3 Change and Uncertainty

Yo mo sugara

Mono omou koro wa

Ake yarade

Neya no hima sae

Tsure nakari keri

(Shun-e Hoshi)


The Twilight Prince remained asleep until well after sunset. He awakened knowing that something had changed: there was a great echoing emptiness within him like the ringing of silence following a long period of very loud noise. After a little while, he realized that the torrents of healing Power that had flowed through him had finally subsided and melted away, taking the last remnants of pain along with them. He felt marvelously light, but also rather weak and somewhat hollow.

The Prince opened his eyes, and found himself viewing the dimly lit room with ordinary vision on his left side. On his right, despite the eyepatch and empty socket, the objects in the room could be sensed by the faint auras which inanimate things showed to mage-sight. Clear though the ghostly 'vision' was, the Prince felt none of the Power flow which had always previously accompanied his use of mage-sight. The mage-sight was just there. Nor could he turn it off in the usual way.

The Twilight Prince closed his eyes wearily, and the mage-sight was quenched along with his ordinary vision. After a bit of experimentation, the Prince discovered that he could use only the ordinary vision on his left side if he 'closed' his right eye, though winking a nonexistent eye proved as tiring to the facial muscles as winking a real one would have been. He found that he could also extend the mage-sight to the full visual field by an effort of will, producing the familiar feeling of Power flow, or restrict it to the single side using the methods that had previously quenched it completely.

When the Prince looked toward the sliding panels screens that had been drawn closed between his futon and the outer chamber, he could see the light of the lamps there, and 'see' by the auras that his companion was present and awake.

He sat up, and called, "Kagemitsu?"

The Prince's attendant immediately opened the panel, approached the bed, knelt gracefully, and bowed. "My Noble Prince?"

"Have I missed dinner?"

"Of course not, Most Noble Prince. Not if my Lord is hungry. A meal will be sent for at once." The courtier went to the entrance of the suite and gave orders to the Warlord's servants, then returned to kneel facing the Prince.

"Is the pain gone, my Prince?" Kagemitsu asked. The Twilight Prince could see his concern; but he could also 'see' the deep devotion his friend felt for him lighting up the other man's aura. It was also obvious that Kagemitsu had been skipping meals and sleep during his Lord's illness. The Prince squirmed a little, inwardly: he felt as though he was taking unfair advantage, spying on his attendant's nakedness. He blushed a little.


The Prince said quietly, "The pain is gone, but something very strange has happened: apparently the healing Power has replaced my vision on the right side with mage-sight. It quenches itself when I close my eyes. Or if I wink on that side, which grows tiring. Otherwise ... " He turned his face away and closed his eyes for a moment.


Kagemitsu took his Lord's hand in both of his and bowed low so that his forehead touched the hand as well. His face was hidden, but the Prince could sense the awe that threaded through his attendant's aura. "My Noble Prince's servant understands."

Kagemitsu straightened and studied the Prince, who turned his face away, still blushing. "Would my Noble Prince feel less uncomfortable if my Lord's servant also used the mage-sight regularly?"


The Prince sighed. "Yes, I think that would be a good idea. I would feel less ... less ... " He shook his head irritably, "Intrusive? Taking advantage? I don't think there is a good word to describe the embarrassment of being an unwilling voyeur."


"The Noble Prince's servant does understand ... " Kagemitsu assured him, and the Twilight Prince could sense both his friend's honesty, and the tiny flow of Power that fed the courtier's mage-sight. The Prince started to speak his gratitude, but realized that no words could match their auras' truth.


The two young men sat quietly for a little while, until a polite clap outside the door of their suite announced the arrival of the Prince's meal. Kagemitsu went to the door, and brought in the tray.

The Twilight Prince finished his meal quickly -- he had eaten so little during his illness that he did not have room for much, despite his hunger. Kagemitsu cleared away the remains and sent them back to the kitchen, then the courtier fetched a comb and began to carefully work some tangles out of his lord's long hair.


Kagemitsu laughed suddenly. "Forgive this forgetful servant, Noble Prince. There is news my Lord should have received immediately upon awakening. It seems that Lord Commander Isanari no Moritake has confiscated one half of the holdings of the late Kanehide on my Lord's behalf. Minister of Finance Ninori has sent to request an audience at the Most Noble Prince's earliest convenience, for the purpose of selecting my Lord's new properties and determining an appropriate name for them."

