The Ritual

 Setsuna entered the estate of her lord, she was dressed in fine robes of red and gold and carried her katana and wakizashi on her hip proudly. She was greeted at the door by two guards. They knew better than to say anything to her or even suggest she could not enter.

May we polish your Katana?” One of the guards asked, being over-polite in his “suggestion” that she did not go before the lord bearing arms.

Of course.” Setsuna replied, drawing her sword together with its sheath from her belt and handed it to the guard. She made absolutely no effort to hand over her wakizashi and the guard decided that he would accept the compromise.

Setsuna entered her lord’s main chambers. Lord Takaiwa sat behind a small wooden table in the center of the room. He looked up at Setsuna as she arrived. Setsuna bowed before approaching him, slowly sitting down and joining him at the table. Upon the surface was a pair of glasses. They were crystal clear and rested upon wooden holders. They sat as if becoming the eye, waiting for the ceremony that would soon be performed with them.

You have done well.” Takaiwa replied as he gestured for a servant to come to him. The servant silently came over and placed a freshly opened bottle of sake and a small bowl with fresh cut ice on the table. Takaiwa dismissed the servant and began to perform the ritual himself. He took the ice and placed it in both glasses, perching it above the natural divot inside the glass. He then slowly poured the saki into the glass, serving his guest first as a sign of respect for her accomplishments.

The amber liquid surrounded the ice and filled the small glass. It was so clear that every condensation bubble, every imperfection in the ice was clearly visible. The glass showed it all, taking fine saki and making it look like the nectar of the kami.

I live only to serve as your samurai.” Setsuna replied. “I honor the tenants of bushido and serve as your right hand.”

I trust you as much as my own hand.” Takaiwa replied as he gestured to the glass

.

Though it was such a simple gesture, Setsuna was honored to drink first. She picked up the clear glass that so elegantly housed the saki inside. She lifted it off of the wooden base, exposing the wood, shaped to match the contour of the bottom of the glass. She sipped from the glass and felt as though she were drinking sake for the first time. It was the beauty of the base, the glass and the contents within. It was as with many things that it was not just the parts but the ritual that went with them. The glass was like a sword and the base the sheath. It was a wondrous item that once drawn had to be taken to purpose. Takaiwa drank from his glass as well and he waited until Setsuna was done. She tasted more sake before carefully replacing the glass down on the base, the indentation sliding in and fitting perfectly as if sheathing her blade. She was a samurai and she treasured such rituals. 

It was the greatest reward she could have asked for, thirteen years after her parents were murdered by Takaiwa. Earning his respect and his trust, day after day, she was finally here, in front of him and with no guards around. Not taking her Wakizashi was a mistake, Takaiwa would die tonight… Sake would forever taste like revenge.

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