In the middle night at Mizen Mura the party, individually, awakens to the sound of a lightning storm striking the southern coast of Rokugan. The next morning the group awoke to the knocking of their door from the old innkeeper. Kitsu Kasai, upon waking, put on his robe. Once he was finished he put on his mask and prayed to his ancestors for guidance and in thanks. Once finished with his morning prayers he got dressed in his kimono and put his daisho at his waist and went down to enjoy a leisurely breakfast. As time went by the rest of the party joined him and then they set out for Kyuden Doji. Over the next four days the weather was horrendous. The caravan was forced to go against the high winds blowing rain into their faces. Lightning struck and thunder sounded non-stop on their journey. They passed several buildings that had been destroyed by the winds and the way stations leaned side-to-side during the nights.
Finally, late on the fourth night they arrived to Kyuden Doji., the Doji family Palace. Also called the Esteemed House of the Crane, it was built on the gentle sea shore, and the palace grounds were abound with rock gardens, dozens of shrines and vast flocks of cranes. Only the Imperial Palace was more luxurious. Diplomats and nobility form all of Rokugan came to engage in politics here, but also to marvel at the magnificent surroundings. Because of this Kyuden Doji is a place where samurai can either make a reputation or ruin it. And now this young group of samurai was right in the middle of it. They were quickly escorted out of the rain and given a corridor for themselves. Also Kakita Hikaru and Shosuro Shinriko were giving a pair of old women chaperones.
The next morning the group awoke and were given the option of a scented bath. Although Hida was not fond of the scented oils, he and everyone else accepted. It seemed that the majority of the storm had passed during the night but there was still a steady downfall of rain. Finally everyone dressed in their kimonos and were invited by Kakita Kawachi, a cousin of Kakita Hikaru, to a room overlooking the gardens for breakfast. There they were joined by Shiba Yosuhiro who told them that Isawa Masanori was busy in a meeting with the local barracks commander. Kakita Kawachi is very interested in their travels and is a bit shocked at their adventures in only a few short weeks (Attacked by pirates, killing a maho-tsukai, etc.)
As the group enjoyed their breakfast, Kakita Kawachi proposed an idea he had for them. Kakita Kawachi was a Kakita Artisan specializing in food mayas. He told everyone that over the last couple days, because of the storm, everyone’s mood at Kyuden Doji had darkened and he wanted to make them feel better. So what he proposed was to have a big feast, inviting some of the key members from each clan here at Kyuden Doji, with the pretext of celebrating the retirement of his grandfather Kakita Yoshimoto. His grandfather was a renowned courtier, duelist and Iaijutsu sensei who was known for being a bit quick to anger and resolving disputes with his skill with a katana instead of his skill of wit. As the group reviewed the guest list and menu they discovered that both were quite ambitious. On top of this Kakita Kawachi’s assistants had fallen ill during the storm. With this information, and noticing that Shiba Yosuhiro was less then enthusiastic about this plan, Akodo Akio and Kitsu Kasai did their best to find a plausible excuse to get out of helping the ambitious young Kakita. Unfortunately for them Kakita Kawachi was no stranger to the ways of court and maneuvered them into a position where Kitsu Kasai would be blessing the rooms and meal and warding against evil spirits while Akodo would invite the head diplomat of the Lion clan stationed at Kyuden Doji. Shinjo Luke also tried to slip away but was pinned with a “helpful” servant who would escort him to the Unicorn section of Kyuden Doji to invite guests from the Unicorn clan.
As Akodo, Kitsu and Shinjo left on their respective tasks Shosuro and Kakita Hikaru reviewed the guest list and menu a bit more. The menu included sashimi, chopped seaweed salad, red miso soup, dried pheasant, pickled cucumbers, grilled fish, chestnut rice, and marinated mandarin oranges. Kakita Kawachi’s specialty was his red miso soup and would start on everything immediately. He thanked them for there help once again and made his way to the kitchens to start preparing for the meal. The guest list was the following:
- Doji Teinko (female): Wife of the Crane Clan Champion, Doji Family Daimyo and Emerald Champion Doji Satsume.
- Doji Hayate: Doji Courtier assigned to Kyuden Doji. Known for his handsomeness and popularity with the women.
- Kakita Seiko (female): Personal assistant and guardian of the Lady Doji Teinko
- Asahina Michi: Shugenja of the Asahina. Specialist maker of feather fetishes that make you run faster
- Kakita Yoshimoto Retired Iaijutsu Sensie, Duelist and Courtier.
- Akodo Haru: Senior Courtier from the Lion Clan stationed at Kyuden Doji. Fine Art enthusiast and collector.
- Matsu Tetsu (female): Yojimbo of Akodo Haru.
- Ikoma Hosei: Ikoma Historian stationed at Kyuden Doji.
- Agasha Kouki: Young courtier whose father is a provincial daimyo. He has recently gained the appointments of the head courtier from the Dragon at Kyuden Doji. This is his first solo assignment.
