Bayushi Tojin and Isawa Toncho are recruited by Hiruma Hú, an Emerald Magistrate, to fill in as assistants while she tallies and verifies tax collection.
Hú runs them through some scouting exercises, during which Tojin demonstrates his skill with stealth (though not quite enough to keep master scout Hú from finding him) and Toncho discovers possible bandits blocking the Imperial road.
Toncho confronts the men, finding out that they are, indeed, bandits. He stuns one with lightning, later killing him. Tojin runs down another after ambushing him. The third escapes.
The party is then invited to stay in the house of Akodo Harute, the man who killed the sensei of Tonji’s sister, causing her to go Ronin. Coincidentally, he is also the father of Akodo Appu, Toncho’s betrothed.