The political and social organization of Hymukai, the Dragon Island, was forged through conflicts dating back to the appearance of the first humans on the archipelago. The geography of the islands strongly influenced the people who lived on them. As a result, each region developed a unique character.
Komorebi is the name for the biggest island of Hymukai. While called an island, it is actually a peninsula – connecting Hymukai with the unknown lands on the other side of the Wall of the North.The ancient ignorance of the existence of a whole northern continent made people call Komorebi an island. Most people still do throughout Hymukai.
The name “Rikka” refers to the blossom patterns formed in snowflakes. The Imperial Family’s winter palace is located on this island, surrounded on all sides by Komorebi, and it is where, traditionally, the family spends the coldest months of the year.That palace is one of the safest places in Hymukai. It is protected by a mountain chain and well defended by the court troops. There are only two gates to the sea through big rivers: the pass of Yuki in the north and the pass of Oki in the southwest.
Ikigai is an island inside the Gulf of Hymukai. It is almost completely surrounded by the Komorebi peninsula, open to the sea only in the northwest through the Pass of Kaidan.At the north of Ikigai the imperial family built a great Sohei temple on the top of mount Miru. In return, the empire has asked the monks of the temple to stand watch over the Pass of Kaidan, and raise the alarm if any danger to Hymukai should come from the sea. It’s a request that the monks take very seriously, and are happy to fulfill.To the south of the temple, the Buke and Kuge families that settled in Ikigai were charged with the mission of being the first line of defense for the Imperial City from any attacks from the Gulf.Over the years, the temple on Mount Miru has become a place of pilgrimage for the noble families of the islands. This temple houses all Sohei cults, regardless of faith.
Semishigure encompasses two big islands in the sea to the south of the peninsula of Komorebi. They are the first defense against any enemies that attack from the southern sea.Semishigure’s provinces are warm and wet, which gives the islands an extensive and varied flora. These islands are rich in resources although they have not been intensely exploited due to their proximity to Shonogai and the fear of Wako incursions from that island. Legends tells that this island is home to animals and fantastic creatures never before encountered by humans.
Benkyou’s name refers to wisdom and learning. This little island is only inhabited by a small Sohei shrine which maintains the second largest library in all of Hymukai – almost as extensive as that of the Imperial registry.Benkyou has remained largely unscathed by war over the years. It is considered a sacred place, and even the wako pirates avoid attacking the island.
The skyline of Shoganai is dominated by the great Takai volcano and its coasts are surrounded by an intricate maze of reefs. These form a natural defence that has sunk many ships that have tried to land on it.Shoganai is located in the southeast of Hymukai, and an imperial edict forbids people from visiting the island. Rumors say is is the home port for the fearsome Wako pirates.
The island of Netsu is a place of sickness, and nobody who is healthy dares to step on its shore. A long time ago, an epidemic desolated the south of Hymukai and shiploads of sick people were exiled to Netsu. Many died, but others survived and reproduced, becoming carriers of the plague that afflicted their ancestors.Not much is known about the people that live on the island or the society that they have created – and nobody in Hymukai is crazy enough to go to Netsu to find out.
Wasuremono is part of Hymukai although few dare to land on it. Always whipped by storms, its coasts cannot be safetly approached by most ships. No lord has settled on Wasuremono and details of its population – if any – are a mystery.
Yugen is a group of islands in the northeast of Hymukai. Historically, they have served as a place of exile. It’s a common – although unverified – belief that the infernal Onmyouji who attacked to the empress Ningun came from these islands.Over the years a unique society has risen on Yugen. Not much is known about it: The imperial records are sketchy. That gap in knowledge has been filled by legends: Terrible men and demons from Yugen usually enliven the histories presented by theater troupes at court.Shoganai is located in the southeast of Hymukai, and an imperial edict forbids people from visiting the island. Rumors say is is the home port for the fearsome Wako pirates.
KUNI : PROVINCES
Aka is the southern province on the island of Shogunai. It’s a forbidden Kuni – off limits to the subjects of the empress. Little is known about what happened within the region to cause it to be forbidden, but for centuries it has been the domain of the wako pirates. It is said that Aka is the location of the home port of Turgot, the great pirate leader.
Aka is surrounded buy a natural maze formed by rocks, reefs and low water that makes it accessible only to those mariners with perfect knowledge of the coasts.
It’s also said that the wako have enhanced Aka’s natural coastal defences with scuttled ships to create complex paths to the shore. These paths, if they exist, are closely guarded secrets.
