"Life is a lesson, you'll learn it when you are
through. Looks like
I'm never going to really learn it."
Within the provinces of the Crab, near Kaiu Kabe, exists the village Osura, designed to serve the defenders of the wall while not on duty. It is also known for its stupendous geisha house. Within that house, there is a Crane, who currently wears the mon and colors of the Crab. He is Daidoji Sagatsu, currently under the alias, Hiruma Tsuyu. He leans against the wall, sitting on the pillow, taking in every note of the flute that the geisha plays for him. On occasion, he looks up and sees her round, powdered, pale face and those deep red lips creating the serene sound. He thinks...he remembers the past.
"So much I have done...But much more I must do. Blasted Time...that lady nags far too much." Thoughts like that raced through the Daidoji's mind, and memories of The Day of Thunder whisper its faults. "Damn it. I still can't believe she asked me to aid these people...my people...and did not want me to fight. Then she had to use Yokuni to do it. Damn it. Then, of what happened to Koshin. He's not gonna be the same...for a long time. Uji...the Crane will not be the same without him, without any of them. Bah. Life is a cycle, which means there will be others. And which means I will be back."
Soon enough, the music ends. "Wonderful, Tsudako-chan.
Perfect enough to play to the Imperial Court," commented Sagatsu. Tsudako
replied, "Arigato, Tsuyu-sama." "No formalities are necessary,
you know that."
Sagatsu smiles. The shoji screen on the far wall slides, and another geisha enters and kneels, holding a parchment. "Sumimasen, honorable samurai, but this message has come for you, by a messenger in Lion colors." Sagatsu took the paper and unrolled it. It said:
It is Time.
A small chop was under the message. "Arigato." He handed her a koku. "For your troubles. My apologies Tsudako-san, but duty calls." He stood and bowed to the two women, and retrieved his daisho, with its white saya, from the front desk. As he left the building, Tsudako smiled and waved from him, "Sayonara, Tsuyu-sama! Hope to see you again!" Sagatsu returned the smile and wave, and headed for his next destination. Within two days, he reached the humongous Kaiu Kabe and its massive gate. At the gate, there was a man watching over the gate, and several men at the area which operates the opening mechanism. Atop its battlements, were several more soldiers. "Open the gate and let me pass.", Sagatsu spoke with firmness. "Show me your papers," said the watchman. Sagatsu handed him the forged documents stating that he was allowed to pass, to do some business in clearing Hiruma Castle. The guard returned him the missive and yelled, "Open the gate!" Slowly, the centuries old gate swung open, revealing the barren wastes of the Shadowlands. Sagatsu walked through, and after some distance, the loud crash of the gate closing rang throughout the countryside.
After walking 200 yards away from the wall, Sagatsu stopped and stood there. He suddenly ripped off his drab gray Crab kimono. Underneath, was the beautiful sky blue and silver of a Crane kimono. On its back, was the mon of the Crane, and on the front on his left breast, was the serpent symbol of the Daidoji, the Iron Crane. Then he put down a large sack he had been carrying, and pulled out some glistening armor, which looked so ancient, one would have thought it belonged to the Daidoji Kami, Daidoji Hayaku. He put on the armor, while the defenders of the wall looked at him strangely, wondering why would a Crane would be out there. He continued to walk, knowing he would be unimpeded by the Crab.
When he was out of bowshot, out of the shrubs appeared three lumbering Oni, two Oni no Akuma and a Kyoso no Oni. The Crab stood on the wall, ready to laugh at the foolish Crane's death. They were wrong. The Oni no Akuma lunged at Sagatsu. Sagatsu ducked, drew his katana, and separated them at the waist, all in one motion. The Crab on the wall stood there, flabbergasted. The Kyoso no Oni threw two bolts of black energy at Sagatsu, the bolts screaming in the air as they flew towards him. Sagatsu stood his ground, and the bolts hit what seemed to be a forcefield around him, the dark energies dispersing. Moments later, the Oni's blood and guts were strewn about the ground with its comrades. Sagatsu turned around for a moment, did a gajin (navy) salute with two of his fingers, and smiled. Then he continued on his way. The men on the wall, were left wondering if they did meet a Kami.
Two weeks have passed. Sagatsu has by now killed countless denizens of the Shadowlands, passing through unharmed. He now steps on to a field of pure green, which is stark contrast to the charred, black dirt he had been walking on. He had stepped on his own lands, the border created with wards made by gaijin magic. "Time for the home stretch," Sagatsu muttered. "Within fifteen minutes, he reaches a simple hut, with five torches surrounding it. Four are lit with red, orange, black, and purple fire.
Sagatsu walks over to the unlit torch, and waves his hand
over it. It lights with a bright blue fire. The door of the hut opens, and a man
in the bright orange and yellow of the Lion stands, with a beautiful woman
hugging him, wearing the deep reds of the Phoenix. "About time you got
here, Kayin," the man says. "Hey we're still in Rokugan; don't start
using one of my other names yet, Akodo Rio-san." The Akodo grins. "Ok,
Sagatsu-san." "Hey Sawako. I can finally rest for a while.",
greets Sagatsu. The Phoenix retorts, "Ha! You left because you have nothing
to do!" "Of course, you're right. Nothing to do...for now."
Sagatsu smiled at the Akodo's wife. "Now where is your necromantic brother
and that other fool?"
Until next time...