Shadowed Autumn Leaves
From Shishinza’s Dossier
The great castle of Kyuden Kumiko looms over the Old Quarter and the Bay of Thunder, dominating Broken Wave City. It is named in memory of Yoritomo Kumiko, the Mantis Clan Champion who died fighting the Dark Wave fleet at the Battle of Broken Waves. Her successor, Yoritomo Naizen, proclaimed the construction of the castle as the first order of business for the Mantis on their newly-claimed island. It can be said, therefore, that Broken Wave City really came into existence to serve and support Kyuden Kumiko. This makes the relationship between the castle and the city different than many other places in Rokugan, where castles are often built as defensive and governance structures for existing towns and cities. While not the largest of Rokugani castles, Kyuden Kumiko is certainly among the more impressive in terms of fortress engineering. Given the barren nature of Kaigen’s Island, the Mantis were forced to rely mostly on the island’s dark, volcanic stone for the castle’s construction. As a result, the looming towers and walls of Kyuden Kumiko present a somber, brooding face to the world, more reminiscent of the utilitarian works of the Crab than the usual flamboyance of the Mantis. Within, however, it is a very different place. The Mantis have spared no expense to furnish Kyuden Kumiko with the most ostentatious displays of wealth. Where wood is exposed, it is rare types like bloodwood, mahogany, and tropical walnut. Spectacular artwork – some clearly of gaijin origin, I might add – is interspersed among exotic plants, colorful chattering birds, and glittering displays of crystals, gems and ceramics. The combined effect is somewhat jarring and off-putting to the more refined tastes of most Rokugani. This is no accident; because of its proximity to the mainland, Kyuden Kumiko is rapidly becoming the main interface between the Mantis and the rest of Rokugan not only for trade, but also for political and diplomatic relations. If the juxtaposition of the castle’s dour exterior and its conspicuous displays of wealth within cause other clan delegations to be made uneasy, so much the better. I, for one, found it a small matter to acclimatize myself to Kyuden Kumiko and it’s strange and marvelous nature.