Session 23

The characters head toward the City Guard headquarters, located in the Palace District. As they make their way through the city, they hear another commotion in the distance, which they realize is very close to one of the places in the city that the cult had intended to poison.

They divert from their intended path and stumble upon a horrific scene: a handful of City Guard ashigaru are attempting to fend off a horde of ravenous undead. They engage the zombies, who manage to do some damage, but who are otherwise ineffectual. Kumiko sets up position in a choke point between two buildings and keeps a massive zombie, who looks like he might have been a sumo wrestler in life, from attacking her more lightly armored companions. She does massive amounts of damage with her magical katana, but the zombie’s undead fortitude keeps it alive.

Miyo, Saeko, and Asami fight off the lesser zombies who shamble up from behind the group. As they whittle away at the undead, they see more than a few ashigaru fall to the ravenous beasts. Just as they finish what they think are the last of the zombies, they see another wave approaching from the north... 

Session 22

The three carrion crawlers attack, lashing out with their poisonous tentacles and attempting to sink their fangs into the characters. Kumiko and Saeko are at the front of the group in the narrow hallway, which prevents the monsters from getting directly to Miyo and Asami. Unfortunately, they both exposed to all three crawlers.
 
In the initial onslaught, Saeko gets gets poisoned, and is paralyzed by one of the crawlers. Helpless, she takes significant damage from the three monsters before Asami drags her to safety.

Miyo uses magic missile and burning hands to inflict significant damage to two of the creatures. The group takes one crawler out, and then Asami dashes back in and uses her ninja-to to finish a second one off.

Kumiko then does a tremendous amount of damage to the remaining carrion crawler, using an extra action and menacing it. Miyo finishes it off with a volley of magic missles, and then the characters rest for a moment to heal their wounds.

They decide to leave the sewers for reals this time, so they grab the cultist and run through the sewers, managing to avoid getting lost. Once they find the exit, they climb out and go to look for the city guard.

XP: 1350 (340 ea)
Running Total: 8540

Session 21

Once the cultist awakes, the characters proceed to interrogate him. Kumiko takes the bad cop role, periodically beating the cultist, while Saeko plays the good cop…until she threatens to use torture. After some resistance, Kumiko threatens to cut off his head unless he talks.

His deep devotion to the cult broken by mortal fear, the cultist gives up the goods on the cult’s plans to poison wells throughout the city - claiming that they’ve already delivered the poison to two of the locations. He also divulges that a hanyo woman called The Raven is the one who leads this particular cell of the Eaters of the Dead. He doesn’t know the names of the other cultists, or where they might be located in the city.

Armed with a codename, Saeko and Kumiko look through the sheaf of correspondence that Saeko found. They are able to identify several letters from The Raven, and briefly spend time trying to guess her station based on her writing ability. Kumiko, who is trained in calligraphy, believes that The Raven is educated, based on the consistency of her brush strokes, but may not be a noble, based on the lack of artistry on display.

Continuing their interrogation, the cultist gives up the location of a secret room, and then promptly passes out from the beating delivered by Kumiko. Asami finds the door to the secret room and and is able to open the lock. However, she fails to notice a trap, and takes damage from an ice dart to the face. Asami and Saeko investigate, finding another barrel of necromantic poison along with a clutch of cash and some items, including:

  • 500 gp and 2x healing potions

The characters determine that they need to break off their hunt for the Golden Hornets and report the impending catastrophe. They are hesitant to leave large barrels of necromantic poison lying around, so Miyo uses arcana to figure out how to make it inert and gathers the necessary reagents from the bench. Asami grabs a few doses of the poison for her poison kit and scavenges for useful raw materials.

  • 50 gp worth of poison ingredients

Before the characters head back to the surface with the unconscious cultist and evidence of the poison, Saeko decides to check out one of the doors in the room that they had not previously investigated. She leads the group down a very long hall, directly into the path of three very large, very ugly, very smelly, very tentacled creatures.

Session 20

The characters use surprise to their advantage. From a safe distance, Saeko uses major illusion to create a fearsome owlbear in serve as a distraction. At the same time, Kumiko bursts into the room and attempts to intimidate the cultists, ordering them to surrender to Tokugawa. While her attempt was strong, the cultists seem especially strong-willed. Asami hides in the shadows and maneuvers around the room, putting herself into a position to cut off any escape, while Miyo assaults two of the cultists with flaming sphere.

The cultists are caught off guard, reacting haphazardly to the show of force from the characters. They quickly figure out that the imposing owlbear is an illusion, but it provides sufficient distraction to delay them from attacking the characters. Once they do turn their attention to the real threat, their attacks prove ineffective.

Saeko uses her bardic gifts to inspire the rest of the characters, which allows Asami’s daggers and Miyo’s flaming sphere to wear them down quickly. Kumiko steps in and slices and dices two of the cultists, while Miyo puts the last guy to sleep.

