L5R - Birds in their Nests - A Post Winter Court story

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Re: L5R - Birds in their Nests - A Post Winter Court story

Postby Kakita_Harun » Sun Dec 24, 2017 1:46 pm

Merry Christmas everyone! And here is your present, Arahime’s birth.

Hours later, in the small hours of the morning, Kokoro and Yamada pulled Kyoumi back onto her knees. So tired was Kyoumi that she leaned all her weight on Yamada. Yamada took the weight gladly, she had the strength.
The night had been long and difficult, dawn was but a few hours away, and there were still concerns. Concerns they all shared now after such a long and difficult labour.
“You have shown such courage, Kyoumi,” said Yamada, looking into her eyes. “This is a battle, and you have fought so bravely. Just a little longer.”
Kyoumi nodded mutely, far too exhausted to care. Her face was pale, her hair matted and wet with sweat. She looked so removed from her usual self.
The pains came again and Kyoumi stiffened in Yamada’s arms, the composure melting away from her as she started to cry out. Low and soft at first, then loud and shrill like the tearing of paper.
They could also hear Kousuda’s voice, hoarse from the long night of shouting. Then another voice started to shout with him. Was that Arami?
But Yamada didn’t have time to think further on that. The wind in the room had picked up again, gentle at first and then with the force of a gale, cold and icy. It picked up papers from Kyoumi’s desk, scattering them like fallen leaves in the autumn. It knocked over lamps, putting them out and scattering shadows on the wall. It picked up heavier objects too, several paper weights throwing themselves through the shoji screens or smashing themselves on the floor.
Yamada used her body to shelter Kyoumi from the broken glass. Nibui screamed, hiding in a far corner with her hands over her ears and even Kokoro looked a bit worried. But Kyoumi was removed from it all, deep in the pain she was in, crying most pitifully almost like a child. It made the whole scene quite surreal.
Yamada was a worried as well, there was clearly something at work here, but she did not have time to worry. She kept her head, talking constantly to Kyoumi in a steady, clear voice. Telling stories from her childhood, half-remembered tales that she was surely getting the details wrong…anything to distract Kyoumi from what was happening.
The pain then passed, Kyoumi went limp again, gasping for air. While Yamada got her water, Kokoro examined her. The wind had dropped a little, but it was still a little breezy.
“My dear, the baby is at the door,” said Kokoro. “When the pains come again, you will need to push. Push with all of your strength.”
Yamada smiled at her. “Kyoumi, soon you will have your child in your arms!” said Yamada brightly.
“I…I can’t…” wept Kyoumi.
“You can, you must!” said Yamada, staring deep into Kyoumi’s eyes. “You’re Kakita Kyoumi, you come from the line of Masarugi that goes all the way to the first Kenshinzen. This is a legacy that you will pass on, today, when you hold your child in your arms. You are strong and brave, Kyoumi, do not let this defeat you.”
Kyoumi fought, opening her mouth to scream but all that came out was a whimper. She crushed Yamada’s hands with the effort.
“I can see the little one’s head,” said Kokoro. She was squatting just behind Kyoumi, ready to catch the baby. “One more push, my dear.”
Kyoumi shook her head, seeming to fight Yamada. But she found the strength, somehow, screaming with the effort as the wind picked up again and tore at their faces.
“There’s the little one!” cried Kokoro with joy. “A girl, my dear, and a beauty!”
Kyoumi collapsed in Yamada’s arms, exhausted, weeping tears. Yamada waited for the cry, but it did not come.
“Let me see her,” pleaded Kyoumi.
“In a moment, my dear,” said Kokoro, oddly calm.
Over Kyoumi’s shoulder, Yamada could see the midwife frantically working over the baby, trying to get her to breathe. She was so small, barely bigger than a kitten.
“I want to see my baby!” shrieked Kyoumi. “There’s…there’s something wrong…isn’t there?”
Before anyone could answer, Izumi burst into the room. She threw herself on the floor.
“Ashahina Inone, mina-samas!” she shouted. “I am sorry for the delay!”
But no one paid her any mind, even the shugenja who wasted no time and went right to Kokoro. Yamada saw Inone and the midwife work together, all pretence and rank forgotten between them, as they worked to save the newborn. Yamada watched them with bated breath, this was what Kyoumi had feared. Yamada’s own mother had lost babies at birth, she didn’t want such a terrible thing to happen to her friend.
A rush of wind, strong and warm, blew into the room. And then the sound they had been waiting to hear, a baby’s cry.
Yamada wept tears of joy. “You are a mother, Kyoumi!”
Inone came forward with the baby wrapped in a soft white blanket, placing her in her mother’s arms. She was very small, with a soft bluish tinge around her mouth. She had soft black curly hair. “Your daughter, Kakita-san,” she said, her own eyes wet with tears.
Kyoumi opened her arms to receive her, holding her newborn daughter while Yamada supported her. Kyoumi’s face shined with the glow of new motherhood, her exhaustion completely forgotten.
“The air kami love her, Kakita-san,” Inone explained. “That was why they were angry before. But they will keep her safe now, help her breathe.
Kyoumi said nothing, not even looking up as she was moved back into bed and cleaned up. There was nothing else in the world for her.

