The Scorpion's Sting

Clandestine Caverns

From the pages of Kirari's journal

Fifth Day of the Minor Clan Court

I am somehow too exhausted to sleep just yet. The adrenaline has long since surged through my veins but death still feels close. The healer has tended my wounds, but they are still fresh and threaten to reopen if I am not careful. This brush and ink, perhaps, might comfort me when words cannot.

We gambled and came very close to losing. We did not know with whom Suzume-dono would side, and that hour was perhaps one of the longest in my short life.

Once again my brazen nature has almost been the death of myself and my comrades. “The flame that burns brightest burns fastest,” they say, and perhaps they are not wrong. How much longer will I have if I keep this up? I told myself after Mura Sabishii Toshi that I would need to leash my fiery temper. Without Yuki to hold me back, will I learn to stay my tongue—and my steel? I knew we had walked into a trap, but like a fool, I rushed headfirst, eager to prove myself right.

Was it fate that led Toshihiro to stumble upon the trapdoor in the forest? I believe him when he says that he had nothing to do with it… but it seems strange that we were the ones he told. I saw the spirit of Kakita’s ancestor in the forest. Did the kami see to it that we found the Mantis—nay, the Scorpion—conspiring with the Tortoise?

I have prayed to them many times tonight, but they have been silent. Have they deemed my intentions impure? Was I too weak to call upon them properly? Or is there something else afoot? Something darker?

At night, I still dream of the warrior and the puppeteer. How Tensen was at Meido’s precipice, and Yuki’s eyes seemed to glow with the light of the sword. The cultists are still out there, outside of Lonely Shore City. I cannot help but believe them connected to the ronin uprising.

And the Scorpion. I was certain that they had infiltrated Kyuden Suzume, but not to that degree. To think that the Mantis Clan Champion himself was but an actor… is no court, no clan safe from the sting of the Scorpion? What is their purpose, now?

My sight is too narrow to see how these plots might connect. I can only hope that with the coming of the new dawn the sun may shed new light on our predicament. May Amaterasu guide and bless our next step.

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