We identified 3 ambush spots. The first location yielded nothing but that the lode stones had moved by.
North, rolling hills and plains. To the south, in the distance, a green furze of vegetation. Midway between Tranquility and Wisdom about 5 pm (1-2 hours before sunset). Thickets and dells might hide people. Sarnai finds a game trail with only 3 days of deer tracks. What kept them off the trail? Isawa Mattyu summons an earth spirit on the north side of the road and asks it two questions.
How long since lodestones have been by? It cannot answer because it has not been here long.
How long have you been here? Four days. #banishment, AHA!
Story of Bamboo Princess – Woodcutter cuts down bamboo and finds a baby. The couple raise her and she’s beautiful. The parents marry her off to a jealous suitor who locks her in a tower. She and the land start dying. The suitor lets her go and she ascends to heaven and blesses the land. Beauty is meant to be shared. Metaphor for spring. Her main ability was softening hearts hardened by selfishness and greed.
Agasha Hotaka casts a divination by beating wood to a pulp and reading the fortunes in the splinters. He suggests going south. We go a couple hundred yards to the south and Isawa Mattyu calls up an earth spirit.
A figure of bracken and brambles rises from the ground. Four of the stones which love iron have gone south, and four have gone east in the days since. These were the same stones and they were carried with great haste. They circled around the edge of my domain carried by eight feet.
One lodestone is a worth kobune (trade ship) and four lodestones is enough to buy a manor and lands.
Original caravan was three carts, each pulled by two oxen, three drivers and Yoritomo Kasume.
Do we head south to recover Yoritomo Kasume? Or east to recover the lodestones? Sarnai and Shoto find a trail of cart tracks.
We sleep rough, keeping watches. In the morning there are calisthenics and everything is frosted over.
The trail goes to steep bluffs and there is a canyon that would otherwise be hard to spot. Find a ronin camp for “The Rushing Winds”. They have horses and a couple dozen tents. Camp discipline is lax.
Leave to go get the party. Come back and walk up to the camp. The camp scrambles onto immediate war footing. A man and a woman agree to parley with Doji Bakuto, Asako Fumio, and Lady Ayame.. The scarred woman is ostensibly in charge. She calls Doji Bakuto a Crane dog and says she’s unwilling to cross her most recent employer by dealing with Crane. She might think the war is still going on.
Sakake Gunso of the Rushing Winds Company. Her aide is Left-Ear. She says she’s acting commander while the officers are on the road. She offers to send a letter to his family asking for ransom. She says that she doesn’t believe talk of the new emperor or peace. She calls bushido an antiquated tradition when Fumio challenges her to a duel. She says she knows the value of the people that are her guests. She also says that she’s unwilling to work with the enemies of her most recent employer. Lady Ayame knows that the most vicious fighting was between the Mantis and the Crane. She confirms that she took the caravan and that her patron says they were stolen and she is returning them (also indicates that her employer is female).
Lady Ayame invokes the Bamboo Princess and a breeze ruffles her hair. (She has 5 raises on her next roll to convince someone to be generous.) Lady Ayame makes an eloquently sincere speech. Sakake says we can confer with her guest and she will negotiate in the morning.
Lady Ayame and Shiba Hachi walk in to camp and to a man that looks a lot like Yoritomo Nasue. He talks loudly and gestures by hand signals that he was betrayed and he doesn’t know by whom. (He uses a secret hand signal language.) He’s very concerned for his men and says they must come with him too.
Sakake shows Lady Ayame and Shiba Hachi their quarters for the evening. They send a runner to our camp to get Lady Ayame’s biwa (and see two Unicorns, two phoenix, a crane, and a dragon hanging out). Shiba Hatchi is funny, ingratiating, and pours sake. Lady Ayame takes Sakake’s measure. She wants to take care of her men. She is angry that the empire has gone from a path of strength to a path of dissolution and decadence. She has a personal animosity towards the Crane. She is worried that the captain might not come back, and has been seduced by their employer.
Next morning, Lady Ayame talks Sakake into selling them Yoritomo Kasue, his men, his carts, and his oxen. He wants to go to Tranquility.
On the road, Kasue tells his tale. He’s been carrying goods back and forth with no problems. He was carrying lodestones to the Phoenix from the Mantis isles so that the masters of earth could learn more about them. The Rushing Winds seized them. A hooded woman cast a spell. He thinks she might have been a Moshi Windcaller. (Was this the female mantis that the ronin were working for?) She didn’t seem at home in the saddle. Spend a good deal of the ride in conversation with
Sakake (not Sakaki, the captain-db). Immediately took lodestones and left the next morning and rode out (eight feet). Without the captain camp discipline became lax. While lodestones are valuable finding a buyer is hard. The Crane have tried to learn the secrets of compasses. He’s not sure why a member of the Mantis would do this. He says he has no particular enemies. It is a significant loss. Agrees to go to Wisdom because it’s closer to our errand and that way he can offer thanks to the Bamboo Princess.
We roll in after dark to the young man with a lantern and a spear. We get into an inn. Lady Ayame and Nasume settle their business and provides a letter to Kasume saying he was ransomed for 40 koku. There is also a letter to the Rushing Winds for 30 koku (for his oxen, carts, and goods).
Lady Ayame has a dim memory of the name Raddish. Hatchi confirms that poor Raddish was into smuggling. 5,000 koku worth of Jade Tea, enough to keep one person safe for years.
Thank you Ben for stir fry +3 XP
Thank you Paige for sake +3 XP
Thank you DJ for cookies +3 XP
Thank you Ben for music +1 XP
Thank you Paige for a log +1 XP