L5R - The Duty of War - A Post Winter Court 5 story

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Re: L5R - The Duty of War - A Post Winter Court 5 story

Postby Kakita_Harun » Wed Sep 05, 2018 4:48 am

That evening after a meal, Harun went over the castle trying to find where things were. He found the dojo easily enough, simple to the point of austerity with the smell of sweat that seemed to cling to the tatami mats.
He went outside, out onto the walls that made Kyuden Hida impregnable. Below him was the sea at the bottom of the cliffs, and to the south he could see the wall stretching far into the distance.
There was a fresh wind blowing up here too, and it felt good to be out in it. Harun looked along the walls and saw a familiar figure. Dressed in the drab brown of a ronin, somehow looking both out of place yet in perfect command of herself.
“Koharu?”
She walked towards him. “Harun, so this is where you are!” She looked him up and down with some satisfaction.
“Koharu-chui,” Harun said, bowing appropriate to her rank. “It feels a much longer since I have seen you last.”
“It has,” she agreed. “I tried to find you after, hear all about that baka Shimekiri…but you had already left.” She sounded a little disappointed.
“Yes, I left the next day,” said Harun.
“What?” Koharu looked at him in shock.
Harun shrugged. “My father, he reassigned me,” he said. “Not everyone was…appreciative of what I did, of how I killed Shimekiri.”
Koharu gave a sound of disgust. “The baka was dead, what more could they want? If they want it different, they could have done it themselves.” She looked at him. “But they didn’t, did they? You killed him.”
Harun smiled a little. “It is so good to hear you talk like that,” he said. “I’ve missed the honesty of the Legion camp, my clan is not known for such things.”
“There are, perhaps, advantages to have no clan to lay claim to,” said Koharu.
“Well, perhaps for not much longer,” said Harun.
“What?” Koharu looked at him suspiciously.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if one or more of the Great Clans approach you during court to have you swear your sword,” said Harun. “You made a name for yourself, Koharu, its how these things work.”
Koharu looked sceptical. “I have hardly the illustrious ancestors to qualify.”
“I doubt that will matter,” said Harun, he held out his hands. “Look at where we are, Koharu. From what I know about the Crab Clan, everything about them is proving yourself. What you can do and what you have done, and you have done that.”
“And you,” Koharu added.
Harun frowned. “I am not so sure about myself.”
“Perhaps here you can have what your clan and family have denied you,” Koharu said.
“I hope not,” said Harun. “I don’t want to be a pawn in someone else’s game. And you should be careful too, Koharu. Court is in many ways more dangerous than the battlefield.”
“Ah, so the young prince is giving me advice,” Koharu said with a laugh. “And do what to plan to do with yourself?”
“Keep my head down as much as I can,” said Harun.

