Two weeks after the incident with the Akodo, we receive a gift of Gaijin horses from the Akodo clan. Later, while in Otosan Uchi, Kokuei receives a letter from a relative staying in West Hub City. They meet; Kokuei’s friend seems to feel there is something about Kokuei’s Topaz Championship performance that is too uncomfortable to discuss in polite converstation.
Daiken goes to his lord to ask permission to engage in all the duels he’s been challenged to. He receives a scroll giving blanket permission to fight any duel he wants (his lord doesn’t seem happy about it). Hidetaka suggests holding a tournament.
While patrolling the road in Scorpion lands, we meet a well dressed Phoenix shugenja traveling alone: it is Master of Earth Asawa Rujo. His yojimbo was recently killed; he is pursuing a man who has been detained in Crab lands. We travel to Shiro Kuni, and ask after Asawa Tadaku, who Kokuei recognizes as the son of the Master of Void. We are told he is a “guest of the Kuni” and that he is out researching oni. According to Rujo, he is either being held hostage by the Crab or is defying his clan by refusing to return.
We load up on jade and take the secret passage into the Kuni Wastes; Hichi comes with us. We travel the length of the Kuni Wastes, getting within sight of the Shadowlands, without finding any clue to Tadaku’s whereabouts, until one of the Kuni reveals that they have been keeping quiet out of respect for Tadaku, who they suspect is going against his clan. Tadaku is studying Oni no Ataka, who has the name of the ancestor of him and many Phoenix, several days journey into the Shadowlands.
After some debate, we agree to guard the Master of Earth as he pursues Tadaku. When we enter the Shadowlands, Hichi disappears into the bushes, coming back with information about waiting enemies. We eventually have to send Lily’s horse back as we sneak through goblin infested lands. It ends in a mad dash to a cave fortified by the Nuzumi. The next day we are sent with four Nuzumi escorts to where Tadaku is. Rujo confronts Tadaku, and their discussion escalates to the challenge of a duel. They agree to remove to the Kuni Wastes and think it over for 24 hours before the duel.
Tadaku defeats Rujo and takes the title of Master of Earth. Rujo becomes ronin, but begins to be courted by all the other clans, while we escort Tadaku back to Phoenix lands to confirm his title. We are invited to Winter Court by a minor Asawa daimyo.