A the edge of adulthood when most boys seek to prove their worthiness to be called adult an opportunity has presented itself to dozens of samurai in the Topaz Championship. The honor to attend such an event is great, even greater is the shame however of failing your family and your clan. Especially considering the Emperor himself will be attending the tournament.
The story focuses on 3 samurai from 3 different clans, their paths intertwines as they meet in the Kakita town of Tsuma in Crane lands. The Championship is to be held at the Kakita Dueling Academy. Each samurai has made the journey from their own lands to the town with the blessings of their Daimyo and Sensei, to fail now would bring great shame and embarrassment to their clan.
Hida Kosuke is the large and loud Crab Bushi, he is boisterous and loves to unwind with a bottle of sake. He is proud of his physical prowess but when it comes to courtly games he is quick to get out of the way.
The journey to the Crane lands have been uneventful and on the road they have been stopped by magistrates inspecting their papers. The three would be samurai’s make their way to the tea house – House of the Laughing Carp. At the tea house, they were each assigned a room and for lack of space shared a table where they engaged in small conversation before the evenings main event started. The arrival of the Emperor and his entourage.
The Emperor is is escorted by a half dozen Imperial Guardsmen. The local samurai and contestants gather in the streets to bow and greet the Son of Heaven. The entourage is composed of: The Emperor Toturi XII, his two eldest twin sons, Hatsu and Kobashi, each wearing the mons of the Crane and Lion schools where they have been fostered. Walking between the two sons is their youngest sister, Toturi Chisa.
Closely behind the Emperor is Miya Shikan, the Imperial Herald, who is also serving as Master of Ceremonies for the tournament. Shikan is somewhat stiff and the look on his face is faintly disapproving as he acknowledges the bows of the crowd.
Coming alongside the Lions is the handsome Crane Champion, Doji Sarutomo, he is accompanied by an elderly woman whose tottering pace is supported by both a cane and a pair of young handmaidens. The elderly woman is O-Doji Koneko, the Crane Clan matron, widow of the previous Champion.
The whole entourage make their way to the Kakita Dueling Academy where they are welcomed by Kakita Saburashi, the daimyo of the Kakita family and one of the senior sensei at the Dueling Academy. Saburashi gives a brief specch welcoming the contestants, and reminding them how honored they are to have the Emperor in attendance.
After the welcoming ceremony is done, everybody retires to their own. Our young heroes retire back to the House of the Laughing Carp, where they pick up information from the other contestants of what events might be in the tournament before turning in for the night.