The sun was rising when Yamada left the birthing room, she was tired as well but put all of that aside now. She went to Arami’s room and knocked on the door.
“Come in,” said a voice.
Yamada entered to see two tired-looking unshaven men. Arami sitting quietly composed, but Kousuda got to his feet and grabbed Yamada’s arm.
“How is she? Tell me she is fine!” he pleaded.
Yamada shook her head, throwing him off. “She is fine, Kousuda…and your new daughter.”
Kousuda’s mouth dropped open. “I have a daughter?” He gave a loud shout of joy.
Yamada nodded. “My most heartiest blessings,” she said, warmly shaking his hand.
Kousuda stood stuck to the spot, scarcely daring to speak.
“Well, go on, you big idiot!” Yamada pushed him out of the room. “She is waiting to see you!”
She was left alone with Arami who taken the news most calmly. “It is a most happy day,” he said with a rare smile.
“It is,” said Yamada, kneeling down beside him.
It would be a month before Arahime was officially named, and by then Yamada would be gone. But Kyoumi had told her the name they had chosen if they had had a daughter. Arahime, it meant “wild princess” and was also a tribute to Arami himself.
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Re: L5R - Birds in their Nests - A Post Winter Court story

Postby Kakita_Harun » Mon Jan 01, 2018 3:32 am

Happy New Year every one! The nest few hours will bring the final two updates.

Arahime’s breathing was due to a friendly kami that had decided to ‘adopt’ Kyoumi. It was named Awa, and hovered around the newborn like a cloud. Kyoumi told her all this several days later when she had rested more, but she wasn’t sure what had happened in the birthing room that night.
“I suppose Kozan-sama will want to look into it when I return to my duties once my confinement is over,” she said.
“Kyoumi, don’t expect too much of yourself,” Yamada said gently. “You have been through a great ordeal, you need to rest.”
Kyoumi smiled quietly. “I said the same to you,” she said.
“And that is how I know it’s right,” countered Yamada.
They both laughed. Yamada sighed. There was something natural and easy about them sitting there, sharing tea. Yamada holding her son, Kyoumi holding her daughter. They could be anywhere in Rokugan, two young women talking about their children, their husband, the weather…
If it were like that, we would have been happier, thought Yamada, we would not have these duties hanging over our heads.
“May I hold her, Kyoumi?” Yamada asked, sitting Harun next to her.
Kyoumi nodded and handed Arahime over wrapped in a blanket. Yamada took the baby in her arms, holding her low so Harun could look.
“This is Arahime-chan, Harun-kun,” said Yamada. “Isn’t she pretty?”
Harun had a look for a minute and then crawled off to look at something else. Yamada only laughed and had a closer look at the baby, peeling away the blanket a little. Arahime’s eyes were shut tight, Yamada could feel the soft breeze of the air kami that helped her breathe.
“She’s beautiful, Kyoumi,” said Yamada.
There was a small ache inside her, that knowledge that she would never have a daughter of her own. She and Nakura had spoken of it, but there would be no child of her body to pass on the traditions of the Shiotome. No daughter to wield the blade Kyokan that had once been Yamada’s mother’s.
Yamada looked at Arahime closely. “Kyoumi, where is her hair?” Beneath her wraps, Yamada could tell the newborn was bald.
“It fell out last night,” Kyoumi said. “It happened while Kousuda gave Arahime her bath.”
“Is that…a worry?” Yamada asked.
Kyoumi shook her head. “The shugenja Inone said that It happens sometimes. Her hair will grow back.”
Yamada handed Arahime back to Kyoumi. “I…I wanted to thank for having me here, Kyoumi,” she said. “Letting me stay here in your home, all that you have done…”
“It is I who should be thanking you, Yamada,” said Kyoumi. “You being here has been such a help and comfort.”
Yamada smiled. “You are a true friend, Kyoumi.”
Kyoumi took a sip of tea. “I guess with spring here, you will be leaving us soon.”
Yamada nodded. “As soon as the thaw comes, I gave Michio my word.”
Kyoumi nodded Mutely, holding Arahime a little tighter.
“I did not realise then how difficult it would be,” said Yamada, smiling as she watched Harun investigate a pile of blankets.
“Don’t ever think that he won’t know you,” said Kyoumi. “He will, we will all make sure when the time comes.”

