On the morning of the 18 day of the Serpent a old innkeeper slowly made her rounds and knocked on the doors of the samurai staying in her inn.
Akodo Akio rose up and made his way to the outhouse. After relieving himself he went back to his room, saying good morning to Shinjo on his way and got dressed and checked his weapons. After making sure all his weapons were well oiled and secured he spent some time getting his hair ready to bring pride to the namesake of his clan. Once fully prepared he made his way down for a leisurely breakfast.
Shinjo Luke also decided that the first thing to do in the morning would be to visit the outhouse. He passed Akodo on the way and they greeted one another. After finishing he went back to his room and splashed some water in his face to fully wake up and then checked on his weapons. After making sure all his weapons and arrows were in good order he stringed his bow and went out to check on his horse and raptor. Finally with a little time left he ate breakfast with everyone.
Hida Kengetsu, upon hearing the old woman’s knock, rolled himself off his bedroll and shook himself awake. Afterwards he went thru some stretching exercises to limber up for the day and then sat down and meditated to focus his body and mind. Afterwards he said a quick prayer to Bishamon and then practiced his jiujutsu katas, including some specific kobo and mizu forms. Then he proceeded to begin the process of putting on his armor and with just enough time to spare ate a quick breakfast.
Kakita Hikaru awoke and immediately begun to clean herself. After she was finished cleaning she dressed and begun to brush her hair while singing. After brushing and arranging her hair she put on her makeup. Finally considering herself presentable she stretched, did Mizu-do katas and did some meditation in order to focus and balance herself for the day. Then she says a prayer of thanks to Benten and of guidance to her ancestors. Finally, cleaned, stretched, focused and her ancestors appeased, Kakita puts on her light armor. Before heading down for breakfast she practices and tunes her biwa to strengthen and stretch her fingers. Finally she goes down for a quick breakfast with her companions.
Shosuro Shinriko woke instantly from the knock on the door. Before opening her eyes she listened to her surroundings, checked for any different smells and finally opened her eyes and verified where everything was. She then slowly got up and started her morning preparation. First she did her hair, then her makeup and then dressed in her kimono. Afterwards she did voice exercises by reciting the different monologues made by Shosuro Furuyari, her patron ancestor. Once her voice and body were ready for the day she made her way down to join her companions.
As Akodo was first to start eating he was able to watch the rest of his companions arrive. First Shosuro Shinriko came down the stairs. Afterwards they saw Shinjo leave outside. Before long afterward Kakita came down to join them. Shortly before they had to leave Shinjo came back from outside and Hida came down from downstairs to quickly eat their breakfast. Once everyone was fed they headed out and joined the Tortoise in preparing the wagons and horses. Once they were ready they were joined by Isawa Masanori and Shiba Yasuhiro. On their way out of town Hida jumped down at the Tsi smithy shop to say his farewells and to reinforce that he would be in touch. With a bow and thanks from the old smith Hida jumped back onto his mount and ran off to catch up with the caravan.
In the first day of travel a series of interesting topics of conversation were discussed. In front rode Hida, Akodo and Kasuga Shinobu. Hida and Akodo were interested in Kasuga Shinobu’s kusarigama and its use. Shibonu explained that although it was a somewhat complicated weapon to master its versatility made it very deadly and efficient. When Shinobu did not continue in explanation Akodo asked how Hida liked his new armor that he had received. Hida felt honored that his master had given him such a thing and was very pleased with the armor. Later Hida asks about important decisions in their lives and how they had reached their decision. After some uncomfortable silence, Kasuga Shinobu inquires about the reasons behind his asking. Hida explains that he could not decide between the two forms of combat that his spirit beaconed him towards. On one hand was the long reach style he had been using with his naginata but he found a balance and serenity in hand-to-hand and close range combat. Akodo and Shinobu ponder this for a while. They all agreed that reach weapons were a great style of weaponry as all three of them used different styles of reach weapons. Finally Akodo says to let the fates guide him.
