Death of a Flower of the Isawa
This is the story of Miyara Miwa in her own words, daughter of Miyara Ujimitsu and Miyara Keiko, of the Phoenix clan.
A flower's petals
Too early gone, without fruit;
Plucked by the harsh wind.
~ Miyara Miwa
All the notes written by Godanji, all the precious information, hard-learned, is gone, like Isawa Godanji himself. I was unable to save any of them.
The Isawa contacted my father, the Miyara, in the year of the dragon, in the cycle of the sheep, in the eleventh year of Emperor Sodaanoda. His uncle, Godanji, wished to take a journey into the westlands. Many years ago, as a young man, Isawa Godanji had travelled into the west, carrying with him a small statue. He had returned without it. Whether he had given it away, or lost it somehow was never stated publicly. Although the statue was his to do with as he wished, coming home without it caused him to lose face in many people's eyes. He had failed in some way, with some dishonor. Throughout his long life, he gained some honor. Still, the stain was there, and he felt it. Now, as his life's end approached, the statue was much on his mind. He decided on one more quest: return to the west, find the statue, and return it to its home. With much research, he determined that stories of a statue with certain magical properties in an ancient shrine, among the barbarians in the west referred to his treasure.
Of course, if an Isawa makes a journey, by long tradition, a Miyara samurai accompanies him as a travelling companion. I had just been released by my sensei and was eager to embark on my first trip. Within a few months, we put together an expedition to venture into the sunset lands.
For two years we wandered throughout the Old Empire, as they style themselves. They were still witless creatures when our empire was born, of course, but theirs seem old to them I suppose. I had received a prophecy before we left, that a troupe of entertainers led by an orcish king of men, king of an enchanted valley, King Og, a clown-fighting master, would lead us to the shrine we sought. In that time, Isawa-sama and I became friends; I came to call him Godanji, and he called me in turn Miwa. He was quiet and studious and surprisingly shy; I had always thought him dull, although one of my younger cousins loved his stories, I recalled. Once he lost his shyness around us, he turned out to have a wonderful sense of humour, a dry wit, and I valued his insight in other people.
We learned their tongue, Imperial they call it, making it a game and a competition. Godanji, of course, learned well and quickly, and even went so far as to learn to read and write their inelegant script, but I had no interest in reading their barbaric language. Speaking it is torture enough.
For most of those two years, we had little success of locating any news of either the shrine or this King Og. Finally, in the southern portion of the empire, we heard a rumour of a group of people with an orc who fought in a strange manner. We headed in the direction the rumour suggested, and walked into an ambush.
Bandits, seeing our well-equipped expedition, had decided to waylay and rob us. They set upon us in the wilderness. We fought hard and well, but they were too numerous. Most of us were killed, including Godanji. I allowed myself to be distracted by Godanji's death at the hands of a barbarian bandit, and was cut down myself.
When I awoke, I was in a strange bed, in a strange place. I eventually pieced things together. As soon as we were attacked, one of the men of our company fled back to the town for assistance. When he ran in, gasping of a bandit attack, the local guard headed out immediately. When they arrived, we had been defeated, and the bandits were sorting through our belongings, while some were sorting the bodies and dispatching any left alive. At the guard's approach, they grabbed what they could and ran. The guard killed a few stragglers, but did not pursue. They did take the few of us still alive back to town and settled us in the local temple of Bianca, a monastery devoted to healing. By the time I awoke, there were only three of us still alive: Tetsu, who had gone for help and was uninjured; Hando, who had lost a leg; and I, who had lost my charge, and also an eye.
Bereft of honour, I nearly killed myself immediately, as would be expected after such a dismal failure. But, remembering Godanji's exhortations to think before acting, I paused to think things through. Instead, I decided to continue his quest; to seek, discover, and return the statue to Isawa. Once home, with both my family's and Isawa Godanji's honour restored, perhaps I can retire quietly to a monastery. I have arranged for Tetsu and Hando to return home, with the message of what happened, my plans, and Godanji's ashes to be placed in the family crypt.
There is still some money left; I gave some to Tetsu and Hando to see them home, gave some to the kind Biancans, who are surprisingly skilled healers for barbarians, and took the rest for myself. Alas, with the loss of my eye, I fear I have lost much of my former skill with my bow. It has also taken some amount of practice with katana and wakizashi to learn to compensate for the loss of sight on one side and depth-perception, but I am nearly as good as I was before. I had begun to master finally the windmill technique I had been taught, but I fear it will be some time before I can take it up again.
Hando and Testu will leave as soon as Hando has healed enough to travel. I leave tomorrow.