With the murder investigations finished and the young samurai raised to the status of Emerald Magistrates, the following weeks passed with little disturbance as the Imperial Winter Court proceeded on. The new magistrates were careful to not get involved too deeply into the politics and social manipulations that were practiced at winter court and instead did their best to enjoy themselves, learn new skills and interact with the other attendees.
Hida Kengetsu took the time to write some letters to the Blacksmith Tsi, his father and his master informing them all of his rise in status and the many other occurrences so far at Winter Court. When he was not busy courting the Imperial Princess Otomo Yoroshiku, who was much more interested in him now from his raise of status and Mirumoto Hanzu’s fall from favor from his duel with Hida Kengetsu, he spent time with Akodo Akio in working on their combination style martial art. The two of them spent many hours each week in the dojo trying to find ways to perfect their cooperative martial art along with the assistance of Kocho. They also drew the attention of several Togashi Monks who were also at Shiro Mirumoto. Besides these two activities Kengetsu also found time to attend some poetry shows and instructions on calligraphy and analysis of Otomo Madoko’s Subtlety of Court. Kengetsu also decided that Akio would be the best one to take the copy of Winter Memories that they had won during the Emerald Champion’s contest.
Akodo Akio spent most of the time training with Hida Kengetsu on their new martial art. He also spent time with the Togashi Monks and Kengetsu training his basic jiujutsu as well. But Akio did not spend all his time training and organized a series of late night story telling involving large amounts of sake and less then appropriate stories that became popular with younger crowd at Winter Court. On the more serious side he attended several poetry lessons.
Kakita Hikaru also spent long hours in the dojo practicing Mizu-do and training in Iaijustu. When not in the dojo Hikaru played impromptu biwa performances with Shosuro Shinriko singing alongside her. She also took the time to write home to her father and sister about her elevation to Emerald Magistrates. She also went to a few more discussions about the Naga to share her unique perspective.
Shosuro Shinriko also spent time at the dojo. As the only non-bushi of the new Emerald Magistrates she decided to train her bushi skills to a higher degree. She worked on her knife skills and her skill with chain weapons while also improving her physical abilities with strength and agility exercises. When not singing with Hikaru she organized a series of improv style acting performances. Due to her physical exhaustion she was unable to see many actual performances as they were generally held at night by which time she had little energy and usually stayed in her room.
Shinjo Luke spent most of his time outdoors daring the cold weather alongside other open-air minded individuals. He spent a lot of time working with his raptor and horse, going on long hunting trips with others and playing scout games with his hunting partners.
Although they tried to keep out of the public eye, so to speak, their popularity did make them an interest to many people at winter court. One of them was Doji Masa, the Kakita Artisan painter they had met back at Shiro no Shosuro, asked them to pose for a portrait. Akodo Akio was a bit hesitant as Doji Masa was there when he was poisoned and was sponsoring a very anti-Lion play but eventually they consented. Shosuro Shinriko was not around for the painting so they were forced to do it without her. Doji Masa was exceptionally skilled and created a splendid painting of them and promised to make some smaller copies for them personally as well.
Besides this series of activities the new group of Emerald Magistrates spent a good deal with their Emerald Champion, Doji Satusume. He gave them a list of issues that he felt their unique perspective would be the most useful:
- The Lion-Crane War
- A border dispute between the Unicorn and Scorpion
- Strange disappearances in the Mantis islands.
- Reports of build up by the Shadowlands.
- Persecute Bayushi Sozui. There was new evidence that she was also a key instigator of the Lion-Crane War.
Doji Satsume also informed them that they would need to find some doshin to assist them. He also said they needed to find some servants as it was necessary to keep up the appearance that bereft their status. He said the heimin from the nearby Dragonfly clan were known to make excellent servants.
After this the Teeth of the Mongoose spend several nights discussing what they would do. Hida Kengetsu strongly elected to choose persecuting Bayushi Sozui. Kakita Hikaru had to be back at Shiro Sano Kakita by the next Topaz Championship to return the Topaz Armor to be awarded to the next winner of the competition. Also each issue had a time limit on which it could be resolved they had to choose carefully. After much deliberation they finally decided to assist Tankenka in hunting down Bayushi Sozui as it could possibly help stop the Lion-Crane War and keep a trained assassin that had an obvious grudge against them from continuing harassing them. Hida Kengetsu was especially adamant about the last part as it was he in particular had been targeted multiple times by the Scorpion instigator. This would also give them plenty of time to complete their mission and make it back to Shiro Sano Kakita in time for the following Topaz Championship.
They also spoke about get some servants and doshin. They decided they could possibly recruit some doshin from the Topaz Championship as the candidates would be the age or younger then them so there would be no complications from the doshin being much older then the young magistrates. Also, as they were intimately aware, the Topaz competitors were some fo the finest samurai of their generation. They decided they also needed a shugenja to assist them before that and decided to send a letter to Isawa Masanori to ask him if he knew of any good aspirants for the position. They briefly considered the ronin Koan but they did not fully trust him for that position. For servants they decided on an elder woman who could mend their clothes and see to their domestic needs, a young man who could take care of their horses, carry equipment and deal with other menial labor needed and a younger woman who could assist both of them as necessary. They already had Kocho, who they were training but served as a message carrier, and the eta twins, Tsuyuki and Tesuya, who could serve in the capacity of examining bodies and aggressively interrogate suspects. With this decided they talked to the Dragonfly courtier, Tonbo Jehenko, to help them find hemin who could serve in the declared capacities. She said she would be glad to help and after a few weeks three heimin servants arrived; a mid-twnties male named Kunio, and female named Suzu and an old woman in her fifties named Usagi. They also needed to purchase horses and tents although Shinjo had procured a yurt (large tent favored by the Unicorn) that could house several people and recommended procuring a second one as well. Although traditionally made from leather they could be modified so not offend the sensibilities of the majority of Rokugan. He had also procured a large wagon during his betting on the duel of Hida but horses would be needed to pull it.
A couple weeks later they were once again awoken by yells in the hallways. Upon interrogating a guard they were informed that the palace was in lockdown and if they wanted any more information they would need to speak with either Doji Satsume, Mirumoto Daini or Asako Kagetsu. They decided to speak with the Emerald Champion and made their way to the third floor. After entering his rooms he informed them that the Imperial Princess, Otomo Yoroshiku, had been kidnapped by the ronin Niban….