Story: SEKI (chapter 2)

Authors: Handj

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Chapter 2

Seki 2

The restoration had started years ago. The new empire's capital was now shifted from Kyoto to Edo and each han, now prefecture are being made to surrender. The Atsukugara had been entrusted a han in a place at the border of Kyoto and had served as its daimyo for more than hundred years. Because of the Atsukugara's lenient code, the family was accepted by people and the politics had been preserved. Then the Tokugawa's had been defeated and Meiji sat at the throne as the new emperor.

It's disgusting though that Atsukugara defected to the new empire without second thought, without a fight, branded as weaklings, and I am part of that family. My father Atsukugara Keichi had been plagued by greed for power and that to ensure his position in the city, he forced my brother to marry the only daughter of the Empire's Prime Minister, Prime Minister Munakata. He could force my brother to this life but he can never do that to me.

"Samisen is supposed to be played to bring pleasure to the ears Nats-ki," I glared at my brother who was wearing a grin on his face as he approached the landscape at the back of our house where I am now sitting plucking the strings of said musical instrument, "But the way you are playing it, you make a sound as if you wanted to kill someone with the tune." he finished before he calmly sat beside me.

"It's not your business ani, if you don't like my playing then leave me be." I said returning to my plucking

"Playing? I thought you were trying to find out how to break the poor thing without actually hitting it on the ground."

I didn't reply but I stopped and looked at him, "Is there an important thing you need from me?" I asked frowning but still didn't continue playing.

"Can't I have a nice, peaceful afternoon with my little sister?" he said not looking at me but on the vast sky above our heads

"I am not little, and you don't do nice and peaceful afternoon with me." I said dropping the frown then I looked at him again with worry on my emerald colored eyes, "Thinking about your soon to be wedding with the prime minister's daughter?" I watch him nod his head, "You're really going through with it even if you love Akane-chan to the heavens?" I asked a bit angry at his still calm demeanor.

"I don't know...every time I imagine myself being with the Munakata heiress, my heart bleeds and if this goes on I'm not sure if I'll be able to carry it on."

"Then don't go through this wedding."

"They have already announced it Nats-ki, there's no backing up now for me or for father."

"The hell with father!" I said standing up, anger visible on my face, "He is too concern about his status in the city he never thinks of us! He only loves his self...that's why mother" I tried to calm myself so not to cry but I failed, and soon I found myself inside my brother's warm hug.

"I'm afraid of what they will do to father if I back out...or if what they will demand next. I don't want them demanding for you, I'm never gonna let that happen." Ani said as he used that tender words that never fails to calm me down.

"I still don't get it why we are the one to suffer for his own glory."

"It will pass Nats-ki, It will pass..." My brother still held me tenderly in his arms and like before I was soothed. I imagine him saying it with a somber expression on his face.


I woke up when I'm sure that the whole house was asleep. I slid open the door and I tiptoed out of my room, still wearing my yukata and carrying a small package of clothing I will use later. I looked right and left while I was at the hall and tried not to giggle as I imagine myself actually using some ninja tricks I learned. I kept my breathing and only let it out as soon as I stepped out of our house, then I ran to the hidden alcove at the back of the servant's quarter, ducked in and ran to where I needed to go.

The surrounding where I landed to was almost the same to where I came from, it was dark, grassy, though our backyard was devoid of bamboos, this place was surrounded by it. At the middle of the bamboo forest lies a small hut, it was illuminated by lanterns hanging on each angle, and small campfire could be seen outside. The ground surrounding the hut was a large space made by bamboos cut to its roots, and then was cared for until small grasses sprouts from it. The very middle of the large ground was devoid of plants and was covered by sand and on that patch of sand is where the campfire can be seen.

"You're late," the woman in front of the campfire said as she sipped her tea that came from the pot hanging above the camp fire

"Sorry sensei but..."

She looked at me with a brow raised and I backed off, I maybe the house's ice princess but sensei just know what button to push to get me to back off, "I believe we have already went through this warrior's code a dozen times Natsuki-hime, and if you really want to be one, you have to stick by it."

"But Midori-sensei..."

"Namake!" The older woman stood up and put down her cup of tea, "This will be the last time, I don't need excuses, if you want to learn the way of the sword from me then be here when I told you to be here!" she screamed at me, her face just mere inches from mine. Midori-sensei sometimes calls me Namake especially when I come here late which was almost always the case, it is the shortened term for namakemono. I'm not lazy to tell the truth, I wanted to learn to fight like the samurai's does, I wanted to protect the people I cherish, my ani, haha...but you see, I was raised to be a proper lady and skipping my room at night is getting harder everyday. I'm not sure if my father had learned of this secret activity I engaged in and to think that it is actually happening in his area of responsibility, security is getting tighter, thanks to sensei's first lessons...blending in the dark. "What are you waiting for Namake? Change!"

I hurriedly went in to the hut to find Youko-sensei had already prepared dinner, I greeted her before heading straight to a small room at the corner of the house and hurriedly change to a simple gray kimono, then wore a hakama over it. I inserted on each side of me two short wooden swords for practice and hurriedly went out to meet with Midori-sensei. My teacher was already blowing some steam off when I arrived and without warning she started a fast attack with her own wooden katanas. She was first using one, using her height advantage and greater height, her foot work was well balanced and the fast stroke aiming to every part of my body was too much for me to block them all. Out of 15 strikes she gave, I think I blocked 7.

"Not bad," so she said after finally calming down. "Now let's warm up," I looked at her as I pant, I was slumping on the sanded ground trying to catch my breath.

"You haven't warm up with that yet?" I asked incredulously

"Its not for me, its for you." She grinned at me and bend down so she's face to face with me, "20 laps around the block and don't forget to make the swings I thought you yesterday." she said then she straightened up and turned to enter the hut

"Wait sensei!" I said loud enough for her to hear, "Just me?" She looked back at me smiling and nodded her head, "And you..."

"Youko has prepared dinner, so you have to hurry or we'll eat all of it."

At that I hurriedly got up and did my 20 laps.

It didn't even get into my head that it could be the last 20 I will be doing.

[End notes:

Han - prefecture

Daimyo - leader of each han (like a governor)

Chichi- my father

Haha - my mother

Samisen - japanese stringed instrument

Ani - my bog brother

Kimono and hakama - imagine Kenshin Himura, the one he wores on top is the kimono, it is long and the black or brown one below that looks like a vedry long culottesĀ  is the hakama, It is te traditional samurai clothes (frome what I read). The ensemble is completed by white socks that separates toe fromt he rest and rubberized japanese slipper (not the wooden one, i was not able to research on it but that kind of slipper is well used in the Philippines as well)


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