2 Prince and Politicians


Hito mo oshi

Hito mo urameshi

Ajiki naku

Yo wo omou yue ni

Mono omou mi wa

(Gotoba In)

The last of the ministers and advisers had arrived and Warlord Isanari was about to begin the council meeting when the guards outside the chamber snapped to and thrust the doors open with a flourish. Isanari looked up, caught a glimpse of court robes, knee-length hair and unusual height, and was on his knees in the deepest bow he could manage almost before he had time to think. The ministers and officers matched his bow, of course, though many of them had no idea why he was bowing. "The presence of the Most Noble Prince honors his unworthy servants," the Warlord said hastily, "please, Most Noble Prince, take the place of honor here on the dais ... "

The Twilight Prince, as he had at all of the council meetings he had attended, replied quietly, "No, Lord Commander, I thank you for the offer, but I am not a proper part of this Council and such a position would be inappropriate."


The Warlord began to relax a little as the Most Noble Prince moved toward the Prince's favored spot in front of one of the chamber pillars. The Prince's habit of ignoring proper protocol, which had been so shocking a month earlier, was almost comforting now. At least it seemed that the Most Noble Prince did not intend to order any immediate executions.

Isanari was waiting for the Prince to sit down, so that he could stop bowing and look at the Prince, when the Prince said softly, "My deepest apologies for the imposition, Lord Commander, but might I request the use of a field officer's stool rather than a zabuton?"

"As the Most Noble Prince desires," Isanari replied, wondering desperately what the unusual request signified. He gave the necessary orders, and was relieved to finally hear the Prince sit down.


The Warlord straightened from his bow, looked at the Twilight Prince, and felt as though he had been kicked in the gut. The Most Noble Prince's features, hair and robes were exquisite, as always, though today the Prince seemed paler than death, even beneath the Noble's makeup. What filled the Warlord with horror was the patch covering the Prince's right eye, and the fact that both the patch and the Prince's kimono and hakama were the dull red-orange of drying blood.

Isanari wondered what, exactly, the Most Noble Prince was planning, and hoped devoutly that none of his subordinates would do or say anything that the Prince found annoying. He had visited the Imperial capital (as seldom as possible) and knew that the reputation of the Highborn for ... ingenuity ... in punishing commoners who annoyed them was well deserved. The Most Noble Prince had seemed abnormally tolerant of the lapses of those around him during the month since his arrival in the mundane capital -- almost reluctant to use his authority -- but it would be foolish to expect such tolerance to survive capture and ... mistreatment ... by the enemy.

Chancellor Tajima's gut reaction on seeing the Twilight Prince was not fear or concern, but the same pity he would have felt for a woman who had been disfigured. He wondered how difficult the young man's life would be when he had to return to the Imperial Court, with its rigid protocols regarding dress and appearance. Visible scars were unpleasant enough for warriors, whose training and duty included the expectation of possible injury -- the shock to a courtier trained to elegance, safety and comfort must be far worse. It was clear to the Chancellor that the injured Prince was sad and weary, and in considerable pain. Tajima suspected that the Prince was unobtrusively using his favorite pillar as a backrest.

The Prince sat quietly while the Warlord and councilors discussed some of their constant logistical and organizational problems. He knew quite well that even when he was healthy he would not have understood the problems enough to ask intelligent questions, much less suggest useful answers. In his present state he was even less likely to play a useful part in the discussion: the healing Power was running through his body in burning waves instead of smoldering steadily the way it ought to, and the crest of each wave seemed to explode in the right side of his face. The room and discussion had also developed a disconcerting habit of fading in and out of his awareness, so he kept missing parts of people's sentences. On the whole, the Prince suspected that Kagemitsu had been right: he really should have sent a message of polite regret to the council, and returned to his bed.


The Warlord was also having trouble maintaining an interest in the debate. Aside from worrying about the Most Noble Prince's state of mind, he knew perfectly well that the real discussion and decisions had been made before he arrived. He wondered bitterly if the conservatives spent as much time on empty rhetoric when they were deciding things as they did when he himself had to sit and listen.


Isanari was relieved to note that the grip of the reactionaries seemed to be weakening a bit: their noncommittal response to the suggested command reorganization was more reasonable than he had expected, and the grudging offer of the funds from the Vacant Clans was almost breathtakingly sensible. The moderate group must be getting large enough to worry the Chancellor, if they had the leverage to produce these kinds of concessions.


