name was Yogo Junzo.
Two Years After the Scorpion Coup--Second Year of the 27th 39th Hantei Emperor:
It was the beginning of the Clan Wars. A plague swept over the lands, killing many a person, including nearly all of the Imperial Family. The 27th Hantai Emperor--the only surviving family member--fell ill and began to slowly die. None of the Emperor's healers could help him, and the only person brave enough to be near him was Bayushi Kachiko, his wife.
As I had said before, Bayushi had once been the wife of Bayushi Shoji, the Champion of Clan Scorpion. Still loyal to her previous husband, Kachiko swore revenge, and as the plague struck Rokugan, she used it to her advantage, poisoning the Emperor to a slow death.
As the Emperor lay in his bed, the Great Clans (Crab, Crane, Lion, Unicorn, Phoenix, and Dragon) realised that the Hantai family was doomed. Thus, the Clan Wars began, as each clan began to fight for control of the Emperor's Emerald throne.
The first battle was the Battle of Beiden Pass. The Beiden Pass is a mountain pass in the middle of Rokugan. To go around these mountains takes many weeks at least, so control of Beiden Pass meant that a Clan had a major tactical advantage. Clan Crab was the first to gain control of it, sending young Hida Sukune to hold the pass until reinforcements could be brought in. However, a group of Unicorn, Dragon and Unaligned samurai drove the Crab out before they could entrench their position. Many things occurred in this first battle:
First, it was discovered that the ex-Lion Champion, Akodo Toturi, was the samurai leading the joint army against the Crab. This soon came to the attention of Matsu Tsuko, the new Champion of the Lion Clan.
Second, a major duel occured. A young samurai, Mirumoto Hitomi, was one of the samurai at Beiden Pass. During one of the many skirmishes against the Crab, she saw Hida Yakamo, Hero of the Crab Clan and the killer of her brother, who had been the previous Champion of Clan Dragon. Hitomi challenged Yakamo to a duel. Yakamo recognized the sword she was using as her brother's sword, and taunted her with details of how he had killed her brother. Enraged, Hitomi struck out, cutting off Yakamo's left hand. Before she could deal her death blow, Yakamo escaped.
Mirumoto Hitomi's brother was not the previous champion of the Dragon Clan. However, he had borne the ancestral sword of the Dragon Clan. The Dragon Clan Champion then was, of course, Togashi Yokuni.
And finally, one other event occurred. After the battle at Beiden Pass, Hida Sukune returned to the Crab Clan with news of defeat. For his failure, Hida Kisada killed Sukune, and used his body to seal a pact with the Shadowlands. Kisada knew that he had no allies, and had made the pact to get more forces for his armies. The Shadowlands eagerly agreed, and young Sukune's dead body was placed on the Terrible Standard of Fu Leng.
After the Battle, several other battles were fought amongst the clans. Little else happened.
Three Months After the Battle of Beiden Pass:
[See also the Shadowlands promotional material]
As the Clan Wars continued, certain events happened. In the provinces of Clan Phoenix, the nameless, One--past Master of the Void--reported to his clan that there was a disturbance in the Shadowlands. To do this, he returned from the Shadowlands, where he had been called by unknown powers. In reality, the Nameless One (originally Isawa Ujina) was the first Phoenix shugenja to seek answers in the Shadowlands, not Isawa Tadaka. Clan Phoenix sent the Master of Earth, Isawa Tadaka, to investigate. Months later, he returns. He tells of a shugenja who has opened one of the Black Scrolls, the spells >that had been used to imprison Fu Leng. The shugenja was Yogo Junzo, once a member of Clan Scorpion and caretaker of the first Black Scroll. Originally, the Scorpion clan had been given the Scrolls to guard. But after the clan was destroyed, Yogo Junzo opened the Scroll to gain great power to enact revenge on the Clans Junzo appears to have opened the Black Scroll early in the Coup, actually.. Now, Junzo was searching for the remaining eleven Black Scrolls, and was assembling an army of Shadowlands creatures.
At the risk of angering whatever Phoenix survive the destruction of their Library and the final battle, the Nameless One was originally known as Isawa Ujina, and was the father of Isawa Tadaka, Isawa Kaede, and Isawa Tomo. Kaede was the eldest sister by a previous marriage, while Tomo and Tadaka were full brothers.
This information came at a price however. Isawa Tadaka had been corrupted by the power of the Shadowlands. Still, he had found new knowledge in magic that could possibly aid their quest against Junzo.
In another area of Rokugan, two samurai met again for a duel. Mirumoto Hitomi snuck into the camps of Clan Crab, and attacked Hida Yakamo. However, Yakamo was not as weak as she had thought. After losing his hand, Yakamo made a deal with Kuni Yori, a shugenja of the Crab. Binding his name to an Oni, Yakamo was given a magical claw to replace his left hand. Armed with this new artifact, Yakamo nearly defeated Hitomi. Her right hand was crushed, along with her brother's sword, which had been the Ancestral Sword of Clan Dragon. Hitomi escaped, and none heard from her for months
This confrontation between Mirumoto Hitomi and Hida Yakamo may have occurred at the battle of Beiden Pass.
