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Troubles in Tokuno
Darn pesky Britannians, they waltz into my humble abode, upset the balance of the house, track sand in on their dirty shoes and then they didn’t take off at the door (the first time!). I don’t know who brought them up but they need a little respect and a good dose of manners. Some of them claimed they actually ride their filthy beasts in their own houses as well! My goodness, what the world is coming to these days.

Their so-called “mage” in the blue robe seemed a little stiff, but he took insults in good humour, which is to his credit. He wanted me to translate a journal for them. It was apparently written by someone called Dupre… they didn’t tell me who he was, but he seemed to be important to them. At least he knew how to read and write. Clainin’s scribble in the margins seems to indicate he has a good grasp on translating separate word forms, but he has no idea of the flow of our language. Symbols have different meanings depending on what symbols are around them. If I could stand having him around for a few months it wouldn’t take long to improve Clainin’s understanding, if he is as intelligent as these mages purport to be. My people would not approve, of course, but then they have not “approved” of me for some years now so that’s no great loss. If we are to be neighbours with these people they will need to be integrated into the traditions and society we hold dear, or we will lose it in the rush of “progress” they bring with them.

I set them tasks, which even the best of my family could not accomplish. I wanted to send them away so I could get back to my contemplation. The desert is usually so quiet and tranquil; the heat is testing to the concentration. This is why I am here. I expected the Britannians to perish at the hands of the fan dancers when I sent them to free the spirits of my slain nephews. My foolish nephews did perish after all and they were among the best of the Samurai graduates in their year. Perhaps these strangers with their strange ways do have something to offer our people.

They returned in good time, claiming they had defeated the demons that held the souls of my nephews in thrall. I looked for the imbalance of their spirits as I have oft done since they were foolish enough to challenge the fan dancers – specialists and mistresses of their craft in the same way my nephews were in theirs. Numbers of course were against them, yet those demons held them back from their continuation into the afterlife. I know the gods were angry at this imbalance and punished me for not stopping them by cursing me with knowing of their continued existence and their sadness as disturbances in the balance of the universe. Yet when I sought their imbalances, they were no longer there. These Britannians had completed this task.

Pesky foreigners; I needed to find them another task to get them out of my home.

I remembered a legend of my childhood, when the lands now called the blighted forests were clear and fresh. Children played among the cherry blossoms, a small community of farmers were growing a crop around the trees as they did when my grandmother was young. That was before they upset the spirits by refusing to sacrifice the right amount of their crop. It has been a bad year that year and the families were starving. This always makes such decisions difficult. The leaders chose to lessen the sacrifice rather than humble themselves and go to Zento for help. The city was always reluctant to help the frontier settlements; they would always buy the produce but never really offer enough for the poor to feed their families. Of course, I didn’t bother telling the Britannians this entire story. They do not act like a people who have such an interest in long tales, or enough respect for tradition to know why I was telling it. Such impatience I have not seen in adults of their age.

The gods were displeased that they did not keep to the sacrifice and sent the Kami of Drought to deal with them. The crops failed and the monster attacked remorselessly, day after day. My great grandmother fought with the men of the town to try and save them, while the older children hid the younger ones at a distance. It is a truly terrible spirit. No sacrifice was enough to sate its unending thirst. The older children finally realised the adults were not going to return. My grandmother, then a child of ten summers, led the remaining children to the city of Zento. Many of them took up the Bushido or Ninjitsu and tried to free their homeland, to no avail. I sent these foreigners to avenge my ancestors and set this right. I never had the ability to do so myself, my gifts were always in knowing the intentions of the spirit world.

Again they returned after a time, claiming that they had killed the spirit! Is there no end to what these people are capable of? I am certain I could send them against any threat and they would turn out triumphant, IF they could learn to listen respectfully and leave their shoes at the door. I told their illiterate mage I would translate his journal. I also told them to leave me alone to complete it for them. This Dupre, if it is his writing, has an imperfect understanding of grammar himself… this is going to take some time.



From the Journal of Clainin:

What a day! My feet are sore, my mana drained, my temper frayed by that batty old crone. I am going to kill the person who sent me to her… slowly. She did nothing but offer insult to me, to the Guard, to everything we did or said. She made me, the Royal Thaumaturgist of the Court of Britannia, stand barefoot in her hovel! I will spend the next week washing sand out of my robes I am sure. I do not like the desert. The Commander of the Guard can keep her adventures in the future I am sure. I definitely prefer my lab, my comfortable rooms, and my feet on a stool by the fireplace in the evenings.

I took the Royal Guard to her in good faith. We walked through the desert to the hovel she calls a house. A hot and dusty trail it was, through the desert infested with strange beetles, which clicked to each other over some distance warning of our approach. I was told she would demand a price for translating Dupre’s Journal. The price was unusual to say the least. In all of what I have read of these people, more mysteries crop up than answers to their strangeness. I wonder if those spirits in the home of the fan dancers were really her nephews? She sent us down there to free them somehow. When we spoke to them, these rather large demons appeared and wailed at us. They sounded like they were in so much pain. I did not have much time to attack them directly however, as the Guard had great difficulty slaying them. I spent my time bringing their spirits back to flesh and healing them with my magic.

After this of course, I gated them back to the crone. She once again greeted us with insults and insisted on her ridiculous traditions. I hope I never grow so crotchety when I get old. She looked taken aback to say the least, especially when one member of the Guard told her they were easily defeated! I could have laughed aloud and offered the young man a medal to be sure. I kept my composure however, and waited for her to say she would translate the journal.

She decided her price had not been high enough. I was outraged, but I managed to remain in control. Thank the Virtues that my Master taught me patience so well. We had to go to the Blighted Forest and kill the Kami of Drought that haunted it. I know little of spirits and other such mumbo jumbo, but I do know that creature was extremely challenging to the Guard and I. We did however manage to defeat it with minimal losses. Thank the Virtues the Guard Commander has been so diligent with their training. They worked very well together after they sorted out what was required.

When we returned to the crone I was even more outraged. She agreed to translate the Journal, which I was happy to hand over to her. Then she waved a hand and dismissed us as if SHE was some Queen! She has no concept of rank or position among our folk. If it weren’t so vital that we get this translated I really would have continued looking for someone else to help.

What a day! It is so good to be home. I think I might ring for another cup of tea.


Published: February 2005
Please Note: Some dates are estimates as exact dates were unavailable.
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