General Hanenori made a plea, very carefully worded so that it was addressed to the Clan Lords as individuals, for an attempt to improve coordination between the Domain military units and the 'ronin' units that reported to the same regional Commanders.

Senior Commander Uefusa and the young Commander from Dekumo nodded approvingly, and Warlord Isanari decided that they must be his new moderates. The one good thing to be said for combat losses was the fact that they occasionally cleared out the incompetents, he reflected.


Some others in the conservative faction were moving restlessly, however. Chancellor Tajima glanced at his supporters, then turned to Hanenori. "Really, General, how can you blame the properly constituted forces of the Clans for the problems you are having in coordination between Clan and ronin units? After all, the Irregular units can hardly be said to have a proper command structure. It's little wonder if the rabble are difficult to control."

Captain Moeri went dead white, and bright flushed patches appeared on his cheeks. His father and sister grabbed him by the arms. The Warlord remembered that the young man was said to be a berserker, and glared at Chancellor Tajima. He did not appreciate this attempt to provoke a scene that might get the peasant-born officers barred from the council.

The General snapped, "The Irregulars and their officers are not the problem. Neither are such Clan forces as willingly cooperate with them."

The Dragon's Wife smiled like a shark and added very sweetly, "Chancellor, when you say we lack a proper command structure, I assume you are referring to our custom of promoting squad and company leaders based on their competence rather than how much land their grandfathers taxed. It's quite true. We find it improves the units' chances of surviving battle."

Tahata added innocently, "If you want more of the forces to work in the command structure you think appropriate, you could recruit some of them. I don't believe any of the Domains are fielding full strength units at the moment."

Old Katafuse's frayed mustache bristled, making him look remarkably like an ancient and malevolent rodent. "Accept strangers as vassals? Never!"

"Then why don't you fill the Vacant Clans, so the lordless units can be landed again?" Taka asked curiously.

Warlord Isanari sighed as the familiar arguments were repeated for what seemed like the hundredth time. The old Clans did not want any new Clans created, but none of them wanted any of the existing Clans to gain any more power either. The Chancellor's more reactionary cronies seemed to reserve their worst savagery for the most sensible suggestions.

The Twilight Prince gradually discovered that if he stayed very still the surging effect of the Power within him would decrease. More than a little lightheaded from the pain, he found himself contemplating the question of whether it was somehow possible for Power to slosh around inside one, like water in a bucket. But he was also able to follow the gist of the discussion about the problem of the filling the Vacant Clans. He was tempted to ask why people were worrying about the guardianship of territories that were mostly occupied by the enemy, but he was not quite that lightheaded. Yet.


The discussion turned to the question of a Senior Commander for the Army of the Higashikita Region, to replace the officer lost when the Prince was captured. The Prince tried to pay closer attention to this discussion, since he would probably have to work with whoever was chosen. The late Senior Commander had been an obnoxious snob with no true concern for the land or the troops under his command, no consideration for anyone he considered his inferior, and no respect for the rituals the Twilight Prince was trying to perform. The Prince sincerely hoped that the new Senior Commander would be more congenial.

The council was on its third pass through the same list of unsatisfactory Samurai-born candidates, and showing no signs of making any progress toward a decision, when the Twilight Prince finally lost patience with them. The difference between the peaks and troughs of the remaining Power surges had decreased, but only because the troughs were getting steadily higher. The injuries hidden under the Prince's clothes felt hot enough to melt iron, the teeth in the right side of his face felt as if they were going to explode, the light in the room seemed painfully bright, and every small sound, even the sound of his own breathing, seemed to burst into his head as loud as a battle drum. He just wanted the meeting to be OVER. SOON. So he decided to nudge the discussion out of the mud-hole it seemed bogged down in.

"Please excuse the interruption, Lord Commander," the Prince said quietly, as a minister finished proposing his incompetent nephew's promotion for the third time.


"Most Noble Prince?" Isanari winced as he faced the eyepatch. He had been avoiding looking toward the Prince, and was immensely grateful that protocol forbade looking an Imperial Prince full in the face.

"I fear that I am very slow of understanding today, Lord Commander ... but could someone please explain to me why Senior Captain Tahata has not been included in the list of names under consideration? If the information I have received previously is correct, Senior Captain Tahata has had more experience and more successes in fighting the enemy than any three of your other candidates combined."

Senior Commander Mikawa burst out. "But Most Noble Prince, Tahata doesn't even have a family name!"

