Moss-covered Monk

Moss-covered Monk


Friday, January 4, 2013


"Do not cry, little flower. Your father kept his honor, even if that swine Yoshitoyo took his life and fief. There is nothing we could have done." Father's most trusted retainer, Hiro, had fled the battle against his better judgement; the tide had not turned until that fateful arrow struck home and changed everything. Hiro felt that he had let his master down, and that one death weighed more upon the warrior than the score he had seen before. I was only eight at the time, but I somehow knew the gravity of the situation.

"We must leave Hitachi at once." Hiro's son, Takamatsu, pleaded, after having arrived with a half-dozen men from Musashi. There were no signs of pursuers from the castle, but Takamatsu did not want to chance an encounter. His only concern was getting his father and his father's pledges to safety.

"You are correct, my dear boy. I did not wish to flee, leaving our family's holdings to the wolf, but we have no choice anymore. Saddle up the smallest horse for little flower, I will carry the boy with me." Hiro said, his expression unchanging. The stern facade reassured Takamatsu and the other retainers, but I saw through the mask. I had always possessed the ability, or so I was told by my grandmother. Yuki has the same eyes.

Hiro, unsettled by my inquisitive and penetrating manner, wiped away what appeared to be sweat, before pulling me onto a horse. I had ridden from the time I could remember, picking up the lessons that Father had prepared for his firstborn. He did not wish to teach me the bow, but once I showed a talent for riding, he could not stop my progress. My kyudo instructor, an ancient-looking man who often taught in his ancestral armor, also refused to instruct me, at least initially. Once I had bested the man's star pupil in a contest of three, he was brought around.

"If only I had a weapon..." I muttered to myself. Hiro seemed to overhear me, as he shot an angry glance in my direction before starting off for Musashi. I followed begrudgingly, as Takamatsu and two other riders formed up in a rearguard. I kept glancing back, trying to find my home within the flickering fires consuming Shida. Everything Father had built...

"Do not worry, little arrow. You have flown from home, but you will return, to strike home. Practice for that day. You know what you must do." Takamatsu said. The world had become an inhospitable place, no more could I waste time with the thoughts and desires of childhood.

"You may not live under the same heaven, as the one who has slain your father."