In the next few days Arami left. His house was ready and no sooner than that then he had to leave it. He was hoping to cover more ground this year, and wished Yamada well before he rode off with his small party. Yamada didn’t tell him where she was going or why, she wasn’t sure she could explain it properly and he would find out anyway.
After Arami left, Yamada began to make preparations. First Kokoro found a wet nurse for her and then the midwife helped Yamada with the weaning. Harun didn’t seem to mind after a while, but it was a stab to Yamada, not just preparing for the future but removing their closeness.
She then went through her possessions, putting them away in a patterned lacquered box for Karasu to hold in trust until Harun came of age. There was her papers, an assortment of documents from the court last year: drafts of the Last Legion Treaty, wedding invitations, letters between her and Nakura. With them she put in her wedding kimono, the sandalwood fan Nakura had given her, the purple and blue kimono she had given him as a wedding present. She kept the origami Crane netsuke, his gift to her.
On the top she put in the scroll that was Yamase’s gift to Harun, next to it a letter from Yamada to Harun once he came of age. Then locked the box tight.
She then wrote a letter to Nakura’s sister Momoibura, telling everything she could about her and Nakura’s brief courtship and marriage and what their hopes had been. She also explained her reasons for Harun’s care, for his own protection in case there were any still angry at Nakura might go after his son.
I do not wish for my son to not know of his Yasuki heritage, Yamada wrote, but hopefully there will be a time where you can tell him yourself more about who he is.
The next day she went to the Crab Embassy where Yamase was staying, but was directed to the Legion barracks. So she went down there, with Harun in his sling as Yamada didn’t want to be parted form him any more than necessary.
When she arrived she was directed to the dojo, where she came upon Yamase and Karasu sparring. They didn’t see her, so she quietly waited. And they were going fast, the bokkens clashing each constantly, the advantage going back and forward. Karasu’s attack was swift and elegant, Yamase’s strong and efficient.
Karasu attacked, his bokken arcing perfectly through the air as it came towards Yamase. Yamase stood firm, her bokken in a guard position. So firm was her defence that Karasu’s bokken shattered on impact, shards of wood exploding everywhere.
There was a long silence as two looked at each other.
“So that’s why?” Karasu asked.
Yamase nodded, then they both turned to Yamada.
“How much did you see?” Karasu asked her, the edges of his mouth twitching into a grin.
“Enough,” said Yamada. “I am glad I found you, Yamase, I knew you would be leaving soon.”
“And you too?” Yamase asked.
Yamada nodded. “There’s a lot we need to talk about.”
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Re: L5R - Birds in their Nests - A Post Winter Court story

Postby Kakita_Harun » Mon Jan 01, 2018 5:20 am

This is the last Chapter of Birds in their Nests, a very different story that looks at a very different side of Rokugan. A story that I am very proud to have written. Thank you all for your patience with my posts, and I hope I have done justice to how it should be.

Will there be more after this? The answer is yes, but in it's own good time.

