April 12, 988
Reiko arrived back at her small apartment to find Sashiki giggling and pointing at Omori, who was nearly finished dressing in his formal attire, attire entirely new to Sashiki’s eyes.
“How do I look?” Omori asked with a mischievous grin.
Reiko approached her husband, lifted her veil, and gave him a quick kiss on the cheek. “As wonderful as you always did in those clothes. They suit you. But you’ll need to excuse us now, Sashiki needs to help me prepare, and we will need our privacy.”
“Oh, of course, let me not keep you two from your business.” Omori slipped out the door to the back garden.
Sashiki slowly paced around the room, taking time to examine all the various silk kimonos, makeup, and jewels. It was rare to be allowed within the bedroom; that was Reiko and Omori’s space. Sashiki wanted to make sure to take it all in while she had the chance, before Reiko demanded her attention and turned the whole thing into one lesson or another. She ran her fingers over the silk kimono Reiko had laid out for the art show. It felt much softer and more delicate than the usual kimonos her caretaker wore. It was the softest thing she had ever touched. Her hands trailed across the table, over a necklace of pretty stones before stopping short before Reiko’s wakizashi.
The blade had always been at Reiko’s side, and Sashiki was surprised to see it laying there, unguarded. Sashiki glanced over to Reiko, who was intently painting her face (oddly enough, also painting her lips, which would undoubtedly be hidden behind a veil anyway), and decided to take the risk. The wakizashi had always caught her attention. Reiko, while sometimes wearing clothing that appeared well worn, always made sure to look put together, aside from her blade. The wakizashi, and it’s scabbard, have always appeared dirty. It was beautiful in it’s own way, however. A tassel trailed off the hilt; fabrics of purple, orange and reds in a braid. The same colors adorned the scabbard, with small beads threaded through causing the scabbard to catch light in fascinating patterns. It looked old now, but it must have been incredible to see when it was brand new. Sashiki found it relaxing to watch the light reflect off the beads when she was required to be quiet when adults were talking.
“Sashiki, do you know why I asked you to help me prepare? We have discussed the importance of proper behavior, but haven’t directly talked about the importance of appearance. I’m sure you understand to a certain degree of the importance; for example: you understand why I dress as a peasant when we go to many of the eateries around the city to gather information. But it’s also important to be able to be presentable in other ways. A way a scorpion presents themselves is highly important. What we choose to show, and what we choose NOT to show. That mystery is important to our success. Always leave everyone thinking there is more you do not let on. Do you understand? Sashiki?” Reiko turned towards the young girl behind her, waiting for an answer.
Sashiki stood stone still, both hands wrapped tightly around the scabbard, the wakizashi at arm’s length. Her eyes, now filled with fear, snapped to Reiko upon hearing her name. Reiko calmly looked at the girl, giving no indication of her feelings, seemingly still waiting for a response.
“Um. Uh. Why is gobby so afraid of this?”
“Is he now? How does it make you feel? In your hands?”
Sashiki looked at the wakizashi in her hands and paused for a moment to consider it. “It makes me feel… scared. And angry. I feel unsure. And guilty. I feel like a bad person. And trapped. But it would all be worse now, without it.”
“You feel like a samurai.”
“Is that how you feel?”
“Sometimes. I would be a bad samurai if I did not feel that way sometimes. Do you know what a wakizashi represents to a samurai?”
Sashiki was confused, “It’s your sword. It’s how you fight. Well, not you, you use magic, but it’s how other samurai fight.”
“It’s more than that. Very few of us will use it to fight, unless we absolutely have to. Our wakizashi is our honor. Without it, we are not samurai. It is our authority to do the work that we do. It is the most important thing a samurai possesses.”
“Oh.” Sashiki studied the object in her hands with more reverence.
“Is that something you would like to hold?”
“I… I don’t know.”
“Good. It’s not a decision to be made lightly. In fact, very few have the privilege of making the decision themselves.”
Reiko was looking across the room at Sashiki, a gentle grin on her face. Sashiki had never seen her smile before, or maybe she had, but just couldn’t see it behind the veil. It was nice. A comforting smile.
“Often, the important blades in a family will earn a name. The one you hold has a name.”
“What is it?”
“It is called Kunpuu.”
“That’s a great name to describe you!”
“Do not be mistaken, it is not a name for me. It is a name for that in your hands now, and the name fits the blade much better than it could ever fit me. Should you decide that you wish to hold a wakizashi, Kunpuu will be yours, when I can no longer carry it. Normally it would be saved for my family’s heir, but as you can see, Omori and I have no heir. It is not a light decision, as I am sure you can already feel, and know that I will not judge you regardless of your choice. I know what you decide is what is best for you.”
“I- thank you. Can I put it down? For now, I mean?”
“Sure, just place it back on the table, and come help me get dressed. This kimono is difficult to put on.”
Sashiki slowly placed the wakizashi back on the table, her hands still gently holding on to the scabbard, “It’s hard to let go.”
“It is. It will be easier with time. And Sashiki. This conversation is just between the two of us. You tell no one of what we discussed tonight. Not even Omori. There is much pain and suffering that you could bring upon this household. Understand?” The young girl did not fully understand, but she nodded as she helped wrapped Reiko in a sash.