The Imperial court started the next day. Harun had to attend at least today for the gift presentations, even if as a guest of the Crab he was a lot freer than the ones officially sent by the clans.
There was something else as well, he knew Kakita Kyoumi was being presented to the court as the new Voice of the Emperor and did not want to miss that.
That morning, he tried to make his kinky hair behave hoping not to resort to lacquer. It was long and getting quite unmanageable, but he managed to at least make it into a presentable topknot. After tidying his beard, he slipped into his formal kataginu. Such a pale blue it was almost white, with the Kakita mons on each side. It was long and stiff with boning, almost like trying to wear a kite.
Then, after securing his daisho to his obi, he went down to court.
Harun had to run the gauntlet of stares and whispers as he went though the castle. He had drawn such attention and curiosity almost all his life. Not just for being one of the Emerald Champion’s children but for his dark features. This had only increased after Harun had killed Shimekiri.
Not for the first time, Harun simply wanted to disappear. He would rather people speak to him than stare.
Once he got inside, Harun went to where the other Legion guests were gathered, but to do that he had to walk right past the Crane delegation who were pointedly polite to him. Doji Teruhime, daughter of Crane Champion Doji Ayumu and serving as Crane ambassador for the court, practically stared through him.
Harun turned his attention to those around him instead. All were from the Imperial Legions, but he knew only Koharu and Katsura Hisato, Taisa of the First Legion. And as Harun had predicted, the two ronin were getting not a small amount of attention from some Crab bushi.
There were a lot of people in the room, pressing close together for space. Harun tried not to let this bother him too much, but it felt quite closed and suffocating.
The Chosen were gathered on the dais, waiting for proceedings to begin. The Imperial Advisor, Kitsuki Sakome, sitting silently in a meditation posture. Imperial Treasurer, Doji Arami, deep in conversation with the Jade Champion Kuni Tsuya. And closest to the front was Chancellor Ide Meiryo, reading a document with Kakita Kyoumi next to him. Meiyo’s rather gaijin looking attire of purple hat and embroidered deel stood out next to the traditional garb of the others on the dais, but given he had been Chancellor a number of years it was tactfully ignored.
Kyoumi looked as silent as a doll, and with the elaborate hair, make up and the jade ornaments she wore, just as untouchable. It hard for Harun to reconcile what he saw too what he knew of Kyoumi. This was the same woman who had made kites for them as children? That had run into the ocean with them to swim at those summers on the shore?
But behind them all was another presence, hidden by the golden screen and with a light behind him so that he was shown as a silhouette: the Emperor himself, Iweko II. It had been a number of years since the Emperor had permitted others to see him in the full court, which was not very surprising as Harun knew from the conversations he overheard that the Emperor was of a rather advanced age now. To the extent where the subject of a regency with the underage heir, Prince Kiseki, had been raised more than once, but never taken further.
Harun didn’t know the details, but given the heir to the throne was to officially make his gempukku in the spring, perhaps the entire idea had been abandoned.
At a signal from behind the screen, Chancellor Ide Meiryo began to speak and the room fell silent.
“The Imperial Court is called into session, in the reign of the Son of Heaven, Iweko II in the thirty-fifth year of his reign.” He paused, taking a general glance around the room. “We give thanks to the Crab Clan for hosting as well as wish for the fortunes to guide the words and the choices made by those present towards wisdom.” A few bowed their heads at this. Meiryo continued. "The court has gathered at a particular critical juncture for the Emerald Empire. The Seals to Jigoku have been closed, and the Imperial Legions and the Great Clans have claimed back the city of Toshi Ranbo. The forces of the Onyx have been routed. It is a new age."
The Chancellor turned and gave a bow to large man wearing the robes of a monk. He was powerfully built but covered with the fine wrinkles of advanced age, his head shaven. Still there was a timelessness about his features. The man stood inconspicuously to one side, but when the court saw the Chancellor bow to him, they gasped. For Harun, recognition dawned slowly. The Man was Hida Kozan, Voice of the Emperor, now without makeup or finery. Kozan returned the bow in silence.
The Chancellor straightened and continued. "A new age requires new voices to guide us all towards the future. The Son of Heaven appoints Kakita Kyoumi, daughter of Kakita Yoshirou of the line of Kakita Masarugi, as the new Voice of the Emperor. May the Fortunes and traditions of her ancestors guide her and grant her wisdom.”
Everyone in the room bowed low and formally. Kyoumi herself seemed apart from all this, almost immune. Yet she gave one movement, glancing sideways to just behind the screen where the Emperor was.
“It is a new age; Chancellor Ide Meiryo-sama speaks wisdom.” Kyoumi said, her voice clear and her eyes fixed ahead. "A new age grown from toil and suffering and loss. Grown from an age that must never be forgotten. This new age must focus on vigilance and diligence, that the evils of the past may never reoccur." With that she looked towards the Crab Clan Champion. "But this is an age of rebuilding. Of recreating ourselves and our world into an Empire that can know peace, can know beauty, can know prosperity for all the citizens of the Empire. And for rebuilding, we must turn to our our artists, artisans and poets to create such a new age. This winter, the Imperial Court will host the Turquoise Championship. We not only hope that the Turquoise Champion foster a return towards beauty and the art, but may the contest itself inspire the Emerald Empire to do likewise for years to come.”
With a slight bow, Kyoumi then takes her place on the dais. The Chancellor began calling forward the clan delegates by name to present their gifts to the Emperor.
This went on for sometime, and Harun wasn’t the only one to lose interest. He looked around at the other guests. He could see all of the Great Clan Champions, present but slightly apart from the actual proceedings. The only one Harun didn’t see was the Scorpion Clan Champion, Bayushi Kayano, but with that many people it was easy to miss people.
People up in turn to present their gifts, eventually the Phoenix Clan had their turn. The ambassador, Isawa Koyo, coming to present his gift: a small tree seedling from his home village. Harun hadn’t met him, but he knew that Koyo had been at Toshi Ranbo. Had in fact led a contingent of shugenja and they had summoned a massive wave and earthquake down one of the walls at Toshi Ranbo which had been critical to securing city. Apparently, Koyo was tipped to be the next Master of Earth. But with the Elemental Council formally disbanded and the Phoenix Champion not being seen in many years, it was anyone’s guess what would happen.
After the Unicorn Clan had presented their gifts, it was the turn of the Imperial Legion guests. When Harun’s name was called, the court fell to total silence. Harun went forward holding his gift in his hands. His own sashimono, the small rectangular banner he wore attacked to his armour in battle. Emerald green in colour, with the mons of the First Imperial Legion and Takano Unit
“Tenno, this one is Kakita Harun, son of Kakita Karasu of the line of Kakita Masarugi. This one served in the Imperial Legions at Toshi Ranbo; fighting in your name, slaying your enemies and leading men who had sworn to do the same. Many died fighting in your name at Toshi Ranbo, it was the will of the Fortunes that this one was not among them. It is to honour those who have fallen that this one gives to you the banner carried into battle.” He bowed low, offering the gift. When it was taken, he retreated back to the crowd.
The other Legion guests looked pleased at Harun’s gift, but it wasn’t just for them Harun had done this. He knew that this would be seen in a different light by others, especially those among the Crane Clan. And his father.
I don’t want to get involved with these games, he thought, but I can at least send them a message.