With the cultists dispatched and subdued, the party searches the room:

  • Kumiko finds a letter describing plans to poison wells in five locations throughout Fujiwara.
    • Near the docks in the Yellow Lantern district
    • At the Shrine of the Southern Wind in the Chrysanthemum district
    • Outside Matsunaga Noodles in the Chrysanthemum district
    • Outside the Dancing Beetle Teahouse in the Dancing Fan district
    • At the Onodera Theater in the Dancing Fan district
  • Saeko finds a sheaf of correspondence that appears to be a dialogue between cult members. She intends to read through it later.
  • Miyo’s deep knowledge of the arcane enables her to determine that the cultists were brewing a thick grey sludge that functions as a necromantic poison.
  • Asami adds an Eaters of the Dead costume to her disguise kit by stripping the sleeping cultist.

The group then prepares to interrogate the sleeping cultist when he wakes up.

XP: 1800 xp (450 ea)
Running total: 7750+450=8200

Session 19

The characters run back to the Yellow Lantern district, only to find the urokobito shops on fire. Dozens of urokobito — men, women, and children — are sitting in street, beaten and bloody.

Aikawa Kosami, the urokobito merchant who the characters have rescued more than once, is slumped against a rock, watching his business burn to the ground. When he sees the characters, he looks away, but answers their questions. He states that the Golden Hornets were responsible, and that they told him that the characters couldn’t protect the merchants any more — that they were the only ones that could offer protection.

Saeko encourages him to help look for survivors. He’s clearly in shock, but he gets up and rounds up other merchants to start searching. A few guardsmen arrive to help tend to the wounded and contain the fires. Miyo uses prestidigitation to quell embers and small flare ups.

The characters join the effort to look for survivors. They find a few urokobito trapped in buildings and pull them to safety. Once they are convinced that everyone is safe, they track the yakuza to a well in the center of the neighborhood. There they see a yakuza thug climb down into the well. They investigate, and find lots of sooty footprints around the area of the well.
 
Before giving chase, they go back to the Fragrant Fern to get suited up. Asami knows enough about the sewers to know that her guild typically stays away from them, as they are sprawling and labyrinthine, and filled with unpleasant creatures. She’d much prefer to be sneaking along the rooftops.

While at the inn, the characters ask around to see if they can find out anything about the sewers. A few old-timers talk about that one time they ran into something big and scary down there. A local historian describes the haphazard construction of the sewers, and the sprawling layout that developed as the city was built up.

As they head back, they discuss alternatives to going down in the sewers, They attempt to ask the local urokobito about the comings and goings of the Golden Hornets, but they don’t get much information that’s useful. The urokobito just know that they come and threaten them and beat them up if they don’t pay. They don’t know where the yakuza live, and have never seen them coming out of the sewers before.

While Asami is strongly resistant to going down the sewer, the group eventually rules out any other approach as impractical. So, down they go. As they climb down, they notice that the sewers are constructed of moderately study brick, but the constant heat and humidity have left them seeing better days.

They are able to track sets of sooty footprints through the twisting passages until they get to an area of standing water. They cross, wading through knee-deep water at points, and dancing around unstable-looking sewer grates at others. When they reach the other side, they notice that sludgy footprints continue on, but quickly fade out. The soot, which provided a useful tracking mechanism, has been washed away.

Undaunted, the characters forge on. After a number of twists and turns, they hear chanting coming from behind a wall. The group stops to investigate. Asami finds a secret door, detects and disables a trap, and picks the lock. She then sneaks into the room, hides in the shadows, and observes three cultists at work in front of a brazier and an alchemical bench. She reports back to the group, and they decide to engage.

Session 18

The group sits around the Fragrant Fern and complains about the state of local politics - specifically about how hard it is to get an audience with the daimyo. They decide to head to the Shrine of the Southern Wind, Fujiwara’s oldest shrine, with the hope that they can persuade the shinkan to take their case seriously.

Saeko and Asami help Kumiko to get dressed up in order to make the best possible impression. This gives Kumiko advantage to any Charisma checks when she meets the shinkan.

The group heads to the shrine where they donate a sizable amount of money and then pray. As money buys influence almost anywhere, they are quickly introduced to Sagawa Sadako. Sadako, a kitsune with 4 tails, relates that she has been with the shrine since she was a shrine maiden, and has watched the city grow up around her.
 
Miyo and Saeko both fail their arcana and religion checks and are of no help in building a case for the threat that Kobayashi represents. Kumiko, though, manages to convince her that the threat is genuine and that she should recommend them for an audience with the daimyo. Before they leave, Kumiko invites Sadako to the performance this evening.