It took the Twilight Prince a moment or two to absorb the fact that he really had been offered such an idiotic reason. The fact that Mikawa had spoken in a very loud voice did not help. He turned his head to face the officer, very slowly, so that his teeth would not explode, and studied him. Mikawa paled and prostrated himself in a deep bow.

"Senior Commander, I myself do not possess a family name, and I cannot honestly claim to have ever felt the lack ... " The officer cringed visibly, as did a few of those sitting near him. Moving had made the Prince lightheaded again. He continued rather dreamily, "To be really truthful about the matter, I have never had much use for my personal name, either, except on occasional legal documents ... it isn't as if anyone ever calls me by it ... " The aristocrats of the conservative clique looked stunned: the Twilight Prince had never made such a long speech in a council meeting before, and it was a horrible shock to have him side against them when he did finally speak.

General Hanenori and Minister of Finance Ninori suffered sudden coughing fits, and the archivist laughed outright. Warlord Isanari was trying so hard not to laugh, himself, that the muscles of his face hurt. He suspected that the 'heroes of the resistance' were having the same problem: Taka's eyes had gotten very bright and she had her hands clasped very tightly, Moeri had closed his eyes and bowed his head, and Yanagi's shoulders were shaking slightly. Tahata himself was breathing slowly and easily, and the expression on his face was incredibly bland and incredibly stupid. Isanari was thoroughly impressed: the ex-peasant would make one hell of an ambassador once the war was over, if he survived and the Warlord could manage to promote him.


When he could trust himself to speak, the Warlord said, "Most Noble Prince, your points are very well taken. I think that I will give the Army of Higashikita to Senior Commander Tahata."


Most of the officers in the conservative faction looked outraged at having the peasant-born Tahata promoted to a post where he would give orders to Domain vassals, but Commander Dekumo and Senior Commander Uefusa looked relieved. Isanari made a mental note to encourage their independence of thought as much as possible.

Chancellor Tajima thought it might be possible to minimize the damage. "Lord Commander," he asked politely, "would it not be advisable to give Senior Commander Tahata one of the less prestigious posts appropriate to his new rank? And give my younger brother's command to someone with more experience in grade?"


"Senior Commander Tajima Kanehide was your younger brother, Chancellor?" The Twilight Prince was clearly dismayed. "Please accept my condolences on your loss. I am very sorry that I could not provide his troops with better protection against the demonic forces, but his last charge took them out of my range. I did suggest to the Senior Commander that the enemy's movements might be a trap." He sighed regretfully.

Chancellor Tajima exchanged a glance with the Warlord. Isanari's eyes were very cold, and the Chancellor felt his usual supporters begin to shrink away from him. He silently cursed his idiot younger brother: it was a serious blow to the family's honor to lose a battle and allow the Twilight Prince to be captured, but Clan Tajima could survive that. Hints of mutiny through willful disobedience of the Most Noble Prince's commands could destroy them, especially if the trap had really been so obvious to a man who totally lacked military training. He suddenly wondered whether the Twilight Prince ever played tactical board games such as shogi or go.

The Prince had paused for a moment, distracted by another flare of the healing Power. The teeth on the left side of his head were beginning to hurt, too. He continued. "To be honest, gentlemen, I do not entirely understand your preoccupation with Senior Captain Tahata's distant past, given the apparent lack of a Samurai-born candidate. Is not present reality more important? The Senior Commander WAS a peasant. He IS a commander of warriors with notorious skill both in defeating the enemy and in conserving his troops and other resources in the process. It seems to me that those are both skills that should be treasured, in our present circumstances." With a touch of acid in his tone quite rare for him, the Prince added, "After all, with all those Vacant Clans you were discussing earlier, it should be simple enough to give Senior Commander Tahata any size of domain that seems appropriate."

General Hanenori had another coughing fit, but this time the Warlord did not feel inclined to join him: the Twilight Prince's comment about warning Tajima Kanehide had shaken him too badly. Isanari wanted to get a more complete investigation of the events of that disastrous battle under way as soon as possible. He had also realized that the Prince, although not precisely vindictive, was in a very strange mood and not willing to tolerate fools with any patience -- it seemed best to end the council meeting as soon as possible. He looked around at his various advisers. "Well, is there anything else?"


"Yes, Lord Commander, there is." The Prince's voice was very quiet, but the lines of his pale face looked very hard and stern to the Warlord.


Isanari sighed a little, braced himself, and replied formally, "Most Noble Prince, these unworthy servants await your commands." What he thought was, "Oh shit, now we're in for it."


