|Letters Volume 4|
|Released:||November 6th, 2009|
My lord Berii-sama,
It is with great regret that I must compose this message, my lord, for I fear that I have disappointed you in my failure to complete the duty assigned to me following our most recent meeting in the halls of Shiro Kitsuki some months ago. I will of course accept whatever measure of punishment you deem appropriate for this failure, but I feel it is only fitting that I inform you of the reasons behind it, that you may fully understand the difficulties inherent in this task.
As per your instructions, my lord, I proceeded to Houritsu Mura, the so-called “Village of Law” that the Mantis Clan maintains near the ruins of Otosan Uchi. This is apparently the center of their magisterial activities on the mainland, coordinating their activity from their northernmost holdings at Kyuden Kumiko to the training center for their bounty hunters at Kyuden Ashinagabachi in the Tsuruchi lands. In accordance with your wishes, I spent some time there, frequently meeting with high ranking magistrates and the city governor in an attempt to reconcile the past conflicts between our family and their organization. I regret to inform you that this reconciliation appears to be completely impossible. I offered some meager concessions in order to impress upon them the sincerity of our intentions, but found them completely intractable.
The Mantis simply will not, or perhaps cannot, appreciate any perspective other than their own in this matter.
I must say that over the course of my years of service to the Dragon, I have become somewhat accustomed to the disdain with which our family’s methods of investigation are regarded. Were it simply this familiar contempt, I feel I would have been able to repair the relations between our two groups. Unfortunately, that is not the case. The Mantis, as a clan, appear to believe that embracing the law in an attempt to defeat those who have flaunted it is the height of inefficiency. They believe that in order to most effectively apprehend and punish criminals, that they must understand their methods and, if necessary, utilize them to some small degree.
The obvious reaction of this concept to any civilized being should be overwhelming disgust. Even the Mantis seem to recognize how easily such a stance could lead to spiritual corruption, but they honestly seem to believe that consorting with criminals as informants and contacts is an acceptable measure. That even casual contact with such individuals can stain the honorable soul of any samurai seems to be a concept they cannot grasp. If this is the secret of their successful endeavors as magistrates, then I cannot deny that there is some degree of accuracy to their claims, but I for one believe that the cost will always be too high.
Your faithful servant,
Greetings from the mainland, my lord. I hope that by sending my message through more conventional channels that I have given you the opportunity you require to process enormity of the Divine Empress’ announcement. I have a vague recollection from past incidents that you have something of a penchant for overreaction in extreme circumstances. I do hope that you received the news when you were elsewhere other than your private audience chamber. I do so love the Senpet tapestry in that room and I would be quite dismayed to hear that it had been damaged.
All levity aside, my lord, I trust that a man of your vision does not need to be told what an incredible opportunity our clan has been afforded with this announcement. I would have already joined you in the islands to assist with the preparation, but unfortunately my duties as Amethyst Champion prevent my immediate departure. It is my hope to arrive at least a week, perhaps two, in advance of the Empress and her guests, in order to assure that all is precisely as it should be. It is my sincerest hope, my lord, that you will permit me this honor in the name of our clan, and to ensure that all will be perfection for what could be a historical occasion.
My appointments and duties for the Mantis have never included matters of a military nature, my lord, and I would not presume to offer recommendations for such as a result. However, I can offer my observations on the ramifications of military action, or the lack thereof, in the arena of court. You are of course familiar with the untimely demise of your contemporary, Hida Kuon. You may not be aware, however, that his sacrifice and the actions of the other clans in the current battle in the south are garnering incredible support among the attendants at court. An Empire united against a common foe is a grand thing, and the opportunities it affords are almost limitless.
Unfortunately, in order to capitalize upon these opportunities, difficult choices must be made. I am very well aware of your bond with the Thunder Dragon, my lord, and your insistence that above all else it must be protected. I also know you too well to believe that you are not aware that the creature has recovered as much of its power as it is going to now that it exists in the mortal realm, and that it could very well destroy the entirety of our forces that protect it with minimal effort. There is no force that can threaten it that we are capable of defending against, my lord. I would not dream of suggesting that we should abandon its defense altogether. However, I believe that the allocation of two Storms is a misallocation of resources, and I would respectfully suggest that one be re-tasked to patrol the seas surrounding the Sea of Shadows, much as the Storm based at Kyuden Kumiko keeps watch for Yobanjin movement along the northern coasts. Doing so would, I believe, garner us a great deal of good will in court.
