Messengers were sent to members of the Great Clans, calling for volunteers to aid the Lion Clan in an internal manner, in the interest of impartiality. The contents of the missive itself are unknown, but those who answered the call were fresh-faced and eager scions of their families:
- Yoritomo Mimura, a bushi fighting for the Mantis Clan.
- Agasha Hanako, a shugenja taught by the Phoenix Clan.
- Shosuro Demukii, a talented soul, hailing from the Scorpion Clan.
- Hitomi Overlijden, a monk, and member of the Dragon Clan.
Invited to Kyuden Ikoma to meet with a Lion leader, they were told of the small village of Aoka and its recent troubles with bandits. Over the course of the last few months, raids had hampered the rice output of the tiny village, and villagers had mysteriously vanished, only to return with muddled heads, shadows of their former selves. They were offered tea by the dark-haired majordomo, dressed all in white, as he explained to them that the Lion Clan wanted an un-biased evaluation of the situation, as a unilateral decision could lead to a possible clan war, given the nature of the evidence. As he poured their tea, Agasha noticed a green chrysanthemum tattoo on his shoulder.
Three of the group departed on foot, leaving Yoritomo to travel by ship. The town looked larger than its population and poverty would allow, suggesting a withering of a once-great village. Upon arrival, Agasha headed toward the water to commune with the river kami. She was given a vision of flaming arrows striking a sailing ship, and a white crane plucking a green chrysanthemum in its beak. As the vision faded, a soaking Yoritomo sulked up the beach—his boat had gone down in flames brought by silver-and-blue arrows.
The envoys enjoyed a light dinner, and began their work. Upon asking about the state of the villagers who returned from their mysterious wanderings, they were pointed to a gentleman who seemed to be able to aid them. Unfortunately, he kept recounting a story about “that Magistrate what lived here” over and over.
Retiring for the evening, the group set up a watch. Skittering claws against cobblestones alerted them to a presence in the otherwise deserted streets. Five Nezumi warriors were making their way to the inn next door. The party split to confront and surround the Nezumi. Shosuro and Yoritomo spoke to the warriors in their own tongue, and Shosuro’s negotiations garnered an audience with their leader, in an effort to clear the Nezumis’ name in regards to the disappearances. Curious to see what they were really after, the inquisitors broke into the inn’s ledger to find the only guest: [[:Daidoji Raiten]]. Knowing the Crane-styled arrows brought down Yoritomo’s ship, and the vision Agasha had at the riverbank, the party understood that the Crane had been sabotaging the harvest, the townsfolk, the Nezumi reputation, and the Lion Clan’s profits. Daidoji had to be stopped.
An hour later, Shosuro and Hitomi ventured to the Nezumi cave to meet with their leader, [[:T’ch-tktk-kht]]. He invited them in, explaining that there was an evil group of humans, a Clan attempting to sabotage him. When asked why, he lit a torch, exposing an ancient and rich jade mine—a fortune in a small town, waiting to be claimed.
The next morning, the group scouted the inn where Daidoji was staying, monitoring the movements of the staff. Upon discovering that Daidoji had tea sent up every hour, on the hour, a plan was formed. Agasha and Yoritomo went to converse with him while Hitomi guarded the only door and Shosuro sabotaged the tea. Yoritomo offended Daidoji by disobeying him, seeing firsthand the swordsman’s iaijutsu skills demonstrated upon the sabotaged teapot Yoritomo was holding. Arrogant and curt, Daidoji explained politely that he was not to be trifled with. He offered his tea to his guests, and ordered a pot sent to Hitomi and Shosuro. When the latter refused it, Hitomi doubled in pain. Shosuro realized the tea contained an antidote, not a poison, and rushed it to his friend’s side. The Crane explained that they should never drink tea from strangers, and ordered them from his sight.
The envoys searched the Magistrate’s old house, grown over with weeds since his disappearance, only to discover snow-white hair and Crane-blue robes fluttering behind a trapped door. Shosuro gained them entrance, Yoritomo charged forward, and within the space of seconds, they trapped the treacherous poisoner. Agasha held her aiguchi to his throat, threatening to kill him if he didn’t cooperate. The prisoner thrust himself forward, cutting his own throat rather than be captured alive. As he fell, they discovered his true identity: it was the majordomo they met in Kyuden Ikoma.
Another meeting with Daidoji ended with curious words—“Ah, I see you met my brother, Kokuzoku. It’s time he met his end.”