Returning from Green Spring Village Hub at last, the party rests at the Fog and Sweet Flowers Tea House under the hospitality of Iwasaki Hanna. There they find that Crossroads Castle is still full of travelers waiting to cross the Crane – Lion border. The snow melts have apparently washed out roads.
Mizuko and Ryoma discover that while people are crossing in from the Lion lands, very few people are able to cross into the Lion lands— and those that are tend not to be individual travelers. They hear about a Kakita merchant who has a caravan going across the border in two days, a silk shipment ordered by a Miya living in Ryoko Owari. The caravan is actually looking for hired blades to guard the shipment through Beiden Pass.
Mizuko, Ryoma, and Hikaru go to speak with the merchant, Kakita Kunai, the next morning and arrange to have the party act as guards as far as Kyuden Bayushi where they must turn south towards Fox Lands. Kunai offers to pay the party but Hikaru assures him that no pay is needed, to which the merchant is most pleased to hear. They are introduced to the caravan task master, Yasuki Kome. Ryoma begins to poke around and Kome quickly attempts to divert his attentions.
The party gathers the next morning and the shugenja bless the caravan while Yoshihiro talks to the 7 other guards, two Crane and five ronin. He learns that a name from his past, Matsu Yumi, command troops just north of the border. This is bad news indeed considering her desire to seem him dead last time they met. Takkeji too seems to know the samurai-ko, though does not seem as nervous as Yoshihiro. They meet Kome who takes their traveling papers and adds returns them with an additional page and permissions with the Miya seal. Ryoma studies the seal a long time before folding them and putting his papers away with a raised eyebrow. Kome announces how please he is to see that the party is traveling to Kaia Osho Mura, where he currently lives and runs the sake works.
The party sets out. They cross into the Matsu lands and upon seeing their papers, a Lion runner leaves the camp, presumably to notify Matsu Yumi of Yoshihiro’s presence. The party is given an “escort” along the road towards Kyuden Matsu — made up mainly of Lion troops who seem excited to see what their leader does to the Akodo traveling with the party. After three days on the road they are diverted off the road and through a forested area, when they emerge and rejoin the road, the valley stretches out before them and the walled fortress of Kyuden Matsu sprawls across the horizon, Lion banners billowing in the wind as legions of troops perform “military maneuvers” along the road.