Memoires of a Rokugani Magistrate
Let’s wander through the dojo,
To tell my story.
I’ve seen sixteen springs. Not that I can remember them all, friend, but that’s our way of speaking. I suppose that, in a sense, I’m privileged. Many in our Crane Clan don’t live to see six years, let alone sixteen, especially in the Kosaten province. But I was born in a good family. Not a very wealthy one in comparison with some of the Daidoji on the coast, but sheltered from most needs and full of love. My father, Kakita Fumi, was leaving most of the family estate management to my mother, the fair Naruko of the Daidoji, and her trusted karo Tojo. Father was mostly busy attending court as a local magistrate, in Zeisei Hana Toshi, the nearby town, about one hour ride North from our home. Nori no Mori Mura could hardly be called a village, more a hamlet with our house in the centre, near the road to Zeisei Hana Toshi. It was the only house with a stone floor in the village, and thick wooden wall which could stop an arrow. All around are the hills leading to the forest and covered in the deep green bushes of the tea plants.
Passing the village
Only the emerald waves,
Crash on the fences.
Tojo san would say that this green sea is nothing like the real one. But that’s all I’ve known all my life, apart from a couple of trips to the lakes, with my mother, to learn how to sail the small kobune that the Daidoji use for the river trade. For me, the green waves are all that is, undulating in the soft wind that comes through the Daidoji lands. And the only horizon has always been the darker green trees of the Kaeru no Kitsu mori to the North-East and the far away blue peaks of the Spine of the World in the South. Both have always been a reminder of danger for our people. For the forest belongs for half to the Lion Clan, our traditional enemy on the battlefield, and there lie the tombs of the powerful Kitsu. And for the Spine of the World mountains separate us from the Clan of lies, the feared Scorpions, our eternal enemies in the courts. Being born in a border province means you see a lot of soldiers… In the North, we usually only see the vast plains and in the distance, the constant smoke coming from the shops and houses of Brittle Flower city where the great market is hold.
The clatter of tools
Rhythm the chatter of merchants
Music of my home.
You’d think all these Daidoji patrols, scouts on horses, magistrates asking their travel papers to all would make people safe. But that’s an illusion, unfortunately. No one can truly be safe in a border province. It’s a sad fact of life that some people, yes even samurai, will follow the call of Onotangu and be tempted to do wrong or to follow their vices. The Emperor be blessed for his Emerald Magistrates and the Doji lords for their patrols, but even they can not be everywhere at all times. From the youngest age, heimin and children of noble blood alike are trained to be suspicious of strangers and report anything unknown to their elders, as ridiculous as it may sound. Alas, that was not precaution enough for my brave father who, one night, never came back from the market. Heimin found his body and guarded him until Daidoji Tojo and my mother could take care of him and his daisho. I wish I could say they avenged his death, but the fact is no one knows who did it. One thing is sure : he died bravely and fighting, as the tracks showed around where he fall. Tojo san told me once, in great secret, that there were signs he had wounded his opponent. But these are not things you say in polite conversation, nor to a child, and I never heard about it after this.
A leaf falls slowly,
Bright silver sharpened crescent
Cuts threads on the path.
The only other thing I know is that, from that day on, my father’s daisho and especially his katana, his old Kakita blade, stayed on the daisho stand, in front of the revered ancestor altar in our home. I know that blade has a story of its own. I noticed visitors looking at it like there was something special to it. Once that my mother was so tired and sad, she told me : « Son, that blade is all that’s left from your father’s soul. And I love it like I loved him. But I also weep when I see it because I fear he might have died because of it, more than anything else. » And I knew, although she always refused to say any more, that she was weeping for me too, because she was fearing that I would have to carry it one day as well… So are the hearts of mothers the world over. But she sent me to train nonetheless every day. And when I asked to join the Doji Magistrate school, there was pride in her eyes, no tears.
The autumn showers
Nourish and water the ground,
Tears for the future.
The rest, my friend, is already history. I did well at the school, where I studied laws and the etiquette of the various places of power where they are written. But of course, I trained to fight, because that’s what befits a samurai, regardless of function. And I’d say that one who must uphold the laws of the land and of the Empire doubly so. Last year I was told that I had passed most trials to become a proper magistrate of the Crane Clan. I only needed to complete the weapons training at the Kakita Academy. So I left Shizuka Toshi, together with my sensei, Doji Yosai sama, on the 20th Day of the Horse 1104. And here I am, training the sword during the hot summer days and wandering in Tsuma at nights… being prepared for the Topaz Championship.
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