Hanzu contemplated the tainted Spider Clan as they fled. As soon as his duty to Little Bear allowed he would send a missive to the Dragon Clan, to ensure that they knew the Spider Clan had violated Rokugan’s sanctity.
Agreeing with the others he set forth on the trail again, contemplating the magic vision granted by these mysterious blades. He valued them for their power to battle the darkness, but they were double edged in the realm of combat, cutting him off from the rest of the world. Putting them away he ignored his frustration at the slow pace the wagon kept them at.
As night began to fall and they decision to journey through the night was made Hanzu drew the blades, hoping to use them to keep a look out for the return of the tainted ones. He marveled at the sight of the Kitsune in their natural forms, the sleek and shimmering pelts and the silver glow of their auras. He relied on his horse’s strong head and neck to keep him moving forward and overcome the black terrain. Then night fell. The forest came alive, its marvelous mystic energy rising around it, as if each tree and blossom were a fountain of power. Then everything went white. The auras around him coalesced into a single whole and his vision burned with a white hot agony. He managed to keep from crying out and slowly sheathed his weapons. Yet, when he did, he was blind. He slowed to a stop and announced his disability to the others, and in his shame he reached out in a panic to his friend. His grasping hand violated the sanctity of Makoto’s person and his dismay worsened when she pitying took his hand in hers to guide him without correcting his mistake. He knew not whether the others saw his error, in his mind they all did, and turned their faces away.
They discussed putting him upon a horse, or the madly rocking wagon and he refused. He said that he would use his horse to guide him as he had before and he would walk as they did. He heard Akodo-San promise to guide his horse and accepted, though he appreciated the Lion Clan’s gift of helping him keep his dignity.
When they reached the Kyudin Kistune he managed a few soft jokes at his own expense, bolstered by the gift of Kakita-San’s scarf to protect his damaged eyes. Makoto helped his follow the Eta with dignity and he settled himself into his room, seating himself in meditation upon the floor, the enchanted blades across his thighs. He poured his newfound shame and sorrow into a soft melancholy song upon his flute and then lowered his head to rest.
He felt as though something awoke him, and he became aware that the scarf was gone. The world had gone from a place of pure blackness, to a shadowy aspect which he could perceive murkily. He rose to explore, trying to use the blades to see if there were taint, but could find none. Outside him room upon the walls the decorations had strange words, but he failed to read them. Following his duty he felt compelled to check the rooms about him, to assuage this feeling of doom. Opening the door across the hall he found Little Bear, killed, laid out and flayed like some grotesque on display, blood and organs strewn about. He kept his stomach but could not help recoiling. He bumped the wall of the room next to his and fell to his knees, shaming himself by crying out Little Bears name in horror.
His actions woke Akodo-San and the noble Lion rose to combat the threat. A heinous trap of Gaijin pepper exploded in the room, felling him and hurling his form through the wall into Hanzu’s room, leaving flame in its wake. The same explosion drove Hanzu onto his face with wood and paper burning into his back and woke the others.
Hanzu rose to his feet and cast about for Akodo-San in the smoke and ash and saw him in his room. He pushed his way through the burning paper shreds, knocking aside the thing wooden supports that hung like icicles to get to his fallen comrade. An arrow sped from a shadowed corner as he stumbled across a tripwire and embedded itself in his back. Ignoring his injuries he reached down and scooping the Lion from the rubble and lifted him across his shoulder. Gathering his swords, Akodo-San’s swords & the Dragon Stand he turned to flee the burning room. As he turned a cool feminine hand clutched him about the throat. A face, beautiful and terrible to behold smiled at him. Then the fingers turned to claws and punched through his neck in a gush of blood and death. The fingers tore through his neck and lanced into the helpless face of Akodo-San, ending them both in the same horrid stroke.
Even as he hung, dying and broken upon the hand of the Bride of Fu Lon Hanzu became aware of the frenzied actions of the others, as if he was sweeping into their bodies. He saw Kakita-San awake among the cherry buds and race into Kyudin Kitsune only to find Makoto-San crouching amid the dismembered pile of her own servants, desperately trying to clean the blood from her hair with soiled silk. Kakita-San lifted her up and dragged her to his room but found nothing to aid her. Makoto-San composed herself and together they ran to Little Bear, coming across Johnson-San, armored and in a murderous rage, the hand of his betrothed left behind in his room.
He saw Makoto-San awaken as the Gaijin pepper shook the room. He saw her frantically search her room, finding bits and chunks of her servants amid her torn belongings. He saw her drop to her knees with a weeping shriek and start to scrub at her hair with bloody silk, trying to wash the blood from her silver tresses. Kakita-San burst into the room and the sight of him regained her composure. Kakita-San pulled her forth and attempted to shield her from his own torn room. Reclaiming his sword they both went to Little Bear, finding Johnson-San along the way, armored and braced for war and slaughter. They recoiled at Little Bears dissected form.
He saw Johnson-San awaken to find the strong archers hand of his betrothed Yahiko placed mockingly upon his chest. Johnson-San rose, examined the room and began to don his armor. A mighty rage built in his chest, threatening to overwhelm him as he took up his weapons and headed out into the hall. Intending to seek the stables and see to his horse he stopped when Kakita-San & Makoto-San dashed into the hall. Together they moved through the corridors to find Little Bear flayed upon the floor.
He saw Utagi-San awaken at the boom and be confronted by Yahiko’s torn remained. Saw her collapse and weep, retching at the horror before her.
He saw Husar-Sama (Mind blanked on his name, Kodori?) awaken before the explosion, drawn to the sound of a dying gasp. He saw the Shugenja reach out to Yahiko, arm torn off and dying from hideous injuries. Hanzu saw the Shugenja summon healing magics… that refused to come. He watched Husar-Sama try to save her with his skill at medicine, and fail. Then he saw the shugenja hear the whimper of Makoto-San’s dying servants. Saw him wade into the pool of torn limbs and shredded torsos to try and heal them, only to again have his magic refuse to come. Desperate when he heard Little Bears cry he raced to his charge, only to find him gurgling his life away, his chest and stomach flayed back to expose exactly why his life was emptying. The Shugenja broke, wept and sought a dark corner to weep in, only to be drawn to the harsh scream of Kanto as the Bat Clan Shugenja’s head was torn away. In that room the Shugenja found only blackness and madnress as a boom shook the Kyudin Kitsune and took consciousness from him.
Then Hanzu woke, the terror of it all rushing into him as he jerked awake with another shaming exclamation, drawing and sweeping his blades. Only to recoil at the burning brilliance that once more flooded his blinded vision. Hanzu felt fear and backed into a corner to try and protect himself. Unable to understand what happened around him, until his companions arrived, quieting his fears. They bid him sheath and draw the blades as Husar-San and Taiko-San attempting to examine his burning vision. Makoto-San took charge of the Dragon Swords to protect him from the taint they put in his gaze. The shugenja kept attempting to restore Hanzu’s vision, to turn the white pupils back to black but with little affect. None spoke to Hanzu of how his eyes glowed a dark crimson when the blades were drawn. But the shugenja was shaken… Were these the eyes of his visions? The Crane that was Not-A-Crane with his crimson eyes?
Kakita-San brewed tea and spoke softly with Hanzu for a time, to help regain his composure while his eyes were examined, then left to stand watch outside Little Bear’s door. The others bid rest for the night still retained many hours. But Hanzu could not sleep, he sat awake and in the dark, meditating upon his blindness, and the horrors that he witnessed. He meditated upon the fact that he retained the memories of being within each of his fellows during their nightmares. And he tried to understand just what that meant.