Cast out by the malevolent, hungry intelligence that was the Realm of Evil, Fu Leng was rendered mortal and left in the Empire, broken but alive, no longer divine but still impossibly powerful.
Aware of his shortcomings and of the presence of Kali-ma, a demonic goddess from a distant land chosen as his successor, the Dark Kami took up the guise of a simple monk and manipulated a group of young heroes to aid him in restoring to him the fragments of his power sealed away in the Black Scrolls. Fu Leng’s plot ultimately proved successful, and the dark god did battle against the foul mistress of the Destroyer Horde for the position of Champion of Jigoku. Unfortunately, Fu Leng misjudged the power and ferocity of his opponent, and quickly found himself losing. Facing the prospect of final death and the absorption of his power by a hated enemy, Fu Leng instead willed his dying essence to his brother-and-son, the dark lord Daigotsu, recently dead by his own hand as part of an agreement with the Empress.
The final gambit of Fu Leng was successful, and the demon goddess Kali-ma died only moments after him, her mortal form torn asunder by Daigotsu, her power absorbed by the new and rightful ruler of the Realm of Evil.
The Art (by Steve Argyle)
Kali-ma against Fu Leng, or the Battle of the Gods, is the most recent of the events chosen as the Deciding Moments in L5R. It was only weeks old when the 10k card project was really starting to hatch. It was assigned to Steve Argyle for two reasons: one he is at his core a monsters’ (Togashi Satsu Exp 3, Fire Dragon Exp 2, Hida Yakamo Promo) or girls’ (Chuda Ruri, Matsu Fumiyo, Doji Jun’ai Exp) artist. This was a chance to draw a monster girl so he more or less demanded it. Secondly he also drew Satsu in dragon form which is essentially, Togashi in his dragon form. The chance to have drawn both Kami dragon forms was just too thrilling for him to pass up.
As he is co-art director much of the normal feedback process was left in his own hands once the initial image and story resources were given to him by Adrian. Process wise this was in large part rendered in 3D at first to help with lighting and proportions and then painted over to give it that Argyle style.
While Kali-Ma is based on her Legend of the Burning Sands artwork, Fu Leng’s dragon form had never been really defined beyond large, black and smokey. Fu Leng was designed as an outsider, a foreign and strange creature as he was never really a part of or influenced by Rokugan’s culture. After all, he only terrorized it for centuries! He is eyeless, massive, and squirming with tainted tendrils engulfing the total abomination that he was. Fu Leng was also intentionally made much larger than Kali-Ma and more bizarre to help convey a sense of overwhelming and foregone conclusion to most who would witness the battle: Fu Leng could only win. As we all know now, he didn’t, as the might Kali-Ma ultimately broke him that day.
A battle of Gods is a strange thing indeed and I feel Steve captured the utter strangeness it would have to be for a mortal witnessing it.
This event is somewhat distinctive in that it is not the reflections of a single event or tournament, but rather the results of the Spider struggling against the forces of Jigoku throughout the Celestial Arc.
During the era, they were given several opportunities to donate points they earned through various events, contests and tournaments to either the Empire – or Jigoku. There was a strong contention between the two forces for much of the Celestial Arc (largely due to the enormous efforts Andrew Ornatov – and his supporters – gave towards the Jigoku side), but as the last event ended, the points that favored the Empire pulled ahead. Even though Fu Leng ultimately fell in battle against Kali-ma, she was eventually destroyed by the ascended Daigotsu.
Had Jigoku ended up the victor at the end of the arc, Kali-ma would have stood victorious, and players of the L5R CCG would have seen this reflected in the card game, as Kali-ma and her forces would have had similar mechanics to The Forgotten Temple, being highly resistant to dishonor. There also would have been Destroyers printed in the card game.
Though it was a close call, the Spider eventually put their support ultimately with the Empire, and asserted their place as a Great Clan, shoulder to shoulder with the others with whom they’d been at odds with for so long.
Get your copy!
In October, Imperial Assembly Members will be receiving a copy of this card by mail. Until the end of the year, any new member of the Assembly will also be receiving a copy of this version of the 10K Card as a thank you for being part of the best community in gaming, and for their continuous support of Legend of the Five Rings.
You can also get a chance to win a copy of this card through Facebook! Like the article on the official L5R Facebook page and share it before September 17th. One lucky winner among the “likes” will be contacted and will receive a copy of the card for free after its initial release!