A play fiction by S Maundrell
Winter IC 1123
Ryouichi sat in his study, marinating in drink like a well seasoned bird as he thought through how things had got him to here. It just wasn’t adding up in his head and the bottle of sake he’d almost finished certainly wasn’t helping in that regard.
The Yasuki, what were they up to? When it was just the son of the daimyo it was fine, he was highly placed but not out of the question for the Scorpion, but the daimwo himself raised other questions. With control of the Crab clan’s wealth, and as the lead of their courtiers, if their goal was to aid the scorpion they could have done so more, with less risk of being noticed for it.
He cursed and poured another drink, for years now he had felt like a pawn, a puppet in someone else’s game, but never had the game felt so complex. The Crane were the latest victim, but were they a necessary sacrifice to curb the Crab expansion, or simply the next step in the Crab expansionism. And what of the Shadow? Even now he felt it pulsing through him, trying to call to him. The sake helped but not enough. But would they strike at the empire while it fights itself? History would suggest as much.
The Crab, the Scorpion and the Shadow, and here he was caught in the middle of it all. How much would be sacrificed before it was all over? Already he was unlikely to ever be marriageable material, a tragedy for one so young. Perhaps it would have been best not to go into the blighted land and cause it to be discovered.
Perhaps, but the time for such thought was over. Any marriage would have been purely political anyway, it was unlikely he’d have received a wife who didn’t bore him and with the general feeling throughout the empire that the Dragon would never act, it was unlikely he’d have ended up with anything much.
The best he could’ve hoped for war a Scorpion bride, one sent to watch him and ensure he acted as he should. A keeper and if necessary executioner. The sad irony being that kind of barbed relationship appealed more than some doting daughter of a courtier who’s main skills were regurgitating gossip and making trinkets. At least a wife poised to kill him would keep things interesting, and her looks would likely cause envy as well.
He gave a laugh, before realising his sake bottle had become empty. The Crab, the Scorpion and the Shadow, caught between them like an Asahina on a battlefield. And watching over all the unflinching gaze of Yasu. If he ever figured it all out, a lack of bride would be the least of his concerns…