L5R - Chasing the Winds - A Winter Court 5 Sequel Fic

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L5R - Chasing the Winds - A Winter Court 5 Sequel Fic

Postby Kakita_Harun » Sat Apr 22, 2017 4:15 am

This story is a sequel to Winter Court 5 as well as School Days

Chasing the Wind

Spring, 1235 - Shiro san Kakita


Harun was relieved when the gates of Shiro sano Kakita came in sight. Just on dusk. He was just in time before they closed them for the night. He had been riding hard for three days, stopping only to rest his horse.
The guard, one familiar from Harun’s student days, waved him through when Harun showed his chop. Once inside he quickly secured his horse in the stable and then emerged in the familiar courtyard that separated the dojo from the rest of the castle. Ordered, every stone and flower in it’s perfect place.
It’s like coming home, thought Harun as he crossed it, nothing has changed.
But if nothing had changed here, Harun had certainly changed. He was taller, his skin darker from the time he had spent in the sun, his muscles hard from the riding and fighting in the Unicorn lands. His hair hung long and wild in loose curls around his shoulders, pooling in the hood of his deep purple fur-lined cloak that concealed his armour. He walked with an easy confidence, with purpose, as if he no longer cared who saw him.
But there was still the quietness in his eyes, akin to a deep well. A stillness he drew upon in the duelling ring, silence turned quickly to action.
In the courtyard outside the outside the dojo, the students gathered in small groups playing, practising or talking.
Recreation time, he remembered. He didn’t see Arahime, perhaps she was inside. He had lost track of the days on the road, what with the late snow holding him up.
“Harun!” A blue and white blur ran towards him, then at the last minute stopped and gave an awkward bow. “I’m sorry,” she said, stifling a giggle.
Harun laughed and came forward to embrace his little sister. “Sakimi-chan.” She had come to the academy the year before he had left. With her white hair and blue eyes she fit right in, and she had followed him around like a shadow whenever she could.
She ran her fingers through his long hair. “You look like a real Moto!” She laughed. “Did you see them? Did you see any Shiotome?”
“I saw lots of things, Sakimi-chan,” he said. “Where is Arahime? Is she still here?”
Sakimi hesitated. “She…she has left, Harun. A week ago,” she said. “I’m sorry.”
Harun’s face fell. “But…the championship?”
Sakimi shook her head. “It ended, the day before she left.”
Harun closed his eyes. “I promised her,” he said. He opened them again. “Why didn’t she wait for me?”
“I don’t know,” Sakimi said. “Aunt Kyoumi and Uncle Kousuda had to leave quickly.”
Harun clenched his fists and made a low groan. He would have done more, but remembered in time not only was Sakimi right there they didn’t do things like that in Crane lands.
“I’m sorry,” Sakimi repeated.
One of the sensei walked around ringing a small handbell, summoning the children to the evening meal. Sakimi looked at him then back at Harun.
“Go on,” Harun said. “We can talk more later.”
When Sakimi left, Harun sat down on a bench at the edge of the courtyard, running his hands through his hair. How often he and Arahime had sat there together in their student days. And she had left, without waiting for him, without saying goodbye.
It was of her that he had thought of when he rode home, that had spurred him on. And he hadn’t told her how he felt about her. How much he loved her. How much he cared.
It’s not too late, Harun thought, The gates are closed now, but I can leave at first light and be in Otosan Uchi in a few hours. He brightened at the thought. Wherever she’s going, she can’t have left yet.
A light moving across the courtyard made him look up. It was his old sensei, Kakita Kenshin, the Master Sensei of Kakita Academy. He supported himself with a walking stick with one hand and held a lantern with the other.
“Sensei.” Harun immediately got to his feet and bowed low.
Kenshin looked his former student up and down. “Harun-san, you have come back.” There was the hint of a smile in his careworn face.
“I heard I have missed the tournament,” Harun said, taking the lantern from Kenshin and falling into step beside him. “I did want to see Arahime compete.”
“She did well,” said Kenshin. “She was in the final round against Mirumoto Fumaki who narrowly bested her.”
“Sensei,” Harun said, his words sticking in his throat, “I had hoped to see her before she left.”
Kenshin stopped walking, thinking. “Come to my chambers later, we can speak more.” He signalled to a younger student who was crossing the courtyard going into dinner late. “Sumiko-chan, see that Kakita Harun is installed in the guest quarters.”
The girl bowed to the master sensei and Harun followed him.
Last edited by Kakita_Harun on Wed Jun 14, 2017 5:30 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: L5R - Chasing the Winds - A Winter Court 5 Sequel Fic

Postby Kakita_Harun » Sat Apr 22, 2017 4:59 am

Harun changed out of his armour, had a wash and changed into the fresh Crane colours clothes that had been provided for him. Then, after running through a few katas to loosen the muscles that had stiffened from the days riding, he entered Kenshin’s quarters.
How many times had he been summoned here as a student to face discipline? The first time in his first year when he thought we was going to be expelled.
He sat down at the table opposite Kenshin. A young student made and served tea under Kenshin’s watchful eye. This, too, had once been him. Making and serving tea to the Master Sensei’s honoured guests. He remembered how small he had felt, and when the boy bowed before leaving Harun nodded in return and gave her a small smile.
Silently, they sipped the tea. The light, fragrant brew was very different from the heavy, pungent blend that he had had with the Unicorn. A memory flashed before his eyes. Moto Chinua, unceremoniously dumping teapot, cups and a bowl of meat jerky on the table between them. Holding his hands stiffly to hide how they shook.
Kenshin put his cup down. “When I saw you had returned, I knew that there things that I wanted to hear from you. But, I think you have questions first.”
Harun nodded.
Kenshin thought a moment. “Arahime-san and I spoke of you a number of times before he gempukku,” he said. “She told me that she was…concerned. Concerned that you would not return.”
“I promised her, sensei,” said Harun.
“Yes, but you were tempted to stay, were you not?” Kenshin asked. “And more than once, I would say.”
Harun sipped his tea, draining the cup and placing it on the table. “I would be lying if I said I was not, sensei.”
Kenshin nodded. “As I said, she did well in the tournament. Perhaps she could have done better, had her focus had been inward rather than on the perfection of her outward form.”
Harun nodded in return. “Sounds like her,” he said. “But why isn’t she here? Was she mad at me?”
“One has nothing to do with the other,” said Kenshin. “She probably would be here, had she leave to do so, but she did not.” He reached into his haori and gave Harun a folded piece of paper. “She left this for me to give to you. I told her you would return, and I was right.”
Harun smiled, but it fell quickly off his face as he read the letter.