Back at the palace, Bayushi Kachiko begins her own plan of revenge. She calls out members of Clan Scorpion, and with their access to ninja and the Kolat, they begin to strike out at the Clans. Crane Clan is the first to suffer, as bayushi Kachiko kidnaps Doji Hoturi, and uses the Egg of Pan Ku to make an evil doppelganger of him. The False Hoturi is sent out to gather a Shadowlands army, which is used to attack Rokugan. Clan Lion, seeing that Clan Crane has become evil(supposedly), decides to wipe out the Crane, and begins by destroying Kakita Castle.
As well, Kachiko begins to seduce Hida Kisada of the Clan Crab. Using ninja to kill his wife, she begins to give him aid, so that Kisada will kill the Emperor and gain the Throne. Not all is bad however. A new clan emerges. The Naga awaken from their ancient slumber, aware that the Shadowlands have risen. As they consider what to do, a young Dragon samurai, Mirumoto Daini, arrives and askes the Naga for support. Daini is a member of the growing Toturi's Army, and tells the naga that Toturi desires to stop the Shadowlands. The Naga agree with Daini, and send forces to aid Toturi.
Six-Eight Months After Beiden Pass:
[See also the Forbidden Knowledge promotional material]
The research of the Phoenix Clan comes to fruition, as they create the Ritual spells. However, there is a price to this new magic. Clan Phoenix is slowly being corrupted from within.
At the Imperial Castle, an important event has occurred. The Test of the Emerald Champion was over, and it was Kakita Toshimoto of Clab Crane who was the winner. This did not please Bayushi Kackiko, who had tried to use a samurai to become the Emerald Champion. This samurai was Mirumoto Hitomi, who had been found by Kachiko. Hitomi was given an artifact known as the Obsidian Hand, in exchange for serving Kachiko as the Emerald Champion.
Clan Crab with aid from Bayushi Kachiko, begin to build a fleet of ships. When completed, Hida Kisada would fill them with samurai and sail to the Imperial Palace to invade and kill the dying Emperor. Construction of the fleet however, is hindered by sabotage tactics from the Mantis Clan, a minor clan in Rokugan.
In the Shadowlands, Yogo Junzo amasses a large demon army. With more Black Scrolls in his possession, Junzo prepares to attack Rokugan. The False Hoturi continues his mad war, and the Crane lose the Doji province. However, while the Crane begin to despair, good news reaches them.
A sick Doji Hoturi is dropped off at Toturi's army by a male samurai named "Akiyoshi". Telling Toturi that Bayushi will harm Hoturi no more, Akiyoshi rides off, although samurai sent to follow tell Toturi that Akiyoshi had rode to the Imperial palace.
Despite Hida-san's insistence that Akiyoshi was male, my research leads me to believe the opposite. Akiyoshi has bveen revealed to be a geisha trained by Kachiko, but not Hatsuko, the geisha Toturi fell in love with and was poisoned by.
Throughout it all, Rokugan becomes a darker place.
One year since Beiden Pass:
(Anvil of Despair)
[See also the Anvil of Despair promotional material.
Hell literally breaks loose in Rokugan. Toturi's army is strong enough to become a major force, but at the same time however, so have the demon armies of Yogo Junzo. Toturi prepares for the worst, and prays that there will be enough time.
The third Crane province is attacked by the False Hoturi, but success does not happen. The Crane, boosted in miltary strength by the Naga and an army led by a recently healed Doji Hoturi, defeat the False Hoturi's Shadowlands army. The False Hoturi dies as well at the Asahina province, dying in a duel against Doji Hoturi. With their victory, the Crane realise that they need more military support. Opening their vast gold supply, the Crane begin to provide the Mantis Clan with weapons and horses.
Elsewhere, Clan Phoenix slides deeper into corruption. Needing to know more about the Shadowlands, the Clan binds an Oni to their service, using the same magic as Kuni Yori had done with Hida Yakamo. The Oni receives Isawa Tadaka's name, becoming Oni no Tadaka.
Clan Unicorn begin to ride across the empire, fighting the armies of the Shadowlands. With the Major Clans fighting, Clan Unicorn quickly becomes the force of justice in the Empire.
Clan Lion is shocked to discover that Akodo Kage, revered Sensei of Clan Lion, is actually a member of the Kolat.
[The First Lion Prophet noted that "this revelation has not happened in the lands of Rokugan, only to the players of L5R, this is an important storyline distinction." Much of prophecy is misleading and unclear -- for example, what are these "players of L5R" that he speaks of? Nevertheless, eventually, rumors that Akodo Kage was up to no good reached Toturi's ears, and those of members of the Lion Clan as well. Many remain skeptical, but Toturi's last letter to Kachiko reveals what he believes to be the truth.]
