The Gozoku



Miya Kinoko strode through the ruins of the Imperial capital. It was many years since her first stroll through Otosan Uchi, but this one seemed destined to be her last. The setting sun seemed prophetic to her eyes.

Several days had passed since the missives had arrived, each signed with the chop of the Shogun. Those few loyal survivors had each received one; none of them took the abandonment of the city well.

There was little sound in the city anymore that Kinoko could hear. Bits of ricepaper crunched softly under Kinoko’s sandals, the wonderful haiku or play that had once been written on it lost forever. Half standing buildings, many of them nothing more than burned husks, clashed sharply with her memories of this great city. The pain she felt was almost palpable.

Once this city had represented the grandeur and splendor that the Hantei had brought to Rokugan. These buildings had as much history to them as most of the splendors that any Clan could claim. And the Clans had united, if only shortly, to save them.

The sacrifice of the Scorpion to hold out the terrors in Bright Wind geisha house, making the beasts pay for every step in blood, told of quiet service.

Every noble Crane samurai that fell in the defense of the Temple of the Eternal Breath let excellence live in their lives and their deaths.

The unexpected Dragon movement into the Toyotomi district to save Life’s Love, taking action in spite of the long developed reputation for watching history rather than making it.

These deeds, made by individual samurai and samurai-ko who knew bushido deep within their souls, exemplified what it meant to be a samurai in the defense of Rokugan.

Fortunes willing, none would ever forget the valiant Lion drive to save the Forbidden City, the most sacred section of the priceless city. By the blood of their kin, they forced Daigutsu and his minions to flee the Palace in defeat.

But, in some way that was incomprehensible to Kinoko, all of those sacrifices together were still not enough to save Otosan Uchi.

Ghostly visions of bright lives and a thriving city hung before Kinoko’s eyes as she walked through the ashes. The images wavered as the tears began to well up. Kinoko blinked hard. They were not the first tears she had fought back today, and they would likely not be the last.

However, even though it hurt to remain in the city, Miya Kinoko had a duty to complete. For the good of the Empire, she traveled to the Eastern Hub Village. History and truth must not be lost, not even in these dark times.


If it could be imagined, the Hub Villages had been more severely damaged than the interior of Otosan Uchi. Almost no hemin remained to man the fields or forges. Still, in the wake of such devastation, a few of the buildings remained partially standing.

Kinoko had never traveled to this particular area much; the duties of an Imperial Scribe simply did not require it. That did not stop her from knowing her way around many of the famous cultural spots of the city.

It was to one of these buildings, a large structure old well beyond her years, that Miya Kinoko traveled. Founded over five hundred years earlier, the House of Shining Light was simply one of several colleges founded in the Imperial city. At least, that was what the Clan histories recorded. It was convenient for the Emperors if the official histories read the way the Imperial line wished.

The more complicated truth remained safely in the hands of the Miya and the Otomo.

It was truth and history that the House of Shining Light was founded five hundred years ago. It was the founder that was dangerous to know. Otomo Reju had been a very influential courtier in his time. Unfortunately, that had been the time of the Gozoku.

Reju’s accounts of the period and his many theses on politics under the Gozoku were believed to have been destroyed during the reign of Hantei Yogozohime. But history is difficult to kill, truth doubly so, and the official historians of the Emperor knew of many instances where unofficial history lived on.

One of these was the House of Shining Light. Reju must have known that his time in the court’s favor was nearly over, for he hid several manuscripts in the college. In the flow of history, they were all but forgotten. In this age of rampant destruction, Miya Kinoko thought she might be the only person alive who did remember them.

Sifting through the rubble and burnt portions of the building, Kinoko found the hidden spaces that safeguarded the scrolls. Tucking them away in the pouch on her hip, Kinoko began the task of winding her way to the temples that housed her.

This time, she never noticed the city around her.


My brother,

Please forgive my writing at a time that sees you so busy. It is a sign of my position that I must defer to you.

With the destruction of Otosan Uchi imminent, I thought it best to retrieve some of those histories that remained intact. I have visited the House of Shining Light. We both know what that trip meant.

Reju-san’s writings were spared the destruction of the city somehow. I have broken the seals and seen his knowledge. He truly was a brilliant man.

I am sending all of his writings concerning the period known as the Gozoku reign to you. If he wrote what happened with any degree of truth, then the histories that we know are wrong in most every way.

It is most likely that the truth falls somewhere between these two extremes, but that still leaves many questions to answer. Whoever gains the throne may have to face them.

I hope the Fortunes find you well.

Miya Kinoko

Imperial Scribe