Legend of the Five Rings: Silk & Steel

Session 20 - Go Johnny Go-Go-Go-Go

Ready. Set...

DARE YOU ENTER WATERMELON TEMPLE

Previously, on Legend of the Five Rings:

Hideo Mirumoto of the Dragon Clan and Kujiko Matsu of the Lion Clan face off in their match in the weapon melee. Tension is everywhere, written on the faces of the contestants, the officials and the audience. Hideo chooses the daisho of the practitioner of Niten from the racks of training weapons; a katana and a wakazashi, one for each hand, to exhibit the unique styles of his clan. Kujiko chooses the katana and clenches it with both of her hands.

Master of Ceremonies Omaru starts the match. Kujiko lashes out but her blows can't get past Hideo closed defence. It becomes clear that Hideo isn't just warding off blows, he's deliberately not fighting on purpose. It slowly dawns on the spectators that they are being shown exhibition in how the Dragon really approach things: in stark duality, Hideo is fighting by not fighting. His form is one of a pure, humble soul under attack from a ruthless aggressor. Possibly like the lands of the Dragon Clan themselves. 

After having taken enough hits to prove a point, Hideo suddenly switches from a being a contemplative tortoise in a shell into a dervish of whirring steel. He lays into Kujiko with both of his swords, almost disarms her, scores many hits that bypass her defence and then knocks her on her back too. Kujiko rises up only to be knocked back down again. And again. It's almost become a pantomime, if not for the mounting growls, screams and then sobs from the  increasingly-desperate woman. Eventually Hideo knocks her on the deck again and she doesn't move to get up, lost in a haze of pain and failure. Omaru quickly calls the match over and the rest of the Lion delegation leap to Kujiko's prostrate form scoop her up and carry her off.

Later, reflecting on the victory during the haiku contest in the Bayuhsi Courtier school, Hideo delivers the following lines:

"River eternal
from cold mountain springs
Out to chill the plains."

The words certainly chill Omaru. Has the slumbering might of the Dragon Clan been finally awoken, now exhibiting the coldest of steely determination to move the mountains themselves to rain down pain upon the plains of the Lion..? 

And now, the continuation of the Topaz Championship! 

The next event on the programme is the Games contest. In the main hall of Castle Bayushi. Go boards are set up for an exhibition game with worthy spectators in attendance. 'Aunty' Mihona the matchmaker and her companions are sampling the conversation. The matchups of the contestants are decided at random in the form of tiles with clan symbols on drawn from Omaru and his assistant Asami's ornate, golden bowl. 

The first match is between Minako Ide from the Kirin Clan and Kujiko from the Lion Clan. While the Lion clan are good tacticians, Kujiko is a warrior and her grasp of seemingly simple social gaming for advancement (as opposed to hitting something with a weapon) is bad. Minako, who's played games with stones and lines scratched in the ground on windswept steppes with gaijin tribes knows the importance of things dressed up as diversions in the travelling diplomat's arsenal. It's a boring game but Minako easily claims victory.

The second match is between Mitsuhiro Shiba from the Phoenix Clan and Hideyoshi Doji from the Crane Clan. The cerebral force at work in this one game is off the charts. Socialite Hideyoshi has played a lot of games of Go in his time. Mitsuhiro's calculating brain is there to match and anticipate his moves though and the game rolls on with neither player being able to draw far ahead into the lead as they're so evenly matched. Eventually Mitsuhiro works out how many moves are left and how each possibility could effect the next. The game goes right down to the wire and it is Mitsuhiro who finally emerges from the clouds of steam that have been pouring out of the players' ears as the victor.

The next game pairing is between Yashiro Hiruma of the Crab Clan and Hideo Mirumoto of the Dragon Clan. The two blowhards set up and prepare themselves for a slightly underwhelming game. Hideo gets off to a good start – perhaps he's managed to get plenty of games in using pieces of gravel while he's been in seclusion in the Dragon mountains – but it seems the shrewd Yasuki-Trader-schooled Yashiro is more suited to sizing things like this up. He begins to dominate the second half of the game and is soon awarded a victory.

The scores for the Topaz Championship now stand at:

Minako Ide Kirin Clan 6 points
Mitsuhiro Shiba Phoenix Clan 6 points
Hideo Mirumoto Dragon Clan 6 points
Yashiro Hiruma Crab Clan 5 points
Endo Moshi Mantis Clan 4 points
Sugai Bayushi Scorpion Clan 4 points
Hideyoshi Doji Crane Clan 3 points
Kujiko Matsu Lion Clan 3 points

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