The latest flare of healing Power subsided slightly and the Twilight Prince found himself almost able to think clearly. "Lord Commander, please excuse my weakness and incapacity, but I find that I must request permission to absent myself for a while from these councils and from the task of healing the land."

Isanari flinched, and a cold lump began to form deep in his guts. If the land could not be healed of its demonic infection, all of their other efforts against the enemy would be meaningless, but the Warlord could hardly blame the Most Noble Prince for losing faith in the Samurai's ability to protect him adequately in the dangerous countryside. He groped desperately for an argument that might affect the Prince's decision.


"If it is the will of the Most Noble Prince to deny the Most Noble Prince's presence to his humble and incompetent servants, those servants must regretfully accept the Noble Prince's decision. But for the sake of the realm and the Heavenborn, Most Noble Prince, do not punish Ashihara for the incompetence of those servants. Despite their previous dereliction, the Most Noble Prince's servants will henceforth take adequate precautions during the healing rituals."

The Prince flinched at the Warlord's tone, which seemed more harsh and sarcastic than ever, and the healing Power flared up to a major peak. The usual explosion in the right side of his face was accompanied by a burst of mage-sight. In the Chancellor's aura he read pity and worry and some annoyance, but Warlord Isanari's aura displayed none of the anger or scorn that the Prince had expected: only a sort of desperate fear and a considerable amount of guilt. He blushed a little at his own rudeness: reading people in council meetings was really inexcusable. The Warlord assumed the flush was a sign of anger, and flinched.

As the flare passed, the Twilight Prince moved to his knees as gracefully as possible in his present state, placing himself at the same level as the other councilors. Still unable to turn off the mage-sight on his right side, he turned his head away from the Warlord. "The Lord Commander misunderstands," he protested gently, "I am ... damaged. Does a samurai fight with a flawed weapon?"

The Warlord cringed inwardly at the Prince's rejection, though it was a relief to no longer face the mute rebuke of that horrible, blood-colored eyepatch. He bowed almost as deeply as he had when the Prince first entered the room. "Most Noble Prince, a samurai who casts aside a fine weapon because he has clumsily dropped it and marred its finish is a fool, and if it is his most useful weapon he would be doubly a fool to cast it aside ... Please, Most Noble Prince, be so very kind as to get up."


The Twilight Prince stayed motionless, waiting for the latest Power surge to subside. "But if the weapon in question is a firearm that has dropped in mud, the samurai would be a greater fool to trust its power before it is completely cleaned and refurbished," the Prince replied. He bowed, and found himself holding the bow longer than he intended as another burst of the healing Power tore through him. When it passed, the Prince tried to rise to his feet, but sank down under the onslaught of a renewed flare of Power.

"Forgive this disgraceful display, Lord Commander," he gasped, "I truly need more time for healing and purification." Yet another flare hit him, fiercer than any that had preceded it, and the Prince forced himself into unconsciousness to avoid screaming.


The Samurai all seemed frozen in horror by the Twilight Prince's collapse, but Tahata and Yanagi leaped forward to aid him. "Taka! Moeri! Find the courtier!" the new senior commander ordered.

Yanagi added curtly, "Lord Yamashiro! Wake up and do your job! Is it safe to move the Most Noble Prince? How ill is he?"


The old scholar blinked and hurried to where the Twilight Prince lay in a crumpled heap. He passed his hands above the Prince in a quick Healer's scan and said "All right. Lay him out flat ... gently."


A minute or two after the twins left the council chamber, the attendant Miyabe no Kagemitsu arrived, along with a small puff of displaced air, and immediately knelt beside his Lord. He passed his hands above the Twilight Prince's body in the pattern of the usual Healer's scan and relaxed a little. The Warlord relaxed a bit as well: at least the Prince's avoidance of the castle's Healers had not resulted in a complete lack of proper care.


The Chancellor, who had been watching Warlord Isanari warily, turned back toward the Prince and was quite startled by the Noble's presence. True, the courtiers tended to move very quietly, but Lord Miyabe should have been challenged and announced by the guards at the council room door. It was disgusting to see how badly discipline was slipping. Tajima reflected grimly that the presence in the forces of a peasant- born commander was not likely to improve matters.


Kagemitsu smoothed the Twilight Prince's hair away from his face and gently arranged his lord's limbs and robes to give a more orderly appearance and place less pressure on the underlying injuries. Then he reached out with his own Power to urge the Prince toward consciousness.


