The Field of Red Flowers

Takeda Chronicles: Of Ghosts and Children

These idle notes are the product of a forgetful old scholar. The educated reader should know that they concern the events in Mikawa Province during a few days in spring, and do not involve glorious conquest. Admittedly this document will touch upon the esoteric knowledges of Lady Akiyama, and will make notes on some events of interest – but it does not serve as historical record.

Lord Takeda arrived in Mikawa Province some time ahead of his army. He had matters to discuss with Lady Ootori about her daughter, and also matters to discuss with this old scholar, regarding the chronicles previously written and the sheltering of the refugees. Because Ootori Hachi had gathered stockpiles, we will be able to supply them – over summer. They can stay here no longer than that, and to ensure their safety and prosperity, my Lord and master has decided to reclaim Totomi province from the ruthless bandit Hoshi. His army will remain here in Mikawa, protecting the region against vengeance from the House of Ootori; a small task force of seven samurai will deal with the dog that’s laying claim to Takeda lands. This and more I discussed with my Lord and master. The seven samurai are, besides myself: Lord Takeda, Lady Akiyama, Lady Asai, Nakajima Abe, Isei Ryoichi, and young Lady Ootori. I will explain this curious last member, and how she came to be healed of crippling injury. First, however, I must explain the debts owed to her mother.

Lord Takeda told Lady Ootori of her daughter’s sworn allegiance to Akiyama Ren, and of her life-threatening injury. He apologized humbly and profusely to Lady Ootori and swore to relieve the poor woman’s suffering and grief. In fact, he spent several nights worshiping at her family altar, simply to bring her comfort. It is this humble scholar’s guess that she has forgiven him by now – though perhaps not Lady Akiyama. But more on this will follow.

While I learned about the events at Peach Blossom Mountain from my Lord and master, the caravan of soldiers and refugees was steadily approaching. This caravan was overseen by Lady Akiyama, who did a fine job guarding it in her master’s absence. There seems to have been some trouble with Isei Ryoichi, but this humble scholar would not venture to guess at its nature; it had to do with some minor squabble over Lady Akiyama’s property. At any rate, it is surely now forgiven.

(A note: I must still obtain a wakisashi for Lady Akiyama.)

Lady Akiyama, upon arriving, solemnly apologized to Lady Ootori for the ills that had befallen her daughter. She swore to do her best to bring young Lady Ootori back to full health, and wasted no time in preparing an Akatsuki ritual that should restore the strength in her legs. This scholar knows only a little of the medical arts, but will note that such a ritual is exceedingly difficult and dangerous. Its consequences were dire, and it would severely injure both Lady Ootori and Lady Akiyama. But more on this will follow.

Now I must discuss another matter. The first night Lord Takeda slept in the mansion, a horrid apparition manifested in Lady Ootori’s bedroom. This was the ghost of Ootori Hachi, her husband, bearing a grudge. Such a foul thing is not easily dealt with! The educated reader will know, that a grudge from the beyond is invisible, but horrendous to behold; intangible, but impossible to fight; inaudible, but screaming with despair. This apparition had frightened Lady Ootori nearly to death, and it was only the courage and strength of Lord Takeda that saved her. It is this humble scholar’s belief that his fervent worship kept the wicked ghost at bay, but Takeda Ryuji’s prayerful lips could not serve the Lady Ootori forever. Thus a solution was required.

Fortunately, amongst the refugees there had come a yamabushi by the name of Kanon. This woman is low born and lacking education, but wise and insightful in the world of spirits. Furthermore she possesses knowledge of wind and water, the eight trigrams, the five viscera, the eight noble truths and the way of the gods. This humble scholar questioned her extensively on these topics and found her worthy of assisting Lady Ootori; therefore, an exorcism was arranged.

Now, the educated reader will recall that Akiyama Ren had dealt the deathblow to Ootori Hachi. When the yamabushi summoned up the furious spirit, it broke free of its confinement and attacked my master’s general, who was meditating in a nearby chamber. If not for the Blade of Destiny protecting her, the Lady Akiyama would surely have been dragged to hell! But Heaven and Takeda Ryuji intervened, and through the combined use of the weapons of the gods, the evil apparition was destroyed. May it burn in eight hells for eight thousand years.

Unfortunately, the presence of the ghost had worsened young Lady Ootori’s condition. Lady Akiyama, therefore, hurriedly performed the ceremony that would heal her. Such rituals are not to be undertaken lightly, and it is this humble scholar’s understanding that Lady Akiyama performed a forbidden technique that directly manipulates the body’s very essence. This is harmful to the five vital organs, and therefore Lady Akiyama passed into a deep slumber from which she has not yet recovered. As for young Lady Ootori, her ability to move had been restored – but at a cost.

This humble scholar must make the observation, that young Lady Ootori was transformed by the process. This can be observed by a number of traits; a sharpness of the eye, a change in stature, a maturing of the voice, and a firmness of the muscle. These traits mimic those of Lady Akiyama. What to make of this, I know not; but it is evident that Lady Akiyama has claimed Lady Ootori’s daughter both in spirit and in flesh. I shudder at the thought of owing such a debt. Even when Lady Akiyama has children of her own, could she repay it? What price can be placed on a child’s very blood? Though this humble scholar proudly bears the name of Takeda, he is still Yamamoto; this body and these bones belong to his parents. Of young Lady Ootori, I am not so certain. Yet the outcome was inevitable; Lady Akiyama had no choice. Perhaps, if Heaven is kind, Lady Ootori will be blessed with another child. I shall hope the dutiful prayers of my Lord and master bring with them the blessings of Heaven.

Lady Akiyama is now recovering, tended to by her handmaiden Kiyo, who still lacks education. It is a puzzle who shall teach her the necessary skills; but for now, she refuses to leave her mistresses’ side, and is as loyal as a dog or a horse. This is commendable, and I have seen to it that she is well rewarded.

As for the refugees and the soldiers, I am afraid I have neglected them in these poor and meager records. Let me assure the reader, that this humble scholar has done his best in fulfilling his duty to Lord Takeda, and to his people – the refugees have been given every comfort this land can afford, and while the situation is unsustainable in the long term, nobody will starve. The soldiers, under Captain Kurosawa, have been given clear instructions and are manning their stations. Those who are not on guard duty are aiding in the construction of walls, and the digging of ditches – supervised by the stupid oaf Kuma, who has a talent for shifting great amounts of earth. Every man is put to work, and the reign is harmonious.

Hopefully it will thus remain. I am Takeda Yamamoto, and I let my brush rest.

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