Tales of the Sea Bitch (15)


    Four days into the Winter Court, The Miyara (Miyara Ujimitsu) left for the Emperor's Court.  His last words to Lady Miyara were to not let Ryuden get into too much trouble.  Himitsu remained behind, but with no direct lines of authority that didn't mean he was in charge.  They were all members of the same clan, and age had to be taken into account too.  Himitsu, however, had stayed behind in Nippon while Lady Miyara was abroad, which put him in a position to advise her well.
    Iruko, when not on duty, was still spending all her energy in pushing herself on Peter.  Peter seemed to be returning the interest, of course.   Who wouldn't?  Tony certainly would if he had the chance.  It looked like it was driving him crazy, and I can't blame him.  Grieg was certainly pleased at Iruko's lack of interest in Tony.  I must admit I was really starting to hope the two boys would hook up.

    Sometime in the first ten days came a point when we found ourselves sitting with Hiruma Usigo.  Magistrates were the designated officers of a particular lord, and Emerald Magistrates were directly appointed by the Emperor.  He was a ranking one, too.  This was his last Winter Court before entering a monastery, since he was recently retired.  Elderly but not frail, he had an air of wisdom about him.  He'd spent many years in this area, and he was well known and respected around here.  He spent over 20 years in Phoenix lands, and not only knew the ways of killers and thieves, but knew the politics of the court well.  He was having trouble seeing in his old age, but his mind was as sharp as ever.
    Anyway, Usigo told Lady Miyara that he was impressed by her ability to convince the Elemental Masters to let Koan enter the tournament.  He seemed quite interested in her.
    Lady Miyara was a little in awe of him, and that was obvious in the way she politely thanked him.  Her father had been impressed with him too, especially in his handling of an accusation against an Isawa that Usigo had demonstrated to be false.
    Usigo commended her on her decision to bring back the statue from foreign lands, and her perseverance in doing so.  He expressed some interest in what she had learned about these foreign lands.
    Lady Miyara told him a few things, and Usigo listened for a while.  He seemed easy to talk to, and had a genuine interest in her.  To Lady Miyara, it was almost as if he was a great-uncle or something.  He thought she showed great potential, and seemed to be interested in helping her achieve it.
    They talked about tokens for a while.  Usigo seemed intrigued by the possibilities of the game, and asked casually how the game was going for her.  He talked a little about some interesting things that had happened in the game, who had what, and who met who, but didn't say anything about any of ours.
    She asked him a little about Akodo Rena, a Lion man.  Usigo didn't know anything in particular -- not unreasonable, since Lion wasn't really around here -- but he told her that Miyara Katsuda had many dealings with that Lion, and so could tell her about him.
    Usigo also asked her about what she'd been doing since her return to Nippon.  Lady Miyara talked about that for a while.

    There was a Shosuro acting troupe here.  Shosuro was a Scorpion family, whose tradition was acting as Isawa's tradition was magic.  They produced the best actors and actresses in the Empire.  That night they would be putting on a play, The Death of the First Hantei.  It was a well known play, apparently.
    The play was written by Shosuro Furuyari, the famous Scorpion playwright.  It was considered to be apocryphal as it was inconsistent with the histories.  The official stories say the Emperor lived to a ripe old age.  The play opened with the war against the Shadowlands, the first defeat of Fu Leng, and the great battles and heroic deed.  Hantei was wounded by his brother Fu Leng...
    The leaders of all the great families fell out of the sky and were all brothers and sisters.  Fu Leng went bad.  There had been many wars between the forces of Fu Leng and the forces of good in Nippon.  The first battle was back when the brothers fell out the first time after they came form the sky.
    And so this play was about the death of the first Hantei, one of those who fell out of the sky.  Hantei had been wounded and brought back to the palace.  While he lay dying, Doji tended his wounds, while Akodo and Bayushi stood ready to defend him with their lives.  (Doji was Crane, Akodo was Lion, Bayushi was Scorpion)