The Imperial Army has tried unsuccessfully – to take Aka by landing in Shoganai’s northern provinces and marching overland.. However, the Takai volcano and the Sasu forest proved to be almost impregnable natural walls. As a result, Aka is becoming known by a new moniker: “The Castle on the Sea”.
Amai is a Kuni in the eastern region of Komorebi. Amai is part of the han of Naichin (which also includes Hatsune, Shizenbi and Uru). It is an important province for the defence of Rikka, the island surrounded by the eastern Kuni of Komorebi on which the Imperial Winter Palace is located.
Amai has been a relatively quiet province throughout the recent history of Hymuai – but that changed recently. One of the best-kept secrets – known only to a few, high officials and those with excellent spy networks – is that a few months ago a terrible group of infernal creatures attacked the sho of Sawara in the province’s north. Fortunately, the attack occurred near the Shriouma shrine, and the monk-warriors there were able to banish the abominations.
However, the attack means Amai is now a source of great concern in the Imperial Court. The memory of the Fuhai wars, although distant, haunts the dreams of court historians and occultists. The potential resurgence of evil creatures into Hymukai, just at the moment when the empire is weaker than ever because of the emperor’s disappearance, may spell the extinction of all human life in the Dragon Islands. The court therefore decided to “purify” the whole area by sending in a small but expert detachment of samurai.
The samurai have not been heard from since they entered the area. And with no news out of Amai, every new day is a day of agony to certain lords in the Imperial Court.
Atsui is one of the few areas of semi-desert in Hymukai. The mountain range running between Rikka and Shizenbi deflects the wind over their peaks. As the air rises, it loses its moisture on the slopes of those mountains and by the time it passes over the Atsui Valley, there’s little chance of rain anywhere in the province.
The city-port of Kinko is located very close to the border with Yoku province, and a huge commercial hub and sea fortress ruled by Otokodate clans. This city is the spearhead of naval defense against increasingly frequent attacks by foreigners and pirates.
Kinko is also home to a major black market for many illicit products – including foreign weapons. As a result, criminals keen to control this traffic – and profit from it – are setting up operations in the area.
During the Kuroi Ho (The Black Sails Battles) of a few years ago, the city of Kinko and many nearby towns became the targets of a Wako incursion. The pirates and local armies engaged in frequent skirmishes on Kinko’s canals and along the waterfront. The wako only abandoned the city and retreated to the sea after one of their leaders, Gonzo no Akuma, was seriously wounded.
Eki belongs to Semishigure Island although physically it’s separated from the other three provinces. This Kuni is sparsely populated, with most residents being fishermen and their families. There is no powerful daimyo in Eki but it is one of the first lands to be encountered by those arriving in Hymukai from the south. As such, it is home base to a fast fleet that allows messengers from Eki to bear news from the southern seats to the rest of kingdom.
Hanasu is one of the main agricultural areas on the island of Komorebi. It is adjacent to six other provinces and has two gates to the sea at opposite ends of the province. As such, Hanasu has been a frequent site of conflict.
Imperial edicts prevent clans and families from declaring open war on each other for the control of Hanasu, in order to prevent a single family from controlling the province’s significant rice production. But this Kuni’s bountiful harvests make it a prime target for bandit raids, and a significant portion of the food grown here ends up on the black market.
The families charged by the Imperial Court to defend this land are not always capable of fulfilling this command due Hanasu’s complicated geography. Over the last 15 years there have been eight different Shugo. None has been able to survive the pressure of running this Kuni: the combination of many mistakes and the undermining of their authority by rival families has forced most of them to relinquish the title. Others have fallen to an enemy sword or assassin’s dagger.
It’s not unknown for instability in Hanasu to affect the harvest. As a result, the Kuge families and their armies have a large presence in the province. The Kuge insist they are in Hanasu solely to secure the food production, although this explanation does not reassure rival clans.
This Kuni, alongside the Koujou Kuni, is part of the Teikoku Doro – or Imperial Path – the primary route that connects the Imperial City in Majime with the Winter Palace in Rikka. This route is strongly fortified by Kuge and Buke contingents.
Within the Hasu province, Yako village is an important stop along the Teikoku Doro. Yako is a Kuge stronghold, commanded to destroy any bandit group or creature that attempts to threaten these lands.
Yako is near the site of a near-fatal Oni attack against the Jingu empress. The Daimyo in charge of protecting the Imperial Path at the time of the attack committed seppuku to atone for his great failure, and the Kitzune family – part of the Kuge Clan – took control of the area.
