Welcome back to Archive Trap, your unofficial guide to Magic: The Gathering! Today we’re jumping back in to Kamigawa, Magic Japanese fantasy world. When we left off, the ochimusha Toshiro Umezawa had sold his services to Princess Michiko and returned her to her tutor, Lady Pearl-Ear, after a drawn out affair where everyone in the forest tried to kill her. Toshiro had also pledged his fealty to the Myojin of Night's Reach, vastly boosting the power of his kanji magic. He also found himself at odds with Mochi, the Smiling Kami of the Crescent Moon. Mochi had revealed to Michiko and Toshiro that Michiko's father, Lord Konda, stole something from the spirit realm, angering O-Kagachi and igniting twenty years of war with the kami. Michiko returns home with Pearl-Ear, while Toshiro is left to ponder what he's gotten himself mixed up in, and how he will explain all of this to his oath brother, Hidetsugu. The ogre is not the forgiving type, and with the murder of his apprentice, Toshiro fears Hidetsugu will tear apart half the plane for revenge.
The Story of Kamigawa Continues...
- Heretic - Betrayers of Kamigawa
- Guardian - Saviors of Kamigawa
The kitsune Pearl-Ear, now Konda’s prisoner several months after her rescue of Princess Michiko, is escorted out to watch the daimyo’s speech. In all that time, she hasn’t been allowed to see Michiko and hopes to gain a glimpse of the princess. Konda delivers a not-very-rousing speech intending a show of military might, but it’s undercut by how fresh most of his soldiers are and how few people remain inside the walls of Eiganjo. When the people show little enthusiasm after twenty years of the Kami War, Konda reveals what he had drawn everyone there for. He summons Yosei, patron spirit of Eiganjo, and sends him forth with his armies to end the Kami War once and for all. When Pearl-Ear is finally released, she returns home to find her village destroyed by the combined bandit and akki forces they tried to save the princess from.
The kitsune won the day, but mostly because the bandits leading the charge left a token force (and a fire-spitting kami) behind without direction. Now they all live in the forest and are preparing a delegation to request knowledge and aid from the scholars at Minamo. Pearl-Ear is chosen as the head of the delegation, and her brother Sharp-Ear and the Tail brothers accompany her.
In the Numai, Kiku meets Toshiro at a bar. She respectfully asks him to come with her to meet with Boss Uramon, who has a job offer for him. He agrees, but realizes this is an offer he can’t refuse when she plants a flower on him (It's her special kind of death magic; the roots would burrow in and kill him.) At Boss Uramon’s manor, Uramon blames Toshiro for the moonfolk causing so much trouble in her swamp. Toshiro denies it, but Uramon brings the nezumi Marrow-Gnawer forward, revealing she knows how he stirred up trouble with the moonfolk. She demands that he clean up his mess. Toshiro refuses, and fades out using the magic bestowed by Night’s Reach. The real reason he came to Uramon’s manor was to see if she still had a certain ring and investigate the manor for other information. Uramon is furious and dispatches her hatchet men to follow.
Red magic on Kamigawa often defied convention, focusing on snow and blizzards.
Sokenzan by Brian Snoddy
When the magic finally wears off, he intentionally allows pursuit. Behind him are Kiku, Marrow-Gnawer, and a small group of ratfolk and human thugs. He leads them to the Sokenzan Mountains and the peak known as the Heart of Frost. There, he’s visited by crude kanji magic sent by Princess Michiko, invoking their bargain and demanding he come rescue her. Otherwise occupied, he puts it out of his mind for now. Shortly after, he eliminates most of the hatchet men by summoning the spirit that resides on the mountain, Yuki-Onna. Toshiro offers Kiku and Marrow-Gnawer a way to live… by joining his reckoner gang. Not knowing what it means, the two eagerly agree as the last of their comrades are slain. Invoking his patron, Toshiro banishes the spirit, and brings his new allies to meet Hidetsugu. He encounters Hidetsugu and a group of young Yamabushi-spirit killers-who have come to serve him.
Toshiro is dismayed to learn that the ogre has not only been keeping Choryu (the student who murdered Hidetsugu's apprentice, Kobo) alive, but in perpetual agony by feeding him his own flesh after brutally torturing him. Hidetsugu intends to destroy everyone involved in Kobo’s death, from the forest folk who bound him, to the academy instructors that sent Choryu, to the moonfolk and the kami they worship. Toshiro pulls the ogre aside and proposes an alternate plan. He fills Hidetsugu in on what has happened, and the ogre returns the favor by telling him the Smiling Kami of the Crescent Moon (Mochi) is behind Konda's crime. Toshiro’s blood runs cold. He proposes that the ogre takes a disc he’s stored Yuki-Onna’s essence in, and deploy it against Konda’s soldiers on the border to sew chaos, and for the ogre to meet him at Minamo in a few day’s time.
