Hirota was appointed at Toshi Ranbo, and in 1199 news arrived to the Imperial Court about a disagreement over a merchant caravan in the Spine of the World Mountains, where a ronin, Tarui, was detained and perished under extremely questionable circumstances. Hirota was approached by Yoritomo Dairu, who warned the Crane for halting a caravan carrying papers issued by the Tsuruchi. The incident rapidly escalated into a conflict between the Crane and Mantis Clans. Eventually, Hirota was met by his Lady, Daidoji Akeha, and his Lord, Doji Makoto, who told him that the war had been devised by the Crane Clan Champion, a way to secure a closer alliance with the Phoenix Clan. Fighting the Mantis, old enemies of the Phoenix, made easier to renegotiate some old treaties of mutual aid and assistance between the clans.