The Crane Game
Suo's Notes - 1170 - Session X
Session X – 10/24/10
The setup for the Green Plum Tea House to overhear the meeting of the conspirators is planned. All but one of the rooms are booked through merchant contacts or Akemi’s servants. One of the rooms will have Hiro and Katsu, with Katsu using a spell to overhear the conversation in the one free room. Kanzen and Narue will watch unobtrusively from the front street, Suo from the rear alley. Kanzen spots two samurai entering, one with a daisho, one with only a wakizashi. They go into the setup room, but don’t speak aside from ordering tea. Kanzen later notices a peasant entering, 30 or so, but something about him seems odd. He also goes into the room.
Katsu overhears the conversation. Voice 1 says that the target is due in city by winter, will wear a mask made of Scorpion koku, defended by a young female bodyguard that is perceptive and experienced, despite her age. Price is negotiated, 20 koku up front, 50 when done. Crane need to be implicated, specifically the Daidoji, but no evidence left. If things change, they will contact each other in the usual way. Voice 3, assassin, leaves early. Hiro follows Voice 3, the peasant, and Kanzen follows Hiro. Hiro loses the peasant after a half-hour, near the docks, doesn’t think he was discovered.
Month of the Rooster, 1170
A reciprocal dinner is setup for Maru, primarily to gently ask about Scorpion visitors expected for Winter court. Narue and Katsu write the Great Rokugani invitation, never to be outdone. In looking around town, Kanzen spots the two samurai from the meeting, both from the Mantis Embassy, the daisho wearer now toting kama. Gets Rikuo-sama as one of the names. This information is brought to the governor, after discussion about bringing in Bayushi Maru that is decided to be left to the governor to decide. The governor is not expecting a Scorpion guest for Winter court. Calls for Kinnosuke, who thinks it could be Bayushi Hiroshi, one of the Scorpion’s most useful merchants. Kinnosuke has his network to look for the peasant based on Narue’s paintings. The decision is to keep the investigation in house for now, though the Emerald magistrate may be involved if no information can be found before Winter comes. The Mantis identified, Yoritomo Rikuo, is a bushi that’s been in city for 6 months. Yoritomo Yukio, a courtier, is who he bodyguards.
At the dinner, Maru brings flowers. Pleasant conversations, and Katsu delivers a nice poem about money clouding the path to happiness as a conversation starter for Narue to dig into the koku mask identity. Narue extracts that it is, indeed, Hiroshi. Kanzen fishes for information on the Scorpions relationship with the Mantis – tense, but nothing specific.
Suo sets up watch on the dock based tea houses. Katsu and Narue have tea with the Kitsu, now Mantis, and find them both still unhappy with the change, but have nothing out of the ordinary to offer. They don’t approve of Oichi, the ambassador. Narue navigates the conversation, and learns that they think a bit bitterly about Yukio being a low level courtier with no real job, but has a bodyguard. The Mantis come out and say Yoritomo Kaemon is missing – all signs point to the body in the ally, but the Crane keep a wrap on it. Narue digs into Yukio’s interests.
Governor summons Kanzen – help is requested from the magistrate of Twin Maples village. A group of ronin arrived in the village with papers from a magistrate that has gone missing, Yasuki Kanbei, missing after a Crab cavalry raid. The ronin escorted war refugees to the village – 10 ronin, 200 peasants. The ronin are saying they are with the Spider clan. Gorobei, the head magistrate at Twin Maples, only has Aiso, his second magistrate as backup. The ronin arrived 19 days before the assassinations. Takuya, the leader of the group, has suspicious eyes. Seiho, 2nd, uses a tetsubo. Gengyo, small, graceful, but dour. Yaeko, middle aged, quiet.
