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The mythical world of the Otori is unforgettable. Bound by the bargain he made with the Tribe, Takeo must join them and put his skills at their service. But their cruelty and injustice force him to try to escape. He is immediately sentenced to death by the Tribe and as winter draws in, he flees over the mountains to Terayama, helped by the outcaste, Jo-An. Kaede, devastated by Takeo's leave-taking, returns to her parents' home. She is pregnant with Takeo's child, but she and Shizuka decide to tell everyone that Kaede secretly married Shigeru and it is his child. She finds her house neglected and her estate almost ruined. Her mother is dead, her father is on the verge of insanity. Kaede is determined to educate herself and her sisters and save her domain. Then her father dies in mysterious circumstances: did he take his own life or was he murdered? She and her sisters face starvation in the coming winter, and Kaede enters into a pact with the strange, intriguing but sinister nobleman, Lord Fujiwara, in return for food and money. When Kaede learns that Takeo is still alive and where he is, she journeys to see him.