Oiku – Winter 1125
It was as it always was going to be.
Adults acting like children, fighting over trivialities. Neither giving an inch, neither willing to cede to the other. A third nearing his time to be an adult interrupted to join the fray but is quickly beaten back. His hatamoto stands unable to assist.
A heaving breath came out of her lips.
Ikoma Tsurani, youngest of the family daimyo’s of the Lion Clan, watched patiently – if exasperatedly – the scene before her.
“… And that is why I should be Champion of our Clan!” proclaimed the fierce woman in her ancient armour. Even in the coldest months, Matsu Tsuko was like fire incarnate, bright, hot, intense and burning with ever flowing passion and vigour, “In this time of war there can be no better choice!”
“Than a girl that would lead her armies to their doom? I think not!” declared the giant warrior matching her movements step for step word for word. In contrast to the furious Tsuko, Yoritomo was like the storm, his namesake. Furious and temperamental yet oddly calm at points, dowsing the fire of Tsuko’s ambition with the hurricane of his own. “Better it be left to a leader that is far more experienced and less inept.”
“You want to talk about ineptitude? Coming from the man who got himself captured by Phoenix? By Yogo no less? Hah!” Tsuko smirked, “Why would we want such a cowardly leader who will give up rather than fight for his honour?”
“Better that than one who would sacrifice her armies for the sake of petty vengeance! Better a pragmatist then a little girl fighting because she lost her parents!” Yoritomo retorted, a cold smirk on his rugged face, “Maybe you should have all done us a favour and committed sepukku rather than having to hear your insufferable voice!”
Tsuko’s hand reached to the katana at her belt, her hand resting upon her hilt.
“Oh so you wish me to teach you a lesson, Tsuko-chan! My pleasure!” cried Yoritomo, reaching for the kama at his belt.
A blast of air pushed them both back several paces breaking the intensity of the anger between them both.
“And this is why neither of you should be Champion!” yelled the voice of a man not quite out of his younger years. Kitsu Okura, far shorter than even Tsurani, though strong of countenance and demeanour, stepped forward with scroll in hand. “All you do is fight and bicker! Better to let me lead our clan! Better it left to someone who will see reason rather than violence!”
Both the Lady of the Lion and the Son of Storms looked at each other with surprise before bending over in laughter, echoing throughout the large room.
“You! Champion? Ha! Never! I’d rather follow this fool than a whelp who thinks he’s strong enough to lead our clan!”
“Even this ogress here would be a better candidate than a child fresh out of mother’s womb!”
The air reverberated violently around the air shugenja, knives forming in the very air themselves.
“Perhaps I should show you my power…”
Calmly, Ikoma Tsurani stepped between them.
In the moment she said that, the tension in the room broke upon the shores of reason.
The air returned to its normal state, hands removed themselves form weapons and eyes fluttered downward to the floor in shame.
“We are Lion. Whether by long histories or bargains made or ancestors trailing back a thousand years, we are Lion.”
She turned slowly in a circle, taking the time to capture the eyes of each Daimyo in turn.
“Whether we fight or retreat from battle, plan and execute attacks, uphold our honour or die for our cause, we are Lion.”
“When there is glory to be won and odds to overcome, we are Lion.”
She walked back to her chair before facing them again.
“And as Daimyo of the Lion, we stand equal and united. Such petty discord should be beneath us.”
A silence broke out into the room, the slow falling of snow around them adding more to the drifts scaling their walls.
It was Tsuko who spoke first.
“I… apologise Yoritomo-san. I was out of line.”
Yoritimo nodded his head jerkily, still reeling from the rebuke.
“I also… apologise Tsuko-san. We are Lion and deserve more courtesy than I have shown you.”
Okura not even raising his eyes, his foolishness having overwhelmed him, stared at the floor before speaking.
“I’m sorry too. I… should know better than to lose control like that.”
Tsurani nodded her head, a smile returning to her features.
“I have a suggestion, a compromise if you are willing to hear it?”
Each daimyo looked at this young girl, barely out of her gempukku, with an amazement that would astound the wisest of sages.
* * *
Even through the heavy snows, the Omoidasu of the Lion, travelled throughout the lands.
A message was borne by all who travelled, important news for those that would hear it.
To the Lion, loyal and true, Akodo Kage has retired, removing himself from the post of Champion of the Lion and head of the Akodo Family.
While the Akodo will choose their new Daimyo shortly, a decision has been reached by the remaining heads of the families.
In recognition of the terrible threats facing the clan, it has been decided to allow a regent to act as champion until this time of crisis has passed.
There is only one person within the Lion capable of assisting and guiding us with experience in the field and the courts.
The new regent of the Lion Clan is Ikoma Soto, head of the Third Imperial Legion.
May she guide us to victory over our foes.