Kanzen gathers the group, and Suo and Narue decide to leave Tashiyaki and Etsuko with Shiho to continue training. 4 days travel to Twin Maples. Suo brings up that if the Spider clan is there, most likely there will be assassins among the peasant refugees as well. Narue acquires salt to bring, due to shortages of simple necessities among the refugess. Upon arrival, the village is growing magnolias, and the smell is everywhere. Suo twitches. Greeted by Kakita Aiso, says Gorobei and the ronin headed out hunting bandits. The ronin have only been asking for a roof over their heads for help. Narue talkes to the survivors, Kanzen, Suo, Hiro all armor up. Estimate dozens of bandits from the survivors of the supply caravan that were hit – long swords, clubs, waiting in ambush along the road under tarps. Only 5 survivors, all 3 samurai and the dozen ashigaru with the caravan likely dead at the ambush. Caravan was carrying timber, household goods.
Track to the caravan, find the bodies of the men, ox, and horses. Timber is there, but the wheels of the carts are destroyed. Fires were attempted on the timber, but failed for lack of effort and expertise. All the loose household goods are missing. Track down the missing samurai and ashigaru from the hit scene, find them dead of wounds not far away. Seem to be a day behind the tracks of the main bandit group, and the ronin. Katsu casts Ride Through the Night. Few hours in, come across the body of a bandit, looks to have died of wounds in the fight. Midafternoon next day, hear signs of fighting. Half hour ride, get to the aftermath. Gorobei and the ronin still standing, 20 or so bandits down. Shigei and Gengyo giving first aid to bandits. Meet up with Gorobei, and he asks the ronin to split – half to stay here until a group can be sent for the goods, half to come back with us to the timber. Kanzen has the ronin’s papers checked, everything seems legit. Suo takes the bandit leader’s satchel. Hiro and Gorobei head directly back to town for more resources to gather the gear, Takuya stays at the last stand with half the ronin, the rest and the group go back to the caravan. On the ride, Seiho talks about the fight, how they got to Twin Maples. Says the Spider group is a loose confederation of other ronin, gets steady work, good reputation. Says they joined about a year ago, and the tenet is to help where they can.
Session XI – 11/21/10
Suo interrogates the surviving bandit. He doesn’t know how the boss found out about the caravan, wasn’t any particular thing that the boss revealed to show this one was specifically targetted. They tried to burn the timber in the hopes an investigation would be slowed down. Been easier with fewer troops on the roads. Seiho says they attacked like they were individually battle hardened, but not drilled like a military group.
Narue digs information out of the ronin. Seiho just hopes the town gets supplies for the winter, both for the refugees and them. Chikuma is younger than expected, joined when her drunken father dueled with Gengyo and was killed. Takuya found her in the house, gave her her father’s swords, let her join. All the others pay attention when Narue is talking to her. Masaru, guy with grudge against the Crab and can sail – a breach in the area, he and his squad were to blaim, so were all made ronin. Soh likes to be alone, has a deep scar across his neck, surprising to survive from. Yaeko seems content, happy her primary responsibilities is being quartermaster. Interested in more time at the forge.
After some time, Gorobei and additional resources show up. Gorobei sends the Spider ronin back to the village with the bandit, spend some time letting the eta and peasants clean up the site, then move on to meet Takuya. Talk to Gorobei on route, he says there seems to be something off about them, but they’ve behaved well. Gorobei thinks Masayoshi is the best swordsman among the group. Narue talks with Katsu aside, asking her if she’s okay, gets info from her about her hatred of bandits. Long conversation about Bushido, the two girls separate, somewhat miffed at each other.
