Musankumo Lore

Heroes of the Musankumo

Komoretsu Seiya

Before the advent of the gods, Seiya was the daughter of a tribal lord, adept at politics and a skilled archer. At the Dawn of the Empire, Seiya’s tribe was among those that resisted the rule of the gods. As her father’s heir, she led their retainers against Komoretsu’s forces in a series of daring raids lasting months. Finally, Komoretsu’s personal attention was required, and he was able to lead Seiya’s raiders into an ambush, wiping out many and capturing the rest. From that victory, it was short work to subdue the rest of Seiya’s tribe and fold them into the growing Empire. Seiya became one of Komoretsu’s followers and numbered among his inner circle. Eventually they were married in a public ceremony. But though they were close companions, the marriage was not a love match; rather, Komoretsu chose her for his bride as a display of unity in the burgeoning Empire, demonstrating that even those who had resisted its expansion could attain great heights as Imperial subjects.

As a member of Komoretsu’s inner circle, Seiya was well acquainted with Shinjugawa, and the two were friends. Seiya was well aware of the affair her husband was conducting with her companion, but as the marriage was purely political and the two were careful not allow the possibility of children, Seiya found nothing to disapprove of. Indeed, the relationship between Seiya, Komoretsu, and Shinjugawa is considered the prototypical example of how to manage an affair, and in the modern Empire, Komoretsu’s relationship with Seiya stands with Saiu’s relationship with Hisen as one of the Two Exemplary Marriages.

Relics of the Musankumo


When the Primordial War ended, the gods sealed their accord through the marriage between Senkō, the Shining Lord of Steel, and Kagayaki, the Radiant Lady of the Sun. Though each of the gods bore arms and armour as befit their divine birthrights, to celebrate his wedding, the Lord of Steel forged eight blades for his fellow gods.

However, though all were pleased by the gifts, the Clear-Eyed Lord of the Mountain made prophecy when he beheld them: that none of the gods would wield the blades that Senkō had forged for them, for their fate lay elsewhere.

Sure enough, though the swords were indeed fine, the gods did not wield them, preferring instead the divine weapons that they had always carried, each tied to its bearer’s domain and power. Instead, as followers began to flock to the gods’ banners, each sword was in turn given to the closest among the god's companions, as an affirmation of their bond. Swords were given to Yagarō, Fujizuru, Hakato, Shinjugawa, Itsumaru, and Tōyama.

Shinjugawa accepted the blade granted to her by Komoretsu, but rarely wore it, for, having been forged by the Shining Lord of Steel, it glittered in the sun like a mirror, and Shinjugawa's role in the Lord of the Moon's service was to go unseen and unrecognised. When she did carry the sword, she often covered the blade in soot or pitch, so that it would not shine in the night, and her technique in wielding it was such that it seemed to blur in her hands. In her care, it came to bear the name Oborozuki, for the way it would shift and waver.

When Komoretsu retreated from the Mortal World with the other gods, Shinjugawa vanished too, and no mortal knows where to. After her departure, Komoretsu Michikake, daughter and heir of the Lord of the Moon, discovered Oborozuki in her chambers, and the blade has since been the inheritance of the Komoretsu daimyo, for Michikake acknowledged that it would serve her line better than that of Shinjugawa. The blade retains a dark grey and dull cast, stained by Shinjugawa's ministrations— and perhaps by the sinister acts for which she wielded it.

Eclipse Swords

The sacred weapons of the Musankumo are forged by the Shinjugawa, and are most often wielded by them as well. The forging of an eclipse sword takes exactly a month, from new moon to new moon. The smith begins on the night of a new moon with iron dug from a deep and secret mine, and which has never been touched by the light of the sun, even diffused or reflected. In a sealed forge, the smith stokes a fire with wood from night-blossoming trees, and works the metal into steel night after night. On the night of the full moon, the steel blank is completed when the smith opens a skylight and allows the moon to shine down onto the anvil, seeking Komoretsu's approval. If the sword is to be blessed, the smith will receive a vision of a vast shadow sliding across the face of the moon.

After the full moon, the sword itself is forged, and the smith folds and shapes it with a hammer ground down from a fallen star. On the night of the last new moon, the blade is quenched in water drawn up from an underground spring that has likewise never known the light of day. The sword is then given fittings and a saya of dark, lacquered wood and unassuming iron with a dull patina.

The result is a blade that reflects very little light, and which feels almost insubstantial to the touch. Eclipse swords are among the shortest katana, and in skilled hands vanish as though even smaller, disappearing on their bearer's person, and appearing almost to flicker in combat, striking both unexpectedly and deeply.

The majority of Eclipse Swords remain in the hands of the Shinjugawa Interlopers, but occasionally others will be granted access to one.

