The Lion Clan steps into center stage this week–a fallen champion and an heir faced with an impossible decision.
Things are heating up in Rokugan. When last we checked, the Crane Clan had had an open feud with the Lion Clan, seizing some territories and engaging in actions that fell short of actual open warfare–but the cauldron was bubbling. In the latest of the short stories, this one focused on the Lion Clan, we see that cauldron reach its boiling point.
The Price of War takes place over the fateful siege of Toshi Ranbo–a Lion Clan province currently occupied by the Crane. The story opens with an impatient Matsu Tsuko lying in wait alongside forces led by Akodo Toturi, the elder brother of Akodo Arasou, the Lion Clan champion. As the story goes, the Lion Clan forces have been pulled from battling over a critical grain-producing field (if you’ll recall, Rokugan is currently in the grip of famine) and have laid siege to their former province, now held by the Crane. Akodo Arasou leads the besieging forces and has called upon his older brother for reinforcements.
But Akodo Toturi is a shrewd calculator. Though the characters in the story accuse him of “thinking too much” we get to see his patience in the face of recklessness and bloodlust win out the day. Because he waits and doesn’t attack the first target that presents itself, the united Akodo forces are able to execute a pincer attack on the Crane forces as they sally out. Toturi reveals to the impatient Tsuko that he was merely waiting for “the momentum of their attack to swing beyond the point of recovery.”
Matsu Tsuko is unimpressed and all but accuses him of cowardice. Akodo Arasou, a man who is larger than life and the embodiment of the Lion Clan–bold to the point of brashness, nigh-unstoppable in a fight, attempts to seize the initiative of the attack and press on, saying that now the Crane have been caught out, all they must do is continue the push in order to win.
Toturi advises caution, fearing that this would lead to Open War without any kind of casus belli, which would both turn the Emperor’s favor from the Lion Clan (which is apprently where it currently resides) and result in much strife for their people and their armies. Rokugan is not quite ravaged by war–but nearly every character wee’ve met so far senses it. That’s one of the things I love about these stories; they convey the sense of impending catastrophe so well. You can see the destiny of the Emerald Empire unfurling, but there’s the sense that not much can prevent the coming chaos. All the people can do is brace for it.
With that in mind, Akodo Arasou rushes to his untimely demise, leading an ill-fated attack on the city where he is brought low by archers–and specifically by the Champion of the Crane herself, Doji Hotaru. With a “countenance of sorrow” she pierces the Lion’s chest and skull with two shots from her bow, sending the Clans spiraling inevitably towards conflict.
Akodo Toturi is berated by his youger brothers staunchest supporters–including Matsu Tsuko, his betrothed, who makes it clear that she does not believe Toturi is capable of leading the Clan. Doji Hotaru sends a letter of regret and asks the same question that is on everyone’s lips, what will Toturi do.
That’s where the story ends, and for now sets the stage for the Lion Clan. They’re a clan with a honor-debt to be paid. The desire for revenge on a fallen champion is an obvious means of conflict–and we’ve been introduced to Akodo Toturi, the man who would go on to become Toturi I in the previous edition of the game. Who knows how closely to the old lore they’ll hew–we’ve already seen a few changes in the last one of these stories that FFG published. I expect there will be subtle differences–though we are at least following a similar structure here for the siege on Toshi Ranbo.
We’ll have to wait and see how it all shakes out, but one thing is certain: conflict is inevitable. Be sure and tune in as FFG gives us a closer look at Lion Clan cards and tactics.
Of course whatever conflict does happen is probably all according to the Scorpion Clan’s Scorpion Plan.