By looking inward, Takkeji is able to interpret the ripples within the void to find the source of the blood on the petals. The party notifies the Asahina and and with a magistrate, Daidoji Tempu, go into the peasant district. They trace the vision to where the peasants the party gathered on the road are staying. The woman known to the party as Hida Aime, dressed in drab gray robes, is found clutching the body of one of the peasants, his throat slit. The party is able to deduce that Aime is also a peasant, puppet-ed by dark magic through the use of a sympathetic link— her ear, which has been cut off and replaced with a sloppy kanji akin to the one found on the wild dogs five nights ago. Purple paper and golden ribbon in the corner confirm that the blood soaked flowers received by Hitomi were sent from this room, likely delivered by the controlled peasant.
With the help of the Asahina and the jade magistrate the party cleanses the scene and the Ivory Petal Inn. Takkeji and Ryoma send Toro to speak to the peasants. They discover that all of the peasants are from the farmlands surrouning Green Spring Village (Midori no Izumi Mura). The lord of these lands, Kakita Tsuzo, invited the peasants into his walled estate when the winter turned particularly cruel just after midwinter as their supplies ran low. The peasants told Toro that Tsuzo was particularly cruel, and his wife would beat and brand them and mutilate them. Toro is sent to find one of the mutilated peasants and returns, a bit beaten, with a man missing a finger. He is turned over to the magistrate. The Crane take responsibility for the remaining peasants, some of whom are now sick, thus allowing the party to continue their investigation.
The party continues on to Crossroad Castle. A few days pass and when they arrive they find that the Castle is full of travelers awaiting the thaw of Bieden Pass. Kyuden Matsu has been turning out guests from Lion lands, and Crossroad Castle has become the main waiting point on the other side of the border. As such, the party stays at Fog and Sweet Flowers Tea House where they meet the owner Iwasaki Hanna, a shrewd but welcoming madam. In conversation regarding Tsuzo, the party learns that he is not married as the peasants had said. However, Mizuko, recalls from her time at court that she had heard of Tsuzo, but that he was unmarried. However, there was a good deal of gossip about him bringing a woman dressed in Crane finery to the opening of the Kyuden Kakita winter court but that no one knew her— and her name continued to change throughout the night as he became drunker. It was assumed he had dressed up a geisha and tried to pass her off as a lady.
The party rests for the night. The next morning they mean with Daidoji Koshi and Daidoji Kashi the twin children of Tempu who serve as assistant magistrates at Crossroad Castle. They provide the party with several fingers of jade as promised, in exchange for their discretion regarding the matters at hand. Sei confirms a rumor he heard about animal mutilations in the autumn outside of the city walls. The party goes to meet with Kuni Kai, a crab shugenja with tie to the Kuni witch hunters, but alas, the hunters have left many days before. Sei does learn, however, that the party should not arrive at night to Green Spring Village.
That evening, the party departs Crossroad Castle and head south. They march through the night and just before dawn they come to the belief that they have entered into a blight. As the sun rises and lights the mountains like stretching ghosts, they see gaunt figures tilling in the snow.