After reporting back to Yushoto Juro regarding the outcome of the Whispering Glade, the Kirigasa Fang was given new orders; to continue down the Grey River to the Marukan Redoubt, where the group would serve as advanced rangers for the Lookshyan post there. Predictably, Kurenai complained about being on a boat.
Fortunately for everyone involved, a pair of thuggish river elementals, Sobeksis according to Yukiko, attempted to extort a toll from the riverboat as it passed through their territory. Apparently not clever enough to recognize the boat’s Lookshy flag, the Sobeksis demanded gold, lapis, food sacrifice, or worship. Sogeki told them in no uncertain terms that their demands were illegal, but they remained unimpressed until Kurenai flared her anima and told them to back off. They did so, and a report was dispatched back to Lookshy, who would hopefully send some monks to deal with the upstart river spirits.
The Marukan Redoubt was a relatively small outpost, and yet still incredibly impressive by Second Age standards. The Lookshy presence included a large garrison, magitech weaponry, and an airship. The party immediately reported to Taimyo Maheka Yori. Yori assigned the fang to ranging and scouting, assisting the Marukani in tracking down some troublemakers along the border with Thorns to the south.
For several weeks, the fang worked individually and as a unit to map out and investigate much of the border between the Marukan Alliance and Thorns. Eventually, while working as a team, they discovered a wounded Marukani scout, near death, strapped to her horse and wandering near one of the Marukani range towns. Sogeki used his magic to heal the woman, and they led her back to the town.
She reported an ambush by strange, shambling creatures, things that moved very quickly. The team determined where the attack had taken place and made plans to return to scout the incident. Surprisingly, the scout insisted on returning with them to the site of the ambush: a narrow, hilly valley.
At the site, the group discovered evidence of a scuffle, but investigation was interrupted by the arrival of a patrol of oddly-armored figures. The group took to cover, but upon realizing the armor the figures wore appeared to be made of bone, they inferred the patrol’s allegiance to Thorns and set upon them. The battle was fierce, but short. During the kerfuffle, Yukiko and Cranesong noticed some manner of horrid, snarling spirits emerging from some of the dead soldiers, but investigation was deferred.
The fang recovered the strange bone-armor and the bodies of the slain and returned to the range town, where Sogeki, Sora, and Yukiko proceeded to forensically examine both the armor and the corpses. Kurenai fled the “barn of horrors” as she dubbed it. Yukiko determined that the armor was very much like Gunzosha armor, but made of bone and tissue, while Sogeki found necromantically enchanted runes engraved in the collarbones of the dead. It was surmised that these bones held hungry ghosts captive, accounting for the appearance of the snarling spirits. The bones and armor were prepared for shipment back to the Redoubt, and the fang prepared to investigate further into the valley.
It rapidly became apparent that the valley was the mouth of a significant shadowland, and the fang advanced further. To their horror, they discovered a massing army of the dead, a large force led by none other than the Prince Resplendent in the Ruin of Ages, a.k.a. Crumbling Pillar. Crumbling Pillar was a notorious Anathema, who had slain many Lookshyan Dragon-Blooded in his career of mayhem and madness. He was a known subordinate of Thorns, and his massing forces appeared more than capable of making a sizable strike against one or more of the Marukani range towns.
The group retreated to send a report back to the Redoubt, but was spotted by some manner of scrabbling thing, a small man with multiple arms sewn onto his body, some of which ended in wickedly sharp knives. It gave brief pursuit, but Sogeki put it down with an arrow. The party returned to the range town and send a Wind-Carried missive back to Yori.
The response was nearly immediate: A force of heavy infantry, foreign legion Janissaries, gunzosha troops, archers, and two warstriders, the red jade Adamant Charge and the white jade Valorous Shield, was dispatched in the airship Unfettered Sky. Led by Taizei Amilar Kiyomi, the Seventh Legion force arrived to annihilate the army of the damned.