Samurai and Ninajs Chap. 1
I do not own Persona or the character's likenesses, sorry everyone. Atlus does. Blame my lack of creativity.
This story takes place towards the middle of the Heian period of Japan. I am not being completely historically accurate with this, so do not get all over my back about it. How much Personas will play a part in it, I do not know about that one. I've also messed with people's ages a bit.
Lord Tatsumi sighed as he sat in his emblazoned chair in a small palace in the center of Nara. He was an important man to say the least, but Lord Tatsumi was still under incredible pressure.
He was a lord, a lord that controlled most of Nara, but he served under the Fujiwara family. His family was given this area after the capital was moved to Kyoto. Nara was still an important city, but nothing like Kyoto. He had become the lord after his father died when he was a child, but he did not feel truly like the leader until his mother died two years ago.
Lord Tatsumi had been married once before. It was before he became a lord at the age of fifteen. It was a loveless and arranged marriage to a Lady Matsunaga. He was not attracted to her in the least, and neither was she. The two did their civic duties and were done with it. She died a few years after their marriage attempting to give birth to a child.
Of course, there were various rumors swirling about Lord Tatsumi… that women in general were just a chore. He did not care for them at all. Lord Tatsumi supposedly enjoyed many of the things women did. Allegedly, Lord Tatsumi was just looking for an heir to take over the family once he died. Some people thought that he was really interested in men, but who knows if that was really true.
No one would speak of such things in Lord Tatsumi's presence. There were plenty of other minor lords and ladies that served under Tatsumi Kanji, but they still would not dare speak of such blasphemy.
One of the main reasons why no one would cross Lord Tatsumi was because of his two immensely skilled samurai. Seta and Hanamura, who were both third and second-generation warriors respectively, were two of the most feared swordsmen in Nara. Though incredibly young, they were considered prodigies. Lord Tatsumi, himself, was said to be a man of immense strength and skilled with a kanabo. The only time Seta and Hanamura had ever been called to fight; the pair had killed a massive amount of soldiers by themselves.
Lord Tatsumi had an audience with some minor lords and ladies today. He had sighed because they were going to go over issues he did not want to go over. "They want me to marry again so I can have an heir," Lord Tatsumi thought, "They just want one so they don't have to worry about losing their status."
He had another issue that was going both ways, "I have to raise taxes again," Kanji thought.
Part of the extra money would be going to the Fujiwaras' in Kyoto, but the other part would be going to him. The lords and ladies wanted their own share of the money. That's why they wanted to push this forward so quickly.
The two tall men who were wearing yukata and standing right outside of the main entry hall were waiting outside at attention and to greet the lords coming in. The lords would recognize both of the young men. The silver-haired man with silver eyes and brown-haired man both had a scabbard at their side, and the silver-haired man's serious face was belied by his good looks. It was a dangerous combination to cross Seta Souji.
Both of the samurai were wearing all white and bowed to all of incoming lords.
Lord Dojima nodded towards Seta as he walked through the stone archway to the main hallway. He was a distant relative of Seta, an uncle, and was the oldest member of the group. He was also the wisest, if a bit tempermental. He did not care much for the Fujiwaras; especially for their current leader, Fujiwara Adachi.
Dojima was wearing a blue and gray yukata and his graying hair and stubble was evident. Ryotaro… was the advisor to Lord Tatsumi and led the rest of council. He normally was the voice of reason.
Dojima's journey along the rows of cherry blossoms that lead up to the archways gave him memories of his dying wife. Chisato was far too sickly and was no longer vibrant and happy. All care of his daughter Nanako would be left to attendants now.
Lord Dojima bowed to Lord Tatsumi as he approached and the younger lord returned with a short bow. The wall scrolls, or kakemono, that lined the walls were embroidered with gold leaf.
Lord Ichijo and Lord Nagase were cousins. They followed the wizened member of the group. Both of them were very close and were inseparable. They were also extremely athletic, almost as athletic as the highly trained samurai. Behind Lord Ichijo was his extremely pretty wife, Lady Ebihara.
Both of the cousins were wearing blue, while Lady Ebihara was wearing a lavish white silk kimono. The only contrast between Lord Kou and Daisuke was the blue hair of Kou and the brown of Daisuke.
They both bowed to Lord Tatsumi as well as they walked up to him. Lady Ebihara did the same, her orange hair sliding down to cover the top of her kimono.
