“The Empire cries with great need,” Hikoma intoned, his deep voice slow and solemn as was the custom in Crossroads Village, far from any crossroads, and far from being a true village. “It is now a time for heroes.”
The men and women seated before him bowed in unison, their shaved heads dully reflecting the room’s simple candle-light. They each wore simple robes, little more than scant protection from the biting wind which blew down from the Dragon mountains. Each robe bore a single word in kanji, a subdued but recognizable sign of those monks who devoted their lives to Bishamon, Fortune of Strength.
“You will leave Juujiro Mura and travel the world, seeking those who will in time set right that which has been placed askew. This journey is neither to embolden nor promote our own aims – it serves the heavens above as it serves the people of this land. Your travels will be upon a rough and rugged road, and set upon by ruffians, strife, and pain. Find your charges, guide them, and set them upon the path.”
The assemblage bowed again, deeper this time, wordlessly accepting their assignment. They understood that some would never return to their temple, others possibly never finding the men and women of their search at all. In their hearts they knew most that greatness was innate in all beings, but that some precious few had the ability and the opportunity to seize it. They knew not how long they would roam the world, or what the great trouble was that Hikoma saw roiling on the horizon; it could be months, years, or whole decades off, but they would be ready.
Theirs was not to question.
Theirs was to make heroes.
In this final teaser for The Famine, we meet the strange and unfalteringly loyal monks of Juujiro Mura, the Crossroads Village. Their role in history is by design barely a footnote, but even the greatest avalanche begins with a single pebble. Our protagonists may not even realize that they have been chosen, sought after, and groomed for the taxing adventures that await them after their gempukku, but the monks trust that each will fulfill his or her role exactly as destiny requires.