L5R : Jade Winds
Gosugo Drinks Tea
(Transcribed from the Zuihitsu of Ikoma Maru.)
This may possibly be the most difficult thing I have ever done. Thinks Mirumoto Naoki as she whisks the powder from the Kuni Magistrate into the chawan.
She pauses as her husband speaks.
“My wife, there is something you need to know. Something I need you to make sure is done properly, especially now that I will not be able to keep my vow.”
“What vow?”, she asks as she frowns and sets the cup down to cool.
“To Kito-sama.”, a breath as Naoki shuts her eyes, “Please, my dear. Put aside your antipathy, your hate for my friend. It goes deeper than I have time to explain and you know he is not to blame for the coming moment.”
Naoki looks at her husband, the Mirumoto Duelist who had never seen defeat by any Kakita with a sword. So many court visits, so many triumphs, and now to be felled after fighting the Taint of the Shadowlands. The Kuni ceremonies have all been completed and Gosugo’s soul is ready. The Magistrate was kind in allowing Naoki to administer the final cleansing dose.
She folds her hands in her lap, head bowed, “My lord.”
Gosugo smiles weakly through the pain, “Take these.” As he slides the family daisho across the floor to the right side of the tea set and then opens an intricately painted silk fan. “Kakita Kito is my gift to you.”
“You’re giving me his life?”, Naoki sets her jaw, “He will die as soon as I step outside.”
“No, my love, he won’t.” responds Gosugo in a calm tone as he studies the pattern of white and yellow blossoms inked onto the surface of the blue silk. “Not today.”
“Instead I give you his death. He has only lived so long because a Mirumoto protected him, because he is the only Kakita to have ever defeated me, because when our Ancestor abandoned me for that loss I vowed to him that he would still die by the hand of a Mirumoto and no other.”
Naoki’s shoulders sag, “I… don’t want his life or his death… I want you.”
“And I also want what I cannot have. Will you take his death for me?”
“You know that I will do whatever you ask.” she draws a stuttering breath as her hands start to shake, “Even for him.”
Gosugo closes the fan and sets it aside, then reaches to take Naoki’s trembling fist until it stops shaking and opens to grasp his gloved hand.
“It is time to finish it. I have been blessed to die in a moment of perfection and beauty.” He reaches out to wipe away the tear that rolls down Naoki’s cheek, “Nearly perfect. I would see you smile one last time.”
Naoki looks up from where their hands are clasped and is afraid when she looks into his eyes, once so bright and now edged with red from lack of sleep, but the man she loves meets her gaze and she will give him anything he asks. Her left hand still grips his tightly, without looking away she uses her free hand to lift the cup of poison to his lips.
She smiles for the last time as he drinks.
(a scene from The Love Suicides at Sonezaki)
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