Matsumoto Ooawagaeri makes his debut in a forbidden sanctum.
Matsumoto Ooawagaeri makes his debut in a forbidden sanctum.
Now accustomed to his new powers, Hashinara Katamoto gathers those who are still loyal to him. These include Ryūzaki Sanosuke, a capable general who served his daughter, Aotsuki Tsukamoto, a humble but beautiful farm boy with a silver tongue, and Matsumoto Ooawagaeri, dark scion to the clan responsible for his resurrection.
Hashinara Katamoto and his new generals meet with legendary bandit group Goemon's Virtuous Thieves. Through revelry, they convince Raizō and his bandits to join in on an attack on Wakigami Castle to free Katamoto's assets from their new rulers.
After a heated battle with the Yasutane Clan, who occupied the fortress in his absence, Hashinara Katamoto and his generals reestablish control over Wakigami Castle and, by extension, Yamato Province.
A massive, invisible skeleton suddenly attacks Tōdai-ji after the battle between Tōdaisen Nobuhara and Yokokazu Ume. Although driven off by Katsusada Shishauezaemon and allies, this event presages military movements by the Chōsokabe Clan who inhabit Shikkoku to the west.
A horde of undead creatures, led by a general of the Chōsokabe Clan attack the Canal District of Wakigami. With the support of Katsusada Shishauezaemon and his trusted generals, they are driven back with few civilian casualties and their leader captured.
During his investigation into Kii, Matsumoto Ooawagaeri befriends an ordinary squirrel. It bites an ancient family amulet he wears around his neck, and is shocked by some kind of magical discharge. Ooawagaeri decides to keep it.
Having finished their investigation of Kii, Matsumoto Ooawagaeri and Aotsuki Tsukamoto travel to Shima Province to meet with the Daimyō of the Tanahase Clan and enquire regarding Katsusada Shishauezaemon's missive.
Investigating rumors of Oni attacks, Katsusada Shishauezaemon and Ryūzaki Sanosuke both begin traveling to Kongobu-ji in eastern Kii. Having just returned to Wakigami, Aotsuki Tsukamoto and Matsumoto Ooawagaeri are both ordered to make for the temple as well.
The four major generals of the Hashinara complete their journey and reunite for the first time since the attack on Kii began.
Upon arrival at Kongobu-ji, the generals of the Hashinara discover that the resident priests have all been slain by unknown individuals. Though there were rumors of an Oni here, these wounds seem to have been inflicted by weapons.
While investigating the slaughter at Kongobu-ji, the generals of the Hashinara encounter a monstrous Oni just south of the temple. They engage in battle against it, but Katsusada Shishauezaemon's magic freezes the creature in place and then dominates its mind, turning it into an ally.
After dealing with Baby Huey, the generals of the Hashinara encounter the true perpetrators behind the slaughter of priests at Kongobu-ji: a pair of Kyonshi named Amenotokotachi and Umashiashikabihikoji. The Hashinara forces engage them in battle and slay both without allied casualties. Both corpses are put into Katsusada Shishauezaemon's care.
Upon arriving at Iga, Katsusada Shishauezaemon and his most trusted generals (plus Baby Huey) are led to a secluded tea house and meet with Fujibayashi Nagato of the Iga Ninja. Before the meeting can proceed, however, the group is attacked by two Igamono, Crocodile and Stoplight. When the two are near defeat, the leader of the Igamono, Vengeance joins the fray. After a desperate battle in which Baby Huey is slain, all three enemy ninja are defeated and Vengeance captured.
Upon returning to Kongobu-ji with the intent of inspecting new priests instated to take control of the shrine, Katsusada Shishauezaemon and his generals instead find that the onmyōji have been killed and raised as zombies. A short battle ensues, in which the offending undead are slaughtered and the area cleaned. No further attempt to colonize this accursed shrine would be undertaken for quite some time after.
Ready to begin their assault in full against the Chōsokabe Clan, Hashinara troops, including the clan's most prestigious generals, board ships at Wakayama Harbor and set sail for Awa on the eastern shore of Shikkoku.
