Akiteru is with Yugiri as the Onmyouji casts the fortunes for the season, “The good host who cleans the tracks of mud left by guests seeking refuge from the storm will find his reward in a house filled with gratitude and joy.”
The Oniwaban then receives his reports: the activities of the Portuguese have ground to a halt because of winter and many of the foreign ships have left for the season. The settlements along the shoreline have settled in for the winter and their inhabitants look forward to spring. More and more weapons of foreign make have been sighted circulating among the shoreline garrisons, particularly firesticks. The Nohebi have doubled the number of men in their garrisons and these are proving to be a burden on the locals that host them.
The Takumi of the Nohebi has been overheard to boast that the clan will be the most impressive at the Winter Court with their presentation of Western Culture and sensibilities. While offered as mere novelties to entertain the court and the other clans, the Takumi believes that they are the future of Japan, especially their science as showcased in their firearms.
The audacity and presumption of the Nohebi stuns both the Oniwaban and Onmyouji of the Tensai into silence until Yugiri declares that the presentation of the Tensai will prove the claims of the Nohebi to be lies. The Onmyouji declares that Takeshi shall receive musket fire and survive. After all, the kami have given him the power to alter fate. Elsewhere, Takeshi suddenly sneezes.
Akari suggests that her childhood friend visit Takuma the swordsmith and inquire about armor that could defeat muskets. Takeshi finds the suggestion reasonable and visits the swordsmith at his forge at Hieiyama. Takuma is glad to see the Hatamoto, saying that Yamamotokamisama had been recently talking about him incessantly, and that Takeshi should look the kami up.
The swordsmith tells the Hatamoto that he is aware of the predicament that Takeshi has been put in and offers his sympathies and assurances. When it becomes clear that Takeshi has no idea what the swordsmith is talking about, the swordsmith assures him that everything will turn out fine. Takuma then trots out a suit of armor that he had been working on alongside the muskets that he had been producing.
As he was designing the muskets, the swordsmith had started asking himself what would it take to defeat musket bullets and came up with armor with an unconventional design. The swordsmith describes in loving detail how the armor’s curves could deflect musket bullets oblivious to the alarm and mounting exasperation of Takeshi to the idea that he’ll be the one wearing the armor when it is tested. When Takuma starts wondering aloud what sort of bullet would be needed to defeat his armor, the Hatamoto storms off to look for Yamamoto. The swordsmith does not seem to notice Takeshi leave.