As Shosuro and Shinjo ran off to get Isawa Masanori the rest of the group cleaned their weapons and inspected the surrounding area for any more hostiles. Upon the return of Shinjo and Shosuro with Isawa they collectively, and silently, pointed to Kurogane when asked where the supposed maho-tsukai was. As Isawa made his way over to the body, Shinjo decided to check out the lamps. When he inspected them he noticed that there padded with silk and had a variety of metal covers that could be lifted or shut in numerous ways including one that created a single beam of light. Also with Shosuro’s assistance noticed that the glass coverings could be removed and replaced with different color coverings for different situations and signals. Shinjo decided to stow two of them and Shosuro took the last one. Meanwhile Isawa had carefully searched the body, taking care not to touch the flesh, and had discovered a pair of black scrolls. He hid them from view with his back and quickly scanned them. When he was finished he held out his hands and created a small portal of nothingness. He carefully inserted the scrolls inside and then closed the portal. He stood back up and looked at the group of young samurai. He informed them if they were ever to encounter a maho-tsukai again without him to find the scrolls, burn them and then to bury a third of the ashes, immerse in running water a third and to let the wind carry a third of the ashes away. Everyone nodded solemnly and with that Isawa sent Shiba back to get the local magistrates. Upon their arrival, followed by Eta close behind, the magistrate in charge scanned the scene. After a few quick questions and confirmation from Isawa, the magistrate ordered everyone back to their inn and sent them with an escort.
The following morning, before the sun was up, the group woke up early and headed for the southern docks. Isawa and Shiba joined them in the common room; Isawa looking upset to be up so early (and probably because he had to get on a boat again) while Shiba looked bright and cheery. Hida made the crucial mistake of smiling happily at Isawa and was forced to carry several bags down to the docks by himself.
Upon their arrival at the docks the Tortoise were finishing loading the last of the horses on and the barge captain was eager to be on his way. Shosuro, Isawa, and Kitsu went below and promptly went back to sleep. Kakita decided she wanted to practice with her new biwa for a bit while Akodo and Hida performed some morning exercises, stretches and katas. Shinjo on the other hand practiced his falconry and continued training his hawk. Around noon Shosuro and Kitsu woke up and joined the rest. At this point Hida and Kakita were practicing some of the more rundimentary moves of Mizu-do while Akodo watched and commented on the different strategies that such a style invokes. Shosuro watched for a bit then, with the help of some of the sailors, set up a target board for throwing knives and proceeded to practice her throwing skills, and was soon joined by some of the sailors who were not on duty at the time. Soon after Isawa came up, now well rested, with Shiba and sat down. He noticed several of them wearing the Silk and Steel kimonos and was pleased they had taken his suggestion. He asked if they wanted the story of twice cursed family that had created the kimono’s they now wore. Agreeing that such a story would be interesting that sat down to listen. Akodo grabbed a tatami mat for Isawa to sit on and he began his story:
About a hundred years ago the great-grandfather of the current head of household was a Yasuki merchant. He was one of the most powerful merchants in the Empire and had a fleet that rivaled the Mantis clan in size. But he fell in love. He fell in love with the daughter of the Tsi family. But the girl was already arranged to be married to a young and powerful Seppun samurai. The Yasuki pleaded and begged and called in favors but the father of the young women would not budge. He said that the marriage had already been arranged and that was that. So the Yasuki thought long and hard. He went to the ancestral site of the wise woman Yasuki and prayed for wisdom and guidance. He went to the young Seppun proposed the following deal: He would give the Seppun everything in his vast mercantile empire in exchange for allowing the young Tsi women chose who of the two she would want to marry. The young seppun though about this and said very well for at worst he got one of the most powerful mercantile fleets around and at best he got the fleet AND the girl. The went to the Tsi family and told them of their arrangement. The father conceded to this agreement although was no pleased by it and told his daughter to chose the now even more powerful Seppun.
But the young woman decided, based on the sacrifice of the Yasuki that he would be the man she would marry. Because of this traitorous decision her father cursed and said that any weapon or amor made by the hands of her and her family would always break. Soon after the two newlyweds moved to Yafuku no Heigen, and using some of the last favors available to the proud Yasuki, set up a fairly lucrious shop. We skip forward almost 30 years in time. The two original members of our story have had one son, but as the curse said, even though he had the Tsi skill with steel no weapon nor armor that they created would last past its first test. But he was skilled and making thin steel wires that could be used in making of fans, doors, walls and many other common uses. Because of this his presence was asked for often at Shiro Sano Kakita by the artisans that live and make their trade there. During one of these trips he fell in love with a beautiful and talented Kakita artisan. The artisan could make silk do anything she wished and was renown for her skill. But, like his mother before, she was to be married to someone else; this time a young Asahina shugenja. Knowing the tale of his mother and father well this new generation of Yasuki also wondered, thought, pondered and finally prayed before the wise woman Yasuki for guidance. But to no avail. But to his luck a friend of his, a Shosuro bugei who used the man’s steel to make props for his plays, gave him some guidance. He said that to beat a Crane you must put their pride on the line. So a few weeks before the weeding he traveled to Kyuden Doji and in front of the entire Doji court and the young Kakita artisan, challenged him to a match. He said that only a man who was willing to sacrifice that that was most precious to him could have the honor of such wife. The young and prideful shugenja accepted this young mans challenge. They would meet the next day overlooking the ocean and each give their sacrifice. The next day the entire Doji court appeared to this competition for the story of the Yasuki’s parents had gone thru the palace like wild fire and everyone was eager to see what he would do. With the ocean in front of them and Kyuden Doji and the Testing stone behind them they each gave spoke their piece. The Asahina said that he would give his life and magic with the sole purpose of making her creations the best and most renowned in all the Empire. The crowd was pleased by this and said that it was a worthy sacrifice for a husband to do for his wife. The Yasuki looked at them all and said “I will give my name for you. All here know what my father gave for my mother and was left with only his name to rebuild with. That is what I give to you. No longer will I or our descendants be Yasuki but will bear the name Kakita instead. I give to you the only thing of pride that my family has left.” The crowd was stunned into silence. The artisan looked to the Asahina and said; I am sorry. And ran across the field and stared at the young Yasuki and simply said “I accept”. But the Asahina would not give up so easily and cursed the pair of them. He looked at them and said: For ignoring my sacrifice you will only be able to create one great thing a generation. For all your talent and skill only once a generation will you be proud of the thing you make."A couple weeks later the couple was married. Our young protagonist took the name of Kakita and together the young couple used their skill to design the silk and steel kimonos that some of us wear today. But they are still cursed, and only once a generation do they create something they are proud of and they still cannot create weapons nor armor.
