The city was, perhaps, surprisingly upbeat about the appearance of the Empress. Of course the Ryokugony would be, but even the Gaijin seems impressed and cheerful. It may have just been that important people are special no matter where you’re from. The city guard were out in force making sure everywhere was peaceful and everything went smoothly, even though very little of the city actually was visited. Masaru didn’t want to take any chances and found several opportunities to inform her of the goings on in the city and especially what they learned of the Gray Souls. The docks, he found, were the best place to find a strong breeze to take his words to her.
Her stay was brief, of course, and once she was gone everything settles down into more mundane events. After the duel he had with Ruse, Masaru pushed harder in his training. The only reason he won was because Ruse was not a good swordsman. He still bested Masaru soundly in everything about the duel that wasn’t just swinging a sword. He pushed himself hard for weeks training himself to live in the moment, to exist in all places while being in none. Most days found him blindfolded, sitting on top of a pole while imagining every fight he’d ever been in and all the fights he’d still have. As he got better at forgetting the world around him he thought he felt something in him growing, but not something tangible, it was a blank space that accepted anything he put into it without ever getting smaller.
Once he felt that he’d trained as far as he could without moving back home to live alone as a hermit he started wandering the city. Strangely, he found more often than not that his wondering brought him to the Unicorn Estate and the massive hounds of the Kennel Master. The Kennel Master, being what he was, didn’t seem to much care that a man barely outside of being a child and also from another clan was giving so much attention to him and his dogs. Masaru found it most strange that he didn’t seem at all to want to protect the secrets of his craft. But then Unicorns were rather open people, maybe even more so than Dragons since they opened themselves even to the Gaijin. It didn’t take long for Masaru to start learning how the man controlled the beasts, and even less time for him to find himself in the pen running and playing with them. He spent a couple weeks training with the Kennel Master, getting fitter than he’d ever been besides learning a great deal about animals in general, not just the giant dogs.
The oddest thing came when he realized that in a way what he was doing with the dogs was the same as what he had been doing training for dueling. It was like a concept right on the edge of his consciousness. A linking of all things that would improve his ability to fight more than ever before. He just needed to open himself up to it.