I should describe my work with Clan Tenya, when I get a chance. I have been very busy, traveling and hiding and fighting along the trails in the forests of Ōmi Province. But for now, I should tell of my recent meeting with Iyona.
When I joined Clan Nettobuku, she was the most holy of the priestesses of the Nichiren Buddhist order, until the abbess Jīya came to join the clan. I had recently heard that Clan Nettobuku's fortunes have not been good, and many of the clan's members have left. Others were turned away in a large group a few weeks ago, much as I was turned out last year — and as others were sent away, only a month after I joined the clan.
Iyona, being very good at her priestess-ly skills, quickly found a new post with one of the larger and better-known clans of Settsu Province, with headquarters in Naniwa and castles from Edo to Heian-kyō. On Monday, I went to meet her for lunch at a tasty restaurant in the capital.
Her new clan is a very large one, and she has been accustomed to small ones. She is now but one priestess among many. But aside from that, she prospers and thrives. She also told me some news of Clan Nettobuku's fortunes after my departure.
I had hoped to hear that Jimon's strange strategies, based so strongly on Living Stone techniques, had caused part of the clan's problems. To be honest, I wanted to know that I had been unquestionably right, and Jimon unquestionably wrong, about our strategy.
But of course, life is never so simple and clear-cut. Iyona, being a priestess and not a warrior, was not so involved in the details of strategy. What she did know is that Lord Tai, for all his experience in Izumi Province, knows very little of conditions in Ōmi. Commander Kobushi, for all his previous skill as an individual warrior, had no desire for command. And so the Clan's core was not centered.
They successfully took a small part of the territory they aimed for. It remains to be seen whether they will be able to hold it. Apparently Jimon has left to form his own clan
— a thing which I suspect must end in disaster, for he is not a leader who can inspire others. He is too much in love with his own fighting skill, and so he concocts stunningly intricate kata, then is surprised when nobody else can master them.
Iyona did mention that Clan Nettobuku was having trouble finding warriors who could cope with Jimon and Bunmei's strange kata. And that even they, when faced with a new problem, would often find it easier to simply invent new kata than to adapt the old ones. This is probably the closest thing I will ever receive to a sign that my intuitions were right.
Two nights after my lunchtime meeting with Iyona, Akane and I had dinner with our good friend Arisa and her husband Baku. I spoke of my current clan and their current plans, and the fact that I must have the mountain passes and the path from Hikone to Kotobasatsuki clear, by Wednesday. And there was some talk of my time with Clan Nettobuku. It very quickly became clear that even speaking of my time with Nettobuku made me very tense and anxious, while my current responsibilities... they may be an important and difficult task, which is its own sort of burden. But now I am motivated to do my best, not tied in knots by frustration and worry.
I am still very busy, but I will try to, at the very least, keep sending small messages and haikus
. And I have some larger tales to recount, as soon as I have some time to write them down.