Hashinara forces make landing at Awa Harbor and engage with the Chōsokabe Clan's forces stationed there under the command of Chōsokabe Nobuchika. As the Chōsokabe Forsaken troops are defeated, Nobuchika is captured, and another enemy general, Motoyama Tsugutoshi is released from their apparent supernatural control. During the conflict, Ishikawa Goemon faces off with Momochi Sandayu, her former master, now Forsaken and culprit behind an attempted assassination on Katsusada Shishauezaemon. Goemon suffers a severe wound to the stomach, but Sandayu is slain.
With Oni forces on loan from the Mori Clan, Hashinara forces begin their march north from Awa to Chosokabe Clan-occupied Sanuki. Their objective is to defeat Forsaken forces stationed at Takamatsu Castle and return control of both the fortress and the province to Motoyama Tsugutoshi, Daimyō of the Motoyama Clan.
Hashinara forces led by Katsusada Shishauezaemon and his four most trusted generals march on Takamatsu Castle in Sanuki to engage the occupying Chōsokabe Clan. Upon arrival, they find the battlefield cloaked in a magical mist, and must fight their way through a pack of Nue, supernatural predators which use the fog to deadly advantage. Commanding the enemy forces are Chōsokabe Kanetsugu and Chōsokabe Kunichika. After a difficult battle due to field conditions, the former general is captured and the latter is slain in battle as the Hashinara claim victory.
Under the command of Katsusada Shishauezaemon and his most trusted generals, Hashinara forces march south from Sanuki, through Awa, and into Tōsa Province. They stage in the wastelands there for their final assault on Nankoku and the Chōsokabe Clan.
Hashinara forces led by Katsusada Shishauezaemon attack Nankoku in an attempt to destroy the Chōsokabe Clan and the threat posed by their Forsaken once and for all. They are met by Chōsokabe Motochika, going under her adopted name of Amenominakanushi, a giant Forsaken called Arehate Daidara, and a number of other powerful generals and troops. With a final blow from Baby Huey, the Hashinara slay Motochika and seem as though they will succeed, but the enemy general's death leads to a black hole that threatens to devour the entirety of Tōsa or worse. Only through the timely use of a secret technique passed on to Ishikawa Goemon by her mentor Momochi Sandayu is the disaster averted and victory truly claimed. When the disaster is averted, all Forsaken have vanished and only the Hashinara remain in Nankoku's ruins.
Heeding the instructions from the mysterious talking squirrel that has been his companion for some time now, Matsumoto Ooawagaeri flies into the air and flings the creature into the void rift above Nankoku. With a dazzling display of magical energy, the rift is sealed, and its power transforms the squirrel into Jigenmaru. With the rift sealed and Chōsokabe Motochika defeated, this event marks the finale of the Hashinara Clan's war against the Chōsokabe Clan.
Though still technically a prisoner, Chōsokabe Kanetsugu forms a bond with Matsumoto Ooawagaeri and begins to act somewhat less like a convict and more like a general of the Hashinara Clan. Eventually the line is so blurred that she is considered an official of the clan without any major announcement or decision being made.
Following their victory over the Chōsokabe Clan, generals and soldiers of the Hashinara begin the long trek back to their home of Wakigami in Yamato Province. Their journey will take them through wastelands, over seas, and across forests, but is otherwise without incident.
Upon hearing from an Administrative Flunky that Matsutada Tadamatsu, emissary from the Imperial Court has failed to reach a second checkpoint in Wakigami, Katsusada Shishauezaemon gathers his most talented generals as a search party to find the missing diplomat. His actions are hastened by news that Vengeance has escaped from the castle's dungeons. They have not traveled far into the Canal District when they are attacked by a group of Igamono ninja. Shishauezaemon battles alongside Aotsuki Tsukamoto, Ryūzaki Sanosuke, Matsumoto Ooawagaeri, Kamimusubi, and Yoshitaka Hitsuie to fight off the would-be assassins, but it is a brutal battle. Partway through the unnamed Administrative Flunky turns on Shishauezaemon and attempts to land a killing blow, but is rebuffed by the timely arrival of Fujibayashi Nagato. With the attacking ninja dead, the Flunky escapes, but Hitsuie is able to follow his tracks to an unlikely destination: The Tsukijō Wakigami Manor.
