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|A Forgotten Saga, Part 2|
|Written By:||Shawn Carman|
|Edited By:||Fred Wan|
|Story Year:||1152, 1153|
Annotated Story Edit
Previously: A Forgotten Saga, Part 1.
It opens upon the city Shaiga in the spring of 1152. Kaneka is performing a kata, attempting to block out any distracting noises. As he finishes he looks to his sensei to gauge the mans reaction. Otoya begins berating Kaneka, although finally admits it was his best performance to date. Kaneka hides a grin, knowing it was the first time in the past six months his sensei had said anything particularily pleasant. Otoya inquires Kaneka about his recent visit to Shoan's orphanage. Otoya does not understand why the woman work where she does, and wonders why Kaneka helps out there. Kaneka says they need him, but Otoya feels it is a pointless pursuit. Kaneka disagrees, but Otoya points out that the Steel Chrysanthemum used people and disgarded them, and would have lost the war much earlier were it not for the Stone Crab leading his armies. Kaneka points out that Otoya himself had served in the Chrysanthemum's armies. Otoya concedes the point, but mentions that one mans koku can be spent as well as anothers. Kaneka points out that there is more to life than money, and Otoya laughs. Otoya says he will miss Kaneka and explains that tomorrow is Kaneka's last day as his student, as he is expecting more students arriving from Nanashi Mura. Kaneka protests, but Otoya says there is nothing more he can learn from him.
On the plains north of Shinomen Mori eight months later, Kaneka smiles as his friend Etsushi is telling a tale about a young geisha from Crane lands. Others around are laughing, and ask Etsushi to continue his story. Etushi does, and the finish causes more laughter. Kaneka requests the name of the geisha house so he can see if any magistrates in the area are still looking for him. Etushi names it the House of Drifting Leaves. As Etsushi mentions the name Uchito, Etushi's brother, yells out that Etushi must have been the one who was with Tsuchiko that night. Uchito leaps at his brother, claiming he stole Tsuchiko from her. They continue fighting until a lone rider approaches. The rider Ryuta, the father of the two brothers, wishes to know why the two are fighting. Etsushi defends their lighthearted fun, claiming the Forest Killers bandit group are nothing to worry about because of information from the Eyes of Nanashi. Supposedly the Forest Killers migrate, due to the groups large size. At this time of year the group is most likely in northern Crab lands. Ryuta is impressed with the information the two have gathered, but still tells them they should know better. Ryuta suggests their band should not be called The Hidden Storm, but rather the Obnoxious storm, before telling them to gets some rest before travelling the next day.
Three days later, the Hidden Storm were attacked. Kaneka learned later that it was the Forest Killers who had specifically changed their travelling patterns to attack the Hidden Storm. They had been attacked by cavalry from the east, and as they turned to face them they were attacked from the west. At third attack on their flank shattered the Hidden Storm. Kaneka lept from his horse as it died calling out for Ryuta, Etsushi and Uchito. He hears a reply and finds Etsushi and Uchito fighting, Etsushi's right eye already missing. Kaneka joins the two and while fighting asks where Ryuta is. Kaneka wants to retreat but Etsushi refuses. Uchito convinces Etsushi and the three take horses and flee.
The next day the three return to the plain where the battle had taken place. They have spent the entire day looking for survivors, and found none from the Hidden Storm. Twice they have come upon small groups Forest Killers and killed all. They searched for hours until Etsushi found the dead body of his father. Kaneka tries to console the two brothers. Etsushi swears to kill every last one of those who attacked them, and Kaneka agrees to help. Uchito insits that their fathers ashes be returned to their home village. Kaneka cannot come with them, and they arrange to meet up again in Kaeru Toshi later.
Six months later in Kaeru Toshi, 1153, Kaneka finishes a cup of sake. Six months have passed since he parted with Etsushi and Uchito, and he is worrying about what has happened to them. He finishes the sake left in the bottle with a gulp and rises and moves toward the door. It is bright outside and for a moment he is blinded. He accidentally bumps into something and falls to the ground. Kaneka leaps to his feet to yell at the person who bumped into him, only to realise it is a woman. The woman claims he bumped into her but Kaneka will not listen. The woman insults him, and Kaneka is outraged. Kaneka challenges her and she accepts, but convinces him to hold the duel the next morning.
The next morning Kaneka is hungover from the past day. He still does not know the womans name, and when he arrives at the arranged place the she is already waiting for him. She is praying, and Kaneka does not interrupt her. When she is finishes the says she is glad to see him, having thought that the sake would keep him away. The two take their positions only a few feet apart and the two adopt their stances. The wait is unbearable for Kaneka, but she seems to show no strain of remaining motionless. When they finally moved it happened so fast Kaneka could not remember who had moved first. There was a crisp sound of steel awainst steel and a sharp pain in Kaneka's shoulder. Kaneka drops to the ground and the woman moves over to him. His blade has been broken and a shard has lodged itself in his shoulder. Kaneka agrees to let her remove the shard, but manages to prevent himself from crying out in pain when she pulls it out. He asks her if she was injured, but she was not. Kaneka finds another wound on his arm believing it to be another shard. In fact it was a very shallow cut made by the woman. Kaneka declares her the winner, but she is modest. Kaneka lament over his broken blade, but the woman says it can be reforged. She introduces herself as Fusami, and helps Kaneka to his feet before the two go back together to Kaeru Toshi.
Two months later in Shinomen Mori, Kaneka rests for a moment. He has still not replaced his blade. Fusami attempted to talk him out of travelling, but he would be turned away. Kaneka thinks back upon growing up in the forest with his mother, not knowing what dangers it held. Suddenly a something crashes throught the vegetation and drops down in front of him. The man stands up and greets Kaneka. Kaneka asks what the man was doing up in the tree, but the man only makes fun of himself. He introduces himself as Kazumasa, and Kaneka introduces himself asking why the man is in the forest. Kazumasa explains he loves exploring and when he hears about a cliff Kaneka used to dive from when he was younger Kazumasa suggests they race there. Kaneka refuses but Kazumasa is not deterred and the two start their race. Kazumasa is winning the race and suddenly Kaneka breaks through the brush and falls over the cliff to the water below where Kazumasa has just landed.
A few days later Kazumasa and Kaneka part ways. Kaneka returns to the small hut he and his mother had shared, hoping to find some indication of who his father is. Finding nothing he goes back outside. There is a small pond nearby where his mother would meditate for guidance. Kaneka sits down by the pond and attempts to meditate. Minutes become hours but he kept at it. Only after most of the day had passed did he gave up, feeling emptier than he had ever done in his life. Suddenly the water infront of him began churning, rising and eventually taking form. The Dragon of Water greets Kaneka, explaining it has been waiting for him to return.
To Be Concluded in: A Forgotten Saga, Part 3.
Not Present, But Mentioned Edit
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