While Kakita got ready to meet with Yasuki Oguri, Shinjo asked who wanted to join him in trading in gifts using the trophies they had taken from the snakemen. Akodo wanted to sell some of his trophies and Shosuro and Hida decided to join them to see the infamous “_Golden Carp Marketplace_”. After asking around they found a merchant specializing in exotic weapons. The owner came out an introduced himself as Yasuki Takato. Shinjo begun the negotiation by demonstrating the 6 weapons (2 bow, 2 swords, 2 knives) that he was carrying and willing to part with. After some negotiating over the value of such a fine gift they finally reched a consensus of 40 koku. While Shinjo and Yasuki Takato had be negotiating the rest of the group were reviewing the different wares that Takato had to offer and were intrigued a bit by the bartering as none of their families had any skill at appraising the value of objects and negotiating the proper price for them. Once Shinjo and Takato had finished their trade it was Akodo’s turn. Akodo had almost twice the amount of Snakemen weapons then Shinjo had that he was willing to part with. This was more weapons then Shinjo had been willing to trade. Akodo had Shinjo assist him in bartering with the Yasuki. After some bartering they finally agreed on 90 koku and that Akodo would give Yasuki Takato first shot at any more exotic weapons and would inform anyone who asks where they could get a familiar weapons would be referred to him. With the conditions of the “_gift_” agreed to Takato went in the back and brought out a wooden box, emblazoned with the Yasuki mon, with a silk padded interior filled with Akodo’s return gift. He also mentioned to Akodo that he should inform Kakita that he, Yasuki Takato, approved of what she was doing and should tell Yasuki Oguri that he said so
Akodo thanked Takato for his gift and interesting although perplexing information and asked where he might be able to find a nice “_saba_” for some of his weapons. Takato said that his cousin across the way specialized in exotic and decorative sabas and would be more then happy to help him. Akodo then enquired to about anyone who could help him preserve the head he had cut as a trophy and then ship it and some other gifts for his family back in the Lion clan lands. Takato knew of a decent taxidermist who specialized in exotic heads as he usually helped their Hida cousins preserve some of their more impressive oni kills and a trader who was going Beiden’s Pass soon. Akodo thanked Takato for his service and his assistance and made his way over to the trader and arranged for the transportation of some gifts and the soon to be taxidermy head. Once finished with the courier trader they are made their over to the taxidermist to arrange his services. Once everything was taken care of they made their way over to Takato’s cousin the saba seller. His name was Yasuki Nobuo and had a large collection of sabas for any occasion and any weapon. He had sabas stamped with jade, obsidian, gold, copper, silver and may other precious medals in different inlays. After much consideration Akodo finally decided on a copper plated saba for his wakizashi and agreed to have him make one for his katana. Since the katana saba would not be ready until after Akodo would be leaving they arranged to have it shipped with the rest of the gifts and pick it up at Kenson Gaka.
While the rest of the group went out to do some “_gift trading_” Kakita prepared herself for the meeting. She meditated and cleaned some of the dust of the road. When the rest of the group came back Akodo gave her the message from Yasuki Takato. Finally the representative that had met them at the gate came over to take her to the meeting. He explained he was taking her to met with Yasuki Oguri, the son of the Yasuki Family daimyo Yasuki Taka. After she was escorted to her room and pleasantries were exchanged Kakita had the Tortoise ashigaru bring in the cobra head and explained the attack and battle that ensued. Tasuki Oguri thanked her for the information that had been previously thought of just peasant superstition. They had been hearing of random sightings of these creatures, which the scholars had identified as “_Naga_”. The scholars thought they had disappeared a thousand years and had had a vast empire before the fall of the Kami. He then invited her and her companions to join him for a special feast in honor of her groups victory. Kakita thanked him for his generosity and would convey the message to the rest of her companions. She then excused herself and went to take a bath and prepare better for the feast and tell her companions about the feast.