Following the "Administrative Flunky's" tracks to the Tsukijō Wakigami Manor, the generals find that it has already been taken by Igamono. They enter the building's basement cautiously, and are confronted by a man who looks and sounds exactly like Katsusada Shishauezaemon. When questioned by the real Shishauezaemon, the impostor claims that he already spoke to the envoy from the Imperial Court. Among other misinformation, Matsutada Tadamatsu was told that the Hashinara attacked the Chōsokabe Clan on a personal slight, and that the Ashikaga Shogunate should mind its own business on threat of war. Before the discussion could progress any further, Fujibayashi Nagato attacked the impostor from the shadows and a full battle broke out between Hashinara elite and the lurking Igamono. Among their top priorities was the rescue of Tsukijō no Yumeno, tied to a post in the middle of the cellar, but this too was revealed to be a ninja fake. She was slain with the rest, but in the chaos, a single Igamono managed to cut off the real Katsusada Shishauezaemon's head. With the enigmatic words, "Vengeance has been served," the man accepted his death at the others' hands. As panic spread, Chōsokabe Morichika stole Matsumoto Ooawagaeri out of the chaos. With a few quick words, however, Ryūzaki Sanosuke was able to regain control of the situation, and the Igamono suffered a brutal defeat. After the battle, the real Tsukijō no Yumeno was found in a nearby barrel. She was unharmed, merely tied up, and corroborated the story that the fake Shishauezaemon had told them before.
After being teleported out of Tsukijō Hanahane's basement, Matsumoto Ooawagaeri finds himself in Masamune's humble smithy. Having just whisked him out of danger, Chōsokabe Morichika is slightly less acerbic than usual, and explains that she's been using this place as a safehouse after the Chōsokabe-Hashinara war. Masamune himself seems fairly content to keep her there, doting and teasing her almost as if she were his own daughter. With some words exchanged about the current state of matters and Yoshitaka Hitsuie's rude health, the three part ways once again. Before he leaves, however, Morichika asks Ooawagaeri to keep her location a secret from the rest of the clan. At the same time, general Ryūzaki Sanosuke is busy meeting with Chōsokabe Kanetsugu with the intention of finding where Morichika might have taken his comrade. She doesn't know, having not been close with the girl, but directs him to ask Chōsokabe Nobuchika instead.
Following his death at the hands of the Igamono, Katsusada Shishauezaemon (truly Hashinara Katamoto) is taken to Mikumari-jinja for a dark ritual of revival. Presiding over the ceremony is Matsumoto Ooawagaeri, who invokes rites passed down throughout the Matsumoto Clan for generations. It takes no fewer than three days, but Shishauezaemon breathes once again. He is greeted upon his awakening by Ichinomiya Karen, Chōsokabe Kanetsugu, Yamanaka Yukimori, and Nue. All are their for there own reasons, but ultimately for the fallen Daimyō's protection. Of surprise to Shishauezaemon is that Ooawagaeri's sword appears sentient, and speaks to him throughout the revival, but he makes the connection with the squirrel that had accompanied the boy and dismisses it. After being filled in on the situation with the Ashikaga Shogunate, the Ryūzōji, and the task burdened onto the Hashinara, he departs back to nearby Wakigami immediately.
Separate from whatever other mischief in his chaotic cookbook, Matsumoto Ooawagaeri, in his guise as Susuki, was also engaged by Tōdaisen Nobuhara to search for Musashibō Benkei's missing naginata, Iwatōshi. He had seen it prudent to involve Tōdaisen Nobuyoshi in this expedition, and the two had begun their search at Benkei's and Minamoto no Yoshitsune's shared quarters in Wakigami Castle. After bypassing the security measures there, however, they were no closer to an answer, and so Susuki began to consider other avenues of action.
After speaking with Hakutaku at her tent and finding her two previous patients missing, Fubuki finds that she* is able to track the pale Oni by sensing the chaos he left behind. She* follows the trail to an alley next to Wakigami Castle and suspiciously close to Tōdaisen Nobuhara's office, and then through the Canal District to The Tanuki's Delight.
Fubuki finally catches up with Dōhan at The Tanuki's Delight in Wakigami. She's quickly convinced to drop her disguise, revealing Matsumoto Ooawagaeri, who endears himself to the old oni by furnishing him with some inari sushi. In their following discussion, Hayashi Narinaga, or Dōhan, does not admit to being the agency behind the recent possessions of Shigeaki Fujino and Tōdaisen Nobuhara, but he does not deny it either. After being assured that Dōhan has no designs on the Matsumoto Clan or any of his allies, Ooawagaeri takes his leave and disguises himself as Fubuki once again.
