The rest of the journey to Nikesake was slow going. The massive Hiruma Nokatsu straddled more than rode a horse that could just barely support him as he couldn’t walk with his fractured leg. Yasuki Genji was likewise mounted upon a ‘salvaged’ horse though the jarring pained his badly lacerated back. The other two horses held the two ‘prisoners’ that had been taken, each bound tightly, and watched closely by ‘the Mountain’ and ‘the Maw’ as Shiba Tetsujin-no Sodona fondly thought of Yasuki Gorobei and Kaiu Hachi who also lead the horses. Tetsujin himself walked gingerly so as not to agitate the arrow that still remained lodged beneath his right shoulder blade. The missile had been cut short to minimize the threat of it catching on things, but it still pulsed and throbbed and caused him pain when he stepped to hard. Shinjo Lily who proved the most knowledgeable of the group in medicine advised against removing the arrow without a shugenja present as the barbed head could cause additional damage and possibly hurt Tetsujin even worse on the way out. Lily’s left arm had swollen even more, and the joint hurt terribly when she tried to move it, but she did not think it was broken, and expected it to heal on its own in a few days with rest. Kakita Hojatsu had escaped the skirmish with only a slight cut on his arm from a shuriken in the dark, but Daidoji Mizue as the only truly unscathed member of the group, insisted on watching him closely in case the cowardly weapon had been poisoned.
Fortunately for all a regular patrol of Shiba troopers came from the direction of the Waystation behind, having been made aware by the attendant there that trouble was perhaps afoot. The patrol had an Isawa priest with them that eased the worst of the wounds with prayers to the water kami, and used the same to help speed them to the nearest resting point: a little village about half way between Toshi no Omoidoso and their destination.
A magistrate arrived before the end of the day and the two prisoners were turned over to the confessors and eventually sentenced to death for assaulting servants of the Empress, but not before confirming the group’s suspicions that they had been hired by Yoritomo Ito to avenge the death of his brother and return the statue he believed they had stolen.
After a couple of days, Tetsujin, the Crab and his usual bodyguards, and the Crane were well enough to continue their journey, but it would be some time before Nokatsu’s broken leg would bear his weight, even under the care of a shugenja. Shinjo Lily refused to leave her friend’s side, so the group sadly parted ways. Against his better judgement Yasuki Genji agreed to pay for Nokatsu’s room and board, and care until he was well enough to travel again, and invited him to catch up if possible, laying out a plan to purchase poppies and sake in Nikesake to take to Dragon lands.