The Prince sighed. "How thoughtful of the Lord Commander ... I will see the Minister soon, of course. But not," the Prince stifled a yawn, "tonight. Please send to inquire whether midmorning would be soon enough."

"Of course, my lord." Kagemitsu helped the Prince settle himself for sleep, then retired to his own place in the outer chamber.

* * *

Minister Ninori had informed the Chancellor of the terms of the confiscation immediately after leaving the Warlord. So Tajima spent much of his evening examining maps and worrying, and cursing the fool that had been known as his younger brother.

The holdings of Clan Tajima were enormous, but most of their more distant possessions were presently under enemy control. The confiscation of Kanehide's holdings, which would have been shameful enough at the best of times, seemed likely to deplete the available rice lands of Clan Tajima enough to impair Tajima's ability to both pay the Clan's taxes and properly support their military forces and vassals. Given Kanehide's slipshod style of management, the Chancellor fully expected that he would also be called upon to make up various shortfalls out of his own pocket.


The Chancellor feared that his Clan, already shamed and lessened by the careless act of one of its putative members, stood in grave danger. Borrowing money, in the present state of the realm, would involve ruinous interest rates and an equally ruinous loss of prestige and influence. Delays in payments of debts owed to the realm, the Most Noble Prince, the Ladies or the suppliers of his military forces would do equal damage even more quickly. He knew perfectly well that most of his erstwhile supporters would not hesitate to join in stripping Tajima of its power and property if offered the opportunity.

The only thing good about the situation was that fact that he could now offer the Commander of the Tajima forces a proper fief. Kashimori Yoshimasa had technically been one of Kanehide's vassals, and in the Chancellor's opinion his brother had always undervalued the man. There was much to be said for a dependable commander who was thoroughly reliable at the worst of times and displayed occasional flashes of brilliant improvisation.


The Chancellor went to bed late and slept uneasily. In his dreams he heard carrion birds calling, and Kanehide's voice mocked him with reports of high status among the enemy and promises that Kanehide would someday rule all of Tajima and more besides. Chancellor Tajima woke shuddering, and wondered for the first time whether he might have cause to fear the results of Tahata's inquiries.

Toward noon the next day several of his colleagues came to his house, ostensibly to offer their condolences for his Clan's misfortunes. Magistrate Suewari and Senior Commander Uefusa came together and left quickly: Tajima suspected, somewhat to his own surprise, that their commiserations might be sincere.


Minister Yoshiatsu, Senior Commander Mikawa and old Lord Katafuse were another matter: they arrived early and delayed their exits on various pretexts until Tajima had to invite them to share his meal. As he attempted to maintain his composure in the face of Yoshiatsu's avid gaze and the old man's barbed comments, the Chancellor could almost hear the carrion birds calling again. As it became clear that they fully intended to stay with him until he received word of the details of the confiscation, he began to feel very weary.


It was tempting to cast his political position to the wind and throw the lot of them out, but Tajima restrained himself: the income attached to his position as Chancellor might make the difference between solvency and destruction for his Clan.

* * *

Warlord Isanari spent a distracted afternoon trying to get some paperwork done between wondering how Tahata and Ninori were progressing at their tasks. He knew better than to breathe down the necks of competent subordinates who were doing their work, but sometimes the lack of first hand news was very annoying ... he often suspected that people were keeping things from him 'for his own good'. That night his sleep was so restless that his consort left in disgust to sleep in her own chamber.


The Warlord awakened at an hour that was ridiculously early, even for him. After breakfast, he fidgeted restlessly with more paperwork for half the morning, then broke down and sent messages inviting some of his subordinates to join him for the midday meal -- he felt a need for conversation, at least, even if it was too early to expect much real news. Besides, it seemed like a good time to get to know the 'heroes of the resistance' better ... and perhaps examine Senior Commander Tahata's shadow at closer range.


The General and Lady Yanagi arrived together, discussing some details of the next night's patrols. The Dragon's Wife was wearing women's clothes for the first time in the Warlord's experience, in shades of blue and green. She could have passed for a lady of the castle if it hadn't been for the daggers tucked through her sash. General Hanenori was dressed formally, in the blue and white colors and wild goose crest of his Domain.

After they bowed to Isanari and took their places at the table, the Warlord asked whether there was any news.

"Not really, Lord Commander," the General replied, "the night patrols were comparatively uneventful, except for one idiot who nearly started a forest fire with his torch. The enemy did not seem very active."

