Minion the Baby Cane Fiend
Legacy Name: Cherry-Blossom
The Sweetheart Neela
Age: 6 years, 1 month, 2 weeks
Born: August 18th, 2016
Adopted: 6 years, 1 month, 2 weeks ago
Adopted: August 18th, 2016
- Level: 3
- Strength: 10
- Defense: 10
- Speed: 10
- Health: 10
- HP: 10/10
- Intelligence: 0
- Books Read: 0
- Food Eaten: 0
- Job: Unemployed
waiting for 1 lovely art by core for profile bg COMING SOON
My grandfather built the inn, laying every stone for the cobbled path and forming the wooden frames by hand. Grandmother hand-painted paper screens that gave guests privacy and beautiful art to look at when they closed their eyes at night. Father and Mother continued in the tradition of serving honored guests, providing them with good meals, clean sleeping mats and soothing music to take weary minds away from the hardships of the open road.
Music is my calling. I can serve the tea and change out the mats as well as any of my sisters, but it is my sweet voice that draws travelers down the path when they could continue on to the next village. It is a larger village, one with a real koi pond and a full market, not just a few random stalls like we have.
My father says the gods have blessed me with a voice that captures the sweet innocence of spring's first cherry blossom in bloom. It is why he named me Cherry Blossom. He tells me often that the first sound out of my mouth was not a cry or a coo, but a crooning song. He tells me a cherry blossom blew into the birthing room on a strong wind and he knew even before I had my words that I would be special.
He never says it where my sisters could hear him, of course.
I love the snap of my kimono sleeves when I dance for the travelers. There is a subtle allure in the mysteries of my body that are concealed by their flowing lengths. I can feel eyes painting a different picture. When I was a girl only beginning to understand womanhood, these looks made me blush. Now they make me smile.
We all need something to smile about in these dark days. The war began before I was even born. The Ancestors may know its purpose but I do not. I only know that visitors to Japan are less and too many families are left with cinders and tears where their homes once stood, if they are lucky enough to escape the rogue bands with their lives. The samurai try to protect us, but their numbers are not what they once were. As much as we need new guests, we also fear them. A knock on our door is truly life...or death.
My father jokes that I learned swordplay and horses before I was out of diapers. Most people only see the face he must show the world, the stern face of the Emperor that is his mask.
When that mask falls away, all I see is weariness. He brushes aside the counsel of his advisors. How can he take a day for relaxation when the land he loves is ripping itself apart?
He wishes me to stay safe behind lacquered walls. This I cannot do. I am trained in the art of war and my katana is merely an extension of the weapon that is my arm.
My father was furious the first time I was brought home from the field of battle. My leg took many moons to heal. I did all I could to speed up the process. He sent me tutors who filled every hour with the contents of scrolls. He forbade any imperial soldiers within the palace from speaking to me. He even sold my horse, desperate to prevent me from passing beyond the palace garden walls.
It is why I walk these dangerous streets on foot. My demeanor might keep the petty thieves from trying their luck but I know it is the quality of my steel that will deter the true thugs.
The rain falls so thick and fast that I can barely see my hand before my face. The outer lights of the village are a welcoming beacon against the closing dark of night. The smell of warm tea wafting through the inn doors is a divine sign that I am meant to be in this place.
The girl is dressed simply but she is no peasant. She moves with a sure grace, her voice rising and falling to a melody that celebrates the birth and slow death of the mountain. It is a song my mother sang to me, before the fading sickness took her from us. No artisan of the court can capture the triumphant swell, the lulling passage of the years and the mournful crumbling as this girl can. I must know her name.
She sees my approach and I know what must be in her thoughts. To her, I am a young samurai, the promise of intrigue and adventure. I could ask any favor of this girl, make any request, and she would obey.
To say nothing of my royal status.
Such thoughts do not become the blood of a legend. I should leave this place. I am turning to do so, when feather-light fingers touch my arm.
"What is your name?"
He is handsome, but so are many of the men passing through our halls. It is not the shape of his face that draws me to ask such an impertinent question.
