Goat 28 – Goat 29 (Monkey 1-3 travel to scorpion)
A guest has arrived coming from Lion lands to visit Shinjo Rakuchi. It was none other than Bayushi Hannei requesting an audience with Shinjo Rakuchi to deliver something to him. She was met with Shinjo Rakuchi and afterwards she requested to meet with Moto Chen to talk about matters.
The Unicorn group led by gunso Shinjo Rakuchi, followed by taisho Shinjo Leilani was called by Moto Chen to do an investigation job at Oshindoka Toshi. Included in said meeting was Bayushi Hannei. The mission briefing was that the group would travel to Oshindoka Toshi to investigate 2 unicorn samurai who has been missing. 2 weeks ago, Shinjo Kino was sent to Oshindoka Toshi to investigate strange activity within the city and to report back, but he never did. A week after his disappearance, Moto Karina was sent to check up on him but she also never reported back. Thus, Moto Chen decided to send the group to check up on the 2 samurai. There was also a meeting behind closed doors regarding information about activities within the empire and to confirm Rakuchi's decision and plan of action. The group is suspicious and the entire meeting was met with strange looks and whispers regarding Rakuchi and Hannei's relationship.
The group set out towards Oshindoka Toshi which was not too far away. It took a days travel to reach the destination. Oshindoka Toshi is a large city that is situated near the Dragon Lake and Dragon Heart Forest. The city is said to have been built with the help of the crane thus the city has many crane influences in its structure but is populated heavily by Shinjo families of the unicorn and many craftsmen who specialize in the use of wood and diamonds. The new addition is the military camps found outside the city which seem to be training platoons of new recruits for the Unicorn army.
The group divided itself into several tasks. Shinjo Rakuchi and Ide Takahiro went to meet with the governor of the city, Shinjo Koran. Koran offered them the governor's own place during their stay as he was honored that the Topaz Champion has come to visit. Koran also provided them with anything that they needed: tea, food and documents of their request which was a list of visitors to the city and activity of those going in and out for the past few weeks. Shinjo Leilani and Horiuchi Ardashir set out to investigate and ask around town in regards to Shinjo Kino and found out that he was staying at an inn near the stables called the Bleeding Hearts. The inn is for middle class to low class people and it turns out that Shinjo Kino paid in advance for a week of stay in the inn but after 4 days he never returned to the inn. He was last seen entering the city on the 4th day but disappeared right after. Searching through the belongings he left at the inn there was not much to go with except that Kino was seen talking to a female samurai who seemed strange. The strange samurai was seen as not wearing much clothing, had twin tails and her shoulder armor had spikes on it and she was pretty beautiful, muscular and loved to drink alcohol. The duo decided to go around town to look for this mysterious samurai. Moto Catalina and Moto Roland went to investigate around town in search of Moto Karina but coincidentally found out that Karina also stayed at the Bleeding Hearts inn. They also went to the inn to investigate and found out that Karina was staying at the inn but did not pay for her stay there. Like Kino, she also left her belongings at the inn and disappeared. The innkeeper refused to release her belongings until the debt for her stay was to be paid. Catalina decided to pay for it and went out of the inn to open her belongings but she was strongly urged by Roland that they should instead head back inside the inn and check her belongings so that no one else may see what they would uncover. Karina's belongings contained regular clothes and at first it didn't seem like anything was out of the ordinary but they soon uncovered a small pouch that contained herbal leaves. Catalina upon closer inspection, identified the herbs as Jade Petal leaves and was shocked by the discovery. They then decided to ask around town about Karina and keep the leaves amongst themselves as it was illegal to even have this in one's possession. Their investigation led to Karina was seen several times heading to the military camp outside to talk to the recruits. They then headed outside to the city to investigate at the military camps. Bayushi Hannei decided to investigate about a ronin named Zanzen who was recruited in the Unicorn army a long time ago. This task was requested by Rakuchi who had suspicions about said ronin. She disguised herself as a ronin and went to the camp to enlist in the army. It was there that she endured the day's rigourous training and she met Zanzen who seemed like a regular recruit. Upon engaging in small talk with Zanzen, he revealed that before he joined the unicorn he used to do delivery jobs back at the Phoenix lands. He and his companions were given a letter anonymously, to pick up large bags of materials from a village in Isawa Mori and to bring said bags deep into Isawa Mori near a shrine and to leave the materials there. They were paid handsomely to deliver said packages but they did not check the bag of its contents. Later on, Hannei decided to fake getting sick so that she could be sent to the barracks to get rest. At the barracks she decided to search the belongings of the soldiers and found a bag that contained more Jade Petal leaves, she decided to take a leaf and then went on to meditate and rest in the barracks.
