Daidoji Ryota was invited to a game with youths from the Phoenix Clan delegation. They were interested in the dashing young Samurai from the Crane Clan who was going to fight a duel with their best duelist. They agreed to test out a game the next day.
Hida Kurogane went looking for a prospective bachelor from Winter Court. Avoiding the Lion, Crane, Scorpion, and Unicorn in light of their current issues, and with little other attendees from both Crab and Dragon clans, Kurogane found a serene Phoenix Yojimbo practicing his Kata alone in the gardens. The Crab invited the Phoenix to a friendly game of Go, where he proposed to set up a dinner with an up and coming, promising samurai, so that the Phoenix Yojimbo will have no further need to exert effort in finding a good match. They agreed to have the dinner in 3 Nights from now.
Kurogane won the first two, but lost the next three in a row. He was up against the Yojimbo of Isawa Uona.
Arriving at the appointed time and place, Ryota came upon a curious sight of contestants blowing into clay gourds, ostensibly to break them.
Unbeknownst to him, this was designed to humiliate him so that they gain advantage in Court.
Unfortunately for them, Ryota managed to break one in stealth so that when he blew into one, it shattered into pieces. The audience was amazed.
Kurogane had a talk with Kasuga Yumiko, who informed him that the Tortoise were so far down the roster of those who sought an audience with the Emperor. He promised to see what he could do about it. He also invited her to a dinner, but with someone not tall, much to Yumiko’s chagrin.
Kitsu Airu approached the Imperials about her plan to establish an Ikoma Bard Theater. She was informed that the best place for it right now, what with the tension, and, in the case of the Crane and the Lion, outright war, was a Minor Clan holding. She decided that she will present her case to the Tortoise, for it is they who hold Slow Tide Harbor.
The day of the duel between Ryota and Shiba Tetsu arrived. It was attended by most of the Court delegates. In a fascinating display of prowess, Tetsu won the duel and convinced Ryota to join his household upon the former’s marriage to Kakita Midori.
Kurogane celebrated, as Crabs were wont to do, in a tavern favored by the Unicorn. Seated there, he unintentionally overheard plans to attack the Lion once the snows thaw.
He also drank mare’s milk and proceeded to get flat out drunk.
Airu approached the Tortoise daimyo with her plan, convincing him that Slow Tide Harbor could be the next cultural center of Rokugan. This will draw more Great Clan visitors to their port, and, along with the gaijin merchants, would most likely improve their status in the Empire.
During this conversation, she gleaned the information that Kitsu Sokori has ties to Slow Tide Harbor, where she must return once a year.
Doji Arami invited the Phoenix over for dinner, offering to shoulder the sake for this event. With the ritual dance of gift-giving done, they were able to negotiate a split of 60-40, in the Crane’s favor.
Doji Mayuri started her preparations for her performance of “The Crane and the Tortoise” before the Court.
Kurogane woke up in the stables, with no memory of how he got there. However, he quickly rallied and proceeded to write down the plans he overheard on a bamboo scroll.
He then talked to Matsu Mitsuko, planning to sell this information.
Doji Hiroka approved the formation of the Ikoma Bard Theater in Slow Tide Harbor, much to Airu’s delight.
Arami found out that the missing Lion heimin are to be sent to Ryoko Owari, a Scorpion holding.
The Otomo will attend Mayuri’s performance.
Ryota stayed in his quarters, resting and recuperating from his injuries obtained in the duel.
Airu convinced Arami that the play will only heighten the tensions between the Lion and the Crane, as the proud Lion will not be amused to be compared to a Minor Clan known for their shady dealings.
Ryota, with the help of Kurogane and Arami, rewrote the whole play to highlight peace among the Lion, Crane and Unicorn.
The group made revisions; Mayuri started practicing.
With the combined efforts of the Hearts and Souls of Slow Tide Harbor, Mayuri performs the play “The Lost History of the Lion, the Crane and the Unicorn” before the Court.
It was noted that a prince also attended the play.
Doji Mayuri’s performance was stunning and incredible, prompting Doji Ushitora to raise her as one of his favored samurai.
The Hearts and Souls attended a tea ceremony arranged by Arami.
Airu and Kurogane found Akodo Toturi in the gardens, training samurai in judo. Joining the training, Airu impressed Toturi when she won her first bout.
Kurogane wagered that if he won, the Lion will send someone to the Wall. Toturi delegated this task to Akodo Toro when Kurogane won his bout.
Arami looked for Mitsuko to inform her that the Lion heimin will be transferred to Ryoko Owari, and to ask her to appeal the return. Mitsuko said that the Lion will not accept heimin from the Scorpion.
During their conversation, Arami noticed the bamboo scroll spread out. From what he could see, it was a plan of attack against Lion holdings. He also gleans Mitsuko’s desire to have physical intimacy with Shinjo Shono.
Ryota asked for forgiveness from Oshiro, for he felt that he did not uphold the Clan during his duel. His lord informed him that Ryota will join Shiba Tetsu’s household as part of Midori’s dowry.
Outside, Midori was waiting for him. She handed over an origami figure of Ryota, enchanted so that it will move only when held by him.
Airu found out that Soshi Eriko does not break oaths.
Arami found out that because Ochiru’s heimin are afraid to tell her, the shop has been losing cloths. The workers were also not utilized to the best of their ability since they all work at the same thing at the same time. Arami provided a new shift schedule.
In the atelier, there was an unremarkable mannequin.
Kurogane visited Eriko’s shop in a lousy Crab kimono. The designs differed from Ochiru’s. Mannequin hands measured him for a new kimono. The cloths at hand in the shop, upon inspection, were resilient and available in different colors. The silk cloths came from the Mantis.
He asked about the details of the cloths, attempting to see if the Yasuki can contend with the price and quality. A scrap of cloth obtained, he left the shop after being advised to return on the morrow.
Ryota was at the workshop, doing guard duties. He also determined that there was some stealing going on. He performed a roll call of the heimin workers, and saw that they are all accounted for, but found it odd that there was a mannequin without arms in the shop.
He called for Airu to check, and she recognized Air kami residing in the unusual mannequin.
The Air kami told her that they know where the stolen cloths are, and flew to Kurogane to take the cloth scrap.
Ryota asserted this is proof, but Kurogane dissuaded him, because this cannot be corroborated.