Sanjuro Yurika quickly decoded the courtly language used in the Mongoose-Crane treaty Sanjuro Yuzuki had negotiated, and came up with a startling truth: Yuzuki had provided the Mongoose with plenty of rice and grain, but at the cost of becoming a Crane vassal family.
Bayushi Mamoru, Sanjuro Daichiko, and Sanjuro Tatsuya balked at the revelation, but the treaty was signed. With Sanjuro Hinata still at the Imperial Capital, no one could figure out a way to countermand the treaty without sparking a war between Mongoose and Crane. Even Kasuga Kiyomi felt stumped by the well-worded treaty, though she kept poring over the document for a way to save this newest Minor Clan.
Guests were shown to their rooms, and Daichiko took Shiba Sagura out into the gardens for a refreshing walk. The talked of little things and grand plans, away from almost every prying eye. Meanwhile, Tatsuya and Yuzuki went to the old ronin Kakashi for training. Tatsuya spotted that the ronin used some form of makeup to make him appear older, while Yuzuki was simply grateful to have some instruction on her foreign weapon.
Eventually, everyone went to bed. Everyone slept peacefully, save for Sagura and Toritaka Hitomi: these two were tormented by horrifying nightmares, unable to awaken or truly get restful sleep. This continued for several days, while everyone else tried to think of a way around the treaty’s conditions.
One possibility, that the Crane would renege on their end of the bargain, vanished when a large, heavily-guarded caravan piled high with foodstuffs crested the hill. Kakita Kiyo was extremely proud of herself for negotiating the treaty, and her father Kakita Katashi was pleased to bring one of his daughters back to the family, while also strengthening his clan and extending their reach.
Festivities began between the jubilant Mongoose, who up until this time had been starving almost to death, and the smug Crane caravan guards. Doji, Daidoji, and Kakita were everywhere, wooing all the womenfolk and guarding the treaty from Mamoru’s attempts to ‘see’ it.
The festivities culminated in the reading of several Haiku, which Sagura and Kiyomi excelled at, and finally an iaijutsu display. The many Crane desired a duel between Kiyo and Tatsuya… but he quickly invited Hitomi into the ring, trying to avoid his aunt’s swift and furious blade. The Mongoose and the Falcon dueled, invoking a more formal and slow-moving style of fighting that was pleasing to the eye – for everyone but the Kakita duelists present.
When Hitomi stepped from the ring, however, a great wind came up and circled the dueling circle. Trapped within, Tatsuya looked on in shocked confusion as the Soul of Honor, Kitsune Toshiro, stepped from the gusting cyclone into the circle, taking up a dueling stance. Tatsuya prepared to duel, but knew he was utterly outmatched by the experienced Spirit. The two spoke: Tatsuya asking Toshiro’s forgiveness for his crime, and Toshiro taking the measure of his brother’s son. The Spirit of Honor declared that he would take Tatsuya’s measure through a single perfect strike, and they dueled.
During the duel, his katana awakened, immersed in the young samurai’s sense of Duty and Honor. Seeing this, and finding Tatsuya’s measure admirable, the Spirit of Honor named his price for forgiving Tatsuya.
Meanwhile, Mamoru had managed to sneak past the Daidoji ‘Scouts’ guarding the troublesome treaty, and swapped it with a pre-created forgery, complete with an easy escape from the Mongoose’s end of the bargain. When Sanjuro Hinata returned the next day, she found Mamoru’s clause with ease, and Yuzuki was lauded as a great courtier, and a master of subtlety.
All was not happy, however, as Hinata had not returned home alone. Accompanying her was Miya Houki, Voice of the Emperor, and he was there to have a quiet marriage with Sanjuro Daichiko…
That night was filled with hijinks and potential dishonor, love and loss, comedy and tragedy. Sagura got what he wanted, without getting anything he wanted. Yuzuki found a new friend, but became beholden to another. Kiyomi learned of many things, and finally got into some mischief of her own. Hitomi at last found rest, the buruburu banished by Isawa Keitaro, but was unable to prevent her charge’s urge to make trouble. Tatsuya found the path to forgiveness, but only from his victim’s father: he realized that the child’s mother would be an entirely different story.
The wedding the following morning was subdued, but ritually perfect. Afterward, the party boarded Kasuga Tomo’s ship, preparing to leave for Fox Lands, and the possibilities that lay there…