With the duel and congratulations done Kakita tried to decide what song she would have to play for Kouki. After a quick chat with Shosuro she decided that she would play her song for Kouki after dinner. Kakita walked over to Kouki, among a group of his Red Ocean brethren, and informed him that she would play the song tonight after dinner. He bowed graciously and said it would be his pleasure to receive her. She bowed in return and went back to her companions
When Kakita came back she asked Hida if he would like to practice some Mizu-do but after some conversation they decided there was not enough time before dinner and it would be bad to be sweaty right before dinner. With that decided Kakita went to her room to prepare a song and tune and clean her biwa. Since Akodo was on his way to the bathhouse anyway he invited Hida to accompany him. Hida, who recently had been making an effort to be more presentable, agreed and they left for the bathhouse Akodo had been heading to before seeing the crowd around the duel. Shinjo, once he had finished congratulating Kakita on her win, had went exploring the town. Shosuro decided to check on Kakita and see if she could offer any assistance.
When Shosuro arrived in Kakita’s room she found her sitting trying to decide on the proper song. They converse a bit about Kouki and realize they don’t know much about him besides being a braggart and Kakita found his lack of high social knowledge demeaning. Shousro offers to find more information about him which Kakita reluctantly agrees to. With that Shosuro went downstairs to find a large group of the Red Ocean drinking sake from the Friendly Traveler Village, the expensive Daiginzyoo-syu sake that was only brewed there. She sauntered up to the group and asked if she could join them. They, of course, happily agreed. After a few drinks Shosuro asked them for more information about Kouki. They told the pretty Shosuro that he was an amazing leader and had led them to glory and riches. The Red Ocean had only been around a few years but Kouki had led them well with only losing two members to death. After telling Shosuro of their many exploits Shosuro tried to get information about Kouki’s parenting and the Clan of his family but none of the ronin knew that information.
Meanwhile in the bathhouse Akodo and Hida were soaking after cleaning up. It was obvious to Akodo that something was bothering him. When Akodo asked Hida what was up Hida just said that something about the ronin, Kouki, was bothering him. After some further questioning Hida wasn’t answered that he wasn’t quite sure what it was about him, his arrogant attitude, or something else but he simply did not like nor trust him. They spent another twenty minutes soaking and relaxing before heading back to the inn for dinner. On their way back to the inn they saw Kakita who was running to take a quick bath before dinner. Shosuro was still talking and drinking with the Red Ocean, when Akodo and Hida came in.
Twenty minutes later Kakita and Shinjo arrived back in the inn and dinner was served. Shosuro excused herself from her new found friends to sit and eat dinner with her companions. As they were eating Shiba came down and informed them that they had found a boat to take them across the bay cutting two days from their travel. Akodo asked how Isawa felt about this and Shiba simply replied that it was worth the two days saved. He cautioned them to pack their things tightly as it was a small boat and their would be little room to spare. Shosuro also cautioned Kakita to savor the meal as it would be one of the last good meals they would have before entering the Crab lands. Kakita wasn’t sure what Shosuro meant by that and Shosuro explained that the food in the Crab lands tended to not be the most savory.
Once the meal was finished Kakita went to her room to prepare while Hida went to his own room to practice some Crab katas and then oil and sharpen his daisho before heading for bed. Shosuro went back to her new found friends, much to their delight, and Shinjo remained at the table working on some fireworks. Akodo didn’t want to sit around the table with Shinjo playing with his explosives and didn’t want to join Shosuro with her new found drinking buddies. After some deliberation Akodo decided to go check on the Tortoise bringing some sake with him from the inn. He spent the rest of the night telling them bad jokes and tried to get Po, Kakita’s puppy, to have a drink but Po was too picky and too well trained to take any.
