L5R – “20 Goblin Winter” – Part 20

The rest break taken by the Crab War Band will be short.  Fifteen minutes for the company to take on water, and to rest the horses.  This stop comes not at a Crab fortress; this is only a basic camp.  A tough garrison of Crab soldiers holds this gate on the Wall.

As they struggle against fatigue, Tensi, Omar, Takeshi and Kenshin overhear these Crab soldiers updating the newly arrived on recent news.  The plague that swept Crab territory two months ago has not yet abated.  This is the same pandemic rampant when the ronin originally passed through on their way to Shinsei’s Last Hope.  From the dead, zombies continue to rise and march against the walled cities of the living.  There seems more to this plague than just a natural illness.

via mattsapien.tumblr.com

via mattsapien.tumblr.com

The Crab War Band reforms and marches on.  Now they travel north, following close to the Wall.  It will take a few days to arrive at their destination, The Razor’s Edge.  Tensi and his ronin-turned-samurai associates fail another Stamina check, falling even deeper into limb-dragging exhaustion.

That night, the War Band reaches a fortified encampment.  Watchmen from the War Band will deal with the random drifts of plague zombies that stagger out of the darkness.  The rest of the bushi will finally see sleep.

The next day, the War Band remains camped.  Their leader wants to rest his men fully before pressing on.  Early in the afternoon he calls a full assembly.

The audience hangs on their leader’s briefing.  Scouts have reported back; a considerable army of zombies holds the ground between this encampment, and their destination.  Of noteworthy concern is the presence of a zombie cavalry unit.  More importantly, the undead army has a leader, and that leader is in the field.  Many eyes furtively glance towards Kuni Yutagi.

No time is wasted.  The Crab leader will not grant initiative to the undead army.  Strategy is detailed, orders given, ranks filled.

The Crab War Band marches out to meet a waiting zombie horde.  Mass Combat begins.

All combatants begin at Engaged status.  Omar is quick to find himself in single combat against a pair of zombies.  The spearman is clever and quick; he stymies the advances of once zombie while effectively dismantling the other.  Both undead fall before him.

When Omar’s combat is ended, Takeshi enters melee with three zombies.  Well armoured, the bushi needs but moments to win his fight.

With Kenshin and Omar, Takeshi advances to Heavily Engaged status.  All around them, the Crab War Band has exploded into action.  Mounted units clash with zombie cavalry.  Human archers hold back zombie foot soldiers.  Cliques of shugenja issue destructive magic and break enemy formations.

The party’s role in this battle is at hand.  In Heavily Engaged status, Omar and his associates drive hard against a particularly strategic cluster of zombies.  Wave after wave they fight and defeat, taking damage and pressing on despite their mounting wounds.

At last the bushi succeed; their objective is met and a significant hole is cut in the zombie front.  Into this breach, Crab infantry escort Kuni Yutagi.  The venerable Crab shugenja needed a direct route to engage the undead leader, and now he has it.

Takeshi, Omar, and Kenshin can stand down at this point.  The Crab War Band is extremely effective at what it does.  All around them, bushi have the upper hand, falling on zombies with competent fury.  Tensi still finds targets for his arrows, but for his three associates, now is the time to finish off downed undead and burn the bodies.

It is impossible to tell what is happening in the distance, as the battle has kicked up dust and the smoke of burning pits now blocks the view.  The battle has ended, that becomes clear, and successfully for the Crab.  Bushi who had been in combat now turn immediately to the role of clearing the battlefield.

In among the men, Kuni Yutagi makes an appearance.  The shugenja is animated, shouting, triumphant and gloating.  In his hand he holds a severed head.  To all he can see and to any within earshot, he hollers his evident joy.  He claims he was right all along, and now holds proof – proof that “the Lost are no longer lost”.  Waving the head around as if it were a treasured document or some grim lantern, Yutagi’s rant puzzles the bushi and shugenja alike.  No one has any idea what he is going on about.

Later, the War Band moves on.  The harassment of small groups of plague zombies is now an amusement, in light of the harsh battle just fought.  The second day after the battle, the party notices that Kuni Yutagi is missing.  They are told that in the night, the shugenja took a cart and an escort of guards, and the undead leader’s severed head, and left for somewhere else.  Yutagi seemed determined to make his case to an authority.

That same day, riding on and admiring a fine late-summer day, Omar, Tensi, Takeshi, and Kenshin look ahead and see the monastery-fortress of The Razor’s Edge in the distance before them.  Their destination, and their destiny, have come.  Once ronin, now bushi to be admitted to a vassal family of a Great Clan as samurai, the heroes face their future.

(end campaign)




About d20horizons

D&D player.
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