City of Green Walls

Episode 1 - The New Magistrates

Daidoji Hanayama, Kitsu Teinosuke, and Shinjo Toru were all three called among those receiving new appointments by the Emperor this year. In an imposing, interminable ceremony (for which Teinosuke indebted himself to his clan to get proper court dress), all three learned that they were posted as Emerald Magistrates in Ryoko Owari. This was unusual, the city having had only one such magistrate until then.

Meeting next with the Emerald Champion, Doji Satsume, they further learned that their predecessor had been dead for several months. Daidoji Hanayama was appointed as Head Magistrate. The three samurai made the two-week journey to the Scorpion City, silently wondering why they have been chosen for the job.

Meanwhile in Ryoko Owari, the peasant Nanami, who had heard that doshin and goyoukiki were being hired to serve the new Emerald Magistrate, sought out the ronin Jaw and Ample. Despite her peasant background, Jaw decided it was a good idea to hire her for the grunt work, such as acting as intermediary with the distasteful but necessary eta. She was sent to meet with two eta who have served the previous magistrates, the torturer Pitiful and the astute Eyebrows who could learn much by examining dead bodies.

Upon arriving in Ryoko Owari, the new Emerald Magistrates met with the captain of the Thunder Guard, Shosuro Jocho, son of the city governor, and with his lieutenant Yogo Asako; Kitsu Teinosuke received the gift of a good horse from Jocho. They inspected their new household, and received a thorough file on the city from Yogo Asako.

The new magistrates learned that their predecessor, Magistrate Ashidaka Naritoki, had in fact been assassinated. Soon, they received the visit of Naritoki's brother, Ashidaka Mishitaka, who came to plead with them to find his brother's killer. Finally, they also met with the governor of the city, Shosuro Hyobu.

They spent the next several days showing surprising zeal in studying the dossier provided by Yogo Asako.

Episode 2 - Getting Cozy

The new magistrates spent their first few days in the City of Green Walls presenting their letters of introduction to various august personages.

Shinjo Toru had received from his family letters for Shinjo Yoshifusa, nominally the head of the Unicorn Clan in Ryoko Owari; he also made the brief acquaintance of Yoshifusa's son and daughter, Sanefusa and Yoshiko. Shinjo Yoshifusa appeared as a cantankerous, indecisive, ineffective old man.

Kitsu Teinosuke had letters for Kitsu Senshi. Upon meeting this formidable martinet of a woman, he also discovered that his debt had been transferred to her, and she had every intention of enforcing it strictly.

Daidoji Hanayama met with Doji Sukemara, a refined, well-spoken, courteous epitome of Crane qualities but unhelpful in the matter of useful gossip.

Meanwhile, Jaw and Ample were still hiring doshin; they had been looking for a shugenja to replaced True Word, killed at the time of Ashidaka Noritoki's murder. They found Kaeru Hirotaka, who was hired but only after being dragged into a drinking contest with Ample. Although Hiro lost, Jaw was favourably impressed by his attempts to cheat, and ordered him to present himself the next day.

Daidoji Hanayama announced that she wanted the Emerald Magistrate's quarters searched for Ashidaka Naritoki's missing files and journal, giving ample time for her colleagues to take their private effects. With Nanami's assistance, she searched the entire household, but in vain. Meanwhile, Teinosuke and Toru were introduced to the delights of Teardrop Island by Shosuro Jocho, where Toru openly used opium with practiced ease and Teinosuke got "stumbling drunk."

Episode 3 - Following Old Tracks

In the morning, the governor invited the magistrates for tea; Daidoji Hanayama presented herself. After lengthy pleasant conversation, Shosuro Hyobu explained that although the local music festival was not well known, this was about to change as the wife of the Scorpion daimyo, Bayushi Kachiko, would be attending this year. She would be accompanied by Kakita Yogoso, a somewhat successful poet. The festival was coming up in about a month and security measures will be needed. Upon her return, Hanayama informed the other magistrates of the upcoming festival and visitors.