Fubuki makes a visit to Tsukijō Hanahane's infamous manor in Wakayama. Upon arrival, she* is halted by a door guard, who was no doubt told to expect Matsumoto Ooawagaeri instead. He goes inside to check with the lord, but while he is gone, Fubuki catches sight of something white fleeing into a nearby hedge. Though not given enough time to investigate, she* stations Munechika there to keep an eye on things with a sprig of ooawagaeri. Hanahane is welcoming, if surprised at the nature of the visit. Fubuki wishes to involve him in the upgrade of her* own Black Galleon to a flying casino ship, an idea that the dandy is absolutely on board with in every way. The rash of recent break-ins comes up several times during the conversation, but Hanahane deflects Fubuki's offers for help until they both find Munechika right outside the window, chatting with a girl clad in white.
As if drawn into a dream against their own volition, in a time and space not quite connected with what they know as reality, the heroes of the Hashinara Clan found themselves in a wasteland. Here, they were pitted against Deathlord☠Troxiom, a monstrous evil general in the midst of a ritual that would make him unstoppable. Alongside them was Date Masamune [Hero]. Queerer still for Matsumoto Ooawagaeri, he found himself to be Masamune, with his body only nominally under his own control and his mouth speaking words he did not intend. Together they battled against Troxiom in an attempt to rescue Katakura Kojūrō [Damsel], but their attacks had little effect on the bone-armored titan at the height of his power. Date Masamune (Hero) summoned his companions to the fight, his weapons glowing bright, but they did not heed his call. It was Ryūzaki Sanosuke's clever idea to write with a conjured pen on the story-scrawling scroll in the background, albeit with little effect. Maxim held the line and traded blows with Troxiom, but could not fell him. Aotsuki Tsukamoto called upon his companion Kagami to pelt their adversary with spheres of light, weak as they were. Still, such setbacks mattered little in the face of Hashinara Yoshitakatomo's incredible magic prowess. With an unseen grasp of mystic power, she* took the story scroll's magic for her* own, and became the effective god of this corner of The Dreamlands. Even by Yoshitakatomo's hand, the battle continued for some time. At the end, Deathlord☠Troxiom lay broken upon the ground. Date Masamune (Hero) was victorious, thanks to his stalwart companions, and Katakura Kojūrō (Damsel) was saved. With the threat gone, the dream dissolved, and our heroes were sent victorious back to the present world. Richer, perhaps, than when they entered, and with the clout of heroism to buoy them through the difficult times ahead. Indeed, it seems that Maxim took something more substantial with him, as the Deathlord's magnificent weapon, the Deathlord Buster, followed him into the waking world.
Investigating reports from Juntoku no Chūkyō regarding a mysterious merchant in Awa Harbor, the five generals of the Hashinara clan quickly found the racketeer in question. Clad from toe to tip in black cloth, with a white mask under his hat, the merchant spoke with a strange, grinding voice and moved with jerky twitches. For all this, he seemed friendly enough, and explained that he was selling poor-quality swords, failures, in bulk. Though these weapons were anything but poor-quality, Fubuki recognized them as being crafted by the same legendary smith notorious for making "Cursed" weapons. Not wanting any more of these blades distributed to the public, Hashinara Yoshitakatomo bought the whole cart, only to have another cart wheel itself out of the house behind the merchant, full to the brim with more blades. With the help of his Sheele, Aotsuki Tsukamoto recognized gears beneath the cart's wheels as the source of its self-locomotion. Karakuri, according to Yoshitakatomo, a kind of trick clockwork popular among the richer classes for entertainment. Meanwhile, Fubuki had transmuted into a tiny fox and stolen into the house. Inside were four more copies of the same merchant. Further inspection showed them to be more wood and gears under their robes than humans. Before Fubuki's investigation could continue, it was interrupted by a shower of bombs with various coy expressions painted on them from the rafters above. First a flashbang, then three smoke grenades that masked the disappearance of the merchants within. By this point, Maxim had burst through the door and was attempting to save the man he saw inside, but with little luck. A few moments and a powerful breath from Sanosuke dispelled the smoke, but the clockwork men were nowhere to be seen. Outside, Kagami pointed out that she'd seen a person on the roof, and Tama found a discharged bomb with a sullen face drawn on it. At the same time, the first merchant had suddenly changed its tune, confirming that yes, Yoshitakatomo actually could meet the smith behind those fine weapons. Fubuki teleported beneath the floor-boards, while Maxim followed by use of a trapdoor Sanosuke had pointed out during an investigation of the interior. Transforming her*self into a hat, Fubuki rested on one of the marching merchant's heads as they progressed through a tunnel until reaching a stone room with more carts of weapons. Also present, watching over them, was a mysterious creature comprising a cloak tapering to blades at the end and a mass of vaguely humanoid red ribbons under a death-marked mask. The Blade Wraith immediately spotted Fubuki even through the disguise and, while she* fought valiantly for a hat, the four "merchants" and creature were able to slay her* in short order. Before falling, Fubuki had sent a message to Yoshitakatomo covering the situation and the princess-daimyō was about to make her* own magical entrance just as Maxim reached the door. Both were too late to save Fubuki, but perhaps she* can still be rescued from true death if they act quickly enough. Standing in their way, though, were the Blade Wraith and four karakuri merchants, now revealed to be hideous clockwork dolls under the guise.
