The characters returned home to find a variety of situations.
Suzume Oharu received a letter from a harried-looking Imperial Messenger. Miya Kei has requested the presence of Oharu and her friends on the 23rd of the month in the Imperial City. As Oharu was not home (where the letter was originally sent), this meant that reaching Ryoko Owari on time was a probable issue.
Shosuro Fukurokuma arrived home to find a copy of Kei’s letter at his work station, along with some plans for a new bonsai garden to be constructed in the Northern edges of Scorpion territory. Conveniently, this location made him easy to reach when Oharu sent messengers out to gather the party.
Iuchi Chaya returned home only to have an incident. For a brief instant, she felt and was in tune with all of Rokugan (and beyond). When she awakened, there were two letters waiting for her and information on a third. The first letter was from Hida Nagori. He seemed lonely and in need of a friend. The second was Oharu’s call for the party to gather. The third letter was a notice from the Phoenix Clan that they were sending a party to Unicorn lands to investigate a “disturbance,” likely Chaya’s incident, as close contact with the Void has been known to echo significantly. To avoid the Phoenix, Chaya answered Oharu’s call and rejoined the party – and brought horses with her.
The party rode East along the southern border of Dragon lands, crossing into Crane lands near Toshi Ranbo. Bridges in the city make it easy to cross the Drowned Merchant River. The border guards, for their part, seem to respect the paperwork given to the party by Miya Kei, and allow them to pass unmolested.
As the party drew near to the Lion border, they encountered a village which had been raided, with the residents all being put to death. Following the raider’s trail, the party encountered a Lion Guard post with a guard who had evidently been sleeping. After initially riding on, the party realized that most border crossings have posts for both sides involved and rode back to further investigate the guard post.
While interrogating the guard (whose story very shortly revealed that it didn’t quite add up), a few riders approached. The party killed half of the bandits, badly wounded two others, and befuddled one of them. Taking the wounded and befuddled bandits into custody, they rode on and shortly encountered the real Crane/Lion border with its guard posts.
The prisoners were left with the Crane, and the party rode on.
The Lion guards (the real ones this time) scrutinized the party’s papers closely, but allowed them to pass. The highway to the Imperial City was only a short distance away, and Ryoko Owari itself is only a few days away.