Before the Five Rings
The Last of the Kohaku
Some months after being taken in by the Seppun, Kojiro was out with a small group of hunters when they spotted another group on the plains. After observing the other group’s urgent pace, the hunting party realized that there were armed pursuers chasing the first group. Gazing across the grassy plain, Kojiro recognized one of the pursuers as Akuya, the betrayer of their old tribe.
Speaking with Akagi’s son, Hiro, he managed to convince the young Seppun that they should lay an ambush for the pursuers, who were almost certainly Noriaki. Stealthily placing themselves in the path of the two groups, Kojiro and the Seppun waited until the Noriaki were almost upon them. Just before the pursuers could fall upon their prey, the hunting party from Seppun Hill rose out of the tall grass and fired arrows at the aggressors.
Within moments, the group fleeing the Noriaki was safe, and Hiro had spoken with their leader, Katashi. The intimidating warrior explained that they were some of the last members of the Tribe of Kohaku. Just like Kojiro’s smaller tribe, the Kohaku were attacked by the Noriaki and nearly wiped out. Hiro agreed to bring them the rest of the way to Seppun Hill, and let them petition his parents to shelter the Kohaku survivors.
As they trekked back towards Seppun Village, Kojiro could not help but notice one of the Kohaku; a pretty young woman carrying a spear. Although he had already built and lost a family once, the sight of this (much) younger woman left him keenly aware of his own solitary existence. The journey back to the village gave him several opportunities to aid the refugees, and Kojiro found himself spending much more time than necessary around the pretty spear-carrier. He learned her name, Ayane, of her people’s misfortune, and her own more personal loss. With her, he shared the story of his own tribe’s downfall, and the hope he and Kenji had found with the Seppun.
Once the leaders of the Seppun agreed to shelter the last few Kohaku, Katashi asked for assistance searching out the few Kohaku warriors who had gone after the prisoners taken by the Noriaki. Kojiro volunteered to guide those who went on the mission, as the lands they would be crossing were those his own tribe had once inhabited. He left Kenji under the care of the Seppun, instructing him to be as helpful as possible to the Kohaku refugees while he was away.
After many days of travel, they finally came to a river that divided the plains. There, group from Seppun Village spotted the warriors they sought across the water. They were being pursued by a group of Noriaki lead by the witch, Nishang. The river was to broad and the current too strong where they were, so both groups agreed to meet downstream at a ford. However, by the time Kojiro’s group made it to them, the witch had already caught up with them. Before those from Seppun Hill could arrive to offer aid, a mighty Kohaku warrior named Asura had slew the witch in single combat!