Fubuki teleports outside to meet Tsukijō Hanahane's nighttime visitor, who turns out to be a moth yōkai called Hagasaki Rinko. The girl is enamored with treasures inside the Hanahane Manor, and wants the thing that's "like the sun" most of all. Hanahane believes this to be an Alexandrian sun symbol forged by the brilliant prisoner-artificers of Mavrovlachia, so Fubuki uses some water to recreate the treasure. Rinko isn't interested until a bit of oil in each point of the sun sets it alight as a lamp. Still, she's most interested in a decorative French lamp inside. Under some mild protests from Hanahane, Fubuki brings the moth in. The guard is still occupied with what @Munechika describes as a "distraction". Inside, Rinko goes straight for the lamp, but Hanahane's arm and Fubuki's hand around hers are able to stop her. Making the sun facsimile more elaborate, Fubuki promises that she* can make one just like it if Rinko will go with her*. Overjoyed, the moth girl agrees, and Hanahane seems relieved to have her out of the manor.
Moments after the death of Fubuki (in hat form), Hashinara Yoshitakatomo teleports the remainder of the party into the shadows of the cavern below. They arrive at the same time as Maxim, who departed first on foot. Although Yoshitakatomo has used a large amount of energy transporting the group, especially Kagami and Tama who are technically artifacts, the group wastes no time in engaging the mottled group of mechanical dolls. Despite its fearsome showing before, the Blade Wraith falls immediately to a single swing from Ryūzaki Sanosuke. While Maxim and Sanosuke engage the remaining mechanical men in combat, Aotsuki Tsukamoto instead attempts to retrieve Fubuki. Aided by the unseen hand of Munechika, he succeeds, and calls upon Amaterasu's light to bring the deceased hat back to life. Though difficult to damage and incredibly deadly, the karakuri men are no match for Sanosuke. Soon, each is reduced to a heap on the ground except for one, whose limbs Yoshitakatomo fuses to its sides to take captive for study. Following up on an unmooring sound called out by Kagami only moments before, the warriors rush through the back of the cave and outside to a small pier. A boat was here, but through the use of karakuri trickery and possibly magic, it has vanished at speed. Even the vessel's trail stops abruptly at a certain point in the water. Whomever was here and leading these creatures, presumably the same individual with the expressive bombs, has made their escape. However, the battle was not without its gains. The Cardinal Generals now find themselves in possession of upwards of six hundred quality, possibly cursed, katana. What's more, Maxim somehow regains his two-handed sword. How could that have gotten here? It will probably remain a mystery. Taking their captive, Yoshitakatomo discovers a final clue engraved into its body. "学天即". Something like "learning from the laws of nature". A maker's mark? Perhaps this, and the now-absent original merchant's promise to deliver swords to Wakigami Castle, may yet lead to the karakuri puppetmaster behind this whole fiasco.
