by Asahina Nakayama
"The sake must be getting to me,"
the thought flash across my mind without regret. I looked at my two
friends in the room and wondered how three proper samurai should react if
caught in a geisha house as we were."Of course I am not a samurai,"
I countered." But what would your sensei say if you were brought before
him on a charge of being in a gambling house?"
"How dare you go to such a place without
As always, Saito has a way of filling a room with
laughter. When the laughing died down a little, Takuma lifted his cup of sake
and said," you know,...that might be true for my sensei!" Saito
and I looked at him hungrily. "The Grey Crane does have a ...reputation
of doing such things."
A look of fake disgust cross Saito's face. "A
Iaijutsu Master like Toshimoko-sama going to such a place! Impossible! How could
a Seppun like you enter the Kakita school and then dishonor your sensei like
this?" Because I am the great grandson of a man who was the second
son of a Hantei," came the smooth replied. This time, the laughter has
a tinge of irony and sadness to it. It was only a year ago that a Hantei was
sitting on the jade throne, now it was a ronin called Toturi the Black. Of
course, he was the Lion Champion for a time but everyone tried to avoid saying
that. For the sake of peace.
"Said like the courtier you should
have been," I said. Trying to move to a lighter topic,"
Instead of someone like Susake, it is probably in your family's interest
to make you the courtier on this trip and send that idiot to the
Crab or the Unicorn. They would probably like his manners. "Ah, but I'm a Seppun
and not a Otomo or I would have given Yoshi-sama a true run for the
favor," was Takuma joking reply. "Still, things are good now,"
Saito said seriously. "A Thunder on the throne, Fu Leng dead, the Clan
Wars finished and a new thousand years of peace." Saito lifts hie sake
higher."I say we should toast to that." I replied, "Saito,
that is the probably the only sensible thing you have ever said in your
life." Laughter filled the room again, but the Emperor got his toast.
Lord Moon was high in the night
sky when I tried to go home. I said tried because the sake was making the city
move side to side. Unfortunately, I seemed to be the only one noticing it
as several people just smiled at me. When I reached the modest house which I
called home, I noticed something amiss. Candle was illuminating our
Strange? Father is always asleep by this
I took a deep breath and
tried to clear my head. Confident of my ability to at least walk straight, I
continued on home. As I got closer, I noticed a change in the air. Shugenja I
am not, but I am still an Asahina and I know the scent of the kami. And this
was on a level of a true master. Definitely not father! I sprinted the rest of
the way, all the time noticing how the air seems to change as I got closer. I
was in such a hurry that I almost tripped on the threshold of the house.
It was then that I notice something else amiss. The air still has a touch of
true power to it, but it suddenly seems different. The flow of the river is
suddenly going upstream instead of downstream. I then heard a faint