Meanwhile Kakita was meditating and finishing preparing for the performance. Once she was ready she headed downstairs to find Kouki who was surrounded by his men. Kakita informed Kouki that she would be ready to perform for him in her room as there were no other suitable private venues to be had. He bowed graciously and said he would be there. Kouki waited until Kakita had disappeared from view and gave time for her to reach her room. Once he was satisfied she was back in her room he, and several of his men, dashed upstairs to get him ready. Of course all this was witnessed by Shosuro who laughed at the site. When questioned by the rest of the Red Ocean she informed them that Kakita Hikaru was somewhat of a prude. No one of the Red Ocean seemed daunted by this as they had faith in their commander. A few minutes later Kouki knocked politely on Kakita’s room. Kakita asked him to come in where she was waiting with cushions across from each other and sitting on one with her biwa on her lap. She indicated for him to take a seat on the cushion. She explained that she would play a song about a man she had admired greatly thru her life, the original Kakita. Kouki bowed in acknowledgment as Kakita played her song. Kakita was able to perform her song beautifully. Once the song was finished they talked about several things, with Kouki feigning polite interest and trying to engage Kakita in more intimate conversation, until it finally was getting late and Kakita bid Kouki a good night.
Kouki arrived downstairs to the semi-polite stares of anticipation from his companions with Shosuro still drinking with them. He looked at them all and commented convincingly leeriously “ She had a wonderful singing voice” . Shosuro was surprised as she knew that Kakita had not demonstrated any such interest in Kouki and was a definite prude. Akodo came back inside not long after that and seeing Shosuro a little intoxicated and surrounded by ronin walked up to her and politely reminded her that they had an early departure. The ronin tried to convince him and Shosuro to stay and drink with them but were Akodo’s honor kept him from bending to their peer pressure. He and Shosuro bid the Red Ocean goodnight and made their way back upstairs to their rooms.
The next morning the group awoke early and headed to the dock. As they ate their breakfast they saw several Red Ocean ronin still up operating on the theory that not sleeping would keep them from reaping the consequences of the previous night. They bowed before Isawa and the rest of them and greeted them respectively and pleasantly. The group gathered their belongings, making sure they were well packed, and made their way down to the docks where they found what amounted to a medium sized fishing boat that was going to take them across the bay. The three heimin sailors were honored to have the privilege to take the samurai across and spent a large amount of time bowing before the samurai. The fishermen informed them that it would take most of the day to get across the bay and apologized for the limited space. Kakita decided to practice some calligraphy while Shosuro spent the time reading a pillow book. Hida continued to practice the kata he had been practicing for a while Shinjo practiced commands with his falcon. Akodo decided to practice his percussion skills on the side of the boat. The fishermen shared their small amounts of rice cakes with the samurai at lunchtime while the boat continued on its voyage. Several hours after dark they finally arrived at the docks below Shinden Asahina. They were met by a shugenja and a monk who escorted them to a building for them to rest for the night. After a day of being cramped on a small, rocking boat they quickly fell asleep.
The following morning they were woken early in the morning, right before sunrise, for breakfast. Shinden Asahina was a sizeable cluster of temples in the Fields of the Morning Sun. They were esorted to a communal dining room with over sixty monks and shugenja sat at a series of long tables. As they entered they noticed no one was talking and moved with quiet reserved motions. They all ate in silence, except Shiba and Isawa who were not there, and when they finished they followed the example and placed their plates gently on a far table where they were taken away by servants to be cleaned. Once breakfast was over they all decided to explore on their own for a bit. Hida found a small area to practice his kata then went off to explore some of the legendary Asahina libraries. Shosuro went to look at the Tsangusuri, or fetishes, that the Asahina family was renowned for creating. She looked over at several but realized. Although she would like to have a skeleton key, they were outside her current available funds. Kakita has explored the massive grounds and eventually made her way down in the nemuranai vault of the Asahina. It was guarded by lines of monks and had on display various famous nemuranai of the Crane Clan, including Kakita’s Biwa. Akodo on the other hand had made his way to the library and looked over the magnificent copies of the Tao that the Asahina kept there. Everyone wondered what they would do with their rest of their day…..