Ken ga Kimi – Tokaido Fake Wedding Parade

As I mentioned in the prologue post, Ken ga Kimi is split into two arcs. The first one acts as the common route of the game, where Kayo travels through Tokaido with everyone for the fake wedding parade. This post covers all eight chapters.


In the first arc, Kayo has to go on a wedding parade while disguising herself as Hisahime. The journey is by no means easy. As they face numerous difficulties together, Kayo grows closer to the six samurai who are guarding her. However, the wedding parade actually has another purpose. It’s to deliver one of the Five Heavenly Swords, Juzumaru, safely to Sunpu. At the beginning of their journey, none of them knows that they’re walking into a vortex of conspiracy.

Chapter 1

1634. March 2.

The time is early spring, when the cherry blossoms aren’t blooming yet. Kayo is working with her father in their restaurant as usual. Their days can be a little busy, but their life is always peaceful. Or at least that’s how it’s supposed to be. When a customer asks if they have some radish, Kayo apologizes saying they’ve run out for today. They didn’t have that much stock to begin with, mostly because of the damage caused by the cold weather. The weather wasn’t really hot last summer, which affected the quality of vegetables. Despite the cold temperature in summer, it didn’t snow at all in winter. The temperature suddenly spiked up too recently, so it has gotten warmer. The plum and peach blossoms bloomed very quickly this year, and it looks like the same will go to the cherry blossoms. Ever since she was young, Kayo has been helping out in her father’s restaurant. Her task is basically to serve the customers, and they have quite a lot since her father has been running the place for a long time.

After leaving the restaurant, one of Kayo’s customers nearly bumps into a samurai who seems to be in a hurry. The samurai apologizes to him before rushing off, but he’s glad that he was able to dodge in time. The samurai bears Nimaigasa, the crest of the Yagyuu family—the family that serves as swordsmanship teachers for the Tokugawa family. Who knows what would happen if a commoner like him bumps into such a person. The samurai is, of course, none other than Yagyuu Juubei Mitsuyoshi. He’s running out of breath, but his “young master” is still nowhere to be found. Following yesterday’s horse-riding lesson, his “young master” is skipping history lesson today. Mitsuyoshi knows that he hates studying, but that won’t change the fact that he’s giving Mitsuyoshi a hard time. Mitsuyoshi can’t return to the castle until he can find his “young master” either, so he decides to take a short break at Kayo’s restaurant.

When Mitsuyoshi walks in, Kayo is busy and can’t go to see him right away. She asks him to have a seat though, and he orders a cup of tea along with some dango. She can prepare them herself, so she doesn’t want to bother her father in the kitchen. The moment Kayo comes to serve his order, Mitsuyoshi suddenly looks really surprised and chokes on his tea. As she rubs his back out of concern, her father comes out to ask if he’s alright. After assuring them that he’s fine, Mitsuyoshi asks if Kayo’s father owns the restaurant. When he nods, Mitsuyoshi says he just remembered an urgent issue and leaves—putting the payment on the table. Of course Kayo is confused since he only took a sip of his tea, not even touching the dango he ordered. As she cleans up his tea and dango, she feels that it’s a bit of a waste.

In the evening, Kayo goes outside to remove the shop curtains. She’s greeted by Orin, a lady who runs the fabric store next door. Orin is closing her store as well since the sun is already setting, not to mention the town is rather dangerous too recently. From Kinshirou, one of the policemen in Edo, she heard that youkai are appearing inside the town as of late. Just after Orin asks Kayo to be careful, Mitsuyoshi returns with a Tokugawa samurai. They say they have something important to talk about, and they ask her to take them to see her father. Both Orin and Kayo are obviously surprised, and soon Kayo’s father comes out to check what’s going on. Once again, Mitsuyoshi states that they want to talk about something important. It’s not something they can discuss outside, so he asks if they can go inside. Kayo’s father looks confused, but he agrees and takes them inside. Kayo wonders if they accidentally did something offensive, but Mitsuyoshi and the other samurai don’t look angry.

Once they’re inside, Mitsuyoshi introduces himself as the swordsmanship teacher for the Tokugawa family. Kayo’s father instantly recognizes him as the son of Yagyuu Tajima no Kami Munenori, which makes it easier for Mitsuyoshi to proceed. The reason why they’re here is because the shogunate has a request for Kayo, which is for her to act as the fake bride for an upcoming wedding parade. Mitsuyoshi explains that the eldest son of Ookubo Genba no Kami Tadanari, Ookubo Tadashige, is getting married. Ever since Tadanaga’s death, Sunpu has been under the direct control of the shogunate… but Tadanari is going to become the next castellan there. Even though this is supposed to be a good news, Kayo can’t help but feel concerned. While it’s true that a new governor is necessary for Sunpu, Tadanaga has a son. She remembers that his name is Choushichirou, along with the fact that he’s still at a very young age. What happened to him after his father’s death?

The woman who’s going to become Tadashige’s wife is Hisahime, the younger sister of Iemitsu. Hisahime has been fragile ever since she was born. It’s difficult for her to do the wedding parade herself, since she’ll have to wear the heavy shiromuku and become the center of attention. Sunpu is very far away from Edo, and she might collapse along the way. Besides, there are also rumors about bandits in Mount Hakone. If the rumors are true, they will surely attack the wedding parade to get the expensive trousseau. It will be a dangerous journey, and it’s one of the reasons why they’re requesting for Kayo’s help. The other reason is because Kayo looks almost identical to Hisahime, which is why Mitsuyoshi was really surprised to see her. If they arrange a pass and put make-up on her, she’ll be able to cross the checkpoint without any trouble. She doesn’t have to worry about the bandits either, because they’ve prepared four experienced guards to keep her safe. In addition, they’ll also reward her with 5 gold ryou for the task.

When Mitsuyoshi bows his head and asks her to accept the request, Kayo doesn’t know what to say. She doesn’t think she’s capable of acting a princess, so she feels that refusing would be the right thing to do… but before she can say anything, her father turns down the request for her. The other Tokugawa samurai demands to know the reason since they will give her protection and money, but he says it’s not about the reward. Ever since his wife passed away, Kayo has become his only family. She’s his everything, and he’s afraid that something would happen to her during the journey. He’s worried about her safety, so he asks them to forget about this. Knowing that they’ve made a cruel request, Mitsuyoshi sincerely apologizes to Kayo’s father. However, they can’t withdraw so easily either. Kayo is their only hope, so they will give her some time to think about this. The wedding parade will depart from Edo on March 9, and they will come to ask for her answer before then.

Kayo’s father has no intentions of changing his mind though. After sending them off, he secretly throws salt in the hope of getting rid of bad luck. He asks her to return to her room and get some rest, since they might be busy with work tomorrow. He says he’ll turn down the request for her, so he wants her to forget about it. After all, her happiness is the most important thing to him. While Kayo doesn’t think she’s up to the task, she’s actually concerned about Mitsuyoshi and the other Tokugawa samurai. She thinks they’re very reckless. They must’ve walked all around Edo to search for a girl who looks identical to the princess, but Edo is by no means small. There might be someone else who looks like Hisahime, but it’s like looking for a gold dust in a mountain of sand.

A few days later, Kayo is still thinking about the wedding parade. The issue lingers in her mind when she’s working in the restaurant, when she cleans up at home, and even when she’s having naginata training in the dojo. Before she knew it, it’s already the day before the deadline. Kayo is determined to refuse if that’s what her father wants, but she can’t erase the doubt in her mind. After seeing how desperate Mitsuyoshi was, she’s not sure if it’s really alright to refuse. Or rather, can she even refuse…? Noticing that Kayo can’t seem to concentrate, her naginata teacher warns her to be careful. It’s very dangerous to swing naginata around in that state, because she might get hurt if she’s distracted. Her best friend, Omatsu, also asks her to concentrate properly, or else their naginata practice would be meaningless. Feeling bad for troubling Omatsu, Kayo decides to focus on practice first and shoves the wedding parade to the back of her mind.

As they walk home after practice, Omatsu asks if Kayo has any problems. Kayo was spacing out during practice, so Omatsu is wondering if she wants to share. She might not be able to help much, but at least she can listen. Kayo feels happy that Omatsu is worried about her, but she answers that she was spacing out due to lack of sleep. She adds that she was busy thinking about her restaurant, and Omatsu believes this since the cold weather damage was terrible last year. Of course this is simply Kayo’s attempt to cover up the truth. The wedding parade request is a very serious issue, so she obviously can’t tell anyone about it. After parting with Omatsu, Kayo thinks further about why she feels so unsure about turning down the request. Is it because of money? Due to the cold weather damage, her father has a debt. Since they can’t get all the necessary ingredients, business has been rather poor. If she accepts the request, she’ll receive 5 ryou—which is more than enough to pay off the debt. She pulls herself out of it though, telling herself to stay on the safe side. Who knows, they might be able to harvest good crops this year.

However, the doubt remains in Kayo’s mind. She’s not sure if refusing is really a wise decision, though she doesn’t know why she feels like that. Here, Kayo can take three different actions that might help clearing her mind. Depending on your choice, she’ll see the men she’s going to meet in the near future.

  • Take a walk for a change of pace
    Kayo goes to the lively part of the town, where she spots Tsuzuramaru gulping down a LOT of food in a restaurant. He finally made some money, so he can buy food for his iron stomach. The man in the sushi shop calls out to Saneaki and promotes their fresh fish, but Saneaki refuses saying he’s in a hurry. Kayo buys a candy before heading home.

  • Go home immediately
    Their restaurant is busy around dusk, so Kayo thinks it’s a good way to distract herself from the wedding parade. On the way home, she sees Enishi running straight into someone’s cart. He says it’s because they have a lot of beautiful ladies in this area, and he was too busy enjoying the eye candies. The cart’s owner won’t accept that as an excuse though, so he has to help picking up the scattered goods LOL. Meanwhile, Suzukake is lost. All the buildings look similar in his eyes, so he doesn’t know where he’s going.

  • Stay and take a deep breath
    Kayo stretches and looks up at the sky, which reminds her that it hasn’t rained recently. Kei soon comes rushing through the streets and asks the townsfolk to make way, since he’s chasing after a thief who had the guts to steal in broad daylight. When someone mentions that there are also rumors about bandits in Mount Hakone, Sakyou appears to ask them further about this. From them, he learns that these rumors have been spreading for a long time… and he’s hoping that the checkpoint guards will do something about the bandits.

On the way home, Kayo sees the Tokugawa samurai who came with Mitsuyoshi. He looks like he’s trying not to be seen by anyone, and she decides to follow him out of curiosity. While it seems unlikely, she gets the feeling that this might be related to their request for her—which only adds to her doubt. The samurai goes into a quiet alley and meets up with Tatsukage, who seems to be very irritated at their slow progress. Tatsukage mentions that they’re dealing with a small restaurant, and they should just threaten to force it out of business. The samurai doesn’t seem to agree with that method, but Tatsukage points out that they don’t have time. No matter what it takes, they have to drag “the girl” into becoming the fake bride. When the samurai suggests asking for Tenkai’s help, Tatsukage refuses to depend on such a “monster” and his questionable techniques. He angrily tells the samurai to be ashamed of himself, since he’s having a hard time dealing with a little girl.

Kayo is shock, knowing that they’re talking about her. At the same time, she realizes that this is probably the reason behind her doubt. As Kayo runs home to inform her father, Tatsukage tells the samurai to do something about her by tomorrow. However, their discussion comes to an end when he starts coughing and feeling dizzy. Kamui soon appears to inform him that it’s time for the medicine, and he’s taken back to his palanquin to see Genan—the doctor who’s in charge of him. Meanwhile, Kayo arrives at home and calls out to her father. After making sure that they have no customers at the moment, she mentions that Mitsuyoshi and the Tokugawa samurai are coming to get her answer tomorrow. Her father is planning to refuse again, but she doesn’t think it’s a wise move. The request came from the shogunate, which means it’s no different from an order. Refusing is probably not an option. It’ll be difficult to act as a princess, but she doesn’t want anything to happen to him.

However, Kayo’s father only asks her to calm down. He pours a cup of jou-sencha (high quality green tea) for her and asks her to take a deep breath, assuring her that there’s nothing to worry about. From their previous meeting, he can see that Mitsuyoshi isn’t the type of person who would resort to unfair means. That’s why he’ll probably try to convince them again, but this will end once the wedding parade departs to Sunpu. Following her father’s words, Kayo reassures herself that everything will be okay. She holds her cup with both hands as she drinks her delicious, warm tea.

The next day, Kayo is serving the customers when she hears them talking about the situation in Sunpu. It looks like people already heard about the Sunpu clan’s collapse, and that the hatamoto Ookubo Tadanari is going to become the next castellan. After Tadanaga’s death, the retainers of the Sunpu clan have been diminishing in power—because they no longer have a clan to serve. That’s why despite Choushichirou’s status as Tadanaga’s son, he doesn’t have any authority. Aside from his young age, he has lost his father and the retainers’ ability to support him. It’s very apparent that a lot of grudges and regrets were involved as Iemitsu fought to become the official heir to the shogunate, and people think Tadanaga might come back to haunt him one day.

This reminds Kayo that she has to give her answer today, but her father remains silent. Despite his attempt to calm her down yesterday, her doubt isn’t going anywhere. She can’t help but feel that no matter what she says, the fake wedding parade will put them in danger. If she accepts the request, someone related to the Sunpu clan might find out about her identity—which can possibly harm her and her father. On the other hand, she also remembers Tatsukage’s plan to threaten them. She knows it’ll really happen if she dares to refuse, and she doesn’t want to imagine what lies beyond that option.

In the evening, Mitsuyoshi and the other Tokugawa samurai come to Kayo’s restaurant again. Her father shows absolutely no signs of changing his mind, so they’ve decided to offer greater compensation. First, they’ve increased the number of guards from four to six. It’s a decision they made after taking the bandit issue into consideration. As they said before, all of the guards are highly skilled. They can guarantee that Kayo will return to Edo safely. In addition, they’re also increasing the reward to 10 ryou. However, Kayo’s father still refuses. No matter what kind of offer they bring, he has no intentions of accepting the request. His daughter is the most important thing to him, so he asks them to leave. When Mitsuyoshi begs him to reconsider, he takes out a jar of salt and throws the contents onto them—chasing them out by force. This leaves them with no choice but to flee. For now.

Kayo is obviously shocked, knowing her father has done something outrageous. He seems ready to face the consequences, but she quickly runs outside to chase after them. Upon catching up, she kneels on the ground and begs them to forgive her father. However, Mitsuyoshi asks her to lift her head. He knows that her father really loves her, though the salt did take him by surprise. After Kayo brushes the remaining salt off their kimono, Mitsuyoshi asks how she truly feels about the wedding parade. Her father is against the idea, but he hasn’t heard what she actually thinks about it. She answers that her father is her only family, so she doesn’t want to make him sad. Even though she feels bad for them, she’ll obediently listen to her father.

Mitsuyoshi says he understands, but admits that they can’t give up that easily. As he told her before, the wedding parade is going to leave Edo on March 9. Until the time of the departure, they’re going to wait for Kayo by the castle gate. They guarantee her safety and she’ll be rewarded as well, so he wants her to help them. If necessary, they can also send people to help her father in the restaurant. Mitsuyoshi leaves after asking Kayo to reconsider, but her father is obviously more important to her… so she can only pray for them to find another replacement for Hisahime. However, Kayo then sees a suspicious ronin standing in the shadows. He immediately leaves, but she notices that he was intently staring at her. Which means he probably heard her conversation with Mitsuyoshi. She has a very bad feeling about this, and she goes home while praying that nothing serious will happen.

The next morning, Kayo goes to fetch some vegetables from Yohee’s place. As she leaves the restaurant, she meets Orin and her adopted son, Yanohiko, outside. Yanohiko is always playing around this area in the morning, but it’s unusual for Orin to be outside at this hour. Usually, she’d be busy with preparations in her store. Orin says it’s because she’s a little concerned about a certain issue, and she asks if Kayo saw an unfamiliar ronin. He was seen roaming around their neighborhood last night. This instantly reminds Kayo of the ronin she saw yesterday, but she can’t just point her finger at him. He left soon after she saw him, and she doesn’t know if he returned at night. Orin thinks it’s good if she didn’t see the ronin, but she asks Kayo to be careful. Yanohiko asks Kayo not to worry and promises to protect her, while Orin laughs at his attempt to look cool in front of her.

Just then they see Kinshirou passing by, and Orin calls him over. As a policeman, Kinshirou always patrols around this area and help people if they have any problems. After telling him about the suspicious ronin from last night, Orin notes that the number of ronin seems to be increasing lately. Kinshirou explains that it’s because the Sunpu clan has collapsed. The samurai who served the clan lost their job, and they came to Edo searching for a new one. It’s one of the reasons why Edo has been quite dangerous recently. They might be skilled with their swords, but they all need money to keep living. However, Kinshirou doesn’t see any reasons for a ronin to roam around this area. He’s going to tighten the security though, so they can leave everything to him. Orin is relieved to hear this, but sadly it doesn’t ease Kayo’s doubt at all. She did see an unfamiliar ronin, and she also knows this might be related to Tatsukage’s threat. She’s afraid that they’re going to threaten her neighbors as well, and the thought alone is terrifying enough for her.

After that, Kayo runs into Yohee in town. He came to sell his vegetables, so she uses the chance to stock up. They have fewer crops compared to last year, but at least it’s better than nothing. Since Yohee runs a farm and Kayo works in a restaurant, they’re hoping for the weather to improve soon. At the same time, Kayo’s father notices that their shutters are broken. Or rather, something destroyed them. Looking at the damage, the culprit doesn’t seem to be a cat or a dog… so it’s most likely a human. Soon after, Kouetsu walks by and notices the broken shutters. This reminds him of the suspicious ronin from last night, so he tells Kayo’s father about it. No one was able to get a clear look of the ronin’s face, but he was moving in the shadows—like he’s avoiding people’s eyes. After Kouetsu leaves, Kayo’s father starts wondering if his daughter’s fear is turning into reality.

On the way home, Kayo hears the sound of a hammer hitting a nail. The sound gets louder as she walks closer to her house, and she wonders if there’s a construction. However, Kayo completely freezes in place upon seeing Yanohiko. He’s playing with his spinning top outside, but he’s not alone—he’s accompanied by the suspicious ronin from yesterday. The ronin looks happy as he teaches Yanohiko how to spin the top, but why is he here today…? Kayo can’t help but think that he might be keeping an eye on this area. Either that, or he’s planning to do something when people aren’t watching. Kayo is even more surprised when she returns home and finds her father fixing their shutters, which makes her realize that the sound actually came from their house. He asks her not to worry since he’s fixed it, and then he sends her inside. Of course Kayo knows their shutters wouldn’t just break on their own. The ronin’s face comes to her mind, but she can’t turn around to look at him. Maybe she just doesn’t want to admit it.

That night, Kayo makes a decision. Before talking to her father, she prays at her mother’s altar—believing that her mother will give her courage. After that, Kayo tells her father that she’s going to join the wedding parade as the fake bride. Their neighbors will get into trouble if she refuses the offer, not to mention their restaurant might be forced out of business too. Today it’s only their shutters, but who knows what’s going to happen next. Kayo’s father argues that it’s too dangerous, considering the current situation in Sunpu. Hisahime is going to marry the son of the next castellan, so she will be an easy target for those who have a grudge on him… and there should be a lot of them. However, Kayo points out that a suspicious ronin is keeping an eye on them. He was playing with Yanohiko, but she knows he probably did it on purpose. He wanted her to know that she’s being watched.

Kayo also tells her father about how she saw Tatsukage on her way home from the dojo. She heard their conversation by coincidence, but Tatsukage was telling the Tokugawa samurai to threaten them. If Kayo refuses to become the fake bride, they’ll kick her restaurant out of business. They’re already under threat, so they have no options. Kayo’s father feels really bad since his attempt to protect her ends up making it even harder for her, and she says she’s happy with his concern… but she’s going. Knowing that her father is worried, she assures him that she will return home safely. Mitsuyoshi promised to protect and send her back home, so she wants her father to protect their restaurant in her absence.

Kayo’s father eventually says he understands, and he goes to take a handmade charm from the drawer. He asks her to listen to the samurai who guard her along the way, because that will be her safest option. He then hands the charm to her, explaining that it’s a protective amulet made by her mother. The charm is filled with morning glory seeds he harvested last year. Morning glories symbolize a “solemn promise”, reflecting his wish for her to return safely. After accepting the charm, Kayo once again promises that she will return to Edo. At the same time, she also decides to keep the charm with her at all times.

On March 9, Kayo goes to Edo Castle before the sun rises. She finds Mitsuyoshi waiting for her in front of the gate, and she asks him to take her along—admitting that she needs money. He’s really grateful that she agrees to help, and he promises to grant her wish in return. Since they don’t have time, Mitsuyoshi sends Kayo to see her lady attendant inside. Before they depart, she’ll have to change into the shiromuku first. However, he also asks her to remember that from the moment she wears it… she’s going to become Hisahime, the younger sister of Iemitsu. Everyone is going to call her princess, including himself. As she follows Iemitsu inside, Kayo asks for her parents’ protection in her heart. She never thought she’d get to enter Edo Castle, but now she’s walking through the gate. In order to play the role of a fake bride.

Meanwhile, Suzukake is excited to see the princess. He has never seen one before, and he thinks she must be very beautiful. Tsuzuramaru reminds him that she’s a fake princess, though she’ll be dressed like a real one. After introducing themselves to each other, Suzukake happily asks everyone to protect the princess together. Tsuzuramaru is excited since this will be his first journey to Tokaido, but Kei brings up the rumor about the bandits in Mount Hakone. The wedding parade includes the trousseau in a nagamochi, so they have to make sure that it won’t get stolen. They notice that Sakyou is frowning as he listens to this, but he assures them that he’s fine. He was just thinking about how brutal bandits are. As soon as they look away from him, he mutters that the bandits will surely come after the trousseau… so he will be waiting for that time to come. (⊙ω⊙✿)

Sakyou has traveled through Tokaido before, but this is his first time traveling in a large group under the shogunate’s order. It’s very unusual for ronin to receive the task of guarding a wedding parade, but they seem to be focusing in power because of the bandits in Mount Hakone. Kei thinks they all look unreliable though, and Saneaki soon comes to say exactly the same thing LOL. He believes the most unreliable one in their party is Enishi, who arrives at the same time as him. Enishi giggles saying Kayo must be beautiful if she looks identical to Hisahime, while Saneaki only sighs beside him. Their fake princess should show up before they depart at dawn, and they can take their time waiting until then.

After a while, Mitsuyoshi comes with Kayo. She feels terribly nervous. It’s her first time putting on a heavy shiromuku and riding a horse. When she lifts her head, she sees the six samurai who will protect her along the way. Tsuzuramaru is excited for their departure, while Enishi is more excited to see Kayo… but Saneaki tells him to watch his words. They should never mention the fact that she’s a fake with a loud voice. When the sun starts rising, Mitsuyoshi commands their departure. Aside from Mitsuyoshi, Kayo only knows the person who helped her wearing the shiromuku and did her make-up—Hattori Hanzou. It’s very difficult to wear the shiromuku by herself, so Hanzou is probably going to take care of her throughout the journey. At this point Kayo hasn’t realized that Hanzou is actually a female in disguise, so she feels a bit embarrassed to be seen by her.

As they make their way out of Edo, Kei comments that the wedding parade is very bland for the shogun’s younger sister. Aside from Kayo and Hanzou, they only have Mitsuyoshi, the six guards, two Tokugawa samurai, and two porters. Saneaki mentions that the shogunate issued sumptuary regulations because of cold weather damage last year, so that should be the reason. The shogunate is concerned about what people think. Even without the regulations, the wedding parade would still attract attention. Suzukake doesn’t get what “sumptuary regulations” mean, but Sakyou asks everyone to keep their voices down. After all, their job as guards has begun. Despite these conversations around her, Kayo is too terrified to pay attention to them. The horse is pretty tall, and she tells herself to be careful not to fall off. Noticing that she’s nervous, the guards ask her not to be so tense. They suggests relaxing and entrusting her body to the horse, instead of trying to resist the swaying motion. The horse is trained, so she won’t go wild and throw Kayo off her back. This puts both Kayo and the horse at ease.

When the sun rises in the eastern sky, the people of Edo are coming out of their houses. Kayo touches the charm hidden on her chest, as it’s the only thing she can rely on. In her heart, she asks her mother to keep her safe—so she can safely return to her father’s side. Kayo doesn’t know if her voice reaches her mother, but she can only pray as the horse takes her out of Edo.

