For the first time since they left for school 4 years ago, the group is back together. In honor of their return, and Doji (Saito) Katsu’s victory in the Topaz Championship, Daidoji Kenta held a festival. As Kaitekimura is a small village, the peasants were invited as well as any visiting samurai. During the party, an exhausted looking peasant burst into the hall and collapsed. Kenta had the peasant taken to quarters where he could rest, and his message received. Near the end of the party, one of the doshin came to Daidoji Sakura and told her to bring her yojimbo and meet with Daidoji Kenta first thing in the morning.
In the morning the group gathered and met with Kenta, who explained the previous night’s disturbance. The peasant had carried a message from Shikkansato, two days away. The headman, Wada Hisashi was requesting assistance, as Shikkansato was under siege by a spirit that was devouring the residents. The group gathered their gear and set out on horseback.
Near the end of their first day of travel they found themselves in Kukurere Huyushemura on the night of the full moon, to the delight of a couple of the members. After eating a meal and catching up with Yamagata Sumiko, the owner of the dumpling house, Kakita (Nakashima) Hayate and Daidoji Sakura decided to meditate, while Daidoji Tadasu and Doji (Saito) Katsu headed to the sake house. In the sake house Katsu rekindled his feelings for Mie Yumi to the chagrin of her brother Mie Dai. While they were enjoying their sake Katsu overheard some of the lumberjacks making lewd comments about Yumi, and interjected himself. He commanded the peasants to apologize to the girl, which they did before scrambling out of the sake house. Daidoji Tadasu headed off to bed, while Doji (Saito) Katsu stayed behind to speak further with Mie Yumi regarding a possible future together. He then joined the others at the inn, where they slept for the night.
In the morning, the group was awakened by the sound of panic coming from a nearby wooded area. Upon investigating, they found the remains of the lumberjacks. The bodies appeared to be torn apart, although the local eta pointed out where the bodies had been slashed by both blade and claw. After questioning the peasants for a short while, the group learned that no one had seen the incident. Several of the peasants were looking at Katsu with suspicion, therefore, it was decided that he and Hayate would check the outskirts of the town for signs of whatever had slaughtered the lumberjacks. Meanwhile, Daidoji Sakura communed with the Earth Spirits in the area and learned that there was only one perpetrator. They also learned that this was the first such attack. Once they had exhausted all means of finding a lead, they decided to continue on to Shikkansato, fearing that these murders were a sign of Shikkansato’s problem spreading.
They arrived in Shikkansato at the end of the second day, and were greeted by exhilarated peasants cheering for them. They were quickly introduced to Wada Hisashi, who told them what was happening. The beast, Ryota, began attacking the village approximately a week ago, slaughtering a few peasants each night. The beast refused to touch the Headman, himself, and always strikes at midnight. After a bountiful banquet in the group’s honor, they gathered all of the peasants in the center of the meeting hall. Hayate and Katsu scouted outside the hall, while the others guarded the peasants. At the edge of the woods north of the meeting hall, a mist began to gather and the translucent figure of Ryota could be seen as it passed through the trees (literally). Katsu raised an alarm, calling the others to battle. As Ryota reached the edge of the wood, his translucence faded and he became solid, the grass now bending beneath his feet as he walks. Hayate let an arrow fly at Ryota’s chest, and the battle was joined. After a brief but intense fight, Tadasu left his charge’s side and removed the beast’s arm with the blunt force of his tetsubo. The beast howled in pain, and shifted into the form of a cockroach, scuttling away through the grasses.