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State of the Empire Part 5

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State of the Empire Part 5
Written By: Unknown
Edited By: Unknown
Released: 2010 [citation needed]
Link: [citation needed]
Story Year: 1172

An Account of the Divine Empress’ Subjects’ Activities during This Time of War

The First Week of the Month of the Hare, year 1172

Benevolent Child of Heaven,

I struggle each week with the act of compiling these reports, not because I wish to shirk my duties, but because the act of doing so requires my focused attention on a great deal of war and suffering throughout the Empire, and it strains my heart to think of the loyal subjects who perish each week, many of whom having committed no sin save that of dwelling in a world that has surely been beset by the enemies of the Heavens themselves. Perhaps it is no more than a foolish man indulging a penchant for melodrama, but I cannot help but feel genuine sorrow at the plight of our people. I know this must be doubly painful for you, and I wish that I could somehow alleviate the pain we all share. I am no priest of the kami, however, but merely a herald, and I can but do my duty.

The ruthless battle in the south continues unabated despite the continued and incredible loss of life on both sides. The ranks of the Destroyers seem without limit, and despite the number of losses your loyal samurai inflict for every death they suffer, I fear for the status of the Lion, Crab, and Unicorn if this war endures beyond the summer season. Perhaps if the only threat that required the clans’ attention was the Destroyers, then the situation would not be so bleak. Unfortunately, that is not the case. One of my heralds was on hand when the Crab lands witnessed a horde of minor oni, nigh-mindless creatures spawned from the power or bodies of true oni, rushed from the flank of the vast Destroyer Horde that remains within the boundaries of the Shadowlands. At this point there is no way to know if the creatures were attempting to escape the Destroyers, if they were compelled to do so after being enslaved, or if it was merely some mindless migration of some sort. Ultimately, I suppose, it does not matter. The sons and daughters of Osano-Wo, among both the Crab and the Mantis, were the first to intercept them. My herald reports that it was the sheer, unrelenting brutality of Amoro’s Legion and their commander, Hida Sozen (whom my herald interesting refers to as “a monster of preposterous dimensions”) that broke the front line, but I have subsequently discovered that your dutiful Champion, Yoritomo Naizen himself, was among the Mantis forces present at the battle. It seems that the Champion was investigating the status of the Mantis forces seconded to the southern front and chose to take the field himself when he heard of the attack. His tactics made quick work of the oni swarm, devastating their front line and right flank, and forcing them to flee toward the Empire’s western border. This was apparently anticipated, as the rout caused them to expose a different flank, at which point a large force of Khol raiders under the joint command of Shinjo Yamauchi and Utaku Kohana, the latter of whom I believe has held personal audience with your Divine presence, struck the exposed flank and eradicated the oni. The reports I received from the front include mention of Naizen personally meeting with Sozen, Yamauchi and Kohana, and that he appeared “exhausted.” My information indicates that his wife has infant twins, however, so I suspect that state may not be related to the battle.

As a corollary to this tale, the herald responsible for bringing the account of the battle in the south was returning home to report when she was intercepted and detained by bandits. Anzai, whom I believe I have mentioned in previous reports, apparently took a toll upon her captors. She would never presume to mention such things, but her rescuers mentioned that it was the bodies of the two men she killed defending herself that led them to her. I am eternally grateful to the Fortunes that it was the Lady Doji’s Eyes detachment of the Crane that were in the area, for surely no more perceptive group exists. When they neared the point at which Anzai was being held, they discovered a group of monks in the area, also stalking the bandits. There was some tension, but ultimately the decision was made to work together and stop the bandits. The Crane commander was of the opinion that recovering a member of the Imperial families was more important than his suspicious. Anzai was retrieved intact, and afterwards the monks disappeared. The Crane commander suspects that they may have been affiliated with the Spider, and has submitted himself for censure for failure to stop them. That matter I leave to you, sacred Empress, but for my part I have offered him my eternal gratitude and appreciation for saving one of my finest young heralds.

The news of Yoritomo Naizen’s tactical acumen on the mainland, of his putting to use decades of strategic naval expertise on the mainland, is interesting, but even more so when we take into account the odd reflection that took place this week. In an attempt to reach the southern flank and investigate whatever ongoing matter that the Lioness Legion has been tasked with, they took the legendary Deathless, the massive vessel the Lion recovered from the sea many years ago and have used intermittently ever since. It seems that the tactics of the Lion work equally well on the seas. A smaller gaijin vessel, filled with Destroyers and a small crew of humans, evaded the Mantis patrols and reached almost to the northern Crane shores. The potency of the Deathless as a vessel of war appears not to be an exaggeration, and of course we know full well that the skills of the Lion are no thing of legend. The Destroyers pose no threat to the Crane shore, at least at present.

Although the northern front remains the less active of the two, the fighting there is no less costly, perhaps because the number of resources the Empire has in the north is less than that of the south. The Army of Fire continues to press inward, but because the Dragon stand vigilant against their advance, they have not gained significant ground in the past week. One advance unit of their ranks did nearly reach your ancestral homeland at Shiro Kitsuki, however, but the Mirumoto Elite Guard managed to repel the barbarians thanks to the leadership of Mirumoto Narumi, jointly trained by the Dragon and the Imperials in a mirror of your own heritage. I find it no small coincidence that a woman who shares a tiny fraction of qualities with your august person prevails so easily on the field of battle.

Finally, I must make you aware of a threat that arose this week that has little to do with the war, although it may have been brought about purely by the existence of such a terrible conflict. Guided by the instincts of the Phoenix, a joint force of Phoenix and Scorpion discovered and eliminated what appears to have been a spirit portal to the Realm of Slaughter. These are exceedingly dangerous and thankfully rare occurrences. I am certain you are familiar with the devastation that took place in the Lion lands some decades ago when the last such known portal opened. Fortunately the fighting acumen of the Scorpion was more than sufficient to keep the slaughter spirits at bay until the Phoenix Master of Air was able to divine a means to close the portal. I am told that the endeavor was most costly to both clans, but Isawa Mitsuko feels confident that the portal is sealed for now, and that the odds of another opening in the same location are minimal. She does express her concern over the notion that the constant war and death in the Destroyer War may allow others to open, and has petitioned for the Phoenix to be given access to all the committed clans’ military reports in order to search for the possibility of one opening without detection by our fighting forces. Per her request, I am passing this recommendation on to you. She also specifically recommended the Scorpion commander, a warrior named Bayushi Muhito, for a commendation. She speaks highly of his abilities, and at one point refers to him as a “uniquely ruthless and remorseful murderer,” which quite frankly I find highly inappropriate, but presumably the Scorpion did not object to the accolade or surely Mitsuko-sama would not have sent it.

All in all, my Empress, it was a most unique and eventful week. I hope that next week will bring more accounts of victories, and perhaps an end to the war altogether. A foolish hope, perhaps, but I have always been accused of mindless optimism in the past.

Your humble servant,

Miya Shoin

Imperial Herald

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