    Anyway, an hour or two before the play actually started, something happened.  Lady Miyara was sitting with Himitsu.  He did his best to make it seem like chance, but he obviously planned that they'd have to be close enough to talk.
    The conversation went through the usual small talk.  Himitsu wanted to know anything she could tell him about Yoroshiku.  We guessed he'd been very busy taking care of The Miyara up until now, and now he had time and opportunity to take his shot as a suitor.  He wanted to know her history and background and so on, things Lady Miyara might know that wasn't common knowledge.
    Lady Miyara told him that the official suitor was Sanru, and asked him about that.
    Himitsu was surprised at that, and said that wasn't his attention at all.  It seemed it had never occurred to him to court the Niece.  He wasn't interested in that way at all.
    It turned out that Lady Miyara had been around her several times in the court.  The Niece was flighty, and liked to keep the people swirling around her, swirling.  Lady Miyara was on her "swirl" list and had been pulled into several conversations.
    In those conversations, though, it was clear she wasn't really interested in Lady Miyara.  She was a little interested in us retainers, just in terms of playing us off against others.
    Lady Miyara told Himitsu about her experiences with Yoroskihu, which seemed to satisfy him.  For her part, she didn't really have anything she needed to know from him at present, so it stayed quite one-sided.

    Back to the play, where the hero was dying...
    This family used some magic to change their appearances in the play, so they could look like the characters in facial features too.  The skill of the actor was in part related to their skill at that.  The other thing this family was known for was of course doing this outside the play.
    The actor playing Hantei turned to the woman Doji, and whispered to her "Am I going to die?"
    "No, brother," she said.  Her face had become exactly like the tapestries.  "Your wounds are not grave, you will survive."
    He asked the same of a man with an eye patch, Akodo One-Eye.  "A man with honor can never die."
    One last soft question to the inky shadow in the darkness, extending his hand to Bayushi.
    Bayushi looked down and said, "Yes, Hantei-sama, you are going to die and you are going to be alone.  One day we shall come to be at your side again.":
    At that, Hantei died.
    They all looked shocked at Bayushi.  What had he done?
    Bayushi gave his last line: Doji cared for his body, Akodo for his honor, but Bayushi cared for his soul.  "The soul is the heart of a Hantei, a thing no other can have.  The one thing that is the center of the Empire, the soul."
    Polite applause from the Niece, and she rose and began to leave.  The six players lined up, and relaxed out of their roles.  We could watch their faces change from their characters to their real faces.
    The lead actress, the greatest actor in all of Nippon, Shosuro Tage, watched Yoroshiku with great interest as if expecting some reaction.  Whether she got it or not we couldn't tell, and she took her final bow with the others.

    It was getting late, and the crowd of revellers was thinning to just the hardcore.  The actors stayed around for a while, mingling with their fans in the audience who had stayed.

    ((make crap up here, and anywhere else for that matter))

    Lunch the next day was served casually, as they often were here on lots of balconies and halls and gardens.  Iruko told Lady Miyara somewhat conspiratorially that she was walking in the garden this morning -- pointing out which one -- and heard Yoroshiku's voice from over the other side of a hedge.  Overhearing her without being seen, Yoroshiku was speaking to Mirumoto Hansu, the Dragon Clan suitor, one of the two leading suitors.
    Yoroskiu said that he knew she would chose him, but her father wanted to wed a man of many abilities.  She was sure he was the bravest suitor, but many of the courtiers didn't know of his fine talents, and if only they could be convinced.
    Hansu said something like he'd be glad to show the strength of his steel and something about honor.  Iruko couldn't really tell exactly what it was he said, but Yoroshiku seemed to like it.
    I figured Lady Miyara would be passing that on to Sanru, but she would presumably do that in private somewhere I wasn't going to overhear it.

    ((She relayed what she thought were the important bits.  The Niece was playing Hansu, maneuvering him into doing things that would be fun for her.  Nevertheless, this was serious business, and that was all part of the process.  That's how things were.  It seemed that Hansu's reply was what was important, that he was glad to do something involving swords.
    Sanru smiled broadly at her.  He said that she had a similar conversation this morning with him too.  She implied he had not done enough to celebrate her, and he predicted a poetry contest in the works.
    He then switched topics, and said he'd heard a rumor that Akodo Rena had set his sights on Lady Miyara.
    She said simply, "Some rumors are true."  She then asked if he knew anything about Rena.
    He knew him only by reputation -- typical Lion, loud, proud, more attuned to physical than the spiritual, more of earth than air.
    She asked him if he would guess when the contest might take place.
    He believed the princess would wrangle it for tonight, or tomorrow night at the latest.
    She said she enjoyed a good poetry contest.
    He said he looked forward to hearing her entry.
    "And I yours," she said.
    He said it was not exactly his forte, which the princess knew, but he said he was going to do his best.

    Miyara also set Iruko to looking for anything she could get on Akodo Rena.))

