Jewels of Empire
The term Jewels of the Empire was used to refer to five of the most powerful servants of the Emperor of Rokugan, each of whom was known as a Champion and was associated with a specific gem, including the emerald, jade, topaz, ruby, and amethyst, thus giving rise to the term. Each Champion had a specific task to fulfill in the Empire, and the Champion was usually (although not always) chosen through a tournament that was designed to produce a winner who was the most skilled practitioner of a certain art vital to the Empire’s administration.
The Emerald Champion was the leader of the Emerald Magistrates and was responsible for the protection of the Emperor himself. Upon a vacancy in the post of Emerald Champion, the successor was decided by means of a tournament, to which samurai of all the clans were invited. While Kakita was traditionally considered to be the first Emerald Champion when he defeated Matsu, the post wasn’t created until 153, with Doji Hatsuo the first official holder of the mantle. For a thousand years the land north and to the west of Otosan Uchi belonged to the Emerald Champion. The castle itself, the Palace of the Emerald Champion, sat on a high hill surrounded by a wide empty plain, the Plains of the Emerald Champion. The Imperial Chrysanthemum was proudly displayed at the castle’s front gate. When the post of Emerald Champion became vacant upon the retirement or death of the previous Champion, a grand tournament was held to select the new Champion. The tournament was generally the same format as many others throughout Rokugan. First, the claimants to the position were given several written and verbal tests to ensure they had the legal knowledge necessary to be appointed the Chief Magistrate of the Empire. After that, a series of iaijutsu duels determined who was most fit to serve as the Emperor’s Champion. The Emperor himself presided over the tournament. The new Emerald Champion was not severed from his clan and retained his original family name.
The Jade Champion
The Jade Champion was created by the Emperor in response to the flagrant use of maho that Iuchiban and the Bloodspeakers released upon Rokugan. The Champion was to be in charge of the use of magic within the empire, and especially responsible for the prevention of maho. The first Jade Champion was Kuni Tokaji. Tokaji was a powerful shugenja but a braggart, and he made it his mission to travel the Empire and defeat shugenja from all of the other clans in taryu-jiai. Only the Dragon and Phoenix Clans would not agree to feed the arrogant shugenja’s egotistical pursuit. Sometime later Tokaji attended a Winter Court, and presented his achievements to the Emperor, claiming the Dragon and Phoenix were afraid of his skill. The Emperor was sufficiently impressed, and created the position of the Jade Champion.
The Amethyst Champion
The Amethyst Champion was the title of the bearer of the Crown of the Amethyst Champion. The position was filled at the discretion of the Imperial families, who select the most prominent courtier of a generation. The Amethyst Champion’s primary duty was to safeguard the Crown of the Amethyst Champion and to use its powers for the betterment of the people of the Empire. Overall, the role of Amethyst Champion was much more passive than that of the other gem-related Champions, since trying to administratively distribute the blessings had not worked. Overall, the Amethyst Champion must have a good knowledge of the blade and the arts of speaking, especially poetry and oratory, and must be a worthy and honorable samurai. The title of Amethyst Champion was inseparably attached to the Crown of the Amethyst Champion, an artifact rumored to be of gaijin origin. The Crown granted to its bearer extraordinary wealth and glory, which he had control of with certain exceptions. Should the Crown’s blessings ever be misused, or the Crown ever be lost, the former owner found himself eternally on hard times.
The first man to possess it decided that the best use of it’s blessing was to distribute his new wealth to the people and his example was followed by many other bearers of the Crown, although a few Amethyst Champions had used the Crown’s power for their own selfish ends. After the example of a particular Champion, the Imperial Families decided to institutionalize the position.
The Ruby Champion
The Ruby Champion was a title bestowed upon the samurai who was deemed to have a most excellent knowledge of Imperial Law and kenjutsu. It was selected by the Emerald Champion from a number of applicants, and served at the Emerald Champion’s discretion. The Ruby Champion served as a sensei to the Emerald Magistrates, and the position brought glory and honor to the bearer of the title.
The Topaz Champion
The Topaz Championship was the most prestigious gempukku ceremony in Rokugan, held every spring in the Month of the Serpent in the village of Tsuma. Contestants from all the Great Clans, as well as those from minor clans or ronin who had a sponsor among the Great Clans or Imperial Families, competed in diverse skill tests that ranged from composing haiku to Iaijutsu duels. Bushi tended to dominate the quite martial contest. The winner was gifted with a golden kabuto and the Topaz armor.