Through ancient forest
Guided by emerald light;
The group, Emerald Magistrates under the authority of Governor Bayushi Saburo, have been dispatched to stop the extremist monk ‘Blade’ Terrel who has begun enforcing a strict view of the celestial order. Having travelled into the mountains they discovered a small camp populated by a mixture of monks, peseants and a lone ronin. Rather than charge in they approach openly from the path and request discourse with the ronin, who they assume to be in charge. Bayushi (Hida) Hotaka, married to the Governors niece, takes the lead.
Soshin, the ronin, invites them to join them to discuss matters over their midday meal to the visible displeasure of Okari, a monk from the same order as Terrel. Hotaka is clear but polite – he would avoid rather avoid bloodshed by having the camp disperse but other magistrates may not be so lenient. Soshin meanwhile is clear that the members of the camp seem set in their path under the leadership of Terrel. He, however, does not seem to be entirely comfortable with the situation and seeks to avoid bloodshed by suggesting the party should seek out Terrel. The monk is apparently heading towards the Redemption Peaks, the temple complex that dominates the southern portion of the Fallen Mountains. He lets it be known that Terrel believes that there is a great spiritual imbalance in the region and that the monk claims to be guided by a series of visions.
Having finished their meal the magistrates prepare to leave, with the situation no closer to resolution. Shiba Chiaki takes the opportunity to discretely scry on the camp. She discovers a cache of weapons concealed in one tent and more troublingly spots the outline of a body in another. Bayushi Shin’ichi meanwhile, sensing an opportunity, challenges Soshin to a duel even though no slight or insult has been given. Soshin accepts, if he wins the magistrates will head south to the temple. If Shin’ichi wins then the ronin will depart from the group and find a new path. Facing off against one another the Soshi magistrate easily gets a read of his ronin opponent but is unable to use it to gain the initiative and the two samurai strike in sync with each other. Soshin’s attack is direct and draws blood from the arm of his opponent. Shin’ichi, in contrast, is surgical, nicking his opponent just above the eyebrow. It is clear that had his blade fallen even slightly differently he would have administered a killing stroke.
Taking direction from the will of the fates the ronin declares he is leaving, angering Okari into action. He attempts to attack Soshin from behind but is swiftly stopped when the tetsubu of Hotaka breaks his arm with one fell swipe. Declaring the monk a criminal for daring to attack a man following the will of the heavens he places the right to administer justice with Soshin, who promptly decapitates Okari. The remainder of the camp, their moral broken by the loss of their leader, accept the order to disperse.
Tamori Naruto, Shiba Chiaki and Bayushi Shini’ichi, disturbed by the possibility that there is an uncremated body in the camp investigate further. They find an individual Chiaki is deeply familiar with, the love of her life lying dead in the tent. She manages to get out his name, Shosuro Takenshi, before breaking down into a flood of tears. Takenshi is laid out in a formal style, wearing his scorpion armour and with his daisho by his side. A scroll beside him, marked with the Imperial and Dragon mons declares that the body must not be burnt until 4 weeks past the death of the individual carrying it. Soshin confirms that the deceased had joined the camp almost 3 weeks prior and that they had found him like this the next morning. Not willing to disobey an apparent Imperial order most of the camp they have left him be and have avidly avoided the tent, thus not noticing that there are no apparent signs of decomposition or decay.
Naruto, seeking knowledge as to the origin of the scroll summons the earth kami residing within it. He learns that it was carried from the city and never left the side of the one it was meant for, a soul sundered in two of which Takenshi is one half. Chiaki, already inconsolable, believes this to refer to herself.
The investigation of the weapons by the battle maiden Moto Shugeki determines that they are of high quality and likely produced in the forges of the city to the north. It is interrupted by the arrival of Shini’ichi who inform her of the identification of Takenshi’s body. It takes a second but she finally recognises it, the name of her new betrothal and twin brother to true love who died only recently. Rushing to the tent she finds herself confronted by an all too familiar face while outside the attention of Shini’ichi and Hotaka is drawn to a plume of smoke rising from the north…