Letters to Mirumoto Yonaka

Mirumoto Yonaka
Taisa of the Stone Dogs
Last Light Castle

Little brother,

I am currently in Stillwater Town near Hoshi Pass, and will be moving on in the morning. I do not know when you will receive this, as I wager you have not yet arrived at Last Light Castle. Fortunes willing, you will find it waiting for you when you arrive.

So far, the journey has gone better than I expected. Two of the prisoners attempted to escape on the way here, but they were apprehended by Shinsai Mai. I beheaded them in front of the rest, and when we reached Stillwater I submitted their names to the Dragon authorities here. Their families will pay for their crimes. I do not like such rough justice, but it has subdued the rest of them, and I have had no trouble since.

We have spent the past four days here. The prisoners have been set to work clearing the battlefield of the bodies from the final battle. The stench of rot and burnt flesh is everywhere, as are the flies. We go around with cloths pressed to our faces to keep from breathing them in.

Though the work on the battlefield is truly horrific, I would trade places with any of the prisoners, given the chance. For Stillwater is also infested with diplomats from all over Rokugan, each trying to ferret out whatever information they can get. I had not been here more than an hour when the first of the invitations arrived — the Scorpion asking me to tea. This was closely followed by the Crane inviting me to a poetry reading. By the end of the day all of the major clans and several of the minor ones had asked me to attend something or other. I have no head for politics, as you well know, but I could not refuse them all. I made the best of a bad lot and went to the Crab ambassador, Yasuki Daisuke. He received me very informally, and seemed well pleased with my report, though it could not be complete. If I overemphasized your own deeds in order to draw attention away from certain others, I beg you will understand.

When my tale was done, I asked him what I should do about the other invitations. After careful consideration, he said that he would take parts of my story and turn them into a sort of play, an evening’s entertainment for the other diplomats. No one would be completely satisfied, but no one would feel slighted, either. He is good at his job, that one. I should not have navigated these treacherous waters without him.

Tomorrow we travel on to Kyuden Tonbo, where I am told there are still Lion in residence. Afterwards we will take a kobune down Three Sides River until we reach Beiden Pass. I will write again when we arrive there, as I am sure there will be some delay at the Scorpion border.

Fortunes keep you, and give my deepest respects to your Lady.

Hida Nakamuro

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Mirumoto Yonaka
Taisa of the Stone Dogs
Last Light Castle

Little brother,

I am at the border to the Scorpion lands, waiting for the Scorpion yuriki to finish interrogating every last one of the Dragon prisoners. They don’t call it interrogation, of course. They say they are making absolutely sure that all the paperwork is in order, and that every prisoner can be identified. No matter. As your Lady has frequently remarked, it is difficult enough to get a straight answer from even one Dragon — multiply that by sixty-five and I almost feel sorry for them.

We left Stillwater Town five days ago, heading south to Kyuden Tonbo. The Lion’s Fourth Legion under Ikoma the Iron Armed was still there, but they were withdrawing in an orderly fashion. An Imperial delegation of Miya and Otomo was there to bear witness. On the advice of the Yasuki diplomat I requested an audience with them. At first they were not inclined to receive me, and I was hard put not to bang their fool heads together. But the name of Togashi Hoshi carries great weight, and on hearing it, they became much more cooperative. They gave me Imperial traveling passes and permission to requisition supplies along the way.

As I was leaving, I was hailed by Matsu Chibi, a samurai-ko I had met while traveling with Kakita Hiro to the Village of the Reinstated Hero. This was shortly before I met you. She had been drunk, and took offense because she thought the Kakita was ignoring her. We exchanged blows. She is very short, so hers were struck lower than I liked. I called her an Oni, and this pleased her. One does not easily forget a woman like that. It was good to see a familiar face, and we talked until it was time to load the prisoners onto the kobune.

We were three days on the river, accompanied by Lion transports and warships for part of the way. A Lion Taisa came on board the first day, and gave the prisoners a speech about the tenets of bushido. Each word fell like the lash of a whip. They were very subdued afterwards.

I divided the prisoners into groups of five, assigning an ashigaru to each. Morale was low. I permitted those who had behaved well to train with the monk in jiujutsu. This gave them something to do, and passed the time. The troublemakers fetched water for everyone else. Shinsai Mai found one man who was more skilled than he. It surprised him very much when the man threw him overboard.

Hikozaemon has begun to ask me questions about the Crab lands. He seems to think that we are in constant danger of being eaten alive by huge monsters that breathe fire. I tell him that there are such monsters, but that they usually kill their prey before eating them. It does not seem to relieve his fears.

We reached Beiden Pass with no further casualties or disturbances. Now we wait for the Scorpion to check our paperwork for the third time, so that we may cross their lands. I do not relish the journey, but I am told the roads are very good. Fortunes grant we will make short work of it. I will write again when we have reached the River of Gold.

Fortunes carry you and your Lady.

Hida Nakamuro

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Mirumoto Yonaka
Taisa of the Stone Dogs
Last Light Castle

Little brother,

We are making our way down the River of Gold. Shinsai Mai will be disembarking tomorrow. The Temple of Osano-Wo will be almost due west of us then. He has plenty of jade petal tea to take with him. I hope he is not too stubborn to use it.

We did not have any trouble crossing Scorpion lands after all. We were escorted the whole way, but I cannot fault them for that. At one point we were instructed to make a detour so that we would avoid meeting with a daimyo and his retinue. I do not know if there actually was a daimyo, as we never saw him, but it was not a great inconvenience.

One thing I found strange, and perhaps you might ask your Lady about it. When we passed near small villages, some of the peasants would bring food to the prisoners. No one commanded them to, and they did it quietly, without asking for anything in return. If they saw you were watching them, they faded into the shadows. It was strange and a little unsettling.

We passed very close to the Ryoko Owari Toshi, the City of Lies. Our escorts wished us to take rooms there, but I refused. I said that I could not be responsible for the safety of their citizens under those circumstances. In truth, I was not so much worried about that, but there was no way I could have kept track of them all in that place. Not only the prisoners, but my ashigaru as well. Instead we stayed in a barn nearby. It was raining, so perhaps the Scorpion only wanted to sleep somewhere drier.

We left Scorpion lands the next day, taking boats to travel down the River of Gold. Most of the prisoners have become resigned to their new status, and I have very few disciplinary problems. Some of them asked to drill with bokken in addition to jiujutsu practice with the monk, which I have allowed. The journey is drawing to a close and I do not expect a mass rebellion now. It would be very difficult for them to make their way back to Dragon lands, even if they wanted to. Most seem quite eager to get to the Wall. I think Hikozaemon has been repeating my tales to them, as I overheard a small group discussing how to best deal with an Oni that breathes fire.

As I write this, I can hear the sounds of singing. Someone must have figured out how to lay hold of some sake. No matter. One night of drunkenness will not do them any harm. They will not go ashore again until we reach Clear Water Village, and there will be no chance of getting more. I will make sure that bokken drills start extra early tomorrow morning.

When next I write I will be back in the Crab lands, and this task at least will be done. Fortunes carry you and your Lady!

Hida Nakamuro

Letters to Mirumoto Yonaka

L5R : Jade Winds ednoria