    As we gathered for dinner, a formal affair tonight, a young Miyara, Nessen, came to Miwa.  He seemed a little nervous, and once he was through all the bowing he asked her if he could have a private word with me of all people.  Miwa looked at me and said, "of course."
    "Sure," I said, and we took off to the nearest thoughtfully provided private place.
    He was very nervous, which I could understand.  He said that one of the princess's maids, the large unpleasant one, was attracted to him and had the matching object.  He was hoping I might trade.
    I laughed loudly.
    He said he would consider it a personal favor and would owe me.
    "Sorry, but I really want to find out who has the other tiger, and at this time I would rather not."
    He seemed completely heartbroken.
    I was as nice to him as I could, and suggested Grieg.  It was the most amusing person I could think of to trade with him.  That was at least in the spirit of the game.  I then suggested Ryuden, as he could use the maidservant to get at the princess.  I almost took pity on him, but didn't.
    It was another great feast, like the first night.
    During the festivities, one of the suitors, Doji Fusaya stood up and approached the dais.  He smiled at Yoroshiku and showed her a golden fan, saying he imagined she had its mate.
    Yoroshiku smiled and said he was mistaken, and pulled forth a small porcelain doll.
    Doji bowed, and stepped away from the dais.
    As he stepped back, another man stood, Miyara Nessen.  With a slightly nervous voice, holding a doll, and walked up to her.
    Y smiled, caught in the trap, and said, "One question, my friend."
    "My lady, I wish only to know one thing."  The tension was thick.  "What above all else would make you happiest at this moment.:"
    "The good health of my uncle Hantei, and a poetry contest by the fine members of this court."
    Applause, of course.

    Asako Kagetsu stood, and said that there would be a contest in the princess's honor.  He said it would be two hours from now, and named a parlour nearby.  I knew it was one with a good fire and romantic setting, probably good for a poetry contest in the princess's mind.
    The poems must be in the princess's honor, the topic being The Princess.  It was open to anyone who wanted to stand up and do it.  Not everyone was expected to come, and not everyone who came had to present a poem.

    The contest was attended by about fifty of the two hundred.  Phoebe of course was there, and both Miyara and I had prepared poems.
    As we headed out from dinner, Miyara Ryuden approached Miwa and said he needed to spak with her immediately and quietly.  She said it would have to be quick because she had a poem to write, but said it politely and nicely.
    We went back to our rooms close by, and Ryuden and Miwa went off for a private word.  Obviously he wanted her to write a poem.
    ((Yoroshiku had the same conversation with him too.  He believed it.  So he said he must have a poem that would win, the honor of the house and a lady's heart relied on it!
    In Miwa's position, she really couldn't refuse.  So now she had to do two poems.
    He went off to prepare himself, and she was to have the poem ready when he got there.

    She intended to write a decent poem that wouldn't embarrass him but wouldn't be enough to win, and hers would have to be slightly lesser than the one she gave him.  On the other hand, he wouldn't be able to tell the quality except by the reaction, although he'd want a love poem and she wouldn't.))

    Two pirates on the high seas, each heard about the princess's beauty from an old man with a tea service.  They sailed through misfortune, declaring "For Princess Yoroshiku!" as they defied the odds in impossible fight.  They came into port where she was, saw her in the tower,her beauty cascading over the harbour,  fought a duel on the decks of the ships, and died together, dedicating their last breaths "For Princess Yoroshiku!"  As they died, they saw the old man standing behind the princess.  As the pirates died, he waved his hands and their spirits rose as snow-white seabirds, forever to circle and admire the princess from on high.

    The poems were to be judged by Usigo.  All suitors were there.  So was Himitsu, looking almost angry.  Koan and his right-hand woman were there.  Akodo Rena was not.
    They read their poems, all short sweet ones.  I looked to Miwa to figure out where I should speak.  My guess was the etiquette was people who know they weren't contenders go early, and hte real contestants later.
    20 minutes in, a total sick sugary poem was perfect to follow with my rollicking tale.  Fighting back the urge to vomit, no-one wanted to follow it.
    I told mine, to polite clapping.
    There was another pause.
    A few more poems, then Miwa's.  Flowers, snow, sweet stuff.
    Again some more, then the fun part.
    Ryuden rose to speak, but interrupted by a drunken HImitsu.  He was clearly angry and upset, turning red and with furious eyes.  With a calm tone, he offered a poem to the Hantei princess.  It was not at all complimentary, her as a dandelion among crysanthemums, "a weed knows a weed."
    Usigo rose to quiet the outrage in the parlour as samurai grabbed swords ready to strike Himitsu down.  "What is hte kmeaning of thins?"
    "Meaning?  You will see tomorrow at sunset!"
    Ryduen immediately challenged him to a duel for his words.
    Himitsu accepted, said ok, tomorrow at dawn he would produce his testimony.