The group spends the rest of the day preparing for Saeko’s guest performance at the theater. She intends to perform "The Chrysanthemum and the Sword,” a retelling of one of the City Guard’s great victories against the lizard-riding barbarians of the horde lands. While Saeko is busy getting into costume and Asami is preparing to accompany her on the biwa, the rest of the group scans the crowd to see which VIPs show up.

They see that the daimyo’s younger sister, Fujiwara Shizu, is in attendance, along with Watanabe Isako, the captain of the guard, and two of her lieutenants, Enari Sakura and Oku Kotaro. Each brings an entourage, so the performance is well attended. When they met her, each of the characters immediately realizes that Isako looks exactly like Reiko of the Jade Fist, but without a tail and horns. The group notes the similarity, but makes no mention of it, then takes a set of seats near Isako and her retinue.

During the performance, Kumiko notices that Enari leans over and whispers to one of her sergeants, who gets up and leaves. It seems noticeably out of place, bordering on disrespectful, so Kumiko and relays this to Miyo. Miyo then uses the message cantrip to notify Saeko and Asami while they’re on stage.

Saeko does an amazing job and wows the crowd, thereby predisposing those in attendance toward the characters, granting them advantage on subsequent Persuasion checks. Kumiko leverages the goodwill to build up her clan in the eyes of Isako. She agrees that they are a honorable force for good and will recommend presenting them to the daimyo.

Saeko invites everyone to an afterparty at one of the trendy restaurants nearby. People crowd her and ask for autographs as she leaves the stage, and Shizu pushes through the crowd to lavish praise on her performance. After a few more minutes of chatting, most of the crowd leaves the theater, at which point they notice a fire burning in the distance. It appears to be coming from the Yellow Lantern district.

They bid farewell to Isako and Shizu and head toward the Yellow Lantern district to investigate.

Session 17

The PCs use the iron key to unlock the doors to the courtyard, and Kumiko takes the lead, carefully checking for traps as she goes. She sees Yasu waiting for her, and the two begin a conversation. Yasu attempts to recruit the group to join the Mist Tigers. When that goes nowhere, she offers to buy the jade statuette from the group.

Saeko can feel the tainted energy of Kobayashi’s domain radiating from Yasu, but nobody else does. It appears to be centered on a small jade statue of a boar that she is wearing around her neck. She warns the rest of the party, who then approach the encounter with even greater levels of caution.

The PCs successfully negotiate with Yasu, intimidating and persuading her to pay a far higher price than she was willing to pay, but then Kumiko decides to take her out. Four ninja come out of hiding to protect Yasu, but the characters kill her before she can react. However, the corrupted energy of the boar statuette turns her into a gibbering mouther, which gives the party a little bit of trouble, but not too much.

After they defeat her, they cautiously collect the boar statuette.

XP: 1350
Current total: 6850 - LEVEL UP! (5th level)

Asami arranges a meeting between the PCs and Reiko to sell the tainted statuette that night. After lengthy negotiations, Reiko purchases the statuette for four magical items:

  • Sun Blade (katana)
  • Ninja-to +2
  • Magical Flute
  • Wand of the War Mage +2

The PCs also learn that Reiko believes the statuettes to be part of a set of six that originated in Mizuta, the tainted village where Kobayashi was summoned, and where Sosuke, the head of the Eaters of the Dead, is believed to be.

Asami then leverages her network to find information about the Daimyo’s court. She conveys the following info to the rest of the party:

Daimyo

  • Fujiwara Rei
    • Middle-aged female human
    • Eldest child of Fujiwara Yu, previous daimyo
    • Led several successful campaigns against the lizard riding barbarians - regarded as a war hero
    • Believed to be a conscientious and thoughtful leader by her subjects

Advisors

  • Nemoto Kakuzo
    • Older male human
    • Advises the daimyo on matters of finance and taxation
    • Originally met PCs at a Noh performance at the Onodera Theater in the Dancing Fan district.
  • Watanabe Isako
    • Female human fighter in her late twenties
    • Captain of city guard
  • Kadokura Ichiro
    • Middle-aged male hanyo onmyoji
    • Advises daimyo on matters of astrology and calendar cycles
  • Sagawa Sadako
    • Kitsune female shinkan with 4 tails
    • Head of the Shrine of the Southern Wind
  • Fujiwara Juro
    • Middle-aged male human
    • Daimyo’s younger brother
    • City manager
  • Fujiwara Shizu
    • Middle aged female human bard
    • Daimyo’s younger sister
    • Minister of the arts, including theater, gardens, and cuisine

Kumiko realizes that it will take some effort to connect with enough of the Daimyo’s advisor’s to ensure a direct audience. To start, Saeko sends out invitations to a special performance that will highlight the accomplishments of the city guard. Asami finds a way to get an invitation directly into the hands of the Captain of the City Guard.