- Agasha Kiyoshi: Older provincial daimyo. His son, Agasha Kouki, recently became the courtier stationed at Kyuden Doji
- Mirumoto Kenta: Chief Yojimbo for Agasha Kiyoshi and his son Agasha Kouki.
- Shiba Manami (female): She is a courtier stationed at Kyuden Doji
- Asako Daiki: Asako Historian stationed at Kyuden Doji. He is a rival of Ikoma Hosei.
- Shiba Akito: Head Phoenix diplomat stationed at Kyuden Doji.
- Shinjo Ringo: Head Unicorn diplomat stationed at Kyuden Doji
- Otaku Kaede (female): Shinjo Ringo’s yojimbo and chief assistant
- Shinjo Hoshi (female): Honorable Stable Master for Kyuden Doji
- Bayushi Habiki: Head scorpion diplomat stationed at Kyuden Doji
- Bayushi Kamiko (female): Duelist and Yojimbo for Bayushi Habiki
- Soshi Name (female): Shugenja specializing in water spells visiting Kyuden Doji.
- Hida Kana: Chief “diplomat” for the Crab stationed at Kyuden Doji. Has a fondness for Sumai and is always looking for new superior possible wrestlers.
- Yasuki Kazuya: Chief advisor for Hida Kana at Kyuden Doji
With this list in hand Shosuro Shinriko, Kakita Hikaru and Hida Kengetsu decide to visit the Lady Doji first and, per Hida’s suggestion, visit the Crab last. Akodo and Kitsu would be inviting the respective Lion Clan members and Shinjo Luke would be inviting the Unicorn.
As Akodo Akio and Kitsu Kasai made their way thru the area in which the dinner was to be held Kitsu blessed the area and purified of it of any evil spirits. Once Akodo was finished assisting Kitsu, they made his way to the Lion dominated area of the palace. As a servant, graciously offered by Kakita Kawachi, had already informed the Lion dignitaries of their arrival they were given easy access to Akodo Haru, and aging portly courtier who was the chief diplomat for the Lion at Kyuden Doji. After some persuasion, Akodo Haru was willing to attend if they could find out what Isawa Masanori was meeting with the barracks commander about. They said they would do their best and were dismissed. Unsure how to proceed Akodo flagged down a servant and asked if he knew where Shiba Yosuhiro was. Akodo, following the directions given to him by the servant, made his way over to the Phoenix area of Kyuden Doji. He found Shiba Yosuhiro, and a woman with the Shiba mon. Akodo, making his presence known in the most unobtrusive manner possible, asked if Shiba knew where Isawa Masanori was. Shiba Yosuhiro said that Isawa was busy meeting with the Daidoji barracks commander about something to do with the Sparrow clan. Shiba then introduced the woman as his wife, Shiba Manami. Akodo apologized for interrupting their reunion and bid them a pleasant afternoon.
Meanwhile Kakita, Shosuro and Hida following behind them went to the gardens to see if they could find the lady Doji. As they neared an entrance to the gardens they noticed that they were mostly empty due to the rain. Asking the chaperones where they might find the lady Doji if not in the gardens they recommended trying her quarters at the top level of the main building. As they made their way up the central building where the quarters of Lady Doji was located they met with their first resistance around the eight story of the central building. There, in front of the stairs going up to the next floor, was a Daidoji soldier. As they approached him he bid them to halt and state their business. Shosuro explained to him the purpose of their visit but the guard, named Daidoji Yuya, was not budging. With some careful conversation manipulation they realized that he would enjoy the opportunity to join the dinner. With this knowledge Shosuro invited him to join them at dinner and he agreed to not only let them pass but to also accompany them up.
The ninth level of the building held offices for many of the lower bureaucrats and other Cranes stationed at Kyuden Doji. As they neared the stairs to take them to the tenth level there was a young Doji courtier, and his Daidoji yojimbo, sitting in front of a desk next to the stairs. This particular courtier seemed tired and bored and Shosuro was able to discern that the only thing he wanted was to go back to his room and sleep. Sensing this, and understanding how the different levels of bureaucracy worked to protect daimyos and other lords from bothering individuals she recommended that Daidoji Yuya could take his spot for the rest of his shift while the courtiers yojimbo could take over the lower level staircase where Yuya was originally posted. This way the yojimbo could do something more interesting then sitting behind a man at a desk and the young Doji could go rest. Everyone agreed that this was a good solution and the three young samurai (and there pair of chaperones) were allowed to enter the tenth level of the building.