Since that day, the region has been free of creature attacks, but their commitment to defending Hasu has made the Kitzune family increasingly belligerent. The family now fights openly against other families in Hasu, as well as Buke families from the Koujou Kuni.
Hataraku is of the three provinces involved in the Fuhai Gassen (Corruption Wars). Of the three, Hataraku suffered the worst fate due to difficult access from Otsu province. The Imperial Army tried to pass through a large valley in the center of Hataraku. But it became trapped in the valley and came under constant attack by undead horrors. Hataraku was abandoned. Once a rich agricultural area, it’s now a place where harvesting is almost impossible and few families remain in the valley..
The title of Shugo belongs to a Buke family. For generations, this family has struggled to maintain control of Hataraku’s fertile lands against rival lords in the Kuni, as well as daimyos from the adjacent provinces. The Shugo’s greatest opponent is Ryuko family, another member of the Buke Clan that hails from the village of Haiiro, located at the foot of the mountains that border Mise kuni. It is said that those two families are fighting an endless campaign because nobody from either clan remembers a time of peace.
Hatsune is part of the Han (group of provinces) of Naichin alongside Amai, Hatsune, Shizenbi and Uru. This is the wettest area of the Komorebi peninsula as well as one of the warmest places in the region.
The surrounding sea has calm waters and it is said that in Hatsune, the rising sun can be seen before it appears at any other place in the world.
Hida, located in the southwest of Komorebi, is a Kuni tasked with defending the great rice fields of Hanasu. Much of the harvest from Hanasu also passes through the ports in Hida, en route to dinner tables throughout The Dragon Islands.
Since the “Netsu incident”, a special force of warriors has been stationed in Hida to enforce the quarantine of Netsu.If the sickness currently isolated in Netsu arrives on the main island, it would be a disaster for the whole population.
Hida Tomaru – the current Shugo no Kumi – is a clever and relentless Buke Daimyo. He changed his family surname to “Hida” after assuming the governorship of the province. The former Shugo died with no heirs and the Tomaru’s services to the imperial court – combined with a patiently created network of vassals – ensured that his family was selected to rule the province.
Hotaru is a small kuni located in the center of the peninsula of Komorebi. Its main source of goods is collected from the riverbed and mouth of the great Hebi river.
One of the biggest regions within this kuni is the area belonging to the Risu sho, owned by the Tagawa Otokodate family. The family has defended this highly desirable region against another local daimyo for many years. Meantime, the strategic value of this Kuni has put ever-increasing pressure on the ruling family, already struggling to control it – and there’s a growing risk that the Komorebi peninsula will be divided in two, with Hotaru and Mise provinces devolving into a huge war zone.
Îdo is one of the more occidental provinces of the island. It controls the south side of the Pass of Kaidan. Îdo and the neighboring kuni of Murasame are subject to the ever-present western winds off the sea, and the weather is wet and hostile throughout much of the province. That said, Îdo is a vital strategic point and home to Kaidan, the second great Buke fortress in the south, which was built after the Gohan Wars.
Thirty years ago, the last battle between Sujin and Kogen brothers was fought in front of the Kaidan fortress. This bloody battle left the fortress devastated and, by Imperial edict, any use of the area to the south of the fortress was forbidden. Despite this, the area is increasingly used to grow rice, taking advantage of the humidity and abundant water in the region.
The biggest rice-growing area in all of Hyumkai was eventually formed in a region that includes Îdo, Murasame, Kusai and the northern part of Hanasu. The responsibility to secure this area was divided among all the clans so that no single clan would have absolute control over the main food production area of The Dragon Islands. Each clan contributes a contingent of troops to the defence of Îdo by Imperial command.
In recent months, the clans and the Imperial Family are growing more concerned about news out of Îdo – or, more accurately, the lack of news. The number and frequency of messengers arriving from Îdo decreased steadily – until contact with the province ceased altogether.
Iru kuni belongs to the Han of Semishigure. It’s known for being a mineral reserve of high importance for the development of Hymukai. But as with the rest of Semishigure, Iru’s resources have not been greatly exploited.
This province is controlled by Otokodate families – although they frequently struggle with other families that have settled on the island. However, these skirmishes are not the biggest problem in the Kuni. As mining increases on the island, so do the encounters with kami and yokai – inhabits of the forests and mountains that will fight to protect their domains. Workers are in fear and refuse to enter the mines. Bosses are handing out increasingly severe punishments. The stage is set for rebellion by the lowest classes in the province.
