|The Topaz Championship|
|Written By:||Nancy Sauer|
Annotated Story Edit
It opens upon Hida Fumetsu, walking in a street in Tsuma, contemplating previous winners of the Topaz Championship. Alongside him walks his fellow Crab and contestant Hida Kashin. The two are ordered to stop by a Daidoji bushi who identifies Kashin's mon as that of the Damned. She asks for their traveling papers. Fumetsu is offended, but Kashin explains why he is wearing the mon of the Damned, and hands her his papers. Once the Daidoji has read the papers she hands them back, and welcomes the two Crab to Tsuma. She gives the two directions to the Crab Estate, and to a cook shop run by Washi, which has the best tempura in town, and to say that Daidoji Murasaki sent them. After Murasaki leaves, Kashin berates Fumetsu for how he acted with the Daidoji. Fumetsu asks Kashin about his father, and about a woman named Hida Nichie who is supposedly training the Damned.
Later Fumetsu, having completed some of the test for the Championship already, is sitting before a Crane and a Scorpion judge. Having scored perfect marks in the sumai and athletics competition, and respectably in the horsemanship and heraldry, he is now sitting before about to answer a question traditionally asked at the Championship as one of the tests. "Which is most important for a samurai to serve, the Emperor or the Empire?", one of the judges asks, and Fumetsu replies the Emperor. When asked why he merely says, "Look what happens when we don’t have one." Both judges accept his reason, and pass him.
Later that day Fumetsu returns to his room, finding Kashin there. Both have done well so far, and congratulate each other. Kashin is reading something and Fumetsu asks what it is. Kashin explains that he is preparing for the poetry competition the next day, and Fumetsu reveals that he is somewhat of a poet himself. He had been taught by his sensei that boredom on the Kaiu Kabe could kill him, and a monk at Koten had told him about poetry. Fumetsu wants to go out to eat at that tempura place Murasaki had told them about. Kashin is reluctant, but Fumetsu convinces him saying it is the best tempura he has had since leaving Kyuden Hida.
Two days later Fumetsu and Kashin are facing each other in a duel. The previous day had gone well for both of them, scoring well in the weapons, archery and hunting competitions. Both had done poorly in the courtier examination, and while Fumetsu had taken the higher marks in poetry, Kashin had been superior in go. The Kenshinzen judge Kakita Hanae announces their names, and the two enter their stances. Fumetsu empties his mind of thought, and suddenly it is over. As he checks his targets to see if he has won or lost, he sees that he has won. Kashin bows deeply to Fumetsu and walks off, and Hanae declares Fumetsu the winner.
Sometime later Fumetsu is walking through Tsuma with the Kabuto of the Topaz Armor under his arm. It was the only part of the armor that would fit him. When he reaches his room he finds Kashin finishing his packing. Kashin laments his failure, but Fumetsu tries to cheer him up. Fumetsu explains that he spoke with a Crane at the party following the competition, who was willing to arrange for Kashin to become a doshin to an Emerald Magistrate. This cheers up Kashin considerably, who convinces Fumetsu it needs celebrating with sake.
Not Present, But Mentioned Edit
Tournament Results Edit
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