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39. Doji Ren

Winters Embrace - Welcome in Kyūden Doji

Played on September 29th, 2019

A new clan house

We arrive well on time for the upcoming winter court which is to be held at Kyūden Doji. What immediately strikes me as strange is newly build Mantis Clan house. They usually stay at the minor Clan house. What did they do to deserve one of their own?
Soon after our arrival, the clans start to arrive, they Mantis join in order of etiquette as one of the last. Agasha Sumiko, the Ruby Champion, is also present. Quite a bit of the Mantis fleet has joined the Doji ships in the harbor.
It seems the guards in the castle are even more strict and uptight than they usually are.

An invitation from Lady Ryoku

As we're getting settled in, we all receive an invitation from Lady Ryoku (Quite the honor!), to join her for a tea ceremony in the floating tea house.

Fallen leaves blanket the ground. The sea breeze brings the chill of winter, and the nights grow long. Despite the cold, this season is a gift, as is the chance to forge new friendships.
I wish to serve you a simple bowl of tea in an intimate gathering in the tradition of Lady Doji. I am greatly looking forward to receiving you at the floating teahouse on the fifteenth day of the Month of Togashi, at the Hour of the Horse.
Please refer to the enclosed map to locate this humble teahouse. My apprentice, Doji Chiyoe, will receive you in the gardens.

Doji Chiyoe, the expected wife to the future Emperor, comes to pick us up. She looks rather ptrty, but perhaps too softhearted to stand out in Doji court. Takuya brings a bouquette of flowers representing respect. Asako Himeya of the Phoenix clan is also present.
At a distance, the teahouse seems to be floating on a small pond. If you did not know better, you could have mistaken the gentle snowbanks for the clouds of Heaven itself. A worn, wooden bridge arches between the shore and the foyer. A gentle breeze blows, bringing with it the crisp, pure scent of frost.
Across the gardens, you catch a glimpse of an ornate palanquin, and a figure in a many-layered kimono steps forth. It is the Lady of Winter herself, the poet and storyteller Kakita Ryoku—our host.
We gather in the foyer of the tea house where we partake in the cleansing ritual, before we're let in to the main area. There we join Lady Ryoku at the table. A beautiful tea set with golden veins adorning the ceramics is set up on the table.
Lady Riyoku welcomes us with the followinf words: "Word of your accomplishments precedes you. Though I would not seek to impose upon you, my clan and I would be greatly indebted to you if you could help me with a simple matter."
“It is not often that we have the pleasure of hosting our southeast neighbors, the Mantis Clan. I wish to ensure that Lord Yoritomo and his retinue feel most welcome and at ease during their stay here––as their attendance was not wholly expected."
“It would please me greatly to understand their wants and needs while they spend time as our honored guests. Would you be able to see to that for me, honorable samurai?”

As she looks at at expectantly, I courteously respond that it will be our great honor and privilege to cater to every need of Lord Yoritomo and the Mantis Clan.