With the time he’s bought them, Toshiro, Marrow-Gnawer, and Kiku return to Boss Uramon’s place. They easily dispatch her guards and as the mobster tries to escape, Toshiro follows. She leads him to his goal: the Shadow Gate, an artifact Uramon used to travel between shadows and eliminate her rivals. He steals it from her, but without the knowledge of how to use it he becomes trapped in the shadows between the world. He calls to the Myojin of Night’s Reach, who brings him to her Honden. There, she grants him the power to use the Shadow Gate without needing the artifact, but demands tribute in respond. Toshiro offers her whatever she wants, but she decides to hold off for now, weighing her options like he would. With his newfound power, Toshiro is able to rescue Princess Michiko from Konda’s Castle, moving between shadows and then leaving her in the care of her former sensei, Pearl-Ear. The kitsune are already on their way to Minamo, so they disguise Michiko as a servant to avoid notice. Toshiro follows stealthily in his faded form.
Minamo is the height of human learning, but literally below the Soratami.
Minamo by Charles Urbach
Once at Minamo, they meet with the headmaster, Hisoka. Michiko grows frustrated with the lack of answers and reveals herself to the headmaster. Hisoka is clearly under some sort of enchantment preventing him from revealing what’s really going on, and out of nowhere Mochi appears. Meanwhile, Toshiro follows Chiyo (the soratami that has been pursuing him) up to the city in the clouds. Once there, he appears to Chiyo and infuriates her, but defeats her and leaves her for dead-siccing a dog-like oni on her and the city before retreating. He appears in the headmaster’s office to everyone’s surprise and uses some of Yuki-Onna’s power to freeze Mochi solid… just as Hidetsugu arrives outside Minamo. Toshiro warns the others to remain calm, and that he’ll return for them. Hisoka goes to see to the defense of his school.
Hidetsugu arrived early, impatient and eager to use his yamabushi servants. The academy summons Keiga to defend it. Keiga puts up an amazing fight, but the yamabushi were trained specifically to kill spirits, and with a sacrifice among one of their own, Keiga is wounded. Hidetsugu follows up, felling the dragon spirit and feasting on her flesh. As his warriors descend on a virtually defenseless Minamo, the ogre summons his master, the All-Consuming Oni of Chaos. Around the same time, O-Kagachi fully manifests at Eiganjo. All of the daimyo’s forces are nothing before the great kami, who lays waste to them. Yosei comes forward to defend the castle, but is dwarfed by the massive kami. O-Kagachi’s largest head bites Yosei in half, then the great serpent turns its attentions to Eiganjo Castle. Konda insists that the castle will be impregnable, right up until flying stone debris slay General Takeno.
Toshiro appears suddenly in the daimyo’s chambers at Eiganjo, infuriating Konda, who comes after him with Takeno’s sword. The ochimusha grabs That Which Was Taken and disappears once more into the realm of shadow. There, the Myojin of Night’s Reach stops him once more, bringing him to her Honden. She tells him she doesn’t care about the Taken One, but warns him not to bring it through her shadow lands again, lest O-Kagachi come after her. Toshiro agrees.
This card was the only depiction of O-Kagachi for over a decade.
Final Judgment by Kev Walker
Back at Minamo, the yamabushi demolish their way through the academy’s defenses. Hisoka offers himself to sate Hidetsugu’s vengeance for Kobo, but the ogre bites off his head instead. Toshiro appears in the headmaster’s office and leaves the stone disk behind with Mochi, hoping O-Kagachi comes after the little kami. He rescues the rest of the group, and while Sharp-Ear still doesn’t trust him, he’s earned the gratitude of the rest of the party before they go their own ways. In the cave where he once kidnapped Michiko, he performs a ritual under the watchful gaze of Night’s Reach to remove his reckoner tattoo, ensuring the powerful Myojin is his only master. At Eiganjo, a warped spirit in the form of Takeno appears to Konda. Looking out what is left of his tower, he realizes all his armies that were wiped out have returned as similarly twisted spirits, all pledged to their lord once more in death.
