The hour of the dog had just started and Lady Amaterasu's shine was starting to fade, though its beauty was greater than ever, bathing the world in warm tones of orange and red. It was a simple, small room, although nicely decorated. There was his daisho, the one his grandfather once used, resting on a dark wood stand. On one of the walls, a shelve, with a few books... treaties on the art of iaijutsu or the art of origami by a Kakita artisan, or a book written by a falconer of an ancient daimyo. The small table had some blank sheets of paper on top of it, along with a few others that were half-folded, and a small paper crane, with his wings spread as if he was flying, was facing the man laying on the bed. His eyes were closed, his hands, covered with his white hair, were under his head, as he relaxed. The man opened his eyes then, seeing a small spider on the ceiling, and a smile danced on his lips, as Karyudo told the spider an episode that happened many years ago....
“You know, Little Weaver, Doji Seichiiro was an uncommon man. One of the most capable duelists the Kakita Academy has ever had, an honorable man beyond any doubt, and a faithfull servant of the Crane, he enjoyed travelling. And he travelled often to the lands of the clan that could be considered the greatest rival of his own: the Scorpion. But he had a friend there... Bayushi Hyoga. And that day, he was arriving to his estate, bringing his wife and daughter with him.
As was proper, they were received with honor and joy, for many months had passed since the two friends had last been together. Their wives too were happy for the reencounter, and as for his daughter... well, one could say it was a mixed blessing for little Yuri, because of Hyoga's son: Ryu. I mean, it was not that they hated one another... but we all know how boys and girls of that age are. Specially when they're not even 7 Springs old.
Some more days passed, the children having fun in the Scorpion's estate, while their parents engaged in game's of other kind, like Go... sometimes Seichiiro practiced his art at the family's dojo, either alone, or under the eyes of his host, who frequently challenged him for sparring... Truth be told, Seichiiro was a master of his art, following Kakita's philosophy, but the cunning and speed of Hyoga were enough to match the Crane's skills.
But this is not a tale of two samurai, but one of their son's.
Ryu and Yuri played many games together during those days... when they we're not tesing one another, that is. They sometimes imitated their parents sparring, using small sticks as swords, other times chased one another through the estate, and their laughs filled the area with joy. During one of those days, Ryu decided to pull a prank on the little girl: He was going to cut a lock of her hair. And for that, he sneaked to the room where his grandfather's daisho was kept. The katana was too big for him too handle, and the wakizashi too... but the tanto was perfect, for he could hide it inside his kimono. And so he did.
-”Ryu-kun, where are you” - an angry girl's voice asked. Yuri was searching for him, and if she saw him there, he could never complete his plan. Ryu quickly got out of the room, closing the shoji screen as silently as he could and went to the outside.
- “Here Yuri-chan!” - the boy said as he saw her coming in his way. “Hmmm Yuri-chan, do you want to go for a walk? Otousan told me we could go as far as the forest edge, as long as we didn't enter it”.
The young girl smiled. ” Well, we can... as long as you accept my challenge...” - she said, showing him two small bokens. “My father gave them to me yesterday... so now we can spar for real!”
Ryu nodded, and so they walked away from the house. A few hours later, the 2 children were already tired, after walking and sparring for quite some time.
- “Heh, Ryu-kun...let's make a break...” - Yuri said, gesturing to a tree. “We can rest under it for some time... and then I can beat you again.” she added with a grin.
- “Or maybe not... remember we're tied” - Ryu added with a smile, sitting under the tree.
Not much time passed, and their giggles grew silent, as Yuri fell in a light sleep... but Ryu was ready for that. Taking the tanto he had brought hidden, he grabbed some of her hair and cut it... in the precise moment Yuri opened her eyes. For a moment everything was still... one could hear the crickets nearby... and with a cry of anger Yuri started chasing Ryu, as the boy ran back home.
- “You are going to pay for that, Ryu!!! Come back here!!” - she shouted, and kept running after him. Luckily, the boy was a little faster, and he also knew the area, and so he ended up escaping from her.
Yuri was furious, of course. How could he dare to cut a lock of her hair, without even asking her permission? She couldn't allow it. She would have her revenge.
Yuri returned to the house, and asked her mother for a small wooden box, for “a game me and Ryu-kun are doing”. Puzzled, but happy that the two children were having fun together, her mother gave her what she asked. Taking the box and her boken, Yuri went back to the forest's edge. And barely managed to return before the sun set on the horizon, tired, her clothes and hair dirty, but with a triumphant look in her eyes. She went to the children's bedroom for just a moment, returning without the box, and hurried to the bath, under her mother slightly angry look.
After a delicious dinner, in wich Ryu always smiled towards Yuri, teasing her (despite the fact the the girl kept trying to pinch him in some unpleasant place) the two went to the bedroom, while the adults went to the main room for some conversation. Hyoga and Seichiiro started discussing their views of battle and swordfighting, while their wives were cittiong playing Go. Suddenly they all heard a cry from the children's room. A cry of pure fear, of terror. The samurai rushed in, without thought, without a word, each concerned only with his child. Seichiiro opened wide the shoji screen and saw.... a terrified Ryu sitting on the floor, looking to his futon... and Yuri, striking something on it, with her wooden sword. Noticing that they had arrived, Yuri turned to face her father.
- “Otousan, Ryu is afraid of a little spider...” - she said, with a mocking grin, and gestured with her sword to the futon. And there was, in the middle of a small pool of blood, a black, furry tarantula, already crushed by Yuri's blows.
After calming down Ryu, they called a servant to bring him a different futon and wash the bloodied one... And then, they too went to have some sleep, leaving Yuri and Ryu alone once more... never noticing that the small box that Yuri's mother had given her was there in the room... opened... and if one looked carefully in it, one would see a few fine, silky black hairs... like the ones of a tarantula.”
Karyudo finished his tale with a smile, still looking to the spider on the ceiling, busy with her web. Someone knocked outside the shoji screen then.
- “Come in, please” - Karyudo answered, sitting next to the table. He knew who was on the outside.
Doji Sakura entered, bowing slightly to him.
- “Konnichi wa, Ryu-kun” - she said with a smile... - “Who were you talking to?”
Ryu smiled, and bowed as well - “Konnichi wa, Yuri-chan... I was just remembering the story of two small children and a tarantula...”
Special thanks to Yan for all the editing.