Chee of the Hamara stifled a yawn as he moved through his estate. He glanced around hoping that he might see his son Sohma, but considering the events he was not surprised that he was nowhere to be found. Sohma was young and Chee had no doubt he was itching to be doing something in the nation’s time of need. He himself, as the Elder of the Hamara clan had been sequestered in meetings that ultimately would determine the state of the nation after the loss of Akizuki Kensuku. He just wanted to sleep. His disheveled appearance and tired eyes were a sure sign that he had not slept a wink since all of this began.
As he entered his room he casually ran his fingers through his hair before allowing his body to be overtaken by another yawn. “I was wondering where my clothing went.” The voice of his lover caused him to stiffen. “It looks better on you then it ever did on me, but people are going to wonder why you are wearing the robes of the Sosa clan or did you forget I stayed the night in your rush to leave?”
“I didn’t forget.”
“Then are you going to explain to me why you put my clothing on when you took off three days ago?”
“My, my, you are always getting hung up on something aren’t you, Abe?”
His considerably younger lover sat atop his bed, wearing his clothing, a somber expression upon his face. It was not as though the two of them had been keeping their relationship any big secret. In fact, the people of importance to Chee already knew that he and Abe had been seeing each other for over a year and that relationship had started when Abe was seventeen. Abe when he was small had been taken in by the Hamara clan and raised by the former matriarch Luna who was Chee’s grandmother. Abe the only surviving member of the Sosa clan, whose strict ways ultimately resulted in the ‘death’ of the clan. “Chee, we talked about this. You said we were going to keep our relationship quiet for a bit longer. I have only received my Captain rank, are you trying to jeopardize my position within the Ruthlbahdo?”
Chee sighed noticeably, “I won’t let that happen.”
“You won’t be able to stop it if it happens. You might be a former General and have a position on the Elder Council, but it is going to take more, then just your vote to keep my future from being destroyed.”
“Abe is that all you care about, your status?”
The putout look on Abe’s face was almost unbearable to Chee. “That is easy for you to say, you have status.”
Chee watched Abe as he slid off the bed, “Wait, wait, wait,” Chee said rapidly as Abe moved toward the door, “You are overreacting to all of this. No one said anything about it. I don’t even think anyone noticed.”
“Sometimes you are so dumb, Chee.”
The words of his lover stung. Luna, the matriarch of the Hamara once described Chee as being ‘like a dragon’. He lived by his own rules even from the time he was very small. He was self-confident and serious, yet there were moments that the most impulsive part of him took hold. Chee had such ambition that the high standards of perfection he set for himself were sometimes overshadowed by his own inability to compromise. Rigid and more than willing to eliminate any obstacle in his way. Very few took him serious though because of his refusal to conform, and the perception that he was uninterested or uncaring about what was going on around him.
His head hung low as he left his room, taking each step at an even pace. Mentally his mind was muddled with thoughts of the meeting that he had been in for days. The Emperor had been decided, though the decision did not sit well with him. He was certain there was an agenda behind the person chosen, worse yet there was nothing much he could do about it without evidence. Chee had no doubts that this stain upon the great nation of Aslann was not limited to the assassination of the Emperor nor was unit twenty-three’s involvement.
Chee’s attention was drawn toward the familiar voice as he hid the unwelcome sigh that threatened to escape his lips. He had a feeling deep in his gut that this visit had to do with the Commanders of the military, whom were soon to be executed. “My, my, Hiko what brings you about at this hour?” He moved steadily toward the kitchen, his hands resting on the counter a moment as he quickly looked for a means to occupy himself.
The steady footsteps of his friend caught his attention until they suddenly stopped. “Will you deliver this letter to the Elder Council?”
“Is it a plea for Ritsu Waichia and Oro Ishi?” The silence that followed gave him his answer so he turned and faced his friend, “Tuck it back in your overcoat and pretend you did not write it.”
“The fate of those involved is sealed. The Elder Council is making only examples and no exceptions.”
“So who is to become the new Emperor?”
Chee spoke with eyes flashing, “A child.”
“Kiyoshi Kensuku was not chosen to replace his brother?”
“He was not.”
“That does not make any sense. The first Emperor Tearra Tylo was usurped by a Kensuku. They have reigned as Emperor since that time. Captain Kensuku is still one of the strongest of his clan. He has a voice that his people will follow, how many votes were against him?”
“Only three clans voted for Kiyoshi all others banded together against his succession.”
“What the hell is going on?”
“I would say we are in the middle of a massive power play.” Chee noticed the look on the face of his oldest friend and took a step toward him deducing the thoughts running through the man’s mind. “Hiko, wait, wait, wait. This is no time to rush off and make a big fuss. Keep your head low, play nice. Until we know how far-reaching this taint has spread, we cannot be rushing off recklessly. I believe they picked this child so they could control him. We have to wait and see how things play out, from here. Let us hope that this boy, has strength of character to make his own decisions and not let himself be manipulated by parties only looking out for themselves.”
“I am not comfortable with sitting around and doing nothing.”
“Find someone neutral. A party that is neither friend nor ally to any of the clans in this nation. Use that person to gather information. We need to understand what we are up against and have proof that there is in fact a conspiracy at work. I will push to have you put into position as the head of the military. At this point there is no guarantee though.”
“It sounds like your hands are tied.”
“I have not seen anything like this since I was sixteen and I stood at the side of the matriarch of the Hamara at an Elder Council meeting. That day when the votes came down one after another to kill the Tylo Clan, all I could do is set there helplessly, then when they said the Matriarch Luna would be killed as well, due to her connection with the Elder of the Tylo, Soti it was as though the entire world stopped moving. Luna looked at me and said, ‘fear not my little dragon, trust your gut to tell you when something is wrong, and you are now the Elder of the Hamara’. Now it is twenty years later and I was once again sitting helplessly.”
“What does your gut say?”
Chee pondered the question thoughtfully as he moved around the kitchen gathering several items to make bread dough. He measured out flour, mixed it with yeast, before gauging the temperature of some water. Chee could feel the eyes of his friend on him as he carefully worked through the preparations before finally kneading the dough. His voice was casual, not raised in pitch as he responded, “It tells me that this is just the beginning.”
To Be Continued