Archive for August 11th, 2011

Fortnightcap: With Apologies

With Apologies

A Fortnightcap by DL Thurston

Creative Commons License

Ah how the sake did flow.

We’d gathered for a celebration in the great hall, among the jade and gold sculptures and tapestries that hung along the walls.  It was a room that promised decadence, and we delivered.  The battle had been long and hard, many good men lay dead on the fields.  Around me were the surviving samurais, cloaks stained in blood.  The blood of enemies, the blood of friends, their own blood, it all mingled together into dried brown stains.  Their swords were clean, they’d seen to that.

We drank to their brothers, we drank to their foes, we drank to the lord of the shogunate, lost in the battle and assumed dead.  But his land was secure, and in his place his son would rise and rule.

It had been an honor to fight along side them.  To see them in action.  To follow their code and defend their lands.

Again the servers went to the giant cask rolled out for the celebration, plunging ladles farther and farther down, bringing out more of the sweet drink that fueled the festivities.  It had a bite, but it was a pleasant one trimmed with the taste of plums.

Finally the cask was emptied, and the samurai and their attendants lefts one by one until there were just three of us left enjoying stories that translated past our language barriers, laughing at jokes that we couldn’t understand.  I’d hoped for one more drink, and looked down into the cask, hoping there might be just a few drops of the sweet rice wine left.  I was aware it was from the private reserve of the feudal lord of these lands, the man they toasted, intended only for his lips.  None had thought twice about opening the cask, to celebrate his life and mark his passing.

I looked deep, but alas it was gone.  As were, when I looked up, my friends.  Instead there stood the man we toasted, the owner of this hall, the owner of the sake, not dead but triumphantly stained with the blood of his enemies, limping into the hall.

That’s when I learned a lesson the hard way.  There’s nothing more dangerous than standing alone, staring down the barrel of a shogun.

Fortnightcaps are biweekly experimentation into short form fiction. All Fortnightcaps are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. So if you like the story, please feel free to link people back here. And if you didn’t, maybe the one in two weeks will be better.

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