In the inner part of Edo Castle, Munenori, Genan and Kamui receive the report that the wedding parade has safely departed from Edo. Genan thinks secretly putting Juzumaru in Kayo’s hands is a bit too much, but they can at least pray for everyone’s safety. Munenori seems concerned as well. Playing the role of a fake bride is already a difficult task for a town girl, but that’s not her only purpose. Kayo and her guards are unaware that the bride’s dagger has been switched with one of the Five Heavenly Swords, Juzumaru. They have made perfect preparations to make sure that both Kayo and Juzumaru are safe, which is why Mitsuyoshi is leading the wedding parade. Now that the wedding parade has left Edo, Munenori and the others are going to take the real Hisahime to Sunpu via back streets.

Chapter 2

Around 4 ri outside of Edo, two samurai notice the wedding parade approaching. They immediately bow their heads upon noticing Aoi-no-Gomon on the lanterns, just like all the travelers they see along the way. There’s only a few of them, mainly because the weather is still too cold for traveling. However, every single one of them would bow down upon seeing the wedding parade. Kayo feels really uncomfortable because of this. While Mitsuyoshi did bow his head to her once, she’s only a merchant’s daughter—her social rank is lower than samurai. However, she knows everything would go to waste if she glances around too much. With that in mind, she does her best to look down—though she can’t see the scenery around her with that position. Beside her, Kei notes that she surprisingly maintains a good shape. When Kayo answers that she can’t let anyone find out that she’s a fake, he laughs saying she should keep that up.

After making sure that there’s no more people nearby, Mitsuyoshi asks Suzukake to stop the horse. They’re going to take a break and do the introductions, as well as discussing simple rules for their journey. Hanzou tells Kayo to stay on the horse though. It makes her uneasy since everyone else is standing on the ground, but she knows she can’t just step down while wearing the shiromuku. First, Mitsuyoshi introduces himself as the commander of this wedding parade. Next, he introduces Kayo as the key person in this journey. No matter what happens along the way, they’ll have to make sure that she can safely return to Edo. The two Tokugawa samurai are gokenin. They’ll be in charge of miscellaneous affairs, which includes guarding the wedding parade itself. The porters are walking at the rear line. There are two of them, and they’re going to carry the nagamochi all the way to Sunpu… so the guards have to protect them as well. The last member from the shogunate is Hanzou, who’s in charge of taking care of Kayo as her lady attendant.

As for the six guards, Mitsuyoshi asks Tsuzuramaru to open the introductions. Tsuzuramaru introduces himself as a disciple of Tamiya-ryuu Iai from Mutsu Province, but he gets terribly nervous due to Kayo’s presence and ends up biting his own tongue LOL. Kei notes that Tsuzuramaru is a country bumpkin, and so it’s only natural if he overreacts to Kayo’s shiromuku. Sakyou doesn’t think it’s wise to mention one’s swordsmanship style during this journey though, so he asks Tsuzuramaru not to reveal it so lightly. Next up is Kei, and the first thing he says to Kayo is: “Don’t drag us down.” Σ(-`Д´-ノ;)ノ!? Of course his attitude comes off as unpleasant to Kayo, especially because he just praised her not too long ago. In any case, he warns her not to get off the horse while they’re on the road. If she behaves, they should reach Sunpu in no time. When Kei tells her to answer, Kayo has no choice but to obey. She’s aware that she might become a hindrance, and her father also told her to listen to her guards.

After Kei comes Saneaki, who simply introduces himself as a ronin. Mitsuyoshi adds that Saneaki is the strongest among them though. He performed the best during the selection test, so he’ll guard their backs during this journey. Suzukake is a bit disappointed that he lost to the “old man” in terms of strength, while Saneaki clearly doesn’t appreciate the nickname. 。゚(゚ノ∀`゚)゚。アヒャヒャ Tsuzuramaru immediately asks Saneaki to spar with him, but Enishi shoves them out of the way to do his introduction. Enishi admits that he is a player, just as his appearance suggests. However, he’s more than ready to commit seppuku for Kayo if it’s really necessary. ヽ(´-`)ノ While he finds her cute, he has to admit that this wedding parade is really bland. It might be unavoidable for all the men in this period, and it looks like the great Tokugawa family isn’t an exception. Mitsuyoshi quickly interrupts and ends Enishi’s introduction by force though.

Similarly to Saneaki, Sakyou also introduces himself as a ronin. He promises to protect Kayo all the way to Sunpu, so she doesn’t have to worry. This actually surprises her, because she thought he’s a Tokugawa samurai. Sakyou also points out that it’s unnatural for a bride to hold a charm, so he asks Kayo to put it away. She quickly apologizes and puts the charm into her sleeve. At the same time, she also realizes that he’s very observant… because she was actually trying to keep the charm hidden from everyone’s eyes. The last one to introduce himself is Suzukake, who mentions that he came from Mount Takao. He’s in charge of pulling Kayo’s horse and keeping everyone healthy, since he has medical knowledge. Kayo is impressed since Suzukake doesn’t look that much older than she is, but Kei sighs saying they have another country bumpkin. While guarding Kayo is his top priority, Suzukake also asks the porters to tell him if the journey hurts their bodies. Hanzou and the porters don’t think it’s necessary since they’re used to traveling, but he insists that their journey will be smoother that way.

When Mitsuyoshi asks Kayo to introduce herself, she nervously fixes her posture. She tells them that she comes from a merchant family, but she knows how to use naginata because her mother was a martial artist. During this journey, she’ll do her best not to give them any trouble. Tsuzuramaru is impressed, but Saneaki and Kei are clearly not. They’re going to protect her, so she doesn’t need to mention that she can fight. Besides, she wouldn’t be able to use naginata in that shiromuku anyway. Kayo feels bad since she didn’t mean to be rude, but Sakyou asks her not to apologize. After all, having knowledge in martial arts is better than not knowing it at all.

As for the rules, Mitsuyoshi wants everyone to refer to Kayo as “princess” during this journey. There are no exceptions, and they have to do this until they reach Sunpu castle. No matter how much Kayo acts like a real princess, everything would go to waste if they accidentally call her by name. They have to refer to her as “princess” even at the inns, because there’s a possibility that someone might be watching. There’s only a few people who know that Kayo is a substitute, and they have to hide this fact from every single people they meet in this journey. Enishi has been calling her “princess” right from the start though, since he thinks she’s just as refined and graceful as a real princess. Of course Kayo isn’t used to it at all, but she has to do her best to fulfill that expectation.

They resume their journey after that, running into a traveler and a merchant along the way. When they congratulate her, Kayo thinks she probably looks like a real princess because of the shiromuku. It’s sewn with silver thread, and it’s very gorgeous with vivid colors. It’s clearly not an outfit that can be worn by a commoner like her. While she doesn’t have to worry about raising people’s suspicion, somehow she also feels bad for deceiving everyone. Noticing that Kayo is looking down, Suzukake asks if she’s feeling sick. When she says that it’s simply because of the dazzling sunlight, Enishi offers to block it out by riding the horse with her. Needless to say his idea gets rejected by everyone else LOL. Kayo reminds herself that she was the one who decided to take this job, so she should stop thinking about such things.

Meanwhile, Madara and Hachimoku are secretly following the wedding parade. They find Kayo’s guards rather strange. Hachimoku thinks they look unreliable, but there are two of them who seem to be strong. Madara says those two alone should be enough, since there aren’t any strong enemies around this area. Among the six guards, Hachimoku and Madara notice that one of them is on edge. There’s also another one who’s suppressing himself on purpose. If it’s really necessary, Hachimoku and Madara can use their abilities to provide aid as well. Just then they see a hawk soaring in the sky, which is very unnatural since they’re in Tokaido. Madara wonders if it’s someone’s pet, but Hachimoku feels like the hawk is following the wedding parade…

Not too far away from the next station, Suzukake notices the hawk as well. He remembers that he saw it earlier, and he’s certain that it’s the same hawk. Kayo can’t really see it, but she does catch a glimpse of something soaring in the sky. She thinks it’s amazing how he can tell it’s a hawk just by hearing its voice, but he says they can do that easily if they live in the mountains—which attracts Tsuzuramaru’s interest as well. As she listens to their conversation, Kayo is looking forward to reach the inn. There, she’ll be able to take off the heavy shiromuku. Even though she’s only sitting on the horse, she feels really exhausted. It’s probably because she was nervous though, considering it’s the first day of the journey. Can she act more like a princess tomorrow…? Kayo is thinking about this when they suddenly hear a scream.

Far ahead of them, they can see a merchant getting attacked by a Tsurube-otoshi—a giant disembodied head. As the merchant begs for help, the youkai mockingly laughs at him. Kayo is horrified. She did hear rumors about youkai attacking people in broad daylight, but she never actually saw it happening… until today. When Hanzou asks for command, Kayo asks them to save the merchant. Mitsuyoshi answers that they won’t leave the merchant to die. It’s a warrior’s duty to protect people, but they also need to protect her. Both Kei and Sakyou believe one person should be enough to deal with this though, so they ask Kayo to send one of them to fight the youkai.

  • Tsuzuramaru
    Tsurube-otoshi is pissed when Tsuzuramaru comes to release the merchant, but it suddenly gets terrified. This really confuses him since he hasn’t even drawn his sword yet. Tsuzuramaru wants to fight the youkai since it might attack people again, but it runs away without even putting up a fight.

  • Kei
    Since Tsurube-otoshi is 100% busy with the merchant, Kei uses the chance to attack it from behind. He finds it really sad that the merchant notices him before the youkai does, and he tells the youkai to leave if it doesn’t want to get hurt. As a roundsman of Edo, Kei can’t ignore the youkai’s actions… but he’s willing to spare it for today, knowing that Kayo isn’t used to blood. It flees while grumbling about humans.

  • Saneaki
    Tsurube-otoshi finds Saneaki creepy for talking to thin air, even though he’s actually talking to Habakitsuki LOL. At this point she doesn’t care what he cuts. She only wants blood, be it a human’s, an oni’s or a youkai’s. Saneaki hits the youkai with the back of his sword to release the merchant, and he tells the youkai to leave. Since the hit was quite damaging, it ends up fleeing while cursing.

  • Enishi
    Instead of using his sword, Enishi walks up to Tsurube-otoshi and punches it from behind. After securing the merchant, he tells the youkai to go away since it’s blocking their path. The other guards would gladly fight the youkai, but since it’s weak enough to be knocked down by Enishi’s punch… it has no choice but to flee. While cursing.

  • Sakyou
    Sakyou quietly draws his sword and slashes the youkai from behind. He asks the youkai to let go of the merchant and leave, but since it refuses… he decides not to hold back and delivers another blow. Sakyou says he won’t hurt the youkai further if it pulls back, so it runs off while leaving a trail of blood behind it.

  • Suzukake
    Despite Tsurube-otoshi’s attitude, Suzukake tries convincing it to let go of the merchant. Since the youkai clearly loves picking on weak humans, he decides that this is just a matter of personality and not race. He conceals himself before attacking the youkai, but immediately stops once the merchant runs away. This leaves the youkai with no choice but to give up (because it’s weak LOL), and it walks away with Suzukake cheerfully sending it off—asking it to be careful. 。゚(゚ノ∀`゚)゚。アヒャヒャ

The person they saved is actually a fledgling merchant from Kyoto, who’s running a book lending service. A lot of commoners can’t get their hands on books, so he wants to lend books for people who don’t have money. He’s planning to open his business in Sunpu, but got attacked by Tsurube-otoshi along the way. As a token of gratitude, the merchant gives Kayo a free book. At first she’s reluctant because she’s only a commoner in disguise, but she decides to accept since Hanzou is quietly nodding next to her. Since the wedding parade is also heading towards Sunpu, the merchant says he’ll give Kayo another book if they meet again. These books unlock extra stories in the “rewards” section, which you can access from the title screen. The merchant offers six books in total, with one story for each of the guards. (。・ω・。)♪

From there, they safely reach Totsuka Station in Sagami Province. Kayo can finally change back into her kimono, but Hanzou asks her not to leave jodan-no-ma. It’s a room with raised flooring which is used for nobles or guests of honor to stay in, and that’s the room she’s using. Of course Kayo knows that she can’t roam around. People would be shocked if they see “Hisahime” in a normal kimono, and she’s too tired to go out anyway. Hanzou asks if she should call Suzukake, but Kayo assures her that she’s alright. She was just nervous since she never rode a horse before, so Hanzou goes to ask the inn owner to prepare a warm bath for her. After Hanzou leaves the room, Kayo lets out a sigh. A princess must be accompanied by her lady attendant all the time, and she finds it very suffocating. The experience makes her realize that being unable to spend time alone is pretty tough.

Meanwhile, the six guards have to share the same room. Enishi instantly whines, but Mitsuyoshi asks him to bear with it. Totsuka Station is rather small for a headquarter, and all the other rooms are unavailable. Tsuzuramaru thinks it’s large enough for all of them, but Enishi refuses to sleep on the demon’s gate. This surprises Tsuzuramaru though, since he didn’t think Enishi is the type who would care about such things. The room is a bit poorly ventilated as well, so Sakyou opens the window to get some fresh air. Mitsuyoshi informs them that Kayo is staying in jodan-no-ma, while the porters and gokenin are resting in the eastern hall. They also have to remember that if they want to see Kayo, they’ll have to ask for Hanzou’s permission first. He takes his leave after that, but not before telling them to keep things peaceful.

Kei sighs and tells Enishi to stop whining. The room protects them from the weather outside, and it should be good enough. Suzukake is worried about his sleeping posture though. He tosses and turns a lot, so he’s worried that he might kick them in his sleep. He asks them to be careful and avoid his moves, but Kei says that’s impossible. He’s not doing it on purpose, so they won’t be able to sense any killing intents from him. Saneaki says he doesn’t mind sleeping in the corner. He only needs half a tatami mat, so they can use the remaining space. Suzukake thinks it’s way too narrow, but apparently it’s not a problem for Saneaki. Now that they’ve arrived at the station, Enishi invites everyone to take a bath. They walked all the way from Nihonbashi to Totsuka, so they’re covered by sand, dust, and sweat.

Kei tells them to go ahead of him though, since he wants to do some training first. Sakyou says he doesn’t mind, but he wants Kei to take a bath before dinner. They’re sharing a room after all, and it’d be ridiculous for the princess’ guard to reek of sweat. Kei says he knows that, since he does want to be fresh by the time they eat dinner. Suzukake also asks them to go without him, because he wants to check up on the porters first. They were carrying the heavy nagamochi all day, so they must be tired to some extent. He leaves the room after taking some herbs, while Enishi takes Saneaki, Sakyou and Tsuzuramaru to the bath.

At the same time, Kayo returns to jodan-no-ma after taking a warm bath. There’s no one inside. The room is empty and quiet. There are no windows in jodan-no-ma, but she can see the condition outside from the hallway that leads to the bathroom. The station town of Totsuka is filled with lantern lights at night. Kayo has been living in a station town all her life, and yet she never thought she’d get to see them from another perspective like this. It hasn’t been a full day since she left Edo, but she’s already missing her father. Soon after that, Hanzou comes to bring dinner for both of them. Despite her wish to be left alone earlier, Kayo is relieved that Hanzou is going to eat with her. Maybe it’s because having a meal alone would be very dull, or maybe because she misses her father… but she’s longing for company at the moment.

Hanzou has checked that there’s no poison in the food, so Kayo can eat without worries. While it sounds rather scary for Kayo, Hanzou doesn’t seem to be bothered by the fact that she had to do poison tasting. She only sits quietly in front of her food, watching Kayo. This makes Kayo realize that being a princess is indeed hard, and it must be equally tough for the people who have to serve the princess all the time—like Hanzou. Kayo decides to just enjoy her meal for now though, because one of the fun parts of traveling is enjoying the food. Unfortunately, Kayo can’t bring herself to eat much. It seems like she feels nervous and worried, since it’s her first time going out of Edo. Concerned about Kayo’s health, Hanzou says she’ll ask for some porridge—which should be easier to eat. Kayo feels bad and tries to stop her, but Hanzou points out that their journey has just started. If she doesn’t eat properly, she won’t have enough stamina. They’re on a rather tight schedule, so she needs to stay in top condition. After Hanzou leaves, Kayo’s mind floats back to her father. As she holds her mother’s charm, she tries encouraging herself by making a vow that she will safely return to Edo.

Back to the guards, Enishi is complaining that they don’t get any drinks. Saneaki explains that starting from tonight, they’re going to take turns guarding Kayo from saya-no-ma—the veranda located in front of jodan-no-ma. That’s why they’re not allowed to drink. Getting drunk is simply unacceptable, and they can’t roam around while spreading the smell of alcohol either. Enishi is clearly not happy, but he doesn’t mind holding back for Kayo. Besides, he can’t show his pathetic side in front of her. Mitsuyoshi interrupts before Enishi can ramble further though, saying he has something to discuss with Saneaki. Starting from tomorrow, he wants them to walk in a formation. That way, it’ll be easier for them to handle unforeseen situations. Mitsuyoshi wants to hear Saneaki’s opinion regarding this issue.

First off, Saneaki asks Mitsuyoshi and the Tokugawa samurai to take the lead. It’s only obvious, because Mitsuyoshi is the one who’s holding their pass and guiding them through the way. For the vanguards, he assigns Tsuzuramaru and Kei. Tsuzuramaru can distract their opponents with Iai, and Kei can strike when they drop their guards. Suzukake is going to be the middle guard along with Hanzou, mostly because he has high flexibility with his dagger. Suzukake is also responsible for pulling Kayo’s horse, and so he can’t stray too far away from her. The last position is the rear guards, who will have to protect their porters and the nagamochi. Saneaki himself will take this position along with Sakyou.

Mitsuyoshi is about to end this discussion when Enishi raises a protest, since Saneaki didn’t mention him at all. However, Saneaki simply says Enishi can do whatever he wants. Of course Enishi wants to ride the horse together with Kayo, but Kei quickly stops him from fooling around LOL. Enishi says he’s just joking and they shouldn’t take him seriously, even though it sounds like he might do it for real. (ノ◕ヮ◕)ノ*:・゚✧ He also asks Saneaki not to regret this decision, because setting him free makes it more convenient for him. When Kei asks what he means by that, Enishi simply brushes it aside. They only have to know that he will do as he likes.

Just then Habakitsuki suddenly floats out of Saneaki’s katana, which greatly shocks him. He tells her not to come out like that even though he’s the only one who can see her, but when he’s busy contemplating about this situation… she floats away to steal Tsuzuramaru’s fuki-no-tou tempura. ゚.+:。ヾ(o・ω・)ノ゚.+:。 This stresses Saneaki even more since he wouldn’t really mind if Habakitsuki takes his food, but why does she have to pick Tsuzuramaru of all people!? Habakitsuki vanishes again after eating the tempura, but both Saneaki and her are unaware that Suzukake can see her. Saneaki gasps when Tsuzuramaru notices that his tempura is gone, but fortunately he doesn’t really remember if he already ate it or not. He feels like he didn’t eat it, but Kei says he probably ate too much and forgot that he already gulped it down… which is VERY likely to happen LOL. To stop Tsuzuramaru from crying over his tempura, Kei gives his boiled beans to him. Kei doesn’t like beans, so it’s good for both of them. Tsuzuramaru is happy, while he doesn’t have to eat his beans.

When Sakyou asks if the amount of food is enough for him, Kei says it’s more than enough. They get a lot of food here, and everything tastes good. The portion only looks small if they compare it to Tsuzuramaru’s meal, which is clearly not normal. At the same time, Saneaki is relieved that no one realizes what actually happened to the tempura. 。゚(゚ノ∀`゚)゚。アヒャヒャ Before leaving, Mitsuyoshi reminds them to take turns guarding saya-no-ma after dinner. Enishi wants to go right away, but Kei quickly takes the first turn since he’s done with dinner. Suzukake is amazed to see Enishi’s enthusiasm, unaware that he’s excited because of… uh, a different reason. When he reveals that it’s because he wants to see Kayo’s nightwear, Kei says that’s really stupid and leaves LOL. Upon seeing this interaction, Sakyou feels REALLY worried about the future of their journey. (((壊゚∀゚)))ァヒャヒャヒャヒャヒャヒャ

That night, Kayo finds herself unable to sleep. It’s been around 30 minutes since she went to bed, but she only rolls around instead. She was feeling sleepy earlier, but after lying in bed… she suddenly recalls what they told her in Edo. There are bandits in Mount Hakone. She knows that they’re still in Totsuka right now, and there are no bandits here. She’s also safe under everyone’s protection, and yet she feels really scared whenever she closes her eyes. Noticing that Kayo is too nervous to sleep, Hanzou lights up a sandalwood incense in the room—hoping that it can help her to relax. The nice scent of the incense really helps easing Kayo’s fears, and she falls asleep soon after that. She doesn’t feel terrified anymore even after closing her eyes, and Hanzou’s kindness leaves her feeling warm inside.

When Sakyou returns from saya-no-ma, Tsuzuramaru’s incredibly LOUD snore is echoing in the guards’ room. Suzukake is breathing softly, while Enishi is giggling in his sleep. Sakyou wakes Suzukake up and reminds him that it’s his turn, and Suzukake panics upon realizing that he overslept. He instantly rushes out of the room, not hearing Sakyou asking him to close the door. Enishi continues to giggle as he flirts with the ladies in his dream, and he rolls around to hug Kei—who gets terribly shocked and creeped out LOL. Enishi rolls onto Sakyou’s bed when Kei kicks him away, and he keeps on snoring when Sakyou asks him to get off the bed. As Tsuzuramaru continues to fill the room with his snore, Sakyou sighs saying he probably won’t be able to sleep tonight. Just then Saneaki suddenly wakes up and says he heard sounds outside. He’s going to take a look, so he asks Sakyou to go to bed.

The sounds actually came from Hachimoku, who barely manages to escape by the time Saneaki arrives. Saneaki doesn’t know that he’s a youkai though, so he thinks Hachimoku is just a normal raccoon. As he looks up at the sky, he notes that the moon is shining brightly tonight. It’s probably not a good timing for those who want to do questionable things in the shadows. After a long silence, Hachimoku hears Saneaki quietly praying. He thinks Saneaki is chanting a very weird “poem”, but he doesn’t have time to listen to it. He needs to go back to Madara’s place, or else she’s going to scold him. At the end of his prayer, Saneaki wishes for Kayo—the girl who is used by the shogunate—to be out of harm’s way.

Meanwhile, in Mount Hakone, Shiguragi receives money from his underling. They only managed to get 2 shu though, and it’s by no means enough. They need at least a ryou. Soon after, their hawk returns with a letter of bad news. One of their friends was staying in Edo to make money through gambling, but he got attacked by a certain ronin who was carrying a large sword. He also reported that said ronin interrogated him about the oni clan from Oumi Mountain. While he was gravely injured, he managed to survive and is hiding in Yoshiwara right now. Some of the money he collected was taken away by the ronin, so he has a long way to go before he can reach his target. This puts them way behind schedule, so Shiguragi decides to steal more valuable goods or women to make money.

Even though Zantetsu has told them to avoid drawing attention while robbing people, there’s a chance that he has reached Edo by now. They need money for him, which leaves Shiguragi and his men with no choice. Shiguragi is aware that they’re going to put themselves in danger by doing that, but he asks if the underling is willing to come along. When the underling nervously agrees, Shiguragi apologizes saying he appreciates that determination. No matter what it takes, they have to successfully accomplish their plan… even if they have to sacrifice other things along the way.

Chapter 3

Several hours after departing from Totsuka, the wedding parade passes a female merchant and her son. When she bows her head and praises the princess’ beauty, Kayo glances at them and wishes for them to be careful—knowing it must be hard to travel with a child. It’s almost noon, and the road has been really peaceful so far. There’s a lot of merchants in passing by, along with women and their children. Suzukake soon notices that a pigeon seems to be chasing after them, and Tsuzuramaru reveals that it’s actually his black wood pigeon—Hayato. When Tsuzuramaru whistles, Hayato happily flies down and perches on his shoulder. Hayato is a carrier pigeon, and Tsuzuramaru admits that Hayato is probably smarter than he is LOL. Suzukake thinks Hayato is really cute. He’s taking it easy on Tsuzuramaru’s shoulder, possibly aware that they’re praising him. Kayo can’t help but smile upon seeing this, but she reminds herself to act more dignified. She’s gotten used to the horse though, so doesn’t feel as uneasy as yesterday.

Since the road is safer than they thought, Enishi says they might be able to reach Sunpu without running into any problems. However, Kei warns him not to drop his guard. It’s only the second day, and their time is limited. They can’t spend too much time on the way to Sunpu. Enishi says he knows that, but Kei highly doubts that. At the same time, Tsuzuramaru is surprised to see Enishi’s position. He was wondering where Enishi was, but apparently he’s walking right behind the horse. In fact, he’s sticking so closely to the horse that he might just get slapped by her tail. When Kayo asks if it’s not hard to walk like that, Enishi says it’s not a problem. Since Kayo is riding the horse, Enishi has concluded that the horse needs more protection than anything else. Tsuzuramaru is impressed to hear this, but Sakyou asks him not to accept that excuse so easily.

