The CastBayushi Kiyoshi (played by me): A Scorpion magistrate's assistant, trained at the Soshi Magistrate School. Kiyoshi is a Junshin (Pure of Heart) who has an idealised view of Bushido and struggles to live up to it, despite his Scorpion upbringing. He is also secretly the son of the late governor, Shiba Takuya of the Phoenix clan, whose spirit sometimes appears to him in dreams or whispers in his ear, urging him to take care of his sister, Keiko, who Takuya wishes to succeed him as governor of his lands.
Doji Aoitori (played by Martin): Aoitori is a shugenja (mage) gifted in the use of Void magic. He is in a loveless marriage with Akodo Tsuchiro of the Lion clan, and is having a secret affair with his lover, a Crane courtier called Asahina Kazuroku.
Doji Katsuko (played by Lauren): Katsuko is a skilled courtier, trained at the Doji Courtier School. She is haunted by the spirit of her mother, who encourages her to use current events to the advantage of her clan and family. She is also the one most often entrusted with Keiko's care, besides Tsubasa.
Doji Tsubasa (played by Ruaridh): Tsubasa has earned acclaim as a skilled duellist, and his iconoclastic views and brash manner get him into enough trouble that he has plenty of opportunities to keep in practice. He is the brother of Doji Aoitori, and envies him for the prestige and special training Aoitori has received because of his gift. He has been assigned as Keiko's yojimbo.
Shiba Aku (played by Doc): Aku is an archivist for the Phoenix clan who, until recently, believed his son Shogo had been killed by creatures from the Shadowlands while training with the Crab. After encountering his son alive and in the thrall of the Maho sorceror Chuuda Rinozo, Aku was informed by the Crab that Shogo and several of his fellow students had in fact been taken captive, but the Crab kept this from him to spare his feelings. Aku has since pursued Rinozo in the hopes of rescuing his son.
As the Emerald Magistrate, Doji Utaemon, walks away from the flaming wreckage that was the group's best lead yet on the evil Chuuda Rinozo, Doji Katsuko is visited by the second of Mirumoto Oki, to arrange the details of the upcoming duel between Oki and Tsubasa (representing Keiko, who called for a duel after Oki suggested the relationship between herself and Tsubasa was something less appropriate than that of a samurai and her yojimbo). Katsuko manages to defer the date of the duel until such time as the business of the Emerald Magistrate and his entourage within the city is concluded, and agrees for the duel to take place at Kyuden Tonbo, in Dragonfly lands.
Once Bayushi Kiyoshi and the Doji brothers have cleansed themselves after their second brush with the Taint (and the city sewers) of the day, they head out to dinner at the House of Udon to refresh themselves, before tackling the papers they recovered from the evil shrine. There they are met by Kiyoshi's friend, Yasuki Teika. It turns out the restaurant is backed by the Crab clan, and Yasuki Teika is there to keep an eye on his clan's investment. He sits down to dinner with them, and has the servants rearrange the screens so that their table is in full view of the rest of the customers, before proceeding to brag loudly about how business is going, and inquiring about the party's exploits, trying to glean some details from the conversation he might use to his advantage.
Meanwhile, at the Temple of Daikoku, Shiba Aku is drawn away from his son Shogo to talk with Doji Utaemon, who wants to know what information he has been able to get out of his son. None of the things Aku has learned from his son so far is of any relevance to the current situation though, and Utaemon orders Aku to interrogate his son more on recent events, with the implied threat that he will interrogate Shogo himself if Aku cannot provide anything of more use. Utaemon departs down the hall, and enters a room with an eta carrying a bag, presumably full of torture tools, to perform a more forceful interrogation of the young boy who was in the employ of the Mantis woman being held in custody elsewhere in the temple.
Aku manages to get his son to tell more of his time with Rinozo, and learns that Rinozo was constructing some kind of machine, which used obsidian in some of its parts. He sends for Kuni Soh, but the monk he sent turns out to be drunk, and returns later - with a letter for Aku from Kiyoshi and the Doji brothers inviting him to dine with them - but having forgotten to fetch Kuni Soh for him. Aku chastises the monk for his conduct, and while questioning the monk he learns that he has broken several of his vows and even attends a geisha house. Aku finds this odd, as geisha house are for samurai, not monks, and the monk wouldn't be able to afford it in any case. The monk goes on to say he can get Aku an invite to the geisha house in question, the Illustrious Tent of the Blue Sky. When asked how he can afford the place, the monk says he had leftover funds from before he joined the temple, but Aku gets him to admit that his outings are funded by a nun called Chisato. He sends the monk to fetch Chisato.