Once they’ve returned to the inn, Aikawa Kosami, the urokobito merchant that the PCs protected from the Golden Hornets, finds the PCs and entreats them to defend his fellow shopkeepers once again. The Golden Hornets are wandering through the urokobito section of town, demanding protection money.

The PCs agree to help, and easily track the yakuza thugs down. Kumiko attempts to use logic, but Hiro, who seems to be impervious to reason, attempts to intimidate the PCs into leaving. When that doesn’t work, he draws his sword, but the PCs kill him before he can move. The rest of the thugs flee, and the party chases down one thug to deliver a message: that the Mist Tigers now run the Golden Lantern District.

XP: 900
Current total: 7750

Session 16

During the characters’ investigation of Kobayashi and the Eaters of the Dead, they have a little downtime. Saeko arranges to give a performance at the Onodera Theater in the Dancing Fan district. Kumiko and Miyo come to see her performance, and Kumiko uses the opportunity to check out the crowd. By watching who is paid deference, Kumiko can tell who is worth talking to.

They talk to a few other nobles, and then manage to arrange an introduction to Nemoto Kakuzo, one of the daimyo’s senior advisors. Kumiko explains the threat of Kobayashi, and attempts to convince Nemoto to arrange an audience with the daimyo. He rebuffs her, however, explaining that the daimyo is very busy, and he doesn’t really understand things of an esoteric nature. Perhaps she could stop by the palace in a few days.

Kumiko ignores the rebuff and is encouraged by the invitation. She quickly writes a letter to the daimyo and gives it to Nemoto to deliver to her. He smiles politely and then excuses himself to find his seat.

Miyo draws upon her vast knowledge of history, and provides Saeko with some advice about the theater - anything involving civilized races overcoming kobolds plays really well. Armed with this knowledge, Saeko absolutely crushes her performance and gets a standing ovation.

Asami, a well-respected genin in the Jade Fist clan, is summoned by her chūnin, Nobu. The clan has taken an interest in the three girls from Tokugawa, due to their success in retrieving the tainted statuette from the Mist Tigers and the positive feedback from Odo. The Jade Fist wants to protect what it sees as a burgeoning strategic partnership, and Asami is assigned to assist the group. She is given a letter of introduction written by Reiko, and is then sent to find the characters.

Asami stakes out the Fragrant Fern and waits for the group to show up. She drinks sake for a while, and then watches the three young women wander in late and sit down at a private table. After they’ve had enough sake to be pliable, she walks over and introduces herself to the group, handing them with the letter of introduction from Reiko. The group welcomes her, though warily.

After a few more glasses of sake, Miyo starts fidgeting with her kimono because it feels lopsided, and then realizes that there’s something in her pocket. She looks to find a note with an address and a time, along with a small iron key. Nobody knows how it got there, but Kumiko recalls someone hanging around them after the performance at the theater - perhaps it was placed there by that mysterious individual?

Unfortunately for the group, the time indicated only gives them half an hour to find the address. Asami volunteers to help, and the group follows her into the Dancing Fan district - Mist Tiger territory. They arrive right on time, and find that they key fits a lock on a set of rickety wooden doors that lead to a dark alley between two buildings.

Session 15

The characters investigate Sosuke, Kobayashi, and the Eaters of the Dead, and manage to successfully piece together a lot of information. Their investigation generates as many questions as it answers, however.

While investigating, they run into Hiro and the Golden Hornets beating up a merchant. Hiro is demanding 50 cranes this month, but the merchant clames not to have it. The characters use diplomacy to get the Hornets to give the merchant a break. Kumiko spends most of the conversation berating Hiro, but he finally, and unhappily, accepts that the merchant only has 20 cranes to give. Hiro seems to recognize that the characters have done this to him before, but he's not entirely sure what to do about it, so he and his goons leave as soon as they’ve got their hands on the money.

The investigation takes about a week, and during that time, they have no additional adverse encounters with any ninja. By the time they’re done, they’ve determined the following:

Kobayashi

  • Kobayashi was a blood mage who stole the secret of immortality from Lord Eimin, the kami who rules Yomi.
  • He wakes every 108 years to feed and replenish his power, but was awakened 21 years too early.
  • No one is quite sure what the ramifications of him being awakened 21 years too early are.
  • His realm is a splinter dimension that’s filled with a corrupt energy different from that of Yomi.
  • He is attended by a group of powerful vassals.

Eaters of the Dead

  • Headed by Iguchi Sosuke, a potent shinkan
  • Most of the cult members who were part of the ritual were eaten.
  • Surprisingly well-funded and well-populated in this region
  • Sosuke is being backed by someone wealthy, but no one knows who.
  • It seems that the villages that have been eaten each had a member of the cult living here
  • There are a number of people who believe that some of the powerful factions in Fujiwara have highly placed members who are cultists.

