So, it took a while without me posting but we had sessions 10 and 11.
Session 10 was our Hot Springs Episode. TVTropes may ruin your life. The warning has been given, your fate is now your own
18th of the Ox, 817
The players wake up with a summons from Bayushi Shiko, the wife of Bayushi Ogoe-ue. She shows an invitation from Hantei (née Doji) Megumi, wife of Hantei Osahito, the Crown Prince to go visit a village near Kyuden Ide that apparently has a Hot Springs and the Princess wants to invite some of the ladies of the Winter Court with her for a day of relaxation and merriment.
Shiko tells them she is of course going and that her husband had suggested that the three of them escorted her along (obviously to make sure, she wouldn't get into a cat fight with Mirumoto Kaijuko).
They will be leaving shortly so they only have time to prepare some clothes and one quick action.
Genji goes to speak to Agasha Kitsuki to confirm if Kaijuko is going or not, to which he receives a positive answer much to their chagrin.
Baku gets a short walk and talk with Ogoe to confirm that the current orders remain to which he also receives a positive answer.
Shina prepares a poison that could cause cramps and stomachache if ingested just as a secondary plan to keep either Kaijuko or Shiko away from the events at the Hot Springs.
The snow had stopped in the last few days so the travel wasn't so bad and they received Unicorn horses for the ride as well. During the travel they could see some familiar faces riding along like Mirumoto Kaijuko, Agasha Mei-lin and Hida Makoto, Moto Chabi and Shinjo Koshamon. It took them 4 hours to reach the village by horse.
I took inspiration for the village from Twin Blessings Village where the Hot Springs is just the sleeping place of powerful Fire Kami. It is not Twin Blessings Village though. One difference, for instance, this kami enjoys ashes instead of saké.
They stay accommodated at the small temple where the residing monk (a retired Kitsu) oversees the Hot Springs and the characters notice how hard the Seppun and Otomo worked hard and in such a short notice to provide the minimum acceptable comfort for a Hantei to sleep in such a spartan place. The hot springs and temple are located atop of a hill overseeing the village with some smaller pools (with less warmer water) forming down the hill. The princess and the rest of the ladies will have the main spring for themselves while Genji and Baku can enjoy the secondary springs with whatever male Seppun not on immediate duty (which would probably be none).
While undressing to bathe in the spring, Shina (who has Dangerous Allure) notices that Shiko looks at her with jealousy. The players screaming "now everything makes sense" was hilarious (because Mirumoto Kaijuko ALSO has Dangerous Allure). With this new information, Shina decides that instead poisoning Shiko, Kaijuko or both, she will try to bring the attention of Hantei Megumi to herself and thus become the target of Shiko's jealousy. Before they bathe, they are informed by a Seppun of the Hidden Guard that before taking a bath, one should throw ashes into the water as an offering to the kami. They do so and start enjoying the relaxing bath. Hida Makoto joins for the bath and Shina sees that she has a deep Sagat-like scar across her chest that she didn't try to hide but actually seemed to carry it with pride.
Shiko was having a pleasant conversation with Megumi when Kaijuko arrived, Shina took this opportunity to roll Performance and her newly acquired Fire 4 to get the attention of everyone at the bath, specially Megumi and become the center of attention. She succeeded handily and acquired the temporary animosity of Shiko.
Meanwhile, Baku and Genji, with nothing better to do, went to one of the secondary springs where they found Mako, the monk in charge of the temple taking a bath there already. He invited them into the water, and showed them a small bag with ashes for them to throw as offering. They noticed that the spring was a Hallowed Ground for Fire and Water. They talked with Mako, found out about his past, they were glad he didn't know who they were and their recent dealings with the Lion and Mako even pointed how he noticed no Lion lady came with the Princess and he asked them if they knew anything about the Lion being in disgrace with the Imperial Family, to which they lied by omission as best as they could.
Just before dinner time, Kochamon convinced the Princess of letting Moto Chabi prepare a typical Unicorn travelling dinner (i.e. a spit roast barbecue) and because Megumi has a passion for Travel, she would very much enjoy novelty food. Unfortunately for Chabi, her roll Survival/Fire roll was zero successes and 3 kept opportunities to which I decided that she lost her hands with the spices, causing the food to be so spicy causing flatulence (and 3 Strife) ON EVERYONE. She definitely lost a lot of Glory because of that, but that also worked for the players as nobody wanted to fart in front of the Princess nor the Princess wanted to fart in front of anyone, causing everybody to spend the COLD, CLOUDLESS, WINTER night contemplating the stars by themselves.
19th of the Ox, 817
When they finally went to sleep, Genji and Baku wake up in the middle of the night, hearing someone call their names. from outside the temple. They go investigate and first thing they notice is that it's snowy but it is not cold and they see a huge salamander shaped creature made of water and eyes of fire talking to an old lady enjoying the hot spring. They approach with caution and the lady and the spirit stop their conversation to look at them. They lady grabs Genji by his cheeks and tells him that she is glad her granddaughter was feeding him nicely. She finally presents herself as Soshi Kaede and she is the Spiritual Protector of Genji. She comes with a warning and a request.
The warning is that Yogo Ja-Yoon, the ghost that haunts Baku is trying to gather strength and the request is that Genji find her secret lab (a lost family heirloom with the keywords Hallowed and Obscured) where she had notes that could help on banishing Gaki-do spirits.
They wake up at the same time in the middle of the night, this time for real and spend the rest of the night outside, excited with the conversation they just had and how Baku can finally get rid of this shameful secret.
Shina wakes up in the morning and notices Baku and Genji left way early and probably didn't sleep at all. She dresses herself and is waiting for Shiko to wake up. Shina is kind of pissed with Shiko trying to pursue this (in her view) petty rivalry and tries to obtain information on how all of this started. She uses Fire/Command to pointedly demand an explanation and she fails. Shiko is obviously pissed with Shina for "not knowing her place" and finds out that Ogoe had actually ordered them to hinder her plans, which left her pissed with them AND WITH HER HUSBAND. Genji and Baku return in time, with the happiest face and notice the mood of the room and stay quiet.
They go back to Kyuden Ide where Shiko and Ogoe are about to have a conversation Ogoe didn't want at all.
That's it for session 10. I'll try to post session 11 tomorrow.