Kumori - Journal Entry 15
Kumori sat in the shrine to Amerasu within the precincts of the Impossible Palace, and admired the armor he had recovered from the frozen monastery. The do-maru was a thing of beauty, Kumori had to admit. Old fashioned, of course, and thus very slightly boxier than his own do, but more sumptuously decorated, with gold lacquer accents and a deep blue enamel on the lamellae. The painted image of Hachimantaro on the cuirass was perhaps a bit loud, but carrying the war-god’s image into battle was rarely a bad idea. Being an armor worn by a sohei, of course, it was more rudimentary, lacking real leg protection or armored sleeves, but part of the beauty of Kaidanese armor was its modular nature, and the russet coloring of the kote, sode, haidate, and suneate of Kumori’s own armor would complement the blue of the newly-acquired do quite nicely, he thought.
He donned it reverently. He had hung it over several sticks of his best sandalwood incense, to ritually purify it and cover the scent of its age and previous wearer at the same time. He stuck his left arm through first, then brought the right shoulder strap over his head, and finally tied it in place under his right arm, one cord under his armpit and the other at his waist, carefully making sure the front half overlapped the rear. He had already donned the rest of his armor, and felt the difference in the new do’s properties immediately.
It hung less heavily from his shoulders, clung more closely to his body despite its older style, and he could feel the lamellae move more fluidly with him when he stepped through the motions of the Falling Leaves kata. His admiration for the armorer’s artistry grew as he tumbled a cartwheel in the new suit and it barely shifted position on his torso.
“I had not marked you for a traveling acrobat, Sonoda Kumori of Minamoto Province.” The voice was gently mocking in tone, and familiar. She must be ninja, to approach so quietly, he thought.
“Only for the eyes of the goddess, Miko-dono.” He turned and bowed from the waist, slightly mocking in return, calling Soleil (for the strange gaijin priestess of the sky goddess it was) by the title for a shrine maiden. She seemed to find more humor in his remark than he did, as a glint of suppressed mirth shone in her cerulean eyes for the briefest moment.
“Your exploits in your homeland have been much spoken of, samurai. Your friend the oracle is quite… talkative.” She still spoke perfect courtly Kaidanese, in a tone of mild bemusement. She seemed to be watching him intently as she spoke, and the weight of her gaze made Kumori self-conscious.
“Indeed, lady, she is. But why our misadventures should attract attention, I know not. We are all prisoners of the palace, flung to strange times and places at the whim of whatever power made this place. Though our battle was arduous, I cannot see how it would be any more marvelous than the tales other prisoners can tell.” He thrust Satori and his wakizashi into his belt, and twined his rosary around his hand, trying to resist the urge to meet her gaze.
She actually laughed, a bell-like sound that made his heart ache, for she sounded so much like Hachiko he could not but look up at her. "Sonoda Kumori, you would have me think you a fool.
“Full well you know that your trip is a marvel, but you hide behind diffidence to avoid truths you do not wish to speak aloud. For who else, in all the crowd of human flotsam picked up by this prison, has ever traveled into legend?
“You meditate on your own death, yet you cannot bring yourself to accept the role this curse plays in your destiny? You are marked, scion of Minamoto. You and all your companions, by forces even vaster than you comprehend. And you know it, but you wish not to recognize it.”
A deep scowl darkened Kumori’s features, and a shadow passed across his brow. “Do you call me coward, priestess?” His hand drifted toward Satori’s hilt. “If so, you are fortunate to do it within sacred precincts, or priestess or no I would make you answer for the insult.”
She bowed, still smiling. “I cannot call you coward, samurai, for I am not allowed to tell lies. But I am also called, it seems, to hold up Amerasu’s mirror and push you to look at uncomfortable truths.”
“Who are you?” He asked the question in Freespeak, if only to stop her speaking so glibly in his own native tongue. His heart hammered in his chest, whether from anger or anticipation or fear he did not know.
“If you are disturbed by my answers already, samurai, I would suggest you stop asking unsettling questions.” Her hand moved to the gold amulet hanging from her neck. Her lips parted again, but before she could speak, a bell tolled, a gaijin bell, far off, from the other side of the grounds.
“That will be the noon call to worship. I must go.” She bowed and turned matter-of-factly to depart. Kumori watched her go, and when she passed through the torii, he turned back to the bronze statue of Amerasu. His brow knitted in thought, and he looked back to where Soleil had gone. He stood staring after her for a long while before turning back to the bosatsu and kneeling to pray.