Sosuke

  • A potent shinkan who led the Eaters of the Dead.
  • Is holed up in Mizuta, trying to figure out what went wrong.
  • Had willingly sacrificed many of his cult members in an attempt to appease Kobayashi.

XP: 190
Running Total: 4165

Session 14

The characters hide from the Jade Fist by staying at the Ohashi Inn, in the Chrysanthemum district. They camp out and discuss what to do with the statuette. Kumiko insists that they should still try to destroy it. Saeko suggests selling it to the Jade Fist, because they have experience dealing with these sorts of things, and they appear to want it anyway. They don’t immediately come to a conclusion and go to bed. Overnight, they have disturbing, twisted dreams filled with a hungry, dark energy. It’s all teeth and terror, and they wake up covered in sweat.

The group reluctantly agrees that fencing the statuette seems like the best option at the moment. They are eager to get it out of their possession. Odo reports back to his clan and sets up a meeting with Watanabe Reiko, the chūnin of the Jade Fist that Morimoto had been in contact with. Later that afternoon, they meet at Matsunaga's Noodles to negotiate.

Reiko apologizes for attempting to accost the characters and proceeds to negotiate in good faith. After some back and forth, she agrees to purchase the statuette in exchange for loot. She hands over a small bag of holding which contains:

  • 2,195 cranes
  • cloak of protection - you gain a +1 bonus to AC and to saving throws when you wear this cloak.
  • circlet of comprehending languages - when worn, you can use an action to cast comprehend languages at will.
  • gloves of missile snaring - when a ranged weapon attack hits you while you’re wearing these gloves, you can use your reaction to reduce the damage by 1d10 + your Dexterity modifier, provided that you have a free hand. If you reduce the damage to 0, you can catch the missile if it is small enough for you to hold in that hand.
  • 4 potions of healing

When Reiko gets up to leave, half the restaurant gets up with her, and the characters realize that they’ve dodged a pretty gigantic bullet.

Now that he is reconciled with his clan, Odo is recalled into service, and leaves the characters. Realizing that the Kobayashi problem goes deeper than they suspected, the decide that the next step is to do as much investigation as possible.

XP: 175
Running total: 3975

Session 13

Drained from the fight with Yoshimitsu, the characters have no choice but to run from the ninja — standing their ground is far too risky. While the ninja seem to be trying to capture them, not kill them, they still take off at a breakneck pace, dodging street vendors and shoppers as they race from the Dancing Fan district back to the Chrysanthemum district.

Eventually, the group shakes their tail, and looks for a place to lay low. They know they can’t go back to the Fragrant Fern, because it would be too easy to find them, so they wander the Chrysanthemum district until they find a suitably run-down inn.

XP: 241
Running Total: 3800

Session 12

Based on the records in Morimoto’s notebook, the characters determine that there are four people that he’s met more than five times in the past thirty days:

  • Watanabe Reiko
  • Usui Mineko
  • Numata Yoshimitsu
  • Shimozato Genjo

Odo informs them that the first name on the list, Watanabe Reiko, is one of the chūnin of the Jade Fist. They also note that Shimozato Genjo is from Mizuta, so they imagine that he’s the source of the tainted items that Morimoto is moving in the first place. Therefore, they decide to check out the other two names on the list to determine how they fit in.

First, they track down Usui Mineko. She turns out to be an old lady who lives in a ramshackle hut. She absolutely loves the garish kimono and jewelry that Morimoto peddles, and is extremely distraught to hear of his death. She has no useful information, however.

Second, they track down Numata Yoshimitsu, who turns out to be a member of the Mist Tiger ninja clan, to a house in the Dancing Fan district. They suspect that he may have been behind Morimoto’s assassination, so they approach with caution. The ground floor is quite small, containing only a bedroom and a siting room, so they spend some time searching and find a hidden trapdoor that leads to a basement.

Their caution pays off quickly, because they immediately encounter traps. They manage to disarm them and continue their investigation. Evidence of tainted energy is everywhere: the basement is filled with obake and oozes. They fight their way through several groups of tainted creatures before finding Yoshimitsu.

The characters walk through a doorway to find a room that is far bigger than the space it should actually occupy. It looks like an outdoor courtyard with a rock garden in the center. The ceiling, far above their heads, shows the night sky, but Miyo realizes that it’s not the sky as seen from Fujiwara. There are constellations she doesn’t recognize and others that are oriented completely wrong. As she gazes up, she gets the feeling that the stars are actually staring at her.

The air in the room seems to undulate, as through a breeze from another world were causing reality itself to waver. Yoshimitsu sits in seiza on the far side of the rock garden. There's a small table in front of him, atop which sits a tiny jade figurine. He opens and eyes and stares at them, but his eyes are completely black, and are oozing tar. "I have unlocked its secrets,” he says with a smile.

