Tensen is the one with the gift for words. If only I could trust my own emotions at this moment, I would have him put to paper what my heart cannot express. Perhaps, by sharing my own fears, my own hopes, I could attain some measure of enlightenment.
Throughout my youth, my adolescence, my training… throughout it all, I have never considered keeping a journal. Tonight, however, the will of the Fortunes have seen fit to give me no alternative.
As a boy, hearing the stories of the Crab on the wall, so brave, so strong, so resolute in the face of the Empire’s enemies, it was like a dream come true when my uncle helped secure my candidacy for the Iron Warrior school of the Daidoji. If I possessed my cousin’s gift for poetry, I would relate here the range of experiences during those intense months, but instead, I will simply say that my image was shattered. Though my time on the Kaiu Wall was not indicative of how all Crab present themselves, it is safe to say that their reputation is well founded. They have no passion for anything beyond the maintenance of the wall. What that realization meant to me was that we are born into the roles our ancestors have forged. A Hida is a Hida, no matter how hard he may try to live a life beyond the wall. A Doji is a Doji, no matter how hard she may try to live a life beyond the courts. Our heritage is our strength, but it is also our chains. Or so I thought.
I tried to shed the precepts of the Kakita way when I was young. A sort of petulant rebellion, I guess you would call it. Part of me felt that spending time with the Crab was the surest way to ensure that I would become my own man, rather than just another Kakita following in the footsteps of a legend who was buried a thousand years ago.
Blasphemous thoughts, to be sure. I was lost; at that age, we all think we know so much, when in truth we see so little. All the while, fighting against my mon and my family ties, every string I plucked in practice on my Biwa was an echo of my hypocrisy. Here, I was raging against the narrow-mindedness of following the footsteps of those who came before, yet pursuing to perfection an art, just as Kakita himself was famous for. In trying to defy my namesake, I exemplified it, without even realizing it.
I discovered this the night Yoshiro mocked my music. It took a defeat for me to realize what victory really meant. That night, I stopped running. That is the night I confessed my feelings for Aya, and though I was denied, that is the night I felt most alive.
Until last night.
I could write here that my Biwa was stolen, but something far more beautiful was taken from us last night: the honor of my dear cousin, Tensen. So strange a thing to have one’s topknot taken from him in the dead of the night, but stranger still was the look on Tensen’s face when he awoke. The symbol of a samurai was so strong with him, that he nearly committed seppuku rather than endure its absence. Fortunately, Kirari is creative in her communications with the kami, and though I do not understand much of the ways of the Shugenja, I know that I have never seen any servant of the faith bring peace and joy to a samurai as wholly as she did in that moment. She made Tensen whole.
The severity of the situation startled me. It has caused me to reflect on a great many things, to question answers I had always taken for granted. Some, like my doubts of the Tao of Shinsei as they were exploited by the Shinsei-do cult, are easy to dispel now that I have seen the horrors committed in their name. Now, I lament the foolishness which ever gave me cause to question the Tao. But there are other concerns which nettle at my resolve.
Some are beyond my control. Had I have but known I would likely not see Yuki again, I would have liked to ask him a great many questions in regards to a samurai’s place in times of peace. I would very much have liked to gain his insight into what makes a life worth living. I feel there was much he could have taught me, steeped in the springs of clarity as the Phoenix are known to be. He is a good man, and a fine yojimbo. I never told him this, but I believe that the Daidoji dedication to defending the Doji, for all their honor and virtue, are but shadows of the bond that is born between a Shiba and their charge. Do not mistake this to mean that I take the Daidoji lightly; to the contrary, it is but a testament to how impressive the Shiba are. I have borne witness to how Yuki cared for Kirari, and it is a thing of…
Were I a braver man, I would beseech Kirari for Yuki’s residence so that I might at least correspond with him via letter, but I cannot help but feel that his retirement bears deeper meaning than what has been revealed to me. Though it is but a minor token, the least I can do is honor the quiet he has so rightfully earned.
Then there is Kirari, herself. A strange Shugenja, to be sure, though perhaps my own limited experience colors that, somewhat. The only Shugenja I have spent any time with were Asahina, possibly the most gentle and pacifistic samurai I have ever met, and the Kuni, of whom paranoia and caution are of paramount importance. Still, she has been not unlike a cousin to me, though her blood is not of my blood. She reminds me of Aya, in some ways (mostly in that her thoughts are difficult to discern!). One moment, she is hammering away in the forge, and the next she is asking me to join her in clothes-shopping for court.
She is seeking marriage, which is no surprise given her age and the prestige of her family. Tensen has been married for a time, now. It makes me wonder, if only in the secrecy of my own thoughts, what type of woman I would wed, if given the call to choose. Would it be someone like Aya, whose silver tongue would match my golden fingers? Or someone like Kirari, whose fiery passion is a muse to light the world? Or someone like Fumiko, dutiful and virtuous, clever and compelling. Or someone like the Shinjo who now rides with us, curious and aloof, yet refreshingly honest and forthright? Such is the plight of those destined to serve; such decisions are so rarely our own to make. Not to say that I would not do my duty and marry whomever my lord arranged, but it can be heartening to let the mind and heart wander from time to time…
Writing like this is… frustrating. I do not see the comfort in this the way Tensen must. Writing like this just confuses my feelings further. There is no clarity of expression; not like when making music. Being that this is the first night in a very long time that I have not had an instrument to play, however, I must make due with ink and paper. It is a poor substitute, but better than leaving this all stuck in my head. We have an important task ahead of us, and I must not allow myself to be weighed down by personal matters.