Later on in the afternoon, Catalina and Roland talked to the military camp's officers to investigate further and found out that Karina actually talked to some people in the camp. They then called on said people including Zanzen, to ask about Karina. Zanzen didn't remember much but recalled that Karina talked to a few people in camp then around 2 days ago went to Dragon Heart Forest to meet with someone. Karina never came back and he assumed that Karina finished her job and went home. After further question with the other soldiers they discovered that 2 out of 6 soldiers were lying when asked about the Jade Petal leaves. Catalina and Roland brought this soldier into a tent away from the barracks to interrogate him further. Catalina decided to use her expertise to check if any of them were tainted through observation. She then manage to catch signs of taint from one of them. She decided to reveal herself as a Vindicator and expose this solder who was named Moto Kayo. Moto Kayo then revealed himself to be someone who was heavily tainted and his eyes glowed red and his skin turned pale with some sort of rough ridges on them and he drew out his katana and engaged in a battle with Catalina and Roland. The attacks of Roland were not as effective as he thought as when he used his Ono to cut the creature down the creature's skin was tough and hard. The battle raged on and Roland decided to call for reinforcements and started calling for the unicorn soldiers to aid him in battle. It was at this time that the creature ripped the side of the tent and ran towards the forest. The soldiers arrived too late to see the creature run into the forest. It was at this time that the duo decided to report their findings to the commander of the camp. They surrendered the Jade Petal leaves to the commander who then decided to search the entire barracks for contraband goods. Hannei tried to sneak out but was caught by the commander, since no one should leave the barracks, while the soldiers were all assembled so that everyone may be searched. Hannei seeing her situation might go bad decided to sneak in the barracks and hide the Jade Petal leaves in one of the bunks nearby and told Roland about it. The search went on for hours to ensure no one else in the army was carrying contraband goods. Roland then called for a messenger to look for the Rakuchi and the rest to bring them out to the camp.
Meanwhile, the rest of the group wandering the city saw a huge crowd forming at a drinking place in the city. It was there that they discovered that there was a drinking contest and the prize was 10 koku. Included in the contest was a crab samurai who matched the description of the woman they were looking for. Rakuchi and Takahiro was also present in the crowd and they asked the crowd on who the woman was. It was revealed that her name was Hida Oukie, she had been staying in the city for the past 2 weeks, and she drank a lot during the night. She would also get into fights with the local samurai as many had tried to hit on her but then she found them undesirable and hit them back… physically. It was also said that a Moto samurai decided to woo her and she punched him so hard that he flew and landed on one of the stalls. Ardashir and Leilani decided to join the contest in a way to get closer to her. As the drinking contest went on, Takahiro decided to excite the crowd through his oration skills and the crowd was happy and excited to be there. Oukie was the last person standing in the contest and won. She decided to use the money to treat everyone to drinks and proceeded to eat and drink the night away. It was at this time that Rakuchi, Leilani, Ardashir and Takahiro decided to join her. Oukie was impressed by Takahiro's skill in dealing with the crowd and gave him money for drinks. The group talked to Oukie and found out that she had been staying here for quite some time due to her job. They then noticed she had an unusual mark on her shoulder, and realized that the mark she bore was a tattoo that is usually given to a group of Witch Hunters from the crab whose job is to hunt down and destroy the Shadowlands creatures that have managed to enter the empire. However any further questions regarding her job, she would not reveal to just anyone. She would only inform those that she deemed strong and tough enough to be able to beat her in a contest of strength or toughness. It was at this time that the messenger reached the group and informed them of what happened at the camp. Rakuchi then told Oukie regarding the tainted creature. Seeing that she has a new lead, Oukie decided to drink one full glass of mare's milk straight down and then she tossed th glass aside and ran towards the camp, stopping by the inn to grab her Tetsubo. The group followed her, but on the way a hooded figure dropped a note in Rakuchi's pocket. No one noticed, except for Leilani who decided to try to grab the figure. The figure saw Leilani and dodged and ran down the streets to hide from the group. Leilani decided to chase the figure but saw that the figure moved to fast and then it disappeared into the crowd. They decided to check the note and it contained a message that asked Rakuchi for a meeting 2 nights from now in the forest alone. They decided to pursue it later and went to the camp.
