The campaign re-opens with a tour of the Empire of Azeshouri, before coming to rest on a small Yasuki caravan headed towards Kyuden Gotai. The caravan comes under attack by bandits wearing red sashes tied to their upper forearms, led by a samurai in full steel armor with a hunting cat motif.
In Kyuden Gotai, Master Fu enters the city as it prepares for the Setsuban Festival. He is followed shortly after by Kitsune Kimiko. Elsewhere, in the Miya Shinichi household in the Imperial District, the heroes of Valleyhaven awaken. Speaking with Master Shinichi, he informs the heroes’ that their recent return from the Heavenly Celestial Palace has sparked quite a bit of interest in the Imperial Court, and no doubt they will be called before it before long. However the court is not in session today, on account of the Emperor preparing for the Festival. There had been discussion of not carrying through the Festivities with the recent death of the Imperial heir, but the court has decided that the Festival is needed to lift everyone’s spirits. Shinichi greatly encourages the heroes to explore the city and enjoy the festival, but not to trust anyone – there are plenty in the court with their own agendas.
At the Seppun Training Grounds, Hida Watari and Kakita Honsu sign up for the Iaijutsu duels. Watari’s companions insult Honsu, who returns the insults in kind to great effect. Honsu retires to Blooming Cherry Park to meditate in preparation, when he is approached by a Bayushi courtier from the Snake Clan with an offer to throw the match against a Dragon samurai, or else soundly defeat a Lion samurai, in exchange for the Snake’s assistance with the current Boar-Crane conflict. When he refuses, the Snake offers instead to locate a Boar samurai the Crane are seeking. Honsu again refuses, and the Snake takes his leave.
Watari and his companions go drinking in an upscale tavern, when Watari receives a secret message to meet in a back dining room. He goes, only to find a female Snake courtier waiting for him. The Snake offers Watari a deal – their clan is willing to back the Boar in the current conflict in court, in exchange for the Boar’s support in claiming no confidence in the Shogun. Watari considers the Snake’s request before giving his answer and departing.
At the Temple of the Elemental Masters, Frostwing and Aramith go to enter the Shugenja competitions for the Festival. Though their requests are highly unusual, they are granted leave to enter and compete.
In the marketplace, Brand, Amelia, and Jerrin are approached while they shop by the handmaiden of the Crane delegation, Lady Doji Ayano, with both a gift and an invitation for the heroes to attend the Festivities at the Crane compound on the last eve of the Setsuban Festival. Amelia stalls for time and later, back at the Miya household, the heroes investigate the gift (an exquisite tea set and chopsticks). Discussing the matter, the team agrees to attend and sends word to the Crane.
In the city proper, Kimiko comes across several Seppun Guardsmen bushi tormenting a nezumi. Assuming her fox form, she intervenes, biting the guard about to execute the unfortunate creature before running off and reassuming human form. The guardsmen follow, but cannot locate her. In the confusion, the nezumi escapes, taking the sword of the guardman who meant to slay it.
That evening, the Setsuban Festival commences, much to the merriment of the city.
Over by the Temple of the Elemental Masters, Kimiko and Master Fu are on-hand to watch the competitions. Frostwing and Aramith are unable to fully demonstrate their mastery over the Five Elements, though Aramith is later successful in the portion requiring him to speak with the Kami spirits – during the process, the tiny kami recognize him as “one of the chosen.”
Brand and Sorien compete in horseback archery, and place 8th, while Watari comes in 3rd. Honsu confronts a Dragon swordsman in the duel, but refuses to throw the fight. After a few minutes, his opponent concedes defeat. Afterwards, Watari retires back to the taverns to celebrate his win, while Brand and Sorien encounter Kimiko, who reveals her true form before leading them on a merry chase through the city.
Jerrin and Amelia make their way through the city streets to watch the assorted performances, before Amelia opts to participate in the Dance of the Dragon ceremony (hot coal walking), which she expertly does to the delight of the crowds and the respect of the tattooed monks overseeing the ceremony.
Towards late evening, a firework announces that the Emperor has entered the Temple of the Heavens to make his offerings and prayers. As the various heroes are about to come together in the city a tolling bell, an orange glow, and smoke from the west reveals that the grain and rice storehouses by the docks are burning. Suddenly, dragon dancers throw off their dragon, revealing armored men with spears and red sashes tied to their forearms. Simultaneously, two taiko drummers throw down their sticks and viciously attack using Tiger Style martial arts, and streaking themselves with the blood of their victims. As the crowds of people flee screaming in terror as the men attack, the heroes rush to confront them. A pitched struggle in the streets begins as the heroes confront the attackers among the swirling crowds in an effort to halt the bloodshed. During the fight, three additional ordinary city men leap into the fray, attacking viciously. Upon their deaths, there is evidence they were possibly Tainted.
- Brand and Sorien work together expertly as a team, moving and flanking. Brand tumbles through one attacker’s legs to stab him in the back, bringing the man to his knees – and his throat right into Sorien’s jaws.
- Kimiko uses her bow to fire multiple arrows into her attackers, before shifting to fox form to evade them as they charge.
- Frostwing summons a huge Earth Elemental in the midst of the foes to pound them. It sends one crazed opponent flying into a nearby brazier head-first. Before the screaming man can fully extricate himself, a blow from Watari’s tetsubo utterly crushes the man and the brazier, crushing them flat.
- An invisible Aramith uses a pyrotechnics spell to cause another brazier to flood the street with thick smoke, obscuring the attackers’ vision.
- Amelia is charged by two spear-wielding bandits – she expertly parries both weapons before counter-slashing across their chests. Two more thrusts dispatch them.
- Honso engages several attackers, using his crystal katana to bring his foes down.
- Master Fu calls upon his spirits to heal a dying Lion samurai before turning them loose on the bandits, to devastating effect.
With the fight concluded and attackers dispatched, the injured Lion samurai makes his way over to the heroes to thank them. Introducing himself as Akodo Itsuma, he states he is in their debt for saving his life. As Master Fu channels a healing burst, Seppun Guardsmen arrive on the scene. A runner states there are more bandits attacking the warehouses, as well as other streets. As the Seppun prepare to deal with the problem, another bell begins to toll – this time, coming from the Temple District. Honsu immediately recognizes the threat – the attackers are after the Emperor!