Letter 7

(Clan Crab)

My Clan,

Otosan Uchi is in flames and the Emperor is dead.

Just before the battle, we entered the throne room with Shinsei by our side. The palace halls rang with the scream of madmen, and the castle stank of rotting filth. We followed the Scorpion through the halls of the palace, to the heart of darkness. I saw the look on her face as she stared into the eyes of the thing on the throne. She has known him, lived here with his madness, and she remained. Whatever else I may say of her, she is no coward. The beast that was our Emperor was waiting on his Emerald Throne, and when we entered the room, he was laughing. The battle was joined.

When it was over, two men lay dying upon the floor. At my feet, faint life struggled in the heart of the Master of Earth. I reached to drag him from that place, but he shook me away. The darkness which had placed claim upon his soul so long ago had come to take him now, and the light of my hand was more than he could bear. He asked for no words of comfort, cried no piteous cries of pain. One soft name, and then, nothing.

Outside the palace, my sister led the Crab against the Dark One's legion. Phoenix spells and Lion bushi scattered across the field like confetti at a festival, and the wall of the palace were stained with blood. The fight was brave that day, though many Crab lost their lives on the fields around the palace -- on both sides. I spoke to O-Ushi, and she told of men under her command who would be struck down fighting the horde, only to rise in their defense moments later. She spoke of the Daidoji who fought by her side during the battle, how he stood with her when the bodies of their enemies had the faces of their own kinsmen, and she knew in her heart why our ancestors called them "Iron Cranes."

Now the battle is over, but our fight has only begun. We have torn down the terrible banners and destroyed the dark magics that once tempted our brothers, but there is still much of the Shadowland left outside the Wall. Root out this evil! Rebuild the barrier that stands between Rokugan and the darkness. We must remember the oaths our ancestors swore and this time, we must not fail them. Among their ancient voices I can hear the battle shouts of my brother, and I know he will give us strength to recover what we have lost.

But there is one thing more. Something I did not tell Toturi when the Clans met on the field to crown him Emperor. I searched among the dead on the Imperial plain before we led our men away, and I saw the face of every man who died upon that field.

The face of Kuni Yori was not among them.

Hida Yakamo