8.5 The Samurai and The Emperor

12 August, 2012 by katelaity

 

Myojo’s hands spread wide to highlight the scene she had created. Maggiormente and Eduardo followed her expressive gestures as they sketched in the scene, the hills and the little house and the trees hanging wispy in the air.

“The brave samurai thought that he could hang up his sword and live as a peaceful farmer in the house with the cherry tree. His young wife honoured him with two children, a girl and a boy, and he looked forward to watching them grow up in the quiet green hills.

“But the emperor sent a messenger who called him forth from his home. Bitter in his heart, he hated to leave the serenity of his house and family. His wife reminded him of his honour due to the emperor.”

Here Myojo changed her gesticulations and the samurai and his wife came to life. Insubstantial shapes but distinct in the afternoon light. Another trill from Seito shifted the mood and the colours of the panorama. The alchemist found himself amazed.

“She told him, ‘We are but small people to the great emperor, so we must do as he bids. I ask only one thing of you.'” Myojo gave the woman a sad mien but incredible beauty.

“‘If you meet any small creature in distress, I beg you think of me and offer it a kindness. Though the rich and mighty command us, it is by how we treat the least of creatures that the gods will judge us. Promise me.’ The wife took his hand in hers and implored him.”

“There are those who say she had the sight, but others say it was only her good heart that prompted her to speak to him so. This is the way of legends that have been told over the ages.”

“True, true, most fairly true,” Maggiormente agreed, nodding his head sagely.

“Hush,” Eduardo growled. “Don’t interrupt the story.”

The alchemist felt chastened and clamped a hand over his mouth to reassure the lion. Myojo only smiled.

“The samurai promised his wife he would take her counsel and carry her wisdom in his heart. Then he donned his armour, sharpened his blade, kissed his children goodbye and said his sad farewell to his beloved.

“He mounted his charger, Dawn’s Light, and rode to the imperial palace. Everywhere the glories of the spring saluted him and he felt a wistful sense of loss that he would not watch the season unfold at the side of his beloved wife while his children played on the hills around their home.

“Thus ever is the life of those whom providence has given less power. The emperor’s fantastic palace greeted him with its familiar pomp and richness, but the samurai could only think with sorrow of the warm hearth he had left behind.

Myojo waved her hands with delicate movements, though they were bolder than before. In the air the mighty palace of the emperor emerged. The colours dazzled, the heights met the sky. Maggiormente remembered to keep his thoughts to himself, but he could not help the sighs of pleasure that slipped from his mouth.

“The samurai had been happy in his modest home with the love of his family surrounding him. Here the emperor sat amongst the greatest of riches—many of which had been won in the countless battles the samurai had been engaged in over the years. Yet the emperor was not happy.”

Seito chirped a more subdued tune, one that caught a sudden spark of melancholy. Eduardo felt it at once, though he was puzzled by the sudden descent of darkness when his eyes were so delighted by the tableau.

Myojo continued the tale, highlighting the emperor in his palace, sitting on his red cushions, surrounded by golden wealth. “The gloom of the emperor infected those around him. There could be no laughter while the emperor sighed.

“Thus it is for the rich and mighty. They can command multitudes, but they cannot always command their own hearts.

“The samurai left his charger, Dawn’s Light, at the stables and sought admittance to the emperor’s chamber. His colleagues all shook their heads and declared the matter hopeless. The emperor’s advisors all clucked their tongues. Hopeless, they repeated, it was all so hopeless.

“The samurai looked askance but no one offered an explanation. He came before the emperor himself and laid his sword on the floor before him.

“‘Mighty emperor,’ he said with all humility, ‘I offer my sword to you again. I have served you with all the power in my bones. If there is anything I can do for you, you have only to command me and I will fly to fight you enemies, though they run to the deepest cave or flee across the oceans or ride across the great deserts.’ With that he bowed low, pressing his forehead to the floor.

“But the emperor only sighed. His sorrow seemed to great to be spoken. The samurai considered the pain in the emperor’s voice. How to unlock the silence of his suffering? He remembered his wife’s wise advice when his daughter would not speak of her pain although she was in tears. His wife begged him to take her on his lap so she might whisper her secret in his ear.

“The samurai arose and spoke to the advisors. ‘Let me speak to the emperor alone!'”

 

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