Lord Tanaka, in everyone else's mind, was the greediest of all of the minor lords under the Fujiwara clan. He and his wife, Lady Uehara Sayoko, were dead set on stripping the land and its people of all of their money. He took everything to the extreme. His graying hair was a sharp contrast to the black-haired Sayoko. She was much younger than Lord Tanaka. Yet, it was an arranged marriage that turned out to be for the best.
Lord Tanaka's black wear was a sharp disparity to the white clothes of the samurai as he passed him. He had a disdainful look for Hanamura, and an intriguing look for Seta. He looked like he wanted to use him somehow. Lady Uehara had a seductive look for Seta in her white and pink kimono. She used dye from the flowers in this exact palace to get the color for this kimono. Last's year flowers, of course.
Both Lord Tanaka and Lady Uehara had nothing but condescending looks for Lord Tatsumi when they bowed, but Kanji ignored them. It was no use inciting a war within the family for this reason. If it got beyond a few petty looks, he would have his vassals take care of them.
Lord Konishi was standing nonchalantly just outside the palace gates. His gray nondescript robes were nothing like what he used to wear. He started wearing them ever since his sister died. Lady Konishi died in a mysterious accident that none of the other lords could explained. When the beautiful sister of Lord Konishi died, Lord Konishi Naoki went into a depressed state. There was no snapping him out of it.
His head was in a permanent bow as he walked towards Lord Tatsumi. He received disparaging looks from the other lords and ladies as he entered the chamber. The only one that seemed to understand his pain was Seta and he was not even a lord.
The lords and ladies: Lord Dojima, Konishi, Tanaka, Nagase, Ichijo, as well as Lady Uehara and Ebihara… all sat in front of Lord Tatsumi.
Kanji took a deep breath before he addressed the group. His first words would reverberate among the pillars of the room.
"We are all here to discuss the nature of the issues at hand," Kanji told them, "Give me the status of your situation."
Dojima was the first to speak, "The rest of the Fujiwaras' in Kyoto are starting to pressure us for more money. They are feeling that are losing control of their family, and there is underlying pressure from the Minamoto family. They may ask for troops as well."
"Greedy bastards…," Nagase muttered.
Ebihara said, "Do we even have manpower to give them if they ask for it?"
Kanji shook his head in disagreement.
"We could give them Seta and Hanamura," Tanaka suggested.
Kou rebuked him, "What if the Minamotos' attack us? We have plenty of footmen, but none of our samurai match up against either of them."
The Minamotos'... Seta cringed at hearing their names. Lord Arisato and Lady Takeba, as well as his sister Lady Arisato and Lord Aragaki were the leaders of the Minamoto family.
Dojima shook his head, "We wouldn't give up either samurai, but we can provide a small amount of foot soldiers. The problem is taxation."
That caused a sigh of relief on Souji's face, and as he looked at Yosuke; he saw he was doing the same.
Tanaka smiled. He had the land well in hand in this department.
Seeing Tanaka's smiling face, Kanji asked him, "I understand we need to pressure the serfs into giving us what they owe, but if you kill them…"
"We can't tax dead people," Ai told Tanaka.
"We call it scare tactics," Tanaka replied, "They'll pay if they see their fellow farmers and workers dead."
"It's wrong…," Ai shook her head.
Kou said, "If it is necessary… we may need to be a little aggressive."
Kanji shook his head, "I agree. The heads of the Fujiwaras' will be on us soon enough for money."
"We'll get on it then," Dojima nodded and motioned to an advisor that had come in. He said to the man in the gold-colored hat, "Make sure you collect all of the taxes."
"What about food?" Lady Uehara spoke, "They'll be asking for that too."
"An army needs food. Without food, an army can not run," Lord Dojima explained.
"Leave that to me," Her husband, Lord Tanaka, smirked.
"Then that's done," Kanji nodded with exhaustion. He almost made to get up, but was stopped by Lady Uehara.
"There is also an issue with you carrying on the family name," Lady Uehara stopped him, "You need a son, since your first wife… was unable to provide you with one."
"Don't start with me about this," Lord Tatsumi said, "I don't want to worry about it right now."
"But… you need an heir," Lady Sayoko continued.
"Lady Uehara is right," Dojima agreed with her, "The longer you go without a son, the weaker you will look."
"Even a bastard son will look better than being without one," Lady Ebihara told him.
"You could always just find some girl off the streets to have at least one child, while you find a suitable wife later on," Kou suggested.