Dear Harun-san,
I am sorry I was not able to stay until you finally arrived. You missed a lovely time at the Topaz Championship. Of course, Mirumoto Fumaki, claimed the prize, but everyone tells me that coming second is very respectable and brings great honour to the family.
Mother tells me that there were several inquiries about marriage prospects already, but it is early days yet. My only regret is that you were not there to cheer me on. It rained during the tsu-fish hunt, but the boys I was teamed up with and I persevered. Remember when we used to go look for them? The chase was exciting, certainly. I am sure that you had many exciting adventures during your days in Unicorn Lands. I wish I could have heard all about them.
Your father was also here, though he had to leave early. There was some trouble with the merchant ships in Otosan Uchi he needed to attend to.
Unfortunately, right after the closing ceremonies, I received my new assignment, directly from Doji Ayamu-sama. The most recent yojimbo for the Crane Ambassador in Second City recently committed seppuku regarding an incident with a Yoritomo courtier. The ambassador, Doji Mushari, needs a new one. Since Mushari-sama is currently without protection, I am required to leave immediately. Ayamu-sama believes that my family’s reputation and my father’s connections will serve me well in this new posting. I will miss you and write to you as often as I am able. Know that I will always think on you and remember fondly our times spent dancing in the gardens pretending that the world was kind.
Sincerely, Kakita Arahime.


He put the letter down on the table, pouring more tea for Kenshin and himself. Wanting to do something with his hands so he wouldn’t need to look up and meet Kenshin’s eyes. He picked up his cup, took a long shallow sip, used the time to think, to turn over in his mind what the letter said.
It said everything, and nothing. In it he could hear Arahime’s voice, her resentment, and he dismissal of him. The last words of the letters were as final as a door closing in his face, even more hurtful than her talking about her “marriage prospects”.
“It’s…it’s a good offer,” Harun finally managed to say. “Honourable, will bring her renown and respect.”
Kenshin nodded in agreement. “She needs to find her own way, just as you are finding yours.” He sipped his tea, placing the cup down. “Would you tell me what you found, Harun-san? Was it what you were seeking?”
Harun took a deep breath, secretly relieved they were moving onto a safer subject. “Yes, and no,” he said. “I sought to know the clan of my mother, Utaku Yamada. The people of my blood. I had questions, and out there on the open plains I thought I would find answers.”
“And did you?” Kenshin asked.
“I did,” answered Harun. “But the ones I needed, not the ones I wanted.”
Kenshin nodded. “Tell me.”
Harun began his story.
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Re: L5R - Chasing the Winds - A Winter Court 5 Sequel Fic

Postby Kakita_Harun » Mon Apr 24, 2017 3:27 am

He made good progress heading north from Tsuma, the winter had been mild so his progress was easy. The constant travelling was new to him, and while seeing new places was good not everything was pleasant. By the end of the second full day of riding he had to seek out a bath house in the village to deal with the saddle sores. Sleeping in inns and occasionally rough was new as well, fortunately the rain held off most of the time.
When he started heading west, through the lands of the Lion Clan, he was a little more cautious. Much of the land here was still under contention, moving back and forward between the forces of the Emerald and Onyx. In some places, Onyx forces still went around unchecked. He stopped in villages, sought out military patrols for the latest news on how to avoid the contested and tainted areas.
Two weeks out from Tsuma he began to see the mountains, rising majestically towards the clouds. As he headed further northwest, the nights became cooler and early mornings had a coating of frost before the sun could manage to melt them.
On arrival in Shiro Tonbo, Harun joined one of the guided parties that took travellers through the Great Climb into the mountains. After a week, a lot of which was spent leading his horse along the narrow mountain paths, they arrived at Shiro Kitsuki. Two days later the continued to the north east to Shiro Mirumoto.
From there, the climb got even worse. Most of the time Harun led his horse, while keeping a look out for bandits and wild animals.
Finally, a week later just in the late afternoon, the road widened and they entered the Two Heaven’s Village. From there, it was but a short climb to Shiro Mirumoto itself. Harun road up the path towards it, showing his chop to the guards and went through the castle gates.
Compared to the decorated Crane lands, Shiro Mirumoto was unadorned to the point of being austere. The garden, the tea house, the tenshukaku itself, no adornment from what they were and nothing more. Yet there was something calming in this, that nothing appeared to be more than it needed to be.
In the austere audience chamber, Harun was received by Mirumoto Tanaka’s karo, the Dragon Clan Champion himself being at the front lines with his troops.AC
The room he was showed to was plain and austere, on the second floor of the tenshukaku with a grand view of the castle grounds from the balcony. He sat out there, enjoying the silence and the mountain air.
What had he hoped to find by coming up here? Some remnant of a past that he wasn’t there for? He had grown up knowing Karasu as his father, Hitomi as his mother. But here his real mother and father, the ones who had given him life, was the only place where they had been together.
My future, my life, it was decided here, thought Harun, perhaps it could have gone another way…
The silence was broken by a servant informing him that the meal would soon be served. Harun washed, changed and went downstairs.
He knew he couldn’t stay in the mountains long, but what there was to know about the past, he hoped he would learn it here.
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Re: L5R - Chasing the Winds - A Winter Court 5 Sequel Fic