Arrive at attack site, and the ronin have sorted the gear. Narue begins talking to the rest of the ronin. Eien, fast talker, born ronin from Crab lands, feels it was beneficial to Takuya which is why he was offered to join, saved from the brother of a former fling. Very much respects how skilled and dangerous Masayoshi is. Shige, has no time for courtier games. Pride in her skills as a tracker. Plans to stay as long as they have work, need her skills. Unattached, only a working relationship. Gengyo, no skill at conversation. Doesn’t really want to talk about where he came from or how he got here. Seems fond of Chikuma. Approached Takuya to join, proved his worth – picked a fight with a Mantis that had been troubling Takuya, and defeated him. Interested in spending his life in Zakyo Toshi. Would like to find out if he or Masayoshi is the better swordsman. Masayoshi, deflects Narue. Has contempt for the group, but fear for Takuya. Just wants to fight. Takuya, 30’s, father was a Badger samurai, became ronin when Badger were nearly wiped out. Through a mixture of good luck and hard work, made a ronin band. Ambitions to do more than just survive, make a mark on the world. Someone he’d worked with early on with his own band of ronin, met up in Unicorn land, told him about the Spider. Goal is to do enough to serve and protect the peasants of Rokugan, so when the next emperor comes along, he’ll look kindly upon the group and get Clan status. Lies about there not being a grand planner in the Spider organization. He’s aware of many hundreds of ronin associated with the Spider, suspects thousands. When asks, says Badger was his father’s heritage, he was born ronin – a bit of a sore subject. He wants a good reputation with the Crane clan here in the province.
Arrive back in village, ronin go to crash. Go to the magistrate’s, Narue does a brain dump. Conversation about whether to confront Takuya now, or try to be more indirect and draw out his upper level contacts. Decide to warn Gorobei that we also do not trust them, go back to town, try to get a good job to see if the group takes it, or start peeling off members. Gorobei requests that we ask if resources can be sent back to him to back him up.
Month of the Dog, 1170
Back to town, let the governor know. He agrees to get with Kinnosuke to come up with a job, and agrees to send some deputies to Gorobei.
Go to the Mantis party. As the party starts, Maru comments to Kanzen that Bayushi Hiyoshi has sent a letter that he’s coming this Winter. During the evening, Katsu and Suo believe Shoturo is showing off that he and Katsu are close. Katsu tries to minimize it, Shotaro asks about it, and when she explains, he understands. Narue gets introduced to Yukio, strikes up conversation. Feels him out about tea houses, discovers he’s way more skilled than he lets on. Rikuo is observed, but not much going on with him. Yukio talks about commerce, has helped assess the market and boost sales for some of the local Mantis merchants. Says he has many contacts up and down the river. Narue can’t sense what he wants, but leaves him with the impression that she’s interested. Follows up with a conversation with Okichi about him. Not long after they talk, Katsu and Suo see Okichi talks with Ume, and subtly gestures towards Yukio with some concern, but nothing else discernable. Messanger from governor’s estate comes in, goes to governor who gets excited, then immediately goes to Okichi. Okichi brings attention to him, he announces Doji Domotai, 3rd Day, Month of the Dog, 1170. Crab ask Crane terms to end war; terms are that the land is no longer disputed but Crab, Yasuki Jikyun and Doji Keiko will be married in the winter. Tone of the letter is very acerbic. Governor seems appalled to deliver the letter in that tone, but announces that travel restrictions are lifted. Yasuki Yoshi seems amused by the letter, Crab ambassador is angry, and also horrified, his wife the ghost hunter is stunned, the body guard is angry, Hiruma Chiako is incredibly angry, Higen seems frustrated, angry. Mantis start to spread out, relieve the mood, end tension. Chiako and Yoshi almost come to blows, Yoshi gets moved out by Suo, Higen pulls Chiako away, who then insults him. Higen threatens to duel her at dawn to the death if she doesn’t take back the insults. Chuichi talks to the governor, asks that Higen’s call to honor be met before Yoshi’s, that any can watch the duel that allows. Kanjiro and Chuichi agree they are happy they are no longer at war. Narue tries to help settle the party, Okichi and Ume are grateful. Before he leaves, Shotaro tries to arrange a discreet meeting with Katsu. After party, meet up, and brain dump.
Next morning. Gathering at the Crab embassy. Chieko refuses to apologize. Higen is the favored for the duel, but an undercurrent of resentment towards Higen. Higen strikes her down before she can draw, she doesn’t utter a sound.
A few days pass. Kanzen gets a note, Domotai requests Narue marry Higen at Yasuki Yuushiki – her prior betrothal is cancelled. All of our group is invited to winter at Yasuki Yuushiki. Will need to head out at the end of the month.
