Okay everyone, here's the introduction to the SAMURAI SERIAL NOVEL I'm co-writing: "THE DROWNING EMPIRE" with my fellow "Writer Nerd Game Night" friends (we play once a month). It's basically Legend of the Five Rings fan fiction based on a samurai role-playing campaign I'm playing in with Larry Correia, our New York Times Bestselling author and Incredible Game Master. This is such a great story and Larry is sharing it free every Friday on his blog.
Legend of the Five Rings is an incredible role-playing game. Check it out. Please.
The details . . .
Patrick Tracy--playing Moto Subotai of the Unicorn Clan, swordsman, archer, horseman, and poet--Subo is the best friend of my character Akodo Toranaka, and official hostage of the Akodo family--watched over of course by Toranaka.
Me, Paul Genesse, playing Akodo Toranaka--top graduate of the Golden Plains Dojo, a man dedicated to all tenets of Bushido, a swordsman and tactician, destined to be a great Lion Clan general and follow in his father's footsteps someday . . . unless the Fortunes are cruel and his Secret Enemy (not in the group mind you, takes their revenge).
Steve Diamond--playing Ikoma Uso of the Lion Clan . . . "Nothing to see here, I'm only a bard," Uso says (yeah right!) as he kicks everyone's ass with his giant sword, a "no-dachi." Uso has the help of one of his twisted ancestors, who haunts more than his dreams. Read Uso's intro to the campaign on the link below.
Yoritomo Oki of the Mantis Clan, who is a lecherous and greedy drunken sailor with a gambling problem who is also the best archer of his generation, played with gusto by Tony Battaglino.
The lumbering oaf of a warrior, Suzume Shintaro of the lowly Sparrow clan who is the most honorable and gullible samurai (with a huge bladed spear!) and wannabe historian you'll ever meet, played by with quiet panache by Zachary Hill,
Lastly, Tamori Isao of the Dragon Clan, a half-mad shugenja (wizard-priest) who speaks with the spirits far too often, and is haunted by the death of his mother, killed by a terrible tsunami. Isao is played by Brad Torgersen, whose fiction in this serial novel will blow you away.
All of the player/authors, and especially the game master, are excellent writers, and this is going to be a fun ride, as the samurai heroes try to save the Emerald Empire from certain destruction.
Larry Correia has created an epic storyline and we've already written over 100,000 words in what we're calling, THE DROWNING EMPIRE. "Fear the water . . ."
Read the introduction here on Larry's blog.
And here's a sample of the first entry I wrote. Toranaka is 17 years old when this begins.
First Entry in The Journal of Akodo Toranaka of the Lion Clan, son of Akodo Goro, former General of the 1st Akodo Army and Commander of the 4th Imperial Legion, now Master Sensei of The Golden Plains Dojo
Year 1189, 12th day of the Month of the Dragon in the Seventeenth Year of the reign of Her Holiness, The Daughter of Heaven, Empress of Rokugan, Hantei Hoketuhime
The “Village” of Tsuma in the Crane Lands
The first day of the Topaz Championship, the most prestigious Coming of Age Ceremony in all of the Emerald Empire, has gone well. Much honor has been gained for the Lion Clan. With superior tactics and good fortune I placed second in the Grand Melee; fifth in the horse archery competition; and was almost assassinated by a sloppy poisoner in a tea house called The Laughing Carp.
To die in a tea house of all places, and one with a particularly mocking name, and from such a weak attack, would have forever stained my clan and the Akodo family name. After study in the Golden Plains Dojo for seven years and striving to be the best in all my studies, to die with chopsticks in my hand not a sword would be a cruel and unjust fate that would surely condemn me to return in the next life as common peasant.
For only five golden koku—the tiny amount of coin that would scantly feed five peasant families for a year—a lowly serving girl put poison in my bowl of rice and fish. She was given this poison by an unknown veiled woman, who appeared to be somewhat young. If Ikoma Uso had not noticed the subtle scent poison, I might have been severely sickened for the rest of the competition or even died.
Uso saved my life and I shall never forget this. My Lion Brother, esteemed Uso had just defeated me in the Grand Melee with a strong attack, but there are no bad feelings between us. I was honored to lose to him and see him declared the winner of the melee. He was too fast for me and struck me down when only the two of us out of thirty-two competitors were left. I think of him as a stalwart friend and ally, and Ikoma Uso is a very honorable Lion, though I have not yet understood some of his odd mannerisms. Regardless, his lineage is beyond reproach, and Uso-san’s deceased father, Ikoma Katsu of the Legendary Paper Lanterns would be very proud of him.