Then after the briefest of moments, he exclaims, "Witness my power!” He jumps to his feet as four shadowy versions of himself emerge from his body. He and his shadow selves attack the characters. The fight is long and dangerous, but Kumiko, Saeko, Miyo, and Odo manage to kill Yoshimitsu and his shadowy copies. When they land the killing blow, he utters "Kobayashi will devour you all!” before he falls.

Miyo and Saeko put their heads together to determine the best way of disposing of the tainted statuette, but conclude that they probably can’t destroy it, and even if they could, it would be incredibly dangerous to try. However, they know they can’t leave it here, lest it fall into the wrong hands, so they carefully place it back into the small box that Morimoto had been transporting it in, and leave the safehouse.

As soon as they step outside, they are accosted by a group of Jade Fist ninja.

XP: 375
Running total: 3559

Session 11

Odo goes off to meet his friend at the noodle house, while the rest of the party heads to the merchants' guild to find out where the dead merchant’s shop was. They’re directed to Morimoto’s Sundries, which is filled with ugly kimono, gaudy and cheap jewelry, heavily thumbed-through manga, and dangerous fireworks. The merchant’s wife, Naoko, tends the store, and greets the characters warmly when they enter.

The characters informs her of her husband’s death, but she doesn’t take it well. She says that they’re barely breaking even, and the Yakuza take any of the money that’s left over. She reveals that they have no savings - only debt - and that she has no prospect of supporting her two children. She believed that Kinzo was in the process of striking a business deal that would make them a lot of money, but he didn’t tell her what he was up to.

Meanwhile, Odo meets Iku at Matsunaga’s Noodles, a common meeting place for member of the Jade Fist. Iku is glad that he returned from the mission safely, especially since the rest of the group perished. She tells him that she has heard rumors that the group wasn’t meant to return, and to be careful — that the leadership of the guild is looking for him.

While Odo digests this information, the characters calm Naoko down and promise to do what they can to get the yakuza off her back. They then leave, and are only moments away when they hear her scream.

They rush back to find that she’s been kidnapped by the Mist Tigers. They begin pursuit through the streets of the merchants' quarters, which takes them directly past the noodle house. Odo sees Kumiko, Saeko, and Miyo sprinting after a group of ninja, and he rejoins the group after a hasty goodbye.

After giving chase, they manage to catch up to the ninja, part of which breaks off to attack them. The overhear the lead ninja instructing the others to “Take the woman to Yasu.” After a long and dangerous fight, they defeat the leader and her group, then catch up to the rest of the ninja, who drop Naoko and flee.

After taking Naoko back to her shop, she agrees to let them look through her husband's books, where they find out that he had concocted a scheme to traffic in tainted goods, and had been meeting with various shadowy figures, including someone from Mizuta.

XP: 437
Running Total: 3184

Session 10

Kumiko, Saeko, and Miyo introduce Mitsuhide to Odo, then head into town to discuss what’s going on. They wind up at the Fragrant Fern inn in the Yellow Lantern district, which is friendly to urokobito. Mitsuhide shares the following:

  1. There is some connection between the towns that were eaten, but doesn't know what yet. He suspects that someone in each town was a member of the cult.
  2. He has begun to gather other shugenja to help seal off Mizuta, but the intensity of tainted energy emanating from the town appears to be growing rapidly. He is worried that, if they don’t act quickly, they will be overpowered when they do attack.
  3. He thinks that the group should be careful. The cult may come after them.

The group bonds over sake, then Mitsuhide leaves and the characters stay at the inn for the night.

Odo wakes up to find a message from his friend and fellow clan member, Iku, in the form of a dart with a ribbon tied around it impaled in the wall above his head. He meets the group for breakfast and informs them that he has to meet one of his friends at Matsunaga Noodles in the Chrysanthemum district, but will rejoin them later. Saeko suggests that they track down the dead merchant, and asks Odo where the merchant’s guild is located. He tells them that it is also in the Chrysanthemum district, and that he’d be happy to show them the way.

Encounter: Yakuza!

On their way to the Chrysanthemum district, the group run into an urokobito shopkeeper, Aikawa Kosami, who is being shaken down by members of the Golden Hornet yakuza clan. The leader of the group, Hiro, is a hothead who dislikes dealing with urokobito.

As the characters enter the store, they hear him continually refer to the urokobito as “frogs.” His lackeys are standing around the shop, occasionally knocking items onto the floor while laughing. Cognizant that any fight would utterly destroy the rest of the shopkeeper’s inventory, and unsure of how strong the yakuza are, Saeko negotiates on Kosami's behalf, and pays them 10 cranes in exchange for giving him more time to pay.