Through some strange machinations of Hashinara Yoshitakatomo her*self, Fubuki is called to the Kō-Midare Workshop in Wakigami. There, she* encounters Jirōuemon, hiding poorly behind a barrel. It seems that Yoshitakatomo has somehow convinced the dull Oni girl to join Fubuki's own party, so she* coaxes the other out with a dumpling and welcomes her aboard before returning to the Black Galleon. Upon Fubuki's return, she* is greeted by Ryūhaku, who seems eager to begin his duties as first mate. His disappointment at being told that Watatsuki-dōnyo will be piloting the ship is tempered by Fubuki's explanation that he'll be in charge of manning the wheel when they travel upon the water. Due to the Date Clan still searching for Matsumoto Ooawagaeri, this is going to be their preferred method of travel for a time. After setting out bunks for the new arrivals, not least Phenex and Hagasaki Rinko, Fubuki explores further below decks to the cargo hold. Here, Aka no Kitsunebi and Taira no Tokuko are awaiting her* with a cabin already lightly furnished and ready for use. Seeking something to clean her* weapons with during her* downtime, Fubuki finds a cloth in the corner that reveals a fist-sized, glittering ruby in the shape of an uneven cube when unfolded. Something flickers in the heart of the gem, and it seems to warm to Fubuki's touch. Deciding prudently that now isn't the time to investigate cursed gemstones, she* creates a magical pedestal for the item and places it away before returning to her* meditation.
A partnered battle of wits and willpower to determine who among the figments of Alice can become "real," insofar as that term applies in the Dreamlands. Read the full list of events at: The White Rabbit Bowl
The second day of the Mōri Aspirant Tournament arrived, with festivites starting early in the morning. Special considerations had been made for the Hashinara Clan this time, with their official box expanded enough to seat a multitude of generals. From Mōri Motonari's subtle glance, Ryūzaki Sanosuke gathered that this gesture may have been made largely for him. It made sense, given the sheer number of generals he had brought once again. A fair number of other events occurred simulatenously with the matches, but for details on each battle that took place, see: Mōri Matches: Day 2
No sooner had Fubuki magicked the sword binding Kashirin away than yet another strange event interrupted the ill-fated Mōri tournament. The more keen-eared of those in the crowd noticed it first, and brought it to the attention of their allies. A low, whistling sound was steadily growing in volume as something approached the stadium at high speed. It was not Kashirin's prisonous sword, but rather a black spear shooting down from the heavens directly at Maxim.
During the matches throughout the morning, Aka no Kitsunebi had brought something troubling to her master's attention. Tenman Tenjin, the eye-marked dagger the two found on a previous adventure, had mysteriously sprouted roots and was now digging deep into Kitsunebi's hand. At a cursory examination, Fubuki determined the roots to be that of a plum tree, slowly siphoning blood from his subject's hand. It was a slow process, but if untreated, she would likely die.
After the morning matches had finished, Fubuki had much to do. There was the matter of Aka no Kitsunebi's parasitic dagger and the bronze casket that came with it. Before handling that, however, her* business took her across to the eastern side of the arena. Upon her* arrival, however, Ryūzaki Sanosuke was already expected for a meeting with the Alexandrians, and so Fubuki was denied entry.
In Setsu Province, villagers, cityfolk, and bakeneko alike have been complaining of strange dreams. The legend of Momotarō plays out before their eyes every night, albeit with a unique spin. In this rendition, "Magical Momo" is an idol, and she defeats the evil oni with her cheerful antics and cute companions. Could this spectacle just be residual thoughts from that idol competition in Wakigami? That wouldn't explain why farmers who have never seen an "idol" in their lives are having the same dreams too. It's been a while since the Gauntlet of Games, where the Date Clan implored their counterparts in the Hashinara to investigate these "dream shards" popping up all over the country. Likely it's in response to the big portal up north near their capital. Regardless, the brave generals of the Hashinara were getting around to it, and their next target was that peach-colored rift halfway between Kaya and Osaka(settlement).
As Aotsuki Tsukamoto departed on his own business, it fell to Fubuki to confirm her* plan of action with Abe no Seimei. The Black Blade would take her* cohort to the capital and attempt to bring Sugawara no Michizane back to his proper burial place. Meanwhile, Seimei would go about making the preparations for a sheele ritual. So long as Fubuki could provide the required magical energy on her* return, it would not take long to bring a new aspect of her* into the world.
Successful in ridding Aka no Kitsunebi of a cursed dagger, healing her infirmities, and receiving the patronage of an aspect of knowledge, Fubuki finally returned from the Imperial Palace’s gardens to keep an appointment with Abe no Seimei in Ōtsu Castle. Seimei had been at work preparing a ritual, and had finished not long ago when Fubuki and companions joined her in the castle basement. The Black Blade communicated a shortened version of the events, then affirmed that she* was ready to be granted a Sheele, like many of her* companions already had.
