The Ties That Bind


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The Ties that Bind: War, Intrigue and Matrimony in the Emerald Empire!

Deep within the Mori Isawa stands Shiro Asako, the Morning Glory Palace. Constructed atop an outcropping of jet black stone, its walls shine like a white beacon from dawn to dusk, rising above the treetops like a pillar of ivory. This hidden citadel of the Phoenix clan is a place of clarity and solitude: freedom, if you will, from the twisted schemes and bloodshed that pervades the southern provinces. Here, the wise monks and librarians of the Phoenix go about their studies in solace, far from the rest of the Empire. In such a place, one has no need of guile, nor sharpened blades; the only currencies valid here are clarity and wisdom.

A sound argument…for a peasant.

It is now the winter of 1119, and the gates of this ancient fortress have suddenly been thrown wide open in a rare display of hospitality on the part of the Asako. The circumstances could not be more unorthodox—Asako Yumiko, only daughter of a powerful Phoenix lord and kin to the reining family daimyo Asako Togama, has announced her intention to marry the following spring. However, she has avoided choosing a suitable husband from the candidates presented to her in defiance of her parents and a host of matchmakers and go-betweens.

Instead, the young shugenja claims that the identity of her husband will be revealed by the Kami—in due course. Those samurai wishing to be considered for her hand in marriage must be present in the court of Shiro Asako on the Winter Solstice, at which time they will be tested by the Kami. Yumiko refuses to elaborate further, and rumors have spread like wildfire throughout the Empire about the beautiful and gifted Phoenix maiden with her strange challenge.

A host of samurai from every corner of Rokugan now makes its way on the long journey north to be present at Shiro Asako before the start of winter. While the pandemonium surrounding Asako Yumiko’s sudden announcement certainly commands the most attention, the Scorpion couldn’t be more pleased, as their own dealings are lost amid the chaos—rumors that the Bayushi were to enter negotiations with a delegation of courtiers from the Minor Clans are all but forgotten, and the reports of strange apparitions beneath the eaves of the Phoenix woodlands are no longer repeated.

The Empire has come to the Morning Glory Palace; intrigue lurks beyond every rice-paper screen. No blade stays in its saya for long as fiery tempers ignite in the icy depths of winter, as alliances are made and broken, fortunes are won and lost, and the day of Asako Yumiko’s marriage draws ever closer.

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