As the party travels upriver next to what appears to be a small stream that is slowly growing in stature, the rocky trail becomes steeper and slicker as it ascends the eastward slope. The steeper sections have fitted stone steps, and occasionally wild flowers peek from small beds.
The river becomes a cut. The wind picks up from the east, cold and fresh. It smells of smoke, and bowels.
Here on the slope’s trail you find a few shreds of bright green kimono and a crumpled fan. There is also some curdled blood and a tuft of startling orange hair. An ancestor stone is here, freshly broken but carefully stacked together again.
After a several ri or so (and you all are getting wrecked after running and fighting and running) you come across a three sided hut with Hitomi mon on it, where the goddamned trail flattens out.
There is a large fire pit with stacked cordwood in it, and the stone lined bowl has been doused with pungent cooking oil. The hut seems abandoned, but there are food supplies within, rice balls, pickled radishes and water.
Near the privy located behind the hut is a very dead Dragon Ashigaru, he has been raked across the face and stomach by something with claws. A bear? A a few large bronzed hued feathers and a wrecked lantern and a broken naginata are your only clues. The naginata has been bitten in half. A scroll case lies nearby.
Shen says the dead Ashigaru was named Shigeru. Sheba seems a bit shaky.
From the hut you can see across the gorge, now ~200 feet across, northwards along the climbing spine of the mountains, capped with snow. To your left, down in the haze, is what Ashigaru Shen now calls Porcupine Bridge, where indistinct banners swirl, and purple lights flash in the mist. The riverbed is far below.
To your right ( facing east), the middle distance reveals a thin thread spanning the gorge, a bamboo rope bridge which is crowded with villagers, the crossing is positioned near a series of walled buildings set at impossible angles onto a steep slope. A Tori reveals the existence of a temple there. It is probably the famed Yellow Eye Temple, which supports a very select fighting dojo.
The trail, fit for chamois, Dragons or suicidal lowlanders leads that way. It also forks and follows the broken ridge southwards, switchbacking down to valley there. The hut is well positioned.
At your right front, a column of smoke, broad and thick slowly course skyward over a shoulder of the mountain. Hitomi castle, Rising Sun, is there. Villages dot the far side, strung like prayer beads along a thin trail. The far one is burning.
The air is sharp and thin. Amongst the clouds, dots loop and twirl.
• The PCs climb the ragged path up to the Temple of Air
• Some dead dragons (clawed to death) in lookout hut
• The Unicorn fight and die on the South Trunk Road to Last Light Castle
• Flying gaijin
• The pillar of flame and smoke
• Flying gaijin, three monk bowcraft
• The PCs encounter other Dragon Monks at ToA
• PCs unsuccessfully help scribes consult records
• A discussion with the bamboo grove