Adventures With Short People
A land far to the east, Hanakuni is so distant that even the Common is not widely spoken, and is the homeland of Masamune Hiro, the exiled fighter and noble’s son.
Hanakuni directly translated to Common means roughly “Flower Country”. This name was given to the Eastern nation by Ryu-kami, the first Emperor who unified the land approximately one thousand years ago. It is said that an immortal sage visited a young Ryu-kami one autumn day revealed his destiny to unify Hanakuni. The old man pointed at a tree pregnant with cherry blossoms and told him that Ryu-kami will rule all places where those flowers bloom. Upon the fulfilment of this prophecy, Ryu-kami unified his empire under the name and the seal of the flower.
Prior to the unification of the provinces that make up today’s Hanakuni, the coast nation was divided into dozens of feudal territories, each ruled by a lord, or Daimyo. These individual fiefdoms both traded and battled each other frequently. The ebb and flow of power would often send the realm into massive wars, but the sheer fractional nature of the provinces and fiefdoms made unification unattainable within this period. Furthermore, so much resources were wasted upon the walls of opposing fortresses that most peasants within the fiefdoms were either starving or soldiers; usually both.
Ryu-kami and the Unification of Hanakuni
Seemingly out of nowhere, the Daimyo of a small fiefdom at the Northern tip of the realm surrendered his entire state to a young man of common blood, who will eventually be known as the Ryu-kami (Dragon god). Every historical text referred to him as Ryu-kami, and his birth name was lost in the deserts of time. The shocking oath of fealty that the Daimyo swore to this stranger sent shockwaves throughout the land, with many accusatory fingers pointing attributing the act to anything from sorcery to blackmail. However, the ex-Daimyo, known as Kita no Kirin (Kirin-a mythical four-legged beast-of the North) became Ryu-kami’s most fearsome and loyal general. It was said that Kita no Kirin’s loyalty to Ryu-kami awed even the gods, whom as a result agreed to whisk the general to his liege’s side from across the land to save his life from an assassination attempt.
However Ryu-kami attained his first fiefdom, the methods he used to conquer every other province were well-documented. Gohoku, a poet and a scholar, immortalized his conquests as they occurred in a book of poems named Yonjuuni, Ichi (Forty-two, One). The book described each of the Ryu-kami’s conquest with one three-line poem. The situations described within the poems were as fantastic as they are varied: according to Gohoku, Ryu-kami’s never used the same methods for conquest twice. In fact, only three of the most stubborn provinces were said to even cross swords with Ryu-kami’s army (and each of the three times were in three wildly different scenarios), with the rest swearing fealty through either trickery, diplomacy, or heroic deeds.
On the day marked as day 0 on the Hanakuni calendar, Ryu-kami stood on the highest peak of Tetsujin-no-yama (Mountain of Sages) and summoned a cherry tree in full bloom from the earth and proclaimed that Hanakuni was now one nation, one people. He then pricked his finger and let fall one drop of his blood onto the ground. Legend said that the mountain itself, felt so overwhelmed in receiving Ryu-kami’s blood that it raised its rocks around the site into an impenetrable fortress protecting the site of the tree and blood. This castle, Sakura-jo (Cherry blossom castle), stands to this day, and its walls, carved from the mountain itself, never yielded to invaders in a thousand years.
Unified Hanakuni and the Tennotsunami
The reign of Ryu-kami marked the beginning of an immense increase in Hanakuni’s military and economic might, once wasted upon infighting now focused outwards. While Ryu-kami focused upon building the prosperity and infrastructure of Hanakuni, his son set his avaricious eyes towards Hanakuni’s neighbours. When Ryu-kami’s son, Hironaga, ascended onto the Throne of Petals, he mustered his empire’s burgeoning military towards a neighbouring island nation Daeseoul.
Legend tells of Emperor Hironaga’s decree, where he demanded a fleet of two thousand warships to be made in twelve days. Through near enslavement of millions of Hanakuni citizens, the fleet was mustered and launched from the harbours of Osadai across the Daisen Strait towards Daeseoul. Upon landfall of the massive Hanakuni Imperial Fleet, however, a massive earthquake struck across the Strait. A tsunami as never seen in recorded history struck the Imperial Fleet, sinking the two thousand ships, drowning the two hundred thousand soldiers to a man.
Back in Hanakuni, the disaster was taken to be a sign of Heaven’s displeasure towards Hironaga’s greed and cruelty to his own people. As such they called the wave Tennotsunami, or tsunami of the heavens. Incensed by his older brother’s treatment of the Hanakuni people, Souzaku, took Tennotsunami as casus belli to claim the Throne of Petals. The two immensely powerful warrior mages, duelled for twelve days and twelve nights until a falling blossom petal caught Hironaga’s attention for but the slightest of moments, but enough.
Emperor Souzaku shored up the remnants of the Hanakuni army and fought off Daeseoul’s retaliatory strikes. For the next two hundred years, Hanakuni and Daeseoul warred, never with any real gain. The common belief was that the Sage’s prophecy both protects and reins in Hanakuni’s might. Two hundred years and four emperors later, peace was finally reached. For the next half millenium, Hanakuni enjoyed a relatively uninterrupted period of peace and prosperity, attributed both to its fierce samurai warlords and its intense isolationism both in geography and mindset.