We defied heaven
For the good of the Empire,
From conversing with the Naga it became apparent that while Blade Terrel was almost certain to take the monastery at Redemption Peaks it would likely take some time for his forces to secure the complex. Drained and weary from their skirmish with the gaki they chose, therefore, to take the time to rest and recuperate while they determined the best course of action. The rest was of particular value to Shugeki, who was able to regain much of her strength over the course of the day.
Atarashi decided to tempt the fates by attempting to divine the coming future, a practise frowned upon by many shugenja. She was able to reveal that not only would Terrel reach the lost valley but that at its centre sat a maelstrom of spiritual activity, with the souls of the legion locked in an apparently eternal battle. Between this knowledge and that drawn from Naruto’s forbidden spell scroll they were able to form a hypothesis. The souls of the legion were being used to power a great maho spell that had slowed time in the centre of the valley to a standstill. With the breaking of the seals surrounding the mountains the spell was weakening and would soon fail entirely.
Knowing the scale of the task before them the magistrates came to a reluctant decision – they would have to recast the spell themselves and drag yet more souls from the celestial cycle of death and rebirth. Knowing they would require a substantial number Shugeki volunteered to carry a message to the governor in Shirayama Toshi, using the tunnels connecting the valley to cut under the mountains themselves. The remainder of the group would make their way to the valley and prepare themselves to both complete the sacrilegious ritual and to delay the forces of Blade Terrel.
Shugeki, astride her war horse, made good time through the mountains and soon found herself beneath the main temple of the city. She created quite the stir when she emerged from the trap door into the middle of the evening ceremony and was quickly taken to the governor. Governor Saburo, aware of part of the truth about the Lost Legion, was not surprised to hear Shugeki’s tale, up until the point she requested as many able bodied soldiers as possible to lead to their deaths in the mountains. The governor, his carefully cultivated control slipping, let it be known that such an action would lead to the fall of the city, for Shugeki’s aunt Asano was already building a force to take the city. The trainwreck of Shugeki’s wedding had not been forgotten and the blame had been conveniently laid at the feet of the Scorpion. The revelation merely provided an opportunity to Shugeki, she would ride out and take command of the force herself.
Under the mountains the remaining magistrates were faced with the tedium of waiting for their coming doom. Over the course of a few days Shin’ichi and Hotaka fortified the camp and worked to narrow the tunnel they expected Terrel would use while Naruto and Atarashi prepared themselves for the task ahead. Two days into the wait the watchers heard the first sound of footsteps echoing down the tunnel. Naruto spoke to the spirits within the rocks of the tunnel and finished the job of drawing it inward, creating a bottleneck that would force the monks to exit one at a time.
Down in the valley Atarashi’s attention was drawn to a sudden stillness in the valley. The spiritual maelstrom parted for a moment to reveal a lone glowing figure, holding back an enormous stone fist that was threatening to crush them. Drawn towards the individual she stepped through row upon row of samurai held in the middle of committing seppuku, their spirits standing quietly behind their physical form. As she neared the figure in the centre she made out a mon upon their standard… that of the Imperial family itself. Before her stood a direct relative of the divine Emperor, holding back the force of the mountain that consumes with a single hand…