This is the season of opportunity for the Mantis, my lord. Let us not squander it.
Yours in service,
I was delighted to learn that you will be coming to Shiro Moto for the season. Winter is always a good time for gathering together with friends, and this is even more true in times of trouble. Chen is also pleased, as it means you will be available for the many councils that he will be holding with the lesser lords of the clan. Our recent wars have drained our strength, and now we have the Crab’s weakness, the plague, and the new attacks in the north to deal with. We must make careful decisions for the future, so that our children will not be shamed by us.
Before you arrive there are some things my husband wishes you to know.
On the matter of the Horiuchi: Chen shares your grief over the plague and the cleansing that the Empress was forced to impose upon them. But that is a matter of the heart, and he has made up his mind without consulting it. We will not be exacting revenge on the ronin who carried out the burning. It is terribly calculating, but our mercy puts Susumu, who regards these ronin as his kin, in our debt–and to have the Imperial Advisor in one’s debt is no small thing.
Now, as to the living. The Horiuchi name has become an evil omen, and Chen does not want to burden the survivors or the Unicorn clan with such a name. He is making it known that any Horiuchi who wishes fealty in the Moto will be welcome. He also expects the Iuchi, the Ide, and the Shinjo to follow his example. I know this will trouble you; Shinjo Shono’s admiration for Horiuchi Shoan was well-known. Let me comfort you as well! Chen has ordered the construction of an ancestral shrine for Shoan near the main temple of the Lords of Death. Those who bear the name will not be expected to abandon it unless they so choose, but no new Horiuchi shall be brought into this world. The memory of the family will fade away, but the memory of the brave and compassionate samurai will remain.
Finally, I have a personal favor to ask of you. I would be a very happy woman if you would bring Mine-Hee with you. Naleesh has always looked up to your daughter, and I want her to help Naleesh in her studies. My daughter is an eager student, but she is also stubborn and willful and gets into arguments with her sensei almost daily. Chen always sides with the sensei, but he doesn’t hide that he finds the situation very amusing. I find it quite embarrassing! I am certain that a winter of watching Min-Hee’s calm diligence would have a good effect on Naleesh.
Honorable Togashi Iroshi-sama,
I am writing to you out of respect for one who, in turn, respected you a great deal.
Kitsuki Taiko spoke very little about her life and duties in the lands of the Dragon. While her enigmatic nature did not approach the level of those of your order, I think you would recognize their influence on her. She did speak of you, however. She looked forward to your next meeting because that would mean she had accomplished something that was worthy of approaching you.
I admit that I do not understand exactly what she meant by that, but it is clear that she held you in very high regard. I trust that you also hold great respect for her, as such a noble samurai deserved. It is in this vein that I am writing to inform you that Kitsuki Taiko has gone to join her ancestors.
A samurai lives only to serve that which sits above them – whether daimyo, champion, Empress or empire. Taiko did all of these things and therefore her death should be spoken of across all the halls of Rokugan, though I expect that it will not be. She died saving her companions, of which I was one. More importantly, in this regard, she saved us so we could return to Rokugan to tell the empire of the great threat that approaches from beyond the Shadowlands. She gave the rest of us the opportunity to escape.
Now, who is the great samurai? The one that sacrifices herself for the betterment of the empire, or those who flee in terror at the site of a horrible beast? I have failed before. When I was able to expunge that shame from my life I swore that I would not fail again.
I have failed. I have failed Taiko.
I should have saved her or given every fiber of my being over to vengeance against Kali-Ma. I would have, if it was not for Akodo Shunori. Shunori did not place the fate of Rokugan over that of Taiko. One more sword would not have made his departure easier. He did not need me. No, his actions merely saved me from my own fate and I will never forgive him for that.
I envy Taiko. She died a hero.
[This letter was burned by Hideo shortly after being completed.]