"Kou!" Kou's cousin, Lord Daisuke Nagase, exclaimed.
"It may be necessary, if he is that stubborn about it," Lady Ebihara said.
"Not you too," Daisuke shook his head.
"If it must be done… let him take some peasant girl to his chambers and then throw her into the servant quarters afterwards," Lord Konishi finally spoke.
There were some nods of agreements, and some nods of resignation.
Kanji sighed. He knew it would turn into something like this.
"Then it's agreed," Dojima said, "If Lord Tatsumi can not find a suitable wife, then he will go out and find a peasant girl."
Kanji looked exasperated at these turn of events. If he had to sire a child, he would rather it not be a peasant girl give him an heir. However, he was not interested in any of the possibilities that the minor Fujiwara ladies offered.
Kanji shook his head, "If we are done… then you are all dismissed."
All of the lords and ladies except Lord Dojima stood up, bowed, and made their way out of the palace. Yosuke followed the lords and ladies out, while Souji waited at the doorway.
Kanji looked lost and the older advisor made note of that. "You look frustrated, Lord Tatsumi."
"This whole pushing me to find a wife…," Kanji muttered, "I don't want to deal with that."
Dojima thought for a second, "What about Lady Ozawa? She's available."
"I'd rather not," Kanji responded.
"You have never seen her…," Dojima responded, "Then again… neither of us have."
"I heard she's very gloomy," Kanji told him.
Dojima sighed in frustration, "Maybe… the best idea is for you to pick someone outside of the hierarchy. It may not be honorable, and it will be looked down upon... but it will give you more time."
"I guess… I may have no choice," Kanji shrugged, "That's if Tanaka doesn't kill them all."
Dojima let out a sharp chuckle, "You're right about that." He told the head of Nara, "I'll make sure you find a girl. You can tour the city."
Dojima bowed as Kanji said, "Alright, you can go now."
As Dojima left, so did his other samurai guard, Souji. Kanji had other guards watching over him, and Souji was watching over Dojima closely.
"Lord Dojima…," Souji said to Dojima as he walked out with him.
"You know to just call me Ryotaro when we're alone, Souji," Dojima told the eighteen-year old samurai.
The forty-four year-old lord knew his cousin had to be formal, but this was private. It was important to speak to the young man, though.
"As you wish, uncle," Souji nodded.
"I have special orders for you," Dojima said.
The two of them had passed the cherry blossoms and were passing through more archways. The cherry blossoms were beautiful in the spring, swaying in the slight breeze.
"What do you wish for me to do?" Souji asked Dojima.
"Seta… Lord Tatsumi will not find a bride within the confines within these walls. I want you to be at his side when he goes out to the rural areas… Take Hanamura with you," Dojima commanded.
Souji stopped and bowed, "I understand. Is there anything else you wish for me?"
"Watch out for Lord Tanaka," Dojima warned, "He may try to betray Lord Tatsumi and take power for himself. If he does… the power of Nara will dissipate."
"I will keep my eye on him and pass on the orders to Hanamura," Souji responded and bowed again.
"Good… That's all I ask cousin," Dojima told him.
Souji walked ahead of the older lord and went to find his partner. He looked around and found Yosuke with his back against the reddish stone gates watching Lady Ebihara and Lady Sayoko walk out of the palace. Souji stood next to Yosuke as he stared at the ladies. They were heading towards their own smaller manors. Lady Ebihara's long red-orange hair swayed in the light breeze.
"Lord Ichijo was a lucky bastard," Yosuke muttered to Souji as he came up to him.
"How so?" Souji asked.
"He never saw Lady Ebihara before he married her and look at her," Yosuke pointed out. He explained, "Her face, her body, everything about her… she's beautiful."
"She's a bitch…," Souji responded, "And she's not very bright."
"A small price to pay if she's beautiful," Yosuke told him. He then asked Souji, "Who cares if she's stupid?"
"Says someone who's trading fans with Lady Satonaka," Souji said tiredly, "You are not even supposed to be messing around with people like Lady Satonaka anyways."
"What do you mean by that?" Yosuke asked. He continued, "You are one to talk."
"Have you read her fans?" Souji asked. He explained, "They are not exactly pieces of art."
"Do you consider Lady Kujikawa's fans eloquent?" Yosuke challenged, "She is always sending you fans."
Souji shook his head. Lady Kujikawa was always bombarding him with illicit poetry in her fans. He was a samurai, not a lord. "I find them full of innuendo," Souji responded. "But… every one is, am I not correct?"