"Of course not," Yanagi said impatiently, "The moon is waxing." She paused, then, when the men still looked blank, added patiently, "Unlike human warriors, our enemies prefer the dark. They generally seek to advance during the darker moon phases and merely try to hold their ground during the period from waxing half moon to waning half. Our own advances have been greatest when the moon is full or nearly so."

Hanenori and the Warlord both stared at her, then at each other. "She's right, General," said Isanari, finally. "I wonder why I never noticed before. We ought to plan our strategies accordingly."


"Some of us," said the Dragon's Wife icily, "have been doing so for years." She added something under her breath that was less than complimentary to castle-bound males with no sense of nature's rhythms.

Isanari was rather relieved by the arrival of the twin captains, who came into the room with a rush, laughing and out of breath, then bowed deeply to their superiors. They were both wearing battle tunics in shades of orange and brown, and had their hair tied back in much the same way, which accentuated the similarity of their features. Since meeting them, the Warlord had often wondered what it would be like to live with another self at once so similar and so different.

After she caught her breath, Taka said, "Lord Commander, our father sends his regrets ... too busy chasing down officers and questioning them."

"I understand. I just hope he obtains some useful information through his efforts."

"Oh, he will. Father can be awesome when he's on the track of some good gossip ... "

Her brother added softly, "Took lots of sake with him ... sent some with us, too." He produced a small cask with a minor flourish. The General sighed happily, and the Warlord immediately sent for cups and a warming flask: Tahata's many talents included a remarkable knack for locating the best wine and sake in the city, even when the Warlord's own provisioners claimed there was none to be found.

Taka surveyed the room. "May I ask who else is coming, Lord Commander? There seem to be a lot of places prepared."

"I invited Archivist Yamashiro and Minister Ninori and his son, but they may be too busy to come gossip with us," Isanari replied.

"I haven't seen Yamashiro today, but I'm sure that the Ninoris will be here," commented the Dragon's Wife. "After all, it's almost the time you appointed for the report on the confiscation of Kanehide's holdings, and those two are never late with a report."

"The Minister and Kiyoie have both been rushing around ever since yesterday's council meeting clucking like chickens," Taka agreed. "They both work so hard all the time. I think they need some more helpers." Isanari was a bit startled by the girl's vehemence.


Moeri glanced sidelong at his sister and smiled. "My big sister is sweet on Ninori Kiyoie," he explained softly.

"You! I am not!" Blushing fiercely, Taka took a swipe at her brother, which Moeri ducked automatically. "It's just that Kiyoie is ... more polite ... than most of the Samurai near our age, and he never seems to have time for fun."

Isanari chuckled. It was hard to believe that these cheerful young people were the famous warriors who were already becoming legendary.

Minister Ninori arrived a few minutes later, bustling into the room with a flutter of sleeves. His son followed him, carrying a huge load of papers and books and scrolls. (Isanari was reminded of Taka's comment about the chickens.) They were followed by Archivist Yamashiro, who was absently perusing a couple of papers that might have fluttered free from Kiyoie's load. All three were dressed in magnificently embroidered robes, although the Archivist's was decorated in a style that had been fashionable forty years earlier.

Yamashiro sat down quietly after bowing to the Warlord. The other two bustled about for a moment setting their papers and books safely out of the way of food and liquids. The Warlord was amused to note that when the Ninoris did finally sit down, Kiyoie somehow ended up next to Taka, in the seat that had originally been Moeri's.


"You three are all quite resplendent today," the Warlord commented, once things had settled down.


"Thank you, Lord Commander," Minister Ninori replied, "We have just come from an audience with the Most Noble Prince. It seemed prudent to dress formally."

The Warlord took a firm grip on his curiosity. "Well, unless there were any special problems, I suppose we should eat before you make your report," he said reluctantly.


"Oh no, Lord Commander, no problems," Yamashiro assured him blandly. The old man stroked his beard and smiled mysteriously. "Actually, we have some unexpectedly good news for you." The archivist applied himself to his meal.

Kiyoie half choked on a mouthful of rice, and Taka patted him on the back solicitously until he could breathe again. Moeri's expression became ever so slightly smug.

Isanari felt a sudden urge to strangle two of his most valued subordinates. He sighed. Obviously the quickest way to end the suspense would be to finish the meal. Finally, when everyone had finished eating and they were relaxing and sipping sake, the Minister prepared to make his report.

"My Lord," he began, "after leaving you yesterday at about this time, I immediately began to survey the late Kanehide's affairs, to determine the holdings that were available for the distributions that you ordered ... "

"Not nearly hard enough on Clan Tajima," put in Yanagi.