Kanagawa is a redoubt of essentially Kuge families. These families control most of the ports of the province as well as Koichi shi, the capital of Kanagawa. The Kuni’s territory encompasses lands south of the Kori river, very close to the Aka forest.
After the emperor’s disappearance, the Imperial Court launched a campaign to secure the Naname, Samui and Kanagawa provinces, thereby assuring a safe path from the Imperial city to the northern sea.
The campaign was conducted by an army that combined the forces from Buke and Kuge clans – an unusual alliance at the time. Unusual, but effective: By the end of the campaign, most of the rival clans in the region had been devastated: Fortresses were abandoned as their lords were forced to flee to the north. Many Sohei temples were destroyed, too.
Kanagawa – the last region to be pacified – was the site of the Rurouni Rebellion: The victorious daimyo were to gather in the village of Rurouni to divide the spoils of war. The Kuge had arrived first and under cold but clear winter skies, they’d erected a huge battle tent in the center of the village. The Kuge Taisho waited in the tent for their Buke counterparts to arrive.
Suddenly, hundreds of arrows tore through the cloth of the tent, killing most of the Kuge generals inside. Meantime, the whole Kuge camp broke into screams as incendiary arrows landed in its midst, setting fire to everything they touched. Just as suddenly the chaos came to an end, as snow appeared out of nowhere to blanket the camp and extinguish the flames.
The Buke generals arrived a few minutes after the massacre, and were met by Satomi Yasushi, one of only two Kuge Taisho to survive the carnage. From the outset, the Buke generals insisted they had no part in what had happened, and Satomi Yasushi accepted their pledge of innocence even as he vowed vengeance on those who had committed this outrage.
From that day on, the Buke generals were beset by bad luck. None of them was able to enjoy their new territories and the dishonour that clung to them, despite their protestations of innocence, eventually spread to their families. They lost privileges and property – more than a few of them died in strange circumstances.
As for Satomi Yasushi, he became daimyo of the region.
Nobody really knows who perpetrated the Rurouni Rebellion – but regardless of the truth behind the matter, one thing was clear: the already strained relationship between the great clans Buke and Kuge was definitely damaged on that day.
Kane Kuni is an important fishing and mining region. Its population is comprised mainly of peasant workers, under control of very few Daimyo. This is kuni is protected by Îdo province and is practically unassailable by sea as it is inside the gulf, so it recovered quickly after the Gohan Wars.
Most of the conflicts in Kane province are the result of disagreements over the location of borders with neighboring provinces, which are constantly pushing to expand their territories.
The Shugo of this kuni is a lord of Clan Otokodate – a rare exception. The Shugo possesses a large fishing fleet – and equally impressive war fleet, which is in charge of protecting goods travelling to and from Kune and the other food-producing provinces along the south coast of the gulf, including Îdo, Murasame, Hanasu and Kusai.
Kogarashi is the biggest kuni in the Komorebi peninsula. It’s also the coldest kuni in The Dragon Islands. “The Great Mountain Range”, also known as “The shield in the north”, defines its northern boundary. From here, freezing winds rush towards the south through broad valleys, making life difficult in the mountains. Still, an aboriginal population lives near the northern border in small settlements.
Little is known about what exists at the other side of the Great Mountain Range because few explorers from Hymukai have tried to cross to the other side. However, during the Fuhai Gassen (the Corruption Wars), when the magical shield of Hymukai was very weak, an army of dark men (as they were known) were able to pass through the Shield into the province.
The Sohei temples and shrines located mostly in the south of this province found themselves defending a place that they did not believe could be attacked. After fighting great skirmishes in the middle of terrible blizzards, the Sohei emerged victorious. From that day on, the Sohei clans and local Samurais have fortified the northern border to defend themselves from the dark men and the weird creatures that they used in battle. This northern conflict was the reason why the Sohei were not directly involved in the Corruption Wars.
During the last 30 years, small groups of barbarians from beyond the Shield have been intercepted while trying to cross Kogarashi. Although those attacks have been always rejected by Sohei and other local families, the barbarians have become increasingly dangerous.
The Imperial Court recently heard about the fierce resistance of the Iwaki fortress, in the pass of the Reito River, by the Yukijama Buke family. Without their courage, it’s certain that the dark men would have reached Naname Kuni – and from there would have spread through the island of Komorebi.
Kumogakure is a kuni bounded by the Shinrin River to the east. While it includes a small part of the Kodama forest, the majority of this province lies in the Hinanso Mountains. These are known for being the refuge of dozens of groups of bandits (Goto), who found perfect hiding places in the rugged terrain and deep caves that characterize the region.
