Daiken soils himself in fear at the sight of the oni. Tatianna runs up and attacks it with her special wakizashi. Hidetaka grapples the huge thing. Kokuei hits it with a spell, dazing it. Lily also attacks. Torako backs away and guards Daiken. The goblins severely injure Kokuei. Everyone manages to get into boats somehow, except Hidetaka who continues to grapple the oni. Hidetaka chucks the oni onto his butt and joins the boats. The oni seems not to want to cross the water. Once we’re across, Crab siege weapons start firing at the shore.
Lily’s horse is happy to see her. Hidetaka needs a thorough cleansing after grappling the oni. Over the next few days, the gossip in the castle is all about how Makasu saved the patrol. Torako can’t help constantly correcting people on that score. Hichi is amazed at how well his people are treated on the Wall. Another patrol that left before us is overdue coming back and no longer really expected to return. Hidetaka hears that Makasu is sending out another patrol along the same route we took, that he will not be leading himself. He also hears that another patrol has returned, has “seen no evidence that a goblin horde is about to attack”, and that Makasu is having them all executed “for failure”.
The next day, Lily hears that Makasu is sending out a double-strength patrol of hand-picked veterans, and requests an audience with him so that she can be included; unfortunately, he is not seeing anyone. A woman who was part of the original patrol that went missing is pulled from the river, barely alive. We go to visit her in the infirmary, but are not allowed anywhere near her at first. Daiken talks us past the infirmary director; according to Susumu and Kokuei, every healing spell available has been cast on her. Halfway to the canyon, her patrol was ambushed by zombies. Weak and wounded, they were assaulted by goblins; she tried to swim across the river. They had been instructed to investigate a theoretical army of the Shadowlands on the other side of the canyon.
Makasu’s large veteran patrol goes out. Lily writes a letter to Makasu requesting an audience, to be delivered by his advisors. Another, even more special patrol is going out. Makasu seems obsessed with whatever is on his mind, and his advisors are worried. Shiroi doesn’t know of any special significance to the token Yakuni gave us. Hidetaka sets the available bushi to keep watch on our quarters. One night, Tatianna finds Shiroi in the courtyard violently doing katas; Hichi says he’s been at it for hours, and that he’s been more violent lately. She goes back in the morning to find him just finishing. He tells her he was praying to his ancestors (Hida, specifically). The party joins Shiroi in the bath to take counsel. He is worried about the actions Makasu is taking, particularly this new patrol, which is too large to move stealthily but too small to be a strong fighting force. Shiroi plans to talk to Hida Kisada about it before the patrol goes out.
Kokuei gets a letter from his cousin expressing extreme confusion over all the rumors he’s heard about what is going on at Shiro Kuni. He answers with more-or-less the truth, including a picture of the oni. The whole party gets summoned in front of Makasu. He personally asks us to do what his patrols have failed to do–find out what is on the other side of that canyon. We have permission to take whoever we want and use whatever tactics we need to gain that intelligence in the next three days. Trying to go around the canyon has repeatedly resulted in complete destruction of all patrols.
We go out at night with a few nuzumi. We come across the previous 75-man patrol, all killed by zombies. We recover as much of their personal effects as possible and chop off all their heads. Among their gear we find a crystal katana, which is entrusted to Torako. We rest in hiding during the day, then move to the canyon once the nuzumi have scouted it. Hidetaka and Hichi sneak up to within sight of the ruins of Shiro Hiruma. It is crawling with all sorts of Shadowlands creatures, including at least 20,000 goblins, 100 ogres, and 30 oni, some huge. No wonder Makasu was going crazy. The nuzumi indicate that if this is just the vanguard, the main force may be twenty or more times as large. Hidetaka helps Kokuei sneak up to see it as well so that he can give an accurate report. We return safely, chased by goblins almost the entire way but saved by the nuzumi. We report to Makasu; at dawn Kokuei shows a detailed illusion of the situation.
Shiro Kuni prepares for battle, calling for aid from any quarter. Daiken sends a message about the invading army to the Asahina temple. Makasu is constantly involved in everything. Lily makes good friends with Makasu, and notices that he seems a bit more manic than sane. Torako attempts to return the crystal blade to the owner’s wife, and is told to return it after the battle if they live. Hidetaka and the nuzumi see the Shadowlands army approaching a day before they were expected. Makasu seems very fatalistic. Lily believes, based on Makasu’s words, that all non-combatants should be evacuated.
The early attack leaves morale on the wall extremely low. Daiken tries to cheer them up. At sunset, they attack, led by an oni. Many nuzumi join us on the wall. Kokuei impresses everyone by using his first ever attack fire spell against a clump of goblins. A Kuni shugenja lights Hidetaka on fire. Torako offends a bunch of Kaiu engineers, who plug the wall with her. Lily rescues the banner from falling and holds it throughout. Everyone engages in various acts of heroism. Makasu leads us well, and at the end of the night, the Shadowlands army pulls back; we sustain 20-25% losses.