They were greeted at the gate by Tonbo Sodan, son of the daimyo and heir to the Dragonfly’s leadership. Tonbo Sodan is a pleasant faced man with an easy-smile and invited them all to enjoy the hospitality of his family’s castle. The young companions thanked him for his gracious invitation and headed for their provided rooms. The first thing on everyone’s mind was to clean up at the bathhouse before taking time for other activities. After their bath Hida and Akodo take the time to tour the rainbow tinted grounds while Kakita tuned and shined her biwa in her room and Shosuro stayed in her room to her own devices. Shinjo went to attend to his horse and tack after the bath and eventually Kakita joined Akodo and Hida in their tour of the grounds although the rainbow glint was a bit lost on her color blind eyes.
Finally it was time for dinner where Tonbo Sodan regaled the traveling samurai with amusing anecdotes about his Dragon cousins and entertains them with a group of sleight of hand magicians. The group was especially astonished when one of them managed to make a no-dachi disappear (although Shosuro knew the trick so only smiled knowingly). Tonbo Sodan also told them about several rumors that were spreading about the group, and when pressed, informed them that they supposedly fought and defeated a Black Dragon while lighting the entire city of Yufuku na Heigen, had fought off an entire army of Mantis and several other wild rumors. It seemed a version of these stories was being spread by Agasha Taiki who was the brother of Dragon bard that Akodo had spoken to in Kenson Gakka, Agasha Todaro. Akodo remembered talking to him in the morning court and was interested to hear that the stories he had shared with Agasha Todaro were being circulated. Kakita also inquired to Tonbo Sodan if he knew of any threats or local legends the caravan should be wary of in their travels to the Shrine of the Ki-Rin. He couldn’t tell her anymore then Tonbo Taiga had told her the night before in Toi Koku but said they hadn’t had any reports of any bandit activity either so that was a nice additional benefit. Finally, the meals came to an end and with full stomachs and lighten moods the group departed for their warm provided beds.
The following morning the young group departed under Kakita’s direction. It was a little over a week to the Shrine of the Ki-Rin thru the desolate mountain valleys that created the border between the Dragon and the Phoenix. A couple hours after leaving Kyuden Tonbo the group spotted a lone monk in the middle of the road ahead of them clearly blocking their path. Kakita called a halt and proceeded ahead with Akodo at her side. The monk asked if the caravan was the Setsuban caravan and if Hida Kengetsu was with them. Kakita answered that indeed it was and beckoned Hida to join them. The monk, obviously an ize zumi by his tattoos, promptly ignored her and introduced himself as Kaelung and that Akodo Ikrare had sent him a letter about Hida and his mission. Kaelung explained that he owed Ikare a favor and he was now returning it. Kaelung would train Hida in Nagai Michinori and help Hida develop his new martial art. They discussed the problem of timing as Hida was still obligated to escort the caravan to the Setsuban Festival and Kaelung had no desire to travel with them. They agreed that Hida would have three weeks to return to Kyuden Tonbo where Kaelung would wait for him. If Hida could not return in three weeks Kaelung said he would consider his debt paid and would move on. With that agreed upon Kaelung bowed to them all and quickly faded away into the surrounding forest.
The days passed without incident with Kakita practicing her Iaijutsu and training Hida, alongside Shosuro, in etiquette and courtly behavior. Hida also spent time juggling and training with Akodo who had finally started to practice and become reacquainted with his own jiujutsu training. The group over the course of the last few months has become quite comfortable while on horseback riding and their knowledge of the geography of Rokugan had improved as well and their ease as they traveled thru the mountains reflected it. As they entered into the more craggy mountain ranges Kakita had Shinjo stay a distance behind the caravan when he was unable to do his circular perimeter. It was in such an area, on the ninth day out of Kyuden Tonbo and the same day they expected to arrive at the Shrine of Ki-Rin, that they were suddenly assaulted by a group of over 50 archers high up above them on the mountain side. The volley of arrows sent everyone scurrying for cover although it became obvious to Akodo and Hida that the arrow volleys were intended to keep them pinned and distracted rather then to inflict harm.
(GM Note: TESOE is in charge of combat writing…he is currently working on this combat)
53 kakita goes to front wagon
47 enemies volley (successfully cower everyone besides Shinjo and hida)
32 shosuro stay put
30 shinjo attempt to flank
25 hida roll towards wagon
23 shugenja cover scrolls
21 akodo cover
10 tortoise cover
56 kakita try to diplomasize with archers
35 hida takes cover
34 shinjo cover fire
27 shosuro cover
23 tortoise awaiting orders
22 akodo hold ground
18 enemies continued cover fire and 10 plus the two non archers converge on shinjo who is able to keep 7 of them under his own coverfire)
*all tortoise in front wagon, 6 ashigaru and Kasuga Shinobu, and akodo fall victim to slumber spell
- Tonbu Sodan falls dead from back of wagon on to ground. Only Shosuro can see inside the wagon and sees that Tonbu’s fire spell “misfires” and starts catching random items in the wagon on fire.
