Father… Father… Jirou tried to think, but his mind could not for a thought.
He turned to the servant, opening and closing his mouth, trying to find words.
“How… why…” the samurai couldn’t form a question, his voice lost in his throat.
“Your father, Daigorou-sama… disobeyed a direct order… from the Lord…” The man did not meet the samurai’s eyes. All he did was stare at the ground, his head down the entire time, his fist trembling.
Jirou stopped breathing, the reins slipping through his fingers. Even if he couldn’t think, there was one thing the samurai knew; he needed to know the entire story. He needed to see his father.
Father… He forgot everything. He forgot he should inform the Lord about his mission. He forgot about all the soldiers behind him. He could only think about his father.
“Where is he?” Jirou finally managed to ask the servant.
After the trembling man told him, Jirou got off his horse. He headed to where his father was, but the guards wouldn’t let him pass, blocking his path with their spears.
The samurai blinked, vaguely noticing the weapons and the people standing in his way. When he realized what was happening, he looked at each soldier, his eyes growing empty.
“I can kill the four of you before you could even think of attacking me,” he whispered in a cold voice.
The guards exchanged looks with each other, hesitating under those words. Even if he was young, the samurai’s ability with a sword was known throughout the fortress. The soldiers knew his threat wasn’t empty. But even so, they stood their grounds and didn’t let him pass.
“I would advise against that,” a deep voice said from the other side of the door. The next moment, the wooden door slid open, and a large man walked towards the samurai.
The Lord’s advisor stood before Jirou with all his height, looking down on the younger man. Under those sharp eyes that seemed to look deep into one’s mind, the samurai faltered. It had been like that all his life.
But even so, the samurai held his stare, not blinking once. Jirou made sure to keep his hand away from the handle of his sword, but his fingers trembled from the effort.
The advisor noticed that and closed his eyes, taking a deep breath. “That will not help. It will only bring more shame to your father and the end of your life,” he said in a heavy voice.
Jirou widened his eyes. Those were probably the only words that could make him stop to think about the consequences of his actions. He’s… right… This won’t help father… The samurai closed his eyes, pressed his lips and swallowed his rage. When he opened his eyes again, he managed to control his tone of voice.
“You’re right, Muneakira-sama,” he said, bowing his head to the older warrior. “Then, could you please explain what is the situation. Why has my father been arrested for treason?”
The advisor took a long time to answer. “Your father has disobeyed a direct order from our Lord,” he said, his voice indicating there was no need for more explanation.
But there was something more. The samurai could tell.
“What was the order my father disobeyed?”
The advisor stared into his eyes and took a deep breath. Then he closed them. “Daigorou had strict orders not to attack a group of enemy’s troops. But when he realized they would trample a village in the way, he engaged the enemy.”
The samurai couldn’t believe what he heard. “How can saving a village, saving lives, be considered treason?”
“Thanks to your father’s action, the enemy became aware of our Lord’s plans. The main troops changed their path and we lost many warriors on the field.”
“Your father will be committing seppuku tomorrow morning,” Muneakira-sama interrupted before the young samurai could finish his sentence.
The word echoed for a long time in Jirou’s mind. As he understood the reality by that simple word, the world became dead. There was no sound, warmth, color, everything.
Seppuku… my father… to keep his honor… will take his own life…
The world not only died; it broke.
The man the samurai admired the most. Even if he wasn’t the strongest, his father was someone who always believed in doing the right thing. Who believed honor and loyalty were above glory. Someone who would never lower his sword if he could save a life. Even if just one peasant, he would swing his blade.
And that man would be taking his own life.