Sakyou tries to point out that Enishi might get kicked by the horse that way, but much to his frustration… Enishi doesn’t really listen. He only says that he doesn’t disturb anyone’s love life, so he won’t get kicked by any horse. Yes, even though Sakyou is clearly not talking about that LOL. Enishi sadly adds that it’s his love life that often gets disturbed, and Suzukake laughs saying he’s such a fun “old man”. (。-∀-)ニヒ♪ Enishi nods saying he constantly searches for fun and interesting things, but he quickly rejects the nickname. He protests since he’s not THAT old, but sadly that won’t change the fact that he’s older than Suzukake… and that puts him in the “old man” category. (ノ◕ヮ◕)ノ*:・゚✧ Kayo feels relieved just by listening to them. It’s just a casual chat, but she can feel that everyone is getting along better.

Enishi is in a great mood though. He’s happy to get this job, so he doesn’t mind being called an old man by a “brat with green butt”. When Suzukake innocently answers that his butt isn’t green, Enishi snaps out that he didn’t ask. That’s one information he doesn’t need 。゚(゚ノ∀`゚)゚。アヒャヒャ It doesn’t affect his good mood though, because he loves his role as a shogunate spy. Enishi is actually walking behind the horse in order to protect Juzumaru, but he likes how the spot gives him a lot of freedom. He gets to enjoy delicious food and large hot springs, while his only task is to protect Kayo. It’s so troublesome to stay in the castle, so he wants to keep on traveling like this. Sakyou asks Enishi to stop mumbling to himself though, as he should pay attention to where he’s going.

After traveling with everyone for a while, Kayo is starting to enjoy the journey. She was really sad to leave Edo yesterday, but the sorrow is gradually fading away. She knows she shouldn’t drop her guard because the bandits might come out in Mount Hakone, but feeling nervous wouldn’t solve anything. In fact, she’ll only get tired that way. She doesn’t want to disturb the guards either, so she decides not to say much and just enjoy the journey. When Tsuzuramaru says that he’s hungry, Saneaki asks him to endure it for a little longer. It won’t take long until they reach the next station, which Tsuzuramaru finds very encouraging. In order to motivate him even further, Saneaki mentions that the next station, Odawara, is famous for their uirou-mochi. Just as expected, Tsuzuramaru gets REALLY excited and asks if there are other souvenirs.

Saneaki explains that Odawara is a large and lively town, so they have all sorts of souvenirs. Tsuzuramaru then asks if Kayo wants to buy anything, so she asks if there are any souvenirs that she can bring home. If possible, she wants to get something for her father. Saneaki suggests going with an Odawara lantern. It’s a miraculous lantern made from a sacred tree in Mount Daiyu, which they can use as a talisman to ward off evil spirits. They can also fold the lantern into a small size, so she doesn’t have to worry about carrying it around. Of course Kayo won’t be able to leave the station and buy it herself, so she wonders if Hanzou is willing to get some for her… though she thinks she’s probably asking too much. Since Suzukake wants to eat uirou-mochi as well, Enishi says they should have a banquet tonight. Having sweets is the best way to relieve fatigue, and they can eat uirou-mochi together with Kayo. Suzukake happily agrees with the idea, while Tsuzuramaru says he’ll buy some for Kayo too.

However, Kei suddenly interrupts saying they shouldn’t get excited over something stupid. They shouldn’t forget the fact that they’re here for work, and he thinks sweets are for women and children anyway. When he asks if they don’t have the spirit of a samurai in them, Kayo shivers in fear. He looks incredibly irritated, which makes her realize that they’ve made him angry. Once again, Kei points out that they’re following a schedule. No matter what happens, they have to arrive at Sunpu by March 15. He only stops after Sakyou asks him to lower his voice, otherwise someone might hear him. Sakyou has heard about this deadline as well, and he asks if it’s because March 15 is a lucky day—a good date for weddings. Mitsuyoshi confirms that it is indeed one of the reasons, but he takes this chance to reveal their real plan to everyone. Well… a part of it, at least.

The real Hisahime is currently going through Tokaido via back streets, and she will arrive at Sunpu Castle on March 14. Their plan is for their wedding parade to reach Sunpu the day after, on March 15. Hisahime and Kayo are going to switch places inside the castle, with the wedding ceremony taking place after that. On March 16, the awarding ceremony for Sunpu’s Tournament of Sword Retrieval will be hosted in the castle. That’s why they can’t fall behind schedule, and they really have to enter Sunpu by March 15. People would be suspicious if Hisahime is seen in the castle before the wedding parade arrives. However, Kayo is more concerned about the tournament. Following the very first tournament in Edo, the Tournament of Sword Retrieval has been hosted in a lot of different places. Of course Sunpu is no exception, but Tadanaga was confined and committed suicide there. It was only a few months ago, and yet they’re already having such a festive event. She finds this offensive and inappropriate, but is she the only one?

Today is March 10, and they have five more days to reach Sunpu. Saneaki says they shouldn’t have any problems if nothing happens along the way, but they really don’t have much time. Suzukake points out that it’d be weird for a wedding parade to rush though, which makes it difficult for them. That, and they also have to go through a troublesome area—Mount Hakone. If they manage to get past the mountain road, the rest of the journey should be smooth sailing. The problem is that they might run into bandits there, making Mount Hakone the most dangerous area on their route. It doesn’t help that they have no idea about the size and structure of the bandit group either, so they can never be too careful about this.

While everyone is having this serious discussion, Enishi is also busy… sniffing Kayo. The nice scent of her face powder sends him into a dreamy mood, and he feels like running away with her—all the way to Ise. Despite Saneaki’s attempt to warn him, Enishi is so occupied with his delusions that he ends up bumping into a tree. (((壊゚∀゚)))ァヒャヒャヒャヒャヒャヒャ Everyone stares in shock as he falls onto the ground with a loud thud, and he whines about the tree when he gets up LOL. Enishi didn’t realize it at all, but he reeled out of their formation and walked towards the tree on his own. When Tsuzuramaru asks if he was lost in thought, he admits that he was thinking about how nice Kayo smells. 。゚(゚ノ∀`゚)゚。アヒャヒャ Tsuzuramaru laughs saying that sounds just like him, while Saneaki sighs saying he doesn’t feel like inquiring further LOL. Suzukake thinks Enishi is indeed an interesting “old man”, but Sakyou says he probably needs to wash his worldly desires in Mishima later. Enishi refuses though. He says he wouldn’t have anything left if they take away his worldly desires, so Sakyou sighs and concludes that he’s beyond salvation. Y⌒Y⌒Y⌒Y⌒Y⌒Y⌒(。A。)アヒャヒャヒャヒャ!! Kayo finds this atmosphere a bit comforting, but Kei is clearly not pleased and quietly sighs.

Meanwhile, Hachimoku and Madara are watching them from afar. Hachimoku is happy to see Suzukake getting along with fellow humans, but Madara is rather worried. The tournament will take place in Edo soon, and Suzukake will have to fight seriously once he joins in… so it’s not a good idea to befriend the people who might become his opponents. He’ll have to turn his blade against his friends, and Madara isn’t sure if he can do something like that. Hachimoku, on the other hand, believes that Suzukake actually understands that properly.

In late afternoon, the wedding parade enters Odawara. The arrival of Hisahime greatly attracts everyone’s attention. They can’t help but notice that the wedding parade is rather small for a shogun’s sister, but they know it’s probably due to cold weather damage. Meanwhile, Kayo is amazed to see Odawara. They’re still on the outskirts, but the town is very lively. Even though it’s not as busy as Edo, it’s much larger than she expected. She can ask either Kei, Saneaki or Enishi for more information regarding the town, but they will provide the same information. Odawara is one of the largest station towns in this area. Aside from 4 main headquarters, it also has more than 80 inns. Due to its strategic location in Tokaido, the town is frequently visited by travelers.

Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first shogun, used to stay in Odawara Castle as well. When Toyotomi ordered him to move to Edo Castle, Ieyasu left his confidant, Ookubo Tadayo, in charge. Even until now, the Ookubo family is still protecting Odawara Castle. Also, Mount Hakone lies just ahead of Odawara. Travelers from Edo have to spend the night in Odawara before taking the mountain road, and they built a lot of inns to make sure they have enough space for everyone. They’ll have to cross Mount Hakone too tomorrow, and so Kayo needs to get a lot of rest today. Since a lot of people are watching them, Hanzou asks Kayo to go into the headquarter and never walk out to town. This makes her sad since she wanted to buy a souvenir for her father, but she’s aware that they didn’t come here to play. Kayo wants to visit Odawara by herself next time, and she’ll be looking forward to the souvenirs until then.

From there, Mitsuyoshi leads them to Shimizu Kinzaemon Station—where they’re going to stay tonight. Hanzou immediately takes Kayo and the horse inside, while Tsuzuramaru goes to buy some uirou-mochi in town. At first Suzukake wants to tag along, but Tsuzuramaru asks him to stay. Even if they’ve reached the station, it’d be a problem if some of the guards are missing. Enishi actually wanted to take a break in a restaurant, but he gives up on the idea and decides to rest in the station instead—hoping he can find a beautiful lady there. Since Odawara Station is much larger than Totsuka Station, Sakyou is hoping for a larger room as well. Kei isn’t happy to see everyone being so carefree, but Saneaki sends him to go inside anyway.

Later on, Suzukake finds Enishi with a strange tube. It turns out to be a telescope from Portugal, brought by a priest who came to spread Christianity in Hinomoto. The crystal lens allows them to get a clear view of the town, so Enishi is using it to search for pretty girls on the streets. ✿*,(*´◕ω◕`*)+✿.* When Saneaki mentions that he has a rare product, Enishi lightly says he received it as a reward. He wouldn’t be able to buy a crystal lens on his own. Suzukake doesn’t know what a lens is though, so Saneaki asks him to think of it as a crystal that allows them to see things that are too small or hard to see. Since Suzukake seems to be really curious, Enishi lets him borrow the telescope and asks him not to drop it. As he excitedly takes a look of the town, Suzukake spots Tsuzuramaru eating something outside—most likely uirou-mochi LOL. Suzukake wonders if he’s going to buy some for them too, but Enishi isn’t too sure since he always eats a lot. They probably won’t get anything.

Suzukake then turns around to look at Enishi, who protests saying it’s meaningless to use the telescope on him. Suzukake says he was just wondering about how big Enishi would be, and he’s really amazed since it allows him to see every bits and pieces of Enishi. Σ(゚ー゚;) Of course Enishi is horrified, and he tells Suzukake to use it to look at girls instead. Suzukake is more interested in looking at the people he knows, but Enishi says that’s 100% meaningless. He wants to oogle at the cute girls of Odawara instead! However, Kei soon comes to snatch the telescope from Suzukake. Unlike them, he uses it to check if there are any suspicious ronin in town. The telescope is really handy, so he wants to make use of it.

Suzukake is impressed because he never thought of using it that way, but Kei frowns saying THIS is how you normally use a telescope. It’s clearly not for staring at girls LOL. Well, unless you’re Enishi. Just then Sakyou enters the room, and Enishi notes that he’s late. Sakyou explains that he went to take a look of the station’s layout, since they might need the knowledge in case of emergencies. He notices that Enishi doesn’t seem interested though, and Enishi admits that he really doesn’t. 。゚(゚ノ∀`゚)゚。アヒャヒャ Sadly for Sakyou, the six of them are sharing a room again. He finds this rather troublesome, because he won’t be able to sleep with such a large group around him.

Meanwhile, Kayo has changed into her nightwear. She feels relieved after taking the shiromuku off, but she can’t leave jodan-no-ma. Especially because Hanzou is away at the moment. When she takes a peek through the wooden door leading outside, she gets a view of the town at dusk. There’s still a lot of people on the streets, and night stalls are being opened everywhere. It looks very similar to Edo at dusk, and she wonders if her father is closing the restaurant alone right now. Everyday at this hour, Kayo and her father would close the restaurant together. They would have dinner after that, then do household chores before they go to bed. It’s only been two days since she left Edo, and yet those normal days seem so far away. It makes her feel terribly lonely, and tears are welling up in her eyes when she hears a knock—followed by a familiar voice asking if she’s inside.

Kayo is surprised. When she asks if it’s Tsuzuramaru, he confirms that it is indeed him. He bought some uirou-mochi for her, so now he came to deliver them to her. Kayo quickly wipes her tears and opens the door for Tsuzuramaru. She apologizes for keeping him waiting, but he smiles saying he should apologize too for disturbing her rest. The moment he sees Kayo, Tsuzuramaru suddenly turns red and panics. Kayo is obviously confused, but Tsuzuramaru averts his gaze as he hands the uirou-mochi to her. He adds that he bought all the available flavors for her, but he immediately tries to take his leave. When she calls his name in confusion, he awkwardly points to her clothes… which reminds her that she’s in her nightwear LOL. She already took a bath, so all that’s left for her is to eat dinner and go to bed. Kayo feels really embarrassed and apologizes, but Tsuzuramaru notices something else. He seems really reluctant to say it though, and she wonders if it’s because of her nightwear… but then he asks if she was crying.

At first Kayo doesn’t know how to answer, but she’s certain about one thing—she has made Tsuzuramaru worry. She admits that when she gazed at the lively town outside, she was reminded of Edo. She thinks it’s really pathetic since their journey has just begun, but he says it’s only obvious. After all, she has never left her hometown before. This makes her feel much better, knowing that he’s trying to comfort her. While it’s not dark yet outside, Tsuzuramaru asks if Kayo isn’t going to sleep. When she answers that she’s going to be awake for a while, he invites her to eat the uirou-mochi together—saying he’ll serve them for her. Since Kayo is feeling lonely, she gladly accepts Tsuzuramaru’s offer. As he happily takes the uirou-mochi out for her, she realizes that she felt sad because she never spent her afternoons alone. That’s why even if it’s only for a short while, she wants to be with someone whom she can casually talk to.

After putting a haori over her nightwear, Kayo returns to eat the uirou-mochi with Tsuzuramaru. She finds them surprisingly refreshing despite the soft and sweet taste, and he explains that they were sold together with uirou medicine—a popular herbal medicine. They have similar colors, which is why people name the mochi that way. Tsuzuramaru thinks Odawara is a fun town. He did some exploring earlier, and he found something interesting in the headquarter—goemonburo. It’s a unique bathtub made of steel, and people use it by stepping on the board floating inside. Kayo has never heard of this before, and the bath she used earlier is a normal one—the same as the one in Totsuka. Tsuzuramaru says the goemonburo he saw was meant for the owners of the headquarter, but he’ll tell Kayo if they’re allowed to use it too.

Even if it’s only a short trip, they can find a lot of interesting new things. Tsuzuramaru thinks it’s the real charm of traveling, and Kayo nods saying uirou-mochi is also a new discovery for her. Tsuzuramaru can relate to that because he used to live in Toono before coming to Edo, but the trip from Toono to Edo was his first journey ever. He had to travel alone, but somehow he managed to survive. He admits that he ran out of money, though he knows that it was his own fault. He assures her that he’s alright though, which makes Kayo realize that he’s trying to make her feel at ease. She finds him amazing, especially since they should be around the same age. He inspires her to do her best as well, and she thanks him for making her feel better.

However, Tsuzuramaru understands that Kayo is worried about her father. This gives him an idea, and he suggests writing a letter to her father. Hayato can deliver it to Edo Castle, and the people there will take it to her father. Kayo feels really moved to hear this, and she gladly accepts Tsuzuramaru’s suggestion. She might not be able to write much, but she wants to let her father know that she’s doing fine. Since they’re going to use Hayato, no one will find out that she’s not the real Hisahime. Tsuzuramaru patiently waits as Kayo writes her letter, and he ties it to Hayato’s leg before sending the pigeon off. The letter ends up being a short one, as she only wants to tell her father that she’s safe. The letter might be seen by the people who put her into this wedding parade, so she couldn’t mention her family too much.

After Hayato leaves, a comfortable silence falls between Kayo and Tsuzuramaru… until they hear the door sliding behind them. Kayo isn’t surprised because there’s only one person who can enter jodan-no-ma, but it’s probably not good thing. After all, Tsuzuramaru is inside the room with her. She’s hoping that she was just imagining things, but the person who opened the door is exactly who she thinks it was. It’s none other than Hanzou, and she’s definitely not pleased to see Tsuzuramaru. He tries to explain that he came to give Kayo some uirou-mochi, but Hanzou reminds him that they’re not allowed to go further than saya-no-ma. They should never ever step into jodan-no-ma, unless it’s an emergency. After chasing Tsuzuramaru out, Hanzou sighs and tells Kayo that a girl of her age shouldn’t let a samurai of unclear origins into her room. They’ve made a promise to her father, so she should put her father’s concern to waste. Kayo feels bad for Tsuzuramaru since she was the one who let him in, but she’ll keep Hanzou’s words in mind.

Back in the guards’ room, Suzukake is excited over dinner. Sakyou tells him that it’s bad manners to use his chopsticks to jump from one dish to another though, not to mention he’s also stabbing his food with them. Sakyou notices that Suzukake has a weird way of holding his chopsticks too, which is why he finds it easier to just stab the food. After teaching Suzukake how to hold them correctly, Sakyou also asks him to maintain the minimum level of dignity. Even if they’re just guards and people aren’t watching them in the headquarters, they’re still participants of a wedding parade. Much to Saneaki’s disbelief, Habakitsuki comes out to get some food again. He finds it unbelievable that no one notices, even though their food is blatantly disappearing LOL.

This time Habakitsuki snatches an uirou-mochi from Enishi’s plate. He vaguely remembers that he had 3 of them, but Suzukake laughs saying he’s so greedy. They get two uirou-mochi each, while the rest are for Mitsuyoshi and the others. Just like before, Suzukake actually can see Habakitsuki. He remembers her too and knows that she’s probably hungry, but he wonders where she came from. Is she following them…? As Enishi continues to ponder over his missing uirou-mochi, Kei sighs saying two should be enough for them. If they eat too many sweets, they’ll lose the appetite to eat dinner. Enishi is starting to wonder if he simply counted them wrong, but Sakyou adds that his pride as a samurai is on the line if he keeps making a fuss over an uirou-mochi. (○´゚ω゚`):;*.’:;ブッ

Setting that aside, Sakyou mentions that the Tournament of Sword Retrieval is being held in Sunpu at the moment. Enishi says Sunpu is really lively with the tournament and the wedding of the castellan’s son, but Saneaki points out that the Sunpu clan has just been attained. The shogunate must be taking this chance to build a new structure. Speaking of the tournament, Tsuzuramaru asks if any of them are going to participate in Edo’s tournament next month. Saneaki says he’s not joining, since he’s planning to return to his hometown once he’s done with this job. Kei is participating, but Enishi won’t enter the tournament either. Guarding this wedding parade should give him more than enough reward, so he doesn’t need to join any tournaments. The same goes to Sakyou, who says it’ll depend on the reward. If everything goes smoothly, he probably doesn’t have to enter the tournament either.

Suzukake is surprised to hear that not all samurai are participating in the tournament, even more so when Kei tells him that not all samurai want to get a job. If a feudal lord goes down, it’ll be even harder for them to find a job—like what happened to the Sunpu clan. Besides, the war is over. Samurai aren’t that needed anymore in the current world. Sakyou adds that the arrival of guns also changed the flow of battle, giving people more options than fighting with swords. The tournament will still be hosted because it’s a tradition, but Enishi doesn’t think it’ll be that lively this year. However, Sakyou says things will be different if Master Swordsman Ootenta is participating. It’ll definitely cause a huge commotion though.

When Suzukake asks if Master Swordsman Ootenta is a strong one, Tsuzuramaru is surprised and asks if he doesn’t know who that person is. Suzukake admits that he never heard of the name before, but it does sound strong. Tsuzuramaru answers that “strong” is an understatement though. After asking Suzukake to listen and memorize what he’s going to say, Tsuzuramaru explains that Master Swordsman Ootenta is a legendary swordsman who won the tournament three times. He went through 19 battles in total, and yet he was completely unharmed. There are also rumors that he can fight with a pot lid if he gets attacked during dinner, and that he can cut rocks or even waterfalls with one hit. Suzukake is amazed, though he doesn’t want to get attacked when he’s eating. Tsuzuramaru says it’s just unavoidable if one becomes a master swordsman. He tries demonstrating it by swinging his bowl lid, only to get scolded by Kei LOL. Kei also mentions that the name “Master Swordsman Ootenta” came from one of the Five Heavenly Swords he received. Suzukake wonders if he can cut Biwa Waterfall in Mount Takao, but Saneaki says that’s just absurdly impossible. Besides, people aren’t supposed to cut rocks or waterfalls in the first place.

In any case, Kei says he won’t hold back if he has to fight them in the tournament. He won’t go easy just because he knows them. Tsuzuramaru is happy to hear this. He believes that a match should be fair and square, and they have to give it their all to show respect for their opponent. That’s why he wants to fight them as friends. Enishi laughs saying it’s so nice to be young and passionate, but Sakyou asks him to let them be. After all, courtesy is indeed honored in the tournament. Enishi is clearly not interested though, and he only asks them to do their best—be it in the tournament or whatever they do.

At the same time, Kayo is having dinner with Hanzou. From today’s menu, Hanzou recommends pickled plums—Odawara’s specialty. Aside from that, Odawara is also famous for spicy salted squid and boiled fish paste. When Kayo notes that Hanzou knows a lot of things, she says it’s only natural for someone in her position to have knowledge regarding major station towns. This makes Kayo realize that she doesn’t know anything about Hanzou. She doesn’t know her age, and she even mistook him for a man at first. Out of curiosity, Kayo tries asking about Hanzou’s hometown… but Hanzou simply says that she cannot answer. For tonight, Hanzou is going to stay in saya-no-ma until 2 AM. She wants Kayo to place a guard in saya-no-ma from 2 AM until morning, and the ones available today are Kei, Saneaki and Suzukake. It doesn’t matter who you pick, all choices will lead to the same event—just with different guards. Kayo is a bit concerned since the guards need some rest as well, but Hanzou says it’s their job. She doesn’t have to worry about them.

That night, Tsuzuramaru’s loud snore is echoing again the guards’ room. Enishi is dreaming about a girl in Odawara tonight, but the girl feels a bit hard when he hugs her… because he’s hugging Suzukake LOL. Enishi cries in his sleep when Suzukake, who feels suffocated, subconsciously kicks him LOL. At the same time, Suzukake is calling for Madara and Hachimoku in his dream. Beside them, Sakyou wakes up with a sigh. He thinks Enishi’s sleep talk is incredibly stupid, but he can take that. He can take Suzukake’s as well, though he believes it’s still too early to feel homesick. What he can’t stand is Tsuzuramaru’s loud snore, as it’s very close to a sound pollution LOL. Sakyou is seriously considering to take a different room in the next station, even if he has to pay for it. 。゚(゚ノ∀`゚)゚。アヒャヒャ

Meanwhile, Saneaki hears sounds again outside. This time it comes from both Madara and Hachimoku, but she manages to escape while he gets caught by Saneaki—who actually finds him cute. Saneaki also notices that Hachimoku has pretty good fur, and he tells Hachimoku to return to the forest quickly. If he stays here, he might get hunted by people. Hachimoku leaves to join Madara after Saneaki releases him, and she says he’s lucky to be caught by a good-natured samurai. When Hachimoku protests and says he only escaped a bit too late, Madara asks him to keep quiet… because Saneaki is praying again. At the end of his prayer, he mutters that he will never cut people anymore. It’s the rule he has engraved into his heart. As usual, Hachimoku thinks he’s chanting yet another “weird poem”. Madara notices that the words seem to come from a foreign language… and she wonders if it’s some kind of charm. Hachimoku is hoping that he won’t give bad influence for Suzukake though, and they decide to get some rest too until dawn.

Past midnight, Kayo wakes up to a long howl echoing in the distance. It sounds like a wild animal, but it gives her a very bad feeling. Just before she can open the door to take a peek, the guard she chose earlier comes in to stop her. Knowing that she feels worried about the bandits, he asks if he should wake Hanzou up… but she refuses and mentions that she heard a howl. When she asks if it’s a youkai, he says it’s only a wolf. Even if it turns out to be a youkai, she doesn’t have to worry—he’ll chase it away before it can reach her. After he returns to saya-no-ma, Kayo goes back to bed. Feeling safe, she doesn’t wake up again until morning comes. She probably has a much better sleep compared to yesterday.

In the morning, Kayo and Hanzou leave the headquarter to find Tsuzuramaru outside. He’s the only one though. Everyone else hasn’t come yet, as they still have time before their departure. When Hanzou notes that he’s early, Tsuzuramaru answers that he was waiting for them. Yesterday he went into jodan-no-ma without permission, so he wants to apologize to both of them. Kayo feels bad and also apologizes for her lack of consideration, admitting that she didn’t think it through because his concern made her happy. He says she didn’t do anything wrong though. Realizing that Tsuzuramaru woke up early just to apologize to them, Hanzou chuckles saying he’s quite a serious person… but Kayo is too surprised to say anything. This is probably her first time seeing Hanzou smiling.