Session XII – 1/9/11
Congratulations are given to Narue, continue discussion about plans. Line sent via dream to Noratoshi – ‘Winter in Yasuki Yuushiki, Yoritomo’s Yukio and Rikuo hire assassin to kill Bayushi Hiroshi, pin it on the Crane.’ Kanzen asks Suo to recommend a list of Daidoji bodyguards to give to Kanjiro-sama to beef up court defense for those courtiers most likely to be around Bayushi Hiroshi.
Suo meets with Higen. Higen warns of a Shadow Dragon, an Avatar of the Shadow, the Lying Darkness. Says it is not human, gives Suo a finger of jade. Also gifts a tanto from him, gift from a Fox spirt, crystaline tanto that can harm Shadowlands and Shadow creatures. When held, it can also tell the direction of the other wielder. Will give the other to Narue. Set up training on Lying Darkness lore, and knive training, as well as setting up a meeting with Narue.
Narue meets with Higen. Warns her of his enemies, and original plans to become a monk. Gives her a Crane carving in Jade, gift from his mother, that gives protection from the Shadowlands. Also gives her the other tanto. Delve into topics of interest between the two, get to know each other. She mentions that her brother went missing, but has a lead — Doji Miyuki (as advisor of Domotai), who worked with the people that her brother was protecting. He says that he and she had been close when he was young, but he had issue with her brother. They dueled to the death, and he killed her brother. She has refused to see him since.
Higen meets with Kanzen, tells him of the threat of the Lying Darkness. Kanzen warns Higen of the Spider clan.
Suo and Narue meet. Sue sets out a training schedule of knife lessons (including Etsuko and Tashiyaki), sessions with Higen about the Lying Darkness.
Katsu, Narue, Kanzen, and Suo meet, brain dump on the lying darkness and the weapons Higen gave us. Narue mentions the disappearance of her brother 6 years ago, and that she will be investigating it at Winter Court, since the merchant Narue’s brother guarded was working for Miyuki. Also says that Doji Miyuki is her lead, and Suo tells of his relationship. Kanzen says his brother Kakita Taishi will be in attendence, who holds a grudge over the sword not passing to him, and is Doji Miyuki’s bodyguard.
Meeting with the governor, he plans on inviting Takuya’s group of Spider ronin to the city to keep an eye on them. Theorizes about getting Bayushi Hiroshi an invitation to the Winter Court in Crab lands instead, but doesn’t have an imidiate method for doing so.
Narue does research on Miyuki, finds that she’s been involved in sketchy duels leading to the death of rivals, where the duels were over minor things that ended up being brought to duels to the death.
Meeting with Maru to try and plant the idea of getting Bayushi Hiroshi invited to Winter Court. Narue talks about winter court, how neat it is that some of the magistrates of getting to go. Seems to convince everyone that anyone that is anyone will be at the Black Crane estates. Katsu and Shoturo are more overt about their relationship. At the end of the night, Maru decides to invite Hiroshi. Suo also finds out Gempachi will be there.
Higen goes on alone. Shoturo and Fumiko happy to entourage with the group, Soetsu and a promising Ogai apprentice also are interested in travelling with us. Send open invitation to others in the city.
Head south, long road, about 3 weeks journey.
Month of the Boar, 1170
Reach Yasuki Yuushiki about a week into the month. In Yasuki lands, a lot of devastation, a lot of sullen peasants. Get stopped a lot for papers; more than necessary. The palace itself has a lot of repair going on around it.
Greeted by Yasuki Fumiki at the palace. Narue and Kanzen greeted by name, welcomed into the palace. Peasant escorts us, Katsu grills her for info. Rooms in the 3rd floor, same suite of rooms. Looking at positioning, Narue thinks we may have been placed in a slightly inferior location than deserved. Get unloaded, settled. Settled in next to lower glory advisor, artist, and an Asahina.
Floor security stops by, introduce themselves. Get report of the Daimyo of the Asahina family (Asahina Kaitaro) has passed away. First the group has heard of it. Group goes to meet others, starting with Asahina on the floor. Suo stays to go over security on the floor. Asahina say Kaitaro was found passed on the floor of his workshop. Narue finds a larger gift basket in her room than anyone else, from Fumiki. Informed that official start of winter court will be in one week’s time.
