All things considered, the mission was a success. At least that was on Shinjo Altan’s (played by Hikkikomori) mind even as he rode back to the Unicorn castle that they’d been given charge of. Having managed to get a trade deal with the Lion Clan was a small but important step in assuring their fortunes, and judging by Yoyonagi’s less than happy expression, he was certain that having Moto Entreri (Paulo) and Moto Hitoshi (Victor) along was the right idea.
Their return to the town was met with relief from Mei-Xing and Shun, who had just completed the first step of their work.
“We’ve already plotted out what we need to do.” Mei-Xing informed Altan over some tea, “I’ve set aside some land to be able to perform a few experiments, but I’ll need assistance as we need to venture to the Dragon.”
“I’m assuming that you’re asking for my help.” Altan grinned.
“Correct. You know Rokugan better than we do, and it will be important for us to get to the Dragon as soon as possible. Time is of the essence and I can’t wait too long to get started as it might impact the results of my agricultural research.”
“What is this all about anyway?”
“Volcanic soil.” Shun was the one to answer, “It’s inherently more fertile than normal soil, but that has been overlooked thanks to the Rokugani’s dependence on the kami to make crops grow.”
“Thank you cousin.” Mei-Xing smiled, “We’re hoping to find ways to encourage the earth kami to do what they normally do but with richer soil to work with. It’s really quite simple, but we’ve never really given much thought into it. We’re often too busy being nobles to pay attention.”
Altan had to admit that the two cousins from Medinat Al-Salaam were strange in their way of thinking but they did have a point.
“I’ll join you.” Altan agreed, “But I will need to do some studies of my own. the Lying Darkness remains a threat and I want to know what the other clans have done regarding this.”
“We have an agreement then.” Mei-Xing smiled.
Reaching the Dragon mountains was easy enough… but their arrival in the Dragon Clan’s border city was met with some unexpected complications. The Samurai of the Dragon Clan had been largely recalled to their most remote regions, and only a skeleton crew of nobility were left to keep the rest of the Dragon Clan provinces operational.
Mei-Xing, Shun and Altan discovered that their petition to enter the provinces were held at bay until their case could be reviewed. Mei-Xing was frustrated at the delay, but there was precious little that they could do.
They were hold up in an inn while waiting for an appointment with the Dragon official that coudl grant them entry. There they found that there were other petitioners, a Scorpion samurai, a Crab merchant and a serene looking nun.
“I see that we’re all in the same situation.” the Nun spoke, offering them a place to sit. “You might as well get comfortable. I am Otomo Tetsumi.”
“Tetsumi?” Altan knew that name… and her golden eyes confirmed his supsicions, “Formerly of the Kitsu family?”
“Ah, hai.” Tetsumi smiled, “It would seem that my reputation preceeds me, but those days are behind me now.”
“Your tale is an inspiration to many.” Altan said, “It is an honor to meet one who has faced a Dark Oracle and won.”
“Ah, but even heroes can get mired by bureaucracy, ne?” Tetsumi made light of it, “Now we’re all at the mercy of a Dragon samurai with too much paperwork at hand. What brings you here to Dragon lands, however?”
“We’ve come to do some research into the properties of volcanic ash.” Mei-Xing spoke, “We believe it may be key to assisting the Dragon with their current… agricultural difficulties.”
“Intriguing.” Tetsumi said, “The Dragon have no end of troubles lately, with the Volcano destroying much of their territories and the arrival of the Dark Oracle of Fire.”
“Pardon me for asking, Tetsumi-sama.” Altan said, “But what are you doing here? It seems odd for an Imperial to be here in Dragon Lands as well.”
Tetsumi looked downcast at the question, “I’ve come to bury a friend. Matsu Broly was one of our finest combatants and the most courageous samurai I knew. He returned here to fight for his wife’s family and honor against the Dark Oracle of Fire. The Dragon triumphed, but his ashes must be interred into his homeland. He deserves to be returned to the Hall of Ancestors as a hero.”
Tetsumi looked towards the mountain, “Your business is one that might bring hope to the Dragon, perhaps I can leverage my influence to allow you to come with me.”
“That would indeed be most fortuitous, Tetsumi-sama.” Altan smiled, “We are in your debt.”
“Think nothing of it.” Tetsumi said, “I merely consider it good kharma to help bring new life and hope to this world however we can.”