Post-tournament, as the crowds began to leave the Mōri arena in Shimonoseki, several Hashinara generals, too, found interests elsewhere to pursue. Aotsuki Tsukamoto traveled to Mino Province with Saitō Dōsan to handle the leftovers from some of his previous days’ adventures. As well, Ryūzaki Sanosuke returned to Wakigami upon the request of Tōdaisen Nobuhara, to help him clean up a mess that had sprouted up in the generals’ absence. That left Hashinara Yoshitakatomo and Maxim in the dwindling crowds.
When Akashi Kengyō departed, he left Maxim and Ikeda Tsuneoki face to face and blade to blade. Invoking his knightly honor, Maxim offered his opponent one last chance to put down his weapons and surrender. Tsuneoki, however, was too wrapped up in his vengeance, pinning all of the injustices he had faced on the Hashinara Clan and refusing to back down. There could be no other outcome. Maxim challenged Tsuneoki to a duel.
Aotsuki Tsukamoto and Saitō Dōsan were among the first to arrive in the meeting chamber of Owari Castle that had been set aside for their purposes. Maxim, too, was in attendance, and soon Hashinara Yoshitakatomo arrived with an unknown stranger in her* company. The opposite side of the wide, low table was filled with the Oda Clan’s greatest remaining representatives. Oichi took the head, her position cemented by her relationship to Oda Nobunaga, previous Daimyō of the clan. Beside her stood Shibata Katsuie, her bodyguard and a proponent of this meeting. Then, along the side were Ishida Mitsunari, Azai Nagamasa, and Mori Ranmaru. Only Nagamasa’s presence between the two others seemed to be preventing them from attacking each other right there. Petty complaints and snappish insults were tossed about above the weary-looking Azai Daimyō’s head.
While the invading demon, Raym, lurked beneath the meeting room table, Hashinara Yoshitakatomo took the opportunity to cast a minor spell of healing upon the fallen. This jolted them awake, mending some of their wounds, but Azai Nagamasa was still missing an arm and Ishida Mitsunari a leg, so they were yet in no condition to rejoin the battle. Even Kagami's supernatural powers of detection couldn't pinpoint their attacker's location, save that she was somewhere under the table, so Ryūzaki Sanosuke took the most obvious route forward. Slamming his foot down in a precise, powerful strike, he exerted just enough force to snap all four legs of the table and bring it down heavily onto the floor below. So measured was his strength that those standing on the table barely had to adjust their balance. Even so, the heavy wooden slab didn't seem to meet any resistance on the way down. Either Raym was no longer down there, or her powers of shadow extended further than they knew.
The Matsumoto Black Galleon loomed silently in the skies over Wakigami. From its deck, Fubuki cast a gust of wind to hurl her off the side on a direct course toward Wakigami Castle below. A bit of magic to alter trajectory, and the Black Blade touched down just beyond the castle gates, now closed for the night. The guards on duty gave a start at her* sudden appearance, but apparently had orders to let Fubuki through, as they made no move to stop the new arrival. Venturing into the familiar halls, Fubuki took a moment to inform Tōdaisen Nobuhara of her* intentions. The Daimyō had decreed that Matsumoto Hiegaeri, now Hiei, was to be given a test to measure the powers of his new body. As the Umbre Fox’s older brother*, Fubuki had undertaken that task. Hiei, of course, would not be pleased. Nobuhara offered no objection, instead recommending the use of the yard and asking them not to wake the sleeping generals if possible.
Fubuki returned to the Matsumoto Black Galleon after a few other errands in Wakigami. One had been placing two quality Hu Die Dao, weapons favored by Matsumoto Hiei, outside of her* stubborn brother's door. The second was delivering a heavy metal door, forged by Masamune to her* specifications, back to the ship. That would be used for a future plan. With those done, Fubuki's attention turned to the Oriab Ruby that she* had found abandoned in the ship's hold. Tsukijō Hanahane's advice was simply not to sleep near it. It was a dangerous item, apparently, but not immediately dangerous unless one was dreaming. Deciding to heed the words of an experienced Dreamer, Fubuki magically conjured an opaque box and set the ruby within it before sealing the thing in a tangle of chains. With that done, she* settled down in the ship's hold. The rest of the crew had either gone to sleep or to pursue other hobbies on their own, and so it was quiet. Fubuki began to meditate, but found herself* slipping deeper into the trance. Soon, it wasn't unlike sleep at all.