93 kakita ready to kill shit jumps into back of wagon and grabs box (can not see Tonbu’s killer)
57 hida move around to back of wagon
30 enemies cover fire and advance on shinjo
29 shinjo try to cover
26 shosuro draws knife and jumps into back but with nothing to attack starts putting out fire
18 tortoise awaiting orders
93 kakita throw box to hida and help Shosuro. gives orders to attack to tortoise
57 hida catch box and foot stomp invisible enemy
30 enemies cover fire and advance on Shinjo. Invisible shugenja uses air spell to lift him and hida into the air and up the cliff side
29 shinjo try to cover
26 shosuro put out fire
18 tortoise screaming up running up the hill
93 kakita yell to hida put out fire
57 hida gets ready to jump onto Shinjo’s horse
30 enemies cover fire and attack hida. . Invisible shugenja uses air spell to lift him and hida into the air and up the cliff side
29 shinjo try to to get to hida (not in time!)
26 shosuro put out fire (combined with kakita is sucesfull)
18 tortoise screaming up hill
93 kakita charge up hill
57 hida tug of war with invisible assailant
30 enemies cover fire and attack hida. . Invisible shugenja uses air spell to lift him and hida into the air and up the cliff side gets behind line of archers
29 shinjo await orders
26 shosuro take cover
18 tortoise screaming cowered
93 kakita continues up hill
57 hida move hold on to box and try to dodge arrows. Awaiting reinforcement
30 enemies cover fire and attack hida (Knock hida unconscious from wounds after taking 9 hits from over 30 attacks in less then 20 sec). flee to horses and start racing thru the trees
29 shinjo attack archers
26 shosuro take cover
18 tortoise charge up hill
With Kakita finally up the hill she yelled down to Shosuro to attend to Hida and jumped onto the back of Shinjo’s horse urging him after the departing riders. Both Shinjo and Kakita fired arrows into the departing thieves slaying several but it was clear that this was no random ambush and the attackers had practiced their escape well. They rode at break neck speed thru the dense trees and rocky terrain with no mind to the perils that a single misstep would bring them. Shinjo had to be wary to keep his horse from stumbling in the unknown terrain but the attackers seemed familiar with every bend and hole. Finally the attackers reached a steep ravine with only a single rope and wood board bridge across. The front elements of the bandits had already cleared the bridge when Kakita and Shinjo riding after the stragglers still unable to make good progress in catching up due to the unknown difficult terrain. Kakita could see the attackers readying to cut the bridge and urged Shinjo to ride on faster while the pair of them shot arrows into the ones readying katanas to cut the ropes. Alas it was to no avail, as their attackers fearlessly let the arrows hit them but kept their cut the ropes as their last feeling member made it to land but before Shinjo’s faithful steed could get them across. With only blinks of an eye left before the bridge fell from beneath them Shinjo called upon all his collected good kharma to save them and reared his horse back the way they came and with two mighty steps gave a great leap as the bridge fell beneath them and landed safely, although roughly on back on the other side. By the time they collected themselves their attackers were already disappearing into the trees on the other side. Shinjo and Kakita argued a bit on what to do next; Kakita wanted to go around the ravine and continue the pursuit by themselves but Shinjo wanted to collect everyone and report to Isawa first. Shinjo pointed out that, based on their map, with the time it would take them to get to the edge of the ravine they could almost reach the Shrine. Kakita finally relented to Shinjo’s argument but was obviously unhappy do have done so.
Meanwhile back at the ambush site Shosuro had done her best to remove the NINE arrows from Hida and was able to stabilize him as well although not enough to bring back to consciousness. Akodo and the rest of the people who had fallen under the sleep spell finally awoke and were explained the situation. By the time Kakita and Shinjo got back the Tortoise had finished tending to the body of Tonbo Taiga and everyone was ready to move out although Hida was still unconscious. Kakita told them what had happened and the plan to go to Isawa for assistance. It was clear that such a decision was difficult for Kakita and the group quickly got on their way to the Setsuban Festival. When they arrived at the Shrine they wasted no time in locating Isawa whose tent they were able to identify by his personal mon flying above it. The group approached with Tonbo Taiga’s body in tow and prepared themselves to report their failure….