The next morning Toyan awakes to perform his Iaijutsu draws, and is accompanied by the Emerald Magistrate. Toyan, having not had the opportunity to keep his draw quick, politely asked Heiji to a Iaijutsu spar. No blood, no honor on the line, just a simple competition of constant and precise repetition. And for a thousand draws they did this, each quickly pulling their blades and returning them. However, in the end it was the aged Heiji who won, but just barely.
Before Toyan has the opportunity to let his swordarm rest after the training, however, Yae kindly requests Toyan’s attention and learns a few “crane” draw techniques. Toyan adds yet another thousand draws to his morning as he teaches Yae the morning draws. Even if she can’t get up in the morning, Toyan is happy to help her extend her means to preserve honor.
After everyone who has a reason to practice their draws is completed, Toyan returns to the hut to enjoy a morning meal with his comrads. Heiji is quietly drinking his tea, Takashi and Oniji are trying not to continue bleeding around the table, and Yasurai spends her time maticulously setting up her utensils, Yae is glad not to have had another nightmare, and poor Takosha is just getting to watch the show. However, both she and Yae notice that the “boys” are still badly injured and take their time wrapping them. Yae doesn’t admit to anyone how much she enjoyed it, because both Takashi and Oniji feel the need to flex shirtless as they’re being wrapped. When Oniji tries to show off even more when Yae gets close, Takashi threatens him to behave around the scorpion, something about the stinger of a scorpion is not his biggest concern. Takosha, on the other hand, appreciates Oniji’s physique and personality and actually comments, “You’d make a good crab.” Oniji actually blushes at the compliment. After donning their kimono tops back on, however, Takashi chooses to walk without his heavy armor on; a first that has everyone’s attention and mild concern.
After they are wrapped, breakfast is done, and Heiji politely reminds them they have a job, the group leaves (after Oniji and Takashi, yet again, has a man competition in which Takashi’s manhood is insulted and storms off.)
When the group arrives at the border they realize two very important facts: they have found the Lion patrol again and they still don’t have any documents saying they can pass. After a very long and heated debate with the Commander, who makes it clear he will follow his duty, the group is given permission to pass. During the philosophical discussion on Bushido it was made clear that it went over most of the "greenhorns"’ heads, Matsu Maryko thought the group should be imprisoned until they received word one way or the other, and Glaring Matsu thought they were spies, while the remaining patrolmen had no strong opinion.
Just minutes after the discussion, where the Commander implied how grateful he was to have been given a way to let them pass without breaking his duty, Takashi puts his hand to steel and lets everyone know there was marching coming within the forest. A small army of goblins marched towards them, each equipped with actual knives instead of their traditional sticks and even a few in armor. The Commander took lead to defend against the assault and our heroes joined the frays.
An hour into the fighting, the group was starting to see their first casualties. Takashi, Toyan, and Seka joined up to find three of the greenhorns had fallen, only to shortly rise back up with a green, malicious gleam to their eyes. They raised their swords and charged TOWARDS the samurai, instead of the goblin army. In the end, the three were defeated, one even having asked Toyan to kill him, before losing himself to the taint for the final time. Seka challenged Takashi, stating she could kill more than him and charged back into the horde as Takashi told her he’d see, doing the same.
Yae had to fall back after taking a grevious wound from a group of goblins who had ganged up on her. Takosha was keeping Yae and the archers she was with alive as they picked off the stragglers who were coming towards them and the Commander. Yae kept back anything that close to the shugenja and her guards, the archers assigned to stay near her. At least one of those archers owes his life to the water kami Takosha was able to imbue within him after taking a make-shift javelin to the chest.
Eventually, pressed and almost broken, even Toyan and Seka had to fall back, leaving Takashi the only one amongst the thick of the goblins, glimpsing for just a moment the commanding..Goblin?! He rode another goblin as a mount and was directing the strike from his position in the back. He almost had cleared a path to him when he heard the cries of the fallen, Toyan had been surrounded and had fallen! Takashi started his charge backwards but knew he would be too late, having turned in time to see Seka fall amidst the same wave of goblins.
The Commander’s orders were heard, but disobeyed as Takosha charged in, her scroll to heal already available as she ran towards her fallen comrade. The archers, who had watched the strength the kami she called upon, supported her action and created a volley of arrows to bring her a safe path to Seka and Toyan. Yae was just a foot behind her, preventing anyone from swarming them as they rushed on, arrows flanking their paths and directing them to their friend. They made it, completely unscathed thanks to the walls and death the arrows created and was able to bring Toyan back to life, having teetered on death for too long.
Moments later the horde of goblins, the ones remaining anyway, retreated back into the folds of the forest. Yae, Toyan, and Takosha rounded up the injured and bandaged them, even using the kami themselves to prevent anymore death. Takosha returned to his friends as they finished tending to the injured.
Takosha eventually is given the opportunity to relax and leans back into a tree, having been winded after running around. Noticing Yasurai was missing, she saw that Yasurai was drawing right at the Commander’s feet! Calling to Yasurai to come back and leave the busy commander alone, Yasurai patted his sandal in apology and started heading away, having missed the clenching fist of the Commander as she broke a few basic etiquettes. Toyan quickly intercepted the Commander and explained to him that the peasant was “void of the mind” but gifted. If he took only a moment to see the drawing that she tried to include him in, he would easily be able to find compassion.
From what little the commander could see from his point, he was willing to take the dishonorable act and slipped his foot out of his sandal and balanced, outside of the picture, to get a better view. To keep On, the Commander shows none of the emotions he was feeling when he got a better view of the masterwork around his feet.
Takosha uses the power of the earth kami to help her turn the drawing into clay, solidifying the ground to keep the beauty of the work. After calling on a few Lion bushi, they were able to excavate the artwork without destroying it. The Commander offered to leave the sandal there, since it was a necessity to the art, leaving most of his soldiers in surprise!
Takashi stands above the Glaring Matsu and introduces himself. Instead of keeping the glare, another glint shines in her eyes and she introduces herself as Matsu Seka. Even though the fight was over, she still was appearing “invigorated”.