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[x] I wanted to address Kokoro’s indiscretions.
“It was entirely about Kokoro, I’m afraid.”
Hina’s expression darkened as we descended, just south of the village.
“As I had said, she is a daughter of mine… in a sense. I’ve chosen to try to educate her properly.”
“Again with that language. In precisely what sense is she your daughter?”
I scratched my hand. “I created the masks, naturally. It’s a tragedy you had to meet under such poor circumstances. Their beauty would’ve dazzled you.”
I turned toward the front of the village walls, banking toward the gate as I descended.
“You speak with such pride, yet you left them to rot sufficient to create a youkai.”
“Hey!” I stabbed a finger in her direction. “I died. It’s not my fault my successors discarded them.”
She hummed a dour tune as we approached the ground. I twirled as I touched down, only to find Hina mimicking me when I did, smiling again.
I approached the village, but Hina slowed behind me, a desire to turn around growing.
I cleared my throat, turning toward the woods. “I suspect my daughter has overstepped her bounds.” It felt strange to use that word so many times. Strange, uncomfortable, and… exciting. I had an abundance of emotions tied to that concept. Too many. “I would like to see her correct her error.”
She folded her arms, shifting her weight. “You don’t need my presence for that.”
“Oh, but I do.” I turned and stood by a nearby pine tree, scanning the road I’d left. “Apologies mean the most when spoken directly, do they not?”
“I’d most appreciate getting my time back.”
“And yet, you’re here.”
I smiled. “Let me hear what troubles you.”
I sighed and sat down, lifting my cloak as I crossed my legs. The bark behind tempted me, but my dress deserved better. “I’m aware of that trouble. Let me hear what else bothers you.”
Hina leaned against a nearby tree, frowning. “I’m a goddess of the nagashi-bina festival. I guide dolls infused with the misfortune of troubled humans safely away. In truth, I’d prefer to hear your troubles.”
I blinked, then chuckled. “I’m afraid it’s all rather confidential.”
“We may start with your name, then.”
I stared. She stared back. She wanted to know about me but shared no desire to exploit that information.
“I am Miko of the Toyosatomimi clan, formerly known as the legendary Prince Shotoku.”
“Do you feel content with your current life?”
“Quite so.” I paused, remembering my upcoming date. “Mostly so.”
She stared, just a hint of curiosity flickering across her face. And quite a bit bouncing through her head.
“As I said. Very confidential.”
She frowned, just a little sad.
I huffed. “Very well. I’ve married recently, but my wife and I are quite different in most ways. I’m not certain how best to…”
She giggled. Giggled. She cleared her throat. “I’m sorry, please continue.”
“I’d like to hear what you find…”
I heard it. Kokoro approached the village. My dojo proper was, of course, Senkai. But I had plenty of young disciples who couldn’t reach there, so I’d arranged for periodic lessons to be taught in the village.
Usually by more experienced disciples, but I’d stopped by myself once or twice, so it still counted.
I grunted as I stood, flattening my cloak back out. Kokoro touched down just before the guards.
I clapped once, quite loud. She turned to face me, impassive, a closed fan in one hand. Hina stood behind me, still irritated. I cleared my throat, approaching Kokoro as…
[ ] A patient mediator.
[ ] A stern mother.
[ ] A curious detective.
[ ] Write-in.
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Timer ended at: 2019/03/16(Sat)19:00