Once the Golden Hornets leave, Kosami thanks them profusely. Odo then heads to Matsunaga Noodles to meet Iku while Kumiko, Saeko, and Miyo head to find the merchant’s family.

XP: 150
Running Total: 2747

Session 9

Encounter: Crypt of the Skeletal Samurai

Before they leave town, Kumiko, Saeko, Miyo, and Odo decide to do one last bit of investigating. They climb a hill just outside the village, hoping to get a good view of the environment. However, the path up the hill leads to the entrance to a crypt, which is guarded by a group of skeletal samurai.

Miyo recalls that skeletons are extremely uncommon in Tsurukoku, due to the tendency for dead to reanimate as zombies. Preserving a skeleton requires a special ritual to cleanse and prepare a body that most shinkan aren’t powerful enough to perform.

Once the characters get within range, the skeletons attack. Eight skeletons with bows rain arrows down upon them while two samurai move to cut off their progress — blocking the narrow steep path to prevent them from getting to the archers. Additionally, a gravehound barks and growls noiselessly as it attempts to sink its fangs into the characters.

As the characters push the skeletons back, they realize that the entrance to the crypt radiates a tainted energy that strengthens the skeletons while weakening them. After a prolonged fight, the characters emerge victorious. However, they decide to leave the crypt alone, and make their way out of town after a short rest.

XP: 160
Running total: 2410

Encounter: Assassins!

The characters leave the tainted village of Mizuta behind them, figuring that they will return with an army from Fujiwara. They make good time, aided by Odo’s knowledge of the local terrain. As they come around a bend, however, they stumble upon the scene of a dozen ninja standing over the body of a dead merchant.
 
As the ninja notice their presence, one of the ninja, a kitsune who is clearly the leader, shakes his head. “Idiots!” he exclaims — the low-level genin who were supposed to be keeping watch have obviously failed. “Kill them or die trying,” he yells as he grabs a small chest and takes off with half the group. The other half attack.

The fight is over quickly as Kumiko, Saeko, Miyo, and Odo are more than a match for the remaining low-level ninja. Odo identifies the dead ninja as members of the Mist Tiger clan - the most accomplished assassins in the Land of the Crane. The characters investigate the scene, and find some papers that identify the merchant as Morimoto Kinzo.

To pay their respects to Morimoto, they perform the traditional Tsurukokan funerary rite by constructing a small pyre and burning his body. Then they resume their trip to Fujiwara.

The characters reach the city gates, but, before they enter, they are pulled aside by Mitsuhide, the kitsune shugenja that led them on a wild chase through the woods. He has an update for them.

XP: 187
Running total: 2597

Session 8

Kumiko, Miyo, and Saeko leave their hiding place and head toward a third area of the city that looks promising. There they encounter an urokobito ninja, who is being accosted by more zombies. The characters come to the aid of the ninja, fight off the undead, and then introduce themselves.

The ninja, Odo of the Jade Fist clan, informs them that he was part of a small group of genin sent to Mizuta to scout out what was going on. Unfortunately, everyone else got eaten by zombies. He is very thankful that he did not also get eaten by zombies.
 
The group fills him in on what they’ve seen, and let him know that they are headed to Fujiwara to investigate further and to try and raise an army. Odo offers to act as a tour guide of Fujiwara and provides them with more information to further their investigation.

After talking to Odo, they learn that:

  1. The cult is called the Eaters of the Dead.
  2. The cult was led by a blood mage called Iguchi Sosuke.

XP: 222
Running Total: 2250

Session 7

After a short rest, the party continues to investigate Mizuta, once again sticking to the outskirts. Kumiko breaks down the door of a boarded up house to find a tainted makeshift shrine. Inside is a scene of horror: an altar to Kobayashi, a sigil painted on the floor in what looks like dried blood, and a group of cultists preparing a ritual.

Encounter: Cultist’s Lair

The cultists and the characters are both momentarily stunned. Then, the shinkan who appears to be leading the group yells, "Outsiders! Seize them!”

The shinkan, his cultists, and what end up being two zombie servants also attack. "I will feed you to Kobayashi myself!" one cultist exclaims.

The blood magic sigil on the floor gives those standing in it increased chance to hit and damage in exchange for draining health. The two groups battle until the cultists and the zombies lay defeated.

Once the bad guys have been dispatched, the characters attempt to interpret the meaning of the ritual the shinkan was preparing. Through a set of arcana and religion checks, they learn that:

  1. A ritual was cast with the intent of summoning Kobayashi the Devourer.
  2. The ritual involved human sacrifice and cannibalism.
  3. The tainted energies in the area are different than those of Yomi, the land of the dead.

Once they’ve finished with the shrine, the group sets fire to it. They continue on into the village, but encounter a wandering group of zombies. Already drained from the fight with the cultists, the group takes significant damage, putting them in a precarious position.

