What use is honor without victory?
The Wolf Clan stands divided amid a bitter civil war. For years the noble Hayashi Family has struggled to wrest control of the clan from their rivals, the Hitomi, but one disastrous battle has exhausted their power. Now every warrior within Hayashi territory must decide what role they shall play in the upcoming conflict.
Shiro, the magistrate of an unimportant village, is tasked with a dangerous mission to stop the Hitomi Family’s army. Lacking supplies, troops, and support, he knows any direct confrontation is doomed to failure. Only through guile does he stand a chance against the forces arrayed before him.
Meanwhile, Hayashi Seiko seeks to throw off the oppressive mantle of courtly life by joining her brother in the field as a proper onna-bugeisha. She leapt at the chance to prove her worth as a soldier upon hearing that the war had turned against her family, but can she really escape the politics of a society that reveres duty and honor?
A samurai’s duty comes first, but duty changes with time.
As the Wolf Clan’s civil war continues, those loyal to the Hayashi Family must face new trials. The plan to contain their adversaries—the Hitomi Family—in Kyoudai Pass is working; however, new threats from unexpected quarters have put them in a precarious position, and their foes have not been idle.
Shiro, a dishonored rōnin leading an ill-equipped conscript unit behind enemy lines, faces the possibility that his force may be incapable of fighting thanks to a clever Hitomi trap. Worse, internal divisions have begun to emerge, compounding the damage. Now he must find a way to rescue those under his command while preserving their will to fight.
Hayashi Seiko’s situation is no less precarious. Commanded by her brother—the clan’s rightful daimyo—to inform Shiro of Oota Kin’s betrayal, she must face an uncaring wilderness with only the aid of her new instructor…but the wilds may not be the greatest danger she faces. Can she meet her brother’s expectations? Or her own?