Once the court was over for the day, it was a relief for Harun to be out in the open air. He had intended to find somewhere quiet where he could think clearly, but he wasn’t to have that luxury. A woman approached him, in her forties perhaps, and by the elaborate attire she wore in the colours of the Crab Clan, a Yasuki.
My father Nakura’s family, Harun thought with a smile.
“Forgive me,” she said, bowing. “But are you Kakita Harun-Chui, son of Kakita Karasu?”
“Yes, I am,” Harun said, returning her bow. “Is there anything I may assist you with, Yasuki-san?”
“My apologies, Kakita-chui, but…I believe I am your aunt,” said the woman. “I am Yasuki Momoibura, your birth father, Yasuki Nakura-no-shryo, was my brother.”
Harun’s voice caught in his throat for a moment. “I…I am most pleased to meet you, Yasuki-san,” said Harun, giving her a genuine smile. “Or should I say…aunt?”
“You may,” Momoibura said with a smile.
“My mother Yamada, she left me a letter she wrote before I was adopted,” said Harun. “It mentioned you and…a brother of my father’s?”
“Soyokaze-no-shryo,” said Momoibura. “He…has passed to Yomi these ten years, but I am sure his children…your cousins will want to meet once I have told them I have claimed kin with you, Kakita-chui.”
“More family?” Harun asked, a little stunned.
“Yes, may I ask you to tea? Tomorrow perhaps?” Momoibura asked. Your mother Yamada wrote to me as well and it was her wish for you to know of your Yasuki heritage.”
“Of course, after the Crab petition to the court,” said Harun. “And if we are family, perhaps you best call me Harun.”
“It is agreed then,” said Momoibura with a nod. “Perhaps…you could attend the petition as well and stand with us? Your actions at Toshi Ranbo have made a name for yourself among the Crab, Harun, even if it is not recognised by all.”
“I will,” Harun promised. Wondering what she meant by this.