Worried that they might run into another group of monsters before having a chance to rest and recover, the characters find a hiding spot in an abandoned building. They make it through the night without incident, though they hear plenty of activity in the streets around them.

XP: 379
Running Total: 2028

Session 6

The characters follow the road to the village of Mizuta, and see chaos and destruction everywhere. Tainted energy radiates from the surrounding farmland, and, as they draw close, it becomes clear that whatever happened to Tokugawa happened here, but worse.

The PCs attempt to investigate before the necropolis destroys them. Each success gives them a vial piece of information, while each failure drives them closer to madness.

They realize that it would be easy to become overwhelmed by the miasma hanging over the village, so they stick to the outskirts as they look around. As they advance, they notice a group of urokobito, the scaly, lizard-riding hordes that live south of the Nagara river, marching down the street. They look like a raiding party, but they are fewer in number than is typical. They also notice that the urokobito appear to be frightened and skittish.

Encounter: Urokobito and the Hungry Shrine

The characters meet the urokobito in front of an ancient shrine that radiates black, negative energy, and the urokobito attack. A wyrmpriest leads the group, which consists of two soldiers and four footmen. They are accompanied by two guard drakes. During the melee, the drakes do considerable damage to Kumiko.

As the fight continues, Miyo casts flaming sphere, backing the wyrmpriest toward the shrine. Suddenly a black tentacle shoots out from under porch, grabbing his ankles and knocking him prone. He attempts to struggle against the tentacle, but Miyo then uses her powers to put him to sleep. As a result, wyrmpriest gets dragged under shrine.

The group hears a wet crunching sound from under the shrine followed by screaming, and the wyrmpriest reappears, bloodied by the hungry shrine. Kumiko bull rushes him back into the tentacles, where he is once again grabbed and dragged under the shrine. This time the wet crunching is followed only by silence.

The characters finish off the rest of the urokobito and retreat back outside the village to heal up. When they review what they’ve just experienced, they gain 2 successes in the Investigating Mizuta skill challenge, and receive no failures.

XP: 250
Running total: 1649

Session 5

The next morning, Kumiko, Saeko, and Miyo set out on the road to Fujiwara. Near mid-morning, they encounter an obake swarm hiding in the trees next to the road. They defeat the giant, bloodthirsty crows and rats easily, though Kumiko gets bitten by a giant rat and is left with a dirty wound. She gets lucky and manages to avoid contracting filth fever.

The group continues on, then stops for a short rest at a fork in the road. One route leads to Fujiwara and the other leads into the hills. After a brief break, they pack up and are about to move on when a wanderer appears from out of the hills. He is dressed like a shinkan, but is bloodied and beaten. When he sees the party, he cries for help.

The characters rush to his aid, only to discover that he has been tainted by something potent - some sort of necrotic energy is undulating beneath his skin. He introduces himself as Ono Hideki, and admits to having been part of a ritual. He begs them to help him in exchange for telling them about the ritual.

The characters try to figure out how to cleanse him by tapping their knowledge of arcana and religion. While Miyo and Saeko achieve initial success, they then manage to make things worse. The stress of the purification ritual unleashes some of the necrotic energy, and his arms and legs burst open to reveal writhing black tentacles. He screams in terror.

Sensing that her chance to find out about the ritual is slipping away, Kumiko tries to intimidate Hideki into saying more. Unfortunately for the characters, this pushes him over the edge and he explodes in a burst of necrotic energy, having fully transformed into a necrotic ooze.

The ooze attacks and gets in a few good hits before it is defeated..

Shaken and disturbed by what they’ve just witnessed, the characters camp for the night. The next morning they decide to investigate the ritual that tainted the wanderer.

XP: 700
Individual: 230
Running total: 1399

Session 4

Near evening, the characters manage to track down Mitsuhide. He’s sitting in seiza in the middle of a grove of trees, meditating. The group approaches him, explains what they’ve seen, and asks him to aid them. Instead of agreeing, though, Mitsuhide decides to test them. He sprints into the woods, expecting them to chase after.

The characters follow, vaulting over logs and streams, dodging tripwires and snares, all the while verbally parrying with the shugenja. The chase lasts for a few minutes, and Mitsuhide finally stops, satisfied that they’re being forthright. He gifts them one-time use charms, and tells them that he will help. If what they suspect they’ve discovered is true, then he feels that it is worth investigation. He suggests that they head to Fujiwara, the closest large city. They may be able to find others to aid them there. He leaves the group and heads deeper into the woods.

Now that they have Mitsuhide on their side, they decide that they will head to Fujiwara to investigate Kobayashi and to try to raise an army to take him on.

XP: 166 each
Running total: 1166

Loot
One-use charm: +1 to all defenses for one encounter