Shadowed Autumn Leaves
The Cult of Spreading Tendrils
Background and Organization
The Cult of Spreading Tendrils is an insidious group of maho-tsukai working within Tsuma with a single purpose; to bring the best and brightest of each generation of samurai into the service of Jigoku. Headed by Asahina Kaori, a supposedly pacifistic shugenja noted for her powerful healing abilities, the cult is comprised of a small cadre of powerful and influential samurai, all judges of the Topaz Championship, and a larger group of easily expendable minions. Utilizing powerful maho, the cult leaders indoctrinate ronin travelers, outcasts, and misfits, and elevate themselves to heroes in the minds of these victims to assure their undying loyalty.
The cult leaders, as judges and organizers of the events, arrange accidents, misfortunes, malfunctions, and even bandit raids during the Championship to insure that as many contestants as possible are wounded during the tournament’s events. The ronin underlings do most of the grunt work, or any task which carries a risk of exposure. When the hurt contestants arrive at Tsuma’s Purity Shrine, Asahina Kaori utilizes her maho to heal the unsuspecting young samurai, which passes along the Shadowlands Taint as well as closing their wounds. Through many years of practice, Kaori can cut her flesh and invoke the kansen while appearing to cast simple healing spells leaving none the wiser about her incantation’s true and vile nature. Months or years later when the unfortunate victims begin showing signs of their condition, it is much too late to save them, or to trace the source of their Taint.
During the Topaz Championship of 1184, the Cult of Spreading Tendrils suffered their first lost. Kakita Jutai was murdered on the road to Tsuma. Undeterred, the cultists continued their plans to sabotage various championship events. Unbeknownst to them a former contestant, and target of their machinations, Hiruma Otsuko, was hunting them. Seppun Akai, and Kakita Suman were the next to be targeted by the so-called “Ninja of Tsuma,” though Akai managed to kill the Topaz Herald, Miya Hirada before his own death. Though she was killed by one of the contestants, Utaku Aeko, Otsuko first told the young shiotome all she needed to know to hunt Kaori to the cult’s hideout deep within the Tsuma Mori. Asahina Kaori was killed in battle by Bayushi Nakazawa, who went on to win the Championship. With Kaori and all the group’s leaders killed, the Cult of Spreading Tendrils was utterly destroyed.
- Asahina Kaori, the Healer and Leader
- Seppun Akai, the Imperial Courtier
- Kakita Suman, the Dueling Prodigy
- Kakita Jutai, the Missing Judge