29 July, 2012 by katelaity
Eduardo stared. “There must be laws against such a thing!”
Maggiormente and Myojo laughed. “Unless lions have joined the legal profession, I suspect there may not be,” the alchemist added.
The creature looked deeply affronted. “Will no one protect the Venetian lions?”
Eduardo looked so appalled and forlorn that the alchemist took pity on him. “My dear one, you know that I shall always protect you.”
This seemed to mollify his familiar somewhat. “I am grateful for that.”
“Yet you were ready to eat Seito,” Myojo said with mock seriousness as the bird continued to trill away on her hand.
Eduardo cocked his head. “Forgive my ignorance. I thought all birds were for eating. Perhaps if I am descended from chickens I should reconsider this practice.”
The alchemist tried to hide his amusement with a cough. Yet his familiar looked so grave that he got his mirth under control quickly. “A wise decision. One must always be thoughtful about what one eats.”
Myojo nodded her agreement. “So much depends upon our choices.”
“Are you and Seito part of the exhibition here?” Maggiormente asked in order to change the subject. And because he was dying to know more about the magician.
“We are indeed. The emperor had many petition him for admission to the exhibit. I was one of the fortunate few, although I must attribute most of my luck to Seito.”
The little bird hopped along her arm and settled on the magician’s shoulder.
“Do you do tricks?” Eduardo asked, staring at the bird with a new level of respect.
“We do illusions,” Myojo said, removing her pointed hat. Seito hopped onto her head and she replaced the hat. From within it, the trilling song of the bird continued until it suddenly cut short. She removed the hat to show no Seito.
Suddenly the bird’s song began anew from the rafters. The three of them looked up to see Seito perched high in the unfinished building. Seito took wing and flew down in lazy circles until once more she sat upon the magician’s shoulder.
Maggiormente clapped his hands approvingly, but Myojo waved it away. “A mere trifle. We have much more impressive work to do.”
“Our illusions are not just magic tricks, but stories that we tell. We have a stage and props and other things to create the illusion of a living tale. The emperor seemed most fascinated by the tale I call ‘Child’s Play’ which tells of the friendship between a poor girl and boy.”
“A happy tale?” Eduardo curled his tail around his feet, ready to hear a story now.
Myojo shook her head. “A tale to break the heart. Happy stories are all very well, but sad stories live in the memory longer.”
“I suppose that’s true,” Maggiormente said, rubbing his beard thoughtfully.
“We know how to cope with happiness,” Myojo said, pulling a red silk kerchief from her sleeve, “But we all seek ways to learn how to bear our unhappiness.”
“I don’t like to be unhappy,” Eduardo said with a big frown.
“No one does.” Maggiormente said, patting his familiar on the head. “But we are all unhappy at times, however rich or powerful. No one escapes sadness completely.”
Myojo nodded. “The emperor himself had tears in his eyes at my performance. He rules Japan, the greatest nation in the world, yet he too knows unhappiness.”
“Are you from an imperial family yourself?” The alchemist could no longer repress his curiosity completely and the young woman seemed entirely at ease with the conversation so he didn’t really feel as if he were prying.
Myojo laughed. “Not at all. My given name is Higuchi Ichiyō. The Higuchi family comes from samurai lineage, however.”
“What is a samurai?” Eduardo interrupted.
“Great warriors,” Maggiormente said, “isn’t that correct?”
The young magician nodded. “Men of power and action, who held to a code of warfare that promoted honour and courage.”
“It sounds very grand,” Maggiormente said, imagining the armoured warriors on the fields of war.
Myojo nodded but offered a wry smile. “They are magnificent, until they die leaving a wife and children behind friendless and impoverished.” The sadness on her face left no doubt that the story she told was her own.