Toshiro returns to Minamo to meet with Hidetsugu and try to re-obtain That Which Was Taken. The yamabushi seem hostile to him, but Hidetsugu seems friendly… at first. Toshiri worries the ogre will realize their oath has been broken, but it turns out Hidetsugu has other motives. He doesn’t like Toshiro’s newfound devotion to kami. The ogre shows Toshiro that he has laid waste to the soratami city in the clouds, thanks in no small part to Toshiro himself. When he unleashed the demon hound on Chiyo, he opened the way for more oni servants. Then it becomes clear that Hidetsugu’s rampage isn’t going to stop at Minamo and that he won’t allow Toshiro to reclaim That Which Was Taken from his patron oni, The All-Consuming Oni of Chaos.
Toshiro slips away using his fading abilities, and returns to Hisoka’s office. He’s surprised to find a group of humans and kitsune hiding out there for safety. It turns out the token force of human samurai and kitsune rangers left behind when the princess met with Hisoka and a small group of students have survived Hidetsugu’s rampage through the academy. The Oni of Chaos has yet to fully enter the room, held back by the power of the Taken One. Toshiro tells the survivors he will return for them and fades into shadows. Unbeknownst to him, Hidetsugu has unleashed the oni hound to track him.
I have no idea why so many people want to live in a swamp.
Takenuma by Cliff Childs
He re-emerges in the Takenuma Swamp, where he goes to meet back up with Kiku (who doesn’t know he’s broken the magic binding him to the reckoner oath). He discovers her passed out, surrounded by moonfolk bodies and those of her own people. It turns out the elders of her people sacrificed themselves in an effort to turn her into their vengeance, vastly amplifying her power, at the cost of the soratami slaughtering everyone. She’s been sitting there, waiting, unleashing killing waves on any soratami that approach her. Toshiro manages to convince her he’s got a plan for vengeance way better than waiting for death, and she agrees to help. He leaves for Eiganjo Castle, which is now mostly empty. Konda has taken his spirit army to reclaim the Taken One. He steals one of the few remaining riding moths, and when he’s attacked by Isamaru he moves the hound through the shadows with him and deposits him with Michiko.
With the transportation for the Taken One secured, Toshiro also convinces Marrow-Gnawer to join his crew for one last heist. Toshiro, Marrow-Gnawer, and Kiku travel to Minamo on the back of the moth, careful to stay out of sight. Marrow-Gnawer is left behind to guard the moth while Toshiro and Kiku manage to rescue the rest of the people trapped with the Taken One, but is forced to reveal his presence when he uses Night’s Reach’s power to beat back the All-Consuming Oni of Chaos. Konda’s spirit army arrives just in time, and Hidetsugu sends his demon army to deal with them. Toshiro and Kiku are attacked by the oni hound, and while they defeat it, it weakens them enough for the yamabushi to hold them prisoner. Hidetsugu enters and reveals a truth that Toshiro has been hiding from them: he misled them about the reckoner oath, and has already removed it from himself. Marrow-Gnawer grows bored and sneaks inside to see what’s happening, only to find Hidetsugu squeezing the life out of Kiku. He taunts Toshiro with the knowledge that he’s known how to circumvent the oath from the beginning, squeezing them in his giant hand just right to suffocate them without bloodshed. Marrow-Gnawer leaps in to defend Kiku, stabbing the ogre in the eye.
Outside, O-Kagachi also begins to manifest, and the All-Consuming Oni of Chaos goes out to challenge it. Inside, the reckoner curse takes effect on Marrow-Gnawer, and Toshiro can’t remove the oath. Kiku, now freed, breaks the vessel holding back her masters’ curse and blasts Hidetsugu with dark energy. With the ogre distracted, Toshiro cuts off Marrow-Gnawer’s hand, hoping removing the mark will remove the curse. He ties a tourniquet and freezes the remaining yamabushi with Yuki-Onna’s power. He follows the path of destruction to Hidetsugu and Kiku’s duel, and the ogre looks extremely pleased at having a worthy challenge. Kiku is buried by rubble, but Toshiro manages to take Hidetsugu’s other eye. The ogre manages to grab him anyway, and Toshiro begs for more power from Night’s Reach. She tells him he has all he needs, and Toshiro looks outside to see the Oni of Chaos showing signs of fear in the face of O-Kagachi’s might. He tells Hidetsugu as much, who doesn’t believe until he starts to sniff the air… just as O-Kagachi devastates the Oni, devouring huge swaths of the Oni’s might. When the All-Consuming flees, Hidetsugu is heartbroken.