The Minister smiled at the Dragon's Wife. "Indeed, Reverend Lady, I myself was rather of that opinion until we began studying the tax and marriage records and ledgers of the late Commander. Some of what we found was ... interesting." He added hurriedly, "I am being careless in saying 'we'. Actually it was Kiyoie who discovered the most important information." He smiled at his son.

The younger Ninori took up the narrative. "As some of you may know, since social rank tends to match usable wealth, while taxes are based on revenue producing lands, many Lords use several different methods of valuing their belongings, none of which bear much kinship to true market value. Kanehide seems to have been unusually creative about such matters -- he was a gambler who depended on luck rather than numbers," Kiyoie stroked one of his magnificently embroidered sleeves with a satisfied air, "and I believe he made a practice of giving short value to his creditors and demanding full value from his debtors."


"I hope he never shortchanged you," the Minister commented.

The young man smiled at his father. "Of course not, sir," he said in a respectful tone, "I never gamble for credit, only for cash. And I depend on numbers rather than luck."

After a sip of sake, Kiyoie continued, "In any event, once I had finally determined the true value of the late Commander's holdings, it turned out that Clan Tajima owes five tenths of those holdings to the Most Noble Prince, and six tenths of the value to the late commander's supposed ladies. The discrepancy will have to come out of the main Tajima holdings." He paused to take a sip of sake, then continued.

"Also, two thirds of the late commander's holdings are presently occupied by the enemy, so two thirds of the property assigned to the Most Noble Prince will be in occupied territories. But by the Warlord's command the Ladies are to receive only unoccupied territories, so exchanges will have to be made (at full book value) between unoccupied lands from the main Tajima holdings and property of the late Commander that is inaccessible and has sustained unknown amounts of damage."


"There is another important fact about the Ladies, Lord Commander" added Archivist Yamashiro. "At least two of them, now that it is known that they were never really bound to Clan Tajima, are Heirs to Clans that have been falsely supposed Vacant."

The Warlord let his breath out with a whoosh. He sat a moment then summoned a messenger. "Send a proclamation to the camps and barracks: samurai of the following Clans are now known to have been falsely named ronin, and should report to their Ladies, falsely believed wed to the late Kanehide, as soon as possible. The affected Domains are ... " He waved to the Archivist.

"Takekura and Saneatsu."

"I hope this won't disrupt your forces too much, General," Isanari added.

"I expect not, Lord Commander, considering the men involved. The difference between a 'ronin' unit operating without a Clan Lord, and a cooperative unit of Clan vassals is not really that great. There is more likely to be a disruption where it is most needed: in the Domains' Council. Two more Clans, and led by Ladies besides ... Noble powers above! Some of those old geezers will be fit to chew iron when they hear the news. Who was the third lady?"

Taka spoke up "Oh, that must be Lord Hanemae's sister. He'll be very glad to have her free ... and the unoccupied holdings will be more than welcome as well. Hanemae and his men have been using ... umm ... 'unorthodox' supply methods that make ours look unimaginative due to lack of funds."


Yamashiro asked indignantly, "Do you mean that the Tajima refused to help their own brother-in-law?"

Moeri laughed and answered softly, "Well, yes. But I have the impression that Hanemae and Kanehide never in their lives agreed on any question more debatable than which direction the sun rises. Lord Hanemae applied to Kanehide for a loan of funds. Not a gift, just a loan. The late commander replied by offering to buy Lord Hanemae's council proxy, and Hanemae declared he'd rather starve and go naked than sell his vote. That's why Hanemae always sends one of his men to Council with strict orders to vote the opposite way from Tajima on everything."


The Warlord reflected that he would not have believed a man could have a quieter speaking voice than the Twilight Prince. He wondered how the young Captain managed to give orders on the battle field. But that was not important now.

"Minister Ninori, while the Clan revenues from the Vacant Clans must, of course, be used only for financing the 'ronin' forces, you are hereby authorized to use part of the realm's revenues to make interest free loans to support those lords like Hanemae whose Domains are fully occupied by the enemy. I'm embarrassed not to have thought of this before ... but it's so odd to think of Domain Lords without revenues." Isanari stopped suddenly, then turned to the General. "Noble Powers! Your Clan lands are way up north, next to Hanemae. Are you somehow supporting yourself and your men on your general's stipend?"


