Posted by Bonnie Armstrong | 2015 Jul 17
As we continue our lead up to the Time of Legends release we are excited to present the next installment of our epic adventure! Check out shard Event Moderator websites and in-game town criers to find out when these events will be held. Without further ado we present,
Written by: EM Malachi
Sho Hill burned. Rondorin Castle was gone, devoured by a sinkhole caused by the nascent volcano. Falling ash filled the city streets, and hundreds packed the northern roads to escape the approaching molten flows. Messengers from the various daimyos had come with similar reports. Only tiny Zento was said to be safe from calamity. As the natural world tore itself apart, the odachi that had served Kimura Isamu so well was without purpose. All Isamu could do was follow the final orders his daimyo had given him.
The samurai was drawn from his brooding by a crash. An apprentice sailor had dropped a crate, spilling the contents across the pier. He looked up at Isamu with panic and started to frantically pick up handfuls of emeralds. Lost in worry, the sailor didn't notice the wealth he was haphazardly tossing into the broken crate. Rather than reprimand him, Isamu stooped in his armor to help gather up the treasure.
As the bezaisen set sail for Zento, Isamu checked the worn scroll case strapped to his back. The scrolls were the legacy his daimyo had died saving from the archive: war journals, kenjutsu techniques, writings on Bushido, and the family registry. While only a dozen scrolls out of hundreds, they were what remained of the history and wisdom of the Rondorin Empire. Isamu was to bring the scrolls and the war treasury to Zento.
The youngest member of the crew noticed the danger first: giant coils smashing angrily against the waves. Isamu had heard stories of the Ikuchi, a great eel, so long that even a fast ship would need a day to run its length. The Ikuchi had been driven to the surface by the same chaos that had woken the volcano, and the water around the injured serpent was slick with its oily blood. The crew changed course, but the endless coils surrounded the ship in all directions. The skilled crew tried to keep distance from the coils, but they knew that the heavily laden ship would find no escape.
Hoping the eel would ignore a smaller target, Isamu ordered the crew to lower and board the ship’s hashike-bune. At the samurai’s insistence, the captain reluctantly stepped from the bezaisen into the small boat. Isamu entrusted the scroll case to the captain and explained its importance.
Isamu steered the large ship away, knowing the eel would follow. He hoped he could move the flanking coils, to create an opening for the hashike-bune to escape. It reminded him of when he and his fellow samurai had ridden against the army of the Akalabeth tyrant, and superior skill had won against superior numbers. Still he had lost his war horse then, and he expected he would lose even more now. His patience presented an opportunity in the tender flesh around a gill. After roping off the rudder, Isamu drew his great blade. As the ship came close to the monster, the honed steel cut deep into the Ikuchi’s flesh. Miles of coils writhed in pain from the slash.
The great head of the Ikuchi rose out of the water like a tower. All the sea monster’s ire was directed at the samurai. The mouth of the great fish opened to show row after row of deadly teeth. Isamu bowed and raised his sword. The great head fell down against the waiting warrior, and neither hesitated. Isamu stabbed his sword through the Ikuchi’s lower jaw, pinning it to the deck. The Ikuchi’s teeth struck Isamu like hundreds of knives, but the odachi remained in the samurai’s grasp. Bleeding heavily where the teeth had pierced his armor, Isamu held the great eel at bay as the sailors rowed out of sight; his heart slowing, until it finally stopped. Sensing its enemy was dead, the Ikuchi wrenched itself free. The giant coils slammed against the sides of the ship from all directions, smashing it like an egg. Wooden planks and treasure clung to the eel’s flesh as the Ikuchi pulled the samurai’s body beneath the waves.
When the overloaded hashike-bune reached Zento, it went unnoticed and unremarked with so many other refugees, but the surviving sailors completed Isamu’s duty. Five hundred years later, those Rondorin scrolls remain some of the oldest and greatest treasures in the imperial library, still referenced by the warriors and scholars of Tokuno.
Kaito felt uneasy as he secured the rigging. He couldn’t explain his feeling of dread, The night sky was clear, and the trade route between Isamu-Jima and Makoto-Jima was usually safe. Still, his family had sailed the waters of Tokuno for over twenty generations, and he knew not to doubt his instincts.
Kaito stepped to the edge of the ship and stared into the deep black water. Far under his ship, he saw strange flickering lights in the water rising up toward the surface. As they moved closer, he could make out the ghostly faces of the Funa Yurei.
He tried to make a count but quickly lost track of the number of spirits swirling under him. It told him enough. He ordered the crew to change course back toward Zento, full sail. When his son asked for an explanation, Kaito told him: "The Ikuchi rises…”