Game Time: 24 Feb – 27 Feb 1175
Location: The coast along the river road to Kosaten Shiro (a few days journey from the castle) shortly before last day(s) of winter court, after the defeat of the bandit attack on Doji Sakimi’s transport.
As the adrenaline fades from the battle, Doji Sakimi, Shiba Masaru and Kakita Byakuya begin to feel the effects of their exposure to the icy waters of the river, though Masaru and Byakuya brave through the cold. Additionally, it appears that Doji Kinrio appears to have severely sprained his ankle during the battle.
Shortly after the battle concludes, a large, well-appointed barge approaches from the direction of Kosaten Shiro. The barge is owned by Shosuo Soh, an obese, but gregarious Scorpion clan member, who walks with a cane, and wears a full-face steel mask. Soh offers the party transportation back to the castle. He already has a pair of Crane siblings aboard (Masataro and Shoutaro) and welcomes the remainder of the Crane samurai aboard, explaining that he had set out from Kosaten Shiro to assist in the search for the missing party. Masataro and Shoutaro had set out from Mura Sabishi Toshi shortly after Sakimi’s party, but took different paths until they were found by Soh’s barge and also offered transport.
Once aboard, Sakimi and Byakuya quickly retire to separate rooms to change into dry clothes and warm up, while Masaru stoically stands watch outside Sakimi’s room, though he begins to clearly show the effects of the cold and wet. Meanwhile Toshiro takes advantage of Soh’s private study to write a status report letter to his superiors back in Mura Sabishi Toshi, and Soh’s manservant (a well dressed, middle-aged peasant) and a quiet, young scorpion woman (Plain/bland in appearance, wearing a vertical half-face ceramic mask) show the party to a common bunk room and provide a warm meal.
As the barge turns back towards Kosaten Shiro, Byakuya and Utamuro note that the boat appears to be propelled primarily by magic, as its peasant poling crew and lack of sails would not be sufficient to maneuver it so swiftly, especially upstream. The trip is estimated to last slightly over two days, and the group busies themselves warming up, getting to know each other, etc…
When asked about the ship’s captain, Soh admits that he owns the barge and lives there, but mentions that his man Endo is in charge when afloat. For his part, he seems curious what the group is doing travelling so late in the season, and inquires if it has anything to do with the bridge supposedly being built across the river further to the West. He mentions something about the Otomo Sisters being involved, but no one seems to have/reveal much more information than that. Everyone in the party is a bit confused at this concept, as no one has seen a bridge wider than a dozen yards or so, and such a bridge would have to be hundreds of yards wide.
As Toshiro, Utamuro, Akiyama and Byakuya get to know the twins, they note a token of Imperial favor worn by Masataro, who explains how he helped save one of the Empress’ nieces from a terrible faux pas at a party, for which he was rewarded, and for which his brother was granted a Kakita blade (an incredibly finely-crafted katana). Akiyama, meanwhile taught the party the finer points of Fortunes and Winds (a dice/gambling game favored by the Mantis clan). At some point in the voyage Soh seems to cool appreciably towards Akiyama, but continues to host the party all the way to Kosaten Shiro.
During the first night, Byakuya, Masaru and Akiyama all sleep outside. Masaru is clearly attempting to guard Sakimi’s room, but quickly succumbs to his cold/wet fatigue, and there is some doubt whether he will survive the night. Byakuya manages to outlast Masaru, but also feels worse for the wear (though recovering) the next morning. Akiyama, meanwhile uses his camping acumen to bundle up against the cold.
Much to Byakuya’s chagrin, Masaru survives the night, although when he begins his morning ritual of practicing his Iaijutsu draw 100 times Masaru awakens and clearly has great difficulty limbering up for his own exercise routine. Despite this, Masaru makes a point of criticizing Byakuya’s techniques.
After the barge docks near Kosaten Shiro (a moderate sized castle on a hill overlooking the river and the river road) they make their way up an intricate set of switch backs and check points to the castle itself. At the castle walls, Masaru is forbidden entrance, and Soh is escorted to guest quarters, while the rest of the group is escorted directly to the Daimyo’s court room. Along the way, some of the party notice that the elaborate murals of life-sized samurai all along the castles internal hallways are occasionally interspersed with actual guard niches hiding in plain sight.
Doji Kinrio – Sensei
Endo – Ship’s Master
All Players receive 3 XP
Akiyama – 3.8 —> 3.9 for standing guard at night
Byakuya – 6.7 —> 6.8 for showing restraint in the face of a hated enemy, and standing guard at night
Toshiro 6.8 —> 6.9 for chivalrously offering his spare kimono to those who had swam
Shoutaro – 6.5 —> 6.7 for courteously refusing to allow his Kakita Blade to be handled by a former Phoenix Ronin