Karasu’s quarters were in the process of being packed up in anticipation of the Legion moving off. There was a subdued mood as Karasu made tea, making small talk about his plans for the spring.
“Hitomi has gone ahead to Shiro Yogashi,” said Karasu. “There’s probably a lot to do to make it habitable. Next winter we all of us be there.”
“All”. That referred to Harun as well. Usually that would pain Yamada, but she had prepared herself., put it away from her. The pain was still there, but she could only see it from a distance.
“Did you manage to get the aid you needed Yamase?” Yamada asked.
Yamase nodded. “From the Mantis and Zogeku,” she said. “Arami was able to secure some deal where the Zogeki paid the taxes they owed by giving aid to the other clans. I will be going ahead, so the ships will be a welcome sight when they arrive.”
Yamada took out the letter and gave it to her. “I want you to give this to Momoibura…if you can,” she said, remembering at the last minute that she could be dead. “I…tried to explain everything, but I don’t think I can.”
“She will understand more than you think,” said Yamase. “I suppose you will be going to join Michio?”
Yamada nodded.
“From what little I know of him, he is hard to find when he doesn’t want to be found,” Karasu said. “Not much word gets out of Phoenix lands, even now as the roads are starting to open.”
“He will be found when if wants to be found,” Yamase said quietly. “You will find him, Yamada, and when I need to find him I will. I hope it is not too long.”
Yamada looked down at Harun where he was sleeping on the Tatami mat between her and Karasu. Perfectly at peace.
“I gave Michio my word,” Yamada said.
Karasu looked sombre but nodded gravely.
A knock at the door disturbed the mood. It was Moto Taigo who opened it, coming in and bowing quickly.
“My apologies, Karasu-ue, but this cannot wait,” the Moto said quickly. “A heimin has arrived from Phoenix lands, you need to hear what he has to say.”
“Bring him in,” says Karasu. Yamada and Yamase got up to leave but Karasu motioned them to sit. “Stay, if it’s about what I think it is, you’ll want to know about this too as you are both far more involved than I am.”
Taigo brought the peasant in, he stood at the door while the peasant fell to his knees and pressed his face to the floor.
“You may rise,” said Karasu, his voice taking on an air of authority that Yamada hadn’t heard before. “Tell me your name.”
“Atagi, my lord,” said the peasant, rising to his knees and keeping his face lowered. He looked dirty, as if he had travelled a great distance, and nervous. Yamada poured him a cup of tea, he drank it under her reassuring smile.
“Now, you have something to tell us, Atagi-san?” Karasu asked. His voice was kinder, but their was still that authority in it.
“I come from Shinsetsu Mori, my lord, it is a day’s journey from Kyuden Isawa,” Atagi began. “The village is no more, my lord, not after the Black Hand came.”
“The Black Hand?” Yamada asked.
“Yes, my lady,” he said. “He is most terrible, dressed in black and has a hand like obsidian that crushes his victims. And he has followers, many of them.” He took a sip of tea with a shaking hand and continued. “Our lords, the Isawa, were in the village. We did not know why as they did not tell us. But the Black Hand found them. He and his followers fought the Isawa, they almost destroyed the village in the battle. Many of us fled, I hid and watched. I saw the Black Hand himself cut down many of my lords, that terrible hand of his protected him from harm.”
Yamada pictured it in her mind. Michio, with his hand of obsidian, protected from all that would touch him.
“The ones that would not submit were rounded up, with their children,” continued Atagi. “They refused to kneel, so they took the children and killed them where they stood. The Black Hand said it was a mercy.”
Yamada shuddered, she knew Michio’s deeds were horrible, but not like this. Karasu looked away but Yamase seemed unaffected.
Atagi looked down, roughly wiping away tears. “My apologies, my lord.”
“No need,” said Karasu. “What did they do to the rest of the Isawa?”
“They killed them,” said Atagi. “And not straight away like the children. First, they cut off their hands and cut out their tongues, the dogs were let loose on their bodies and they died in agony. Their hands and tongues were nailed to board and left for all who came by to see.”
Atagi took a few deep breaths, looking down.
“Thank you, Atagi-san,” said Karasu. He looked at Taigo. “See that this man and anyone else who came with him is fed and provided for.” He turned back to Atagi. “The Legion could probably use a man like you, one who can observe and report back what he has seen.”
Atagi bowed low. “I thank you, my lord.”
“Now go, we will talk later,” said Karasu.
Taigo took Atagi out, when he had gone Karasu looked between the two women, his face grave.
“If this was anyone else, I would stop it,” said Karasu. “I would have to, it would be my duty to. But I can’t, can I?”
Yamada shook her head. “Michio’s authority comes from Lord Moon, anyone who goes against him goes against Heaven itself.” She took a deep breath. “I should have been there, I could have saved those children.”
“What would you have done?” Yamase asked. “Marched them through the countryside to safety by yourself?”
“Yes, if I had to,” said Yamada. “They were innocent, they need not have died.”
“This is a war, Yamada,” Yamase said coldly. “Many will die before it is over, even the innocent. You cannot save them all.”
“No, but I can save who I can,” said Yamada. She looked down at Harun, he opened his soft brown eyes to look at her, giving her a smile. All she could think of was those children torn from their parent’s arms, slaughtered where they stood. She turned to Karasu. “I will be leaving soon, tomorrow evening. Are you ready?”
“Are you?” Karasu asked.
Yamada took Harun in her arms, smiling down at him. “No,” she said. “But I need to be.”

