The 4th – 9th Days, Month of the Dragon, in the 17th year of the reign of Hantei XXXVIII (1120 Isawa Calendar)
The party arrives at the gates of Shiro Matsu to find that many Lion warriors have gathered. The crowd parts and a unit of samuraiko, each with red sashes hanging from their katana approach. At the lead is Matsu Yumi. She roars out Akodo Yoshihiro name, a fear inducing nimbus about her. She challenges him, calling him the heir of his grandfather’s cowardliness, a dishonorable, and disrespect-able liar and a cheat. She then calls upon the Ikoma to witness the formal challenge, to be fought to the death at a time chosen by their daimyos. For his part, Yoshihiro is quick to retort, gouge at the Matsu’s known short temper, cause her further loss of face with his calm reply. Fire burns in her face but a cool wind saps her fire. A stranger to the party, Shinjo Kaminari approaches thanking Yumi for helping him in his duties assigned by an emerald magistrate— he had been sent to find and deliver the party to their station in Fox lands. Thrown off by both Yoshihiro’s words and the unexpected arrival of the Unicorn, Yumi quells her rage and speaks plainly— insisting that the Akodo must accept or decline, then he may be on his way. That it is not for her to determine the time of the duel, but that their lords will do so, and certainly imperial needs will be taken into account.
The party is allowed to enter the city, where they find many Lion owned doors closed to them, not that they notice as they instantly find refuge among the Unicorn inn and tea house, The Dancing Horse Inn – Shiro Matsu, one of three such Ide owned tea houses. There they rest for a moment until Yasuki Kome enters to reveal that the Lion have impounded the caravan for a thorough search as is their right— “unfortunately,” he says, “this may delay our departure… greatly.” Shosuro Sadako and Shosuro Sen quickly get to work. Between Sen’s contacts in the city, and the combined efforts of the Shosuro and the Yasuki the caravan’s inspectors sample just enough of the goods bound for Ryoko Owari so as not to notice they were in the caravan at all.
For his part, Isawa Takkeji approaches Commander Yumi directly, calling upon their time together and years passed to gain audience. The conversation is lengthy and he spends a better part of the evening in her tent. By the time he returns to the Dancing Horse, the caravan has been lifted from impound and thanks to Sadako and Sen, nothing was found in the time in between.
The party dines with a contingent of Unicorn, mainly Ide, who have been traveling with members of the Iuchi family on an academic mission, collecting various histories from the Ikoma and wisdom from the Kitsu. They seem ready to be gone from Lion lands as they have been among them since late summer and long for the open steppes of the Unicorn instead of the rigid courts of the Lion.
The party quickly decides to leave early in the morning. Ide Hitomi for her part makes use of having a large contingent of Unicorn at the in to continue her own investigation. She meets with Iuchi Saiyumi, the governess to the Iuchi daimyo’s daughter. She learned a good deal about the mon discovered at Green Spring Village Hub before the fire. Concerned that there might be darkness too close to her clan, she asks Takkeji to sense for taint around Saiyumi but none is found.
The party leaves Shiro Matsu and begins to head towards the mountains. All seems easy enough, until their ronin guards turn on them. The matter is quickly handled, but now the entire caravan is guarded only by the party…