Postby Kakita_Harun » Mon Apr 24, 2017 5:00 am

The mountain air was bracing in the morning, Harun headed out towards the training grounds where he saw some Mirumoto students practicing.
He sat down on one of the benches on the edges, watching them. They practiced katas first, moving together like leaves in the wind. Then, they cleared the courtyard and two of them students faced each other in the centre. They bowed and adopted duelling stances.
It then hit him where he was. This was the duelling ring. This is where it had happened. Here, his mother, Utaku Yamada, had served as the champion of his father, Yasuki Nakura, in a duel to the death against the Onyx Scorpion. And it was here his father had died, forswearing his right to a champion and letting the Scorpion’s sword cut him down.
Saving his mother’s life. Saving him.
Harun had gone over and over it in his mind since he had left Tsume. What Karasu had told him, what he said of why it happened. In his mind, he had thought by coming here he would know more. But there was nothing here.
“Kakita-sama?”
Harun looked around, then he realised the Mirumoto were talking to him. When he looked their way, they bowed.
This is going to take some getting used to, Harun thought to himself. He stood and bowed in return, slightly lower as he was in the lands of their clan and it had not been that long since he had been a student.
“I am Kakita Harun, of the Kakita Duelling Academy,” he said.
The Mirumoto who had spoken stepped forward. “This one is Mirumoto Kojima,” he said. “It has been some time since one of your school has been so far into these mountains.”
“I found the journey long, but rewarding,” said Harun. “But please, I did not mean to disturb your practice.”
“On the contrary, Kakita-sama,” said Kojima. “We were wondering if you help us honour a tradition that has existed long between our schools.”
Harun gave a quiet smile. “You wish to test our terms and our training?”
“Just so,” said Kojima with a nod.
Of the things that would happen when Harun visited Dragon lands, this had not been one he predicted. Still, an offer to test oneself in combat without another bushi was always welcome.
“Then I accept,” said Harun.
Harun grabbed a bokken from the practice rack and joined Kojima in the centre of the practice yard. Kojima stood opposite him a bokken in one hand and a shorter one in the other. Harun tucked his bokken into his obi.
Did my mother practice here? Harun wondered. Father said she was no duellist, though he trained her as best he could. Perhaps that is why she left me with him.
The two young men bowed and then took up positions.
Harun examined Kojima. He was not that much younger than Harun, probably ready for his gempukku before long. There was a brashness to him that was uncharacteristic of the Dragon, which was perhaps why he had approached Harun.
That brashness could be used against him.
Once in the stance of void, Harun reached within himself to connect with the pure, raw power that dwelt within the silence inside him. Letting it fill him, willing it to be the energy that would move his hand to his weapon.
Then, he struck. His hands pulling his bokken from his obi to slice through the air and come down hard on his opponent. Except, it didn’t. It clashes against the two that Kojima was holding, locking them all together.
For a moment, all they could do was stare. A kharmic strike, they were rare enough to be remembered.
“Perhaps,” said one of the other Mirumoto, “the heavens have decided there will be no contest between ourselves.”
“I accept this,” said Harun, pulling his bokken out and bowing. “You have certainly given me a lesson and a memory.”
“As have you to me,” said Kojima, with a bow.
The Mirumoto returned to their dojo after that. Harun stood a while in the courtyard, deep in thought.
“Ho there!”
Harun’s head whipped around at the sound of the voice. Coming towards him was a man a little older than Harun, dressed in Unicorn colours. And Harun didn’t even have to check the mons on his clothing to know he was a Moto, it was in everything about him. His hair was long and hung in wild tangles around his face. His skin was darker than Harun’s, his beard neatly trimmed and curled. He walked not with confidence, but with a swagger that he flaunted in the eyes of all that saw him. His clothing was trimmed with fur and cut in a way that Harun had never seen, he wore leather boots not geta. And on his belt was a curved scimitar, it looked strange to Harun.
He is from my mother’s people, Harun thought, there is something alien but also honest about him.
“I watched you come in yesterday,” said the Moto, stepping uncomfortably close to Harun. “I thought to myself, with a face like that what were you doing wearing blue. Then I saw what happened with those kids, and I had to ask.”
Harun raised his eyebrows. “I have heard of the curiosity of the Unicorn.”
“And I have heard of the stuffiness of the Crane.” He laughed, and held out a hand. “Moto Majid, though I dare say you know part of that already.
Harun reached out his hand to shake Majid’s. “Kakita Harun.”
“Harun?” Majid looked him up and down. “Moto face, Moto name, Kakita colours. I’m seeing there is a story here if you don’t mind telling it.”
“I don’t,” said Harun, smiling. Majid was beginning to warm on him. And how better to know of the Unicorn from a real Moto?
They walked down to the village, swapping stories. Any questions, Majid told him, could wait until after the second drink.
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Re: L5R - Chasing the Winds - A Winter Court 5 Sequel Fic

Postby Kakita_Harun » Mon May 01, 2017 6:57 am

Two Heaven’s Village was small, there were a few shops, a shrine, an inn and a tavern. It was to the tavern that Harun and Majid went. The Five Rings, built into the back of a pottery kiln so the inside was always warm. Harun and Majid took a table by the window and ordered sake.
Majid had travelled widely both in and outside of Rokugan. He shared a few stories with Harun. The pistol duels in Medinaat al-Salaam, the jungles of Zogeku. Harun listened and asked appropriate questions while he drank his sake.
When Harun drained his second cup, Majid smiled expectantly at him. “Well,” he said. “You’ve sat there and heard me run my mouth off and you’re still here. Now it’s your turn, as we bargained.”
Harun smiled quietly. Unicorn-blood or not, he had still be raised a Crane. He liked this Moto but wouldn’t tell this Moto everything, at least not yet.
“There’s an easy enough explanation,” said Harun light-heartedly. “But it’s not as half as interesting as one of your stories.”
Majid grinned and gestured for Harun to continue.
“I’m one of a number of fosterlings brought up with the Kakita name in the household of the Emerald Champion,” said Harun. “After my gempukku, which was less than a month ago, the man I knew as my father told me of my true heritage. My true father from the Crab clan, a Yasuki; my true mother, a Unicorn, an Utaku.” He looked around the room thoughtfully. “So, I’ve come here to learn what I can about them. It was here, at Shiro Mirumoto, where they met and they were married. And then,” he added thoughtfully, “my plan is to go on to the lands of the Unicorn, to see what I can of them.”
Majid regarded Harun with some amusement. “So, this is your wandering year, then? I didn’t think people still did that.”
Harun shrugged. “Traditions,” he said. “I know I’ll serve my clan in time, and be better for it.”
“Or with the Emerald Legions,” Majid suggested. “I suppose being the son of the Emerald Champion has its benefits.”
“You would think so,” said Harun. “But there’s that many of us that what we get is what we earn for ourselves.” He took a sip of sake. “I’ve been in one castle or another all my life, there’s a lot I don’t know.”
Majid laughed at this, taking a few moments to recover. “I’m sorry, I just don’t think I’ve seen a Crane speak like that before,” he said, wiping his eyes. “Perhaps there’s more of the Ki-Rin in you than just looks.” He took a sip of sake. “You said your mother was an Utaku? I am surprised she found someone outside the clan so compliant to give up his name. I suppose you have heard stories of the Shiotome?”
Harun nodded.
“Beautiful,” said Majid with a sigh. “And unstoppable. And not just in battle. Just don’t try getting too near one though. I did once and I had four of them holding me while the fifth beat me up.”
Harun laughed. “Would you say you deserved it?”
“I deserved something,” said Majid. “But not that.”

