A short fiction, may any who read be blessed.

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Shinjo Yosama
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Sat Jun 27, 2015 10:43 am

Anniversary's Light

The orange glow from the fireplace illuminated Yasamura's face as he reflected upon the events he was currently retelling. "Now as I remember my first meeting with Hitomi, was also only the second or third time I had met with Toturi. He was known as Toturi the Black in those dark times just before the Second Day of Thunder. The Great Clans were warring with one another, and darkness almost consumed the entire Empire. Had certain events unfolded differantly then we could all be serving the Daigotsu Family as the Imperial Line. Yet fortune smiled upon us, in a most unlikely manner." Yasamura took a breath, and saw Kisada listening intently. Ren was of two minds though. One mind was here, listening. The other mind was troubled with a differant matter. "Like I was saying, this was my first meeting with Hitomi, so I knew not who this maiden was that addressed me as, 'Lord Shinjo'. She was young, and lithe. A pleasant form of a young woman to look upon."

"Careful Ojii, Lady Moon maybe listening." Ren interrupted.

"I am sure she may well be, so I should be truthful, and respectful." Yasamura cleared his throat. " 'Samurai-maiden,' I began to say."

"Toturi interupted me, 'This is Lady Hitomi.' "

"Lady Hitomi, I see hardened discipline in your eyes, is this common among your Clan for one so young?"

"Some must grow up sooner than others." She replied.

"What do you make of that?" Toturi was quick to change the topic. Looking up at this end of Beiden Pass as it twisted its way up into the mountain.

"Only a few men at a time," Hitomi said, then looked my way, "No room for horses."

"Agreed if you only intend to utilize calvary as much of the Empire, by supporting infantry only." I added. "There is plenty of potential trained warhorses can advantage us with in this battle." Looking again at the narrow passage I concluded, "Still that is little comfort."

"We need more men, and more time." Toturi exclaimed.

"Luxuries we do not have, Ronin!" Hitomi snapped, "Now is not the time to play things safe, minimize losses. Now is time for action! If you do not step up to this challenge I will!"

Less than one year ago Akodo Toturi, the Champion Lion would have cut her down for such insolence. Now though, he only sighed, "The Crab are brash, arrogant, and overconfident of their position. We can use that to our advantage, and exploit their mistakes."

"Enough talk," I spoke up, "The horses are restless, as are my samurai. I am ready tell me what you need me to do?"

"We must confront the Crab before they make it halfway through the pass. We cannot allow them time to entrench, or our cause is lost." Toturi waved his hand, "Go tend your horses."

"Toturi-san, I will." I bowed to both, and took my leave. I now had orders from my Daimyo, my Father, Yokatsu to ally with Toturi and the Dragon Lady. Indirectly Toturi had just issued orders too, but I doubt he understood it that way. Yet, I was no longer going to wait. The horses were restless, my samurai were restless. Kamoko and her battle maidens were restless. We had come a long way from Shiro Shinjo, and we did not come to talk.

"This is the part I like, Ojii. Where you and the battle maidens take the Crab army by surprise by just charging straight in to battle." Kisada interjected.

"Yes, Mago." Yasamura nodded, "Our unexpected early victory. A ploy that surely set the tempo for the rest of the battle to come. Let wisdom be venerated though, was not Kamoko's sudden charge that won us the day. The charge itself did little but seed confusion, and chaos in the crab ranks. Toturi's archers led by a man named Dairya were responsible for inflicting the real damage. They saw the confusion, and seized the oppurtunity. That rain of arrows while the Crab were trying to rally, and reorganize cost them a great deal. Then came Kamoko's return charge, and all they could do was retreat and regroup. We gained ground only because our enemy was caught off guard, while we were prepared. All through the following day we kept the enemy harrassed and retreating. We were able to set up camp that night just past the halfway point that had been Toturi's primary goal."

"Infact it was only due to our success that Toturi was not completely outraged." Yasamura shrugged. "I thought I had spoken plainly about my intentions. Toturi had meant to spend all night discussing a battle plan with his Dragon Clan allies. My clan had been back in the Emerald Empire going on two hundred years, and still we were outcasts, and misunderstood. Hitomi held her composure, but I could see the laughter in her eyes. She had found the entire incident amusing, and worth noting. I was also glad to see something other than darkness, and hate in those eyes. She was too young to be that full of hate."