Despite what happened yesterday, Hanzou is actually grateful that Tsuzuramaru bought uirou-mochi for Kayo. Starting from next time, she wants him to inform her first if he wants to enter jodan-no-ma. She will accompany him inside. Due to her position, Hanzou can’t allow the guards to be alone with Kayo… but it won’t be a problem if she’s there with them. Even when they’re in the headquarters, Kayo isn’t allowed to leave jodan-no-ma. That’s why Hanzou thinks it’d be nice if the guards can comfort or entertain her. Just then Enishi comes to join them, and he’s surprised to hear that Tsuzuramaru went into Kayo’s room. Well, more like jealous actually. Very, VERY jealous. Tsuzuramaru asks him not to misunderstand since he only delivered some uirou-mochi for Kayo, but Enishi points out that he’s blushing LOL. He protests saying it’s unfair, because he wants to play in Kayo’s room as well. Tsuzuramaru is taken aback, but he answers that Enishi can do that too if he gains Hanzou’s permission.

Mitsuyoshi comes soon after that, and he repeatedly clears his throat to stop Enishi from whining further. Enishi responds to this by sulking, pouting and grumbling about how he’s surrounded by a straight-laced bunch LOL. Not too long after that, the other guards also come out of the headquarter. Once everyone is ready, Mitsuyoshi commands their departure from Odawara. They will have to cross Mount Hakone next, so he wants them to keep that in mind. Enishi is excited for a completely different reason though. Hakone is a hot spring town, which means they have naked ladies paradise waiting ahead of them. Sakyou sighs upon hearing this, but Kayo is actually interested. She never went into a hot spring before, so she’s really looking forward to it. Since they’re traveling to the west, first they’ll have to hike through the eastern side of Mount Hakone.

Noticing that Enishi is chewing a youkan, Kei scolds him for being so carefree. Especially because he was eating on uirou-mochi too yesterday. Enishi only says it’s delicious, but Kei tells him to be a bit more wary. Before they can reach Hakone Station, they’ll have to go through the checkpoint first… and it’s a difficult issue for them. When Kayo asks what they’re going to do at the checkpoint, Mitsuyoshi explains that they have to wait for the footmen to call them inside. After that, they’re going to check if the pass matches the stamp on the register. Of course the shogunate has prepared a convincing pass for them, so Kayo doesn’t have to worry. Enishi asks if they can’t just use Aoi-no-Gomon to get an instant pass, but Mitsuyoshi says the Odawara clan has refused beforehand. Mainly because of the bandits in Mount Hakone.

Sakyou also mentions that women will be checked by hitomi-onna—the female officials. They will inspect women’s physical features including their hair, but he asks Kayo to stay relaxed. If she gets too nervous, it will only make her look suspicious. Noticing that Kayo is surprised, Kei explains that the strict procedure is necessary to prevent scoundrels from entering the towns. That’s why she has to endure it. Besides, Hanzou and Mitsuyoshi wouldn’t do anything that might reveal her identity. Hanzou even covered up the mole on Kayo’s ear to match the pass, so there’s nothing to worry about. Instead, they have to be extra careful of the bandits. There’s a high chance that the bandits will come out to rob them, and they need to keep the trousseau safe. The porters are ready to protect it with their lives, but Saneaki says there’s no need to go that far. He’s going to protect them, and he guarantees their safety along with the trousseau’s.

Before they leave, Kayo touches the charm hidden inside the shiromuku’s sleeve—praying for her parents’ protection. At the same time, Sakyou mutters that the bandits will surely come to attack them. He’s going to use that chance to slip out of the wedding parade and locate their base—aiming directly for Shiguragi. On the other side of the group, Enishi is also talking to himself. If the bandits are really going to rob them, the real problem would be protecting Juzumaru. The bandits probably don’t have any idea that Juzumaru is hidden as the bride’s dagger though, so things will work out somehow.

Chapter 4

From Odawara, the wedding parade enters Mount Hakone. There’s a proper path since the mountain road is a part of Tokaido, but the slope is even steeper than they thought. It leaves them with no choice but to walk slowly, which significantly reduces the speed of the wedding parade. Kayo realizes that Kei probably saw this coming, and that’s why he kept saying that they don’t have much time. Ever since they stepped into Mount Hakone, Suzukake has been comforting the horse constantly. The horse seems rather uneasy, so he keeps reassuring her that there are no bandits nearby. Kayo finds it strange how the horse becomes a bit calmer whenever Suzukake pats it. It’s as if he can actually talk to the horse… which is probably true.

Soon after that, Suzukake notices a water trough on the side of the path. The mountain road is tiring for horses too, so there are more water troughs compared to the plains. He then asks if they can let the horse rest for a while, because she seems to be exhausted. At this rate, she might not make it to the checkpoint. Mitsuyoshi agrees to take a short break. They’ll be troubled if the horse stops walking, especially because they’re currently climbing up. According to Suzukake, the horse actually still has a lot of stamina. Due to the troughs, water isn’t a problem either. It’s just the horse isn’t used to the air of Mount Hakone, and she doesn’t know forests either because she grew up in Edo Castle. In any case, they’re going to have a break for 15 minutes.

Saneaki nods saying they shouldn’t force themselves since the checkpoint is still far away, but Enishi sighs saying there’s absolutely nothing to see here. He says he wants to see beautiful ladies, but then he realizes that he can just look at Kayo. When Saneaki comments that he never changes, Enishi proudly replies that he always follows his own path in life. (ノ◕ヮ◕)ノ*:・゚✧ As they go into a small clearing by the water trough, Kayo wonders if the horse can really rest while carrying her… but Hanzou asks her not to come down just in case. There’s a chance that the bandits might appear when they’re resting. Since the hike is exhausting, Enishi says he wants to have a first-class room once they reach Hakone. Sakyou agrees because he really wants to get a proper rest tonight, especially after spending two days getting disturbed by Tsuzuramaru’s loud snore.

Enishi also asks Kayo to give the hot springs a try, since Hakone is famous for their exquisite hot springs. When Kayo reveals that it’ll be her first time using one, Enishi says it’d be wonderful if he can go into one with he. She instantly rejects the idea though LOL. When Tsuzuramaru asks if Hakone has any specialties other than the hot springs, Saneaki says the town is also well-known for its wooden crafts. They use dried wooden chips to make mosaic works of vivid colors. Tsuzuramaru is more interested in food though, and Saneaki says he never changed either—just in a different way from Enishi. For Tsuzuramaru, eating is one of the real charms of traveling. They can really see the characteristics of a town through the food, just like Odawara’s uirou-mochi. When Saneaki mentions that Hakone has dace and pond smelt, Tsuzuramaru’s eyes sparkle at the thought of eating them freshly-roasted.

Similarly to yesterday, their conversation is interrupted when Kei kicks the ground. He looks very irritated as he glares at them, saying they’ve gotten enough rest. They need to resume their journey before the sun goes down. He thinks only fools would camp out in Mount Hakone, and he absolutely refuses to do that. Suzukake panics because it hasn’t been 15 minutes yet, so the horse is obviously not ready. As everyone rushes to continue their journey, Sakyou sighs saying Kei is so hopeless. Mitsuyoshi also mutters that this is quite a problem. Kayo doesn’t look happy at all, but she remains silent. Since Kei has walked ahead of them, they have no choice but to chase after him.

From there, they reach another steep slope. The path isn’t as smooth as the first one, and Kayo feels that she might slide off the horse if she doesn’t hold on. As she clings onto the horse’s mane, Saneaki asks her to be careful. He doesn’t want to scare her, but this area is known as “Onna-korogashi-zaka”. It literally means “slope of falling women”. It’s one of the difficult areas in Mount Hakone. Holding onto the saddle alone isn’t enough, since she might lose her balance and fall down. As for the reason behind the name, Sakyou says a lady fell off her horse and died because of the steep slope. Suzukake asks them not to scare Kayo too much though, and he reassures her that everything will be alright. She can leave the reins to him, and he promises that he’ll never let her fall. Kayo feels a bit relieved to hear this, so she focuses on maintaining her balance only.

However, Saneaki suddenly stops upon sensing a foul presence. Kei asks if it’s the bandits, but it turns out to be something else—a weasel youkai. Unlike the Tsurube-otoshi they saw before, this one doesn’t speak human words. It doesn’t seem to have much intelligence, but it’s blocking their way and shows absolutely no signs of moving away. Mitsuyoshi points out that the cedar trees in this area are blocking the sunlight, so youkai often appear even at noon. It became even more obvious since the bandits started appearing. The weasel youkai is alone, but the path is too small for all of them to fight it at once. There’s also a high chance for them to slip and fall off the cliff. It might be better to fight it one-on-one, and so they ask Kayo to send one of them.

Sadly, the youkai is too terrified to compromise with them.

  • Tsuzuramaru
    The youkai runs away before Tsuzuramaru can even draw his sword. This leaves him very confused, but he decides not to think of the details. At least he accomplished his goal.

  • Kei
    Kei attacks once and tells the youkai to leave, but it refuses to back down. He then summons lightning from one of his swords, Raikiri. It turns out to be weaker than he expected, but strong enough to kill the youkai.

  • Saneaki
    Saneaki starts by asking the youkai to leave. It doesn’t listen to him though, so he has no choice but to kill it. As the youkai disappears, Saneaki prays for its soul to rest in peace.

  • Enishi
    Enishi complains about how noisy the youkai is, and he kicks it away with all his might. His wonderful kick sends the youkai flying into the bushes, then it runs away in fear.

  • Sakyou
    Sakyou kills the youkai right away. (⊙ω⊙✿) He knows the youkai are coming out because they’re afraid of the bandits, and this serves as the clue he’s been looking for. He definitely won’t let the bandits get away.

  • Suzukake
    Suzukake tells the youkai that he didn’t come to slay it, but it keeps attacking him. This leaves him with no choice, so he apologizes to the youkai and kills it. He notices that it was scared though.

No matter who you choose, they’ll notice that the youkai was terrified because of the bandits. This means the bandits are indeed lurking nearby, so they have to be prepared for that.

After that, they continue their journey and reach another slope—”Wariishi-zaka”. The name literally means “slope of broken stones”. It’s easier to climb compared to the previous slope, though they don’t look THAT much different. Sakyou says it’s just as expected from the most difficult area in Tokaido. It’s exhausting to climb up Mount Hakone, but their trip down won’t be easy either. One wrong step may cause them to slip and meet their end. When Suzukake asks if she’s okay, Kayo nods saying it’s all thanks to him for guiding the horse properly. He says it’s simply because the horse listens to him, but he’s glad that she’s unharmed. They still have a long way to go though, so she should tell him if she has any problems.

Kayo then asks if this slope also has a story behind its name, and Saneaki nods saying it came from the Kamakura period. When Suga Goro went to the foot of Mount Fuji for revenge, he sliced a giant rock on the road to test his long sword. It was cut into half, hence the name of the slope. Tsuzuramaru thinks it’s just impossible to slice a rock with a sword, but Suzukake reminds him that Master Swordsman Ootenta might be able to do it. When Kayo asks if master swordsmen have the ability of slicing rocks with swords, Sakyou says it wouldn’t be surprising for Master Swordsman Ootenta. In fact, he can slice up the ground and they wouldn’t be surprised. Saneaki quietly sighs as Kayo wonders who Master Swordsman Ootenta is. She has no idea why they ended up talking about him, but she can tell that he must be really strong.

Speaking of which, Enishi mentions that samurai who are seeking revenge can’t return to their homeland before accomplishing the task. Saneaki confirms that it’s the rule, and no one is allowed to break it. Enishi is amazed that people would actually do that though, because he would never do something like that. He doesn’t want to camp out and get his kimono to smell like sweat. Unaware that Sakyou is silently staring at him, Enishi invites Kayo to visit a food stall in front of the checkpoint. There’s quite a lot of them here in Mount Hakone, and people basically visit them when they need some rest. Kei is completely against this idea though. The checkpoint closes at dawn, but Hakone Station lies beyond the checkpoint. They don’t have any time to visit food stalls—not even for buying food to eat along the way. They actually still have a lot of time before dusk. It’s not even 2 in the afternoon yet, but that doesn’t mean they can take it easy. They haven’t walked really far after all.

Noticing that Kayo is troubled, Sakyou stops Kei and Enishi from arguing further. Tsuzuramaru also adds that they have to give it their all, and Suzukake nods as he asks Kayo to leave the horse to him. When she replies that she’ll be relying on him, he smiles saying that makes him really happy. After watching how he treats the horse, Kayo can tell that Suzukake is truly a loving person. He treats both humans and animals nicely, so animals return his feelings even if they can’t communicate with words. Well, except she doesn’t know that he can really talk to them LOL. Meanwhile, Saneaki notices that Sakyou has stopped walking. Saneaki asks if there’s something wrong, but Sakyou says he was just imagining things. It’s obviously a lie though, because Sakyou is actually pissed about what Enishi said. He believes a man like Enishi wouldn’t understand anything about revenge. As a samurai who lives in the path of sword, it’s only natural for him to avenge the death of his family. He will never give up.

Meanwhile, Hayato safely reaches Edo Castle and delivers Kayo’s letter to a Tokugawa samurai. He wants to feed Hayato with some hemp seed and rice before the pigeon goes back to his owner, but then he sees Tatsukage returning with Tenkai. When the samurai explains that Hayato belongs to one of the guards for the wedding parade, Tenkai says his owner must be somewhere around Hakone by now. After Hayato flies away, Tatsukage checks the contents of the letter and falls silent. He says it’s really stupid of her to write a letter like this, but then he sends the samurai to hand it to her father immediately. Beside him, Tenkai only laughs. Upon receiving the letter, Kayo’s father is relieved to learn that his daughter is safe. He feels really grateful, both to the samurai who delivered the letter and to Tsuzuramaru for sending it via Hayato. Now he can only pray for her safe return, and that’s the only thing he’s wishing for.

From Wariishi-zaka, the wedding parade have to go through Hatajuku and Kashiki-zaka. Before long, they reach an open area with a beautiful view of Lake Ashi. Tsuzuramaru and Suzukake are amazed to see the big lake, while Kayo notices a small shrine standing right next to it. Enishi says this place would be perfect for a date, but Kei quickly shuts him up LOL. Ignoring Enishi’s protest, Mitsuyoshi explains that it’s Hakone Shrine. It worships the three main Shinto gods. A legend says that a long time ago, the water of Lake Ashi was poisoned by the Nine-headed Dragon. In order to calm the dragon down, the people who lived in this area had to sacrifice young women to Marebito. By the power of Marebito, the dragon was turned into an immortal water deity. In order to worship it, Hakone Shrine holds the Dragon God Festival every year.

Even though Marebito’s power saved the people, they had to pay for it with sacrifices. Someone had to be a victim in order for others to continue living, and Kayo finds this story very sad. Mitsuyoshi also mentions that in the past, people believed that famine occurs because they made Marebito angry. That’s why every time a famine stroke, they would present a sacrifice for Tokoyo. After hearing this, Kayo just can’t pretend that nothing is wrong. Young women drowned and died here in Lake Ashi, for the sake of protecting other people. Kayo quietly puts her hands together and closes her eyes, praying for their souls. Thinking that it’s really mean to sacrifice girls, Suzukake asks if Marebito is an evil god. However, Kei says they can’t judge Marebito based on “good” or “evil” alone.

There’s a lot of legends regarding Marebito, and each province holds a different belief. There’s Suneka in Mutsu Province, Namahage in Dewa Province, Amamehagi in Noto Province, Pantu in Ryukyu Province… It’s more unusual for a province not to have any. Marebito is believed to be the god of Tokoyo who grants blessings, but some people believed that he brings calamity as well. It’s probably a matter of perspectives though. Great power can become an aid or a hindrance. Sometimes when people get their wish granted, it may bring disaster for others. This reminds Kayo that back in her younger days, she was told that she’d be taken to Tokoyo if she’s naughty—which is also a form of Marebito belief. Children would be scared to hear that Marebito might take them away, preventing them from being naughty.

Kayo used to think of it as a made-up story, but it feels different now. She’s currently standing on a land where sacrifices were really made for Marebito. The thought of Marebito coming to this world sends chills down her spine, even if she knows that it probably would never happen. Once they’re done resting, Enishi says they should hurry on ahead before the sun sets. However, this conversation about Marebito keeps on lingering in Kayo’s mind. It’s like a stain that she can’t wipe away.

From Lake Ashi, they continue their journey through the cedar trees and eventually arrive at the Hakone Checkpoint. When Suzukake helps her to get off the horse, Kayo feels that it’s been a long time since her feet last touched the ground. Tsuzuramaru is relieved that they made it before the closing time, but Kayo feels really nervous. What if they find something different between her and Hisahime’s pass? Even though the long shiromuku is hiding her trembling legs, she knows she can’t let this continue. Since this is her first time going through a checkpoint, Sakyou can understand if she’s worried… but if she keeps behaving like that, it’ll only make her suspicious in their eyes. Hisahime is a bride who’s going to get married, so Sakyou asks Kayo to put on a happy expression.

At first Kayo finds it difficult to do, but then Sakyou suddenly moves closer to whisper that failure isn’t an option—reminding her not to forget their objective. They can’t do anything that may raise suspicion, and she should know that better than anyone else. This reminds her of the promise she made to her father, so she motivates herself to do her best. Once they manage to get past the checkpoint, things should be a lot easier. Kayo still feels a bit nervous, but it helps her to make a convincing, bride-like expression. However, Sakyou also mentions that she can’t keep the charm with her. Hisahime is Iemitsu’s sister, and it would be strange for her to have a handmade charm. Not to mention in also has Kayo’s name embroidered onto it.

Noticing that Kayo is confused, Suzukake says he’ll hold onto the charm for her. The guards can cross the checkpoints easily because they’re hired by the shogunate. Since all of them are male, they don’t have to go through most of the procedures either. As for the name, he can make up an excuse for it. Kayo decides to leave the charm to Suzukake, and he promises to take a good care of it. Soon after that, a footman calls Mitsuyoshi and Kayo to enter the main room of the office—menbansho—for the inspection. As she follows Mitsuyoshi inside, Kayo reminds herself not to be nervous. She should smile, just like how she usually deals with customers in the restaurant. Despite her worries, the inspection goes smoothly and ends in no time—all thanks to Hanzou’s preparations.

Outside, Kayo finds Hanzou and Suzukake on the other side of the checkpoint. When Suzukake hands the charm back to her, Kayo puts it back into her sleeve. It was only for a short while, but she felt really lonely without it. After all, the charm is her moral support. Hanzou says they’re going to depart once everyone is ready, so she asks Kayo to get on the horse and wait. She’s going to check the situation at Sennindamari, and she wants Kayo to stay with Suzukake until everyone is done with the procedures. Soon after Hanzou leaves, Suzukake helps Kayo to get on the horse. However, Kayo notices that the horse is acting strange. She seems restless, like when they first entered Mount Hakone. From Suzukake, she learns that the horse has been in this condition ever since they reached the checkpoint. She seems to be terrified of something.

Kayo wonders if something in the checkpoint is scaring the horse, or maybe she feels intimidated by the atmosphere. Suzukake confirms that it’s definitely not because she’s feeling sick, and he has to calm her down when she suddenly cries out. Unfortunately, the horse only becomes even more restless. A footman notices this and asks if their horse is alright, but Suzukake has no idea either. The horse isn’t wounded or anything. Before they can figure out the reason, the horse suddenly panics and goes wild—with Kayo still sitting on her back. Kayo clings to the horse and assures Suzukake that she’s alright, but it’s very difficult to maintain balance in that state. When Suzukake tries asking the horse to calm down, she doesn’t listen to him and keeps on struggling. Due to the impact, Kayo’s charm falls out of her shiromuku sleeve.

Kayo is thrown into panic. Suzukake is busy handling the horse, but she has to pick up the charm before the footman notices. If he reads her name on the charm, everything would be ruined. Just then Enishi and Sakyou walk out of the office, and they’re shocked to see her in such a situation. She looks like she might fall off the horse any moment. Kayo can either ask for Enishi’s or Sakyou’s help. The result will be different depending on your choice, but the horse will eventually calm down. They manage to secure the charm as well, and they safely leave the checkpoint after that.

Hakone Checkpoint:

After leaving the checkpoint, they continue making their way towards Hakone Station. Soon after the sun starts setting, Suzukake suddenly notices something and stops. When Saneaki asks him what’s wrong, he answers that the horse said her legs hurt. Tsuzuramaru is amazed that he can understand what horses are saying, even more so since Suzukake can tell just by looking at them. Luckily, Hakone Station isn’t too far ahead. Mitsuyoshi says they also have a hot spring for horses, and so they can let the horse rest once they arrive. Suzukake nods, but Kayo notices that he looks worried. This makes her realize that the horse’s legs might not last until then, so she only has one option—she’ll get off the horse to ease her burden. It would be a problem if Hakone Station is still far away, but they’re almost there. This should be the best option.

However, Kei tells Kayo not to get off the horse. Even if the horse gets crushed along the way, they’ll find a replacement in Hakone Station. When Kei asks if she doesn’t understand such a simple thing, Kayo frowns in silence. Suzukake tries to help by asking Kei to accept Kayo’s suggestion, especially because the horse’s legs are hurting. He thinks it’s really cruel to ride the horse until she gets crushed, since the horse is a living creature—just like them. Kei answers that the importance of their lives are different. They can always find a replacement for the horse, but they won’t be able to replace Kayo. They have to prioritize, and Suzukake should know it too if he’s a samurai. Suzukake says it’d be dangerous to force the horse to carry Kayo, but Kei says it’s probably her own fault for going wild at the checkpoint earlier. Instead, Kei only tells Suzukake to quit arguing and just do his job by pulling the horse.

On the other hand, Kayo thinks they should listen to Suzukake. She’s the one riding the horse, so she can really feel how restless the horse is. She tries saying that she doesn’t mind walking, but Kei snaps out that a woman like her should just shut up and not interrupt. (╯゚□゚)╯︵ ┻━┻ Kayo can’t argue further because of this, but she wonders why Kei is always so harsh. Whenever he speaks, she feels like he’s turning his sword against her. In order to stop this, Sakyou tells Kei not to treat Kayo like that. It’s unacceptable to interrupt her, let alone treat her as just a “woman”. She’s supposed to be a princess after all. Suzukake also argues that it’s just wrong to put lives on ranks like that, because the horse is living as well. Everyone should help each other in trouble. Kei still refuses to listen though, as he thinks of Suzukake’s opinion as nothing more than a naïve, idealistic view. Things won’t go that smoothly in reality.

Saneaki sighs saying either option works for him, but they have to make it quick. At this rate, the sun will go down before they can decide anything. Enishi also asks them not to look so gloomy, since that would make them look like a funeral procession instead. Staying bright and cheerful is also a part of their job as guards of a wedding parade, so this isn’t the time to be fighting. People will notice the atmosphere of the wedding parade, and the air between them is not good at all right now. Tsuzuramaru agrees with Enishi’s words, while Sakyou comments that he can say something nice too for once. When Enishi protests saying the “for once” part was unnecessary, Sakyou smiles and says it’s actually the most important part LOL. In any case, Kayo is going to get off the horse and walk. Saneaki doesn’t have any objections, but he thinks one of them should hold her hand and guide her along the way. It doesn’t matter who you pick, everyone will guide Kayo to Hakone Station properly.

Not too long after that, they run into the book lender merchant from before. Just as he promised, he gives Kayo another book. She feels bad for deceiving him with her disguise, but she gratefully accepts his offer.

Meanwhile, in the hidden village in Hida Province, Asakura is staying in an old house. Cold air is blowing inside through holes on the wall, exhausting him more than giving him rest. However, it doesn’t compare to the pain of losing Tadanaga. Soon after, Choushichirou comes and asks about how long they have to keep hiding here. Asakura is glad that he’s safe, but life is definitely not easy for him in the hidden village. When Asakura asks him to endure it for now, Choushichirou nods and walks away looking sad. The sight really hurts Asakura’s heart. Despite his young age, Choushichirou is doing his best to accept the fact that his father has died. As a loyal retainer, Asakura believes that Tadanaga would make a better shogun than Iemitsu… and he bitterly vows that he will avenge Tadanaga’s death one day.

Then he hears those words.

“This is the time to use the paths of Yomi and summon the great Marebito.”