The next day, Harun was with the Crab when their petition was put forward to the Imperial Court, and he was made welcome among them. The Yasuki Daimyo, Yasuki Kagami welcomed him, but it was not he who put forward the Crab petition, but the Champion of the Crab Clan himself, Hida Katashu.
Hida Katashi was tall and broad-shouldered, by both Rokugani and by Crab standards. When he started to speak, his voice was low and clear. He at first thanked the Emperor the Chosen and the Great Clans for gracing the halls of his ancestors, especially in light of the recent past which had been the “greatest trial the Clan of Hida had ever faced.”
“The Crab wish to inform the court that those who similarly have stood strong against the forces of darkness will be honoured as the Crab honour their own for the same. We wish to offer those of the Imperial Legions to make an oath of fealty to swear their swords to the Crab Clan.” He looked at the small piece of paper in his hand and read out a list of names, this included Katsura Hisato and Koharu. And this caused a small reaction not just from the Legion guests, but from the other clans. When this died down, Tetsuyori continued. “The Crab also wish to offer the highest honour for the ones we see stood strongest of all, who did not hesitate to do what was necessary to take down the enemies of Rokugan.” There was another reaction to this, quickly falling to silence as he read out more names. Most of them were from the Crab Clan, Harun drifted off a little but his attention returned when Tetsuyori read some names that were clearly from other Great Clans. “…Mirumoto Tsushino of the Dragon Clan, Yoritomo Sano of the Mantis Clan, Isawa Koyo of the Phoenix Clan and Kakita Harun of the Crane Clan.”
There was an audible gasp at this, especially from the Crane delegation for whom some could not contain their disdain. The Crab among Harun were pleased and congratulated him, but Harun himself felt a little numb. This was the highest honour the Crab could give a samurai, rarely given to those who still lived let alone those who were not Crab themselves. It felt right, it felt good to be finally recognised. And…it wasn’t as if he was not part Crab himself.
Harun looked over to the other clan delegations where there was similar scenes, except for the Phoenix where any reaction had died down quickly due to Isawa Koyo himself not reacting at all.

Kakita Karasu was also in the main court when Harun’s name and the honour he was being given was read out. He noticed Harun among the clans, standing still, silent as the Crab congratulated him. Harun showed no emotion, but Karasu knew better. He knew that this was what Harun had wanted all along. From the Kakita, from the Crane Clan and most of all from Karasu himself.
Well, he’s not going to get that, Karasu thought with a frown. And he still doesn’t know what he has done wrong.
Karasu wanted to go over to him, impress again on Harun of the grievous mistake he had made in killing Shimekiri how he had. But he also knew, the more he pressed Harun, the further Harun would be from him.
Hopefully, hopefully, Harun will see it for himself…before it is too late…
Last edited by Kakita_Harun on Wed Sep 19, 2018 2:03 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: L5R - The Duty of War - A Post Winter Court 5 story