Meet Kanzen’s brother, Nintai, trained in Asahina school. Says Kaitaro had been working on new fetishes, devoting a lot of time to it. He and Kanzen talk of Taishi. Katsu decides to take him underwing to help train him. Discreetly, Nintai and Kanzen talk about Katsu’s reputation of bloody bandit butchery.
Session XIII – 1/30/11
Early in the morning, rougly 4am, a messenger brings a note to Narue from one of her friends. The courtier’s bodyguard, Kakita Hidayoshi, is missing, which is not normal. Narue gets Kanzen involved, they contact his three friends. Find out he had been out with the others last night, but based on scouting out the city for a competition they have — trying to be the first to seduce a beautiful women.
Backtrack him to a sake house, but no lead from there. Hidayoshi comes walking down the street, looking tousled. Relays that he believes he was drugged, went to another sake house, met a Hida Noriko, had some drinks, went to an inn with her. Woke up this morning with a gift entrusted him, an enro from the end of the 2nd Yasuki war, missing. Inn folks said they didn’t see anything. Suo and Katsu go back to the inn, they say Noriko left early in the morning and not to let the Crane sleep off his evening. Katsu asks the air kami of his room, they do not think anything was taken from the Crane, and that the Crab did leave with the enro. The rest go to the second sake house, Noriko was there with two other people when Hidayoshi approached her. Seems surprised when he hears that shochu was involved in the drinking.
Group gets back together, decides to send Hidayoshi and the courtier back to deal with their responsibilities. Discussion around the group, think there is a possibility he just got drunk and gave the gift away. Look at getting where Noriko is, find she’s a deputy working for a neighboring district Yasuki. Go shopping, then go to find her at the office. Find she’s not in, get offered an escort to her house. Get there, she’s not in at the moment, so leave a message — we have a delicate but minor issue we need her assistance with, and tell her who to contact at the castle.
4 am the next day, Noriko shows up. Kanzen gathers the group, she’s wearing the enro. When asked, confirms that Hidayoshi gave them to her, confirmed by the kami. Narue tells her it was not his to give, wondering if an exchange can be made. Kanzen offers to have Hidayoshi present a gift and his apologies. She agrees to here his apology. Kanzen tells Hidayoshi that he will be doing it, he is indignant of being accused of lying, but hides it well. Narue chastens him, he agrees to the task with less umbrage. Suo still threatens him to pay attention to his duty when he heads out. Katsu casts a blessing on him before the apology, gives him a pep talk. He returns in the evening, successful. Narue and the courtier talk, happy with the outcome.
The big kick off to Winter court happens. Kuon, the Crab champion, does not show – unavailable for business, gossip says fending off an unexpected invasion from the Shadowlands. Otomo Buno is here, saying competitions will be set up for court. Miya Anzai also shows up, hoping to get teams set up for a different set of tournaments, where a beautiful geneology is presented to the winners. Jinn-Kuen says there will be tournaments of sumai and tetsubo, as does Domotai with an iajutsu tournament. Narue politics, a lot of information gathered during the evening around favors, names, etc. Miyuki and Taishi visit Suo and Shiho, asking about Noritoshi. Ask about the large number of ronin, Unicorn say the toll of the war means they make use of all resources. See during the evening Shoturo chats up the ronin, and Fumiko and Hiroshi are in deep conversation, but having a disagreement. Domotai chats up around the group individually, Katsu seems to have a favorable opinion in her eyes, and is quite happy about it. Narue and Miyuki spar verbally. Suo and Gempachi get together in a less formal environment talk about the assassinations; Domotai seems a bit more distant since last he met.