Yoru was saddled and readied, Yamada’s box of possessions was secured. Harun’s possessions were packed up as well. The gifts he had been given, blankets, his little clothes. They would all be going with him to his new home and new family.
That evening, Yamada made her farewells to Kyoumi and Kousuda.
“Thank you for everything you have done,” she said to them. “Your home is the first place that has felt like a home to me in a long time.”
“Remember, Yamada, you will always be welcome here,” said Kyoumi. “And we hope Harun will see this as a home as well.”
Yamada shook hands with Kousuda, then she embraced him like a brother. Two Unicorns wishing each other farewell. “I’m counting on you to make sure Harun knows how to ride,” she says.
Kousuda chuckled. “Of course.”
She mounted Yoru and Kousuda passed Harun up to her, securing him in front like how Yamada used to ride with him around Otosan Uchi, like she used to ride with her father. This would be the last time.
“Good fortune to you both, always,” she said, blinking back tears. Kousuda and Kyoumi waved as Yamada rode off.
Down at the barracks, Karasu was waiting for them. He helped Yamada unload and she went through what she had brought.
“The wet nurse will be coming soon, she should be able to explain more to you,” said Yamada. “This bundle is Harun’s things he needs now, the box is for when he makes his gempukku. And this.” She unlooped a cord from around her neck where she kept the amulet Akodo Zetsubou had given her on the last day of court. Amethyst, engraved with the mons of the Unicorn and Crab. She handed it to Karasu.
I am glad Zetsubou and Kibo aren’t here, she thought, they may have tried to stop me from what I am about to do.
“When it is time to tell Harun about his heritage, how much do you want told?” Karasu asked.
“You will know that better than I will,” Yamada replied. “For you will know him.”
She looked down at her son, this would be the last time she would hold him in her arms. Would they see each other again? Perhaps, but not like this. His soft brown eyes, so like Nakura’s, watched her with perfect love and trust.
Forgive me, my love, for what I am about to do…
She held him close to her breast, one last time. She touched his soft, curly hair, one last time. She kissed him gently on the forehead, one last time.
Her son, Harun, born of the love that had been between her and Nakura. He had been formed and borne from her body, she had comforted him through the long hours of the night. Her son, Harun, who bore the name of her own father.
She placed him in Karasu’s arms. “This is my only son, Utaku Harun, who is all I have left in this world,” she said. “I entrust his care to you.”
“I will raise him, and cherish him as if he were my own flesh and blood,” Karasu promised. “He will have my protection, and my name. He will want for nothing.”
Yamada nodded. She felt as if her heart was breaking, a piece of her very flesh had been torn from her. Tears could wait, tears were for later.
Yamada mounted Yoru. “Take care of the Empire, Karasu,” she said. “Harun, Arahime and all the other children will need a Rokugan to grow up in.”
“I will,” Karasu promised. “Yamada, will I see you again?”
“Perhaps,” she answered. “There will come a time when you need to find me, you will know when.”
As Yamada wheeled Yoru around, Harun started to cry. Each wait was like a stab in the heart to Yamada. He needed comforting, he needed her. She rode off, not looking back.
She could still hear Harun’s crying when she left Otosan Uchi, blinking away the tears that fell onto her own face. But she kept riding, urging Yoru to keep going into the night.
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Re: L5R - Birds in their Nests - A Post Winter Court story

Postby KakitaKaori » Mon Jan 01, 2018 4:09 pm

Congratulations on finishing! You did a great job
Thank you!
Kakita Kaori
Kenshinzen of Golden Petal Village and overly prolific fiction writer
[Kakita Kyoumi/WC5]

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