"Her name is Kamaitachi. She is the Guardian of the Mystic Spring Temple, and of spring itself. She is said to ride the spring wind itself to foil any mischievous deeds done by evil spirits or men. She arms herself with Shurikans and a Katana, and rumor has it, magic."
"Do you think she can help me figure out what the dream means?" Dally asked as they came upon a set of stairs carved into the hillside.
Saito nodded. "She will be able to confirm my suspicions."
Dally was taken aback. "You have suspicions? Why didn't you tell me?"
Saito chuckled. "Because I didn't want to tell you before they could be confirmed."
"Fair enough," Dally replied.
At the top of the steps was a temple exactly like the one where Dally met Haku. Standing in front of the temple steps was Kamaitachi. She was tall, with long black hair that blended to white at the ends and was tied back in a pony tail and two braids. She wore a white robe edged with purple satin on her right side, her left side covered only in her armor. Her face was painted white, with purple adornments around her left eye. She warily watched them approach, muscles tensed to react if they stepped out of line.
"Greetings, Kamaitachi, Great Guardian of Spring," Saito called. "I am Saito, this is Dallyah, daughter of Jarod. We seek your counsel."
"Greetings, Saito. Greetings, Princess Dallyah," Kamaitachi replied. "What counsel do you seek?"
"Dallyah has received a vision from our mentor, Zafrek. The first part of the quest he has set for her is complete: she received an egg from Haku." Dally watched a very brief look of surprise cross the Guardian's face. "The second quest is also complete: she has conquered the Kaiji in the Nameless River."
"That is extremely impressive," Kamaitachi said to Dally. "I'm going to surmise that the next quest involves Ronin?"
"I believe so," Saito replied.
(Dally vaguely knew of the legend of Ronin, but did not want to ask for a refresher on it. She hoped she could play off that she remembered it all.)
Kamaitachi sighed. "Unfortunately, I am unable to help at the moment. Blackblood rogues have been raiding the Temples in search of rare dragon eggs."
"Blackbloods?" Dally asked, anger rising in her voice.
"Yes," Kamaitachi replied. "They believe we have rare eggs stored deep within the temples. For the record, we do not, they are just gold replicas."
"That fact won't stop them from raiding every last temple," Dally growled. She looked into Kamaitachi's eyes. "I respect the fact that you cannot help us. I will help you instead. I will see what I can do to run the Blackbloods out of the Misty Mountains."
Kamaitachi bowed to Dallyah. "That is much appreciated, Princess," she said respectfully.
"Thank you for seeing us," Saito said with a bow. "We will return soon." Dally also bowed and followed Saito down the stone steps and back to the cabin.
There were baskets of fruits, vegetables, meats, clothing and other gifts all over the porch and steps and spilling into the yard. There were also huge piles of mutton and venison outside the barn. Dally described what she was seeing to Saito.
"Where did all of this come from?" she asked, humbled almost to tears.
"Uh, hi, we brought this," a huge man said as he came around from the back of the house. He was built like a sumo, just huge everywhere, with his hair pulled back into a topknot. Another man followed him; tall and thin with long black hair, dressed in Samurai garb. "I am Kuma," the big man said, "and this is Hayai. We were protecting the nearby villages from Blackbloods and prowlers. When Saito told us of the Kaiji being pulled from the river by you, the villagers wanted to show you their appreciation."
"This...this....this is way too much!" Dally said, tears pouring down her cheeks.
Hayai laughed. "They are very humble people, and they tend to overdo gratitude. Not something we see very often. They did send meat for Haku and Kaiji as well."
Dally smiled. "I will have to go to the village soon and thank them for their generosity. And, to thank you two, since I seem to have potentially put you out of work, why don't stay here with us? There is more than enough room, and plenty to eat."
The men bowed. "We would be honored."
"Good," Saito said, "will you help me get the baskets inside? I feel rain coming."
As the men set to work, Dally whistled for Voron. He landed on her shoulder, and she grabbed a basket and took it inside, then pulled parchment and a quill out of a drawer and wrote to Obsi. She put the note on Voron's collar and sent him on his way.
"Going back to your base tomorrow?" Saito asked.
"Yes," Dally said, "I need to talk to my family."