A New Beginning

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 inviting me?"  
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 modest home.
Strange? Father is always asleep by this time.
    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 sound. Father!