The SRIU unit pushes through the inclement weather, having outmaneuvered thieves and outfought an oni on their way to Kyuden Isawa. The Tonbo suffers a serious wound in a ‘bandit’ ambush and is left behind in Kyuden Asako to recover Our heroes finally arrive, cold on exhausted at Kyuden Isawa where the Imperial Magistrate, Togashi Shisõ, greets them and assigns a young Phoenix to act as their guide:
Asako Neko, a fiery Phoenix, outgoing, overconfident and convinced that she knows it all. Almost started a blood fued between her branch of the family and one of the Isawa branches, under the wing of Togashi Shisõ until she can be redirected. (Isawa Shugenja 1, played by L2 who is new to L5R but not Japanese culture.)
Our heroes settle into life in Winter Court, being formally presented to Isawa Soh, “the Gentle Wave”, Master of Water and Hostess of the Court, who serene and beautiful, seemingly untouched by her sixty years of age. They have time to partake of some of the pleasantries of court while helping with the search for potential bloodspeakers among the guests. To that end the Shrine to the Fortune of Truth is set up in the library where it may be used to observe some of the guests without being too obvious.
Otomo Mariko, one of the Imperial Nakodo (matchmakers), makes time to meet with all of the characters to sound out their future plans and amiability to marriage much to the characters’ discomfort.