Session XIV – 2/27/11
Day of Miya competition sign-up, all the group except Hiro sign up. Katsu paired with Moto Hanzhi, a Unicorn Bushi. Kanzen is paired with Yasuki Tijaki, boisterous Crab Courtier. Suo is paired with Yorotomi Nodoteki, a Mantis Courtier. Narue is pared with Matsu Satomi, a Lion Bushi. A day or so later when partners are meeting, Kuon and his family arrive.
Gempachi and Suo catch up; expresses concerns over the changes in Domotai since coming to power, including insulting the Crab at every turn.
Yasuki Jinn-kuen gets married, celebration afterwords. Domotai gives them gifts of a fine comb for the wife, the original Yasuki mon — portends bad luck for a year in the Yasuki castle. Domotai seems pleased with herself; Suo notices Gempachi is angry. Doji Miyuki gives them a case of the Cherry Blossom Sake. Only those two gifts are insulting; Kuon looks about ready to blow his top. Kanzen notices a disagreement between Bayushi Hiroshi and Shosuro Fumiko, overhears her say ‘he doesn’t run our clan.‘
Kanzen meets with Domotai. She is happy with the gifts and Kuon’s anger. Says to remember the Crab’s place in the empire.
Katsu casts a spell to speak with Noritoshi. Kanzen speaks of the current situation with Domotai, Miyuki, and the Crab clan. He agrees it is odd that she would be wanting to start hostilities again; says Kanzen can offer her guidance as his hatamoto. Says his missive says Kakita Totami will continue to be head of dueling academy. Kakita Michihiro will be the hatamoto at the city to make decisions, and Kanzen will be the hatamoto at Winter court. And the letter tells Domotai about Noritoshi’s situation. Domotai would have to order him to appear if she wants it. If we could find evidence to Jiman’s treachery, he might be able to force the issue of a duel.
Kuni Witchhunter, Kumi Fumitake, has arrived at court.
Kanzen enters the Iaijutsu tournament. Wins against Hida Anzai, who takes his loss well. Higen wins against Kakita Tadasu. Shoturo wins against Kakita Hidoshi. Day after, letters from Noritoshi arrives. Kanzen presents the letter to Domotai. She asks if he’s aware of Jimen’s activities, he says yes. She says it presents the clan with a problem. She begins to question whether or not her father was right in assigning Noritoshi to the position. Afraid she may have to be involved. She is unimpressed he didn’t kill Jimen at the tournament and let his mother and son die for the empire. Katsu and Narue test out her spells. Kanzen gives an update.
Poetry competition. Takes place on the cliffs of earthquake fish bay. Famous Kakita poet there, Ronin Mikaru,and Matsu Satomi. Asahina Katsu wins.
Invited to tea with Miyuki. She’s very close to Atoshi, Noratoshi’s brother, who is his rival. Wants us to know that with Domotai potentially giving Noratoshi the boot, his people might be affected. She would potentially have a place for us. Kanzen has Katsu give Noratoshi a call that night to brief him on Domotai’s reaction. Next day, Katsu is invited to tea with Miyuki. Day after that, Shiho gets invited to tea with Miyuki.
Narue continues to look into Cran politics. Doji Osamu – one of Domotai’s advisors, least likely to want a war with the Crab. Meets Fumiko for tea, dueling courtiers.
Katsu and Suo contact Keiji at the Imperial Court to inform of the Spider, and ask if he’d be willing to speak with Doji Nagori about the assassin and what he might be carrying.
Kanzen, Narue, Katsu, and Suo go to present Domotai with the information they have on the Spider. Her views on bushido seem to have come less flexible, harder than previous, more vindictive. Narue and she talk, but don’t truly debate. Katsu asks if Domotai can present her views, they agree to meet for tea. Suo brings up an old fallen comrade with moderate views.
On the way across the castle, spot the peasant assassin from before. Call for him to stop, when he doesn’t, give chase. Long chase leads to Katsu losing the sound of his footprints, and when communes, the kami say nothing has passed by. Assume it’s the lying darkness. Continue attempts at pursuit, end up in a Crab barracks with no distinct lead. Know it can meld in shadows, move through shadows, and shapeshift. Explain the spotting of the assassin to the crab, continue to try and look. Kanzen and Narue inform Domotai, Suo and Katsu go look for Higen. Interrupt his dinner, inform him of the Shadow assassin. He warns of its mimicry, says crystal will still hurt it when shadowmelded.