At the foot of the mountains, the plains of Sukihoma have been the stage for hundreds of battles throughout history. The first battle between Sujin and Kogen was fought there. While the Sujin emerged victorious, the Kogen are convinced they only lost because they were betrayed by the Kuge.
Koujou is one of the largest kuni to be crossed by the great Goto-San river. This river crosses other two provinces and is fed by hundreds of minor rivers and streams.
Koujou has been the site of many conflicts throughout the history of Hymukai – from small battles to major wars. During the Gohan Wars, some of the most fierce battles took place in this kuni. It is also the site of the so-called Jubokko Incident, when trees became human-eating demons.
The Imperial Army maintains peace in the cities, towns and villages that lie along the Teikoku Doro (Imperial path) – the main route between the Imperial City and the Winter Palace that the Imperial Family travels every year to move from one court to another. But elsewhere, military struggles are common between local daimyo.
The result is a near-constant state of alert that encourages warriors from across Hymukai to gravitate to the region, seeking glory and fame.
One of the most recent events was a violent uprising of Ikko-ikki (warrior monks and peasants) against the tyranny of a local daimyo. The rebellion was suffocated by the Buke daimyo Miutso Sume, whose armies captured many palaces and fortress during the pacification.
When this rebellion was supressed, the Kuge lords of the region expressed their gratitude by offering Sume an ancient Kuge Kabuto in honour of his victories. But soon after, they realized that through those victories Miutso Sume’s clan had become too powerful. After several secret meetings, the Kuge lords launched a military campaign against the Buke family in order to recover the lost fortress. This would become known as The Doku Wars.
Sieges were common but the campaign did not seem to reach a definitive conclusion, and the wear and tear on soldiers and resources was too high. The Kuge lords asked for help from Sora Ito, lord of the Kiiro No-Hana city. There is no record of whether Sora agreed to help. But what is known is that weeks later, many Buke soldiers turned up dead inside the fortress, with no apparent sign of violence. Many of the Sume’s buke Taisho, full of fear, fled the region until the status quo was restored. Miutso Sume managed to retain control of his home city, plus a little region called Turtle town.
Despite knowing the Kuge were behind this clandestine war and his loss of power, Sume always proudly carried the Kabuto given to him by the Kuge. On the one hand it reminds everyone of his great victory. On the other hand, he knows that the Kuge regret this gift: using it in battles provides him with great satisfaction, and is a great insult to his Kuge enemies.
Together with Kane Kuni, Kusai is one of the main provinces for food production, mostly rice and livestock, due to its large plains unobstructed by the mountains frequently found elsewhere in Hymukai. Without an important port of its own from which to ship its harvest, Kusai depends on interior roads to Kane, where the merchandise is prepared and loaded onto boats.
This situation works to the advantage of bandit gangs, who make their living off the roads – despite the efforts of the Buke troops deployed in the south and the warrior monks of the Nagao temple in the southwest of the kuni.
Majime is the province where Suiko Tenno, the first celestial empress, appeared and where the Imperial City was established. Mostly surrounded and protected by a mountain chain – the Kii Mountains – this kuni has not suffered as many wars as the rest of the Komorebi peninsula.
The western edge of Majime opens to the Oga sea, which gives it access to a huge source of fish and seafood. The Oga sea is protected by the Pass of Kaidan, which provides Majime with a safe path to the sea.
The Great Kuge Palace lies within the Imperial City, surrounded by residential districts and commercial areas. From here, the lords of that clan govern and defend the empire against any menace. It’s said this palace is a practically impregnable fortress. It’s also said that there are hundreds of miles of tunnels under the kuni of Majime, radiating out from a central point located in the cellars of the palace.
The Mise kuni is also known as “The Crossroad” because three major valleys intersect at the center of the province. It’s a province of great castles, built as a defensive wall along the north edge of the province after the Fuhai Wars. With the threat of conflict between Mise and Hotaru, travel through Mise is tightly controlled at this time and special passes are required. Despite this, human migration is frequent, and usually illegal.
This province has a third name, too: The Region of the Secrets. Mise is frequently chosen as the venue for major clans gatherings, where family heads settle their disputes diplomatically (most of the time) and where spies from all clans are at their most active.
Located on the Semishigure island, Momiji is rich in forest products. Local families – mostly of the Otokodate Clan – manage this resource and maintain several trade routes between Momiji and the other kuni in Semishigure. They also oversee coastal trade routes, and shipping across the waters to various kuni to the south and east in Komorebi.