    I saw Koan particuarly uncomfortable when Himitsu spoke, and nervous when he talked about dawn tomorrow.  I saw Koan and his apprentice whispering, and overheard
    A: he's giving us awayl, can we stop him?
    K shook his head, saying there was nothing to be done.  He watched Himitsu storm out of the hall.

    After Himitsu left, Asako Kugetsu ended the competition in effect, changing the mood by saying that the acting troupe has agreed to put on a short play, right here and now.
    The actors quickly assembled and did a very short comic skit.

    ((Miwa noticed that yesterday there were six actors, today there were only five.  Since they could change their facial features, she couldn't easily tell which was missing, but she thought it was Tage.))

    Soon after the play started, the princess and her maids retired quietly without gathering attention.

    We waited until the play was over.  ((Miwa figured it was definitely Tage missing.))
    The courtiers mostly retired, although some of us stayed around listening ot Kakita Nantoko sweetly playing a biwa by the fire.

    ((Miwa sent a message to Himitsu asking to speak with him.  The guard who took her message returned and said he was not given a reply.))

    As soon as Miwa returned, I told her what I'd seen and overheard.  She told us that Tage was missing from the actors' troupe when they did their skit.  She said, "Something very odd is going on here," and that was certainly true.
    Tage had the skill to look completely like a different person.  We'd seen her playing a woman and didn't know how far she could take it, but the rumors were she could look totally different, like other real people and not just legends.
    The Scorpion clan were known for treachery and deceit, intrigue and gathering secrets.  They certainly would use their talents in whatever way furthered their ends.

    Miwa went to talk to Koan, taking Phoebe with her.  I might have been a bit too obvious in my eagerness to go too, but Miwa took me too.
    Koan's assistant answered the door, a woman called Uisako.  She said that Koan was already asleep.
    Miwa said to let him know that she had dropped by.

    Back in our rooms, soon after, there was a message from Ryuden, wanting to see Miwa.
    Miwa offered any of us who wanted to go with her, and Phoebe and I again went.  I was sure she'd take Phoebe anyway, but I wanted to see what was going on with this guy.
    He wanted to talk about hte essentials of the duel to be held the next day.  He was drinking heavily.  In between drinks and occasional matter-of-fact talks about the details, he rambled if maybe Himitsu had some actual truth that there was something wrong with Yoroshuku.  After all, after Ryuden married her, it could be something that would bring shame on him and the family.
    Miwa said that was something about which he should speak to Himitsu and find out.
    In a fit of anger, Ryuden said he would not talk to that impudent...
    "Cur," I suggested helpfully.
    He nodded, "Cur."
    Ryuden expected Miwa to be at hte duel and take care of hte formal matters, but mostly he'd brought Miwa here just to hear him rant.  After ten minutes or so he dismissed us, with a final word that no matter what, whether Himitsu really had something or not, he'd have Himitsu's head.

    There was no way to stop the duel.
    I wonder who is fake?  I do say that we have seen the princess and Tage at the same time, at the first play, so I guess that rules that out.
    Miwa says that doesn't mean she's always herself, but we'll have to assume that.
    Is Himitsu fake, I asked?
    If Phoebe witnessed someone actively trying to be someone else, not just looking like someone else, her spirits might be able to detect the lie.

    Fortunately nothing more happened that night.

    Just before dawn, the sound of an alarm rung out.  The doors were bolted and the fires on the walls were lit.  We were woken by the shouts of guards.  Something was wrong.  It wasn't quite clear what was going on, not at present.
    Miwa got the attention of a guard and asked what was going on.
    The guard politely said that Asako had asked that all his guests remain in their rooms.
    We had a balcony.  We went out to look.
    There were guards at all the post, with fires lit everywhere illuminating the place.  No army appeared to be attacking, but the castle guards were out in force.  Not that this place was much of a fortress, of course.
    We could hear Isawa Tomo's voice in the hall.  Miwa stuck her head out the door to see if he knew what was going on.
    Tomo was too far down the hall to engage in conversation, and the guards outside our room didn't want us to actually leave.
    Tomo was looking away from us, speaking to a guard.  "Dead, you say?  Damn the boy and his recklessness, anyone have testimony to prove who has done this?"
    Guard says that last person to enter his room was Miyara Ryuden.
    Tomo: ask all guests to stay in rooms, Ryuden to stay in rooms at all costs.

