Deep in the skies, thunder rumbled… a portent of
coming storms. The winds tugged at the long grasses in the vast plain, as if
playing with a children’s toy. Neither samurai nor samurai-ko paid any heed to
the coming storm. But both were keenly aware of it, if for vastly different
reasons. Finally, one spoke. She raised her voice no higher than necessary to
carry over the growing wind.
“I see a village ahead, Nikkan-san. Perhaps we
should wait out the storm?” ventured the mounted samurai-ko.
“Hai,” replied the young samurai with a half
smile, “We should find somewhere to stay dry, and perhaps eat as real
Even after days of traveling together, the samurai-ko
looked puzzled at times. Whether this was do to his words or his intent remained
unclear. Still, the small band rode into a tiny town as the storm broke behind
them. Even in these trying times, the hemin were startled to see a mounted
Unicorn traveling amicably with a striding, if slightly limping, Dragon, wearing
the mon of the Mirumoto. They traveled through the village until they came upon
the inn, stopping outside long enough to tie the horse. The Mirumoto paused as
the Unicorn tended to her steed.
Inside, the Dragon waited patiently as the Unicorn
settled with the innkeeper. Both of them made their way back to a tatami matted
booth near the rear of the establishment. Both sat staring at the other for a
long time, neither making the first move. The Dragon removed his large hat at
set in beside him.
“Ahem, honorable samurai, samurai-ko?” said a
bowing innkeeper, “May I have the privilege of taking your orders? We have
little, but it is all available for you.”
The Unicorn was the first to respond, “Sake, and a
bowl of rice.”
“Hot water… and leave the kettle.” The Dragon
said, still looking at the Unicorn. He set a koku on the table.
The innkeeper flushed crimson and bowed even lower,
“I cannot break that, honorable sir.”
“I did not intend for you to, good man. And I would
never make an esteemed member of the Hourichi house pay while I am here.”
The young samurai-ko’s head shot up. Her eyes were
blazing, but her questions remained unasked. She said nothing, and so the
innkeeper left with a muttering of praise and thanks.
“Gomen nasai, but it was obvious. While I wear the
mon of the Mirumoto, my training and my soul belong to the Kitsuki,” the
Mirumoto broke into a thin smile, “And I must say, you have your sister’s
The Horiuchi could keep her own counsel no longer.
The fire in her eyes burned with the desire of her questions.
“You know of my sister, Shoan-sama? You must tell
me where she is, Dragon.” she spoke with no malice or cruelty. She spoke only
with conviction and purpose in her words. “I must find her…”
The Dragon let his smile slip, replacing it with a
look of helpless pity. He thought back to the stories of the Horiuchi daimyo
that he had studied in the Kitsuki School. Her bravery in the face of death
earned respect, if grudging, from even hardened Lion warriors. To now have to
face dangers unknown in the underworld of Rokugan… it seemed that her destiny
was a fickle one.
The delicate features of the Unicorn knotted in
frustration. She leaned over the table, her steely eyes meeting the unfathomable
eyes of the Dragon.
“I have been searching for over a year, with few
good leads… none of them recent. Then you show, and claim to know something of
Shoan-sama. You must tell me what it is that you know.”
Nikkan could see her determination as she meet and
kept his gaze, few could look into his eyes for long. But still, the look of
deep sadness remained.
“I took an oath before leaving the Sleeping
Mountain. I swore to Mitsu-sama that I would only observe Rokugan. I would not
get involved with the Clans. I swore this on my honor.”
The Mirumoto stood up and glanced down at the seated
Meimei. The fierce determination melted as a look of bitter resignation replaced
it. It was obvious even to someone not trained as a Kitsuki that Meimei-san’s
face had borne that expression far too often.
“I am sorry.”
The Dragon headed for the door, but at the last
moment turned and faced the young Meimei. The slanted smile returned from under
the brim of the hat.
“However, I hear the Doji Plains are beautiful now.
The Unicorn could only return the smile to his back.
After months of searching and finding only disappointment, perhaps now her long
trial would be at an end…
From the Tomes of Mirumoto Christopher, on the family
of the Horiuchi, Clan Unicorn
The Horiuchi are a family in crisis. Unfortunately,
it is in their nature to be at odds with the Fortunes.
Their family was forged by turmoil. Iuchi Shoan
earned her place in history by placing her life in peril to save the children of
her daimyo. Her inventive and protective method earned the Hori prefix
and her own family. In a Clan most defined by its battle tactics and legions,
she gained glory through pacifism.
With her lack of interest in finding a husband, it
looked to the rest of Rokugan that the line would begin and end with Shoan.
Then, mysteriously, two new Horiuchis appear. Horiuchi Meimei and Horiuchi
Testsuro’s origins are a mystery to those outside of the Unicorn Clan.
However, their futures would be no easier that of the woman they followed.
Both Meimei and Tetsuro refused to turn a blind eye
to the corruption of their Clan by the infamous Kolat, and even turned their
attention to a far older, and more deadly, opponent: the Shadow. After many
harrowing, and near lethal, encounters, the enemy struck back. The daimyo of the
Horiuchi family were kidnapped, but those of that line had made many enemies.
Even after extensive searching by the Unicorn magistrates, it was unclear as to
who had spirited off Horiuchi Shoan.
It is known to many people in Rokugan at large that
Horiuchi Shoan was kidnapped. However, nobody knew about what was to become of
the family after it. The Dragon remained sequestered in the Mountains, the Crane
sought to rebuild after the terrible war, and the Imperial line was in chaos
after the disappearance of their own leader. Still, the two remaining members of
her family search for her, never knowing if she was truly alive.
Young Horiuchi Meimei’s body bears many scars from
her tireless quest to retrieve her sister from those who would seek the end her
line. Her fiancé, Tetsuro, bears many more for her defense. The stories behind
each scar are known only to the remaining Horiuchis… and they soon may tell no
more tales save in Jigoku.