Meanwhile Kakita was talking with Isawa and Shiba. Kakita inquired about Isawa’s dealings with Maho-Tsukai. Isawa Masanori answered in a sad and regretful way that he had too much experience with them do to his kind partial immunities to the taint. Seeing his distress Kakita changed the subject to any of Isawa’s famous adventures. Shiba looked a little weary at this suggestion but said nothing. Isawa talked about his own genpuku at the Topaz Championship against the father of Doji Satsume. He claimed that Satsume distracted him in their last battle with a comment about their mutual love interest. He then said he learned a valuable lesson from the experience: Never trust a Doji with your women. Isawa, with a wicked perverted smile, asked Kakita which of the companions did she enjoy their companionship the most. Kakita thought about the question for a bit and answered coyly that she found them all equally enjoyable. To divert the attention she asked about Isawa and Shiba’s married life. Isawa said he had never found anyone after his genpuku but Shiba was happily married. Shiba explained that he had fallen in love with the daughter of his first charge. Due to his performance while serving in the capacity as the man’s yojimbo he was given permission to marry her. Later Kakita told Isawa about her kimono and the Kakita Blade’s spirit inside. She also said that she had gotten several sensations; once in the shrine of Yasuki with a tingling sensation and a slimy sensation when confronted with the maho. Isawa said that Kitsu would be better suited to answer this question since it was Kitsu’s specialty. Regretfully Isawa was an Ishiken and therefore specialized in the Void. They continued to talk about their different Touch of the Void. He then demonstrated his own Touch of the Void (a huge almost oni like figure), almost causing his horse to stumble, but was able to recover before he collapsed.
In the back Kasuga Yori, Kitsu and Shosuro were bringing up the rear. Kasuga Yori asked about what there group had faced since coming together. Shosuro explained about the Topaz Championship, how they had been commissioned by Isawa to assist him and visited by Megumi. Then they were attacked by pirates, and then in an attempt to find information on the culprits rain into a maho-tsukai. Then meeting the new group of Tortoise at the Sunset Tower. Shosuro told him that the Tortoise ashigaru who had served with them before had served well and bravely. Yori commented that it was due to the fact that they trained their ashigaru well for the service of their daimyo, the Emperor, requested of them in order to better serve the Empire. Shosuro commented on that Yori seemed to be quite comfortable with women and had a quick tongue. Yori mentioned that yes he did have a good deal of female companionship.
Finally they arrived at the way station. Isawa arranged for their longings and then made his way to his room accompanied by Shiba. The tortoise ashigaru stoed away the wagons and sat down to a game of dice for the night. Meanwhile Hida and Kakita practiced some mizu-do together on the front garden while Akodo practiced his Kenjutsu nearby. After a while Hida thanked Kakita for her lessons and went to his room. There he practiced all his jiujutsu including the new mizu-do forms and his better known kobo forms. Afterwards he did some push-ups and then headed to the bathhouse. When he finished he dressed in a simple kimono and cleaned his weapons before dinner. After dinner he spent some time polishing the jade and crystal studs on his armor and checking for any damage. Assured that his armor was clean and undamaged he got onto his bedroll and slept soundly.
After Hida left Kakita continued to practice but now she was practicing Iaijutsu. After a while she too left for her room while she changed into a kimono and practiced her biwa. After a little while practicing she wrote on her journal before heading downstairs for dinner. After dinner she visited the bathouse to clean the sweat and grime from the day off. Aftewards she cleaned and oiled her daisho and checked it for any damage to the balde. After arranging her daisho and kimono she went to sleep bidding goodnight to the possible spirit in her kimono.
Meanwhile Shinjo had decided that the first thing he wanted to do is to take a bath since this way station had a bathhouse next to it. After spending a long time enjoying the steam and hot water he spent an hour training with his raptor. Once finished he checked his bow and did some minor target practice before going inside for dinner. After dinner he checked on his steed one last time before heading up to his room and promptly going to sleep.
On the other hand Shosuro had stuck around the common room to see what information she could gather. Finding the place somewhat empty with only a couple of crane magistrates and other private travelers she noticed Kasuga Yori talking to a pretty waitress. Feeling covetous she made her way over and asked if Kasuga would demonstrate his tonfas to her and how they were used. Resentfully Kasuga agreed and they spend some time in the garden while Kasuga demonstrated the defensive and offensive capabilities of his weapons. After a while they went back to the common room for dinner. After dinner she went to her room and close all the doors and windows and made sure her sleeping mat was not facing north. She then meditated on the information she had learned during the day and prayed to Shosuro for guidance and wisdom. Finally she read from “lies and little truths” before finally settling into bed.
In the intervening time Akodo had simply been practicing his kenjutsu focusing equally on hid no-daichi and his katana. Once finished he spent some time with full body strength training and limbering as well so that he could remain flexible in battle. Once finished he also sought out the bathhouse and cleaned himself. Aftewards he was once again forced to spend some time to keep his “mane” in shape. After dinner he spend some time mainting his sword and removing any body oils that may cause corrosion to the blade.
The next day was a stormy, rainy and windy Rokugani day. The group were woken up by the inn keeper and quickly prepared themselves as best they could for the appalling weather that all Rokugani must bear with. Kakita, with a little bit of extra pride, got out her new umbrella and was able to keep at least some of the rain off of her and Isawa. The rest just bore with it to the best of their abilities. Luckyily the road was well maintained in this part of the Empire and there was little mud on the road. Around the hour of the Monkey the storm had passed and noticed that they had finally arrived in Mizen Mura.