Outside of Shinomen Mori
Private Notes of Isawa Shoken, Imperial Cartographer, Hatamoto to Hantei Naresu-sama
The new task we were asked to do included going into Shinomen Mori to investigate the movements of the blood cult in and through there. Utaku Naomi-san was not happy about our Lion escorts. It seemed to be a personal problem with a specific Lion. I understand personal. If it doesn’t impede the mission, I’ll leave it be. Well, given Toturi Tsudao-sama is riding with us, it’s really her call. I’m not really in charge.
I’m also really excited to go into the woods. It’s a place of many unknowns and fascinating geography. I wonder, if I had been born in a different time, would I have been able to live out here, exploring peacefully? There is no way to know and no point in dwelling. At least some of my training is relevant here.
Bandits made the mistake of considering attacking us. We caught two and questioned them. Banditry did not matter nearly as much as the blood cult. Their shugenja was the only one who had seen something interesting however, so we needed to talk to her. It was also interesting (and terrifying) to note that the bandit leader we caught, a ronin named Soma who carried a Kaiu blade, had the mark of the Lying Darkness. He got that from a Dragon on the edge of the Shadowlands a year ago. The dead Dragon of Air, the one who died to bring an Elemental Master to the fight at the Oblivion Gate. I don’t know enough to be properly scared that the Dragon is a servant of the Lying Darkness now.
Anyway, we went back to their camp to speak to their shugenja. We took the leader with us. I left Moshi-san to talk and snuck into their camp. They were collecting armor for the ronin village. There was also signs that the leader and the shugenja were both female and living together. I challenged them on both facts to see their reactions.
The Ronin Army is rising. They want to back the Bastard, like Toturi’s army before in times of great adversity. They promised that they would come for any of the heirs if the need was great enough. I’ll take it for the moment. I also told the leader that if they went to Kyuden Akoma, did legitimate work, I would make sure there was crystal waiting there. Crystal would help hold off the slide into a Lying Darkness shifter that seemed to be happening. It wouldn’t be long before the leader had no emotions of its own left otherwise.
We enter the forest trailing the Iuchi’s trail in the morning.