Outside, the day had turned warm as the sun was reaching its highest. Harun and Majid walked down the main street to the village.
“Listen,” said Majid. “I’m not sure where exactly you will be heading, but wherever it is why not join me? I will be heading home in a few days, I can show you some things and a good time besides. Assuming you are interested in the pleasure of my company, that is.”
Harun considered this. He hadn’t exactly plans after he left the mountains, but then again he wasn’t sure what he was getting into either. He also knew the further west he went, the more dangerous it would get. Closer to Onyx forces and the tainted lands.
“I’ll be glad to,” said Harun. “If you don’t mind someone as green as myself along.” Harun held out his hand, Majid shook it cementing their agreement.
“Green, like a wild plant in an ordered garden,” said Majid with a laugh. “I think that’s what I’ll call you, Niwa no Moto, the Garden Moto.”
“Perhaps I will branch out,” Harun teased.
“You might,” Majid agreed.
They then said their farewells, promising to meet in the castle after the gates closed, and Harun was by himself again.
Harun’s head was spinning, still a bit dizzy from the Moto’s company. Or was it the sake? Still, there were some days to look forward to once he had left the mountains.
He came to the steps that lead up to the shrine and stopped. It was the only shrine in the village, so this must be where his parents had married.
Harun climbed the steps up and went inside. The large statue of Hotei stood quietly watching those who came in. There were a few people in attendance as well as some monks. Harun sat down in seiza, letting the silence and peace wash over him like a wave.
What had it been like on that day? Karasu had been scant on the details. They were in love, he had said to Harun, and had chosen each other. Yet the very next day, it all began to end.
They didn’t know it then, thought Harun, but even here they had such little time left together.
He sat there for a little while longer. Enjoying the silence. Not thinking, not feeling.

In the early twilight, Harun practiced in the training grounds. With his katana in his hands, he made quick cuts as he moved through his katas. The sword felt good in his hands, the movements familiar. In his mind, he was back at the Academy, Arahime close by as they practiced together.
He went faster, his sword light in his hands, and when he did this Arahime wouldn’t try to match him and go faster. And then he would go faster still. And it would go on like this until one of them admitted defeat or, as on one memorable occasion, Harun’s weapon had slipped from his hands and clattered across the courtyard.
But without Arahime there, the urge to compete wasn’t as strong and Harun stopped and sheathed his sword sooner than he would have done otherwise. Then he turned and saw he had an audience.
“I thought you weren’t capable of being quiet,” Harun said to Majid. The Moto had been sitting there, watching Harun, without making a sound.
“All the better to catch you in the act,” said Majid. “There is something I have been wondering though.” He stood, walking towards Harun. “You Kakita make like performers on this stage you have made for yourselves.” He spread his hands wide to gesture around them. “But war is made for warriors, not for players. How do you fare in a real battle? Stripped of all your rules and niceties?”
“Perhaps that is where you come in, Moto-san,” Harun suggested. “If I am an artist, as you say, is it not better than one such as yourself should fight for peace?”
Majid shook his head, grinning. “Don’t think you know me, garden boy,” he said. “You’ve barely stepped out of your cage.”
“Well, if you are in a mind to teach, I am in a mind to learn,” said Harun, making a bow.
They got practice swords from the rack the faced each other in the middle of the training yard. Harun stared Majid down, not sure what to expect.
“First touch?” Majid asked.
Harun nodded. He adopted the stance of water, ready for anything.
Gripping his bokken, he attacked, going for the legs. Majid easily deflected it, his bokken the coming up for Harun’s chest. But Harun was ready, knocking Majid’s bokken back and landing a blow on the wrists.
“Ouch.” Majid dropped his bokken. “Rapping me on the knuckles? I thought you were the one who had been to school?” He bent down and picked up the bokken.
“Perhaps that means I am better at it,” said Harun.
They took up positions again. Again, Harun was the first to attack. And again, Majid knocked it back. But this time, Majid’s weapon broke through Harun’s defence and hit his shoulder.
Harun grimaced but didn’t make a sound. He took up his position again opposite Majid for the final round. The two bowed. Then, without a word, they attacked, almost at the same time, but Harun got in first. Majid quickly side-stepped Harun’s attack, bringing his bokken from high down above Harun’s. But the Kakita was ready for him, blocking and then coming back attacking low. Majid jumped, attacking Harun across the shoulders but his blow went wide. This left Majid’s chest wide open for Harun to just tap him lightly with the point of his bokken.
“I believe the point is mine,” Harun said.
“Indeed it is,” Majid, bowing in concession of his defeat.
“Your style, it’s not one I have seen before,” said Harun. “Not that I have seen many. Or one of those.” He nodded to the scimitar on Majid’s obi.
Majid grinned. “You’re not going to tell me how uncivilised I am?”
“I am sure you know that already,” replied Harun.
The evening was closing in, they headed inside the tenshukaku where dinner was being served. A servant said that Lord Mirumoto’s karo prayed they would excuse him as he was meditating in his rooms.
The food was simple fare. Pickled vegetables, tofu and a little rice. There was also a dish of what Harun took to be what the Dragon called “mountain tuna”. It was cooked in a mysterious way, brown and so tender it almost fell off Harun’s chopsticks. But what was most unusual about was its flavour. It was particularly strong smelling, and had a slightly bitter taste that wasn’t altogether unpleasant.
Majid liked it, once he knew what it was it quickly disappeared.
“Tell me, Moto-san,” said Harun when the tea was brought around. “Are the stories that I have heard about the Unicorn true? That they drink the milk and blood of their horses?”
Majid smiled and mockingly waved a finger at Harun in a fake accusatory manner. “If I already didn’t know things about you…” He shook his head. “Milk, yes. Blood, no. You’ve probably also heard the one about how we tear the flesh of animals and eat them raw?”
Harun nodded. “I figured even that was too unbelievable,” said Harun.
“You’d be wrong then. It’s true.” Majid’s face was the picture of seriousness. Then he laughed at Harun’s incredulous reaction. “I think you’ll do fine out there, Niwa no Moto. As Unicorn, we may seem off-putting by our appearances, but we are perhaps the most welcoming. Especially with those with whom we share blood.”
Harun smiled, it was a good start.
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Re: L5R - Chasing the Winds - A Winter Court 5 Sequel Fic

Postby KakitaKaori » Mon May 01, 2017 10:04 am

I particularly loved Harun's 'confusion' regarding certain Unicorn customs in this chapter. Pretty funny!
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Re: L5R - Chasing the Winds - A Winter Court 5 Sequel Fic

Postby Kakita_Harun » Mon May 01, 2017 4:29 pm

I admit, I put a bit of "Aussies making fun of foreigners" in Majid. Just because it goes so well with the Moto.

