A band of ronin travels south, away from the ruins of a village.
They are several days on the road; a restless cadre of bushi. Twelve in all, mounted on ponies. These were warriors hired to the protection of a riverside village. A flood came and swept the settlement away. Now these bushi travel to the Crab lands.
Three are members of the infamous Forest Killers; sullen TAKESHI (new character, played by E.G.); eager AKIHIRO (new character, played by B.P.); aloof OMAR (played by M.H.) Another of the band is the resident armorer. And there is virtuous KENSHIN (new character, played by K.R.), affiliate of Tawagoto’s Army. (Others of this band of ronin are players not present for this game session)
The group is destined for the “20 Goblin Winter”. With no patron village, this opportunity alone lies in their path. Along the way, the ronin have heard that a major plague had struck the Crab lands. The Crab military and peasant population were laid waste. From this catastrophe came the call for recruits to prove themselves and join the Crab Clan.
The party reaches the Crab fortress citadel of SHIRO KOATSUKI, northeast of the sheltering Wall. They pass the outer gates of the city with barely notice from the guardsmen. The party does not realize that they have been magically searched for traces of Shadowlands Taint.
At the inner gates they are halted. The guards have no need to ask the group’s purpose for being here; they have seen many ronin come, for one purpose. The group is given directions to barracks.
Winding across the northern quadrant of the walled city, the party notices that the peasants act strangely. The city dwellers move furtively, apprehensive about something. Word passes that the second of three divisions of Crab defenders is mobilizing to leave Shiro Koatsuki. This force will follow after the first division, which departed only days ago.
As the party nears the barracks, activity in the streets has ceased altogether. An eerie quiet replaces what should be the afternoon bustle of a major city. Yet no threat is obvious to the newcomer bushi.
The barracks are clean, sparse, and vacant. The group stables their ponies and settles into their accommodations to rest.
From somewhere to the west, a war drum thunders. Omar knows it is a Crab Clan signal. Sensing something is up, the group don their armor and check weapons, and investigate.
At the city’s western wall, the party discovers that the war drum is a call to arms – an army of undead is attacking the city ! This begins mass combat. Omar, Kenshin, Takeshi and Akihiro charge in to support the Crab soldiers deploying on the city wall against the invaders.
It is a chaotic scene. For hours this battle rages.
Crab bushi and shugenja hold the line. Undead creatures fall upon them in wave after wave. A Crab chui, a local commander, falls in battle. Brave Takeshi rushes into that skirmish. He hauls the chui to safety in the rear ranks of the Crab legions, with Akihiro providing cover.
Through supreme effort, the tide turns. The Crab defenders win the day.
The group, exhausted and injured, return to their barracks. They visited by a Crab diplomat, HIDA RODARI. Rodari thanks them for their assistance in what was not an unusual occurrence in this city. He informs the group that their participation in the “20 Goblin Winter” will begin at Shinsei’s Last Hope, a Crab garrison fortress inside the Shadowlands.
The ronin party will leave for there in two days. In the meantime, their bravery and selflessness are repaid with Crab hospitality in the form of food and shelter.
(end Part 5)