Beyond lumbering activities, Momiji is mostly uninhabited due the Kurio Ho War and frequent wako attacks along the coast in the aftermath of the pirates’ defeat. That said, Momiji harbors a great secret in its great forests: After the war against the wako, the surviving Samurai who defeated the pirates established an elite warrior order in the kuni. This order is spread throughout the province, hidden and invisible as ghosts, and its warriors only appear when the land needs defending. They have never faltered in this duty.
These samurai do not serve any particular lord: They are usually considered ronin. They only serve to protect Momiji.
Momonga is located in the southwest of Semishigure island. It is rich in resources although although mining in the kuni is relatively recent. The potential mineral wealth makes Momonga attractive to merchants from across Hymukai. So does the fertile land, which benefits from warm weather as well as plenty of irrigation from the many rivers and a rainy season that lasts most of the year.
Recently, during the battle of Kuroi Ho in which the wako took Atsui province in Komorebi, the north island of Semishigure also suffered a fierce pirate attack but with a very unlike outcome. From the the capital of the island, located in Momonga, a large army was quickly raised and equipped, en masse, with a new weapon that the Otokodate had developed thanks to their relationship with Namban foreigners. This weapon is the teppo – a modification of the arquebus. Like the arquebus, it’s an easy weapon for ashigaru to use in battle, and it was very effective.
The wako attacked Momiji province, hard. Inhabitants there who weren’t killed outright fled toward Momonga. Organizing the defense of the capital was almost impossible because it was insanely overcrowded. The pirates – aware of that situation – landed cannons and siege engines that shot large incendiary arrows on Momonga, and launched a waves of attacks against the capital. They would bombard the walls of the main castle with their artillery, then throw their troops into the fray in a blind charge.
It was during the wako charges that the teppo demonstrated their full potential and changed the course of the battle. When the pirates were within range, a cloud of powder and shrapnel prevented them from advancing further.
Decimated by the firepower of the teppo, the wako were forced to retreat to the sea by making an arduous journey across Momiji province through the Kir great forest. The army of Momonga pursued them and the wako were hunted in the forest clearings. An open battle was inescapable. The Momonga forces – a combination of ashigaru, peasants and samurai – were confident of their victory due to the powerful teppo. But this time, luck was with the wako: A rainstorm wet the powder and rendered the teppo useless.
The wako charged under the rain and it became a carnage. The Momonga army was almost destroyed: Those who survived fled towards the forest. Only the Han leader’s samurai guards held their position. However, it was enough, as 20 men held their ground against more than a hundred wako. Against the odds, the samurai were able to stop the pirates and expel them from the island.
The battle was a disaster for the population of Momiji, which was almost entirely wiped out. It is said that thousands of peasants spent weeks hidden within the forest with no clue that the wako had been defeated. Many died waiting and it was not until they spotted flying squirrels, a native animal of Momonga, jumping from tree to tree that the survivors abandoned their hideouts and sought protection in Momonga kuni.
While the wako were defeated, they also captured what would become one of their greatest treasures: the teppo from their dead enemies. This new weapon offers the pirates new ways to threaten the people of Hymukai.
Life in Murasame is not easy. Located on the western edge of Komorebi, the kuni is constantly battered by the rain and strong winds that are customary in that part of the island. The harsh weather has worked its way into local legend, which says the rain and wind are the result of an ancient curse laid upon Kaidan.
Murasame kuni is populated by stoic people, used to working hard under extreme conditions. Most of the province is a mudflat and livestock is its primary industry.
Many clans enlist new warriors from Murasame becauase these lands are known for breeding people of strong character. Many of the great warriors of Hymukai were raised here.
Naname is bounded by the mountain range that surrounds the Imperial City on the north and by the Kite river on the west. As a northern kuni, this is a colder region of Komorebi, but still a fertile one with a rich agricultural tradition.
After the Kaido was written, this was one of the first provinces to join the new order. Thanks to its proximity to the Imperial city, the presence of Imperial Troops is commonplace throughout the province. As a result, few remarkable wars have taken place in this kuni. Any conflicts tend to be minor, and confined to disputes between local daimyo.
Most regions in the kuni are controlled by samurai lords from the Buke and Kuge clans. But in the delta of the river Kite, the Kuchi Temple is led by a famous warrior monk known as Tokiri. His is one of the few Sohei sects that owns a war fleet.