The flavour of the Mountain tuna is very subtle reference to Yamada at Winter Court. She was trying to get the Dragon to cook unicorn style. Meat over the fire with garlic. They were interested so I'd like to think it got through
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Re: L5R - Chasing the Winds - A Winter Court 5 Sequel Fic

Postby Kakita_Harun » Tue May 02, 2017 9:50 pm

Two days later they left the mountains and headed south west. Harun was a little sorry to leave them. Perhaps, if he could stay longer he could find out more about his parents. But, Majid was leaving and it was the best chance he had to go.
Perhaps it’s for the best, Harun thought as he led his horse through the narrow mountain pass, there is still a lot that lies ahead of me.
It took them the better part of two weeks to clear the mountains, leading their horses much to the frustration of Majid. Once clear, once the mountains were behind him and before them the wide plains, Majid smiled for the first time in days.
“This is it,” he said, breathing in the fresh air deeply, “what we were born for. Even you, Harun.”
“I’m not so sure, Majid,” said Harun.
“Nonsense, it’s in your blood!” Majid declared. “We have time to see to your riding before I have my business with the Khan.”
“What’s wrong with my riding?” asked Harun warily.
“Nothing,” said Majid, in a perfectly serious tone. “Nothing if you don’t mind having a stick in the middle of your saddle while you sit on it. You need to feel, you need to move! You need to be free!”
He spurred his horse to life, taking off in a canter across the plains. Harun went after him, taking more time to match Majid’s speed. When he came alongside the Moto, he noticed how easy he moved with his horse. He was a lot more sensitive to the subtitles than Harun was.
Majid took a quick glance at Harun’s riding, then turned his attention back to what was a head. Then he took it up a pace, put his horse into a full gallop.
Let’s see how he handles it now, Majid thought.
Harun responded, putting his horse in a gallop too. But he was a bit nervous about riding this fast. He hadn’t since Kousuda had taken Arahime and him riding during a visit about a year ago, and then he was sure his uncle was holding back.
Together, the rode over the plains, side by side, the wind in their faces. Harun found himself smiling. It felt good, he felt…free. Like he could go on forever, soaring up to the clouds like the Ki-Rin of old.
They gradually came to a slope, they didn’t slacken but raced to the top, then galloping along the ridge of the hill and gradually coming to a stop.
Harun took a deep breath, he felt exhilarated. Why didn’t everyone do this? He felt so alive. Majid grinned at him.
“There’s nothing like it, is there?”
Harun nodded as he dismounted. He grabbed his water flask, took a drink and splashed a little on his face. “My uncle, he was an Ide,” said Harun, catching his breath. “He would take us riding, but nothing like this.”
“An Ide, they’re soft, like you,” said Majid with a laugh.
Majid dismounted, letting his horse graze and went through the saddlebag.
Harun took a look around at where they were. Not far from the foot of the hill where they stood was a village. Not far from there was Kyuden Tonbo, and further from there was the river which bordered…Lion lands, was it?
But the land bore scars from the conflict. Where the armies has been, and the forces of the Onyx. And he knew that this was nothing compared to what they would encounter once they entered Unicorn lands.
Majid held something in his hand, a tube as long as his forearm and appeared to be made of leather. He put it up to his eyes and led it there, turning his head slowly.
What is he doing? Harun caught himself starting, then quickly look away. Not quick enough, because Majid noticed. He handed it to Harun, who put it up to his eye as Majid had done.
“I…can see,” said Harun in astonishment. “The river, I know it is far but it looks closer.” He lowered it and looked down at it. “Is this one of exotic things you have brought from distant lands?”
Majid nodded. “It’s a spyglass,” he told him. “Very good for seeing across the plains. Particularly if across the plain is a force of Onyx.” He pointed towards the west. Harun looked through the spyglass again. “There, just beyond those mountains you can see are the lands of the Unicorn. We will be there two days from now.”
Harun looked through the spyglass, amazed at how it brought far things close. He then gently handed it back to Majid who put it back in his saddlebag. They then mounted and rode the rest of the way down the hill towards the village.
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Re: L5R - Chasing the Winds - A Winter Court 5 Sequel Fic

Postby Kakita_Harun » Wed May 03, 2017 3:26 am

Keen Eyes Village was rather large, its position between Kyuden Tonbo and Kyuden Kitsuki made it of strategic importance in peace and war time.
It was all very orderly, as was Dragon custom. The houses well kept. There were a few sake houses, a couple of inns and merchant’s shops. They left their horses at the inn and had a meal. Harun noticed there were a variety of samurai there, from different clans all over the empire.
After this, and when the evening had settled in, Majid insisted on going around the village. Harun went with him, curious about what else there was to see. But when he saw the object of their excursion, Harun stopped.
They were outside the Dragon’s Eye. The geisha house.
When Majid noticed that Harun wasn’t with him, he turned around.
“You object?” said Majid. “You do remember my promise to show you a good time, don’t you?”
“You did, but…” Harun struggled to keep his On intact.
Majid laughed as he walked up to him. “What is it then? Do you have a girl back home?”
Harun nodded, looking down. “We aren’t betrothed, not yet. But we have an understanding. And…”He hesitated. “I don’t want to do anything that I wouldn’t feel comfortable telling her.”
“Then don’t then,” said Majid, putting a hand on Harun’s shoulder and leading him inside. “I know just the lady you need to speak to. She understand everything.”

