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The Hieda estate was something like a central market for news, from official declarations to petty gossip. The Hieda family had always had a hands-on approach, familiar with intimate secrets and dirty politics. Anyone was welcome to its doors, even in groups.
Naturally, such a welcoming openness led to rumors. Rumors about my family, my servants, my associates, and me, the current Child of Miare, Hieda no Akyuu. These lewd, liscencious accusations and hearsay were, more often than not, true, and provided a lure for the lonely, the unlucky, and the foolish.
Most would blush, mumble, and walk away when they saw me sitting just past the entranceway, surrounded by papers, jotting down notes or discussing some actual business. But when this gristly young man peeked his head through the door and saw me, he had the courage to stand tall between the doors, blocking the evening sun and making me look up from some damage estimates I had just been given from a Human Village architect. Kirisame Marisa was a useful woman to have around but her usefulness only marginally outpaced her taste for collateral damage.
I gave a patient but put-upon sigh and smiled. "Hello, may I help you?"
He was gristly and lean, a young adult still filling in his last growth spurts. His skin was the toasted sesame color of a farmer's child working up in the hills, bearing the full brunt of the sun. His clothing, a loose shirt and pants rolled up to the knees, were worn but carefully maintained, perhaps even patched up for the visit. Stubble covered his cheeks and chin, sticking out like bristles, and his hair grew every which way, untamed.
"Afternoon, lady Akyuu," he said with a careful bow.
"Good afternoon. Do you bring news?"
He glanced to the side and shoved his hands in his pockets, saying nothing. I was expecting him to leave when a voice hissed from behind the doors.
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