Komoretsu, Masks, and the Moon

The Many-Faced Lord of the Moon is the progenitor of the Musankumo’s habit of going masked, for his own face is seldom visible. He is the master of eight masks, one for each phase of the Moon, his dominion, and he wears them in reflection of his presence in the night sky. It is said that only during an eclipse does he go unmasked, for his true features are themselves one with the darkness of the night. Whether or not this is true or merely another lie is unknown except, perhaps, by a rare few among the Musankumo.

The eight phases of the moon are important events for the Musankumo, and eight is considered a lucky number across the Empire. There are Four Major Phases, and Four Minor Phases. These are further divided into the Waxing Moons and the Waning Moons, which together form the cycle of a lunar month, which is the foundation of the Imperial calendar as laid out by Komoretsu and Kagayaki at the dawn of the Empire.

The Waxing Moons

Waxing moons are generally considered auspicious, though they do present an element of risk. All things grow, after all— troubles included. Religious practices undertaken during Waxing Moons focus on emphasizing the growth of good fortune and guarding against the growth of ill luck. Daikoku, Ebisu, and Benten are often associated with festivals held during these moons, for they preside over growing abundance, prosperity, romance, and artistic creation.

Waxing Crescent, the First Minor

The first Waxing Moon, representative of new beginnings. In the first month of spring, festivals are held under this moon to celebrate the planting. It is often considered auspicious to begin projects or romantic affairs during this time of the month. To the Tezō the Waxing Crescent holds a special significance, for it resembles the prongs of the sasumata many of them favour, and symbolizes the first hint of the truth coming to light. As a Minor Moon, festivals held on the Waxing Crescent tend to be small and few.

Waxing Half, the First Major

The second Waxing Moon is representative of growing power and opportunity. Nakodo often arrange meetings between prospective betrotheds on or near this moon for good luck. As a Major Moon, celebration is more widespread, and often features prayers for good fortune made on behalf of the extended family.

Waxing Gibbous, the Second Minor

The third Waxing Moon, representative of things approaching fruition. Of the Waxing Moons, this tends to be the most focused on warding off ill luck, guarding against those things that would foul an undertaking in its final steps. There are rarely festivals dedicated to this moon; rather, samurai tend to their private or family shrines while peasants gather with their families, often playing host to passing monks if possible.

Full Moon, the Second Major

The last of the Waxing Moons, the Full Moon represents the height of clarity, fortune, and power. Hotei is often associated with festivals held under this moon, but many other Fortunes are also venerated. Weddings are often held at this time of the month, and among the Musankumo children born under the Full Moon are considered especially blessed. In the autumn, festivals celebrating the last harvest of the year take place under this moon.

As the culmination of the Waxing Moons, projects are often unveiled at this time. Among the Musankumo, the Shinjugawa are especially fond of debuting new performances at this time of the month, and many actors, musicians, and other performers attract the most patronage at these times.

The Waning Moons

Waning Moons are tied to decline and endings. Religious practices undertaken during Waning Moons focus on emphasizing the elimination of troubles or obstacles while warding off forces that would cause a decline in fortune and prosperity. Bishamon, Fukurokuju, and Jurojin are often associated with festivals held during these moons, for they preside over the destruction of enemies, the elimination of ignorance, and the prevention and correction of physical and spiritual ailments.

Waning Gibbous, the Third Minor

The first of the Waning Moons is associated with gentle decline. Samurai often announce their retirement during such periods, and farewell parties are not uncommon among the retiring samurai and their family and close friends. Prayers for good health are also associated with this moon.

Waning Half, the Third Major

The second Waning Moon, often associated with destructive transitions. Bishamon is particularly revered at these times, for the Fortune of Strength’s sword is said to sever all things just as the moon appears divided into perfect halves. Contracts often expire during this period, and it is considered an auspicious time to cut ties, whether with other people or with more abstract ideals.

Waning Crescent, the Fourth Minor

The third Waning Moon is the last light on the brink of darkness, and is particularly beloved among the Musankumo by the Kuukaze, who see the dark face of the moon as an illusion being pulled over the truth. Illusionists of all clans practice their art at these times, both for public enjoyment and for their own purposes. Festivals under this moon often feature games of concealment, whether bluffing, or simple hide-and-seek.

New Moon, the Fourth Major

The last of the Waning Moons, associated with Hotei. In the perfect darkness of the night the Earth is refreshed, and prepares to begin the cycle anew. Samurai and peasant alike honor departed ancestors at these times, and perform rituals to guard against the return of gaki or other hungry dead. The New Moon is also the moon most strongly associates with secrets, and is favored by those Shinjugawa who practice the arts of stealth and deception.

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