The Prince moaned very softly and opened his eye. He was rewarded by ordinary vision in his good eye and mage-sight on his blind side. He closed his eye again and was relieved to find that the mage-sight was also quenched. At the moment he had no strength to deal with his own health and emotions, much less anyone else's.


"Kagemitsu ... "


"Most Noble Prince?"

"Kage-san, the pain ... from the healing ... where my eye was ... is gone." The Prince's voice was barely louder than a whisper.

Kagemitsu was a little startled by his Lord's use of the nickname in such a public place. He answered very gently, "Yes, Most Noble Prince. The Prince's servant had so observed."


The Prince continued painfully, "It will ... heal ... no further."


Noble Powers! Had his lord still hoped for a full recovery? Kagemitsu decided this was NOT a time for proper protocol -- if the Samurai aristocrats thought otherwise, that was their problem. "I understand, my dear lord," he said gently, "I am very sorry." He placed one of his hands where the Prince could grasp it and leaned forward in response to a very slight tug.

"Kage-san," the Prince murmured, "Get me out from among these people." He ended with a gasp: the healing Power was flaring again, and the fact that his eye and face were no longer affected just added that much more to the fire in his other wounds.

"At once, most Noble Prince."


Kagemitsu was wondering whether it would be wise to teleport the Prince when there was a sudden bustle at the council chamber door. The courtier looked up and found, to his relief, that the twin captains had organized a pallet and a crew of stretcher bearers.


Isanari had waited quietly while the Prince's collapse was dealt with -- he had more sense than to interrupt Healers with inopportune questions. Once the Twilight Prince had been borne off toward his quarters, the Warlord turned to his chief archivist and asked formally, "Yamashiro no Matsuyama, can you give me a report on the Most Noble Prince's injuries?"


"Not a complete report, Lord Commander, it is much too late for that," the old man replied.


"I don't understand. Too late?"

"The progress of the healing Power follows a standard pattern, regardless of whether its flow is induced by a trained Healer, or occurs spontaneously in a Highborn like the Most Noble Prince. Healing properly consists of five phases, although they do overlap considerably, depending on the specific mix of injuries that are present.

"In its first phase, the healing power repairs any serious damage to the internal vital organs, although minor superficial damage such as scratches or bruises also disappear quickly. In the second phase of healing, damage to the nervous system and sensory organs is repaired as far as possible, as well as damage to the less immediately vital inner organs such as the intestines. In the third phase of healing, the damage to bones and joints is repaired, and in the fourth, the muscles and skin. The fifth phase of healing is more subtle, as it rebalances the mind and spirit of the patient.

"The Most Noble Prince," continued the old scholar, "is well into the fourth phase of healing, and none of the injuries repaired in the earlier phases of healing can be precisely identified. Except for the missing eye, of course, which is irreparable. I can report, however, that those injuries must have been very severe, given the time that has passed since the Noble Prince's capture and rescue and the amount of Power he is manifesting."


Warlord Isanari groaned, and turned to Tahata, who bowed. "Senior Commander, have inquiries made among your predecessor's officers and men. Find out as much as possible about the discussion during which the Prince 'advised' that idiot not to charge. I'm still not sure there wasn't treason or mutiny involved. And even if the Most Noble Prince is inclined to be magnanimous, I am not. I don't want to explain to the Imperial capital why I let those responsible for serious harm to a Highborn Prince go unpunished." He eyed Chancellor Tajima for a moment, considering.


The Warlord turned back to the archivist. "I assume from the collapse of the Most Noble Prince that there remain physical injuries that are not yet repaired. Describe them," he snapped.


"Lord Commander." The old man bowed. "As reported earlier, comparatively little remains: some deep muscle damage around several ribs and in the right forearm, which were probably broken; a few remaining cuts in the skin and muscles of the torso caused by a whip of some sort; moderate damage to the wrists and ankles, some rather nasty burns on the upper arms and thighs and the lower part of the body, and signs of a fairly deep cut running from just below the breastbone almost to the groin."


Isanari winced. "Comparatively little ... Noble Powers! No wonder the Most Noble Prince collapsed after that bow -- it must have been hellishly painful. He didn't rip anything open I hope?"


"No, Lord Commander. I believe his collapse was due to weariness and the pain of the healing process."