Hanenori no Yoshinaga laughed. "Well, my lord, I haven't been able to afford to replace my battle losses, so at this point I don't have that many of my own men left to support ... but I will admit that my mother's dower lands have been very useful. My relatives are also more accommodating than Kanehide seems to have been. And, as Captain Taka said, we practice some ingenuity in supplying and equipping ourselves."

The Warlord decided to take the hint and not inquire further into the general's supply strategies. He turned back to Ninori. "Am I correct in assuming that Kanehide juggled the accounts regarding his armed retainers along with all the rest? How much trouble is Clan Tajima going to have meeting its responsibilities?"


"That remains unclear, my lord. It will depend in part upon whether Lord Tajima feels himself to be honor-bound to take in as many as possible of Kanehide's surviving vassals -- many of Kanehide's field troops were lost along with him, or in previous battles, so those that remain consist largely of pensioners, support personnel, castle guards and such. Not exactly what Tajima needs to make up its own battle losses. Many of the few remaining combat warriors will fall to the Ladies' share. Regardless, Tajima will have to swallow the expense of recruiting and equipping additional vassals for the Ladies, besides all of the vassals for the Prince."


Yanagi chuckled. "What a mess that is going to be! Even with two vacant Clans resurrected, there are many more lordless men in the home provinces today than there are Clan vassals. The chance to be properly enfieffed again, and with an Imperial Prince as overlord, will produce more than a little competition among the better officers."


"Yes, I know," the Warlord nodded, "but I couldn't trust the vassals of a broken Lord with the care of that Lord's successor, especially a successor without combat training. All it would take is one loyal fool with his eyes on the past to cause a major disaster." He turned back to Ninori and Yamashiro, "How did your audience with the Most Noble Prince go? Has he recovered from that debacle yesterday?"

Yamashiro answered, "Yes, my Lord. I did not, of course, scan the Most Noble Prince with mage-sight today, but I believe that all the injuries to the skin and muscles that were apparent yesterday have now healed completely. The Most Noble Prince seemed weary, rather than in pain, and was very apologetic about not rising to receive us properly. He mentioned possibly visiting his surviving bodyguards in the infirmary tomorrow."

The Dragon's Wife snorted. "Doesn't mean anything. After that performance yesterday I suspect the Most Noble Prince would be apologetic about not rising from his deathbed to greet the coroner. Highborn are nearly as bad as dragons: they're injured so seldom and heal so quickly, they don't know how to be invalids."


"What did the Most Noble Prince say about his new Domain?" Taka asked. "Was he pleased?"

Kiyoie smiled at her as he answered, and she blushed faintly. "Yes, I think he was ... I heard the Most Noble Prince say something to his courtier about having things that were really his own, not just his to use. And the Most Noble Prince also mentioned that having a house and land here in the city solved a problem of where to build a local shrine for some of the relics he uses in his rituals."


The Minister added, "I must say I was impressed by the care the Most Noble Prince took in deciding what holdings to ask for -- he selected more than three-quarters of his Domain personally. It's quite a reasonable mix, though perhaps a bit short on rice- land, which we can make up in the remaining quarter of the holdings."


General Hanenori laughed, "Well, if nothing else, being short on rice-lands will keep the Most Noble Prince's taxes down. But Highborn must have odd ideas of value, to leave those for last! What did he ask for?"

"A good saltwater port, which we were unfortunately unable to provide. An inland market town, proximity to several major shrines, orchards and timber ranges, mines and quarries of various sorts, a minor silk production region, various manufacturies, forges, good fresh water wells, and horse ranches ... I can't say I understood how he was choosing what to ask for," Ninori said. "If someone offered me my choice of a Domain's holdings, I certainly wouldn't think of asking for all those kinds of property, and I deal with logistics and supply problems every day of my life."

Yamashiro said, "The Most Noble Prince may know little about ordinary Domains and households, but he knows shrines inside and out and top to bottom. I suspect that the Most Noble Prince was constructing a major shrine in his mind, and asked for access to all the different things that might be needed to rebuild a shrine, or anything else that has been damaged by the invasion. That doesn't explain the horse ranches, though."

Moeri laughed quietly. "You clearly haven't seen the Most Noble Prince's horses! They're magnificent, and very smart and strong -- the kind of horse that can mean life or death to a cavalry officer. People have been offering huge amounts of money just for the use of his stallion, and even huger amounts for an actual live horse from the Most Noble Prince's string." The boy's eyes were shining.


"So horse ranches suit his interests and also provide a promise of ready cash," Yanagi said. "I agree with the Minister ... I find the Most Noble Prince more impressive the more I learn of him."

