Mirumoto Christopher’s Observation on the Matsu family (Clan Lion)

 

 

Sakura blossoms whistled around the solitary samurai as the wind danced. He smiled underneath his hat as the delicate petals played against his kimono. As the breeze slowly passed, he continued into the east.  The day slowly died as the figure made his way out of the province of the Dragonfly. He walked as one with a purpose, and yet all the time acting the wanderer. He slowed as the plains opened majestically in front of him, the lone Dragon in the den of the Lion. He solemnly viewed the hazy castles in the distance along with the vast openness of the entire panorama. He pulled at his obi, strolling into the lands of Rokugan.

He continued to amble, even as the band of samurai began to approach. Bearing the mon of the Matsu, they marched towards him in stride. The lead samurai, his hand reaching towards his katana, saluted as a warning.

“Halt, stranger. You are in the lands of the Lion. Turn back if your purpose is not official.”

Yet, the Dragon continued on his path. As he neared the small squad, a young Lion tossed back her mane and laughed.

“Even when a Dragon comes down out of the mountains, his head remains in the clouds. Perhaps if we are a little clearer… you are not welcome in our lands.”

The Mirumoto stopped, his smile the only feature visible beneath his wide hat. He placed his left arm into his kimono as he waited. The sun continued to set behind Shinomin Forest, allowing the Lion samurai nothing more than an outline of his figure. When he spoke, nobody moved.

“When the pools of perception are cleansed, everything appears as it is.”

With that, the lone Dragon began to walk again in to the heart of the Lion. He continued until a sword flashed in his path. The pride of her family swelled in her breast at the apparent insult.

“I will not be made a fool of! I am Matsu Nitari,” she gazed the composed samurai in the eye, realizing the trap that she had put herself in. She could not release him now, no matter what kind of dread she felt. He saw in her eyes a fear, fear of trapping herself in a fight that she could not win...and yet her honor held her.

 “I challenge you, Dragon. State you name and show me your stance.”

The Matsu had worry in her eyes as he spoke. She held her katana firm at the samurai’s heart, never wavering in her challenge. Finally, the Dragon stopped smiling.

“My name is Mirumoto Christopher…but as you can see, I am very busy,” he said, sweeping his arm in front of him “I really must be going now.”

The Matsu growled, pushing the tip of the katana into the Mirumoto’s chest. She set her face into a mask that betrayed no more emotion than a stone. Her eyes shone with the passion of her words.

“If you will not accept, then you must be of no honor. You wear two swords, yet neither can do service to your master. Mine shall do the work to your master that yours cannot.”

Without a sound, the Mirumoto stepped back into the traditional Niten stance. The fading light shone of his daisho like a beacon.  As their eyes met, a sakura blossom fell from above. As it floated, a single strike. A clash sounded, a blade fell. As the cut was made, the Mirumoto saw a small, charred insignia through the rend in her dress. Before the blossom could touch the ground, the challenge was resolved.

The Mirumoto cleaned his swords with rice paper before turning around. He kneeled at the form of his fallen rival. Truly, she had been worthy of her gempukku name. He spoke to the ancestors, never paying attention to the remaining Lion at his back.  The final, grim rays of day died as he spoke,

“Wavering blossom,

The first fall of a bare tree,

Yet honor lives on.”

With that, he turned around. Without further comment, he turned toward the Scorpion lands and walked away.

 

 

From the Tomes of Mirumoto Christopher, on the family of the Matsu, Clan Lion.

 

There are those who say that the Matsu are a proud family out of a proud Clan. There is no falsehood in their words, but there is perhaps a bit of misdirection. The Matsu are not out for personal glory more than any other samurai. They strive to strengthen the base of their family, at the cost of their own blood. Their devotion is truly admirable. The Matsu take great pride in furthering the glory of their Clan, and nobody can ever fault them for this. For this what everyone, samurai or courtier, lives and strives for.

 

In my travels, I once met a young Matsu that epitomized what it is to be a samurai in the Lion Clan. She met a stranger with honor and spoke as one would with a respected friend. My comments touched upon a matter that was inexcusable to her. Only at this presumed insult to her honor did she present the challenge to me. This is the true measure of respect. The Matsu refused to allow a stain upon her honor, and yet she never allowed herself to grow into a rage. She maintained an air of dignity throughout the encounter. I hold this in high esteem.

 

There are also those whose words tell that a Lion samurai, particularly the Matsu family, feel no fear. These are the words of one who has never faced a Matsu living under the sword. I tell you that the Matsu feel fear the same as all other samurai. The difference, the very nature that sets them apart, is that they refuse to allow the dread to control them. This is true of all masters of the blade, yet the Matsu are in possession of this marvelous trait from apprentice to master. It would do well for their detractors to learn of the true nature of the Matsu before issuing rash claims.

 

The same Matsu taught me this valuable lesson. She trapped herself into a situation where her honor allowed her no recourse but to fight. And even when she realized that she would not be able to win, her honor and her resolve held. I admire this above all that I have seen in my travels into Matsu lands.

 

This young samurai left an impression on me that I shall never forget. For to forget the deeds of the noble is to dishonor the memory. Truly, to meet a Matsu is to meet a samurai in the most devout sense.

 

-Mirumoto Christopher