"Of course they are," Yosuke said, "That's the point." He continued, "What do you consider of Lady Amagi?"
Souji thought about it. Two weeks ago, when Souji and Yosuke were heading back to Lord Tatsumi's palace late at night, one of Lady Amagi's servants stopped Souji in front of her residence. The servant, dressed in white, gave him a fan written in neat and well-expressed calligraphy. They were words expressing her wish to be with him. It was slightly disturbing for someone who had never even seen him in person to write such words. He was a samurai, damn it! He was not used to high-ranking women trying to seduce him. It was completely ridiculous in his eyes. They were not supposed to be even thinking about him.
"I don't want to think about it," Souji muttered.
"Heh…," Yosuke said, "I'm going to see Lady Satonaka,"
Souji closed his eyes, "Okay… I'll talk to you later, Yosuke." He remembered Dojima's words and called out, "Lord Dojima wants you stay by Lord Tatsumi's side when he heads out to the rural areas in a couple of days."
"He does not have much faith in him finding a wife, does he?" Yosuke remarked as he turned around sharply.
"Not really," Souji told him.
"Of course, I'll be there… What kind of guard do you take me for?" Yosuke asked as he turned back around.
Technically, Souji was slightly more prestigious than Yosuke. If it was not something that his great-grandfather did, Souji would have been a lord along with his Uncle Dojima. His family still became samurai, and lucrative samurai at that.
Souji closed his eyes at the setting sun. All Souji wanted to do at the moment was go back to his home and meditate. He had orders from his uncle, but Souji would rather not get involved in all of this.
Souji started his walk past Lord Tatsumi's residence and into the mercantile area of Nara. As the sun set, the merchants started to pack up their goods. At seeing a young man with a sword, both the peasants and the merchants cast worried looks on each other. No one wanted to cross him. Souji was usually pretty docile. He was better than Tanaka's guards. The guards would chop anyone to pieces who Tanaka thought disrespected him in the slightest.
Souji tried to keep his eyes forward and make sure he did not have to cause any trouble. The lower classes skirted wide of him, regardless, but he did not want to have cut anyone down today. He was tired, and Souji hoped he did not snap at somebody.
A man in dirty white robes gave a scared look at Souji as he turned the corner. Souji ignored him. He could not ignore the other man who ran straight into him. He looked just like the other man, wearing the same kind of white robes and short black hair. He seemed to be the brother of the first man. Bumping into Souji had nearly knocked him down, and the both peasants had appalled looks on his face.
"Oh… god, I'm so sorry… Please forgive me, Sir," The second guy said to Souji as the young samurai staggered.
"You do realize who you ran into, right?" Souji asked. His hand lazily grasped his blade.
"Yes, sir…," The first guy said, "He didn't mean to. Please… We didn't mean to…"
Souji sighed. He didn't really want to get his sword dirty. He was far too tired to care right now.
"Just go home…," Souji told them.
"Thank you, Sir," the first peasant bowed, knowing that both of them had escaped with their lives.
The second peasant bowed and the first one bowed again. They both ran away after that as Souji closed his eyes. Souji opened them and brushed his yukata as if running into the peasant had dirtied them. The white clothes Souji was wearing did indeed have slight marks of dirt on them. He did not know when the last time the peasants had bathed.
Regardless of this fact, Souji shrugged all of this off and kept moving away from the commercial area. It was along these paths that he passed a massive Buddhist temple. Amidst all of the merchants waiting to leave, Souji stopped momentarily to gaze upon its majesty. He knew that he was blocking the road, but the people would just have to wait for him. Souji had seen the temple many times, but every time he saw it always amazed him.
Souji shook his head and continued along the passageways. His home was near more of the minor lords and ladies' residences. As Souji's eyes started to droop from exhaustion, he almost ran into a female servant that was coming his way. She seemed a little flustered, especially when she almost bumped into him.
The young female servant bowed as she stopped. "I'm sorry,"
"It's okay… I wasn't paying attention," Souji shook his head. What was with him and running into people today? He looked at the girl. She was a pretty young thing. Her black hair was done up in a bun. "Can I help you?"
"This is from Lady Kujikawa, Sir," The girl gave him a white silk fan.
Souji cringed at receiving another fan from Lady Rise Kujikawa. The writing on it was... scary. She was obviously far too easily impressed by his exploits. It was not like he had done very much in his life so far. He had barely cracked twenty.