"And the Most Noble Prince didn't ask for all of Kanehide's holdings in any category, just the best of the holdings in each category," Kiyoie grinned, "except the market town, which led to the biggest surprise of all."

"More good news?" asked the Warlord. "Today is turning out as pleasant as yesterday was unpleasant." He sipped at his sake.

"Ah, yes," said Ninori with a smile, "and this news is also related to the question of what to call the Most Noble Prince's holdings. As the Most Noble Prince looked at the maps we had prepared for him, he noted that the holdings of the late Kanehide included what had once been the Domain capital of the Lost Clan of Kawachi. The Prince immediately asked that it be included in his holdings, for what he described as sentimental reasons. The Most Noble Prince also asked whether anyone would mind if he called his holdings Kawachi, since no one is presently using the name, and his mother was a Kawachi, descended from the Wizard."

Warlord Isanari inhaled some of his sake, and spent a few minutes coughing violently. "Noble Powers," he breathed reverently, when he could speak again. "Do you suppose the Most Noble Prince understood what he was suggesting?"

"I doubt it," Yamashiro answered. "The Highborn consider that they own all the land, and the Landed Clans are just caretakers, anyway. The details of how the Domains are assigned and administered don't usually concern them unless some Samurai does something they find inconvenient."

"Peasants tend to have the same attitude," Taka commented. "I really don't understand what you're all so excited about."

Warlord Isanari blinked. It was sobering to realize that both his superiors and his subordinates tended to view his own class as little more than a necessary nuisance.

"If the Most Noble Prince's mother was a Kawachi," he explained slowly, "the Most Noble Prince can claim the Clan, just as the supposed Ladies of Kanehide can claim their own Clans that had been presumed Vacant. It doesn't matter that Kawachi has been Vacant for over 100 years, and was considered Lost. If the Most Noble Prince's pedigree holds, he is rightful Lord of Kawachi." He paused. "And the Lord of Kawachi has full voting rights in the Domain council, just like any other Domain Lord. If the lineage holds."


"Lord Commander, do you have any idea of how carefully the lineage of Imperial Princes is examined and verified? Believe me, the lineage will hold. Look here." The Archivist got a paper out of the pile of documents Kiyoie had carried in earlier and spread it out on the table.

The General looked at it for a moment, and protested, "That isn't a family tree, it looks more like a family fishnet, with all those cross-links ... if that's typical, there's no wonder the Highborn are reputed to be more than a bit strange. I'd be embarrassed to own a horse with a pedigree that looked like this."


"I suspect that the Most Noble Prince agrees with you," Yamashiro commented, "He seemed more than a little apologetic about this 'depressing mess', as he called it. In any case, this is the part we're interested in." He traced the lineage with a finger. "It appears that the mother of the Most Noble Prince was descended in a direct male line from the last Lord of Kawachi through a son that the Wizard of Kawachi fathered by that Fox- woman: she was not simply descended from the Kawachi: her family name, if she had chosen to use one, would have been Kawachi."

"Excellent!" the Warlord said. "With the state most of the surviving Clans are in, no one will dare complain about transmitting the Lordship through a single female link ... I don't suppose the Honored Grandfather of the Most Noble Prince is still alive?"

Ninori replied, "He died in the plague, lord commander, leaving no sons and a will that named our Most Noble Prince as residual legatee ... There had been a younger brother (who would be the Prince's grand-uncle), but he died without heirs during a major ritual at the beginning of the reign of the Most Noble Prince's Heavenborn Grandfather." He placed a second document on the table. "I disagree with our esteemed archivist about one thing, though. The Most Noble Prince may not understand the finer points of Domain politics, but no one could grow up so near to the Throne without an appreciation of the importance of genealogy and inheritance. He may not have been sure of what he was doing, but he must have suspected that the Kawachi lineage might be important to bring this copy of the will all the way from Amekudare no Miyako."

"In that case," replied the Warlord, "it would be unwise to delay the announcement of the new status of Clan Kawachi. Rather a pity really, it might have been amusing to spring this on Minister Yoshiatsu at the beginning of the next Council meeting." He turned to summon another messenger, and was surprised to find the man already entering the room, carrying a large bundle in a waterproof wrapping.


The messenger bowed respectfully. "Dispatches from Amekudare no Miyako, Lord Commander."

The Warlord nodded. "Wait here," he ordered. "I'll have proclamations to be posted."

The messenger bowed again, and sat down near the door.



Copyright 1991 Elyse M. Grasso