Mirumoto Shohi-en’s initial invitation was written in a clear hand:
You are invited to spend the winter among friends.
Ryu no Kiba Yosai (Dragon’s Fang Fortress) is open to you on the Tenth day of the Rat in this Imperial Year of 879. Join us for feasting and celebration as we give thanks for the year we have survived and prepare to welcome the New Year with a winter filled with warm companionship and a few friendly competitions.
It then went on to detail how large a retinue was appropriate and lists the other invited guests. (GM Note: Feel free to make an Etiquette/Perception roll when you get here to see if there are any notable guests who were left off of the invite list)
We understand that occasional disagreements have occurred within the last year between some of our honored guests, and so we humbly request that the spirit of hospitality extend beyond the traditional three days. All guests are welcome through the fourth day of the Month of the Hare, in Imperial Year 880.
Also attached is a schedule of events – tournaments, other competitions, feast days, and the like. As always, there are a few feast days that you don’t recognize on the calendar.
Shohi-en seems to like any excuse for a feast.
My library will be open to all those who truly wish to study.
The local Dragon families were the first to arrive this year, followed by the Unicorn. Everyone else arrived in fits and spurts as the snow gradually made travel more and more difficult. The Scorpion were the last to arrive.
Upon arrival Shohi-en greeted each member of each arriving party by name and presented them with a small gift. Most of the gifts were small hand-carved figurines. Higher-status characters received different gifts.
The leaders of each party also provided gifts for Shohi-en – with one exception. Yogo Angai bowed deeply with a smile behind her lacy mask. “Shohi-en-sama,” she began, “I have a gift for you, but the time of its giving is not yet right. I beg your forgiveness for this delay, but you will understand when the gift is given.”
Taken briefly aback, Shohi-en blinks a few times, “Old friend,” he said, “You have spent many winters in my home, and I have learned to trust you. I hope you do not keep us in suspense for too long. Enter and be welcome in my home.”
The next few weeks are a bit of a blur. There are numerous competitions and ceremonies, from haiku to sumo to ikebana (using silk flowers, of course) to shogi and go. The results of each competition are duly recorded by one of Shohi-en’s servants, and you have a hunch there is some sort of secret score being kept overall somewhere.
Today is Shouting Day for the peasants. It’s also the last day of the sumo competition (which Shohi-en himself is winning handily). Tomorrow, the Calligraphy competition is scheduled to begin, and there will be a Unicorn Feast at the end of the week.