[Epilogue] The Princess and the Pauper

A temple to Inari, Fortune of Rice and de facto patron of Kudo, sits atop a hill on the west bank of the River of Gold.
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[Epilogue] The Princess and the Pauper

Post by Saibankan » Tue Jul 23, 2019 7:47 pm

Shosuro Yoriyuki put his straw hat back on as he left the confines of the temple. A beautiful young woman in the colors of the Scorpion clan was waiting for him, leaning up against a neighboring building.

“You know old man, I don’t get why you bother.” she gently chided him with a rueful shake of her head. “If either of them found out who you really were, they’d be tripping over themselves to run you through. Neither of them would be dissuaded if you were to explain that you’d donated every coin they’d given you to the temple, not even if you revealed to them you had matched their donations from your own stipend. So why?”

Yoriyuki shook his head. “It’s not for my own sake, my princess, but for the sake of the Empire. Sometimes we must delay a little good for the greater good. But the Empire needs as much good in it as it can get. So while we must sometimes delay good, we should never needlessly thwart it.”

She laughed a little bit at said wisdom. “You’d make a good monk, old man, you’ve certainly the head for it.”

He allowed himself a slight grin. “And you would make an excellent mother, my princess, if you would settle for someone who is not quite your equal.”

That drew a short exhalation of breath from her. “If I wanted that, there’s a Matsu who had my name on him. But still, it all sounded so good on paper. A mysterious ronin appearing from nowhere sweeping the tournament, overcoming challenges themed around the great authors, and ending with a passionate, intense affair which would someday lead to an heir worthy of my family.” She shook her head. “Him being a rube backed by an insane Crane matron? That’s a pointless plot twist, unworthy of my story.”

Yoriyuki shook his head. “Life so rarely works out like a story, my princess. It’s a messy affair, and it’s only the skill of the artist that turns it into something elegant. I’m sure even Kakita sneezed from time to time. Still, both story and life progress. The longer you wait, the more difficult the end deception will be to realistically pull off.”

She frowned a bit under her mask at that. “I’m well aware. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that a tournament of the minor clans only drew minor players. A handful that bear watching, but little else. Perhaps if you’re looking for a truly clever man, you need to look feet from the throne, not li.”

Yoriyuki sighed a bit at that. “The Winter Court at Naishou. I suppose given the state of affairs there, I shouldn’t expect to have a chance to show off a new black and crimson fan this winter.”

She clapped a bit at that. “Ah, if only you weren’t decades my senior, old man. Where is such cleverness in the men of my generation?”

“They’ll reach it in a few decades, my princess, although I can think of one man who might be clever enough now who will be at the court. Still, it’ll be a very dangerous backdrop, and such a man might be too clever even for you.”

She grinned at that. “A samurai is measured by the opponents by the opponents they overcome. It may only be a footnote in the story of the court, but this challenge will alter history. Let’s get going then, we have much to prepare old man.”

The pair left behind Kudo, and the guises of Stonecup and Damashihime as they began their journey to the Imperial Winter Court. Ah, but that’s a story for another time…..
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