Before the Topaz Championship

Hida Ta-dai and Kakita Akira are both lead from their dojos to the infamous city of Toshi Ranbo. There they are to meet and continue their travel to Kurogane-Hana.

Kakita Akira is awake early as per usual, and prepares his immaculate tea set for his meeting with Ta-dai. He makes his way through the bustling streets till he finally finds the shrine where their meeting will take place. He sits down in the most peaceful part of the shrine, where you can hear the ripples of the pool lap against its banks.

Ta-dai makes his arrival and fails to appreciate the perfect location, but is pleased and friendly to the tall crane duelist. They share a cup of tea served by Akira and discuss on how they will travel up to Kurogane-Hana. They opt to take a series of boats to get them up the river.

After arriving well ahead of schedule they make the choice to walk the last leg of their route along the trade paths that are so prevalent in this part of the world. On the 3rd day of travel they come across a wandering ronin, Kiri-Kawa, who offers his services as a guide and protector to the young samurai. They declined his offer but gave him some rice for advice he had offered them.

The travel along the trade paths is uneventful, and they finally arrive at Kurogane-Hana. They’re greeted at the bottom of the Splendid Ramp by the beautiful but shy Natsuko. She leads them to Daimyo Ikoma Juro and the boys respectfully introduce themselves.

During the main meal at court Akria meets and talks briefly with Soshi Mitso the scorpion justicar, and Ta-dai strikes up a quick friendship with the affable unicorn courtier Moto Ree.

After the meal while going back to his room on the 2nd tier Ta-dai spots a man dressed in pink sprinting past his room. The heavy footsteps alert Akira, who comes outside to see Ta-dai stood there. The 2 boys try to pursue the fleeing man, but lose him in the darkness of the castle.

When they return to the 2nd tier, they spot Soshi Mitso entering a building with 2 guards posted outside. They’re allowed in by Akodo Yuzan when they say they can provide some evidence. inside the room there are 2 dead lion courtiers, one with a katana buried inside his head. All the signs point towards Moto Ree, it is his sword that is buried in the head of one of the lion and it is someone of his clan colours running through the castle grounds.

The young samurai start their investigation and find a note saying ‘The deal with the unicorn is not good enough, put pressure to get more favourable terms’ and the handwriting is not the same as other notes found on the person. Akira also notices on the rafters above there is a spot where the dust has recently been disturbed, as if a possible assailant could of been hiding.

Feeling they have discovered all the clues at the scene of the crime the young samurai start to ask questions to the houses close to the crime. They find Natsuko studying in her room and question her at length, finding that Ree often went to the small village down the road Kagami No Tengoku Mura.



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