They come from the elder of the village, a creepy old shaman who believes in Marebito religion. The elder believes this is Marebito’s will, but Asakura has no intentions of dealing with her… until she mentions that they can revive Tadanaga by using Marebito’s power. Even though he knows that it’s plain impossible to bring the dead back to life, it doesn’t take long for Asakura to fall into the temptation. The elder chuckles when he asks for more details. Asakura thinks he’ll just listen first and decide later, but he doesn’t realize it. He fails to notice that the moment he listens to this, he has strayed out of the path of humanity. Unable to accept Tadanaga’s death, Asakura is denying logic and reason. The only thing he has is an obsession that sticks like a quagmire.

“Tokugawa Tadanaga will be revived…”

Chapter 5

Somewhere in Mount Hakone, a miko is making her way down at dusk. Unfortunately, she trips and ends up breaking her sandal strap. Just then an old man walks by and asks what she’s doing here. He says she should hurry and leave the mountain road before it gets dark, especially since the area is dangerous. She thanks the old man when he fixes her sandal strap, but he says it’s still too early for that—they have to go to Mishima first. He has a shop there, and he knows she’s heading there as well. The miko then introduces herself as Nanae, and she asks why this area is considered dangerous. The old man is surprised that she didn’t know, but he explains that it’s because of bandits. They started appearing recently, taking all sorts of valuable things away from people. If they don’t have anything valuable, they might get killed. Just as Nanae comments about how sinful they are, the bandits suddenly come out the nearby bushes—asking what she just called them. The old man quickly tells her to run, and she immediately flees while begging for Tsuzumi to save her. The bandits are chasing after them.

Just before it gets dark outside, the wedding parade finally arrives at Hakone Station. The headquarter is much larger than the previous two. Everything about it is extravagant, including the food they served for dinner. Kayo actually likes walking, but doing so while wearing shiromuku proved to be tiring. She thinks it was a nice and unusual experience though, and Hanzou is glad that it was a flat lakeside road. If it was a mountain road, Hanzou wouldn’t be able to agree with Kayo’s idea. Their horse did a great job carrying Kayo through Mount Hakone, so they managed to reach Hakone Station by dusk. They only have to walk down the mountain road tomorrow.

However, Hanzou heard that a traveler ran into some bandits on the way down. It looks like the trip down the mountain will be even more dangerous, so she asks Kayo to be careful. Kayo was feeling relieved since they made it past the checkpoint, but she realizes that she still has to keep her guard up. She thought they were lucky enough not to run into the bandits, but it doesn’t seem to be the case. The bandits are after all sorts of valuable things, so there’s no way they’d let the trousseau get away. Aside from the bandits, Kayo is also bothered by what she heard at Lake Ashi… and she asks if Hanzou can tell her a bit more regarding Marebito. At first Hanzou is surprised, so Kayo explains that she doesn’t know about Marebito as much as they do. She only heard about Marebito as a fairy tale when she was small. As strange as this may sound, she’s wondering if it’s really possible for Marebito to come to this world from Tokoyo—especially because more youkai have been appearing in Edo recently. Kayo also says that they can consider this as a bedtime story for her, so Hanzou eventually agrees.

Hanzou begins by explaining that their world, Utsushiyo, and the world where Marebito lives, Tokoyo, are connected by five paths of Yomi. It is believed that Marebito will use this five paths to come from Tokoyo to Utsushiyo. Tokoyo itself is what people call as Yomi. The underworld. The “other” realm. The red Sanzu River is flowing across the land, connected to both heaven and hell. A god known as Marebito is living in Tokoyo. There are lots of legend involving Marebito, but people fear and worship them as a god who can bring both blessings and chaos. Some went too far with their faith and got branded as “evil heretics”, but it’s mostly just a humble belief that has taken root in the land of Hinomoto. No one has ever really called Marebito to Utsushiyo. People only borrowed Marebito’s power and put it into shape—nothing more than that. If Marebito ever comes to Utsushiyo, the boundary between the two worlds would disappear. All the wild youkai in Tokoyo would flood Hinomoto, and Utsushiyo would be completely swallowed by Tokoyo.

Noticing that Kayo has turned silent, Hanzou asks her what’s wrong. Kayo only replies that she was just listening intently, thinking it’d be scary if Marebito appears. She’s relieved to hear people never actually called Marebito though, and she thanks Hanzou for telling her all of this. Realizing that she might have troubled Hanzou, Kayo wonders if she was just terrified after hearing about the sacrifices in Lake Ashi. It probably caused her to think too much. For now, she has to focus on her role and the obstacle which lies in front of her—the bandits.

In the guards’ room, Suzukake notices that Enishi left his sword behind. He probably doesn’t need it since he only went out to buy some dango, but Saneaki seems a bit surprised to see this. Tsuzuramaru has been thinking about this right from the beginning, but he thinks Enishi has a really good sword. Suzukake also finds it beautiful. Kei tells them not to touch other people’s swords like that, but they’re not listening at all LOL. At the same time, Sakyou whispers that he doesn’t get what Enishi is thinking. Why would he go out while leaving his sword behind? After admiring the sword, Tsuzuramaru and Suzukake start to get curious about the blade. Enishi has never drawn his sword so far, so they don’t know what it looks like. Suzukake apologizes to the sword as he tries to take it out… but he can’t pull it out of the sheath. Tsuzuramaru also gives it a try, but he can’t do it either.

Tsuzuramaru wonders if the sword is glued onto the sheath, but Kei says that’s just stupid. If anything, the sword’s probably dull and rusty. While the sword looks clean, it might because Enishi only kept the sheath clean—as pointless as that may sound. Even if the sword is rusty, Suzukake thinks they should be able to take it out if they pull from both sides… so Tsuzuramaru decides to try it out. Suzukake will pull the sheath, and Tsuzuramaru will tug the sword to the opposite direction. Sakyou finds this unbelievable, but Kei tells him to leave them be—they’re just being stupid. However, Suzukake is unexpectedly strong. Tsuzuramaru ends up getting dragged towards him instead, bumping into a pot and completely breaking it into pieces. Sakyou thinks the pot is so unlucky to be put next to Tsuzuramaru of all people, but then Saneaki notices that the pot is actually an imported one… which means it must be unbelievably expensive. Tsuzuramaru nods saying he’ll apologize to the owner later, but Kei isn’t sure if he really understands the meaning.

Just then Enishi returns with some dango, and Suzukake quickly puts his sword down. He then changes the subject by saying the dango look delicious, and Enishi offers to share them with him. They decide to eat the dango after dinner though. Since they’re all sweaty after the hike, Enishi then invites everyone to take a bath before having dinner. It should be refreshing, so they agree to go into the hot spring together. Not all of them are going though, because just like before… Kei says he’ll take a bath later. Suzukake also wants to check up on the horse first, as they have to make sure her legs are healed by tomorrow morning. Again, Sakyou reminds Kei to bathe properly since they’re sharing a room. Kei says he knows that, but he wants to do some training first. After they left, Enishi asks the others to just let them be. They should just go on ahead and take a bath now.

Meanwhile, Kayo is sighing in her room. She really wants to go outside. Once they reach a station, she’s not allowed to leave jodan-no-ma. She can’t take a look around. She wants some time to be herself, not as Hisahime’s replacement… but she knows it’s probably impossible. Until the moment they reach Sunpu, she has to keep acting as Hisahime. It’s the rule Mitsuyoshi created right after they left Edo. When Hanzou comes in to talk to her, Kayo is a bit surprised. Hanzou never talks more than necessary. Most of the time, she can be found in the corner of jodan-no-ma or in saya-no-ma. Kayo only gets to talk to her when they eat dinner together. However, Hanzou says that Mitsuyoshi has given Kayo the permission to move freely as long as she stays inside the headquarter.

Hanzou knows that Kayo wants to be alone, and she thinks it’s necessary to take a break every once in a while. Aside from its large size, the headquarter also has a tight security. They’ll have to continue making their way through Mount Hakone tomorrow, and their journey down won’t be less difficult than their hike today. Since they have hot springs here in Hakone, Hanzou asks Kayo to go out and enjoy herself for a bit. She also uses this chance to ask Kayo to stop calling her “Hanzou-sama”, because it’s just unnatural for a princess to call her lady attendant that way. She doesn’t mind being called by name, but since Kayo finds that hard to do… she accepts the slightly more formal “Hanzou-san”. At this point, Kayo has three options. She can either visit the hot spring, check up on the horse, or rest in her room before going outside. Two of these options will lead to individual events, so I’m going with the hot spring here.

Hakone Station:

Kei • Suzukake •

If Kayo chooses the hot spring, Hanzou says there’s a private one next to the large hot spring everyone uses. They’ve made arrangements with the owner, so she can use it anytime. Meanwhile, Tsuzuramaru, Enishi, Saneaki and Sakyou are enjoying their bath. Tsuzuramaru finds the hot spring both comfortable and refreshing, while Enishi is loudly singing next to him. When Saneaki tells him that his voice might be heard by the ladies, he says he doesn’t mind. There’s no beautiful ladies here anyway! ゚.+:。ヾ(o・ω・)ノ゚.+:。 Sakyou says Enishi’s way of judging things is actually quite refreshing in a way. When Enishi asks if it’s a praise, Sakyou clearly answers that it’s not LOL. Tsuzuramaru has to agree with Suzukake since he thinks Enishi is an interesting man, but Enishi actually finds Tsuzuramaru more interesting. Especially due to the fact that he has a very large scar across his torso. Enishi asks if Tsuzuramaru made a mistake and nearly died because of it, but he only nods saying it’s an old scar. He apologizes for showing it in front of them, but Saneaki tells him not to be concerned. They’re all men anyway.

Speaking of which, Sakyou also wonders why Kei wouldn’t take a bath with them. Enishi answers that Kei is a roundsman, so he probably has a dragon tattoo on his back or something. Even if they don’t mind, it might shock all the travelers in the bath. You can always see Kei’s back though! His kimono shows half of his back, and there’s no tattoo there LOL. Sakyou doesn’t think Kei is the type who would care about such things, but who knows—maybe he actually would. This reminds them that Suzukake also spends most of his time with the horse, though Sakyou can understand if he’s worried about her legs today. He’s always paying attention to the porters’ condition too, which Tsuzuramaru finds impressive. Just as expected from a person with medical knowledge.

However, Saneaki reminds them that both Kei and Suzukake are going to enter the tournament. That’s probably why they don’t want to get too close to everyone else. It might different for Suzukake, but Saneaki says there’s quite a high chance that Kei thinks that way. Tsuzuramaru, on the other hand, is very loose in that sense. He doesn’t seem to be aware of this, but Enishi doesn’t think it’s a problem. People are different after all, and Tsuzuramaru can do things his way. Sakyou leaves the hot spring after that, so they decide to follow him and have dinner. Tsuzuramaru is really excited to eat, and he also asks Enishi to give him some of the dango later. ✿*,(*´◕ω◕`*)+✿.*

After leaving the hot spring, they run into Kayo outside. Since she always sees the six guards at once, Kei and Suzukake’s absence gives her a weird feeling. When Enishi asks if she’s going to the hot spring, Kayo nods and asks how the bath was for them. Tsuzuramaru happily says it’s pretty good and make their skin all smooth, but Saneaki asks if it’s really okay for her to enter the hot spring alone. Kayo explains that she has received the permission from Mitsuyoshi, so she’s allowed to use the private hot spring. Upon hearing this, Enishi exclaims that it must be heaven to use a hot spring alone LOL. Sakyou asks him to quit saying stupid things, but Enishi says one of them should guard the entrance while Kayo is bathing. He also adds that he’s not thinking about anything dirty, along with the fact that he can’t reveal anything further than that… even though no one is accusing him. 。゚(゚ノ∀`゚)゚。アヒャヒャ

Sakyou replies that he doesn’t need Enishi’s explanation, but he agrees. One of them should stay to keep an eye on the entrance. Saneaki also promises that they won’t disturb Kayo, and they definitely won’t go inside. He knows it should be safe since Hanzou allowed her to use the hot spring, but they want to ensure her safety just in case. Kayo actually feels bad because they’re supposed to be resting, but she accepts the offer—knowing that Hanzou and Mitsuyoshi would be more relieved that way.

  • Tsuzuramaru
    Tsuzuramaru gets all embarrassed. His mind flies to the fact that Kayo is taking a bath inside, though he quickly tells himself NOT to imagine it LOL. He reminds himself that he’s here to guard her and definitely not to peek, but the blush on his face isn’t going anywhere. When she comes out, he nervously greets her and averts his gaze. Since she’s wearing her own kimono, she asks if she looks weird in it… but he quickly denies it and says he’s just feeling hot after the bath. This reminds him that he’s never seen her in casual wear before, if they don’t count her nightwear. While she always looks nice in her shiromuku, he says she also looks beautiful in her own kimono and nightwear. (*´艸`*)ァハ♪

    Kayo feels really embarrassed upon recalling what happened in Odawara, and she asks Tsuzuramaru to forget about it. He apologizes and tries to say that he didn’t really pay attention back then, but he listens to her and decides not to continue LOL. Both of them are blushing when two middle-aged ladies walk by, gossiping about how cute and innocent they are. (。-∀-)ニヒ♪ After an awkward silence, Tsuzuramaru says he’ll walk Kayo back to her room.

  • Saneaki
    Since Enishi doesn’t want to leave Kayo’s side, Sakyou and Tsuzuramaru have to literally drag him away. Saneaki sighs saying he’s so noisy, though he can’t deny that Enishi brightens up the atmosphere. When Kayo asks if the hot spring water is cloudy, Saneaki says it is. He heard that it can cure cold and ache, but it also has a faint, unique scent. He asks her not to drink the water, but she’s more surprised that there are people who would actually drink hot spring water. He says it depends on the effects, but some hot spring water serves as substitutes for medicines. People can both drink the water and bathe with it. In any case, Saneaki asks Kayo to take her time and enjoy the bath—it should heal her fatigue. She’s happy to learn a lot of new things during this journey, and she feels that he has a very broad knowledge. When she returns to Edo, she can share a lot of stories with her father.

    By the time Kayo comes out of the bath, Saneaki is leaning against the wall with his eyes closed. While she intended to take it easy, he thinks she actually bathes pretty quickly. She says she’d get dizzy if she spends more time in the bath, and he laughs saying the people of Edo are truly impatient—which she can’t deny LOL. Kayo feels embarrassed, but she also feels lucky since Saneaki doesn’t laugh that often. He walks her back to jodan-no-ma after that.

  • Enishi
    Both Sakyou and Saneaki are obviously doubting this choice LOL. Tsuzuramaru doesn’t get why they’re so worried, while Enishi protests saying there’s nothing to worry about. They should just go back first and eat dinner. (ノ◕ヮ◕)ノ*:・゚✧ Enishi tells Tsuzuramaru not to eat the dango though, as he was the one who bought them. Kayo is still confused when Enishi nudges her towards the hot spring, but then he suddenly whispers that she’s really cute… so cute that he might take a peek. ヽ(*´ー`*)ノ Kayo blushes saying she’ll get angry if he does that, but Enishi finds her charming even when she’s angry. However, he also reminds her to keep acting like a princess—because someone might be watching. Kayo says she understands, but since Enishi is keep sticking to her… she has to push him away before going into the hot spring. (○´゚ω゚`):;*.’:;ブッ

    While waiting for Kayo, Enishi is whining about how he can’t peek even though she’s bathing behind the wall. He says he won’t do that though, mainly because it’d be painfully obvious if he tries peeking from outside LOL. Just then two middle-aged ladies walk by, and they start giggling about how handsome he is. At first they wonder what he’s doing there, but they realize that he must be waiting for someone in the private hot spring. They’d love to invite him to bathe with them, but sadly the baths here are separate for men and women. Not that Enishi would want to have a bath with “old ladies” though. He’s grimacing by the time Kayo comes out, but won’t tell her why. アヒャヒャ。゚(゚ノ∀`。゚(゚ノ∀ヽ゚)゚。´∀ヽ゚)゚。ヒャヒャ

  • Sakyou
    Saneaki is relieved, knowing that Sakyou will do the job properly. Unlike the person above. Enishi whines that it’s unfair, but Sakyou answers that Kayo would never make a terrible decision of choosing him LOL. Enishi is about to protest, but Tsuzuramaru literally drags him away—saying they should go back and eat those dango. When Kayo comments that Enishi is an interesting person, Sakyou says that’s definitely not enough to describe him. Especially after spending a whole day with him. Kayo asks if Enishi has a terrible sleeping habit or something, and Sakyou honestly answers that he talks a LOT in his sleep. Not to mention all of them involve flirting with women. This makes Kayo realize that despite Sakyou’s graceful and rather feminine looks, he can be quite harsh with his words. He also mentions that Enishi and Tsuzuramaru was making a fuss over dango earlier, even though they haven’t eaten dinner yet. Kayo feels really bad since she’s delaying their dinner time, but Sakyou asks her not to feel guilty. After all, it was them who came up with the idea of guarding her.

    When Kayo mentions that she already had dinner, Sakyou asks if they have any pickles. He actually loves pickles and has a lot of favorites, including senmaizuke, shibazuke, and itonazuke. Kayo remembers that senmaizuke and shibazuke are recipes from Kyoto, which surprises Sakyou since she actually knows a lot. When she reminds him that her father runs a restaurant, he smiles saying that’s right… and she notices that his smile has a bit more “depth” than usual. However, after Kayo enters the hot spring, Sakyou starts mumbling about the bandits. They will surely appear tomorrow. It’s only been 3 days since they left Edo, but it feels like forever to him. He can’t wait for tomorrow to come. Once Kayo comes out, Sakyou walks her back to her room.

After Kayo returns to jodan-no-ma, Hanzou asks her to assign someone to stay in saya-no-ma. This has become their routine every night. For today, the ones available are Tsuzuramaru, Enishi and Sakyou. Just like before, it doesn’t matter who you choose—it’ll lead to the same event. Hanzou will be in saya-no-ma until 2 AM, and the guard Kayo picks will come after that. Once Hanzou leaves the room, Kayo decides to go to bed. Of course she has her worries, but she knows thinking about it all night wouldn’t fix anything. While it’s still a bit early, she’s going to rest and do her best for her father’s sake.

Meanwhile, the guards are sleeping soundly in their room… until Enishi rolls over and hugs Tsuzuramaru in his sleep. This causes Enishi to wake up in an instant, because apparently Tsuzuramaru’s body is really cold. Enishi has absolutely no idea why he’s hugging Tsuzuramaru, and he grumbles about how the latter needs to be more careful not to catch a cold. After putting a blanket on Tsuzuramaru, Enishi rolls back to his bed and resumes his dream. Beside them, Suzukake mumbles and assures Karura that he’s doing fine. Sakyou is asleep tonight, but Saneaki has gone outside again to pray. Tomorrow, they’re going to make their way down the mountain. There’s a high chance that the bandits might ambush them, so they have to be even more careful than before.

Late at night, Kayo turns around on her bed. Maybe she made a mistake by going to bed early, because now she woke up and couldn’t go back to sleep. To make it worse, she can’t seem to stop thinking about the bandits. Just then she hears a small knock on the door, followed by the voice of the guard she chose coming from saya-no-ma. He noticed that she can’t seem to go back to sleep, but she really needs to get some rest—or else their trip tomorrow would be hard for her. He asks her to close her eyes and try to relax, but this only makes her even more nervous. However, he soon remembers that he received some incense from Hanzou… so he lights them up in the hope of helping her to relax. Before long, Kayo can feel the nice scent of the incense flowing into her room—relieving her tension. As she falls asleep, she hears him saying good night from behind the door.

The next morning, they leaves Hakone Station to continue their journey. Their next destination is Mishima Station. They’ll also drop by Mishima Taisha, where they’ll give a purification ceremony for Kayo by using the water of Mount Fuji. Enishi grins and starts giggling as he imagines Kayo’s purification ceremony, but Sakyou points out that he’s being shameless LOL. Kayo says she doesn’t really mind since she’s starting to understand Enishi, but Sakyou asks her NOT to get used to these things. 。゚(゚ノ∀`゚)゚。アヒャヒャ Putting that aside, Enishi says Kayo doesn’t have to attach “-sama” while referring to them. She can just call them by name. When she mentions that Hanzou said exactly the same thing last night, Suzukake says it’s unfair that she only does that to Hanzou and not to them… so she eventually agrees to give it a try. She actually needs a lot of courage just to drop the suffix, but she won’t go back on her promise.

Just then Suzukake moves closer to Kayo, saying he actually has one more request for her. He says it’s not necessary to be overly formal with him, so he asks her to speak casually. Noticing that she looks troubled, he quickly adds that he won’t ask her to do it to Saneaki or Sakyou—she can do it to him only. At first she still feels a bit reluctant, but he only asks if she can’t do that for him. When she asks if he’s really okay with that, he smiles saying he wants her to do it. Knowing that she won’t be able to win, Kayo ends up giving in to Suzukake’s wish and starts talking casually to him.

However, none of them are aware that two bandits are watching from the shadows. They can tell that the wedding parade belongs to a feudal lord, and that means they can get a lot of money from it. It might be dangerous since they’ll be dealing with a feudal lord’s property, but they can just steal the trousseau and run away from Tokaido. Attacking poor merchants won’t give them much money, not to mention it also raises their chance of getting tracked down… but the trousseau will give them enough money to proceed with Zantetsu’s plan. The bandits then leave to report their idea to Shiguragi.

Meanwhile, Tsuzuramaru is mumbling to himself as he walks. When Kei asks why he does that, he says he feels concerned about the bandits. Last night, he heard some travelers saw the bandits on their way down the mountain. Kei points out that the wedding parade is guarded by 10 samurai, so they can just kill those bandits if they come out. Since they’re going to fight bandits, there’s no need for them to hold back either. However, Saneaki says it’s not a matter of numbers. In fact, having a lot of samurai would only drag them down. The road is too narrow to fit all of them, so they won’t be able to fight properly. Sakyou also points out that they’re currently walking on a downward slope. If Kayo and the horse get hurt, it’d be difficult for them to reach Sunpu in time. Their journey has been proceeding smoothly so far, but they don’t have that much time to begin with. It’d be dangerous if they fall behind schedule, so they can’t waste a single day.

Since they’re currently deep in a mountain, Mitsuyoshi says they’d be at disadvantage if the bandits strike first. Tsuzuramaru asks if Suzukake has any suggestions since he came from Mount Takao, but Suzukake says the bandits will definitely have an upper hand if they’re fighting in a mountain. Normally, they’d use the tactics of hiding in the trees and attack with bows or stones. They can proceed carefully while keeping these things in mind, but it’d surely put them behind schedule. Not to mention the narrow road will get in their way too. If they really get attacked by the bandits, Suzukake thinks they should focus on leaving the mountain while protecting Kayo, the horse, and the porters. The bandits are after valuable things, so they wouldn’t leave the mountain just to chase after people. Based on this suggestion, Mitsuyoshi orders the guards to surround Kayo and the porters. This causes her to feel really nervous, even though she doesn’t want to drag them down.

Noticing this, Enishi asks if Kayo is alright. She nods saying she’s fine, though she admits that thinking of the bandits makes her really nervous. He thinks it’s only natural, but he asks her not to worry—they’ll keep her safe. However, Enishi then grins saying Kayo’s skin is very smooth and shiny today. Probably because she used the hot spring yesterday. Kayo is obviously confused. She doesn’t know how to react other than thanking Enishi, but she can feel her shoulders becoming more relaxed… which makes her realize that he probably did that on purpose. Even though that sounds ridiculous, she can’t just dismiss it as impossible. Enishi is about to continue saying that Kayo’s beauty captivates him, but then he suddenly trips and falls flat on his face. Σ(-`Д´-ノ;)ノ!?

As Tsuzuramaru helps Enishi to get up, Sakyou sighs in disbelief—saying this might be what people mean by “reaping what you sow” LOL. Enishi replies that it’s just impossible to go against his true nature though. Since Enishi scraped himself and the wound is bleeding, Suzukake takes out a tsuwabuki leaf and goes to rub it on the wound. He also warns Enishi that it’ll be a bit painful, but Enishi screams saying this isn’t just “a bit”. Ignoring Enishi’s protest, Suzukake only holds him in place and tells him to stay still. As he endures the pain, Enishi mutters that he never thought mountain trails can be so steep. Mostly because he always uses horses to travel through them. At the same time, he also realizes that being a spy requires stamina as well… and he’s clearly not happy about it.

When Tsuzuramaru asks if this slope has a name, Saneaki says it’s called Kowameshi-zaka. The reason is because the slope goes on a very long way. People say that if one climbs it up while carrying rice on their back, the sweat and heat would turn the rice into kowameshi. Tsuzuramaru thinks the example is absurd, but maybe they should be glad that they’re going down. Saneaki says there are other theories behind the name though. One of them states that the slope causes people to turn red in the face when they climb it, and the steam that comes out of their head would remind you of freshly-cooked kowameshi. Luckily this wouldn’t happen to them since they’re going down, but Saneaki has climbed up the slope before. He can confirm that it really is difficult, so he won’t recommend it. When Kayo says that she admires him for his broad knowledge, he answers that it’s not true. He just happens to know these things, and some of them also came from books. She notices that his ears have turned a bit red though, and she’s relieved to know that he doesn’t hate the compliment.