The fan read something like "Willows upon the path of souls. Inside the trees, inside the soul is a wish; my wish. My wish is a wish shared only by me. Take me to the stars."
The fan was dripping with innuendo. Souji needed to find a way to get out of there. The last thing he wanted to do was to send a fan back.
Souji looked down at the fan again and then back at the expectant servant. She was looking at him like she was waiting for him to write something back. "Damn…," Souji thought, "How am I going to get away from this?"
The servant, decked in white, was cute, but Souji was thinking far too hard about other things. The servant finally asked, "Do you need me to bring you a fan?" She must have guessed that a samurai would not have any fans to write on.
Souji sighed and asked the black-haired servant, "Can you tell Lady Kujikawa that I am very, very tired and that I must retire for the evening?"
The servant looked disappointed, like she would somehow suffer for delivering this message, but answered with a bow, "As you wish."
The servant bowed again and turned back towards a small, but still larger than his own residence. It was a reddish, almost pink place with a lavish touch. Though the Kujikawa was a minor house, it was certainly a known house. Souji knew that Yosuke would rather have had Kujikawa's attention than Satonaka's, but he made do.
Now that he had gotten rid of the servant, Souji was finally free to walk home without any more interruptions… he hoped.
Souji's walk ended at the largest of any of the samurai's residences. He was the most prestigious samurai in the city, so his place was the largest. He pushed the sliding door open and held his head. He had a headache from everything that had happened today.
"I'm glad to be home," Souji muttered to himself.
Souji took off his sword, loosened his black sash, and sat down in the middle of the living room. He crossed his legs, closed his eyes, and opened his mind. He wanted to clear his thoughts for the future. Souji had so many orders, so many thoughts on his mind, and so little time.
The rain had started to fall. The cherry blossoms had almost finished blooming and the next season would be summer. The summer would bring even more rain. As the rain pattered, Souji's mind cleared. He knew what he had to do now. He was torn on his ethical ideology, but he knew his duties. He was reluctant to harm peasants, he did not want to integrate himself with nobility, and he was so wary of nobles like Tanaka. Yet, Souji had his orders, and he had to follow them. Souji would be at Lord Tatsumi's side when he went out to the countryside, and he would protect his land. He is expendable.
The next day
The rural land surrounding Nara and its inhabitants were happy to see the rains. Rain meant that crops would grow. These inhabitants were the poorest of any of the others. There was not much land around Nara that could be worked. Space was precious, and it was worked very heavily. If a harvest failed, then it would be a disaster for everyone. The taxes on the land were extremely heavy, and they were about to be raised. Tanaka was going to strip the land bare with his taxation.
The rice fields were inundated with water. The children helped with the adults in the fields with the intensive labor. Families were large and work was difficult. Life was difficult and painstaking. Though… people found joy in it. There was simplicity in living a life free of plots and twisting loyalties. You just lived your life in a continuous circle. It was a never ending circle of life and death.
One family was working hard on the fields. There were only a few of them working on the fields today. A young person and a grandfather were laboring away fruitlessly. The young person was short with short blue hair and a soft face. Her unkempt tunic was colored blue as well. The grandfather's long gray hair was untidy and uneven. With only two trying to do everything, they would never make any progress. The harvest would fail and when they expected rice and money… there would be none.
"Grampa," the young person looked at him and then asked, "When is my cousin coming home?"
"Naoto…," the grandfather responded, "I don't know."
"He is coming home, right?" Naoto asked.
"He's on the run…," Naoto's grandfather told Naoto, "He can't come home."
Naoto's grandfather sighed. Naoto's cousin killed a samurai. Coming home… would mean putting everyone in danger.
As work continued, Naoto's grandfather looked up. He saw a group of men approaching. They were here to collect taxes… taxes that they could not provide. They were Tanaka's men.
"Naoto…," the grandfather called, "Go inside…"
"But… Grampa," Naoto protested.
"Go!" Grandfather exclaimed.
Naoto turned around and headed back towards the communal home that they shared with another family. Naoto was scared for grampa. "What are they going to do to him?" Naoto thought.
I used a small amount of my knowledge of Japanese history to make this chapter. I can't write poetry so my writing on fans sucks, I know. I picked Heian Era because that fit the whole introduction of the samurai, three warring families, and influx of culture. I will do better as I go along, including adding a lot more of anthropological information... I promise.
Kanji is older than Rise and Naoto in this story. He's basically Souji's age, which is right about 20.