The great Goto-San river has its mouth through Naossu, while tributaries reach the lake around the inner island of Rikka, where the Winter Palace is located. For this reason, the kuni of Naossu is an area of high strategic value.
Naossu is well-fortified with many castles, small and large. Its focus is on defending the region – so much so that it depends on other kuni for food supplies during the winter season. The many daimyo of Naossu know in order to survive those long and hard months they must cultivate strong diplomatic relationships with their neighbors, so they are frequently seen helping other daimyo in conflicts beyond this kuni’s boundaries.
Otsu was one of the three provinces involved in the War of Corruption. In the past, this kuni was one of the largest rice-growing areas on Humukai, thanks to its proximity to the Great Lake, and was primarily inhabited by peasants. However, many strongholds and outposts were built after the war, in fear of the undead returning.
Today, Otsu has become an important strategic asset for all the main clans. Skirmishes between them are constant in this region, since the clan that controls the kuni also controls the pass between the south and north of Komorebi.
The Sasu kuni is located in the northeast side of the Shoganai Island. It is a warm place with calm waters, yet is relatively uninhabited.
The reality is that within the forest that dominates the province, the wako have placed thousands of secret caches to hold the spoils of war and their most valued treasures. The wako themselves keep the province mostly uninhabited, repelling any incursions by outsiders attracted by the stories of easy wealth.
The heart of the forest is treacherous, with many swamps, dangerous kami and wild animals: The inexperienced explorer will find certain death among the trees.
Samui controls the north side of the Pass of Kaidan. It is a cold place and the strong winds that cross the channel to pound the province mean only the hardiest plants and lichens can grow here. The Pass of Kaidan is commonly presented as a grey and gloomy place that contrasts with the exuberance that can be found in the rest of the islands.
The weird mapping of the province’s boundaries means the north side of the kuni is mostly uninhabited: the small fiefdoms that do exist here are few and far between, and the area is protected by few strongholds. With little constructive employment in the area, many residents of Samui have turned to banditry, and attacks are frequent along the main roads.
Setsunai, the great kuni in the south, has always been in direct competition with Majime in importance as it is a huge region full of natural resources.
Its long coastline has been assaulted many times. To combat this, a succession of shugo in the province have established a defensive line of small fortifications and observation towers along the shoreline.
It is common that merchant ships under attack seek refuge in Setsunai, knowing that its coastal defences may be their last opportunity for protection. This situation has created a unique market: local peasants with some fighting experience will protect and help these ships to land in exchange of a percentage of the cargo.
Yorimoto Ono, a powerful lord during the Gohan Wars, tried – unsuccessfully – to move the Imperial City from Majime to Setsunai. After that, one of the great Buke fortresses was built in the region by imperial law. A large cohort of Buke families were charged with crushing any insurgency in the province – as well as across the south of the island of Komorebi – especially in the provinces of Koujou, Kataraku and Otsu, which were infected during the Corruption Wars.
Located in a quiet and warm area, Shizenbi is home to a large, navigable river called the Kawahaji. This is one of the main routes from the sea to the province of Rikka, home to the Imperial Family’s Winter Palace.
The shugo of Shizenbi is charged with keeping the Kawahaji clear of obstacles and bandits. This assignment is the direct result of a wako incursion 20 years ago, which reached the waters around the Winter Palace.
The wako worked their way upriver, encountering no opposition. When they reached the mountains, they grounded and hid their largest ships and continued upriver with smaller, stealthier ships.
When the Imperial Family was not in residence, a group of carefully selected families were charged with defending the Winter Palace. This honour rotated through the families every six months. When the wako attacked, the Vakki family of the Otokodate clan was in charge of this sacred mission. This family is native to the Momonga Kuni, and achieved this privileged position after several services to the Imperial Court. Miwana-Shina, the heiress of the shugo of Momonga, was in command of the Vakki forces.
The wako assaulted the south side of the Winter Palace by night. The Vakki were unprepared, enabling the wako to sack the palace, stealing its riches and killing any servants they encountered. Exhibiting boldness that is unusual amongst the wako, the attackers reached the inner chambers and abducted Miwana-Shina.
The Vakki family realized that dishonour would fall on them unless they saved the heiress. They prepared their fleet quickly and threw themselves into pursuit – chasing the wako through the mountains and down the Kawahaji RIver. No mercy was shown to the pirates when the Vakki warriors hunted them down and rescued Miwana-Shina.
The heiress was married to the heir of the Vakki family as recompense. From that day on, the fate of this Otokodate family was tied to the fate of Momonga.
