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|The Flowers, The Snow|
|Written By:||Nancy Sauer & Fred Wan|
Annotated Story Edit
In Kyuden Otomo during Winter Court, 1170, Bayushi Saya contemplates the recent show of power by Doji Domotai. Domotai had arrived at Winter Court wearing robes that had been fashionable back during the time of Hantei X, and no-one could be seen to dress differently than the Lady Doji. Saya watches as Domotai is speaking with Otomo Daimyo Otomo Hoketuhime. Saya notes the colors of what Domotai and Hoketuhime are wearing, especially that Hoketuhime's are similar to those of the Hantei family. Saya knows it is not a coincidence. Domotai had also made sure that any kimono shops were too busy to take orders from others, and only a handful of chosen visitors had been fortunate enough to be allowed kimono's made. A few Phoenix, including Master of Fire Isawa Ochiai, Lion and the Amethyst Champion Yoritomo Yoyonagi. Notably among those who had not managed to get the new fashion was Yasuki Miliko, the Ruby Champion. Saya's scrutinizing of the room is interupted as she senses the approach of Asahina Beniha. Beniha greets Saya, who does so in turn. Beniha comments that she has notices Saya admiring Ochiai's clothing, and Saya confesses that she also notices Domotai's bold choice of colors. Beniha brightens at the talk of colors, and is eager to know what combinations Saya herself will choose. Saya knows that Beniha is aware she has not been able to obtain a new kimono. Nonetheless Saya informs Beniha that she has been unable to place an order, but Beniha suggests she should be able to ise her own kimono maker. Saya stares at Beniha for a moment contemplating the reasonings behind this. Saya decides that it will be a very small thing to owe Beniha a favor in exchange for the correct fashion. Saya procedes to follow custom and decline the offer twice before accepting, offering a favor in return of course.
Meanwhile, in Sakura no Yuki Mura, Hida Dayu contemplates the winter and the campaign against the Crane Clan. He enters a farmhouse, and greets the Daidoji inside. The Crane identifies himself as Daidoji Zoushi, the commander of the Crane forces in this district. Zoushi offers Dayu a drink, and Dayu accepts as he names himself as the commander of the Crab forces who will be holding this district tomorrow. Zoushi pours the drinks but thinks there will be little for the two discuss if that is the case. Dayu however wishes to discuss the Cherry Blossom Snow Brewery. Zoushi asks what Dayu means, and Dayu explains that in honor of Daidoji Hachi's service to the Crab his forces will not destroy the brewery or the city when they take it. Zoushi makes a point of naming the former Emerald Champion Yasuki Hachi, but Dayu ignores him. Zoushi contemplates this for a moment, knowing that the Crab desperately need the revenue from the brewery. Zoushi finally vows to leave the brewery and village intact also. Dayu thanks him, determined to honor the defense of Shinsei's Last Hope, and leaves. Zoushi watches him leave then has to listen as his aide wonders why he would promise to leave the brewery intact. Zoushi swears to Hachiman for strength, and asks instead to have Kakita Kensho-in summoned to his command tent. Outside, Dayu gets on his horse as one of his honor guard approaches. Hiruma Aya reveals that she recognized one of the men with Zoushi as Daidoji Kojima, a veteran from the Kaiu Kabe. Dayu considers this for a moment, but does not think that Zoushi will have enough men to stop the Crab anyway.
The following day, near the Cherry Blossom Snow Brewery, Daidoji Murasaki reflects on the Crab scouts her and her men have just dispatched. She signals to Daidoji Akagi and Daidoji Naoshige to scout ahead while the remaining Crane forces catch up. Daidoji Kojima arrives, and shortly after Kakita Kensho-in. Kensho-in thinks it is sad what they are about to do, but Murasaki points out that the Crab could re-open the markets with the revenue they would gain from this brewery. Kensho-in still thinks it is a shame to end something so fine, but Murasaki cuts her off as Naoshige and Akagi return. They report there are ten Crab bushi in total, and Murasaki is pleased. Naoshige reports he recognized some from the night before, among them the Hiruma. Kojima pales a little before telling them that she is Hiruma Aya, one of the first students at the new Hiruma School and very dangerous. Murasaki contemplates this for a moment, before ordering Akagi to use archery. She orders Naoshige to target the Crab officer and sends them off to get ready.
Shortly after, Murasaki's group attack the Crab at the brewery. All but one of the Crab brace for the assault, Hiruma Aya charging out towards the Crane. Kojima alters his course towards her and the two clash. Kojima feels a cut in his side, and turns to face Aya who looks unscathed. She asks how, if he could not beat her in the dojo, what makes him think he can kill her now? Aya raises her blade to kill him when he reveals that he already has, and an arrow strikes Aya under her arm. Kojima knocks Aya to the ground, and severs her head. Kojima looks around him seeing that many of the Crab have already been taken out. A few Crane are also down, and Murasaki was fighting against a bushi a foot taller than her and her arm was hanging oddly. Kojima charges over and decapitates the Crab, and with that the last of the Crab were killed. Kojima asks her what is wrong with her arm, and Murasaki reveals it has been broken in several places. Murasaki looks up as Kensho-in comes running out of the brewery, and the Crane flee.
Sometime later, Hida Dayu is riding towards the brewery. His troops have beaten back the Crane, and Zoushi's forces were retreating. One of Dayu's men draws his attention to the scene at the brewery, and Dayu races to the building. One of the soldiers comments on how the Crane must ambush ten men to have any chance of winning a fight. Dayu thinks it odd to kill the men but leave the brewery intact, so he dismounts and enters the brewery. Inside he sees the murdered bodies of the workers, and the dead brewmaster in the koji room. One of Dayu's men asks why anyone would do this, and Dayu explains that the brewery is worthless now. Sake can be made here, but without the secrets of the brewmaster and his workers it will not be the same. Dayu thinks about the cup he had had the night before, and realizes it was probably the last taste of a drink that would soon cease to exist.
Sometime later, Hida Reiha is reading out a letter from Doji Domotai to her husband the Crab Clan Champion, Hida Kuon. The letter expresses regret that Kuon and Reiha could not visit Kyuden Otomo during Winter Court, and to accept these gifts as a show of regard. Contained within are some oddly cut kimono, and Reiha does not understand what Domotai intends to accomplish with this. Kuon is angry, having recieved news of Sakura no Yuki Mura yesterday. Kuon suspects the letter and gift is to show that the Crane Clan Champion's power is in the courts, and the Crab Champion's isn't, but he does not think it matters. Reiha knows that it does, having read the reports of Crane cutting Crab supplies. While the Crab have retaken many Yasuki family holdings they may struggle to hold on until spring. Kuon stares at the clothing for a moment, before ordering them burnt.
- Bayushi Saya
- Asahina Beniha
- Hida Dayu
- Daidoji Zoushi
- Hiruma Aya
- Daidoji Murasaki
- Daidoji Akagi
- Daidoji Naoshige
- Kakita Kensho-in
- Daidoji Kojima
- Hida Reiha
- Hida Kuon
Not Present, But Mentioned Edit
- Hantei X
- Doji Domotai
- Otomo Hoketuhime
- Isawa Ochiai
- Yasuki Miliko
- Yoritomo Yoyonagi
- Doji Jorihime
- Yasuki (Daidoji) Hachi
- Doji Kurohito
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