Her name was Taiyo. She was older than Harun, patient and made him feel at ease. She made him tea, her movements soft and elegant in the ceremony, which he drank gratefully. Then, when she noted that he was not inclined to make conversation, she asked him questions about himself, his family, and what he hoped to see in his travels. Harun answered her, letting himself relax a bit more. After all, as Majid said, if nothing happened there would be nothing for him to tell.
Taiyo then took up her shamisen, she strummed a few notes and then began to play a song. It was good, then Harun that he had heard that song. The Promise of Heiwa. He He had heard Arahime play it at the Cherry Blossom Festival last year. He could still see her sitting there, beneath the sakura tree, the pink blossoms dropping onto her flowing white hair.
Then there was a scream. A wail. A running of feet. Harun quickly got to his feet. Taiyo dropped the shamisen and started to stand but Harun silently motioned for her to stay and quietly opened the door. Outside, in the hall, were bloody footprints that ran its length.
Harun let out a low groan and followed the footprints to where they had come from, taking care not to disturb them. This might have been foolish as Harun was unarmed, he had surrendered his daisho at the door of the geisha house as was the custom. But Harun had to know what had happened.
The footprints led to an empty room, and inside lay the body of a samurai lying in a pool of his own blood. A broken wakizashi embedded in his chest.
But what was most curious of all was his face, it was obscured by a black handprint.
Harun felt a hand on his shoulder, he startled but then he saw it was Majid. The Moto sized up the scene quickly.
“He’s a Lion, an Ikoma,” said Majid, pointing to the mons on the samurai’s discarded haori. “But this is the work of the Hand.” He spoke quietly, more to himself than to Harun.
“The Hand?” Harun asked.
Majid looked at him. “We need to leave, now.” His grip on Harun’s shoulder was firm as he ushered him out of the geisha house. His tone was hard and cold, he had no time for his usual jokes.
“But don’t we need to talk to someone about what happened?” Harun asked. “A magistrate?”
“We should,” said Majid, he grabbed his daisho and gave Harun his. “But we need to be gone before they arrive. The Kitsuki ask too many questions.”
They managed to slip out in the confusion of people coming to see what the commotion was. They ducked behind a few buildings to avoid crows. When they were out of sight, Harun grabbed Majid’s armed and stopped him.
“Tell me what is going on?” Harun demanded. “Who is the Hand? Did you have anything to do with this?”
“Do you think I did?” Majid demanded, staring Harun down.
Harun stared right back at him, Majid seemed genuine. “Fine,” he said. “But explain everything later.”
“You have my word,” promised Majid.
It wasn’t long until they were on their horses and riding off into the night. Harun rode close behind Majid, Lord Moon was in his waning stage and provided only a little light. A few miles out of the village, they stopped. Majid dismounted and motioned Harun to do the same.
“We should let the horses rest a little, they were not in the stable long,” Majid said, pacing back and forward. “But I promised to tell you everything.” He took a deep breath. “The Hand is called the Order of the Black Hand. They are a cult that have agents everywhere that strike without warning. They target anyone they see as blasphemers, that go against the will of heaven.”
“Blasphemers?” Harun asked.
“Don’t let that make you think they are a force for good,” said Majid. “When they act, it’s without compromise and for effect. That wasn’t just a murder, it was a message.”
“A message for whom?”
“Us, everyone who was there and will see it,” said Majid. “I heard one of their recruiters speak once, it wasn’t pretty.”
“So,” Harun said, watching Majid pace, “why did we have to leave so quickly then?
“I have business with the Khan that I can’t have them knowing about,” said Majid, calming a little and coming to a stop in his pacing. “I am sorry, but I cannot tell you what this is, Harun, not without my lord’s leave.” He looked around. “We need to keep moving. But there is someone I need to see, tonight. But I must be sure of our way through the dark.”
He put a hand on his horse’s back, closing his eyes and taking deep breaths. Harun looked at him curiously, wondering what he was doing. But it was over before Harun could look closer, Majid opened his eyes and mounted his horse.
“Let’s go!”
Harun mounted and they rode off. This time, Majid had a definite sense of direction. They silently rode, Harun wondering what else about his friend he didn’t know.
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Re: L5R - Chasing the Winds - A Winter Court 5 Sequel Fic

Postby Kakita_Harun » Sat May 06, 2017 5:53 am

In the middle of the night in a small village about twenty miles away from Keen Eyes Strike, Majid raped smartly on the door of a house. When there came no answer, he knocked again.
“Open up! We need to see the Jade Magistrate!” he shouted. “And I do know how late it is!”
The door was opened by a grumpy looking and dishevelled servant woman. She silently held out his hand for Majid’s chop.
“It’s fine, Amika,” said a voice from further within the house. Whoever it was carried a bright light, a tongue of fire that Harun had seen shugenja summon. It was a man, he didn’t seem angry, but there was something strange about him that Harun could see even in the dim light.
Majid made a quick bow. “Zetsunou, we need to speak. Now.”
The one called Zetsubou bowed to Majid. “Could this not have waited until the morning? And did you need to wake up the whole house?”
As if to prove his point, a girl appeared. She had the same strangeness about her that Zetsubou had. “What is it, father?” she asked. “Is there something wrong?”
“There’s nothing wrong, Koneko-chan,” said Zetsubou. “Go back to bed.” When she was gone, he turned to Majid. “Well?”
“The Hand is near,” said Majid. “We have just come from one of their victims. A Lion.”
Zetsubou looked concerned now. “I see, come in,” he said, looking at Harun and beckoning him forward as well.
He led them to a room at the back of the house and lit a few lamps. The light revealed a desk, a few storage chests, and a large table. It was also then that Harun got a good look at Zetsubou. And Zetsubou got a good look at Harun.
Harun had thought Zetsubou had an unusual appearance, but here in the light he had no idea how unsettling it would be. Zetsubou’s hair was red, red like fire, red like autumn leaves. It hung long and loose about his shoulders like a bright garment. There were also his eyes, gold like a lion’s. But kind, not fierce.
He’s a Kitsu, thought Harun. He had never seen one, but he had heard about them in stories.
Zetsubou regarded Harun with polite interest, until he saw the purple necklace Harun wore. And amethyst engraved with the mons of Unicorn and a Crab, joined together. His mind went back to years ago, in the mountains, in a yurt, when he had given it to a friend. Not for her, but for one that was yet to come.
Majid noticed none of this and began to make the introductions.
“Zetsubou, this is Kakita Harun,” he said. “We have travelled since Shiro Mirumoto, and since he has the blood of the Ki-Rin in him, I am showing him the ways of the Unicorn.” He turned to Harun. “This is Akodo Zetsubou, Jade Magistrate.”
Harun bowed low. “I am Honoured to meet you, Akodo-sama,” he said. But when he rose from his bow, he noticed something odd. Zetsubou was smiling at him, like a long lost friend returning. His eyes shone with kindness.
Majid was confused. “What’s this? Do you know him?”
Zetsubou shook his head. “No, but I know who he is.” He turned to Harun. “I knew your mother, Utaku Yamada, Harun-san. And I know who you are, because I gave her that myself.” He pointed to necklace. “I’ll explain everything in a moment. Sit down.”
Majid wand Harun sat at the table, both a little dazed from what they had heard. The servant brought tea, Zetsubou quickly wrote a note and sent her off with it. That done, he sat down with the others.
Majid drained his cup and put it down on the table. He looked between Zetsubou and Harun. He thought he was the one who had secrets, but then he was the one who was surprised.
“I was at Winter Court at Shiro Mirumoto during the last year of the peace,” said Zetsubou. “I met your mother then, and I was proud to call her my friend. As did my brother, Kibo.”
Harun frowned, remembering. “Akodo Kibo? I think I have met him.”
“Probably on your father Karasu’s command staff. He is retired now,” said Zetsubou. “What has Karasu told you about your mother?”
“He told me about the wedding, where she married my father Yasuki Nakura,” he said. “He said he trained her, and he told me about the duel.”
Zetsubou nodded, he looked sad. He looked at Majid. “You probably have heard about the duel.”
“The one that didn’t happen?” Majid asked. “Yes, it’s well-known.”
“What about what happened after?” Zetsubou asked. “Did he tell you why your mother gave you up?”
“He did,” Harun said, his voice quiet. “He said that she went to join the Obsidian Hand.”
Majid looked from to Zetsubou again. “What His mother is with the Leader of the Black Hand?”
Zetsubou nodded. “From what she told me at the time, she is there to make sure things are not worse.”
“Worse?” Majid spat. “You have seen what they have done! The brutal, cruel tortures and killings.” He jumped to his feet, towering over all of them. “My own sensei, Iuchi Abodan, was killed by the Obsidian Hand. That man raised me! He taught me everything I know. They cut off his hands, they cut out his tongue and pinned them on a board. Then they cut out his heart and replaced put his horse’s in its place. When I found him, the dogs and vultures were finishing him off.” He looked down at Harun, his eyes cold with fury. “Why didn’t you tell me this? I trusted you! I helped you! Why didn’t you tell me this if you know all along?”
Harun started to answer, but Zetsubou stopped him. “You’re being unfair, Majid,” he said. “How is Harun to blame for the actions of his mother? He hasn’t seen her since he was a baby. He was put away in safety so she could carry out this duty.”
“Duty? Duty?!” Majid clenched his hands into fists. “A duty that has her trailing blood and death from one end of Rokugan to the other?”
“Harun is just a boy, Majid,” said Zetsubou, his patience slowly giving out. “And you haven’t told him everything about yourself, have you?”
“Of course not, I…”
“Zetsubou?” A woman came into the room, she wore a faded green yukata. “I heard shouting, what’s going on?”
“Nikako-chan,” said Zetsubou, grateful for the distraction. He got to his feet. “You know Majid, but do you remember Yamada? This is Harun, her son. Harun, my wife Nikako,”
Harun bowed to her, Nikako gave him a small smile.
“Can you find a place to put Harun up for the night?” Zetsubou asked her. “Majid and I still have things to discuss.” She looked questioningly at her husband. “Later, I promise.”
Somewhat satisfied, Nikako led Harun away. Zetsubou slid closed the door behind them and they could hear the shouting resume. Harun felt a little bit like when he was a child and Akodo Ryouichi had ushered him out of his father’s war room.
Zetsubou might tell me more, Harun thought as he laid down on the futon in the room Nikako had brought him to. But he thought over what Majid had said about the Hand long into the night.