Postby Kakita_Harun » Thu Sep 06, 2018 7:28 pm

After the court was done for the day, Harun quickly went back to his quarters. He opened the chest his mother Yamada gave him and took out a silk bag. He held in his hands for a few moments, unsure whether to give it away. It felt right, but if he gave this away he had only had one…
He took it with him, heading down where to where the Crab who had travelled to Kyuden Hida were lodged. Harun’s arrival caused more than a little attention from the Crab bushi. He had after all been one of the ones to be honoured at Koten later that winter, word had gotten around. So quite a few approached Harun, commending him and of course asking questions. These came thick and fast until Harun was unable them all. He asked where he might find Yasuki Momoibura and then excused himself.
He gently tapped at a door which was opened by a young girl with…familiar eyes.
“You are…Kakita Harun-chui?” she asked.
Harun nodded.
The girl made a bow. “My name is Yasuki Mimiko, would you please come in?”
Harun made a slight bow and followed her inside. She led him down a dark stone corridor to a room where half the small space was taken up by a shoji screen that seemed to be covering…what looked to be a large pile of clothes wrapped up in bundles. In front of the screen, were cushions, a tea set and a brazier where Momoibura was instructing another girl in the way making tea. She gave a bow.
“Harun, welcome, please sit,” she says. “You have met Mimiko-chan, this is my eldest Ayame.”
Ayame bowed. “A pleasure to meet you, Kakita-chui.” Her sister Mimiko sat next to her.
“The pleasure is mine,” said Harun, bowing. And taking a seat “To know that I have family and to feel welcome among them is truly a blessing. But first…” He reaches beside him for the silk bag. “I wish to give you this…small token. It means a lot to me that it has returned to these lands.”
Harun knew he could claim both Crab and Unicorn blood as his own, but growing up with the Crane he of course knew how to properly present a gift. He held it in both hands towards it.
“After I made my gempukku, I received some items from my mother Yamada that she had given to my adoptive father,” he said. “This was among them.” With one hand he removed the silk bag to reveal…his father’s shamisen. The girls stared at it, Momoibura gave a soft gasp.
“Is that?” Momoibura asked.
Harun gave a slight nod. “I give this to you, so it may again make music in the lands from which it came.”
“I cannot accept this,” Momoibura said tightly, blinking. “It yours, well and truly. It is your hands that should play it, Harun.”
“My hands, I must confess, are not able for this,” admitted Harun. “Though this was not for the lack of trying at the Kakita Academy. It would be far more of a joy to hear it played by someone capable.”
“But…you have so little to remember your father,” objected Momoibura. “Us who knew Nakura-no-shryo do have memories, giving away his shamisen is giving away one of the few pieces you have.”
“Your memories are far more precious gift that I hope I can share in,” said Harun. “And if you accept, I will consider this…how do the Yasuki put it?...a fair trade.”
Momoibura smiled. “I accept,” she said. “And I think there is more Yasuki in you than you realise.”
Ayame served the tea.
“So, tell me, Harun,” said Momoibura. “What do you know of your father?”
Can I tell them about the ritual? How will they take it?
Harun decided to start small. “Very little, I am afraid,” he said. “My mother Yamada, she wrote me a little about him in the letter she left for me…she told me about you and your brother as well. It said that he was a merchant, travelled extensively and knew the secrets of Friendly Traveller Sake.”
“Yes, those and other secrets,” said Momoibura with a nod.
“You mean…Yoritomo Aramasu’s ashes?” Harun asked. “I understand this was why he was challenged to the duel.”
“Yes, that is true,” said Momoibura, her face tightening a little. “I heard from your mother directly about…what happened that day. He showed courage that I did not know he possessed.”
“I have heard the same,” said Harun, he drank from his teacup and put it down. He had to tell them. “I…I am not sure if this will seem strange to you…but I was fortunate enough to know my father better than…I ever thought possible.”
“What do you mean?” Momoibura asked.
“A year ago, I was at Shiro Moto, the Jade Magistrate and Sodan Senzo Akodo Zetsubou-no-shryo was there to cleanse the lands of the taint,” said Harun. “The Blessed Ancestors from Yomi were called to assist and…” Harun hesitated. “…my father’s spirit was the first to come.”
“You…saw his shryo?” Momoibura asked, her voice hushed.
Harun nodded. “He practically ran out to see me, and we spoke.”
“You are most fortunate, Harun, to have that happen,” said Momoibura, blinking again. “May I ask…what he said?”
“We only spoke briefly, but each word we shared was a treasure I never knew I would possess,” said Harun. “He….my father…he told me he was proud of me, and that I had more honour in me than I had in his life.”
“Then I would not doubt his word,” said Momoibura loyally.
They spoke of other things for a time. Momoibura asked Harun about his childhood and the Legion, she in turn told him about Nakura as well as Harun’s other cousins from her brother Soyokaze who had died defending the wall about five years ago. Eventually, Ayame picked up the shamisen and started to tune it.
“Ayame-chan,” Momoibura gently chastised.
“No, I would like to hear it,” said Harun. “It must be years since anyone has played it.”
After she tuned it, Ayame played a soft, gentle tune. Pleasant, peaceful, joyful. And while Harun knew that the last fingers that had played those strings were his father’s, he could not help let his mind wander. Back to the Kakita Academy, the gardens in spring where a young girl with white hair played beneath the sakura tree.
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Re: L5R - The Duty of War - A Post Winter Court 5 story

Postby Kakita_Harun » Mon Sep 17, 2018 4:06 pm

Been a while since the last update but I should have some coming soon.
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Re: L5R - The Duty of War - A Post Winter Court 5 story

