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6. Shinjo Takuya

Memoirs of a Bushi #6

Played on November 18th, 2018

Year 1123, Isawa Calendar

Law. Test number 8. I approach the test in the familiar grounded way in which lies my strength. I come up empty though. Not only points wise, but completely blank. My mind does not answer when I send it the questions from the judges. I obviously do not score any points on this test, which completes this morning session. I decide to take a ride on Jinsoku-chan during lunch to help clear my mind. Meditation works for some others, but this works for me. Once outside the city, I rode her to insane speeds, making sure the wind swept away all the turmoil in my mind.

After lunch the tournament continued with Go. After the dice game yesterday evening, I studied the game of Go a bit more on my tatami using the book I brought and it really paid off. I had to play against the shuganeja Kitsu Tsubasa, I went in really aggressive and that really surprised him. His eyes grew even a bit bigger and right afterwards he conceded the game to me. That felt really redeeming and got me pumped up for the archery event which was next.

I felt completely in the zone, at ease, one with everything, going into the archery event. I did great, however I was still outclassed by, of all people, Hitoshi. For a short moment I felt the rage burning again, but then I remembered my ride during lunch and my mind came to rest again. In the end, I came out of that defeat a stronger man. I actually congratulated him on his victory and the reaching of his gempuku.

The last test was hunting. Again, right up my alley. I went into the nearby woods and came back with a nice badger. Doji Ren was very very lucky in finding a rare silver fox, but I think the fact of having to kill that nice animal took the best of her since she clearly couldn't hold on to her composure again and broke down in tears. Crane...

After the tournament, we changed in to our ceremonial clothes to attend the festivities at the house of the magistrate. A long table was set up with a wide variety of spices and sake. All contestants were seated at the table together with the last years tournaments winner and runner-up and the magistrate himself. Next the gift-giving ceremony was held, in which each of the contestants from the major clans was given the opportunity to give a present to the magistrate. I presented a intricate saddle, emblazoned with the crane clan weapon and a matching saddle-blanket, embroidered with the Kakita family crest. The gift was very well received by the magistrate, but he certainly did notice the deeper meaning behind it, being that those items would fit much better on the far superior horses of the unicorn clan, than on those of the Crane clan themselves.

Other gifts include a Shinjo book from Mirumoto Hinata, a eloborate lantern from Togashi Yoshi, A small keg of very good sake from Yasuki Jun, Some herbs that are obviously from Mantis territory by Bayushi Mei Lin, a nice dagger by Bayushi Kyo, a very nice bird from the western foreign lands by Moto Batbayar, a nice calligraphed poem by Shiba Toya, A holder for incense from Isawa Aki, a broken bokken from Kakita Riku, a nice painting of a duel from Doji Ren, a jeweled fan from Kitsu Tsubasa and a Kakito blade from Akodo Masako. Some gifts are accepted with more honor by the magistrate than others and the herbs definately raise an eyebrow or two, but in general the ceremony is very peaceful. That is, right until the end, when Hitoshi jumps up and shouts loudly towards the magistrate: 'I and my Mantis clan will not be ignored any longer. I challenge you to a duel!' Fortunately, Yoshi and Aki manage to calm him down enough where he humbly apologizes and offers his gift, a boat moored at the docks, to the magistrate. The gift is accepted by the magistrate and the party starts. I cannot, however, help but think what dishonor this must have brought to Hitoshi, but also to his clan and to the spirit of Doji Satsume. Hitoshi might very well consider seppuku after the tournament! Whether this is a positive development for me and the unicorn clan is not yet very clear to me. Let's wait what the duels will bring.