The next morning, Harun woke late and followed the sounds of the house to where people were gathered. The house looked different at night, many of the shutters were opened to let in the fresh air and the sounds of the outside. He came to the back of the house where children were playing in a large open room. Two boys and a girl, playing some sort of game on the tatami mats with wooden animals. It was so familiar, like home, he could have been back at Shiro Yogashi with his brothers and sisters.
The oldest was about twelve, another girl, she sat in seiza on the mat reading. She had red hair in braids and lion eyes like Zetsubou. She looked up when Harun came in and put the scroll down. She stood and bowed.
“I am Akodo Koneko, Kakita -sama,” she said, her golden eyes lowered. “Mother and father told me to let you know they will be in shortly and to please make yourself at home. Would you like anything to eat?”
“Don’t trouble yourself,” said Harun. “I can wait until they are here.”
Koneko looked up and smiled at him. There was something almost beautiful about her, how she stood out, the kindness in her eyes. They sat down together.
“Father was saying you are a duellist,” she said. “Are you like the Mirumoto? Mother took me to see them once, they made their blades spin around.”
“I’m a duellist, yes, but not like that,” Harun said to her. “The Kakita school is one blade, two strikes.”
“And can you do that?” Koneko asked.
He shook his head. “No, not yet. But I have seen the Masters of my school do it.” He looked at Koneko, the girl was possibly as sheltered as he had been at that age. “Tell me about yourself, Koneko, what training are you in?”
She smiled and blushed slightly. “Father is my sensei,” she said. “He is teaching me the ways of the Kitsu. He says I can soon accompany him in his duties as a Jade Magistrate.”
Harun nodded in approval. “That is a great honour,” he said. “No doubt you will see many things and many places.”
“What are your plans, Kakita-sama?” Koneko asked.
“I don’t really have any,” said Harun. “I am travelling with Majid, he is showing me the ways of the Unicorn. I plan to return home to Crane lands in the spring.”
Koneko looked sad. “So…you aren’t staying here long?”
Harun shook his head. “Majid wants to keep moving,” said Harun.
“You will come back here on your way home, will you?” She gave a small, hopeful, smile.
Harun looked down, unsure how to answer her. Her eyes looked into his, her breath soft, her cheeks slightly red from her blush.
The door opened and Koneko and Harun quickly moved apart. Koneko picked up her scroll and quickly left the room. Harun got to his feet. Zetsubou entered, looking more than a little frustrated. He brightened a little when he saw Harun.
“I must apologise for last night, Harun-san,” he said after they exchanged greetings.
“Akodo-sama, it is not your fault,” Harun said. “We cannot help being what we are.”
Zetsubou smiled. “You are like your mother, Harun, she said much the same to me once.” He indicated to Harun to sit at the table with him, from there they could watch the children. “Have you eaten?”
“I was waiting for you,” said Harun.
The servant woman provided rice and some pickled vegetables with some tea.
“Majid probably won’t be joining us for a while, I suspect,” said Zetsubou. “He’s gone riding, to cool off probably.”
“Has he...” Harun hesitated. “Changed his mind?”
“No, not yet,” said Zetsubou. “But he will. We have been working together for years, and there is no point in telling him he is wrong. He will see it, eventually. It’s just the Moto way. Ishiken think they know everything.”
“Ishiken?” Harun asked. “He’s a Void shugenja? But we sparred, at Shiro Mirumoto, I took him to be a bushi.”
“Majid is many things,” explained Zetsubou. “And none of them are what he appears to be. Now,” he said, pouring Harun another cup of tea. “Tell me about yourself, Harun. And it’s Zetsubou. Your mother was my friend, I hope I can be yours.”
Harun told him as they ate. About his family, his time at the Kakita Academy, Arahime, the Topaz Championship… They were finishing when one of the children came up to them. He looked about six, and had golden eyes like his father.
“Father, you said we could play samurai,” the boy said.
“I know, I did, Kibo-kun,” said Zetsubou. “I need to talk to Harun, perhaps he can when we are done.”
Harun smiled at the boy. “I think I can do that,” he said.