The tenth level of the building was reserved for only the highest placed courtiers and visitors at Kyuden Doji and therefore was setup in a very private manner. As Shosuro, Hida and Kakita made there way to the next flight of stairs they were met by five guards in light armor armed with yari and a small older woman servant. The servant asked them their purpose on this level and once again Shosuro explained their mission. The servant informed that the Lady Doji would not be attending this dinner because she had little love for Kakita Yoshimoto and also would be having dinner with Akodo Haru that evening. Shosuro was pleased by this because Akodo Haru was on the invite list and informed the woman that he would be attending and that since this was the retirement party of Kakita Yoshimoto it would be the last time the Lady Doji would have to deal with the man. The older woman found this acceptable and allowed them to pass up the stairs to the eleventh level of the palace which was reserved for the Doji Family Daimyo and his personal family.
The first room upon reaching the eleventh level was guarded by a row of armored guards on each side and an older Kakita samurai-ko at a desk. The attendant, Kakita Seiko, asked their business there and once again the group explained their mission. Kakita Seiko informed them that Doji Teinko would be dining with Akodo Haru that evening and would not be able to attend. Shosruo countered with the fact that Akodo Haru would be at the dinner and they could discuss their business there if necessary. Kakita Seiko said she would have to check that and sent a servant with a letter to Akodo Haru.
Meanwhile Akodo wrote a letter with the information he had learned from Shiba Yosuhiro about the whereabouts and topic of discussion of Isawa Masanori. He made his way back to Akodo Haru’s office to deliver the letter. Upon arrival he saw Matsu Tetsu, Akodo Haru’s yojimbo, talking with a palace servant. She told the servant that she was not sure if Akodo Haru would be attending the retirement dinner for Kakita Yoshimoto but she would check. She asked Akodo Akio if he had the letter that Haru had requested and Akodo answered that indeed he did and handed it over. She then proceeded inside and a few minutes later came back out to inform the servant that yes indeed Akodo Haru, herself and the Lion historian Ikoma Hosei would be at the dinner party that night and would gladly meet with the Doji Teinko there.
Back at the top floor Kakita Seinko was looking the young Topaz Champion, Kakita Hikaru over. She then told Hikaru that she should visit the corridor with the paintings of the original Lady Doji and her family. Kakita Hikaru said she would make a point of visiting it before she left. Not long after the servant returned with a letter. Upon reading it Kakita Seinko left the room and a few minutes later returned and said that the Doji Teinko would be able to attend the retirement dinner for Kakita Yoshimoto.
As all this was happening Shinjo Luke was also trying to persuade the local head diplomat from the Unicorn to join. After a brief discussion the diplomat, Shingo Ringo, agreed to attend the dinner. However he did tell the young samurai archer that he needed to work on his skills of wit and tongue if he was going to survive the courts. Shinjo Luke acknowledged this fact and agreed to work on these skills in the future.
Now that the Crane on the list had been taken care of Hida, Kakita and Shosuro moved on to the other clans that they needed to invite. Luckily for them the Scorpion were easy to convince to join and took littler persuasion. On their way to the Phoenix they were met by Shiba Yosushiro and his wife Shiba Manami. Shiba Manami told them that she had taken care of the invitations and that everyone on the list, including herself, would be attending. Although, at first, Shiba Manami did not seem pleased that her husband was traveling with two such beautiful women she was quickly satisfied when Kakita Hikaru told her of the stories that Shiba had told her of the pair of them and there meeting. Heading to the Dragon next they were stooped by a young courtier, Agasha Kouki, who told them that he and his farther, a provincial daimyo by the name Agasha Kiyoshi, would be more then happy and honored to attend the party of Kakita Yoshimoto. With that said and a quick bow he turned around and promptly slipped and fell on his face. Quickly recovering he explained that he was not used to the amount of rain that there was here on the coast and that he would be greatly pleased to one day show them the pleasures of the Dragon mountains. He would also appreciate if this little stumble did not leave the corridor. The three samurai said they understood and they would be honored to visit his lands in the mountains of the Dragon Clan.
Lastly they had to invite the delegates from the Crab Clan. Upon their arrival at the meeting rooms of the head diplomat, Hida Kana, they were greeted promptly by him and his chief advisor Yasuki Kazuya. Unlike the last three Clans, Hida Kana was not eager to go to this party. There was little love lost between the Crab Clan and Kakita Yoshimoto and a dinner with no entertainment was boring. Shosuro was able to convince Hida with some quick words and the promise of a conversation with Doji Teinko and Akodo Haru, who had been politely ignoring Hida Kana for a while, but was forced to commit herself and Kakita Hikaru to sing and play the biwa. Hida Kana was pleased with Shosuro’s wit and persuaviveness and told her he would have to arrange a marriage for her. He would also have some sumai to come and compete for the enternatinment as long as the promising Hida Kengetsu would participate as well. Kengetsu agreed and would be honored to compete with such high ranking wrestlers.
Finally with all the guests invited and their agreed acceptance to the party they three samurai made their way back to check on Kakita Kawachi. Regretfully he was not having nearly as much luck and had charred the fish! Now the group must help prepare a meal that they have committed their names to in the most refined palace in the Empire.