Kito Keeps a Vow

(A Kyogen Bunraku interlude from Ikoma Maru)

“My Lady Mirumoto-sama.”

Him again.

The Kakita was wise to have been elsewhere when the hinin came to remove Gosugo’s body for cremation. In spite of her promise not to kill the Crane she isn’t sure she would have kept it. She had never liked seeing the arrival of Kakita Kito, it always meant that Mirumoto Gosugo would be leaving again. Over the years mere annoyance and jealousy had become hate, especially when she begged her husband not to go.Kkv op

Naoki pretends not to notice and turns quickly to hasten away in the other direction, but as Kito rounds the corner and matches her stride in order to walk next to her she is reminded again just how fast the Crane can move when they want something. She continues at her quickened pace, if nothing more than to attempt to annoy her foe.

“I hope that you will let me explain what I fear he never did.” he is saying as he matches her step, “Gosugo-san was not always my friend. He made me promise to tell you one day, so if you will permit me I will tell you of our unfortunate duel.”

Kkv4 opEven with her kimono swirling around her legs she turns sharply and takes a set of wide stairs to an upper level two steps at a time. It isn’t the most dignified of actions, but it seems more dignified than being seen in the company of Kakita Kito and it brings her a moment of peace before she hears his voice again.

“If it makes any difference I did not want to duel your husband, but he was manipulated by certain jealous members of the court to insist that my work and my presence in the Dragon lands was an insult. I was younger and not as experienced as I am now and thought only of my duty. Had I thought to refuse I would not have needed to defeat him the way that I did.”

Some inner voice whispers freedom at the thought of the end of this hallway which ends in a balcony without a railing. If she could just keep walking and fall then this awkward one-sided conversation would be over.

“He would have been in his rights to cut me down, and he could have. He was most certainly the better swordsman, but he never drew his sword against me.”

She can see the open area just ahead, and then she is tumbling and everything is awash with sky blue.

“A thousand apologies, my Lady, how clumsy of me. We must have tripped over the hem of my robes, I will ask my tailor to hem it a little.”

She glares at him as they both rise, her fists clenching at her belt where a sword would have been if they were not at court and before she realizes what she’s doing she speaks the words.

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“Oaf! Fool! Murderer! I will see you dead before I will listen to more of your lies!”

Amazingly the Kakita is silent for once as his polite courtly smile fades. His bleached white hair hangs in front of his eyes as he bows his head.

“So be it. If I cannot tell you, then I will show you. I accept your challenge and will make the arrangements with our respective Lords. A messenger will be sent to inform you of the time and place. Feel free to bring whatever you feel you need to fulfill your wish.”

Kito bows and turns away from the edge of the balcony, his head lowered as he walks slowly one step at a time down the stairs. Naoki stands in an archway on the roof of the palace, trapped by a background of white clouds against a pale blue sky.

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(Oshichi in the fire tower in Date Musume Koi no Higanoko)

Part I Part II Part III

Kito Keeps a Vow

L5R : Jade Winds Chickenhat