Later, Harun and Zetsubou walked in the garden. It reminded him, in a way of Shiro Mirumoto, but it was a little wilder, not as ordered.
“I know you are still wondering about last night,” said Zetsubou. “About your mother, the Obsidian Hand, the killings..”
“I was,” Harun said. “It’s all true, isn’t it?”
Zetsubou nodded. “It’s all true, and there’s more, a lot more, that I could tell you. But I think you want to know why, don’t you?”
Harun nodded.
“I’m not sure if I could tell you that. I struggle with it myself sometimes,” Zetsubou confessed. “But I can tell you about Yamada, from when I knew her. It might help. “He thought a long moment. “Yamada was a true shiotome, she had the compassion akin Shinjo and the honour of a true follower of Otaku. I never saw her in battle, but I had no reason to doubt her. But that wasn’t all she was.” He thought a moment, then continued. “She sought more, a deeper understanding in the roles we were assigned to play for the future. She sought hope, and wanted it for all of us. That we needed to be the change that saved Rokugan. Duty, above all.”
Harun considered this. Hadn’t he heard something similar from Karasu? And that was why his mother had given him up? “So, her duty is to be with the Obsidian Hand?”
“It is,” said Zetsubou. “Lord Moon is a jealous and harsh master, her being the instrument of mercy to balance his chosen vessel would be no easy task. And she serves, until Lady Sun chooses her agent and the Jade Hand appears.” He frowned. “Hopefully, it is soon, but Heaven moves in its own time.”
“My father said that she wanted to give me what was no longer hers to give,” said Harun. “Do you think that...” Harun hesitated. “Do you think that she cared anything for me?”
“Harun, of course she did!” Zetsubou said emphatically. “This duty, your father Nakura’s death, that changed her to give up all that she cared for. But don’t ever let that think she didn’t care at all. She had such compassion, such fire. And she loved your father very much.”
They could hear the sound of horse’s approaching, Majid was returning. Zetsubou was deep in thought.
“Harun, I want you to know that no matter what happens, I am very pleased to have met you,” said Zetsubou. “I wish you well in your travels, and may you find what it is that you need.”
Harun gave a low bow but said nothing further.

While Zetsubou talked with Majid, Harun kept his promise to play “samurai” with Zetsubou’s son Kibo. Harun figured the boy was about a year off being sent to the dojo.
He found the boy in the garden, and when Harun appeared Kibo ran off and then reappeared with two toy practice swords.
“Is it true what they say of the Kakita, Harun-sama?” Kibo asked eagerly. “That when you a Kakita draws, a lightning bolt strikes down their opponent?”
“Not quite,” said Harun with a laugh. “We can draw very fast, that’s why we call it lightning, like here.” He dropped to one knee and showed Kibo the silver stripe on the right side of the Kakita mon on his kamishino. “Thaty’s the lightning, from Kakita himself, the first duellist.”
Kibo tapped it with his toy sword. “I have the point!” he declared triumphantly.
“Oh, you do, do you?” teased Harun. He stood and raised his toy sword above his head. “Not if I catch you first?”
Kibo gave a squeal of laughter as Harun chased him around the garden. Harun laughed, this was like being back at the academy. He deliberately slowed his steps so Kibo could get away. Kibo then ran up to Harun, swinging his sword wildly. Harun deflected that with his, but let the second one through, going down with exaggerated death groans.
“So, you want to be a samurai, Kibo?” Harun asked.
“I want to be a mighty samurai, like my Uncle Kibo,” he said proudly. “He has killed many Onyx and won many battles fighting for the Emerald Champion. He says that when I am old enough, he will take me to the Akodo dojo in Lion lands where I can learn to fight like him.” He frowned. “Did he send you for me, Harun-sama? He hasn’t visited in a while.”
“if he had promised you, Kibo, then he will come,” said Harun. “A samurai’s word is his bond. Makoto, sincerity. It’s one of the tenets of bushido, the code a samurai lives by. That’s one of the things that you will learn at the Akodo dojo. How to act like a samurai, it’s not always fighting. My sensei said that a samurai must know when not to use his sword.”
“But wars are fought with swords,” Kibo objected.
“Yes, but peace is won with words,” said Harun.
He could see Zetsubou and Majid approach. Majid looked a little less confident than he usually did.
This should be interesting, Harun thought.
“Kibo-kun, go inside, find your mother,” said Zetsubou. When the boy had gone, Zetsubou turned to Majid.
Majid gave a bow, rather low but not too low. He cleared his throat. “Harun-san, I must apologise for how I spoke to you last night,” he said. “My words were ill-advised and ignorant, but that is no excuse. I hope you will bear no ill-will towards me.”
“I do not,” said Harun. “And given I was ignorant of much of it as well, I do not blame you for speaking so. I forgive you.”
The two shook hands.
“Now, he can talk like civilised men,” said Zetsubou. “You understand, Harun-san, that we cannot speak on what Majid’s business with the Unicorn is, but my guess is you may become involved.”
“What makes you say that?” Harun asked.
“Because, whom Majid calls the Khan, the Unicorn Clan Champion, knew your mother very well,” said Zetsubou. “Once Lord Moto Chinua gets wind of who you are, then he will no doubt want to see you. Then, perhaps, we can speak plainly.”
“Moto Chinua?” Harun asked. ‘I think I met him once, years ago. He acted as if he knew me, or knew who I was.”
“You didn’t say that,” Majid said.
“I didn’t remember until now,” Harun told him.
“So, I hope you will be our guests tonight before you go on your way,” said Zetsubou. He turned to Majid. “The children will no doubt pester you for stories.”
Majid laughed. “Then I must not disappoint them.”

The evening was easy and casual. All four of the children were there, along with Nikako. As promised, Majid told stories of his travels, some Harun had already heard but there were a few that he hadn’t. Koneko seemed to be watching Harun the whole time.
After the children went to bed, tea was served. Harun thought over what Zetsubou had told him about his mother. He was beginning to form some sort of picture of her. What she was like, why she gave him up.
But of his father he knew nothing. Nothing more than what Karasu had told him. He said this to Zetsubou, hoping for some answers.
Zetsubou sadly shook his head. “I’m afraid that I didn’t know him that well, Harun,” he said. “He wasn’t that active in court, and we moved in different circles.” He smiled. “But I think there is something I can tell you. I was at their wedding, and at the celebration afterwards.” He looked at Nikako, they smiled at each other, as if sharing a secret. “We both were. The memory is a little hazy, I still think the Unicorn throw the best parties.” Majid laughed at this and Zetsubou smiled at him. “But there is something I remember: seeing them together. They had chosen each other, they seemed to bring out the best qualities in each other. And all of this in such a time of war and shadow.”
Harun nodded. “Thank you,” he said.

They all left the next day, going separate ways. Zetsubou and Nikako took the children into the mountains, Harun and Majid going on to Unicorn lands.
And just as Majid had promised, two days later they crossed over the border into the Unicorn lands. Before them were the vast plains that continued on and seemed to meet the sky.
Scribe and Adopted Crane


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