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Letter#7: Ikoma Tsanuri

 

To my comrades-in-arms among the fortresses of the Lion,

   You know me. You heard my voice in council, and you know my heart. Those of you who have served in my legion know that I sought only to lead my people as I felt my oath demanded. I stood at the gates of Otosan-Uchi, attacked on all sides by my people, torn between loyalty and reason. I would have died there, beside my kinsmen. At the hands of my kinsmen. I would have died fighting for what I thought was our duty.

 I was wrong.

   When Toturi, the ronin, came before us and showed us the way that we had lost, we rallied and turned up on the palace with all the fury of a hundred storms. The gates opened, and the filth within the walls spewed forth across the plains in a battle like none I have ever seen. But with a wildness in their eyes and a strength in their hearts that was unmatched, ten thousand Lions took the field that day for Rokugan -- and beside the forces of Crane, Crab and Unicorn we charged, praying it would be enough. Praying all would go well within its walls. I charged into the fray with Motso beside me, and a legion of undead parted before our blades. I tore away their porcelain masks and tried to ignore the faces beneath. Once they were familiar faces.

   Once they were men -- just soldiers, like you or I -- but now they had become abominations. Food for a Lion's blade.

   Even when the zombies disarmed me and thought to place upon my own face the mask of their Master, I fought with nothing but my hands and my courage. I thank the Seven Fortunes that it was enough, and I ran their once-Crab leader through with his own rusted blade.

   Many men died on the field that day, but those who survived -- Gohei, Agetoki, and the rest -- showed the Shadowlands the strength of a Lion's heart.

   Remember them, my brothers, when you speak of this day to your children.

   Remember not only the seven who entered the gates of the Palace, but the thousands who died on its fields. Their sacrifices were just as great.

   When the bodies of the dead were burning on the plains, I went before Toturi and offered him my life. He looked into my eyes and said, "To tread on the sword that defends you is an offense to the soul of bushido. Rise, daimyo of the Lion, and take your place at the council of your peers." I stood beside the daimyos of the great clans of Rokugan, and I felt like a falcon among eagles.

   I am a soldier. I was not raised to be a politician, nor a leader of men. I swore my blade to the Lion, and to the Emperor. Now that Emperor commands me to lead you into the future that is before us. If you choose, you can follow me there, and we will fight as soldiers. Side by side.

Ikoma Tsanuri

 

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