It was just after their meeting with the exalted Cats of Ulthar, and Alice of Diamonds scooped up Matsumoto Ooawagaeri and set off to return to The Enchanted Wood. Ooawagaeri, who now bore a valued Letter of Reconyandation, was still in the form of a cat. He managed to keep up with the taller Alice by expedient motion of his four little legs. His companion, however, seemed a little miffed that her sword had decided not to remain a sword. Likely she did not feel entirely comfortable without her trusted weapon. The odd, grinning man who had welcomed them to Ulthar was no longer at the bridge leading out of town. Other than that, their return trip was uneventful.
Matsumoto Ooawagaeri and Alice of Diamonds were still recovering from their bizarre encounter with The Dodo when Alice finally saw fit to share what had been bothering her throughout their travels. Each time they encountered another creature, be it the Cats of Ulthar, the Cheshire Cat, or even Yeb of the Whispering Mists, each had completely disregarded her as a mere Figment. Rather than talk to a bunch of sentient dreamstuff, they instead much preferred to converse with Ooawagaeri, a true Dreamer.
On his ship in the ports of Celephaïs, Jericho Petalwing proved an affable host. He was not quite so bombastic as his waking self, Tsukijō Hanahane, but still possessed an open and cheerfully flamboyant manner that seemed to put his guests at ease. Matsumoto Ooawagaeri (Sword) and Alice of Diamonds had come here to find a way to grant the latter a soul, but that had turned out to be as easy as casting a spell that the former already knew. With that task rather abruptly finished, now they had to decide how to spend the rest of their time in the Dreamlands.
Far above Wakigami, hidden in the clouds, Fubuki was finishing her* linguistic lessons with Phenex. Hebrew wasn't easy to pick up, especially for a native speaker of Japanese, but with an Archdemon as her* tutor, Fubuki felt she* was improving quickly. There were other things to do that night, however, and one of them involved the great metal door that Masamune had crafted at her* request. In preparation, Fubuki gathered the reagents for a ritual, spending an hour in focused incantation. Once that was complete, she* called upon Watatsuki-dōnyo, who required only a little cajoling to join her* upon the Matsumoto Black Galleon.
Following the installation of an entire Imperial Palace within the bounds of the Matsumoto Black Galleon, Fubuki stepped back to admire her* work. Some of those already on the vessel had begun moving their belongings into the more spacious and luxurious Palace, but it was still quite early in the morning, and many others had yet to awaken. The world was still, the night sky vast, and the sun not yet risen in- Fubuki’s peaceful reverie was broken by a sudden explosion of sound from somewhere below. It was hard to define anything but a single note amongst the cacophony, but the force of the wave was such that even the Matsumoto Black Galleon pitched and yawed in protest. As the noise faded, leaving nothing but a ringing in the ears, Aka no Kitsunebi approached her master to ensure everything was alright.
Now that Seki Hajime was made welcome in the Matsumoto Black Galleon's Mirror Palace and the preparations for the morning's tournament completed, Fubuki had one last piece of business to attend to. First, she* sent her sheele, Kōyō to Owari Castle to collect some correspondence from the generals there. Then, she* flitted off the ship's deck and into Wakigami Castle below, making directly for the quarters of famed general Oda Nobunaga.
The third day of the ill-fated Mōri Martial Arts Tournament began with a continuation of matches from the independent bracket. As such, Mōri Takamoto took to the field, followed shortly after by Fubuki, who arrived not a moment too late. Kikkawa no Myōkyū handled introductions, as Mōri Motonari still seemed weak and unable or unwilling to manage announcements for the day. With that, the match began.
Dawn rose on the third day of the Mōri Aspirant Tournament, with the matches beginning at their characteristically punctual break of dawn. Mostly familiar faces dotted the crowd, with some missing and a few newcomers present. Of particular interest was a sour-faced, dour woman in reddish robes sharing the box right beside Shogun Ashikaga Yoshiaki who hadn't been there on days previous. A fair number of other events occurred simultaneously with the matches, but for details on each battle that took place, see: Mōri Matches: Day 3