Postby Kakita_Harun » Wed Sep 19, 2018 3:27 am

For the first time since his arrival at Kyuden Hida, Harun entered the castle dojo. And just like everywhere else he had been, Harun’s very appearance caused a sensation. People stared, people whispered to each other. Some with approval and some with suspicion.
The attention still irritated Harun, but he was beginning to get used to it. He just acknowledged their stares with a nod and found an empty corner to train in. But he wasn’t to be alone for long.
Harun was just going through basic katas when a Crab bushi approached him. He looked barely older than Harun. “Kakita-chui?”
Harun stopped and looked at him. “Yes?”
“I bring a request from Hida Nasu-sama,” he said, gesturing to where some more Crab bushi were gathered. “He asks that he might spar with you.”
Harun frowned, looking back over to where the Crab were. Hida Nasu…he was sure that was the Crab Champion’s son.
I guess it wouldn’t hurt, he thought.
“Tell Hida Nasu-sama that I accept his invitation and will be over directly,” said Harun.
The Crab bowed and ran back. Harun quickly went through a few exercises, making sure he was ready before following him.
Again, Harun caused a stir. The Crane and Dragon who were training together stopping to stare. Harun ignored them.
The Crab were sparring with each other, it looked rough but there was control there. Each knowing exactly how hard to hit. And this was critical, an injury in the dojo could mean one less man on the wall. At Harun’s approach, the tallest of them held up a hand and they all fell still. Harun bowed, as was appropriate to the son of a Clan Champion, but Nasu’s bow was deeper.
“Kakita-chui,” said Nasu. He was a few years older than Harun, and while Harun had always been tall but Nasu stood a head taller. “Your reputation precedes you.”
“Hida-sama,” said Harun. “I accept your request, though now I have seen your form, I would wager you favour fire over air.”
Nasu laughed. “If I could kill Jigoku spawn as you did, then my duty would be easier.”
“Perhaps,” replied Harun with a shrug. “Fortunes favoured me that day, next time I may not be so lucky.”
“Why so modest, Kakita-chui?” Nasu asked. “Not even my own father can claim fame to killing an Onyx general as you have.”
“Well…” Harun looked over their heads at the Crane and Dragon who were watching. “There is that, I just saw an enemy I could kill and act accordingly.”
Nasu nodded in agreement. “Some would say you talk like a Crab, Kakita-Chui.”
Harun shrugged. “Well, if it means acknowledgment of the lives I saved by acting as I did…then I’ll wear it.”
Nasu laughed, the rest of the Crab joining in with him. Harun joined with them, even when he saw the Crane and Dragon leaving the dojo. “I think I am going to like you, Kakita-chui,” Nasu said. “But not as much as I’ll enjoy you seeing you flat on the dojo floor here.”
“I’d like to see you try,” said Harun with a grin.
They picked up practice swords and began to circle each other.
“How many duels have you had?” Nasu asked.
“Three.”
“And won?”
“Three. You?”
“One,” answered Nasu. “That last one was Shimekiri, right?”
Harun nodded, they continued to circle.
“I heard the Crane call him the finest duellist since Kakita,” said Nasu. “What does that make you then?”
“The man who killed him,” Harun replied.
“Lets see some of that form now, then,” said Nasu.
They came at each other with their bokkens, Nasu’s attack was strong and Harun was doing his best to stay out of his way.
Find an opening, find an opening, Harun said to himself. He twisted out of the way of one of Nasu’s blows, it narrowly grazing him, then came up behind the Hida and giving him a gentle touch.
“My point,” said Harun, grinning a little.
“Not bad, there Kakita,” said Nasu, acknowledging Harun’s victory. “But you and I both know a little spar in the dojo is nothing compared to a real fight against the enemy.”
“Give me ten good men, and I’ll show you a real fight,” said Harun. “I’m not one of your sheltered, fragile Cranes that traipses from court to court. “He fingered the scars on his face where his beard hadn’t grown back. “These aren’t from duels.”
Nasu looked back at him with some admiration. “Seeing war for what it is, if the other clans see that, then perhaps something good came out of this war.”
Harun shrugged. “If only.”

Back where the Legion guests were quartered, there was a little activity. They were standing outside the rooms, Koharu was talking to the others. In her hands was a white box. She went to Harun as he approached.
“These have just come, Harun,” she said. “Yours should be in your room.”
“What is it?” Harun asked. “A gift?”
Koharu nodded, she opened her box. “Daifuku,” she said, putting one in her mouth. “It’s…very good,” she managed to say through a mouthful.
Harun went to his room, there was no box waiting for him and try as he might he could not find one.
Daifuku… He went to the doorway, and it hit him. On those boxes was the mon of the Imperial Treasurer, Doji Arami. He knew it, as it had been on other boxes that contained daifuku when Harun was growing up, often coming when Arami himself visited…
Harun sat back down on his bed, burning with anger.
It didn’t matter at all that there was no box for him, to think so was stupid and childish. And it certainly didn’t matter that there was one for all of the Imperial Legions guests except for him.
It didn’t matter, at all. Because none of them mattered, and he would show them one way or another.
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