Pleased by the story the group was also curious what else that fated family would give up in order to be married.
The next day was spent in relaxation, training and cleaning and finally on the morning of the third day they arrived in Nichibotsu Fusheru. They headed for the Sunset Tower, the lighthouse of the Tortoise clan, and there they gave there farewells to the twelve Tortoise guards. The guards and Isawa headed inside and soon after came out with a new set of guards. Although this time instead of a complete group of ashigaru, this group consisted of two samurai along with ten ashigaru. The samurais were Kasuga Yori and Kasuga Shinobu. After greetings were exchanged the group quickly left on their way to Mura Minami Chushin.
Two days later they arrived late in the afternoon to the South Hub village. After finding lodging everyone but Kakita and Hida decided to go get some dumplings. Kakita had decided to stay in the common room of the inn and practice her biwa some more and Hida wanted to listen and keep her company. Upon their return they noticed a smith shop farther down the road from the inn. Shosuro quickly went inside the inn to give Kakita her dumplings and told them where they were off too. Kakita and Hida decided that a quick trip to the smithy could be interesting and accompanied the rest of the group. As they neared the smithy they noticed the mon of the Tsi family flying above. Before the could ever arrive a very young heimin boy ran up to them from the smithy and upon kneeling in front of them said that his master would greatly appreciate their presence. Since everyone was headed that way anyways they were quick to agree.
As they entered the smithy the saw a man working on a katana and an old, blind man sitting in the back corner staring at them. The boy lead them to the old blind man and quickly bowed and went back to work cleaning the shop. As the old man looks them up and down he gestures to Akodo and informs him that he needs to also test his katana for a untested daisho is a untested soul. Akodo replies that once a challenge worthy of his daisho appears he shall do so. The old man shakes his head and grumbles about the pride of the Lion. He is also interested in Shinjo’s blade. He informs Shinjo that the blade is old and proud and needs to be paid more attention to. As he settles his eyes on Kakita he tells here that her sword is happy to be in such a saya and thanks her for treating something he made so well. He also comments on the old steel in her kimono. Everyone is confused by this as they were told that the metal had come from a failed Kakita Blade. The old man informs that they are incorrect and that the steel inside her kimono is old and has a strong spirit. Finally he rests his white sightless eye Hida. The ancient Tsi seems quite interested in the maul that Hida carries and asks if he may look at it. Hida thinks about it for a second and then hands it over. The old Tsi handles the heavy weapon with ease and takes a couple practice swings while muttering under his breath about the weapon. It is quite obvious to everyone that the old blacksmith was quite interested in obtaining the weapon. After some deliberation Hida asks what the old man could offer in return for such an item. The old Tsi, insulted by the words and tones of the young brash Hida, looks back at him in indignation. Hida quickly changes his tone and chooses his words more carefully. The old Tsi decides to forgive him and says that he would be willing to make something in exchange when “the steel in his [Hida] heart finds its path”. But in order to do so he would need to keep in correspondence with the young Hida. After some deliberation Hida decides to give the maul to the old blacksmith and after observing the proper courtesies the old man bowed and accepted his gift. Taking the maul into the back he laid a heavy cloth between him and everyone else and a silk cloth on the ground. Kakita realized what was about to happen and told Hida he might want to look away. Using all of his strength the old blacksmith then brought the heavy weapon smashing down onto a hard stone anvil shattering the maul in the process. He then picked up the silk cloth and gathered all the metal fragments into a pile and came back out with a big grin on his face. He would enjoy melting and re-forging this weapon a couple times over. He had his son check and sharpen all their daishos for them and the proceeded to continue working with the new metal. After the younger blacksmith was done with his work the group headed back to the inn.
At the inn, now full because the rumor of a biwa player entertaining, the group sat down and enjoyed their dinner. After some time Kakita begun practicing her biwa some more for her new audience. After several songs Shosuro joined her. Together they sang several songs including a extremely sad story about the love between a Shosuro and a Shiba shugenja that ended in tragedy and the death of the Shiba by the hands of his Shosuro lover. A group of ronin near by fell into tears at the song as did several heimin among the crowd. One of the ronin stood and offered a pair of gifts to the beautiful samurai-ko. To Shosuro he gave a small bottle of fine perfume “so that even blind men could know her beauty” and to Kakita he gave a blue umbrella so “that the sun would never diminish her fair beauty”. They also convinced Hida to join in a song. Although reluctant to do so, Shosuro was able to convince him to do so. Putting his mind and full spirit into it (channeling his void ancestor in the process) he broke into a reasonable good song about geisha on the Wall. The ronin were pleased and amused by such a song and even the imperial magistrates (since this was imperial territory) seemed pleased by the young Hida’s song. After some while the group finally departed from the common room and made their way to their rooms. They still had a long journey ahead of them.