By now, it is a familiar dream. He does not know when it starts, but soon enough, he is being pulled down a long stark hallway by Katsumi. wait – that’s not — He is clumsy and slow as she tugs at his hands with almost childlike enthusiasm. She giggles as he stumbles. She is so small, so perfect. Her unscarred face smiles up at him, and her beautiful black hair is done in an elaborate bun, secured with ebony hairsticks. Her clever hands reach into his kimono, taking out a puzzle box, his writing kit, his mother’s obi — why is he wearing a kimono? where is his armor? — and she chatters about his hair, the high cost of noodles, his wife — a wave of unease washes over him, and he hesitates. She tugs at him again, and when he does not move, she comes closer, close enough for him to smell her hair, close enough for him to feel her heat. She looks up at him again, and gently traces the scar on his cheek. Her voice is a whisper in the night. “I will never be your geisha. Will you put aside your wife?” Startled, he reaches for her, to tell her yes, he would do anything for her, anything she asks, but with a swirl of her robes she dances out of his grasp. He follows, pleading with her to stop, but she will not. Ahead of her he can see another figure, beckoning.

There is the suddenly sagging floor, and the sound of splintering wood, and with a sickening lurch he falls. His hand reaches out for her, but she is too far away. Something slams into him, something designed to shatter bones and carapace, and the pain is excruciating. His chest is shattered, his heart pierced.

He does not want to look. He will not. But he hears her laugh, and his eyes turn inexorably to where she and Yonaka stand on the edge of the pit. They embrace, and Yonaka presents her with a cleverly folded sheet of paper. She throws her arms around his neck with delight, and the two walk away. Neither of them look back. Katsumi…

He will have this dream many times. But tonight it is the first. And tonight — tonight as he watches them walk away, he can do nothing but weep.


L5R : Jade Winds ednoria