Session XV – 4/3/11
Several days pass. Shoturo introduces Katsu to Moto Gurban and his ronin, Tawagoto. Conversations about animals, general chit-chat. Gurban learns that Katsu is a fighter. Gurban also backhands a servant who spills on him.
Kanzen is approached by Kumi Fumitake one evening. Asks about the potential assassin chase, if Kanzen knew the man, or who he was after. Kanzen says we have no hard evidence. Kanzen gets the feel that Fumitake assumes something is off with the story.
Contact Keiji again about the assassin that Doji Nagori killed. The assassin had a cheap weapon, blade had the magnolia poison, but investigators haven’t turned up anything else yet. Keiji is willing to talk to Nagori again to get any additional information about the smaller details of the investigation. Nagori has heard of the ronin band of Spiders, but not much else. Decide to setup a conversation with Nagori present to share information, possibly mention Winter court events.
Narue gets approached by Fumiki, recommends that Higen possibly be setup as a Sensei of his own branch of the Daidoji bodyguard school in Murasabishi Toshi. Suo talks with Gempachi about the Lying darkness.
Next round of the dueling competition – Shinjo Nanase and Kanzen. Kanzen wins, Nanase is graceful in defeat. Hiruma Kenichi beaten by Kanzen’s brother, Higen wins his duel. Kanzen gives Musashi some pointers after his lucky duel, and notes competitors – Tawagoto, for example.
Everyone notices that Kuon has, since the gifts, has been practically non-existant. Scuttlebutt says a lot of insults from Kuon to Domotai in private. Katsu asks the group around privacy.
Narue and Suo have tea with Gempachi. He’s hopeful that we’ll still come out of winter in peace. She brings up possibly getting Higen a sensei position, gets Gempachi’s outlook. He mentions some concern about the families that might have blood feuds against Higen for his role in the war. Recommends figuring out who might be angered by it. Narue discovers he would love a way to speak to Domotai or confront her about his behavior.
Gurban and Tawagoto go falconing with Katsu and Shoturo. Conversation with Bushido comes up, Shoturo, Gurban, and Tawagoto all have close to the same opinion. Back and forth about the wide variety of ways to interpret bushido. Later talks to the party about Gurban and Tawagoto’s view of bushido being slightly more nuanced than Shoturo’s. During the conversation, notice a shadow in the bushes. Katsu casts a spell, detects Shadow in the bushes.
Give chase; Narue sees it as her brother, warning her that it’s dangerous around here, be careful, then disappears. Not entirely certain the shadow was her brother, but if it was, it’s a powerful creature. Katsu finds a scroll, brings it to Kanzen. Short note, good caligraphy, possible note between lovers — can’t let my husband find out, need to see you again. Leave it behind, go to find Higen.
Bring him up to speed on the event, Narue’s brother. Higen recommends she confront Miyuki about her brother for any hints to if he was still alive or not. Says the the creatures, when killed, still look supernatural if they were powerful enough. Higen also recommends they move up the wedding so he can hang out more to protect us.
Akodo Itoku is known as a paragon of virtue; Katsu wants to speak to someone about bushido before having the dinner for the bushido conversation. Sets up a tea with Kanzen first before the dinner.
That night, Katsu and Narue invite the group wives (Akemi, Shiho, Wanita) to stay up.
Next day, check the scroll case. New scroll, short note – in the usual place, night after tomorrow. Seems to be Crab-style caligraphy.
Narue checks the date of her wedding; hasn’t been set yet. Domotai has been leaving it up to Miyuki to schedule so far. Kanzen could bring up something about cementing Higen’s position into the Crane to get the schedule moved up. Narue also introduces Akemi to a rice-needing Crab courtier. Kanzen speaks to Domotai about the wedding; gets the scheduling bumped up. Narue gets a note that day that the wedding will happen in 4 days.