Having survived the Phoenix Winter Court, making only one (known) enemy, things are looking good for the unit as spring begins to arrive as does Mirumoto Daremo, having traveled up the coast in terrible weather to bring news to the unit and a promotion for Hida Kenta, who is now a nikutai (lowest ranked officer) in the Imperial Magistrate’s Office and officially in command of the unit.
Looking forward to a swift return to the capital, their hopes are dashed as Togashi Shisõ sends them into the new lands to the North, when an Imperial road has gone missing, except for the Otoku and the Tonbo who are dispatched to deliver some vital messages to the Dragon lands.
They travel north with the spring thaw, the the edge of Pheonix lands, and the old Empire, and then beyond. The shugenja notice it almost physically, as if the quality of light shifted, it does not seem dangerous just . . . different. As they travel further, first through Phoenix managed lands, the lands become less like Rokugan and less Rokuganized. The older buildings are of a distinctly different architectural style, the peasants do not converse in a proper language and this are just not right, not entirely unfamilair but not proper either.
After some weeks of travel, they cross into Iron Mine Valley, a Lion holding ruled by Matsu Terumoto, where they are met by Ikoma Koji and his patrol who route the unit to the work camp, which is comprised primarily of impressed local peasantry, near to the road way. They investigate and talk to people about the missing road, a mile stretch of which just vanished one night, was replaced and then -even though it was guarded- vanished again! No one can explain it and the peasant and none to keen on doing the work again and the local quarry has been exhausted so a new source of stone must be found.