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When an imperial princess disappears from the Ise shrine, Akitada, new governor of Mikawa Province, has barely had time to settle there with his family before he is dispatched by imperial order on a secret assignment to find her.

The world Akitada finds at Ise turns out to be anything but spiritual. The pilgrimage town is a murky, dangerous place where no one can be trusted and where someone wants him dead. Gangs of robbers work the roads and forests, and two young women are murdered within days of each other. Although Akitada’s mission becomes known, putting his life in jeopardy, he persists with the unlikely help of a dwarf. Meanwhile, Tora and Saburo, left to look after the new province in their master’s absence, get involved in local problems and jeopardize Akitada’s new appointment and his career.

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