Time is short, and I have little time to write more now, as the competition continues again soon, but I must record a few more thoughts on this day and what is to come.
First, I believe that divine forces have put me together with five individuals who my fate is irrevocably entwined with. A feeling in my heart and three events lead me to this conclusion. 1. We five met at a checkpoint outside Tsuma where many roads converged—an auspicious meeting place. We arrived there from different starting points, but arrived at the same time, and were then allowed through together. 2. A mysterious elderly monk spoke to us from beside a stream at the roadside and told about our futures as if he had knowledge that only a divine being would have. This monk disappeared from view once we had passed and there is no explanation for his miraculous disappearance. 3. We six were all assigned to the same place for room and board (except my Sparrow Clan friend Shintaro-san who had no place arranged in advance), though there were several other tea houses where we competitors of the Topaz Championship could have been sent.
These events may not seem to be much evidence for divine providence and the hands of the Fates intervening, but right from the beginning I felt a kinship with these men, as if each of them were soldiers in the same company, soldiers who would fight at my side in the times ahead.
Ikoma Uso, a Lion Clan bard and I became friends during our short ride together into Tsuma. We are Lion, and therefore Pride Brothers, but I felt like I already knew him. I suspect we served together in a Lion Army in a past life. I do not know, but I am glad to know him now, or perhaps again.
My ward, Moto Subatai, a Unicorn Clan bushi my father has entrusted in my care is not as uncouth as many of his uncultured brethren, and has conducted himself with much honor. He was selected to attend the Topaz Championship for his skill, and he has a sharp mind, despite his upbringing on the steppes. He is an accomplished horseman and won the horse combat competition with grand flair. He is also the only swordsman who stood against the great warrior Akodo Tetsuro for so long in the Grand Melee. Moto Subatai is the hostage of my Clan, and I do hope I will not have to take his life if his kin in the Unicorn Clan do not follow the terms of the treaty they signed after they were utterly defeated in the Battle of the Rich Frog. I hope he will become my brother and we can put the rancor between the Lion and Unicorn clan behind us, and form an alliance that will save Rokugan when next we are attacked.
Tamori Isao, a Dragon Clan Shugenja is the strangest of my new friends, but he is Dragon and has been too long in the thin air of the mountains communing with the spirits. Still, he did well in the Grand Melee, though he was not allowed to use the Kami and bring their power to bear. He is the most puzzling of all of my friends, but I am not worthy to question the Fates that brought him into my company and his survival to the end was no accident.
Yoritomo Oki, a Mantis clan archer who trained in the Tsuruchi archer school is one of the deadliest archers of his age that I’ve ever seen. Though I can see him chafing at the rigid path set before him by his clan, and indulging in too much sake as he perhaps wishes he were raiding Gaijin ships, I recognize his skill with a bow. Men like him are needed if Rokugan will survive the next war. Perhaps his sake will allow him to forget the faces of the men he will kill.
Suzeme Shintaro, a Sparrow clan bushi is a simple man, more familiar with yoking his horse to a plow than fighting the best young warriors from all the clans, but he is strong and deft with his bladed spear. He will be deadly once he is trained properly with its use, and when he is allowed to do more training in a dojo and less work in the fields, which is far beneath his samurai status. Men like Shintaro have held the flanks of Lion Clan armies for centuries, and if not for the honor of the minor clans like his, and their refusal to break and run during countless battles, the glory of the Lion would be much diminished, though the histories rarely praise the minor clans for their service.
The alliances between the clans have always saved the Empire, and though I am a young man, I know we Rokugani are far stronger as allies than we are as divided foes, fighting to the death when the true enemy lives beyond our borders.
Today an alliance was formed. These young men, none with more than my seventeen years, trusted me in the Grand Melee and followed my orders in battle, enacting a strategy that saw all of us to the final eight, narrowed down from thirty-two. They allowed me to serve as their commander, and I was honored greatly by their trust, and for allowing me to use the training I have studied for the past seven years. I hope that when I return to the Lion Clan Lands after the Topaz Championship, I will worthy of my new position of Gunso, which I earned after graduating from the Golden Plains Dojo at the head of my class. I hope that the fifty men I will command will be as strong a company as my five new friends.
The gong has sounded, and I am being called now to attend the next competition, but I must write the words I spoke to my friends the night before at the tea ceremony I invited them to. We shared the samurai tea I brought from home, and I was inspired by new friends to speak the last words the Great Teacher Shinsei spoke to the founder of the Akodo clan two thousand years ago:
“No path is so narrow that a man must walk it alone. Be one with your brothers, and stand by them. In their strength, you will find your own.”