Memoires of a Rokugani Magistrate 4
We had left our hero travelling from Shiro Matsu to Kenson Gaka, in Akodo Kage’s retinue.
On the way to the next city, we found the body of a poor man, apparently mauled by the ape whose tracks the Crab girl had spotted. Akodo Kage ordered some messenger to inform the guard back at Shiro Matsu, but we didn’t stop to investigate, despite Furuyama san’s insistence. Kenson Gaka is a walled city, as is proper for the Lion lands, and the seat of the 1st Matsu Army. There is also a heimin village to support it. The fortress is commanded by the brother of the Ikoma daimyo. There we were introduced to Ikoma Rukiso, the commander’s hatamoto. I also wrote a letter to my family to inform them on my good time in my travels and to ask from news on their health. Kenson Gaka has a Fortune Temple and another one for Lady Amaterasu. I prayed to Bishamon to give me strength at the first and begged my ancestor’s guidance at the second. We were greeted there by the abbot, a rather friendly Matsu Kanamichi, formerly of the Mochi family (of the minor Centipede Clan) if I understand correctly.
We then went to our apartments. Seiichi san wanted to play portraits. I drew his name, Hida Miko had to impersonate me, which he did by offering the squirrel to Kakkita Mikko, who herself had to impersonate the Hida warrior. Doji Seiichi got to impersonate Matsu Agetoki. After this, I was so tired that I went straight to bed. In the morning, I asked to be lead to a good noodle place. I was lead to the best and took a famous breakfast. I then continued to the Amaterasu temple where I left my stone flower on the Ancestor’s shrine, as an offering. When I came back, I crossed Hida Miko, wearing a rather guilty air but, more importantly, my previous fan. Reality hit me in the face, my friend, and I am not ashamed of telling you: it did hurt! Not only had Kakita Mikko been unfaithful to me, but she had been with another woman… and what a woman! I thought hard about it and chose not to confront them yet. Instead, I went to the market and acquired a small piece of tender wood and a new fan (of a bland Lion facture). I conspicuously left Mikko’s fan behind in my apartments when we left town.
We continued to Kyuden Ikoma, through the Venerable Plains of the Ikoma. These, pardon me, are just a little bit less boring than the Matsu Plains… We arrived on the 6th Day of the Goat and made a first stop in the city, Ikoma’s Eye, which is anything but boring, believe me. We were welcomed by Ikoma Sume, hatamoto of the regent Ikoma daimyo. We were invited to stay at the samurai guests quarters, between the lower city and the citadel. In the evening, Kuni Sakura came to me and asked politely if I could keep an eye on Hida Miko who was already talking about getting drunk and into a fight. Was she feeling guilt, maybe? I went back to my quarters and started working on my wood piece. My intention, I confess, was initially to create one of these small netsuke that peddlers often sell around houses of debauchery, crudely depicting two women in embrace. Petty idea of mine, I know…
Later in the night, as promised, I followed Hida Miko around into the lower city of Ikoma’s Eye. We ended up, after much wandering and meandering, in the river harbor area. This is quite a colorful place, as you can imagine, where many heimin and quite a few samurai come to forget their hard day of labor, drinking spirits and looking for a brawl. We noticed various Ikoma samurai wearing mons showing long claws, as well as a lot of lowly ronin. We entered what was quite obviously a gambling den of iniquity, discretely hiding our mons. Miko chan took a bottle of sake and I ordered some tea (which was horrendous). There was a fighting ring, in a back room. After a while, Miko entered it and I did bet a bu or two on her. Just a bit less than a dozen of brawlers were in. She immediately made an impression by grappling one of them and throwing him like a piece of wood on three others. She then proceeded by knocking the lights out of a fourth. This was getting interesting and I had no intention of intervening, despite Kuni Sakura’s request, unless of course things would start to get more serious. Petty of me, I know, but I was still quite annoyed at the betrayal of the previous night.
Eventually, another Lion fighter pinned her to the ground and she started to show signs of fatigue. A wiry Ikoma chose that moment to lift a table with the obvious intention to crash it on her head. I decided that I had enough and deflected the table. The astonished Lion asked me if I was entering the fight. I said “hai!” and knocked him off immediately. Another one took a swing at me but as you might know, I am not that easy to catch. Hida Miko roared at him and finished off this last fighter for good. We were the only two persons remaining in the ring. I had no intention to fight her initially, of course, happily willing to give her the win. But she then made the mistake of mentioning Kakita Mikko’s fan. I blame her drunkenness and my jealous feelings: I punched her straight in the face, knocking her out as well, unintentionally winning the fight and quite a bag of koku. I then politely asked one heimin to carry her back to her apartments. We eventually needed two… On the way back I left the koku bag unopened, as an offering at Amaterasu’s temple.
When we woke up, me mostly unscathed but Hida Miko quite bruised and painfully aware of the previous night excesses, we all met with Kuni Sakura. She was really annoyed at me, obviously, but even more at Hida Miko. I defended myself the best I could, which didn’t help much. Kakita Mikko later came to take advantage of the situation and convinced me that she was still loving me. I know, don’t tell me, I’m weak… All I had left to do was to change the theme of my netsuke (which was fortunately not too advanced) into something more appropriate for the lover of a gorgeous Kakita lady. Once again, she showed me all the extent of her renewed affection as soon as we had some intimacy… No, once again, you will not get any details!
The day after, I went out for breakfast to another noodle bar, where Akodo Furuyama joined me. He seems to have taken a liking in me, as he was kind enough to offer me a transcription of several other extracts of Saibankan Laws, that he had painstakingly copied for what must have been long hours. He told me that since he had not been able to secure my entry to the Ikoma Library in the Temple of Tengen (to which he had nearly full access), he had decided to copy extracts from the book for me instead. This was excellent calligraphy work and I started reading them as soon as I was back in my apartments, studying each detail like a mad man. I still took the time to write another letter home. I didn’t want my family to think I had abandoned them. To somehow give something back to the good Furuyama san, I invited him back for dinner to give him a chance to socialize with the dangerous but beautiful Kuni Sakura. My information is that this did not end up too well for Akodo san, which I regret. But I heard later that he had had more success with a visiting Matsu Ketsui, a berzerker. More power to him, I suppose… The days passed by in courtesy visits and socialising. The morning before we were supposed to leave, we were all summoned to the Temple of Tengen, in the fortress, by Ikoma Sume, who commented on my help localizing an illegal gambling den… We were to be treated to a visit of the temple, the famous Library and of course the Emerald Magistrate grounds and offices. In the temple we were all invited to calligraphy a secret and burn it as offering to the fortune of literature. Since I don’t want that story to get around too much, I burned my reason to punch Hida Miko in the face…
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