The Crab Clan finally attack the Imperial Palace, which is defended by Clan Lion. However, their leader, Matsu Tsuko, receives a letter from the Imperial Court, ordering her to not aid in the defense. With no help from their champion, the Lion forces are slaughtered. Kisada smashes into the Palace, and meets the Emperor, eager to slay him and claim the Emerald Throne. However, it is not a sick and weakened man that Kisada finds. Kisada is the first to discover that due to being weakened by Bayushi Kachiko's poisons, the Emperor has been possessed by the spirit of Fu Leng. Fu Leng easily defeats Kisada, and the Crab Clan retreat.
"Slaughtered" is perhaps a trifle excessive, but nevertheless it is true that, our champion removed from the battle by the intrigues of Bayushi Kachiko, we were defeated.
Further analysis actually indicates that it was Akodo Kage who arranged to have Matsu Tsuko stand aside in the Crab assault, more than Bayushi Kachiko.
Three Months after the Failure of the Crab Clan Assault:
(Crimson and Jade)
To date, their are only rumours as to what is happening. It appears that Yogo Junzo's horde has grown larger, and is seeking out the temples of the Brotherhood of Shinsei, a secret religious order that follows the teachings of Shinsei, who had aided the Clans in defeating Fu Leng many generations ago.
Matsu Tsuko, ashamed for her actions at the Crab Clan Assault, has committed seppuku. None know who will become the new Champion.
Two main factions emerged within the Lion Clan: one, led by Ikoma Ujiaki and Ikoma Tsanuri, argued that the Lion Clan's duty was to the Emperor. The other, led by Kitsu Motso, argued that the Lion Clan's duty was to the Empire.
The Alliance of Yoritomo has now appeared in Rokugan, and is a force of several minor clans that were hired by the Crane Clan.
Clan Crab has begun to sever it's ties from the Shadowlands. The first major difference is when Hida Yakamo becomes Champion of Clan Crab, and has replaced his Shadowlands claw with the Jade hand.
All over the empire, the Clans pause from their fighting and consider what is to be done with Fu Leng, who is now the Emperor. None will know what will happen now, and even honour is beginning to become a force less powerful than steel.
And that is where this story ends.
The story did not end there, but the fate of the historian Hida Thorgrimso is unknown past this point. Nevertheless, his work has served as the starting point for many Rokugani struggling to come to terms with the sudden and tremendous changes in the Celestial Pattern since the start of the Clan Wars. His work in preserving its history among the chaos is to be commended.
I have recently made contact with Hida Thorgrimso again through the Imperial Post. I await his conclusion to his history, once it becomes available. However, has many seasons have passed and Rokugan struggles to put its past in perspective, I would add the following summary of the Time of the Void:
The Hooded Ronin, long a protector of the Empire's peasants, revealed himself to be the descendant of Shinsei. He revealed that it was destined that once more, the Seven Thunders would need to gather to defeat the abomination, as they had once before, a millenium ago. He named the Thunders: Hida Yakamo, Doji Hoturi, Mirumoto Hitomi, Toturi, Isawa Tadaka, Bayushi Kachiko, and Otaku Kamoko.
The armies of the Clans moved to their fateful collision at Otosan-Uchi, and there met the armies of the Shadowlands in battle. Toturi's timely arrival bound the Lion Clan back together once more by interpreting Matsu Tsuko's seppuku as an act of defiance against the darkness, rather than failure to properly serve it. Meanwhile, an army of minor clans led by Yoritomo shattered Yogo Junzo's reinforcements. Across the battlefield, heroic deeds were done. The Naga Champion, Qamar, fell, only to have his role assumed by the Isha; elsewhere, a Shadow-maddened Isawa Tsuke destroyed his own clan until Shiba Ujimitsu and the other Elemental Masters' heroic sacrifices brought him low. Hida Yakamo faced the oni that bore his name, only to watch Mirumoto Hitomi slay it when he fell. Her taunts then brought another duel between those two reknowned warriors, a duel that the weary Yakamo could not win. Hitomi enacted her revenge not by killing Yakamo, but by taunting him as he had once taunted her.
Eventually, the combined might of the clans bought the Seven Thunders the time they needed to enter the Imperial Palace and confront the monster that sat upon the Emerald Throne. Togashi Yokuni, accompanying the Thunders, revealed himself to be Togashi himself, and fought with Fu Leng. He was slain in the battle, but Mirumoto Hitomi used the Obsidian Hand to draw forth his essence and rip out his heart, revealing the Twelfth Black Scroll. She opened it, and in doing so gave Fu Leng the full measure of his power... and made him mortal. The Thunders moved to attack.
After a ferocious battle, Toturi and Doji Hoturi dispatched Fu Leng, severing its head. In the battle, Isawa Tadaka and Doji Hoturi were slain as well. In the aftermath of the confrontation, the Shadowlands armies were scattered. Toturi was named the next Emperor, and he began his efforts to knit the shattered nation together again. Toturi elevated the Mantis Clan to Great Clan status, and the shattered Phoenix Clan chose to surrender that same status while it rebuilt. Meanwhile, the Scorpion Clan was restored to its past status by Toturi, but persistent rumors suggest that it will be exiled to the Burning Sands. What will happen next remains to be revealed...
[See The Hidden Emperor for some possibilities.]
Hida Thorgrimso, Crab Clan Lorekeeper