Kitsu Kosho was placed in charge of hunting down the suspected criminal Moshi Kikiyo, but the Lion, Crane, and Scorpion all wanted to send representatives to ensure the hunt was sucessful. Moshi checked into the first few points as expected, but then stopped heading back towards Mantis lands. She became difficult to find, in part because Bayushi Yoshimi was making it more difficult so Masamune’s killer wouldn’t be found by a central member of the Lion Manits alliance, to tempt the Crane into allying with the Scorpion Pheonix alliance, and partly due to Otomo Kage slowing things down for the same intended reason, as he wanted to ensure the summer saw war.
Eventually, it became clear that Kikiyo was headed to Crane lands, speciffically Shiro No Kakita. They reached the city to the news that someone had burned the Kenshinzen dojo to the ground with magic, and killed three Kenshinzen in the process.
A terrified ronin admitted that the servants of the Serpent of the East had smuggled Kikiyo out of the city. The trail ended at Severed village, a small island a ferry ride from the mainland. The townheadman was a disguised servant of the Serpent of the East, who attacked Kage when he became to aggressive. Two ronin and a monk on the island also served the serpent, but the monk managed to escape. A third ronin, an old iaijitsu teacher, was obviously complicient with the serpent, but did not directly aid her, and was left in peace.
Meanwhile, back at Kyuden Bayushi, the final round of the Empress Hand tournament saw Bayushi Tozen bow out to Hida Ryozo, who had become the ideal duelist in one short year, and was now the Empress’s consort.