The 9th – 11th Day of the Dragon, in the 17th year of Hantei XXVIII (1120 Isawa Calendar)
Deciding it best to scout ahead, the party use the tactical insights of Yoshihiro to determine the most likely locations for additional bandit attacks. Diving into a meditative state, Takkeji extended out his senses through the void and sensed additional life energy ahead, some moving towards them. The party took cover and readied themselves for attack just as a volley of arrows shot from the cliffs. The bandits demanded the samurai stand down but in true Rokugani bravado they refused. The bandits offered them a drink, and rolled a flaming barrel of oil into the pass. Takkeji summoned forth the wind to blow the smoke away while the bushi unleashed a torrent of arrows of their own. Yoshihiro and Takezo began scaling the rock face to the cliffs above. Three bandits lept through the smoke and began an attack on foot only to be met by steel— Kaminari’s blade sliced through the air as his horse charged, Hikaru took up his stance and awaited the attacking bandit’s charge with perfect stillness, while Ryoma‘s moved to Takkeji’s position to protect the shugenja from the on-coming bandit. The bushi each did their part, and Takkeji’s blade too sliced into the attackers. Further back, Mizuko waited with Kome, protecting the goods in the caravan. A flaming arrows threatened the integrity of the very combustible “silk” but Kome’s quick reflexes moved a peasant in the way, thus saving the goods. Mizuko, not pleased with the Crab merchant’s choice of shield demanded to know if the contents of the wagon might be usable in their defense— to which the merchant said no. Above the pass the Dragon and the Lion finished off the archers but not before an arrow found its way into Kome’s shoulder. The battle over, the wounds were seen to.
The smoke seemed to attract the attention of seven Bayushi riders. They had crossed into the Lion held portion of the pass from Scorpion lands upon seeing the smoke. The head rider, Bayushi Fuyuki, immediately asked if Kome was with the party. Kome for his part did not immediately scream in terror, but everyone was able to see that he was not particularly glad to see this man. The two walked off to have a private word. The party learns that the riders are from Beiden and had been patrolling deeping into the pass because as of late there have not been as heavy patrols through Beiden pass on the Lion side of the border— likely their troops have been pulled elsewhere. Fuyuki and Kome return and the merchant announces that the riders will escort the caravan the rest of the way to Beiden.
The party arrives just as a storm rolls over the village. The magistrate checking their papers only looks through three of them before waiving the group through. The party decided to stay at the Long Sleep Inn, ominous but possibly promising. At dinner, the party notices three visitors to Kome, one after another. Bayushi Fuyuki, a man in a full cowl and mask, and a Yogo woman with a thin veil of a mask over her eyes. The woman, Yogo Adi, collects a large scroll satchel from Kome and then leaves. Fuyuki and the cowled man seem to have lengthy conversations with Kome over the course of the evening and are spotted having an intense whispered conversation outside of the Inn later that evening. Kaminari later finds out from Kome that the caravan was set to be delivered to a specific spot just outside the planes surrounding Kyuden Bayushi, but that he does not have a name of who he is turning it over to. However, now it seems that both Fuyuki and the unnamed man (who Kome later reveals is named Shosuro Noburo) both have laid claim to the caravan’s contents. He is unsure how this will play out. Kaminari, after a visit to the geisha house and a local tavern makes friends with the locals and runs a few hypotheticals by them. This combined with Mizuko’s reflection on their original employer, leads to the theory that Kakita Kunai may be selling the same goods over and over again, each time staging bandit attacks. Why anyone else continues to buy these goods after the 5th robbery is a mystery in of itself.
The next morning both of the men decide to accompany the group along the road to Kyuden Bayushi. Fuyuki’s men are following the party on horseback a ways away. When the party stops to camp, three men exit the woods and go to speak to the Shosuro before departing. Hikaru puzzles over the situation and begins to theorize additional reasons for their present situation.