Our Heroes, well equipped to travel, take the road to Dorji Shrine. On the second day of travel, they encounter a tree fallen across the road. When they alight from their wagon to deal with the tree, an ambush is sprung.
Bandits, former ashigaru, or low-ranking soldiers, are fought off. Darrok, the party’s ranger, tracks their back trail to their camp, where the party discovers Melanie, a pretty half-eleven sorcerer, who has been held captive by the bandits.
The party detours half a day off their trip to locate Melanie’s home, only to find the town sacked, and Melanie’s home burned. There is no indication of what became of her parents. The sorceress decides to join the party.
A few days later, the party comes to an abandoned farmhouse, where they find a blind female musician being confronted by a group of former-Ashigaru bandits. The party intervenes, and discovers that the blind woman can take care of herself… her cane conceals a sword, with which she proves quite proficient.
After the battle, the blind woman reveals that the shrine is less than an hour’s walk away, and that the town has become overrun by former soldiers, many of whom are now bandits. The party decides to cache their horses and wagon at the abandoned farmhouse and try sneaking through the woods to avoid the town on their way to the shrine.