A member of the Thunder Guard arrived, announcing that an individual with unusual travel papers was at the Unicorn Gate. The magistrates headed out to investigate, and met Nobu, a monk from the Shrine of the Seven Thunders. Nobu announced that he is seeking enlightenment. Shinjo Haru asked Nobu to report regularly while he was in the city. Kitsu Teinosuke announced that, as he had intented on visiting the Temple Quarter anyway, he would escort Nobu there.

Daidoji Hanayama, Shinjo Haru and Kaeru Hirotaka headed for the headquartes of the Thunder Guard, where Hanayama was hoping to learn more about the circumstances surrounding the murder of Ashidaka Naritoki. They were greeted by Shosuro Jogho, who promised he would send th4e remnants of the magistrate's burnt palanquin to the Emerald Magistrates' headquarters. They learned that the scrolls found near the body of the yojimbo True Word had since been claimed by his next of kin. The first people to arrive on the scene after the murder were Little Gate Firemen. Shosuro Jocho advised the magistrates to ask Yogo Asako for more information on the case.

Meanwhile, Kitsu Teinosuke guided the gawking Nobu towards the Temple Quarter and the highly visible temple of Daikoku. Nanami followed, helping to steer Nobu. Teinosuke, concerned that Nobu's travel papers would be stolen, wanted to ask Abbot Okawa's advice on the matter. The abbot bowed to all three visitors, and particularly deeply to Nanmi the peasant. He instructed Kitsu Teinosuke and Nobu the monk to switch places if they were to reach enlightenment. Teinosuke declined, leaving Nobu unsure how to obey. Teinosuke left the monk to meditate and returned to the Emerald Magistrate's palace.

Pursuing the investigation of Magistrate Noritoki's murder, Shinjo Haru examined the remnants of the palanquin and established that good quality lamp oil had been used to help the palanquin burn. Kaeru Hirotaka questioned the spirits and established that no magic had been used during the murder. Daidoji Hanayama next led the magistrates to Little Gate to question the firemen.

They found a very crowded but clean district, well patrolled and well lit, the "Downhill District." The Little Gate Firemen were a part-time volunteer organization; the word was put out that the Emerald Magistrates sought those had found the burning palanquin, then the team headed over to look at the scene of the crime. On either side were a netsuke merchant and a maker of fine sake sets.

The magistrates interrogated Takahiko the netsuke merchant, frightening him badly, but he insisted he had slept through the murder. Next, they spoke to the two firemen who had first found the burning palanquin. The men described what they had seen; they had been alerted by the smoke, not by noise, but then had heard screams coming from inside the palanquin, though they heard no sounds of fighting. They had put out the fire to save the district, then alerted the Thunder Guard.

Kaery Hirotaka summoned an Earth spirit, but in vain. Kitsu Teinosuke wanted to bring the netsuke merchant and introduce him to the eta Pitiful, but Shinjo Haru adn Daidoji Hanayama objected, wanting first to know who the merchant's patron was. Teinosuke also wished to talk to Ide Baranato, but Daidoji Hanayama thought he was unlikely to speak ill of Naritoki and his retainer True Word in front of another Crane magistrate.

Daidoji Hanayama sent Nanami to find out who the merchants' patrons were. Pretending to be looking for bribes for herself and for the magistrates (much to Jaw's satisfaction), Nanami learned that Takahiko was protected by Shosuro hyobu herself. Nanami collected many gifts for Jaw and the magistrates in the process. Meanwhile, Governor Shosuro Hyobu invited Daidoji Hanayama to view her garden, then gifted her with a netsuke as a memento…

Nobu the monk was invited to eat with the magistrates' servants and heard much gossip. The servants had like Noritoki well enough, but hated True Word.

At dawn, a guard called the magistrates — there had been a murder in Downhill…

Episode 4 - Hare Today, Gone Tomorrow

(Coming soon.)

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