'Humans are driven by 5 genetic needs: survival, love and belonging, power, freedom and fun'- William Glassy
'Quickly! Run!' He shouted as he shoved her quickly away from him. He turned towards his right and commanded his second in command to take all the children and women as far as he could, away from the village.
Those were the last words she heard from her father, the clan leader. He had known an attack on his lands would soon be made given the current state of the country. A civil war had broken out due to an altercation between the current shogun and his brother; one demanding his newborn son to be heir, the other lusting after the power he could never hold. In the midst of this conflict, the surrounding feudal lords saw the weakening of the ruling structure and took the opportunity to overthrow the more powerful clans in an effort to build upon their wealth and power. Those unfortunate enough to be caught in the crossfire were slaughtered or taken in as slaves.
She had only taken a few of her possessions; a small geisha doll and some food before her mother grabbed her hand and together, they ran as fast as they could out of the compound and into the courtyard. They had not even taken five steps before they heard the roaring of fire. Nearby, the roof of the grain storehouse had caught on sparks and was gradually being brought down by the ever growing flames consuming and breaking the supports which were holding it up. They were so close. She could feel the blazing heat radiating onto her skin. Thick, grey smoke began to spread and she could feel it surrounding her. She choked on the polluted air as fear for her father's safety began to manifest inside her.
Her mother quickly dragged her away, out of the courtyard and towards the safety of the lake where they would travel by boat to cross the borders of Kyoto and into the safety of Hikone. She could feel the twigs stabbing, the stones cutting and the dirt blackening the bottom of her foot as they ran but she did not care, for the terror she was feeling overpowered her physical pain.
A high pitched shriek pierced through the night air and into the tiny bubble of silence she had created. As she looked back, she could see the courtyard she had just escaped from, and the dojo next to it, demolished under the ferocity of the orange flames. Suddenly, flashbacks of the times she had spent in the courtyard and dojo, came flooding over her like an uncontrollable tsunami.
The time she spent playing chasings with the other neighbourhood children.
Memories of planting and maintaining the lush green bonsai plants surrounding the courtyard.
Of sliding across the wooden boards of the dojo in her white socks after training.
Of tripping over and picking herself back up during her naginata sword training in the dojo with her father.
The thought of her father brought her back to the present and pulled her out of her minor trance. The urge to run back to the compound was great. She gave in to the urge and tried to wrench her hand out of her mother's but to no avail. She was already too weak to resist the promise of safety.
In the next moment, loud wails of despair sounded. They looked back and sitting on top of the hill was the Shinto gate, lit up in flames. The red beams were slowly becoming charred and began to fall to pieces under the weight of the wooden framework. The sight of such a sacred monument, so easily brought down did nothing to the panicked people's already dwindling hope. Any possible protection they might have gained from the spirits and ancestors were now gone.
Anger filled her tiny body as she watched the burning of not only houses and trees but also the people she had known as friends and family. She could not understand the cruelty and selfishness of human greed.
A fierce tug on her hand forced her to move along and soon they were running again. Away from the burning of fire, away from the screams of agony from the people as they were killed by either the katana of the samurais, the burning of fire onto their skin or as they were watching their own loved ones suffer through the torture, away from the destruction of the place which held her entire childhood.
They sprinted towards the lake and into the little dingy tenmasen boat where they would wait for the darkness of war to pass and the light of peace and serenity to come, leaving behind all that was important.