    Usigo came walking down the hall, saw Miwa.  He said, "Child, perhaps oyu can help me."
    Miwa of course accepted.
    He says he seemed to have lost his <person> and needed some help not bumping into things.
    She of course accepted.
    Well, I had my guess, and I whispered it to her quickly in Imperial as she left.  Himitsu was already dead when "he" spoke up at the contest.  Ryuden was set up.

    Miwa continued to lead him down the hall.  After a few steps he suggested she might feel safer with some of her retainers, and suggested she ask us to escort them.
    I'm not sure who pushed out of the door first, but we were there in a flash.  Phoebe, Peter, Tony of course and Iruko, Grieg, and myself.
    We continued onwards, the guards parting before us.

    As we went up the stairs, Usigo asked Miwa if she'd figured out what was going on.
    Miwa said she had some guesses, but no actual knowledge.
    He said he was curious what the guesses were.
    She said that there were several pieces she dind't understand yet, but suyspected that Miyara Himitsu was not entirely himself yesterday evening, and that Miyara Ryuden did not kill him.
    He asked her to explain more.
    I quickly asked Phoebe in Imperial to ask her spirits if this was truly Usigo, and she said in Imperial that it was.
    Miwa said one reason he suspected Ryduen did not kill him, is she spoke to him last night and he was adamant about not speaking or talking to him in any way before the duel.  As for Himitsu, that was a more out on a limb guess.  After the poetry contest was stopped, and the actors did their skit, there were only 5 instead of 6, one was missing.
    Usigo asked whta hse though that meant.
    She said that she knew only that they were skilid in imporsonating other people,and there was only one big blowup last night.
    He asked if he knew what testimony himitsu was going to present.
    She said she did not.
    In Imperial I prompted Miwa about hte nightingale.  She said not yet, and continued.
    She requested an audience wiht Himitsu last night, she said, but he did not send a return message back.  That was about 10 pm.
    Usigo said that oculd be important.

    By now we were getting close to our destination, as the halls elsewhere were mostly empty aside from gueards, and htis one had plenty of people around.  This was indeed Himitsu's room.
    Our conversaqtion had been private, fading in and out as we passed guards.  Before we got there and could not avoid being overheard, Miwa said there was one other curious matter she wanted to bounce off him, but later in private.
    Just as we approached within earshot of hte room, Usigo said "remember not to touch anything until the shugenja can arrive and interrogate hte nearby spirits."
    Phoenix gueads were in the hallway, two bloodstained blankets covering bodies in the hallway.  Inside H's room were Kagetsu, Tomo, and two other shugenja, one of which was the winner of hte festival Isawa Uona.
    It was clear that Usigo intended to walk right into the room, but it wasn't big enough for all of us.  Miwa led Usigo in, with a quick nod to Phoebe to accompany her.  I pushed forward as the other person to go in, Tony hesitating at all the mages in one place.
    As we headed to hte door, Usigo said "These magistrates are acting as my assistants in this matter," and that was all it took to get us in.
    As we entered the room, Usigo whispered to Miwa that he would be fine, and she was to look around but not touch.  He stepped away from Miwa to Kagetsu and Tomo, and the three of them started talking about what was going onl.
    The murder of Himitsu was particularly brutal.  THe body lay sprawled crosss the floor, blood spatterd outwards from several wounds.  Door to balcony was shattered outwards, haniging form hte room.  A low table which might have had a Sakizuki set, pottery smashed ans sake mising wiht bloood on floor.
    Snow had come in the window, lying on his arm.  His head was separated, lying some distance away.  Himitsu's swords lay untouched on their rack.
    We needed to know when it snowed, because it did so after he died.
    The 2 shugenja moved around the room, apparently attempting to commune with the spirits.
    Phoebe found a corner out of the way, and asked her spirits.
    ((She went into her trance, looking for spirits.))
    I looked around the room carefully, wanting to help pheobe but wanteing to look before anytong else messed iwth stuff.  the head was separated when he was still standing.  Other wounds had to have been done before or at the same time -- cuts, not stabs, just a few.  Couldn't tell if there was more than one person doing them.  No weapons in the room aside from his.  There were no smears, so it lookd like the body fell where we saw it.  It clearly hadn't been moved.  There was s huge pool of blood around hte body and head.
    The body was lying awkwardly, face up, and the neck was towards the balcony as if he was facing away from it.  The head is closer to the balcony than the body.,  There were no footprints in the snow on the balcony.
    His small desk was intact.  Nothing of consequence, some writing paper nad pen, no letters or active papers.
    Tony found out that hte two bodies outside were the guards on duty.  They had both been cut to death with a sword.  Neither lost their heads, but they died at the end of a sword.  It was a lot less messy.  They died very quickly.  THey had fallen outwards froim the door, and had not drawn their4 swords.  One was completely sheathed, and the other was partly but not fully drawn.
    On this floor, every room had two Asako guards outside each room.  This partiuclar door was not in sight of any of the other guards, but any loud voice would have brought others.
    It was a little after 3 a.m. now.
    Balcony, door busted completely out, door also busted out but less so.  There was no easy way to go from the balcony.  It was a very long drop down, but conceivably someone skilled could jump from one balcony to another.  Perhaps even jump to a lower balcony or use a rope to climb up, or maybe even climb the wall with enough skill.