It is the way he carries himself. There is a confidence there that is not the usual arrogance. Were he a tiger, I would feel safe curling up between his feet. His desire to protect would overwhelm his appetite. I trust him, though I do not even know him.
"My name is Cherry. It would be my pleasure to bring you a cup of tea. It is not every day that a hero of the empire visits our humble hall."
He does not try to pull me in for a drunk kiss or whisper terrible things in my ear. He is unlike so many of the men who wait until Father's back is turned. I want to know more about this warrior, yet I cannot. It is fine to think about all the questions that pop into your head. It is quite another to put them into words.
I can tell he is enjoying the cup. He takes the time to inhale the aroma of the fresh blend, sighing as the first sip goes down. I know the feeling well. Tea is the miracle cure for a long and tiring day.
"You have traveled far?"
"I have seen too much of the sorrows of the empire."
The empire seems to give us nothing but sorrow. The very officials granted power to aid the people have turned their backs on us. Bandits scorch the fields of much-needed crops and destroy the beauty of the world to build mud holes so that they may continue their never-ending war.
Two simple words with so much significance.
I do not know how many hours passed before sheer exhaustion forced us both apart. I dreamed of the girl with cherry blossoms in her hair, despite winter's grip on the land.
Hours became days and days became weeks. She has taught me the value of a restful life and she listens to my childhood stories with such interest, as if even the dull hours spent with tutors are worthy of her full attention.
I will plant a grove of trees in the royal garden in her honor. We will make our vows beneath their spreading branches.
It does not matter that I am promised to Su'Liu. In my training, I was taught that there can be no greater purpose in life than being honorable in all actions. I never questioned this.
Until I fell in love.
Father swore that my union with Su'Liu would bring our kingdom the stability needed to end this war and bring a new era of peace and prosperity. She is a rude, manner-less girl who thinks nothing of the suffering of others and only about her own greedy desires.
I want to take Cherry with me to the Palace but she insists I must go alone, as is proper. To break a marriage contract is no small thing. Were it not for the letter in my bag, I would not dare to speak against my father's wishes.
I met Su'Liu yesterday, at the village well where Cherry's family get their water. The princess wore her usual silks, despite the poverty all around. She looked on men and women I have come to respect as little more than ants scuttling across her path, threatening the spotless sheen of her shoes. She looked on my Cherry Blossom in just the same way. Her smile was entirely false when she questioned the company I was keeping.
I do not know how Su'Liu found me, but I will see her sent back to her own kingdom once it is made known how her father has conspired with our enemies to undermine the very peace agreement he helped to draft.
It was not easy admitting the truth to Cherry, but I could not leave her with a lie. My heritage frightens her, yet she has promised to wait for me. The sweet taste of cherries is on my lips as I bow to the royal guards and await the attention of my father.
Not even the serene sound of crickets welcoming the night can soothe me when my thoughts are with K'Taishi.
The journey to the palace is so far and there are so many dangers along the way. I know he can care for himself, yet some dark chamber of my heart has come open, spilling vile pictures of my K'Taishi lying at the side of the road, his blood pooling in the dirt.
I pray and meditate to the gods but they do not answer. All week, my dreams have been filled with blood.
There are many lanterns on the road tonight. Father and Mother send us to set out the best tea set. It is not often our little inn sees a party big enough to fill every room. The columns of travelers almost look like an army.
They are solemn, ignoring my sister's greeting as she tries to welcome them beneath our roof. Her smile is frozen in place when the spear enters her body. I am standing in the courtyard. My mind is screaming at me to run away, to take the mountain trail that is fit only for goats, but I cannot leave my family. I watch the devils in Liu armor as the torches I mistook for lanterns are sent spinning in the air. I can feel the heat washing my skin in agony as the frames my grandfather crafted so carefully by hand are reduced to ashes.
Father reads the letter in silence, saying nothing until he has taken in every line. I have told him the truth about the Liu family and my love for Cherry. I trust that he will see the truth in the wisdom of his age.
I can feel my blood turning to ice when his hand reaches out to slap my cheek.