Upon grouping at the camp and informing the others of what had happened. It was reported by the commander that 10 more soldiers from the camp were missing and no other contraband goods were found. Hannei and Takahiro decided to stay to talk to Zanzen while the rest of the group decided to go straight into the forest at this time with Oukie leading and Catalina tracking down the tracks. During the travel to the forest Oukie then revealed her purpose in the city. She was sent to track down creatures that have been seen escaping from the wall into the empire. She came upon the city and decided to stay when she met with a certain Moto Karina who showed the Jade Petal Leaves. She deduced, that some creatures might have been using it to hide in the city and Oukie paid Karina to investigate the matter for her seeing as Oukie herself is not really that good at investigating and her skills lie on fighting. Roland and Catalina then decided to give Oukie the Jade Petal leaves that they confiscated from the barracks. Soon they came upon the corpse of Moto Karina deep into the forest. Upon inspecting the body they found it to be tainted and she was killed two days ago. Her guts have been ripped out in the open and her katana seemed to have been damaged in a way that the katana has hit something hard. They decided to dig a pit and then throw her body in and burn it. The group continued venturing deeper into the forest and soon the tracks lead to a tree. It was at this time that the creature dropped down from the tree and attacked the group. Atleast 2 more creatures dropped from the trees and joined in the battle. The battle was over but too quickly, Oukie rushed in with her Tetsubo raised and in one swing managed to obliterate the upper half of one of the creatures in one strike. She then ran towards another creature and in one swing knock the creature down crushing it. Leilani using a Yumi, let loose an arrow at the downed creature that was knocked down and killed it. The last creature seeing an opportunity, rushed to the group and attacked Catalina with his katana and he managed to injure Catalina. Catalina fought back but was too injured to even swing her weapon properly. Ardashir called on the earth kami to raise a boulder and turned it to jade before striking the creature with the jade boulder. Roland as well rushed in to help his companion, but the creature's tough carapace is proving hard to penetrate. Oukie then ran towards the last creature and with one swing, smashed the creature and crushed it. The battle was then over. The group decided to head back to camp while Oukie felt that she had done her job and she deserved to go back to the city and resume her drinking and eating. Hannei and Takahiro talked to Zanzen again regarding his previous activities before joining the Unicorn and he revealed that he kept his past hidden because he didn't want others to know what they had done. Zanzen revealed that some time ago before he joined the unicorn and sometime after the delivery of goods to the Phoenix lands, he and his companions found a valley near phoenix and dragon lands and found the site of an old battle or skirmish. There they looted armor and weapons from the fallen and decided to claim said equipment for their own. Despite being ronin, he found the actions to be quite disgraceful but if one's back is pressed into poverty, one has to do such things in order to survive. The group then decided to go to the local magistrate to order for the capture of the runaway conscripts since it is an offense to abandon their duty and the army. The magistrates then would send the word out to look for said runaways.
A few days later Rakuchi decide to go into the forest to meet with the unknown figure but before he let his falcon out to scout the area above, Hannei decided to follow and sneaked nearby. When he reached the location however he found another note stating that the meeting is off since he brought someone with him and that they are always watching. He then decided to shout out in the forest where the figure replied back to him and identified themselves as the Kolat. The purpose of the meeting was to see if they can recruit Rakuchi to join the Kolat, given that he had shown great compassion for the common people. They also informed him that they know about what happened to Shinjo Kino. Rakuchi stated that he understands the Kolat and their purpose but he does not approve of their methods and declines their offer. Hannei then decided to sneak to try to look for the person in the shadows but was unable to find anything. The Kolat, disappointed decided not to take further action and they disappeared into the shadows. Afterwards, the group decided to report back to Moto Chen about their findings and as agreed, Rakuchi would accompany Hannei back to scorpion lands and would regroup back at Unicorn lands before heading out for Setsuban.