This kuni belongs to the Han of Naichin, which also includes the provinces of Amai, Hatsune and Uru.
Tsukura kuni has been led by the Katagawa family for generations. Katagawa Katsuhira is the current shugo, a powerful and feared Buke hero who resides in the Inaba castle, located in the village of Uma, at the foot of the west side of the mountains.
This province’s economy revolves around fishing and other products from the sea, which also guides its society, culture and religion. This close connection has been in effect since the current shugo’s grandfather fought a battle along the shoreline against a rival Kuge family. Facing almost certain defeat, the Buke warrior knelt on the sand and prayed to the Kami of the sea, As he prayed, a koi appeared unnaturally on the shore. Katagawa warriors took this as a signal of good fortune and power – and with the morale boost it delivered, they turned the tide in the battle and emerged victorious.
This kuni takes its name after the Takai volcano, which dominates the Shonogai island. Takai has been inactive for thousands of years. But legend says that a fire dragon sleeps inside – the last son of the god Kagutsuchi – which nobody in Hymukai wants to awake.
A unique variety of shibazakura flower grows on the volcano’s slope. When this flower dries out, its blossom transforms into hundreds of luminous colours, like an insect shell. But the flower is almost impossible to find. Warriors who want to prove their courage spend months – and even years – looking for this flower: it is a valuable gift which can bring honour and high status to their families.
In their quest, those hoping to find the flower must first negotiate dangerous reefs in the sea, then scale the formidable slopes of the mountain. Despite its volcanic nature, the winds on the mountainside can be deadly cold. In addition, explorers must survive frequent avalanches and attacks by strange creatures. Often they come back empty-handed or – more likely – they don’t come back at all.
Ude is part of the frozen north of Komorebi. It is practically controlled by Sohei clans, since it is the site of Yasaka – the Great Sohei Temple directed by the Eien no Meisho Sohei cult.
Yasaka is the main gathering place and spiritual home of every Sohei cult. The most influential and powerful of these include: the Hodo Kuroi cult, students of life after life; the Nodo cult, students of everything that grows of the natural essence; the Shiroi cult, students of transcendence; and the Eien no Meishu sect, students of the infinite emptiness.
Each year during the spring melt, Yasaka hosts a great reunion that gathers together representatives of these cults and their entrouages. This event has been held every year since Sessai no Kami, a Nodoro monk, unified the cults under the Sohei clan. These encounters are not always friendly, for while each cult seeks to keep Hymukai spiritually pure, each does so using a different path. Although the Sohei presents itself to outsiders as a great and unified clan, internally the sects vie for power and influence. It’s not unusual for these political conflicts to erupt into physical battles that pit brother against brother, and cult against cult.
Throughout the history of Uru, this kuni has been a gateway to the islands – and a first line of defence from the sea. Its coastline is punctuated with a line of watchtowers that monitor all ships passing around the peninsula, and keep watch for invaders from afar – in particular, the Wako from Shoganai.
Recently, a contingent of Namban arrived in Hymukai, landing on the coast of Uru. These foreigners have not only brought their culture to The Dragon Islands – they’ve also introduced many powerful, yet unorthodox, advances in military technology. The Otokodate families of the area have offered protection to the Namban, in exchange for weapons and their knowledge of warfare. The Otokodate have tried to keep this deal a secret from the rest of Hymukai: They view their alliance with the Namban as a military asset that they’re not willing to share.
What the Otokodate clan does not know is that the Namban carry with them more dangerous weapons than their ships and firearms: They also bring new ideas and a new religion that may dramatically and irrevocably change The Dragon Islands.
Yuki stretches from the east shore of the Shinrin river to the Ou mountains. This is a kuni in which settlement is very complicated, as almost half of its territory is covered by the huge and dense Kodama forest. The forest area is not suitable for conversion to crop production or the raising of livestock: The trees are densely packed and produce a toxin in their fruit, leaves and branches that leaches into the soil, poisoning it for most other plant life, including crops. Attempts to clear the land have failed, and the trees themselves have proven completely uneconomic to harvest.
The forest has fuelled hundreds of legends. It’s said that kami frequently appear and run freely through the woods, protected by the otherworldly spirit of the forest. Other tales tell of powerful reliques hidden under the tree roots, and of people who have lost their minds after passing through the forest. No doubt this is a special place of connection between the different reins of existence.
The only known settlement is a Sohei temple at the foot of the Ou mountains. This is cared for by the Tanaka cult, which is also known as The Protector of Kodama.