The day was unusually quiet, no distant sound of samurai on samurai. The feuding clans were at rest for once, and the entire village seemed to be enjoying it. I heard children laughing and playing in the sunshine. A dog barked joyfully alongside them. As I listened, a horse snorted as it came nearer. The rider jumped off.
I sighed and closed my eyes. The rider was speaking to the group of children. Their voices came from a distance, about 25 feet I guessed.
I was leaning against the front of my building, basking in the sun. I heard the rider thank the kids and they returned to their playing. The rider came over to me, without getting back on his horse. The horse followed slowly.
“Moshi moshi,” he greeted. Hello.
I turned towards him and heard his astonished gasp.
“Nandaiyo?” I muttered. What is it?
“You’re sightless,” he commented.
“What of it?” I asked.
“Those kids weren’t lying,” he said to himself.
“Nani?” I repeated. What?
“I was sent by the Iga Clan,” the rider said. “Hattori Hanzou has sent me with this message for you. You are the Daimyo of Death aren’t you?”
“I used to be,” I answered. “I retired after the Battle of Sekigahara , that’s how I lost my sight.”
“You became blind during that battle?” he asked.
“Nataku,” he murmured. Unbelievable.
“What’s the message?” I asked.
“Well . . . uh . . . it’s kind of here,” he stuttered, holding out a crisp scroll.
“Baka,” I said. Stupid.
“How about I just read it to you?” he asked.
“Hai,” I answered. Yes.
I heard him break the seal and peel out the scroll, probably the nicest material yen could buy.
“Sakurazuka Hiroki, Daimyo of Death,
We would like to ask you to assist us. The Koga Clan are strong, and the Battle of Sekigahara has made us outnumbered. We will pay any price. Lord Ieyasu would appreciate your help, even though I am going behind his back to ask you. I understand you have your reasons for leaving, especially after the carnage at Sekigahara. But we will be defeated and the Tokugawa Shogunate will be over thrown even though it has only begun if you don’t help us out,” he read.
I shook my head. “I’m blind,” I stated bluntly.
“Yes well, Hanzou-san doesn’t know this. Would you please come with me? You must speak with him yourself. Kudasai?” he implored. Please?
“Iie,” I said and turned away. No.
“But you don’t understand! Everything we worked for, why you lost your sight, would have been for nothing! You would’ve lost your sight for nothing if-”
“Shizukani ima!” I cut him off. Shut up, now!
“Sakurazuka-sama , please, you must!” he dropped to the ground in seiza rei .
“As much as I want to, I can’t. I’m a blind retired samurai, I’m worthless,” I mumbled.
“But you’re a legend!” he protested.
“I was a legend. Not anymore. Good day,” I said.
He lifted his head off the ground, stood and mounted. “I will leave you now, but Hanzou-san will come for you,” he promised. “Sayonara!” Good bye!
I listened as his horse galloped down the dusty road and away from me. The kids were still playing and giggling, even as the sun set.
B. Valdez 2007/2008