With the battle over, Toshiro is forced to mercy kill Marrow-Gnawer. Hidetsugu helps Toshiro bring the Taken One to the moth, and in exchange uses Night's Reach's power to send to ogre to the realm of chaos to punish his former master for abandoning him and retreating. Toshiro rides away with the Taken One, evading both O-Kagachi and Konda by fading from view. Without much of a plan, he heads to the edges of the known world in the Jukai forest. Here, he's captured and interrogated by Sosuke of the Kashi tribe, who he learns is waging war against a moonfolk armada bent on genocide. He witnesses Sosuke’s tribe summon the Myojin of Life’s Web and Jugan to fight the invaders before slipping away due to his history of conflict with the forest spirit.
On his journey, several weird things begin to happen. The Taken One begins to speak to him, demanding release, then Uyo and Chiyo worm their way into his mind, convincing him he needs to right his wrongs. Leaving the Taken One behind, he heads back to undo the binding spell on Yuki-Onna (who has killed thousands after being unleashed). Night’s Reach appears to him as Yuki-Onna seems on the verge of killing him, warning him that he’s being mentally manipulated. He uses her power to free himself of the soratami, killing Uyo in the process. Frustrated that nothing seems to work, Mochi unleashes Chiyo to dispatch Toshiro however she pleases.
He returns to the Taken One to find he wasted too much time. O-Kagachi and Konda's army are nearly upon him to reclaim it, and he's forced to escape with it through the shadow realm. Night's Reach is furious and retracts all the powers she bestowed on Toshiro. Bringing the Taken One through her realm again means she has now attracted the attention of O-Kagachi, who will punish her for her part in the theft. The Taken One lashes out with a beam of power as Night's Reach threatens Toshiro, damaging her mask and causing her to flee.
The Taken One became Kyodai, and together with Michiko took O-Kagachi's place.
That Which Was Taken by Adam Rex
Toshiro returns to the foxfolk, hoping he can convince Michiko to help him free the Taken One. After some deliberation among the kitsune, they and Michiko agree it's the best course of action to save the world from O-Kagachi. Toshiro creates a spell that binds Michiko to the Taken One, and a serpent-like copy of Michiko is born from the statute. Michiko gives her the name Kyodai, as they consider each other sisters, and the Taken One’s power is shared between them. When O-Kagachi arrives, the sisters battle the great spirit dragon, turning each head to stone and then shattering them until only two are left. Michiko and Kyodai manage to shrink the gargantuan being until he's no larger than a garden snake. They bite off the remaining heads, absorbing the rest of O-Kagachi's power and becoming the Sisters of Flesh and Spirit. Now effectively the gods of Kamigawa, they decide to change how the spirit world interacts with the mortal realm, making the magic of the spirits more accessible to mortals.
There work isn't done, however, as Konda arrives to claim his prize. Kyodai exacts a terrible justice. She turns the daimyo to stone and shatters him, forcing him to observe his surrounding but be unable to interact. Michiko convinces her to revisit her vengeance in twenty years to see if justice has been done, but Kyodai has no mercy for Konda in her. Mochi appears to the new gods of the realm, hoping to ingratiate himself with them. As a favor to Toshiro, however, she summons Hidetsugu, who is now the lord of chaos in the oni realm, to devour Mochi. Restored, the ogre thanks Toshiro and bids him well.
In a surprise twist, as Toshiro leaves (he's not well liked by the kitsune), Chiyo ambushes him. Bereft of power, she has him at her mercy until Night's Reach appears to him once more, offering to forgive his tresspasses if he will become her sworn acolyte once more. He agrees, and she transports him between planes to Dominaria. She talks of how Ravi ringing the Apocalypse Chime made her aware of the barriers between worlds. She plants him on Madara, where she blinds him and commands him to grow like a seed that she might reap what he sows.
That's it for today, Sailor Scouts. Toshiro's story may be over, but the tale of Umezawa and the Myojin of Night's Reach is most definitely not. Planted like a seed in Nicol Bolas's domain, how will the troublesome Umezawa clan affect the elder dragon?
Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments or on the forum, and we will address it in future updates. Have a suggestion for something you want to see? Let us know, and we may address it in a future column. You can also follow me on twitter @Jay13x or @VorthosJay on Tumblr.