"All those years of training wasted on a boy as impulsive as any farmer's son who has tasted the sweet nectar of youth's temptation. Do you think I set up that marriage contract because I like the notion of my only son marrying a barbarian's daughter? The war with the Liu empire will go on for another hundred years, all through your rash actions. Now the fate of our descendants will rest on the shoulders of some lesser noble's girl child. You are a disappointment, K'Taishi. You may know how to ride and fight, but you will never be a diplomat. You are confined to the palace, but I will issue no punishment. Liu's anger will be visited on those responsible for this catastrophe but it is your hand and your words that have set in motion the slaughter to come."
I always thought my father akin to a god. Now I see that the trickster's blood is thick in him. What good is a leader whose greatest concern is his own comfort?
It may cost me my kingdom and my head, but I will not let Cherry die.
Father should know better than to rely on household servants to report my actions. Escaping my quarters is no challenge. Taking up the arms of a common soldier is even easier. I've had such gear stashed in the royal garden for years, using it to escape the boredom of a royal life. I am one of a thousand mindless marchers on my way to throw away life for the power struggles between two mad men.
Nor do the soldiers take notice when I slip away to take my place as a sentry. Once I am out of their line of sight, I move with all the grace of the crane, all but invisible even to those men who have walked at my side for miles. I can see smoke rising in an oily black cloud. I am too late to prevent the attack but I will not lose hope until I have found her body. If some Liu peasant has captured her, I will rescue her and visit punishment harsher than even the gods could imagine.
A few red coals are still glowing in the ruins of what was once a welcoming inn. I can see bones poking through the ash, most of them charred at the edges. The smell is almost unbearable. The ground is hot beneath my thin sandals. If this is truly the fire that consumed my love, then let it be the means of my demise. If our flesh cannot be one, let our spirits be entwined in the rising smoke.
The pond suffered the least damage. The stones and lilies remain untouched, protected from notice by a stone lip that makes them invisible from the road.
Cherry's hand is reaching as if to cup a flower. The blade that cut her down took her from behind, slicing most of the cloth from her body. I remove my armor with shaking hands so that I can wrap her in my own robe.
A rattling breath escapes her as I take her into my arms but her eyes are not focused on me. Is she seeing the welcoming smiles of her ancestors or the horrors that marked her last day of life? It does not matter. I will not let her die.
"Hear me, gods of fire and light. You who kissed the first Emperor's brow in the form of a dragon, hear the prayers of the son who will be your vessel here on earth. Give me the life of Cherry Blossom and I will water the ground with the blood of the Liu line. I will stop at nothing to eliminate every last member of the impostor family from the world."
The tip of my blade enters the earth made soft by the water. Its black hilt quivers, gradually falling still.
There is a sound like a gong, only magnified to the point of pain. It is the thunder of the spirit world descending and when the brilliant light clears, a cherry tree in full bloom stands where the pond once was.
Its black branches seem dead yet every one is heavy with blossoms that slowly uncurl. As the last one opens, my Cherry Blossom takes a deep, gasping breath.
The gods gave me a very peculiar dream when they granted me new life.
In it, I am walking with my family and they are happy. I want to join them, to take my mother's hand and tug my sister's braid, as I always did, yet I do not want to follow where they are leading.
There is something behind me, something more precious to me than even the love of my father.
I weep and my tears water the ground. A sprig rises from the grass, stretching out branches and gaining height until it is taller than me. Cherry blossoms bloom in puffs of color and fragrance. A voice that is the rumble of thunder and the whisper of the wind is all around me.
"This is your soul made visible, Cherry Blossom. Know that you cannot pass more than a mile beyond its influence. If the Young Dragon succeeds in his vow, your soul will be freed to aid him on the dark road ahead."
K'Taishi is there at the moment the presence fades. He is holding me, kissing me. Though my heart aches for the lives of my family, I return his kisses.
He is building me a palace, one that will protect my tree behind jade walls. The gods have granted him one moon of rest, a time to strategize and plan. When K'Taishi leaves me, he will travel far and put the future of our land in the hands of fate. Nothing I can say will convince him to break his vow.
I will sit beneath the spreading branches of my cherry blossom tree and pray every night for his success.
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