With their “_gifts_” put away in their rooms everyone decides to take a bath. While bathing Hida asks Akodo if it felt it would be appropriate for him to give Akodo’s father the Snakeman Sword as a gift in thanks for assistance for finding a sensei to teach him the Lion Art of the Sword. Akodo said that it would probably be most appropriate if Hida were to give the sword to his father himself instead of sending it via courier or having Akio giving it to his father. Once that was decided Hida gave Akodo a series of very perplexing questions. Hida asked what Akodo would do if he came across a lion intent on attacking him. Akodo thought on this a second and responded that he would do the best he could do to defend himself honorably. Hida then asked what he would do if he came across a Lion that was sleeping. Akodo was unsure of what he would do. Hida tried to explain that sometimes the element of surprise in battle could be the difference between victory and defeat. Akodo remained confused at what Hida was trying to get to. After a while, and a quite a bit of jumbled metaphors, Hida was finally able to explain that he wanted to develop a martial art technique based around ”assisting” an ally to get closer to their enemy before they expect it. After some talking they realized that they would probably have to create an entire new martial art based on assisting an ally. They spent the rest of the bath debating on the different names for this new theoretical martial art and different techniques such an art could incorporate.
With everyone bathed and ready for the feast they made their way to the dining hall. Yasuki Oguri toasted to their victory in battle and thanked them for eliminating a menace in the Crab lands. They enjoyed several courses of variety of fine cuisine as they talked about the politics of the land and the groups journey over the last several months. Finally Kakita mentioned the message from Yasuki Takato to Yasuki Oguri. Oguri thought about it for a second before smiling and sending a message to go find this “Yasuki Takato”. He explained that it was probably his father, Yasuki Taka, disguises as a common merchant again. He would do this often in order to better manage the business of the Yasuki Family and had increased their revenue by over 20% since he became daimyo. He asked if Takato had tried to do his trading right after sunset. It was rumored that his father was in possession of a pair of the original Merchant Coins, one of them being “dog” and he tried to his trading in that time. Shosuro mentioned she had noticed Takato glancing at the setting sun occasionally as if trying to determine the time. After that Akodo told everyone a pair of stories; the first one was the story of the Carp going over a magic mountain to become a dragon. The carp goes up a waterfall thru the dragon gate to become dragon. Akodo was careful to emphasize the cleverness of the carp and its determination while telling the story. After that he told the story of their battle with the Naga, as Yasuki Oguri had explained what the snakemen were thought to be. He greatly emphasized his strike that cut the Naga in half but did his best to deemphasize his own close encounter with death. Finally the feast was over and the group retired to their rooms.
The next several days passed with little incident except a small increase in the traders they saw on the road and the improvement of the roads as they came close to more narrowly packed villages and cities. They passed into the lands of the scorpion when they came upon the village of Ginasutra, a village that guarded the road west to the shrine of Osana-wo and whose econmy was based on selling gifts for the temples to pilgrims. The group was hesistant to really leave the inn and kept to themselves as this was the first time in the Scorpion lands for any of them. Akodo asked Shosuro if she knew a way for him to hide his newly found wealth as he was afraid of thieves. She was offended and asked if he only asked now that they were in the Scorpion lands and thought all her Clan were thieves. He apologized and said that was not his intention. Thru grace and good fortune they were able to spend the night unmolested and were able to continue traveling towards Kyuden Miya.
Two days later, 3 of Monkey, they arrived in the lands of the Miya family. A couple of miles outside of Kyuden Miya itself Shinjo notices a pair of travelers in the distance and indentifies them as Isawa Masanori and Shiba Yosuhiro. They quickly rode to greet them and were happily reunited. Isawa officially took back control of the caravan and asked if they had any trouble. They told him about the Tassu no oni and their victory of it and its podlings. When they got to the battle of the Naga, Shosuro pointed out the Cobra’s attempts to try to talk with them and her intention of doing so before Kakita slew it. This comment brought a dark look to Kakita’s face as she explained that she only doing her best to protect the caravan and the people she was responsible for. Isawa was just happy that they and the scrolls were unharmed. They made their way to Kyuden Miya to see what the Heralds of the Emperor had in store for them.