"She was laughing at you, Barbarian, not with you." O-Ushi added stepping into the room."Just as my ancestors laughed at yours on the day your clan came riding back to us through the Shadowlands. I remember Ojiisaa telling me the stories as a child. How on that day it seemed that the denizens of the Shadowlands were running at the wall for safety. Then the sentries caught the cloud of dust, the thunder of hooves, and saw the riders dressed in purple armor. They laughed as they saw goblins being trampled. Ogres, and lesser oni being skewered by yaris. Arrows billowing out in all directions opening a path for the war charge to continue. For those on the wall that day, the sight was both welcome, and entertaining. Your clan's courage to face the Shadowlands without the security of the wall instantly won our samurai's respect."

"O-baa!" Ren announced. "Come to hear Ojiisan tell his war stories?"

"Yes, " O-Ushi gave a half cocked grin. "This should prove interesting. Please do continue Dear Husband."

"From that point forward, Toturi took full command of the assault. We did suffer losses, and we found Hitomi lying left for dead in the aftermath. She was so filled with fury she charged after Yakamo, and engaged him directly without support. A mistake she nearly paid for with her life. By the end of the week, the pass was ours. Toturi then focused on a new goal, and asked us to hold the pass. I think he had languished enough over the differances in our tactics, and his own. Now I do not just tell these stories to hear myself speak. What can we learn from this battle and time in our history?"

"Had you arrived sooner you could have been entrenched, and easily defended the pass." Ren offered.

"I disagree, Toturi's alliance at that time was greatly out numbered. Toturi may have been one of Lion Clan's greatest tacticians, but soldiers win battles, and wars. Arriving earlier could have allowed for setting traps, and ambushes. However Beiden Pass was only going to be won by guerrilla tactics." Kisada added.

"Arriving earlier was not an option. All who had come in response, came as quickly as we could once we received the call to arms." Yasamura corrected. "Although if we had arrived later, we would have found the Crab army entrenched. No one is better at defensive strategy than the Crab. Beiden Pass would have been lost to us. The northern clans would have been cut off from Lion, and Crane lands. The Clan War would have developed entirely differantly, and we could be calling the Daigotsu Family the Imperial Lineage today. However we could have co-ordinated that impromptu attack instead of leaving so much to chance. Had Dairya and his men not been alert to the oppurtunity. Well the Crab would have rallied, and I fear Kamoko would have been lost to us that day. Surely the Fortunes smiled on us that day. Thus what we learn from our mistakes is plan your attacks. Communicate, and co-ordinate your efforts to maximize your potential. Luck is too fickle a mistress to rely upon her favor." Yasamura took a breath. "Now for the Crab. What was their error?"

"Overconfidence?" Ren suggested.

"Splitting their superior forces allowing their numbers to be engaged seperately?" Kisada offered.

"You are both correct, but more than that, Yakamo put too much weight on his brother's shoulders. Sukune was a fine man, but inexperienced at battle. Sending him that far forward of the main army cost the Crab a heavy price. Sukune was a good man, and was truly the Empire's loss that as a result he was no longer with us." Yasamura bowed his head in silent reverance for the honorably deceased. His grandsons followed his example.

O-Ushi held back tears seeing the reverance Yasamura invoked on behalf of her sweet younger brother. His had been the saddest, and closest tale to O-Ushi's heart in all of Rokugan. She was greatful for this moment of silence, and reflection in his honor. Then it was finally the children who broke the silence. "Tell us again O-baa, how you and Ojii met?" Ren asked.

"Moga, surely you do not want to hear that one again?" O-Ushi suggested.

"Yes we do." Kisada added.

"This is your story, Dear Wife." Yasamura smiled, "And no one tells it better than you do."

"Do you regret getting married O-baa?" Ren inquired.

"No Moga." O-Ushi answered. "During the time I was furious with your uncle, Yakamo. The audacity commanding his own sister to wed! Not all fighting women wed. Your ojiisan, Yasamura, is a good respectful husband. He gifted me with two strong children, and in turn I see before me two strong grandsons, who will grow into fine young men. I am happy, and pleased."

"Does that mean you will tell us about the tetsubo challenge?" Kisada and Ren both had pleading eyes, and Yasamura could barely contain his grin. O-Ushi's look told him that payback was coming.

