Takeshi, Nuro Byushi, and Umaba Takito continue escorting the people they rescued from the shadowlands fortress. Among the captives are Yuji, the emperor’s heir, Byushi’s mother, Taikito’s sister, and Toritaka Nozomi, a crab shugenja.
The samurai notice a large storm covering the land ahead. It seems unnatural and sinister, so they decide to take a detour to avoid the storm. This leads them close to a village in what used to be crane territory. This village has survived despite all of the troubles plaguing Rokugan.
The samurai arrive at the village around midday. Takeshi wishes to continue on, but Yuji overrules him. They enter the town, and Yaushi, the village leader, offers them lodging in the lord’s house. He explains that the lord is missing. He went to a shrine to pray and disappeared.
During the night, someone hurls a torch though a window. Byushi, Takito, and Nozomi go to investigate. They head to a bar, and overhear someone bragging about throwing the torch. Takito confronts him, but the man is not intimidated, not even by Takito’s obsidian claws. The men head outside. Byushi ambushes and kills some of the man’s friends, and the rest surrender. Takito mentions that the emperor is staying in the big house.
Meanwhile, Takeshi hears whispers from another room. He sees a faceless figure standing over Byushi’s mother and Takito’s sister. He kills the figure, throws it out of the building, and takes the two women back to his guard post. The other samurai return, and they talk about what happened. They hear whispers downstairs. Takeshi and Nozomi go to investigate, while Takito attends to his sister in a different room. Byushi is approached by a faceless monster. Takeshi and Nozomi go back up to help her, but they are swallowed in an illusion. A woman thinks that Takeshi is the lord of the village, and that Nozomi is his attendant. Takeshi plays along, then dumps water on his head. This wakes him from the illusion. Nozomi remains in the illusion until she summons a kami. She wakes up outside town. Takeshi and Takito notice that Byushi appears pregnant. Takeshi awkwardly brings this up. Byushi denies being pregnant, and the awkwardness builds.
They are interrupted by someone ringing the gong downstairs. It is the man who threw the torch. He has a gift for the emperor, a large mirror. The samurai are suspicious, but eventually, they accept the mirror. The samurai agree to take watches. During Takito’s watch, he slashes the mirror with his claws. In the morning, it is unharmed. Takito attacks the mirror with his sword. Takeshi rebukes him. The emperor says he is meeting a woman who crept into his room last night. They go to the meeting place and wait all day, but the woman does not appear.
The next night, Takeshi suggest that the samurai post two guards around the house, instead of one. Nozomi and Takito agree to be first, and Takeshi goes to bed. Byushi sneaks into the emperor’s room. A creepy figure attacks her. When she fights back, the emperor attacks her too. He does not appear to be sane, and his eyes are made of glass. Byushi is soon in grave danger. Nozomi and Takito burst into the room, but everything seems fine. They approach Byushi, who appears to be crouching in the corner. She attacks them. This fight wakes Takeshi. When he enters the room, the illusion dissipates.
The samurai decide they should leave immediately. Takeshi goes to convince the emperor. When he tries to wake the emperor, he is greeted by some other entity. This entity attempts to convince Takeshi to take the mirror with him, and offers him anything in return. Takeshi turns him down, and the entity allows Takeshi to speak to the actual emperor. The emperor agrees to leave immediately, if the samurai leave everyone else behind. Takito refuses to obey this order. Takeshi smashes the mirror. The emperor decides it would be better to leave in the morning.
Everyone sets out in the morning. Takeshi notices a mirror shard in his backpack and throws it away.