"And my own stupidity in arguing with him ... Tahata: complete those inquiries soon. Tajima --" The Warlord's voice and eyes held a cold rage that froze the Chancellor's blood, and he prostrated himself in a bow as deep as any he had made in his life. "Your request to have the traitor Kanehide's name stricken retroactively from the lists of your family is granted. Consequently, only half of the traitor's property will be confiscated for the Most Noble Prince's personal use, the rest will revert to your Clan. His women are to be sent back to their families with their complete dowries -- the dowries come out of your share, of course, since they have, after all, never been married into your Clan. Are there any children?"

"No, Lord Commander," Tajima said weakly. Although no one actually moved, he could feel his recent allies retreating.

"Just as well. Oh, and Tajima," The Warlord paused, considering. Tajima wondered whether he would lose his position as Chancellor, but the Warlord continued, "The traitor's city house -- the one with the famous gardens? It's part of the share that goes to the Most Noble Prince: he'll need a comfortable place for his convalescence. Minister of Finance Ninori will assist you in making the rest of the divisions of property. A full accounting is to be available by this time tomorrow."


The Warlord glared around at the rest of the council. "I believe all of you have duties you should be performing: I suggest that you see to them. I suggest also that you look to your Clans and discuss matters with your heirs, since either the Most Noble and Revered Heavenborn Monarch or the Most Noble Prince of the Evening Shadows may yet demand all our heads. All except Ninori are dismissed." He sat contemplating the situation gloomily as the various ministers and officers hurriedly bowed and left, noting with grim satisfaction that the Chancellor was avoided by his former clique as if he had some loathsome disease. Future council meetings should be much more productive with that group's solidarity shattered. He would have to watch Tajima carefully, though. Pity the man was such a competent administrator and they were so short of good people: in the Warlord's present mood the breaking of Clan Tajima would have been a pleasure.


After the room had cleared the Minister of Finance asked hesitantly, "Did you have some additional task for me, Lord Commander?"


"Eh? Oh, Ninori. Sorry, my mind was wandering. I wanted to give you some more detailed instructions about the confiscation:

"First, make sure that each of the ladies receives any actual goods that she brought to her marriage that are available, and full value for any other property, including lands that are now controlled by the enemy. I want them well dowered at the expense of Clan Tajima. If any of them lack resources or a place to go, find them someplace suitable." Warlord Isanari smiled slightly, for the first time since the Prince's collapse. "Maybe give your lonely daughters a little company, eh?"


Ninori relaxed a little and chuckled at the joke. He had four daughters, and when the countryside first became dangerous he had invited a series of nieces and friends' daughters to stay at his well-protected city home, explaining each new arrival as 'company for my daughters'. "Ninori's Nunnery" had become a standing joke, especially among the more eligible young officers, who claimed it was necessary to attend parties there in groups for safety.


"Any additional instructions about the Most Noble Prince's share, Lord Commander?"


"Mmm ... make sure the house is well equipped, furnished and staffed -- plenty of antiques and art-works but no actual Tajima heirlooms. Make the mixture of available and enemy-occupied lands proportional to the original mix before the dowries are 'adjusted', and make sure the result is a real domain, not a lot of fragments with no strategic or economic stability. Consult with the Most Noble Prince or his companion before making a final division: it would be a pity to give the Most Noble Prince an estate he can never visit because of some ritual prohibition, or fail to give one that he would especially like."

"And the traitor's armed retainers?"

"Are not to be trusted with the safety or property of the Most Noble Prince. Clan Tajima may absorb any samurai that would have fallen to the Prince's share, up to their legal limit. The rest have the option of finding other lords in need of men, or joining the general armies -- in all cases their equipment other than their swords belongs to the Prince. Clan Tajima will finance the recruitment of more trustworthy vassals from among those who served the various defunct Clans, up to the limit appropriate to the size of the Prince's new domain ... The Prince, of course, can do as he pleases about household servants and such, but we might respectfully suggest caution in dealing with those that have long served Kanehide. Is there anything else I haven't thought of?"


"Not that I can see, my Lord. Though it will seem strange to have a landed lord who is a Prince of the Blood ... should we name the domain Evening Shadows, after his palace? After all, as he so emphatically reminded us earlier, Imperial Princes don't use family names."


"That may not be appropriate. As I understand it, being Prince of the Evening Shadows is a position, like being Warlord or Minister of Finance ... we want it clear that the lands are attached to the Prince, not to the position. Perhaps the domain will give the Most Noble Prince a use for his personal name? That's something else you should probably discuss with the Prince or his companion: we certainly don't want to give offense."

"Very well, my lord. If there is nothing else, I should get started on all this."


The Warlord waved a hand, and the minister bowed and left him.



Copyright 1991 Elyse M. Grasso