Later, having been joined by Keiko, Katsuko, and Kazuroku, the group at the House of Udon manage to excuse themselves and retire to the inn to disscuss matters. While Doji Katsuko is taken aside by a servant, Tsubasa explains what happened to him after he left the sewers. He went back to the inn and found out Rinozo had been there, tracked his movements and eventually found the shop they investigated in the previous session. Along the way, it seems Rinozo had spent some time watching over the wall into the courtyard of the Temple of Daikoku. When Katsuko returns, she explains what Rinozo said to her when he held her and Keiko captive at the inn. He revealed that he wanted to destroy the city, and tried to enlist her aid in doing so through political maneuvering, but she refused him.
At this point, they are interrupted by Moshi Satako, the Mantis clan's representative at the local Winter Court. She demands the release of her clansman, Moshi Ritsuko, who has been arrested and is being held at the Temple of Daikoku under suspicion of being one of Rinozo's allies, and therefore one of the Lost - samurai who have twisted and warped by the Taint. Despite the group's best efforts, Katsuko is browbeaten into accepting the Mantis' position, and agrees to let her see Ritsuko, as long as the Emerald Magistrate allows it.
Meanwhile, at the temple, Shiba Aku speaks to Kuni Soh, but he doesn't know anything about the device Shogo has described. He does notice that Shogo isn't looking as improved as he should be if he were regularly drinking jade petal tea, and taste tests the tea that he has been drinking. He discovers that the tea has been diluted, and goes in search of the head abbot to get to the bottom of this matter.
Arriving at the temple gates ahead of Moshi Satako, Aoitori stalls the Mantis, insisting that the Emerald Magistrate must be informed. As Aoitori goes to speak with Daidoji Utaemon, Satako argues with the head abbot, trying to find out where her clansman is being kept. In speaking with Daidoji Utaemon, it becomes clear to Aoitori that his lord is becoming disillusioned and may be starting to mentally unravel.
Meanwhile, Bayushi Kiyoshi sneaks off to the cell, to check on their prisoner. The monk watching Moshi Ritsuko seems distraught and paranoid, and when Kiyoshi asks him what is wrong he flees the scene. Torn between leaving the prisoner unattended to go after the monk, or staying, Kiyoshi stays and engages Ritsuko in conversation. During the conversation, it becomes plain that the prisoner is not what she appears to be, and she tells Kiyoshi that she likes him, so she'll kill him last. She then sprouts fangs and mutates into a twisted, beastly parody of her former self. She bites her arm, using blood magic to break out of her cell and put up a smokescreen. Kiyoshi blindly tries to follow as she gets past him, and stumbles upon a headless corpse. He follows the trail of dead bodies to catch up to the escaped Ritsuko-thing.
Much chaos ensues. At one point, Aoitori, Kiyoshi and Kuni Soh catch up to the creature in a room, where Moshi Satako is backed up against a wall, terrified by the presence of this thing. Kiyoshi takes the opportunity to point at the creature, and comments sneeringly to Satako: 'Moshi Satako, there's your clansman!' The creature puts up another smokescreen, but Kiyoshi is able to strike a blow despite the low visibility before it escapes outside.
They pursue the Ritsuko-thing - following the sound of alarms being rung - to an inn, where they find it has been slain by a Lion, who expresses her annoyance at her quiet drink being disturbed by a rampaging monster, before taking her leave. The steaming, acidic remains of the Lost eats through the floor and the corpse crashes through into the basement below. Bayushi Kiyoshi has had just about enough for one day, and leaves Kuni Soh - who is more experienced in these matters, anyway - to clean up the mess. However, he has barely stepped outside before he hears the Crab witch-hunter calling after him. He goes to the hole in the floor, which Kuni Soh has climbed down to deal with the body, and is advised that he should come down. There's something he should see.
Sure enough, when Bayushi Kiyoshi climbs down into the basement, he finds that Kuni Soh has uncovered a weapons cache hidden in the barrels there, and there's a banner hanging up nearby...bearing the Spider clan mon. Despite his weariness, Kiyoshi states that they'd better have a look around...
TO BE CONTINUED...