After the Iaijitsu tournement finished, there was an air of urgency about Tsuma. There was a rush to finish the Gempekku ceremony, and chase the ronin which had attacked Bayushi Naseru, Moto Xen, and Toku Noburu during the competition.
Bayushi Kitsuneko presented Bayushi Ame with her grandfather’s sword, which had a Yogo mon worked into the steel just above the hilt. She was confused, and concerned it was an insult from her father.
Akodo Hisaki heard Kitsu Sako sobbing on the other side of a Shoji screen. He entered the room properly and found her writting a letter to request Seppku. He convinced her not to present it, and she let him keep it.
At the ceremony, Hantei Yamihitooji swore to Hantei XL and Kakita Chibi Tore swore to him. The other Gempekku graduates then swore to their clan representative, and the ceremony completed.
Ikomo Narako, the Emerald Champion, pulled Kakita Kurotore aside, and let him know that even as a Topaz Champion, she did not feel it was proper for him to accept the position of Emerald Magistrate if he was not planning to work hard for the Magistrates, or learn their ways. He agreed with her, and accepted the task of tracking down the ronin.
Bayushi Sakku (previously Naseru) began to invite people to his Gempekku party, including Kurotore, Kakita Chibitore, and Togashi Irisu. Bayushi Miyuki (previously Ame) did the same, but also invited Shinjo Tosenko (previously Ai), who did not seem interested until she learned that Miyuki was at odds with her father.
Akodo Hoshi had Akodo Hisaki summoned to him, and introduced him to Hida Risoko, who had been one of the princes teachers and Yojimbos. Risoko had been tasked with putting together a unit of young samurai called the Prince’s Glory, which would serve Hantei Yamahitooji. Hoshi recommended Hisaki as Nitai, so that the young group would have some leadership. Risoko agreed. Hisaki’s first task was to gather the seeds of the unit from the various contestants and assist Kurotore in hunting down the Ronin. Hisaki tried to insist the Kitsu Sako should be included, and Akodo Siori had to pull him asside, promising to send Sako to him as soon as she completed Gempekku, but inisting he drop the issue now.
The next morning, the young samurai set out, with Shinjo Tozenko and Toku Noburu on large Unicorn Steeds, and the rest walking. The returned to the place of the attack, and had an easy time tracking the injured men. Several miles down te road, a tiger trap snapped up around Toku Noburu, who was able to escape with his quick reflexes. The group began to move slower to avoid further traps. A few miles further, they noticed a pit on the road, and as the examined it, a huming bulb arrow went of in the woods. The samurai tried to chase the ronin who shot it, but the trees were too thick, and they couldn’t catch him.
But Irisu ran on the trees, not through them. He caught up to the ronin and defeated the man in single combat. He brought them back, and he admitted their were no additional traps. He also said that Azu hired the rest of the ronin in Nanashi Mura, and they don’t know who the head ronin was working for. Hisaki had Diadoji Tsusama take the ronin back to Tsuma. The continued on to the woodsmen’s hut where the ronin should be hiding, but with the warning of the humming bulb, no one expected to find them there.
The hut was on a step hill, and they had to leave the horses behind as the descended the slope into the trees behind it. A short distance in, Toku Noburu noticed rising smoke. The ronin had started a fire to slow them. Tamori Hana extinguished it effortlessly, and they caught up with the ronin on the edge of the forest, as they hurried across fields of rice patties.
Akodo Hisaki demanded they stop, and the ronin Azu challanged him to a duel to allow the three ronin to go free. Mirumoto Lu accepted on the Nitai’s behalf, but the blind swordsman was unable to match the ronin. Hisaki allowed the ronin to depart, and Kakita Kurotore demanded Azu come with them. He insulted the Crane, told him he was a fool, and insisted on another duel. Kurotore obliged, and the ronin lost.
As they returned, he told them that he had been the Topaz Champion in 1187, as he had been born to the Diadoj family. In service of Doji Goro he had been commanded to enter into an illegal duel with a Pheonix ex-lover of the Crane Clan Champion, and the Goro’s promise of protection meant Azu had been made ronin instead of executed for his crime. His attack was an act of vengance against the clan which had abandoned him.
Just outside the village, Goro met them as they escorted Azu. He had his yojimbo excute the ronin on the spot. Kakita Kurotore was concerned about how to present his report to the Emerald Champion, and so he asked Bayushi Sakku to help him compose it, to ensure the right parts were left out. Ikomo Narako was pleased with his report.
The next day, Akodo Hoshi began to call out Doji Goro, saying the Crane shouldn’t keep the village of Tsuma safe while the Empress visited, they shouldn’t keep it. Kakita Ami challanged him to a duel for the insult, but Hoshi said he would only consent if it was to the death, and Ami was championing Goro, who would share the fate of his champion. Goro looked over at Doji Machi, the Imperial Chancellor, who insisted it would not do to have the Prince’s Gempekku with the death of a Clan Champion. Akodo Hoshi announced he would return at the head of a Matsu army, looking for Goro’s blood.
To avoid the situtation, the Prince’s Glory and the Topaz Champion were asked to escort the Scorpion Clan Champion to his home. After fufilling their social obligations in Scorpion lands, they were to report to the Ruby Dojo in Toshi No Ranbo.