Events as have transpired up until this point:
High up in the Spine of the World mountains rests a small shrine tended to by a reclusive order of monks. The Shrine of the Laughing Mountain has always been there, though few know of it and fewer still could find it.
Late on evening, during a terrible blizzard that obscured the small path leading down the slope into a deep ravine, several refugees began to arrive. None gave their names and the head monk, Tsunao, asked that they not do so in order to avoid bringing the war into their home.
Most of the refugees were women and children, but four were nearly ready for their gempukku. In the faint light of candles, they naturally grouped together for mutual support.
One of the only two samurai, Kakita Oeshi was nursing an injured Matsu samurai-ko named Wei. Wei’s face was bandaged and bled slightly. She was unable to see and it was soon apparent that the two knew very little of each other and Wei may not have even known Oeshi was Crane.
A group of ronin, calling themselves the Night Spirits, stumbled in shortly later. They described an army of monstrosities that were marching up through the ravine. Since there was no other way down, they begged to take refuge and promised to protect the monks and shrine as best as they could.
Bangs upon the doors and shuttered windows exploded above the howling storm outside. Hordes of zombies began to break their way in. The ronin fought to keep them out, but were vastly outnumbered and soon tired of holding them at bay.
Oeshi watched calmly and moved to help when one position began to falter. With the moves of a master duelist, he struck twice, cutting through the invaders and giving time for a defense to be redoubled.
The youths were given bo staves and they did their best to help. Even with their valiant efforts, the numbers were too many. Slowly, the shadowlands horde broke through and they all were forced to retreat back into the building.
Hewn partially into the mountain itself, the back rooms and storage areas offered a strong defense. There was no access to the building’s second story from the main room so they only had to worry about a single strongly built door to keep shut.
While the monks and refugees rested and Kakita Oeshi guarded the doorway, Tsunao led the youths to the back of the building and through a secret doorway. He led them deep into the mountain to the true meaning of this place’s existance.
Resting upon a small shrine was a cherry wood box. It was simply carved and was only designed with a picture of Amaterasu.
Tsunao took the case and opened it. Brilliant white light erupted out from inside. Within rested a single cherry blossom, eternally blooming. He named it the Sun Blossom and confided that it was the shrine’s greatest treasure.
Apart from the Emperor and a few select individuals, nobody else knew of its existence and only the Emperor himself knew where it was hidden. Tsunao had them swear an oath to protect it with their lives.
They agreed and were led back up into the monastery. There, they concocted a plan to attempt to get down the mountain and find help. The youths came up with a plan to sneak out of the building and use the snow to slide down the mountainside and past the horrors.
Carefully breaking through the ceiling, the youths krept to the entryway and found a maho tsukai performing a dark ritual with a bubbling pot. A noxious green vapor was slowly leaking from it and creeping toward the barricaded door.
Throwing caution to the winds, the youths leaped down and surprised the madman. With sure strikes of their staves, the ritual was ruined and a maho tsukai lay in a pool of blood.
Rushing out the entryway, they hurtled past hundreds of zombies. The storm had given way and the valley was revealed beneath a dark and cloudy day. Spread out below them were disorderly groups of the walking dead and ferocious oni. Yet these didn’t stop them.
They mounted their hastily cobbled together contraption and began a wild slide down the mountain. Rushing past unit after unit of monsters, things were going well until a gigantic oni rose up before them.
An enormous man’s upper half, attached to a 50’ centipede body, rose up in front of them and dove at them. It missed, but the youths went flying off their sledge to sprawl beneath them.
One of the youths rose up to face the thing, shaking but undaunted by it. While he did, the other youths scrambled back on their sledge and started sliding down the mountain again. Only moments later, a pack of lanky demonic doglike oni rushed after them.
The oni batted the brave youth around, toying with him. Unable to retaliate, the boy dove from one side to the next to avoid monstrous claws. The monster finally caught hold of him and began to pull him off his feet when the bright flash of a katana cut deeply into the creature’s forearm.
Kakita Oeshi stood above the youth, holding his blade calmly at the ready. The beast lunged for him, but he was ready and he leaped forward, slicing at him again and again. He rushed up and leaped on the terror’s back and began to hack at it. A gigantic stinger plunged at him from behind and the torso twisted around to attack him, but Oeshi kept up his onslaught.
Meanwhile, the crude toboggan was soon overtaken by the lanky onis’ loping strides. Swatted into the snow, the three young men rose to face their doom. From the entrance to the ravine, they saw the marching advance of a force of tainted samurai.
At that moment, when all seemed lost, a brilliant light exploded from far to the northeast. The storm clouds broke and a wave of warm air that smelled of summer blasted across the mountainside. Around them, the tainted began to howl and disintegrate, rapidly rotting from brilliant sunshine that seemed to glow from everywhere about them.