Suddenly, Saneaki tells everyone to be quiet. He can sense that something—or someone—might be following them from behind, trying to keep themselves hidden at the same time. Kei can also feel that it’s not a wild animal, so he tells Suzukake and Enishi to be careful. Kayo is squeezing the reins when Saneaki swats down an arrow that flies towards them. The arrow is probably a sign, because the next moment… a lot of hooded figures appear from all directions. As they demand everyone to leave Kayo and all valuable things behind, she realizes that they must be the rumored bandits. They’re really different from the people she saw in the previous towns. Sakyou, of course, has been waiting for them to come out. There are about 10 of them, and Mitsuyoshi orders everyone to protect Kayo and the trousseau.

Before anyone can move, a figure suddenly drops from the sky towards Kayo. Luckily, Enishi pushes him away just in time. The figure, who turns out to be Shiguragi, curses as he steps back. This surprises Kayo since Enishi has never drawn out his sword before, but he proves to be very strong in battle. It’s like he’s a completely different person. Knowing that the bandits are going to attack them with arrows, Enishi tells Suzukake to run with Kayo and the horse. He’s the only one who can control the horse, which means he’s also the only person who can get Kayo out of this situation. Saneaki says the rest of them will protect the porters, so Suzukake quickly climbs onto the horse and rides off with Kayo—who is terribly confused since everything happened in an instant. Immediately after, Mitsuyoshi also sends Enishi to chase after them. Or rather, after Juzumaru. Just then Hanzou realizes that this is probably a trap, but sadly it’s too late.

At Shiguragi’s command, the bandits destroys the cliff to block the path. Sakyou tells everyone to hurry on to the other side, but the only ones who manage to follow him are Tsuzuramaru, Kei, and the porters. Saneaki is stuck with Mitsuyoshi, Hanzou, and the gokenin as the path before them has been completely blocked. While Kayo and the porters aren’t trapped with them, the porters are standing right beyond the blocked path… and Mitsuyoshi can only hope for them to get away. Things get even worse when Hanzou suddenly gets shot and Shiguragi charges in to kill her, saying those who get in their way will all die here. Fortunately, Saneaki parries the attack and says he won’t allow that to happen. Their exchange of blows makes Shiguragi realize that he’s not a regular ronin, but Saneaki remains silent.

On the other side, Tsuzuramaru, Kei and Sakyou are having a difficult time protecting the porters. Just as they discussed earlier, the road is to narrow for them to fight properly. Sakyou confirms that the bandits are probably the ones from Oumi Mountain, but guarding the porters makes everything really frustrating for him. His main target is the bandits anyway, so he’s planning to use this chance to get away from the whole group. At the same time, Kei calls out to Enishi. Since hit-and-run is Enishi’s specialty, Kei asks him to clear the path for them… but instead, he hears Tsuzuramaru replying that Enishi isn’t here. Mitsuyoshi sent him to follow Suzukake and Kayo, so the three of them will have to handle this situation somehow. Kei drops his guard for a moment due to the shock and nearly gets attacked by a bandit, but Mitsuyoshi aids them by shooting the bandit down. Yes, from the other side of the path. His strength is terrifying LOL. Mitsuyoshi says they’re going to fend off the bandits here, so he wants the three of them to protect Kayo and the porters.

This leaves them with no choice but to clear the path themselves, and Tsuzuramaru uses his Iai technique to knock down one of the bandits. At the same time, Sakyou pulls off the bandit’s hood—revealing a horn on his head. As the bandit panics and takes his friends to flee, everyone is frozen in shock. Just as Sakyou has suspected, the bandits are actually the oni clan from Oumi Mountain. He’s about to chase after them, but then Tsuzuramaru asks him to help the porters. One of them is so frightened that he can’t stand up on his own. Sakyou grits his teeth and seems to be torn for a moment, but then he goes to support the porter. Since the numbers of bandits have decreased, they use this chance to escape. Kei asks the other porter to stay close as Tsuzuramaru clears the path, and Sakyou curses as he follows them down the mountain.

Chapter 6

Meanwhile, Suzukake and Kayo manage to escape to the main road. After making sure that the bandits aren’t chasing after them, Suzukake stops the horse and asks if Kayo is alright… but then he notices that she looks pale. Her teeth are clattering, and her hands are trembling as she holds onto the reins. It takes a while for everything to sink in, but she realizes that she could’ve died earlier. They’ve encountered several youkai up until today, but since the guards always defeated them easily… she forgot how dangerous this journey is. She forgot that her life is actually on the line. When Suzukake once again asks if she’s alright, Kayo admits that she was really scared. She immediately regrets saying it though, knowing that he’ll only get worried. Before Kayo can take it back, Suzukake holds her hands and says it’ll help her to calm down. He tells her not to hold back when she feels scared, and he asks her to tell him—it should make her feel a bit better. He also assures her that everything will be alright, because everyone is going to protect her.

This reminds Kayo that they left everyone behind, but Suzukake believes they’re going to catch up soon. The guards are really strong, and they’d never lose to the bandits. Immediately after that, they see Enishi running towards them. As soon as he caught up, he tells them not to worry about getting chased. One of the bandits was chasing after them, but he took care of said bandit along the way. Kayo is relieved to see him safe, and Suzukake thanks him for helping them. Enishi isn’t too happy though. He’s exhausted after running that much, and he knows he needs to build more stamina LOL. Just when Enishi asks about the others, they hear Tsuzuramaru’s voice calling them from behind. He has Kei and the porters with him, as well as a very pissed Sakyou—who’s still cursing under his breath. When Kayo asks about Mitsuyoshi and the others, Kei admits that he doesn’t know either… but Saneaki is with them. They won’t go down that easily. Besides, the bandits were after the trousseau. Since the porters safely escaped, the bandits should be retreating by now.

Noticing that Enishi is with them, Kei rages at him for disappearing. Suzukake quickly stops him though, and he explains that Enishi was protecting the horse’s back. Kei instantly feels bad after hearing this and tells Enishi to explain sooner, but Enishi points out that Kei was the one who suddenly started shouting at him. He can understand though, because anyone would get irritated during times like this. However, they can’t stay here and wait for the sun to set. Tsuzuramaru suggests moving on to Mishima Station before it gets dark, but Suzukake is clearly reluctant to leave Saneaki and the others behind. Kei says it’s their only choice since they don’t have much time, but Suzukake reminds them that the bandits had bows. What if their friends get ambushed once it gets dark…? However, Enishi says they can’t go back now. Mitsuyoshi and Saneaki desperately fought to defend their backs, so Suzukake should believe in them and move on. Suzukake doesn’t seem convinced, but then he quietly nods.

At the same time, Kei kicks a tree and curses himself for not noticing the bandits’ presence sooner. Upon seeing this, Kayo realizes that everyone must be feeling the same way. They just don’t show it. They’re all worried, angry, and also scared… but just as Enishi said, Saneaki and the others stayed behind to let them escape. For now, moving on might be their only choice indeed. One of the porters also thanks Sakyou for helping him, as well as apologizing for the trouble. Sakyou smiles saying he only did the right thing. When the porter promises that he’d be more careful from now on, Sakyou gently answers that it’d make things easier for everyone. Or rather, for him.

As soon as the porter moves away, Sakyou grumbles about how he lost his chance to exterminate those oni bandits because of “this coward”. (⊙ω⊙✿) When the other porter asks if he said something, Sakyou calmly answers that he was just talking to himself. Kayo notices that his expression looked scary for a very brief moment, but she wonders if it’s just her imagination. No, dear. It’s not. Just as Suzukake goes around to check if anyone is wounded, Kei asks him to save it for later. The bandits might come to chase after them, so they should hurry to Mishima Station.

Meanwhile, things aren’t going too well for Mitsuyoshi’s group. Hanzou and one of the gokenin managed to escape safely, but their path is completely blocked by rocks and fragments of the fallen cliff. It’s a dead end for them, so Mitsuyoshi decides to go back to the checkpoint and ask the Odawara clan for help. The gokenin who stays with them is also wounded, and the wound is swollen. He asks them not to worry since he already treated it, but Saneaki says the swelling isn’t normal. There’s a possibility that he got shot by a poisonous arrow, so Saneaki asks Mitsuyoshi to take the gokenin back to Hakone Station—where he can receive proper treatment.

When Mitsuyoshi asks if he’s planning to chase after Kayo and the others alone, Saneaki nods saying the bandits shouldn’t attack a ronin like him. Their target was the trousseau, and the porters managed to run away with it. Mitsuyoshi is worried since danger might be waiting ahead, but Saneaki says they can leave everything to him. He’s used to Mount Hakone. Mitsuyoshi eventually agrees, but he also asks Saneaki to be very careful. Those bandits used vicious tactics like causing rockfalls and shooting poisonous arrows, which makes it pretty clear that they’re not a regular group of robbers. After parting with Mitsuyoshi and the gokenin, Saneaki quietly mutters that this will be his last time using his sword. His current mission is to protect everyone, and he will swing Magoroku Kanemoto to accomplish it.

After reaching Mishima Station, Kayo takes a bath and eats dinner before going to the guards’ room. She feels concerned about their unfinished journey, so she wants to ask what they’re planning to do from here on. She’s also worried about Saneaki and the others, and she keeps thinking about them until Enishi asks if she’s alright. The guards are sitting in a circle, but every single one of them looks gloomy. After all, none of them expected this to happen. Before they begin the discussion, Kei tells Kayo to just go to bed. He says they’ll share the conclusion with her tomorrow morning, and his eyes are telling her that a woman like her should keep out of this.

However, Kayo replies that she’d be too worried to sleep. When she asks him to let her join the discussion, Kei reluctantly nods. They wouldn’t want her to get sick, so she can stay if she wants to… or at least that’s what he says. Knowing that’s not what Kei actually means, Enishi translates that to: “You told her to go to bed early because you’re worried about her.” (。-∀-)ニヒ♪ Kei blushes, turns away, and tells Enishi to shut up after hearing this… which means it’s really true LOL. Realizing that Kei said it out of concern, Kayo thanks him and promises that she won’t disturb their discussion. Enishi also asks her to call him if she can’t sleep, because he’s willing to stay by her side until morning comes. (ノ◕ヮ◕)ノ*:・゚✧ Enishi wants to check the front gate first though, so he asks them to start the discussion without him.

After Enishi leaves, Sakyou opens the discussion by asking about what they’re going to do from now on. They were ordered to continue the wedding parade no matter what happens, but are they really going to move on to the next station? Both Suzukake and Kayo don’t want to leave the others behind, but Sakyou reminds them that they have to reach Sunpu by March 15. They can’t be late for the wedding ceremony, especially because the awarding ceremony takes place on the day after. Sakyou suggests waiting for the others until dawn, and move on to Yui Station after the sun rises. Tsuzuramaru thinks it’s a nice idea. The path is blocked by rocks, and they’ll need a lot of people to remove everything. Until then, the path won’t be accessible. From the palanquin service in town, Sakyou also heard that some of their palanquins had to go back to Hakone Station because of that. It’s probably difficult for the others to catch up by dawn.

Noticing that Kei is being terribly quiet, Suzukake asks if he’s feeling sick. Kei says he’s alright, but he was thinking about their battle with the bandits today. He never thought that fighting in a narrow road would be so difficult, and he warns Tsuzuramaru to pay more attention to his surroundings in battle. Due to the way he fought, Kei couldn’t swing his swords freely. Tsuzuramaru apologizes saying he’ll be more careful, and Sakyou also apologizes for troubling them. They’ll have to go through steep, narrow mountain roads again on the way to Sunpu, so Sakyou thinks it’d be better if they devise tactics with Kei and Suzukake as the center. Everyone is busy thinking of strategies when Enishi returns, completely destroying the serious atmosphere with his smile.

Just as Kayo wonders about what Enishi did in the front gate, Kei sighs and tells him not to fool around. Enishi lightly answers that he’s not fooling around, but Kei obviously doesn’t believe him at all… until he mentions that he went to put a secret sign on the front gate. The sign will let their friends know that Kayo has reached Mishima when they arrive later, at the same time assuring them that she’s safe. This makes her realize that Enishi is actually just as concerned, even though he doesn’t really show it. Feeling bad for accusing Enishi, Kei tells him to explain it right from the start. Kei finds Enishi’s actions annoying, mainly because his objective is always vague and he looks like he’s just fooling around LOL. After learning about their plan to depart from Mishima tomorrow, Enishi nods saying that’s their only option. They can’t wait forever for everyone else to come. When Suzukake mutters a wish for everyone else to catch up by dawn, Enishi replies that they’re all worried about their friends. Unfortunately, the only thing they can do in this situation is to pray.

Now that they’ve decided on a plan, Kei says they all should take a bath and go to bed. Suzukake wants to check up on the porters first though, since he’s concerned about their wounds. Tsuzuramaru asks him to take care of his own health too, but Suzukake says the porters must be even more exhausted. After all, they have to carry the trousseau. In the end, Tsuzuramaru can only ask him not to force himself. Kei also says he’ll check their surroundings as he trains outside, just in case Mitsuyoshi and the others manage to catch up. Before leaving the room, Kei tells Kayo to return to her own room. The discussion is over, so she shouldn’t stay in a room filled with men. When Kayo nods and apologizes, Kei sighs saying it’s all good if she understands. He tells her to go to bed right away instead of making the sad expression she’s wearing right now, but both Enishi and her know that he’s just worried about her.

Kayo wonders if she really looks that terrible, and she touches her own cheeks to find them very cold. Her mind starts to fly towards Saneaki and Mitsuyoshi again, but she snaps out of it when Enishi asks if she’s alright. Suzukake has to agree with Kei though, because she looks pale. He asks her to tell him if she feels sick, and he bids her good night before leaving to see the porters. Kayo is actually planning to go back to her room alone, but Tsuzuramaru says he’ll walk her there. It’s already late, and they shouldn’t drop their guard even when they’re inside the headquarter. Enishi decides to tag along in the hope that he can have some tea with Kayo, but Sakyou warns him not to disturb her LOL. They have to wake up early tomorrow, not to mention Enishi hasn’t taken a bath yet. If he keeps lazing around, dawn will come before he knows it. Sakyou also mentions that he’ll take a bath later, so Enishi and Tsuzuramaru can go on ahead.

After saying good night to Sakyou, Kayo returns to jodan-no-ma and goes to bed… but she can’t sleep at all. Saneaki, Mitsuyoshi, Hanzou and the two gokenin risked their lives in order to protect her, so she can’t just enjoy her warm bed. Knowing that the guards are still awake, Kayo wonders what they’re doing right now. Well… as you might have expected, Sakyou is actually really pissed. He kept his emotions hidden in front of everyone, but now that he’s alone… he finds it hard to hold back his anger. It’s mostly directed to himself though, because he let a great chance go to waste. Back then, he could’ve just ignored the porter and left the group to chase after the bandits. Disappointed by his own decision, Sakyou starts taking out his anger by hitting the wall.

However, Sakyou doesn’t know that Enishi actually forgot his towel in the room. Just then Enishi returns to fetch his towel, and he’s obviously shocked to see Sakyou raging inside. When Enishi reluctantly asks what he’s doing, Sakyou instantly stops, puts on a smile, and asks Enishi not to mind him. He’s just… uh, training. Enishi awkwardly laughs and asks if he’s working out before a bath, and he nods saying he’ll go to the bath right after he’s done. Enishi nods and quickly leaves with a smile, but then he quietly mutters that Sakyou is so scary. He obviously didn’t expect to see that since Sakyou is always so calm and gentle, but now he knows that he should be very, VERY careful. On the other hand, Sakyou is too absorbed in his own grudge to pay any attention to Enishi. He swears that he won’t let those oni get away next time, and he asks his family—father, mother, and older sister—to watch over him.

At the same time, Saneaki is making his way through Mount Hakone. He stops upon sensing the presence of youkai, but they don’t come to attack him… because he’s carrying an Odawara lantern. It turns out the lanterns really do have the power to ward off evil spirits, though he didn’t expect it to come in handy. Just as he’s about to continue walking, Saneaki hears the sound of something cutting the air. He quickly takes out his sword and swings it, repelling the arrow that was shot towards him. Knowing that the bandits are hiding nearby, he shouts at them to reveal themselves. Following his words, the bandits start coming out from all directions. They’re obviously happy to see him alone, since it’ll be easier for them to take him on. They won’t let him get away so easily. Behind them, Shiguragi appears with a grin on his face.

Shiguragi gets straight to the point and asks where the wedding parade ran off to. Saneaki clearly refuses to answer though, so he decides to resort to brute force and sends one of his underlings to attack… except Saneaki easily knocks his katana away. Saneaki makes it clear that they won’t be able to hurt him, but he asks them to let him go because he wants to avoid meaningless fights. However, Shiguragi only asks why he’s not attacking them in return. Saneaki answers that his sword isn’t meant for bringing judgment to criminals, and he believes they should be punished by the magistrates instead. Shiguragi laughs saying Saneaki talks big even though he’s only the shogunate’s dog, and then he orders his underlings to bring out the hostages… who are none other than Nanae and the old merchant from before.

Ignoring Nanae’s attempt to resist, the bandits drags them in front of Saneaki—who’s obviously surprised to see them. They threaten to kill Nanae and the old man if Saneaki doesn’t give them information about the wedding parade, and they want to know everything. The destination, the number of people, as well as the contents of the nagamochi. However, Saneaki flatly answers that he’s only a guard and doesn’t know anything. Unfortunately, the bandits then start beating up Nanae to get him to answer. When he falls into silence, they punch her even more to force a reaction out of him. As a desperate attempt to save Nanae’s life, the old man asks them to stop beating her up. If they’re going to kill someone, then they should start from him instead. Of course Shiguragi would gladly do that because they can always sell Nanae, and he asks if Saneaki is willing to speak now.

Instead of answering, Saneaki only opens his mouth to call them brutes. Aside from stealing money from people, they’re also selling people’s lives. Shiguragi replies that they have an objective too, and they’ll do basically anything to accomplish it. They’re simply taking advantage of anything and anyone that can be used. Just then Habakitsuki comes out to ask why Saneaki is spacing out, since he can just kill every single one of them. Saneaki asks her to help Nanae and the old man, but she refuses saying that won’t be fun at all for her… so he tells her to disappear and stop being a nuisance. Shiguragi finds him weird for talking to air, but the deal stands. He says it’s a samurai’s nature to get the urge to swing his sword, but he wouldn’t mind using it on the old man instead. When Shiguragi asks for his answers, Saneaki finally says they’re all going to hell anyway… and so he’ll send them to hell with his sword. Habakitsuki is obviously delighted to hear this, and she cheerfully asks him to start cutting them up.

Shiguragi seems satisfied, but he never said it’s going to be a duel. Saneaki will have to fight him and his three underlings, which is… not a problem at all for him. Since he has decided not to hold back anymore, Saneaki defeats two of them in an instant. The third one goes into hiding and attacks him with arrows, but he quickly finds the unfortunate thing and slashes him too. As he walks up to Shiguragi, Saneaki says he won’t go further if Shiguragi drops his sword and releases the hostages. Knowing that he’s dealing with a strong samurai, Shiguragi agrees to throw his sword away and gives up… or not. Before Saneaki can ask him to release Nanae and the old man, Shiguragi suddenly pulls out a chained scythe. He laughs saying swords aren’t his only weapons, but Saneaki repels his scythe and states that there’s no need to show any mercy towards brutes. It doesn’t take long for Shiguragi to get pushed back, and Saneaki ends the battle by slashing his horn. As Shiguragi grits his teeth, Saneaki makes it clear that the next target would be his neck. Before dying, the third underling uses his last breath to ask Shiguragi to run and report this incident to Zantetsu. This leaves Shiguragi with no choice, but before running away, he tells Saneaki that he won’t forget this grudge. One day, he will return to avenge the death of his friends.

Saneaki doesn’t say anything, and he puts his sword back into its sheath in silence. Habakitsuki is happy to get fresh blood again after a while, but he only tells her not to drink it—a warning which she obviously ignores. After he releases them, the old man thanks Saneaki for saving them. Saneaki only replies that he should’ve taken out his sword sooner, and instead asks if his “granddaughter” is alright. The old man says they’re not related though. He saw her traveling alone, and he was guiding her out of the mountain when they got attacked. Nanae also thanks Saneaki and praises his strength, but he doesn’t respond. Just then Habakitsuki returns to spit out the blood. She complains that it’s not human blood, which is why Saneaki tried to stop her. At the same time, this confirms his suspicion that the bandits are indeed a group of oni.

In any case, Saneaki is going to follow Kayo and asks Habakitsuki to guide him to Mishima. Habakitsuki doesn’t mind, as long as Saneaki doesn’t bring the Odawara lantern towards her. Just like everyone else, the old man finds Saneaki strange for talking to air LOL. Since Nanae is planning to leave Mount Hakone and head to Sunpu, Saneaki decides to take both of them to the main road. Just to make sure that they won’t get attacked by questionable figures again. At this point, Saneaki obviously has no idea about the unfortunate fate that lies ahead of Nanae. The only thing in his mind is a wish for his friends to protect Kayo, and he quietly prays for their safety to the cross hidden behind his kimono.

Back in Mishima, Kayo wakes up from a terrifying nightmare. In her dream, she found herself crying over the corpses of Saneaki and the Tokugawa people—who died a bloody death in the hands of the bandits. Now that she’s woken up, she feels glad that it was just a dream. Just as Kayo sighs in relief, she suddenly hears sounds coming from the room next door… even though it’s supposed to be empty. Realizing that it might be Saneaki and the others, she decides to check if there’s anyone inside. When she opens the door, Kayo finds a familiar figure standing inside. At the same time, the figure turns around to reveal that he is indeed Saneaki. He seems relieved to see her safe, and he explains that he just arrived. He also apologizes for making her worry, but she’s just glad that he’s alright. Suzukake comes soon after that. He’s obviously happy that Saneaki caught up with them, but Saneaki asks him to keep his voice down. It’s late at night, so they shouldn’t disturb those who are sleeping.

However, Kayo soon senses the thick scent of blood lingering around Saneaki. His kimono is stained red, his expression is grim, and somehow the air around him makes him hard to approach. Kayo’s relief and joy instantly sink. She panics and asks Suzukake to treat the wound, but Saneaki answers that it’s not his blood. He’s not wounded. Even though he remains calm as he says this, Kayo notices that Saneaki seems to be a bit annoyed. It’s like he doesn’t want to explain the details to them. Suzukake refuses to leave him alone though. While the blood might not be his, it doesn’t change the fact that he had to fight on his way here. Suzukake asks Saneaki to let him do a proper check-up later, and Kayo can only wonder about what happened to him.

Before long, Kei also comes to join them. He saw a shadow by the front gate, so he rushed here thinking it might be Saneaki. When Kei asks if the others are safe, Saneaki answers that they are. One of the gokenin got shot by a poisonous arrow though, so they had to go back to Hakone Station. Kayo feels very relieved to hear this. She loses her strength and nearly slides onto the floor, but Enishi appears to support her from behind… and he’s clearly happy to get a chance to touch her LOL. Tsuzuramaru and Sakyou are standing right behind him. She can sense a faint scent of soap from his chest, which lets her know that the three of them just returned from the bath.

Upon seeing Saneaki’s kimono, Tsuzuramaru asks about how many people did he cut to get THAT much blood on himself. Saneaki says he killed three, but all of them were oni. Their leader also managed to run away. Tsuzuramaru is surprised, but Kei saw this coming. When Sakyou attacked one of them and pulled off his hood, Kei saw a horn hidden behind it. Sakyou isn’t listening at all though. It seems like they might have another chance to fight the bandits, and he’ll finish them off when that chance comes. Sakyou only snaps out of his thoughts when Kei asks if he’s listening, so he quickly puts on a smile and apologizes for not paying attention.

Saneaki also admits that he made Shiguragi angry, which means there’s a high chance that the bandits will ambush them again. Kei thinks it was a bad move on Saneaki’s part because Kayo will be exposed to danger from now on, but Saneaki only apologizes saying he had no choice but to kill them. Tsuzuramaru knows Saneaki must’ve had a good reason though, and there’s no use regretting it either—what’s done is done. However, this also means they have to be even more careful. The bandits are now holding a grudge against them, so both the trousseau and their lives are now in danger. After a long, heavy silence, Enishi cheerfully tells everyone not to look so gloomy. Saneaki is back and they learned that the others are safe, so they should be happy about that. Sakyou suggests taking a bath to wash off the blood first though, as other people would freak out if they see him looking like that. Suzukake will check his condition after that.