    ((Phoebe found no significant spirits in that room.  She also asked her own spirits when it started to snow that night.  They told her it started 45 minutes ago, at 2:30 a.m.))

    It was snowing hard now, with snow blowing through the window.
    I tried to tell if the snow had fallen on a cold body or a still warm one, but I couldn't really tell.

    Miwa was wondering where her message went that she sent up to Himitsu, but it was not visible anywhere.

    Phoebe pulled herself together and calmly stated it has started snowing at about 2:30.

    The two shugenja addressed the assembled lords here.  They were disappointed, it looked like.  Uona reported that it appeared there were no spirits currently in the area that were here last night.  They were eitgher scared away or sent away.

    As Miwa was looking around, she overheard most of hte conversation bwtween Tomo, Kagetsu, and Usigo.  Kagetsu obviously respected the old man's advice and wisdom, but Tomo relied more on his own spells and the assistance of his shugenja.

    After the shugenja said the spirits were gone, Tomo dismissed them.  The three men exchanged looks, and began ot move out of the room.  As he was leaving, Usigo said quietly to Miwa, "look around the room, and find me later."  He followed the other two out of the room.

    We now had the room to ourselves.  The others could come in now too, while the Asako guards remained outside.
    Sooner or later someone would come by to clean up the bodies, but we did have some privacy in the room for a while.
    Tony began his search of the room, opening and pushing things and sorting through stuff.
    Himitsu was dressed in the exactly same he was wearing to the poetry reading.
    The window had been pushed out, as if something had crashed into it.  I couldn't tell if it was something hitting it or some kind of spell.
    It did not look like H's clothes had been disturbed.  No-one had searched him after his death.

    Tony found a secret compartment in the sword rack, and in it was a letter.  Miwa read it, tucked it away, and said we would discuss it later.  As she read later to us, It was addressed to HImitsu-sama.  <letter in email> signed with a block.stamp.  Miwa recognized the symbol, the same one that Niban himself wore.  The date mentioned was 6-8 in the morning, the hour of the rooster, today, a few hours from now.
    Tony closed up now empty the secret compartment.

Glossary of people who might be important at the Winter Court.

Otomo Yoroshiku - Emperor's Niece, second in line to the throne behind the Emperor's son.
Hida Yauta - Yoroshiku's maid servant, the big one.
Kitsu Saia - Yoroshiku's maid servant
Kakita Nantoko - Yoroshiku's maid servant

Mirumoto Hansu - Yoroshiku suitor, Dragon Clan
Miyara Sanru - Yoroshiku suitor, Phoenix Clan

Miyara Ryuden - Yoroshiku suitor (sorta), Phoenix Clan

Miyara Ujimitsu - Phoenix Champion, Miwa's father
Miyara Himitsu - Young man traveling with Ujimitsu
(wispers are he'll be the next Phoenix Champion)

Shinjo Gidayu - Unicorn daimyo who started your previous journey

Isawa Tomo - Elemental master (of Earth ?)

Asako Kagetsu - Your host at Gisu Palace

Koan - Shugenga from the village of Nightengale

Shosuro Tage - formost actree of the Imperial troupe

Hiruma Usigo - ranking Emerald Magistrate, just retired, headed for
monastery in spring