Encounter: Crypt of the Skeletal Samurai
Before they leave town, Kumiko, Saeko, Miyo, and Odo decide to do one last bit of investigating. They climb a hill just outside the village, hoping to get a good view of the environment. However, the path up the hill leads to the entrance to a crypt, which is guarded by a group of skeletal samurai.
Miyo recalls that skeletons are extremely uncommon in Tsurukoku, due to the tendency for dead to reanimate as zombies. Preserving a skeleton requires a special ritual to cleanse and prepare a body that most shinkan aren’t powerful enough to perform.
Once the characters get within range, the skeletons attack. Eight skeletons with bows rain arrows down upon them while two samurai move to cut off their progress — blocking the narrow steep path to prevent them from getting to the archers. Additionally, a gravehound barks and growls noiselessly as it attempts to sink its fangs into the characters.
As the characters push the skeletons back, they realize that the entrance to the crypt radiates a tainted energy that strengthens the skeletons while weakening them. After a prolonged fight, the characters emerge victorious. However, they decide to leave the crypt alone, and make their way out of town after a short rest.
Running total: 2410
The characters leave the tainted village of Mizuta behind them, figuring that they will return with an army from Fujiwara. They make good time, aided by Odo’s knowledge of the local terrain. As they come around a bend, however, they stumble upon the scene of a dozen ninja standing over the body of a dead merchant.
As the ninja notice their presence, one of the ninja, a kitsune who is clearly the leader, shakes his head. “Idiots!” he exclaims — the low-level genin who were supposed to be keeping watch have obviously failed. “Kill them or die trying,” he yells as he grabs a small chest and takes off with half the group. The other half attack.
The fight is over quickly as Kumiko, Saeko, Miyo, and Odo are more than a match for the remaining low-level ninja. Odo identifies the dead ninja as members of the Mist Tiger clan - the most accomplished assassins in the Land of the Crane. The characters investigate the scene, and find some papers that identify the merchant as Morimoto Kinzo.
To pay their respects to Morimoto, they perform the traditional Tsurukokan funerary rite by constructing a small pyre and burning his body. Then they resume their trip to Fujiwara.
The characters reach the city gates, but, before they enter, they are pulled aside by Mitsuhide, the kitsune shugenja that led them on a wild chase through the woods. He has an update for them.
Running total: 2597