Just before Saneaki leaves the room, Kayo asks him to tell her if there’s anything she can do for him. He had to fight until he got stained in blood, and yet she can only stay under their protection. She wants to do anything to help, like treating his wounds or something. Sadly for Kayo, Saneaki shakes his head and says he’ll get Suzukake to do that. Rather than worrying about him, he wants her to pay attention to her own health. Kayo can only nod, and Saneaki takes his leave. Enishi complains that Saneaki is being too cold to Kayo, but Kei points out that he seems to be rather alarmed at the moment—maybe because it’s after a battle. He should calm down a bit after getting some sleep though. When Kayo mutters a wish for Saneaki to be unharmed, Kei turns to glare at her. They’ve learned that everyone is fine, so she should go to bed already. Sakyou has to agree that Kayo should prioritize her own health over anything else, which leaves her with no choice but to obey. It makes her feel sad, but the only thing she can do is to stay in top condition and not do anything that would cause them to worry.

Kayo is about to leave when she notices Suzukake in the corner, talking to air. Well, he’s actually talking to Habakitsuki… but of course Kayo doesn’t know that LOL. From Habakitsuki, Suzukake learns that she’s possessing Saneaki’s sword. She also tells him that Saneaki is irritated because he had to kill the bandits. When Kayo asks who he’s talking to, Suzukake points to Habakitsuki. He soon remembers that she can’t see Habakitsuki though, so he quickly says it’s nothing. He changes the subject by asking her to go to bed and stay healthy for tomorrow, so she bids him good night and returns to jodan-no-ma. Kayo is glad that her nightmare didn’t turn into reality, and she prays for Mitsuyoshi, Hanzou, and the two gokenin’s safety before going back to bed.

The next morning, Saneaki comes to bring Kayo’s breakfast into jodan-no-ma. They’re serving Mishima’s specialty today—grilled eels. The owner is worried because Kayo didn’t finish her dinner last night, so she cooked something that can give her energy. Since Kayo feels bad, Saneaki asks her to answer the owner’s concern by eating a lot today. Saneaki tries to take his leave after that, but then Kayo keeps stopping him to ask questions. She actually wants to ask if he’s alright, but knowing that he’d only find her annoying… she decides to ask about Mitsuyoshi and the others instead. Are they not here yet? Is the gokenin who got shot alright? After a brief silence, Saneaki sighs and suggests praying at Mishima Taisha. They have some time before their departure, so Kayo can visit the shrine for a change. He’ll send the guards to go with her.

At first Kayo refuses because she’d feel bad for dragging them along, but Saneaki tells her not to worry. It should help relieving their stress too. They’re all worried about Hanzou and the others. If she says that she wants to go, they’ll gladly visit Mishima Taisha with her. Saneaki asks Kayo to think about who she wants to take, and then he leaves her to enjoy her breakfast. Since she only wants to pray, he says a few of them should be enough to protect her. In fact, one of them would do… because by one of them I mean Saneaki.

Mishima Taisha:

If you don’t choose Saneaki, Kayo can visit the shrine in two small groups. The first has Tsuzuramaru and Enishi, while the second has Kei, Sakyou, and Suzukake.

  • Tsuzuramaru and Enishi
    Both Enishi and Tsuzuramaru are impressed to see the large shrine. There’s also a beautiful pond in the shrine grounds, surrounded by cherry blossom trees. They haven’t bloomed yet though, so Kayo believes the pond would look even prettier in spring. Enishi, on the other hand, is busy imagining her purification ceremony at the pond LOL. It’s probably still too cold for that though. Tsuzuramaru then takes Kayo to wash their hands before praying, but she’s surprised when he drinks the water. It’s cold and fresh since it comes from Mount Fuji, but they’re… not supposed to drink it. When Enishi points out that it’s supposed to be for rinsing and NOT drinking, Tsuzuramaru laughs saying he knows that. He only did it because he was thirsty, but Kayo gets curious and decides to drink it too—much to Enishi’s disbelief.

    Since Enishi is jealous to see them having fun, Tsuzuramaru tells him to drink it too. Tsuzuramaru says he doesn’t like holding back when it comes to food or drinks, but Enishi has a different idea. He asks Kayo to do the purification ceremony too. When Tsuzuramaru asks why he seems to be so particular about this, Enishi nearly admits that he wants to see Kayo being sexy during the ceremony. He covers it up by saying it’s very important to wash away all the impurities, though Tsuzuramaru feels that his heart is the impure one here. (○´゚ω゚`):;*.’:;ブッ Tsuzuramaru is glad that Kayo refuses, because they wouldn’t want her to catch a cold… but he notices that Enishi looks very disappointed LOL. They pray for everyone’s safety after that. Tsuzuramaru also prays for his training to go smoothly, while Enishi prays for his relationship with Kayo to improve.

    Once they’re done praying, Enishi takes them to draw the fortune papers. Kayo draws “moderate luck” while Tsuzuramaru gets “good luck in the future”, but the contents are good for both of them. Kayo’s says her wish will come true, and Tsuzuramaru’s says that a strong faith will save him from danger. However, Enishi then asks Tsuzuramaru to trade with him… because he draws “bad luck”. His paper also says that the person he’s waiting for won’t appear LOL. Tsuzuramaru says it must be a punishment since he thinks about women all day and all night, but Enishi refuses to accept the result. Besides, he already found the person he’s looking for in Kayo… except she doesn’t take him seriously. She smiles as she watches them arguing over the fortune papers. Both Tsuzuramaru and Enishi are so cheerful, so Kayo feels like she might be able to survive this journey with them.

  • Kei, Sakyou, and Suzukake
    Sakyou explains that the gods enshrined in Mishima Taisha are known as Mishima Daimyoujin. It’s also the name of this vicinity. People believe that a long time ago, Minamoto no Yoritomo prayed at Mishima Taisha and received aid from the gods. As the news of his victory spread all over the country, a lot of generals followed his footsteps and came to visit the shrine. When Kayo notes that the shrine has a lovely pond, Sakyou says it’s a sacred one. They can also see Itsukushima Shrine standing in the middle of the pond. From there, he takes them to wash their hands. When Suzukake asks if they can drink the water, Sakyou tells him not to do that. The proper etiquette is for them to wash their hands, then lightly rinse their mouths.

    Kayo is glad that she doesn’t have to do the purification ceremony though, because the water is really cold. Sakyou replies that she’ll catch a cold if she washes her entire body with this water, but she doesn’t have to worry. Washing their hands does count as a simplified version of the ceremony, so this should be enough. Just then Kayo notices that Kei isn’t joining them, but he says he’s not going to pray with them. He finds it troublesome, so he’ll go check their surroundings instead. Kei then leaves to patrol around the shrine grounds with a daunting pose, which impresses Suzukake since no criminals would have the guts to approach him. Sakyou thinks Kei will end up scaring the visitors away too, but he doesn’t mind. It’d be better for them anyway LOL. After that, they pray for everyone’s safety. In addition, Suzukake also asks the gods to keep them away from danger. When Kayo asks what Sakyou prayed for, he only smiles saying it’s similar to their wishes.

    As soon as they’re done praying, Suzukake runs off to look at the charms. Sakyou sighs saying they’re not here to play, and he asks Kayo to be careful as well. This might be a trip to help them relax, but she should never let her guard down. It makes her feel even worse for dragging them along, but then he chuckles and asks her not to hold back. Everyone would feel uneasy after what happened yesterday, not to mention she’s also a woman and never left her hometown before. He also makes it clear that she’s not troubling them, because it’s their job to make sure she arrives at Sunpu safely. Suzukake’s medicines won’t be able to heal her heart, so Sakyou believes praying to the gods is the best option for Kayo. He’s aware that she might find him naggy, but he’s doing it for her own sake.

    Once they catch up with Suzukake, Kayo notices a beautiful calendar for sale. Sakyou tells her that she’s looking at Mishima Calendar. It’s an ancient calendar that records rokuyou, the twelve constellations, as well as the 28 mansions of eastern astronomy—making it a popular souvenir. Suzukake then points to a bowl that has a similar pattern to the calendar, and Sakyou says it’s Mishima bowl. It’s another popular souvenir, and people call it that way because the design is similar to the calendar. Kayo ends up buying both, and she’s looking at safety charms when Kei returns from his patrol. Since she can’t decide which one to buy, Kei goes to pick one for her. He also notices that she looks better compared to yesterday, so he asks if their trip here managed to cheer her up. When she nods, he says it’s good since they wouldn’t want her to collapse along the way. Or so he says LOL. By this point, Kayo has noticed that Kei actually pays attention to her despite his harsh words.

At 7 in the morning, Kayo and the guards return to the headquarter. They spend some time waiting for Mitsuyoshi and the others to arrive, but sadly the time for their departure comes first. Suzukake wants to wait for a bit longer though, and they decide to go outside so they can leave right away. Soon after that, Hayato returns to Tsuzuramaru—which means Kayo’s letter has safely reached Edo. When Kayo thanks him, Tsuzuramaru asks her to direct the gratitude to Hayato instead. After all, he was the one who carried her letter to Edo. Hayato quietly purrs when Kayo thanks him, and Tsuzuramaru is teasing him for getting all embarrassed when Kei interrupts. As much as they want to wait for the others, they really have to leave Mishima now. Otherwise they won’t make it in time.

Kayo is about to argue, but Saneaki asks her not to let her emotions take control. Their top priority is to reach Sunpu in time. Suzukake asks if he can’t backtrack and check up on the Tokugawa group, but Kei says he can’t do that. Who would guide the horse if he’s gone? Saneaki also mentions that it’ll take time to clear the blocked path, but Suzukake insists that he wants to wait for them. Sakyou sighs saying he’s acting like a kid, though Enishi can understand how he feels. When Tsuzuramaru notes that Suzukake is quite stubborn, Suzukake asks if he’s not worried about the Tokugawa group. Tsuzuramaru answers that he trusts Saneaki—mainly because he respects Saneaki’s strength. If Saneaki says they’re doing fine, then he’ll believe it. Since Suzukake keeps insisting, Kei eventually snaps and tells him to stop fooling around. They’re currently on a mission.

Fearing that a crack might appear between the guards, Kayo decides to speak up and asks Kei to calm down. They all should know that Suzukake doesn’t have any ill intentions. She knows he’d probably get angry if a woman like her interrupts, but she can’t just keep quiet. Surprisingly, Kei doesn’t rage at Kayo. She apologizes for interrupting, but he says he doesn’t mind—even admitting that he’s irritated beyond reason. However, Kei still can’t accept Suzukake’s request. Suzukake has to think carefully about what’s truly important right now. Kei then turns to Kayo and says she can be surprisingly useful for once, which Sakyou translates as: “Princess. It means Kei-dono is thanking you.” Kei blushes and tells Sakyou to shut up, which means it’s true… just like before. (○´゚ω゚`):;*.’:;ブッ

Eventually, Suzukake apologizes for being unreasonable. He’s reluctant because if they move on without waiting for the Tokugawa group, he feels like he’s abandoning them. However, Tsuzuramaru says that’s not true. If anything, the Tokugawa group must be wishing for Kayo to reach Sunpu safely. Saneaki also tells him that if they fail to accomplish that objective, all of their effort to protect Kayo would be in vain. Suzukake nods saying he has calmed down a bit because of Kei, who turns red and looks really troubled when Suzukake thanks him. Obviously because he can’t get angry anymore LOL. Now that everyone has agreed, they decide to depart from Mishima. Suzukake is still glancing back, but Enishi assures him that the Tokugawa group will be alright. They should be able to find doctors in Hakone. For now, they should hold on to that faith and move on with the journey.

As they leave Mishima, Kayo secretly holds onto her charms—both her mother’s and the one she bought in Mishima Taisha. Once again, she asks the gods to listen to her prayer and protect everyone.

Meanwhile, the tournament continues in Sunpu. A lot of samurai are competing against each other for all sorts of reasons. Most of them are aiming for fortune and fame, while some participated to test their own strength. Even among all these participants, there is one man who shows exceptional skills of swordsmanship. His name is Tsuzumi Hougen, and his strength is unrivaled. Everyone believes he’s the most suitable person to become Sunpu’s Ichibangatana this year, and he really does take the title at the end of the tournament. However, he’s not seeking for fortune nor fame. Tsuzumi only has one wish, and that is to return Tokugawa Tadanaga’s kindness.

After the final match, Asakura silently walks up to Tsuzumi. As Sunpu’s Ichibangatana, Asakura believes Tsuzumi will receive one of the Five Heavenly Swords. Due to Tadanaga’s suicide, Sunpu is currently in a turbulent state… but by presenting one of the Five Heavenly Swords to the next castellan, the shogunate will be able to make an indirect announcement that his position is higher than Tadanaga’s. From there, the shogunate can officially promote him to be the new castellan of Sunpu and use him as their pawn. However, Asakura will never allow that to happen. Behind the shogunate’s back, a shadow of conspiracy is starting to stain the tournament in Sunpu Castle.

Chapter 7

In order to give the horse some rest, the wedding parade stops at Hara Station on March 13. The next day, on March 14, they follow their schedule and continue their journey towards Yui Station. Around the same time in Satta Pass, Shiguragi is cursing Saneaki for scarring his horn. For the oni clan, their horns are their pride. Saneaki has killed three of his comrades, and the grudge can’t be wiped off so easily. Shiguragi will make sure he pays for it with his life.

Soon after that, their hawk returns from Edo. After the incident with Saneaki, Shiguragi sent a letter to a certain man who’s currently hiding in Yoshiwara—Zantetsu. The letter contains an apology for his failure that led to the death of their comrades, along with a report regarding Saneaki and the wedding parade. Zantetsu must be mourning over their death by now. One of the bandits asks if Shiguragi is going to join Zantetsu in Edo, but Shiguragi says he can’t trouble Zantetsu any further. It was his decision that pushed their comrades to death, not to mention he also failed to get the trousseau. He needs to make up for this failure by achieving a good result. Should he present Saneaki’s head to Zantetsu? Or just stick to his role and keep collecting money?

However, another bandit soon returns with more information about the wedding parade. He managed to find someone who witnessed the previous horse commotion at the checkpoint. According to that person, the bride is Hisahime. She’s marrying Ookubo Tadashige, the eldest son of the next castellan of Sunpu. In other words, if they mess with the wedding parade… they will have to deal with the Tokugawa family. The bandit suggests pulling back, but Shiguragi takes some time to think about this. He heard that Tokugawa Iemitsu cornered Tadanaga—his younger brother—and forced him to commit suicide. Immediately after, he also confined Tadanaga’s son, Choushichirou. On top of all of this, Iemitsu is now sending his sister to be Ookubo Tadashige’s wife. Shiguragi finds this terribly suspicious. There might be a deal hidden behind the wedding parade, and they might be able to take advantage of that.

Instead of taking the suggestion, Shiguragi decides to push forward. The wedding parade has been split into two groups because of the blocked path, so this is a great chance for them. If they can keep Saneaki occupied with arrows, they should have enough chance to win. They’ve attacked the wedding parade in Mount Hakone, so the shogunate will come to fight them eventually. That’s why they should make use of this chance to snatch the trousseau. Shiguragi won’t drag his underlings into this plan though. He allows them to drop out and leave if they’re scared. However, he also says that those who can’t fight to avenge their fallen comrades will never ever become a samurai. Their objective is to build a world where the oni clan is allowed to wield swords, and they’ve been holding onto that wish for the longest time.

This reminds the bandits of why they’re doing this dirty work to begin with, so they push their fears aside to support Shiguragi. Their plan will move quicker than it’s supposed to be, but Shiguragi thinks this is a great change to threaten the shogunate. One day, they will make a new era and the oni clan will be able to wield sword with pride again… but first, they have to avenge the death of their comrades. The bandits cheer as their hawk soars in the sky. Tadanaga’s death, the collapse of the Sunpu clan, the inauguration of the new castellan, the wedding parade, the tournament… and also Choushichirou. Shiguragi is certain that the shogunate and the next castellan are having a deal behind the screen, and he wants to figure it out. He needs to figure out the truth in order to avenge his comrades and make up for his failure. As he touches his scarred horn, Shiguragi starts to grit his teeth.

Meanwhile, the wedding parade is smoothly moving along. Despite all the problems they had, Kei says they should be able to reach Yui Station in time. Kayo nods saying it’s thanks to them, but Enishi thinks it’s because she really does her best in this journey. They’re just supporting her. Tsuzuramaru has to agree. She has to travel through unfamiliar areas, but she works hard to keep up with the schedule. Once they pass Yui Station, they’re only one step away from Sunpu… but Saneaki asks Kayo to keep her guard up. It’s still too early to feel relieved. Noticing that she looks stiff, Sakyou also reminds her that she’s a bride. She’s supposed to look happy, so she shouldn’t forget to smile.

When Enishi says that he still wants to travel with Kayo for a bit longer, she chuckles saying she feels the same way. They went through a lot of things, and some of them were terrifying… but she does enjoy her journey with them. It makes her feel a bit lonely that their journey is ending soon. While she’s happy that they almost reach Sunpu, Kayo is still concerned about Mitsuyoshi and Hanzou. They haven’t caught up, so she’s wondering if they’re alright. Upon hearing this, Kei sighs and tells her to think about herself more instead of worrying about other people. Saneaki asks her not to worry though, since both Mitsuyoshi and Hanzou are really strong. Besides, it’s their wish for her to reach Sunpu as quickly as possible.

Noticing that Kayo is still worried, Tsuzuramaru asks if she wants to use Hayato. He might be able to find Mitsuyoshi and Hanzou from the sky, and they can use him to deliver a message for her. Kayo agrees to give it a try, so Tsuzuramaru sends Hayato off—with Suzukake cheering for the pigeon. Kei doesn’t think using Hayato would help, but Sakyou says it’s better than not doing anything. That, and Kayo would feel a bit better. Kei nods saying that makes it worth trying, because they wouldn’t want her to mess up after they’ve come so far. Enishi asks him not to be so harsh though, and he assures her that Hayato will come back with a good news. For now, they should trust him and move on.

At their current pace, they should be able to reach Sunpu before the wedding ceremony. After that, they can leave her to the samurai in Sunpu Castle and backtrack to search for the Tokugawa group. There’s nothing to worry about. Kei then asks if Kayo feels better after hearing this, and she nods as she thanks them. They’re all being so considerate to her, so she wants to do her best and not drag them down any further. Now that Kayo is relieved, Enishi asks her to smile and play the role of a happy bride. When she puts on a smile, he sighs saying her smile is the best. He wants to stare at her all day, but Kei quickly tells him to stop fooling around. They have to hurry, since they have to reach Yui Station before the sun sets.

From there, they continue walking through the woods… which feels like forever. They’re surrounded by a lot of trees. Enishi is whining about how gloomy the woods are when Saneaki notes that they’ve reached a dark area, covered by a lot of tree shades. At the same time, Suzukake reports that the horse has slowed down. Even Kayo can see that the horse seems uneasy, not to mention she keeps on shaking her head as well. Tsuzuramaru also points out that it’s very quiet around them, and then Kei sees it coming. He quickly tells Suzukake to hold the reins, because the next moment… the horse suddenly panics and stands up on her hind legs. Kayo is obviously shocked, but luckily she’s alright. As Suzukake tries to calm the horse down, Saneaki warns everyone to be careful. Something is coming their way.

Suddenly, they hear a sharp sound cutting the air. They don’t see anything, but Tsuzuramaru points out that something has sliced Enishi’s kimono sleeve. Just as Sakyou correctly predicted, the one’s attacking them is a mantis youkai. It soon appears to laugh at them, mockingly calling them slow. Tsuzuramaru says he’ll defeat it and asks everyone else to stand back, so Kei laughs and jokingly asks if he’s trying to get bonus points. Before Tsuzuramaru can deny it, Saneaki stops them saying there’s something strange about this youkai. Right after he says this, the youkai vanishes into thin air. Its creepy laughter is echoing around them, but it’s nowhere to be seen. Tsuzuramaru wonders if it’s hiding, but Saneaki says it should be somewhere nearby—he can feel its presence.

Just then Kayo feels a sudden breeze, followed by Suzukake screaming in pain. When she turns to look at him, she sees that his sleeve has been sliced as well… and his arm is bleeding. He assures her that he’s fine though, because the cut only scratched him. Kayo is about to protest, but Sakyou asks her to stand back since it’s dangerous. Both Tsuzuramaru and Kei are irked to see this dirty way of fighting, while the youkai sounds so happy to see them panicking. On the other hand, Saneaki and Sakyou remain calm—knowing the youkai is provoking them on purpose. Enishi and Suzukake are standing in front of Kayo, making sure that the youkai won’t hurt her.

Kayo has three choices here: believe they’ll win no matter what, ask them to stay calm, or ask them not to get hurt. No matter what you pick, the guards will take her to escape from the youkai. However, one of them will stay behind to kick its invisible butt. Unlike the previous youkai battles, this one slightly touches their personal issues and backgrounds.

VS Mantis Youkai:
• Tsuzuramaru • KeiSaneakiEnishiSakyou • Suzukake •

While they managed to defeat the youkai, the encounter makes them realize that they have a problem. They weren’t prepared for unpredictable situations, which is why the youkai caught them off-guard. Also, their formation has holes because Mitsuyoshi and Hanzou are away. This brings them to the conclusion that they need a captain. Aside from leading the wedding parade, the captain will also take care of Kayo as her attendant and give them commands. At first Kayo refuses since she’d feel bad for troubling them, but since she’s playing the role of a princess… she can’t take care of herself. People would get suspicious. They think the captain should be the person Kayo trusts the most, so they leave the decision in her hands. She’ll automatically choose the person with the highest affection. The events from this point on basically follow the same template, so I’ll just refer to the person she picked as “the captain”.

Upon arriving at Yui, Sakyou asks if Kayo is tired since they rushed all the way here. She says she’s alright though, and she’s more concerned about them. After all, she’s riding a horse while they have to walk. Kei says this is nothing much for them. They actually arrived quite early, so they have plenty of time to rest at the inn. Enishi nods saying the fatigue will go away, as long as they get delicious food and sake. Now that they’ve reached their destination, Suzukake leaves to put the horse into the stable. Tsuzuramaru asks if he needs help, but Suzukake says he’s fine for now. He asks Tsuzuramaru to help him later though, as he has to carry the fodder into the stable.

Soon after that, the inn owner comes out to greet them. Saneaki says he’ll do the talking, so he asks Kayo to behave like a princess. When the owner warmly welcomes them, Saneaki introduces Kayo as Hisahime. He then explains that she’s tired due to the long journey, so he asks the owner to treat her well. The owner nervously nods before congratulating “Hisahime” on her marriage. While the inn isn’t too big, he already prepared their jodan-no-ma for her to stay in. In the morning, she can get a clear view of Mount Fuji from the window. Kayo also thanks the owner back for his warm hospitality. As the owner guides them inside, the captain sighs saying he wants to unpack and rest already.

However, the owner suddenly stops and turns around. He realizes that the princess’ lady attendant is not with them, so he reluctantly asks where she is. This really puts them in trouble. They didn’t expect the old man to be that sharp, but it’s indeed unnatural for the princess to travel without her lady attendant. Kayo panics upon realizing that the owner is suspecting them, but then she notices that the captain is glancing at her in silence. This reminds her that she’s currently playing the role of “Hisahime”, so she needs to do it properly. Hanzou always helped her before, but now she’s the only one who can do it. She made it this far by acting like a princess, so she should be able to get past this one.

The owner is about to send the guards to a different room, but Kayo quickly stops him. She explains that her lady attendant is behind schedule due to a certain reason, but the captain is her loyal attendant. She wants the owner to let him through. From there, the captain takes over and explains that their princess is quite a stubborn one. Her lady attendant was feeling sick, so she left her at the last station and decided to take care of herself. He’ll stay with the princess and guard her, but he also asks the owner to let the others stay in saya-no-ma. They manage to convince the owner with this, so he takes both Kayo and the captain to jodan-no-ma. As soon as they go inside, everyone else can finally breathe a sigh of relief. That was very dangerous though. If this continues, people will find the wedding parade suspicious. It might cause weird rumors to start floating around. Fortunately, they’re only one step away from Sunpu. Tomorrow, they will leave Yui as quickly as possible.

Once the owner leaves them alone, the captain thanks Kayo for saving them. It’s much more convincing when she speaks up, rather than having them explain. She also asks him to get some rest in saya-no-ma for now. It’s mainly because she wants to change into her own kimono though, so she needs him to leave the room until she’s done changing. Sakyou and Saneaki are more sensitive while answering this request. Tsuzuramaru and Kei are blushing and leave in a panic; Suzukake innocently insists that he wants to help her change and obviously gets rejected; and she has to kick Enishi out because he keeps teasing her LOL. Kayo feels really nervous to be alone with the captain, but she doesn’t have any options. If she fails to do her job, a lot of people would be in trouble. She’s still worried about Mitsuyoshi and Hanzou, but she has to reach Sunpu as soon as possible—for their sake too. Kayo then takes out her mother’s charm from her sleeve and squeezes it.