"Well lets see," O-Ushi got a far off distant look on her face as she began to recall. "It was after all that mess at Beiden Pass, even after the Second Day of Thunder. Infact Yakamo opened the event to all able bodied men residing at Kyuden Hida for Winter Court that year. Month of the Tiger in 1129. It just so happened that both Yasamura of the Shinjo Family, and Uji of the Daidoji Family were training with our men that year. Yasamura was also instructing our men in calvary tactics, because those strange beasts had proven their worth time, and again throughout the Clan Wars. How did Yakamo put it, a last man standing brawl to win the heart of O-Ushi, our own dear bully." Figurative smoke could be seen billowing out of O-Ushi's ears as she spoke. "The gall of that oaf of a brother of mine!"

"Careful Lord Sun has not yet set." Kisada chided.

"Let him hear me, and come down here and do anything about it as well!" O-Ushi challenged. "Well I was not without my own cunning. I disguised myself, and entered the brawl in order to win my own hand in marriage, and put an end to this charade. Now I had trained, and sparred with Uji, so I knew his reputation as the Iron crane well. I knew he also had a crush on me, ever since we were both youths. I however did not want to wed a Crane. Uji was alright, but you do not just marry the man, but also his family. They become your family. Not to mention any names, but some Crane are so stuck on propriety they have forgotten how to be human. Yasamura was an unknown. Yes we had come to admire his horsemanship, and mind for battlefield tactics, but this was a everyman for himself free for all brawl. Not to mention the only weapon allowed was a tetsubo, a weapon with which he had little to no experience wielding. Thus I focused on Uji, to eliminate him as a threat. I realized too late what your ojiisan was doing. He was taunting the other contestants into taking maddened swings at him, wild and packed with all the power Crab samurai can muster. Then at the last instant he would bend like a reed, or step aside. The other men were elimanating themselves on his behalf. Once I caught sight of that, I lost focus on my own fight. That distraction was just enough. Uji and I struck each other with a kharmic strike. Down we both went. When I next awoke, I was wed. The rest is history. I did eventually give your uncle, Yakamo some payback."

"If you are referring to that sparring match in the dojo a week later. I am not sure I would call that payback." Yasamura chuckled.

"I wiped the matt with him."

"As I recall you both spent some time eatting matt, and laughing, and cursing one another. In the end you thanked him."

"Yes, I did thank him," O-Ushi slugged Yasamura on the arm, "because you turned out alright. I also learned you cannot cheat kharma, we are all pawns in its cycle."

"Masuko, How long have you been standing there? Come in, and you too Reiha. Warm yourselves, it is cold outside." Yasamura greeted his children.

"Long enough, " Kuon smiled, "to know you have been filling my son's heads with your stories again."

"You know it."

Kuon began to speak, but opted to hold his tongue, and give his parents a courteous bow. "Thank you for watching the boys. They enjoy spending time with their Ojiisan."

"You are welcome, Masuko." Yasamura bowed in return, and offered them places to sit near the fire. "It is good you and Reiha are here. I have prepared something for the whole family on this day, in the Month of the Tiger, 1149," Yasamura looked at O-Ushi, "on our twentieth wedding anniversary." Once everyone was seated and warming themselves. Yasamura excused himself, and returned with a tea set made of finest china. "Happy twentieth my Love, may we continue to grow young together."

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Shinjo Dae-Hyun
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Sun Jun 28, 2015 3:07 pm

This was a great read. Did you write this or is it an older fiction?

Either way I enjoyed it thoroughly.
Bushi • Commander • TacticianCavalry

Shinjo Yosama
Posts: 138
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Sun Jun 28, 2015 5:38 pm

I wrote it. I enjoyed writing the story, it included some of my favorite characters, as well as some new ones when they were small children. About the only time I could find in Rokugan history to include them all, and someway tie it into 20th anniversary too. I am glad you enjoyed it.

Shinjo Yosama.

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Tue Jun 30, 2015 7:22 pm

I really liked the idea of bridge characters to connect the past to the present. A lot of history passes in one person's lifetime, and it was a great device for this story.
Ronin * Wandering Scribe

My Fictions: The Gaijin and the Radish, Divisions, and Opportunities Amid Chaos

Shinjo Yosama
Posts: 138
Joined: Wed Mar 11, 2015 10:40 am
Location: Texas
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Wed Jul 01, 2015 1:50 pm

Thank you Suko.

Shinjo Yosama
Posts: 138
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Fri Jul 17, 2015 10:02 am

I finished reading your three fictions. Hard to say which one is my favorite of the three, but I think I am leaning toward The Gaijin and the Radish.

(98% Unicorn, Less than 2% Scorpion) I guess that is why I never understand a Scorpion, so don't feel bad about not understanding us either.

Shinjo Yosama

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