After the events of the Kitsune Winter Court, Tatsuya, Sagura, Hitomi, Kiyomi, and Sanjuro Yuzuki banded together once more to help the Dragon’s hostage save his birth Clan. They were joined by Kiyo, acting as Sagura’s yojimbo, and Ujina Suzuka, acting as their guide and a constant gentle temptation to Tatsuya.
To save the Mongoose Clan from Inari’s wrath, they set a course for Shinomen Mori, there to discover the Naga techniques for holding a soul within a pearl. Using this, they would return the soul of Kitsune Yukiko to her proper body, and earn the forgiveness of Kitsune Toshiro. The other half of the bargain Tatsuya made, that he must prove his True Love before obtaining Kitsune Yamako’s forgiveness, was unknown to any save the man himself, and a certain scheming Tortoise.
The Falcon ‘declared’ their first stop at the Shrine to the End, a temple to the Fortune of Death. Traveling along the great forest’s edge, the party was surprisingly unmolested save for by a hungry bear, which Hitomi chose to tame rather than combat.
Each samurai spent the journey speaking with the others, getting to know each other better and discussing what they knew about their curses.
Arriving at the border between Shinomen Mori and Scorpion lands, just across the river from the Shrine, Hitomi spotted a small force of ronin guarding the Shrine. Deciding to explore the situation before diving in, Kiyomi and Yuzuki discovered that the bandits were intent on plundering the temple and murdering the monks, as well as the Scorpion noble they had captured. Leaping into action, the questing samurai slaughtered the first group of ronin before a second, larger band sprang from hiding.
Tatsuya and Hitomi fought their way to the main building, where the noble was being held captive, while Yuzuki, the blind Sagura, Kiyomi, Kiyo, Ujina, and the bear held off the ronin. Upon entering, however, a trap was sprung specifically for Tatsuya, as two Kolat assassins stepped from the shadows to strike at the Dragon’s hostage and his Falcon companion. When the samurai demonstrated surprising skill, killing one of their assailants, the second attempted to leap out a window, only to be blocked by the canny Phoenix outside. With no other options, the anarchist chose to detonate the gaijin pepper packets wrapped around his chest.
The explosion masked the battle cry of an approaching Scorpion force, lead by Bayushi Mamoru, who made quick work of the ronin and aided the injured travelers. Even the bear.
Once everyone was healed, Hitomi led them to the great statue of Emma-o at the shrine’s center, and it was there that each of them had a vision.
Sagura ‘saw’ the Path of the Leaf come to rest on a large scroll upon which glowing words bespoke mankind’s final Destiny.
Kiyomi saw a large man with red skin guarding a gate, beyond which lurked the horrors of Jigoku.
Yuzuki saw her previous life as a Spirit of Meido, and the excitement that convinced her to become mortal.
Mamoru saw a play, performed by his past life for Hantei Genji, Second Emperor of Rokugan, for which he was first named the Fortune of Actors.
Tatsuya saw his childhood crime from Kitsune Yukiko’s perspective, and from that of her parents.
What Kiyo, Ujina, and the bear saw goes unrecorded, as none of them spoke about it.
Hitomi stood before the judgement seat of Emma-O, Fortune of Death, Judge of the Underworld, Lord of Meido. They spoke of her life, her choice to help the soul of Shiba Sagura, and the Fortune returned her voice. A bargain was struck between the two of them, in which Hitomi agreed to serve the Judge in life and in death. What she gained from this, she has told not a soul.
After the vision passed, Mamoru revealed that the captured noble was his sister, Bayushi Miyako, and offered the party his father’s hospitality…