After that, the owner returns to serve dinner. The captain reminds Kayo not to talk to him directly though, because princesses don’t do that. He also wants her not to be so formal with him, since the owner might get suspicious again if she doesn’t act haughtier. After allowing the owner to come in, the captain thanks him for the service… but he mentions that the princess is feeling tired today. He’ll tell the owner when they are done eating, so he asks the owner to keep people away from jodan-no-ma until then. Their dinner for today is luxurious with plenty of seafood, and Kayo starts thinking about her father. If he can eat all these delicious food, he’d surely be happy. Due to his profession, he’d probably think about the ingredients and recipes as well.

Noticing that Kayo is spacing out, the captain points out that she’ll spill her food that way. When she tells him that she was just thinking of her father, he asks why she accepted this task. She’s the only daughter of a restaurant owner, and they all know her father must be worried about her. The main reason is obviously Tatsukage’s threat, but Kayo doesn’t say it—out of respect for Mitsuyoshi. He clearly cares about her, and he didn’t force her to agree either. In the end, she only says that business isn’t going well because of cold weather damage… so she needs money. Kayo also tries asking some questions in return.

Yui Station:
• Tsuzuramaru • KeiSaneakiEnishiSakyou • Suzukake •

The next morning, everyone finishes their breakfast quickly and leaves Yui right after that. Kayo couldn’t sleep much last night. She kept thinking about Hanzou and the others, and she also felt nervous because of the captain. When Suzukake asks Kayo to get on the horse, Enishi notices that her eyes are red. Kei asks if she’s feeling sick even though Sunpu is right in front of their eyes, but she quickly denies it. She’s about to yawn as she explains that she couldn’t sleep, but she immediately stops herself. Enishi can understand if she feels sleepy because spring is just around the corner, though Sakyou points out that he always feels sleepy all year long LOL. Sakyou says Kayo is probably more tired than she thinks, because people find it hard to sleep at that state. Suzukake also asks her to tell him next time, since he can make a medicine to help her fall sleep.

Kayo feels bad for making them worry, but she just can’t say the actual reason. She felt nervous since the captain was guarding her all night, and she kept thinking about him whenever she closed her eyes. She could feel his presence on the other side of the door, so she kept falling asleep and waking up. However, she actually wanted to talk to him for a little longer. In any case, Saneaki says they won’t blame her even if she gets sick. That’s why if she’s feeling unwell, she should tell them. They’re going to cross Satta Pass today, so they don’t want her to force herself. Kayo nods saying she’s really alright, but she does want to know more regarding Satta Pass. Sakyou says it’s a beautiful mountain road that lies above the sea, but as far as difficulty goes… it’s about the same as Mount Hakone. They have a great weather today though, so Enishi adds that they’ll be able to see Mount Fuji and the sea after crossing the area. Suzukake is also excited to see the view. Since he grew up in Mount Takao, this will be his first time seeing the sea.

Just before they leave, the book lender merchant calls out to them. It took him a while to catch up, but he crossed Mount Hakone safely. In the previous station town, he heard that they’re staying in Yui Station… so he ran all the way here just to give Kayo a book. Kayo thanks him before moving on with the journey.

Upon entering Satta Pass, Suzukake is amazed to see the vast sea below the mountain road. Tsuzuramaru finds the beautiful view soothing, but Kei reminds them to watch their steps. They have to be careful since the path is rough and uneven. The cliff and slope are already challenging enough, but the sea breeze also makes it hard for them to detect any sounds and presence. Saneaki stops upon sensing something, but he soon realizes that it’s just a rabbit. Despite these difficulties, they shouldn’t act too nervous and wary—it’ll only scare Kayo. They have to be careful, but also making sure that they do it casually. Kayo, on the other hand, is enjoying the view with Sakyou. If she never left Edo, she would never see this beautiful scenery in her whole life. That’s why even though the journey isn’t easy, Kayo is glad that she accepted the request.

When the captain says that Kayo seems to be enjoying herself, she quickly pulls herself together. They’re going to cross a harsh mountain road after all. He didn’t mean it that way though, because he actually wants her to stay relaxed. After making sure that she’s feeling fine, he tells her that they only have a little more to go before she can return to her father’s side. Once they cross Satta Pass, Sunpu is just up ahead. His consideration makes her happy, but unfortunately it doesn’t last for long. The next moment, an arrow suddenly flies past them—causing the horse to panic. Despite Suzukake’s attempt to stop her, the horse shakes him off and runs into the bushes instead… while carrying Kayo on her back. The captain quickly chases after them, asking Kayo to hold on tightly so she won’t fall off.

Before the others can follow Kayo and the captain, another arrow flies towards them. Three bandits walk out of the bushes to surround them, ordering them to take out all valuable things they have. The bandits are no match for the guards though, and the situation completely turns around in an instant. Before they can run away, the guards stop them and force them to state their objective. The guards have to take out two of them for resisting, leaving the last one in a tight spot. It’s either he gives them explanation, or gets hurt like his friends.

Meanwhile, Kayo manages to reach for the reins and stops the horse. The horse eventually stops running, but Kayo doesn’t know where they are. The horse has taken her really far into the woods, and she has no idea where they came from. She knows she should stay still until someone comes to find her, but she feels really scared. The guards never left her side during the journey, but now she’s all alone. Unfortunately for Kayo, the ones who reach her first are the bandits. They threaten her with their swords, forcing her to get off the horse and come with them. From there, Kayo is taken to see Shiguragi. Thinking that she’s the real Hisahime, Shiguragi says he feels sorry for her. She led a sheltered life as she grew up, only to be sent off as a bride for a man she doesn’t even know. On top of that, she also has to travel from Edo to Sunpu for the wedding parade. Shiguragi says he’ll end this exhausting journey here, and he asks Kayo to hand the confidential letter.

One of the bandits pushes Kayo to the ground, ordering her to do as Shiguragi says. Kayo asks him not to be so violent, especially because she doesn’t have any confidential letters. Shiguragi doesn’t believe this at all. “Hisahime” is the only one who can travel from Edo to Sunpu without drawing anyone’s suspicion, and he knows the shogunate must be using her to deliver something. Kayo has absolutely no idea since they never told her anything, so Shiguragi decides to just examine her himself. In a desperate attempt to keep him away, Kayo throws a firewood towards Shiguragi… but he dodges it and threatens her with his chained scythe. They’re going to strip her clean and check her body thoroughly. One of the bandits slaps her when she tries to resist, while Shiguragi scoffs saying touching humans—a lowly race—disgusts him. Thinking that she’s going to die, Kayo closes her eyes and apologizes to everyone in Edo. Omatsu, Orin, Yanohiko… and her father.


In every route, Kayo and the captain will figure out that she’s actually carrying Juzumaru as the bride’s dagger. Shiguragi’s fate, however, will be different for each route. He either commits suicide to prevent them from getting information, gets captured, dies an extremely painful death, or just left in the woods with his underlings.

VS Shiguragi:
• Tsuzuramaru • KeiSaneakiEnishiSakyou • Suzukake •

Chapter 8

March 15, 1634. Noon.

The wedding parade finally reaches Okitsu River. Once they cross the river, they’ll be standing in front of Sunpu. While they encountered some problems along the way, somehow they managed to arrive in time. Kei reminds everyone that they’re not in Sunpu yet, but Tsuzuramaru says they only have to ride the boat. They won’t run into trouble anymore, unless a mutant catfish suddenly pops out of the water. As the boat carries them across the river, Kayo recalls everything that has happened since the day she left Edo. Even if the journey was difficult, she can’t help but feel a bit sad that it’s ending. Terrifying things also happened along the way, such as their battle against Shiguragi and the bandits… but they went through everything together. Once they enter Sunpu Castle, their journey will be over.

When Tsuzuramaru mentions that it was a great training experience for him, Kei sighs and tells him not to drop his guard until the very end. Their job won’t be over until Kayo safely enters Sunpu Castle. Kayo also notices that Saneaki is whispering something, though she doesn’t know that he’s praying—expressing his gratitude since they managed to get this far. Enishi mentions that they can get abekawa-mochi in Sunpu, and he invites Kayo to buy some together. This instantly attracts Tsuzuramaru and Suzukake as well, and he explains that abekawa-mochi is Sunpu’s specialty—a mochi coated with sugar and soy bean powder.

Enishi describes the mochi as “fluffy and soft like princess’ thighs”, but Kei quickly shuts him up before he gets carried away LOL. Sakyou sighs saying Enishi is hopeless, but none of them knows that he’s actually in a great mood because he managed to keep Juzumaru safe. Suzukake and Kayo are still worried about the Tokugawa group though. They haven’t caught up so far, and Hayato hasn’t returned either. However, Enishi asks them not to worry. Mitsuyoshi and Hanzou should be fine. In fact, they might have reached Sunpu Castle by now. They should just take the lack of news as a good sign.

From there, they safely cross the river and enter Sunpu. As soon as they pass the gate, they are welcomed by the retainers of Sunpu Castle. As they make their way through the town, Kayo feels really nervous since a LOT of people are watching them. The wedding parade also attracted attention when they left Edo, but it wasn’t to this extent. Everyone in Sunpu wants to take a look of Hisahime, probably because there were a lot of suspicious incidents recently—which mainly involves the Tokugawa family. Suzukake is amazed to see so many people around them, but Kei scolds him for speaking so casually in public. Kayo feels very uncomfortable with so many people observing her, but she tells herself to hold back for a little longer.

After that, the wedding parade safely arrives at Sunpu Castle.

Their journey through Tokaido feels so long yet so short, but it finally comes to an end.

As soon as they enter Sunpu Castle, Kayo is released from her role and changes back to her own kimono. She doesn’t have to act as Hisahime anymore. While she could never get used to the shiromuku, she feels a bit lonely when she takes it off… but still, she feels much more comfortable in her kimono. She’s hoping that she can wear a shiromuku again though, and next time it should be for her own wedding. After she’s done changing, Kayo is brought to a room inside the castle—where she finds all the guards. They’re being very quiet, though she can understand since they’re currently in a castle. Despite what Enishi said, Kayo is getting worried again because she doesn’t see Mitsuyoshi and Hanzou with them.

Suddenly, Saneaki fixes his posture and bows down. Kayo wonders if he saw an important person nearby, but then everyone starts following him… so she bows down her head as well. Suzukake is confused to see them doing this, but Sakyou calmly asks him to do the same thing. He also tells Suzukake that he should stay that way until they are told to lift their heads. Just as Suzukake awkwardly bows down, they can hear footsteps approaching. A voice then asks them to lift their heads, and Kayo is surprised to see that it’s the man who was planning to threaten her—Tatsukage. Munenori is quietly sitting next to him. Up until now, Kayo has always been afraid of Tatsukage… but it was because she wasn’t sure if she should accept their request or not. Now that she has accomplished her task, she doesn’t find him scary anymore. If anything, he actually looks fragile.

When Saneaki asks about the real Hisahime, Tatsukage explains that she has arrived safely. She departed from Edo with a palanquin, and she reached Sunpu via back streets. Tatsukage also heard that they went through a lot of danger along the way, but Saneaki assures him that they’re unharmed. When Kayo tries asking if Mitsuyoshi and Hanzou have arrived in Sunpu, Munenori answers that they haven’t received any reports from those two. This makes her feel even more worried, but she can only pray for their safety. Soon after that, a Tokugawa samurai comes to deliver their rewards. Kayo feels really nervous to receive her 10 ryou, but now she can pay back her father’s debt… and things will be easier for their restaurant. Munenori also tells her that they’ve prepared a palanquin to take her back to Edo.

After thanking everyone for their cooperation, Tatsukage leaves with Munenori. As soon as they’re gone, Enishi stretches out his legs and sighs—saying that was really ridiculous. Tsuzuramaru is happy to receive his reward, because it means he wouldn’t have to camp out for a while. On the other hand, Kei wants to give the money to Kamuro and Sato as quickly as possible. Enishi teasingly asks about who they are, but Kei refuses to say anything. Saneaki whispers that he safely made it to Sunpu, and now he only needs to pray. Beside him, Sakyou remains silent. Similarly to Kayo, Suzukake is still worried about the Tokugawa group. He actually wanted everyone to reach Sunpu at the same time, but she asks him to cheer up. They must be doing fine out there.

Now that their journey has ended, Enishi invites everyone to have fun drinking in town. However, Hayato suddenly flies into the room and returns to Tsuzuramaru’s side—followed by Mitsuyoshi, Hanzou, and the two gokenin. Hanzou feels bad for making them worry, but Kayo is glad that they’re alright. After parting with Saneaki, they worked with the officials at Hakone Checkpoint to capture the remaining bandits. Just as they’ve figured out, the bandits are actually the oni clan from Oumi Mountain. They’ll receive trial and punishment later, so Kayo doesn’t have to worry about them anymore. Since the oni clan isn’t allowed to use swords in towns and in the five routes of Edo, their punishment will be heavy.

That aside, Mitsuyoshi thanks everyone for helping them. Mitsuyoshi also apologizes to Kayo for putting her in danger, but she asks him not to bow down to her. After all, she accepted the request fully knowing that it’d be dangerous. Hanzou also thanks Kayo for doing her best during the journey, but Kayo shakes her head and says it’s all thanks to them. She was only riding the horse, and she’s happy to experience a lot of things during the journey. She also thanks the guards for helping her to reach Sunpu, but she feels really sad—because she knows her time with them is over. Tsuzuramaru thanks her back in return, Enishi says he feels sad to part with her, Kei scoffs and praises her for not dragging them down, Suzukake asks if he’ll see her again somewhere, Saneaki says she did a great job enduring everything, while Sakyou smiles saying he’s glad that she’s unharmed. Kayo starts tearing up after hearing this, and she couldn’t really lift her head until the end.

After that, Kayo says goodbye to everyone and goes to town alone. She’s only a merchant’s daughter, so she doesn’t think she can stay with samurai like them. She feels really lonely, but she pulls herself out of it because she has to return to Edo. While waiting for her palanquin, she runs into the book lender merchant on the street. He’s obviously confused to see her in a casual kimono, so she quickly explains the situation and apologizes for deceiving him. He doesn’t mind at all though, and he asks if she enjoyed all the books he gave her. Kayo nods saying they cheered her up during the journey, but she uses this chance to return all the books to him—as well as paying him for the service. At first he refuses because he gave them as a token of gratitude, but she insists. Since the merchant is going to continue his journey through Tokaido, Kayo asks him to be careful along the way. She also invites him to visit her restaurant if he comes to Edo.

Right after Kayo sends the merchant off, she bumps into Tsuzumi. He apologizes and quickly leaves, but she notices that there’s a lot of samurai in town today. Kayo doesn’t know that she just bumped into the person who’s going to receive Juzumaru, the sword she just delivered to Sunpu Castle. Not too long after that, Nanae finally reaches Sunpu and goes to find Tsuzumi on the street. Tsuzumi is surprised to see her, but Nanae explains that she received a long break from work… so she ran here all the way from Hakone. He did hear that she got captured by the bandits, but she says she was saved by a fabric merchant and a samurai. Tsuzumi can’t believe she forced herself that much, but Nanae believes her effort wasn’t in vain. After all, he’s now holding her in his arms.

Nanae then congratulates Tsuzumi for winning the tournament. However, Tsuzumi says he has something to tell her. By the order of Asakura Nobumasa, the former retainer of the Sunpu clan, Tsuzumi is going to leave on a journey. His objective is to perform the ritual of the Five Heavenly Swords. Nanae is confused. She asks if he’s not going to work for Ookubo Tadanari, but he tells her to keep her voice down. When famine stroke his village, Tadanaga was the one who saved them. Since then, Tsuzumi has decided to use his sword for Tadanaga. That’s why he wants to protect Choushichirou, as the boy is the only thing Tadanaga left in this world. Besides, Tsuzumi dislikes Iemitsu for cornering his own brother up to the point of suicide. Nanae herself lost her family, but she was born in Sunpu. She understands Tsuzumi’s feelings, but she also feels conflicted because of the Sunpu clan’s collapse.

However, Tsuzumi’s decision stands firm. He wants his future wife to attend the ritual with him, and so he invites Nanae to come along. At first Nanae is surprised and asks if he’s talking about her, but he answers that she’s the only one. They’re going to protect Choushichirou, and they can live in a new land—together with all the samurai of the Sunpu clan. Nanae happily accepts Tsuzumi’s proposal, and she believes that she’s the happiest person in Hinomoto.

Right. Enjoy your happiness… while you still can. (⊙ω⊙✿)

Meanwhile, Kayo shares a moment with one of the guards before returning to Edo.

Farewell in Sunpu:
• Tsuzuramaru • KeiSaneakiEnishiSakyou • Suzukake •

March 27, 1634. Noon.

The cherry blossoms in Edo are starting to bloom by the time Kayo returns. She only left for several days, but Edo feels really nostalgic to her. She feels like she just returned from a long journey. When she arrives at home, her father is sweeping the ground outside the restaurant. She apologizes for making him worry, but he says it’s a parent’s duty to worry about their children. He’s really glad that she made it back safely. Mitsuyoshi doesn’t know how to thank Kayo’s father, but he truly feels grateful. Kayo successfully did her job, and it’s because her father was willing to let her go. Kayo’s father also apologizes for throwing salt at him before, but Mitsuyoshi asks him to lift his head. He thinks it’s only obvious anyway.

After thanking Kayo for her hard work, Hanzou takes her leave. Kayo tries to stop her and invites her to have a meal inside, but Hanzou politely refuses. They probably will never meet again though. Before Kayo can stop her, Hanzou leaves and disappears into the crowd. Mitsuyoshi follows her soon after that. While this makes her feel a bit sad, Kayo knows she can’t stop them… so she can only thank them in her heart. As they go inside, Kayo gives him the Mishima Calendar she bought. He looks really happy to receive it, and he says he’ll put it in their restaurant.

Upon entering her room, Kayo can feel a nostalgic scent. She likes the sandalwood incense Hanzou used during the journey, but nothing can beat the scent of her room. Looking back at the journey, they really went through a lot of things—so much that she finds it hard to sort them out. However, there’s one thing she can say for sure. During the journey, she has matured a bit. Just a little bit. Starting from tomorrow, she’ll have to help out in the restaurant again. The Five Swords Festival is going to begin soon, so they’re going to be busy… but for today, she wants to get some rest. The moment she closes her eyes, Kayo feels really sleepy. She spends the rest of the day taking a nap, which is something she couldn’t do during her journey through Tokaido.

Tokaido Fake Wedding Parade Arc – The End

Date unknown. Somewhere in Sunpu.

Late at night, a group of Tokugawa samurai is chasing after certain people in the dark. Asakura is riding his horse with Choushichirou, asking him to hold on tight. Choushichirou happily asks if he can meet his father again, and Asakura nods saying they have obtained Juzumaru—one of the Five Heavenly Swords. By using the sword, they will be able to reunite Choushichirou with Tadanaga. Choushichirou is obviously happy, but he wonders how they’re going to do it. The boy then turns to Tsuzumi, asking if he knows the answer. Tsuzumi admits that he doesn’t know the details, but he asks Choushichirou to leave it to them. Tadanaga has saved his life. On the day he became Ichibangatana, he has decided to follow Tadanaga anywhere. Upon hearing this, Choushichirou feels very proud of his father.

In Winter 1634, Tadanaga was ordered to commit suicide by Iemitsu.

He’s no longer in this world, and yet they’re looking forward to see him again.

On another horse, the elder of the hidden village laughs. She says there’s nothing to worry about, as long as they have Tsuzumi with them. The samurai in front of her refers to her as the “oni old lady”, and he tells her to hold on tight. She lets out a really creepy laughter, but it vanishes among the sounds of the horses’ hooves and the voices of the Tokugawa samurai behind them. When Nanae asks where they’re heading, Tsuzumi answers that they’re going to Edo. Once they’re done with the ritual, Nanae says she wants to eat abekawa-mochi and take a look at Suruga bamboo wares with Tsuzumi… but she doesn’t know that they won’t be able to do that anytime soon. If ever. The Tokugawa samurai are actually chasing after Choushichirou, who has become a fugitive. The boy is completely unaware of this though. He’s looking forward to meet his father again, and he happily follows them to Edo.

The fake wedding parade delivered Juzumaru from Edo to Sunpu. After the tournament Juzumaru chose Tsuzumi as its owner, and now he’s carrying the sword back to Edo. It’s as if history is created by the Five Heavenly Swords. People are tempted and guided by their existence, but what lies beyond that point? Is it the path of sword, or…?

Yes, I know. That was unbelievably long, but I gave up on the idea of not tl;dr-ing. As usual, sorry if this post seems confusing. I’ll link the individual routes back to this post to fill in the missing events. If you’re wondering why Tsuzuramaru is missing one event compared to the rest, it’s because one of his events is actually a part of the main route. To be specific, it’s the event when he visits Kayo with uirou-mochi and uses Hayato to deliver her letter to Edo. It’s tied to the main story, so I can’t take it out and move it to his post. Especially because I’m going to save him for last. (´・∀・;`)ゞ


Anyway, I really love Kayo’s interactions with the guys in this arc. Some of them start off distant, but you can see how they’re starting to warm up to her during the journey. I like how they talk about souvenirs and food from different towns too. It’s a very nice touch, since it makes you feel like you’re seeing different sceneries with them. Speaking of which, I’m really impressed by the backgrounds in this game. They made a different background for each station / headquarter, instead of using a general room background. They also made a map of Tokaido that shows the wedding parade’s progress. I love all these details. (☆´;ω;p)p


17 thoughts on “Ken ga Kimi – Tokaido Fake Wedding Parade

  1. Ahahahaha, I love Tsuzumaru and Enishi conversation XD,

    Tsuzumaru not only bit his tongue but also forgot his own name as well (how cute(>y<)) while Enishi is the mood maker with is pervert tongue and ideas (*´艸`*)

    In some way, Tsuzumaru is actually a hidden pervert????

    Kei: how much of a TSUNDERE ARE YOU???? ♥~(‘▽^人)

    Anyway.. looking forward to the routes itself now >w<

    • It’ll be a while before the next route comes up, since I got absorbed into Bravely Default LOL. Tsuzuramaru is a “healthy” young boy. He gets easily embarrassed by these stuff, unlike Enishi. 8D

  2. All the glorious detail put into this post *cries tears of joy and happiness* Thank you so much!! I’m so incredibly happy that I can continue to understand this game thanks to you *hugs you tightly forever and ever* I’m playing the common route alongside this wonderful post at the moment and the interactions among all these characters are absolutely lovely <3 And their little quirks are starting to show too aksjdfkdsjf :D Again, take your time in your posts and get lots of rest!! *sneaks in another hug*

      • It’s okay. Glad to hear you enjoyed it. xD
        The common route itself is pretty long since it’s a journey, but that was fun. The next post won’t come out in a while since I’m busy with work and Bravely Default, but hopefully I can come back and continue soon.

  3. Wow… I actually wanted to save this tl;dr, but I couldn’t resist reading like 50 % of it. xDDD Who thought, that those character interactions would be so fun?! They are really a nice group. wwww And Kayo is such a nice girl. Ah, I’m beginning to love this game. My wallet will hate me… Oh wait. It does already. xDDD

    • They really are! Things aren’t as smooth at the beginning, mostly because some of the guards don’t care about others… but towards the end, they really do make a nice team. As the heroine, Kayo is very sweet and strong. She’s not exactly comfortable with the journey at first, but you can really see how she gets used to her guards along the way. :D

      LOL I know that feeling. My wallet and bank account are constantly weeping.

    • No problem, thanks for commenting! 【嬉】(´p・ω・q`)ぁりヵゞ㌧♪
      Sometimes I wonder if these posts are too long, but the writing in Ken ga Kimi is so good that I don’t want to cut it out… so I’m glad to hear that you like the details.

  4. Thank you so much for the translation/summary! OMG this is so long so really, thank you for all that hard work! This game is still far too difficult for me to understand on its own so I’m playing while reading your summary ;w;
    Your comments in between are funny too xD
    And I agree, the characters and details are amazing! I also really love the music <3
    Starting with Kei's route as soon as I find some time for it ^v^

    Something I noticed by chance: Shouldn't the date for the last part (right after "farewell in sunpu") be March 27th instead of 17th? (「ーー三月二十七日 昼」)

    • Oh wow, that’s one misleading typo. Yeah, it’s supposed to be March 27. Thanks for letting me know, these posts are so darn long that I just run them through spell check instead of re-reading the whole thing, and spell check obviously doesn’t pick up these things LOL.

  5. Wow, your review is so detailed and interesting. Thank you for Ken ga kimi stories and all translations you did!
    Can I translate several Ken ga kimi routes into Russian? This game have some fans in Russia too <3
    Thank you again for all this hard work, your patience and attention :)

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