Voices and Choices
by Yokubo Tensei
Tensei sat near the edge of one of the many jagged cliffs that covered the region known as the Fingers of Bone. His now silent sword carefully positioned at his side, he held a scroll full with names printed in dark red ink, maybe blood. With an inquisitive, almost child-like expression, the dark bushi looked at the sword on his side as if expecting it to talk back. Of course he knew that would not be.
“What a foolish request!“, the sword had said in its perfect voice. “Who cares about the fallen? Who cares about honor? Those who have fallen are failures, they are pawns! Why should we care about them? We are the Shadowlands! We are Jigoku!”
It has been silent since then, and now all Tensei could do was wonder about the list of names. Perhaps the sword was right and they were simple pawns, no need to care about them. However, his new Lord was convinced that there was a reason to honor them; why else would he have asked Tensei to choose a name?
The Dark Lord’s orders were clear, Tensei was supposed to pick a name, one which symbolized what a ‘hero’ meant to the Spider, and give it the monk. Whatever the monk would do with the name was not important, but the dark bushi was told to follow him. He was to figure out what the monk wanted, what his superiors wanted, and most importantly, how was he able to find the Spider in the Fingers of Bones. Once he knew the answer, the bushi was free to kill the monk and any other who could prove problematic.
Of course Tensei did not care about a simple monk. He only wanted to finish the mission that was given to him just before the voice in the sword stopped talking. Of course, he would also like to understand the reason why that mission was deemed so important. But how could he finish it if he could not even choose a name? Who among the Spider were worthy of being honored?
Again he looked at the sword, and again he hoped it would talk back. He needed the sword to choose for him, but once again the sword did not speak.
For perhaps the one hundredth time, he read the list of names, but still he could not choose. They were all important personalities of the Spider’s past; but even though now he could hear voices, he could not choose… wait, voices? He could hear voices! Was the Sword finally talking back to him? No, it was just a small group of samurai walking nearby, discussing what they thought the future of the Spider might be. “The Empire…” “Jigoku…” “The Taint…” He could hear all the voices slowly becoming one…
“Voices“, he finally whispered to himself. Perhaps one of those voices would be able to choose for him.