The party emerges from the darkness of their journey to encounter the outlying farms of the Green Spring Village Hub. The continue on the road, a thing layer of snow across the grayed out landscape. Peasants seem to toil in the fields, tilling snow over and over. They acknowledge the party but refuse to stop or speak to the samurai. The village hub is all but abandoned, a lone woman lowers a child into a well, picking away at the frozen water. A small shrine to the kami and fortunes the only other sign of life. The party moves to an abandoned tea house just outside of the manner house of Kakita Tsuzo, lord of the Green Spring Village.
The party seems to have attracted attention as a member of Tsuzo’s house guard comes to find out what the samurai want. Hikaru goes on behalf of Mizuko to meet with the village yuriki, Kakita Zumino. Zumino is young, perhaps three seasons into manhood, but recently appointed the yuriki, by his father, Lord Tsuzo. His inexperience reveals much to the trained Crane eye, but Zumino extends an invitation to the samurai to rest within his father’s walled estate and join them for dinner.
The party is led to a guest bath house on the property and allowed to prepare for the meal. The effects of the lands seem to begin to leave their mark on the party as tensions run high. Mizuko in particular channels her personal demons in a way that leaves her shaken.
The party convene in the estate dinning hall and are fed a delicate meal, joined by courtiers and local samurai that must have been in Tsuzo’s estate as winter began. They learn the Tsuzo’s wife, Aime, is unable to join them due to her “delicate condition.”
Akodo Yoshihiro, using his advantage of being a Lion in Crane lands, begins to insult Tsuzo. The lord has him arrested and thrown into the dungeon, siting that he is a Lion spy and will have the Crane magistrates notified. The rest of the party is dismissed back to their quarters and the implication is that they will leave at first light. Guards escort them back and are placed on guard.
While in the dungeon, Yoshihiro meets Kakita Tsuzumo, a young samurai chained to a wall and obviously the victim of intense torture. He learns that Tsuzomo is Tsuzo’s eldest son and formerly the yuriki of Green Spring Village Hub. However, after his father brought Aime to live in their home he began to fall out of favor. He claims that Aime’s cruelty soon revealed her to be a practicer of dark arts, when he tried to tell his father as such, he was imprisoned in the dungeon. Yoshihiro manages to help Tsuzumo break free, as well as another tortured prisoner, Asahina Mori, a priest in service to the family, also chained and wounded. They discover a blood covered ritual area where the remains of human sacrifice defile the very water pooled in the dungeon. The three men escape through waterway, through a passage from the estate cellars— but not before Yoshihiro casts burning embers into the dry good of the kitchen.
Meanwhile, Hikaru, Takkeji, Kettou hatch a plot to lure one of the guards into the side changing room. Tekkeji attempts to call on the kami, only to discover that the air itself has become blood thirsty and tainted. Takkeji excuses himself and gets into position outside while the other two samurai call upon the power of their stances to dispatch of the guard. A single, perfect crane draw and a powerful dragon slash undid the guard; a splatter of blood against the rice paper screen is the only sign. Before the other guard can raise the alarm Takkeji, Takezo, Ryoma, and Sei make quick work of the other guard.
The plan is now to escape from the bathhouse without raising alarm and end the darkness that resides in the estate.