Hell and Heaven are in the Hearts of Men
Akodo Hizashi IV
Lion Clan * Bushi * Duelist * Paragon * Hero
Akodo Hizashi IV is a Samurai Bushi, aged 18 (17 in Western/Real World terms). He is the first and only child of Akodo Marimaya and Matsu Goro — due to the tradition of the Matsu clan, Goro has taken the name Akodo after marrying into the family. His Matsu heritage has inherited him a large, unruly mane of hair that is periodically dyed gold, giving it a straw-like appearance, which accents his amber colored eyes.
Unlike his father, however, Hizashi is lithely built, and lacks much of the raw muscle and power behind many of his clansmen. What he lacks in physical strength, however, he makes up for in lightning reflexes and peerless speed on the draw.
Hizashi’s style of dress is rather humble for a Samurai of his standing. Prefering haori of golds and browns, they are made of durable fabrics as opposed to fine silks. Hizashi comes from a family of Farm-Owners; he is more comfortable with waraji on his feet and a piece of straw hanging from his mouth than smirking behind a fan in court.
Hizashi has a very healthy appetite, and is rather prone to gorging himself on what he considers to be hearty foods. It is very easy to tell if Hizashi has eaten well recently, as his gut does tend to bulge a bit, almost comically so, for several hours after eating.
The sun hung high overhead, and despite the snow upon the ground, the air was warm and comfortable. The amber eyes of the samurai-born child watched the Koi swimming back and forth and within the small, meditative stream, and, curiously, he reached down to touch the water. Freezing cold. Surely those fish must hate it. In that, Hizashi felt a sense of kinship with them. He too hated the aspect of living in the cold.
“Hizashi,” came a simple command, deep, bellowing and authoritative. Faster than lightning, the boy stood up and drew his hand back from the water, as he looked toward his father. Matsu, now Akodo Goro was a man of size, and stature — and the wooden boards of the ceremonial bridge creaked underneath his massive weight as he stepped upon it. Clad in armor of lacquered golds, his kabuto was held underneath the crook of his arm, a thick, black moustache hid the proud smirk upon his face, and his onyx hair had been combed back into a tight top-knot.
Across from the Lion, stood a woman who seemed his opposite in every way. Over a demure and slender frame, silks of spun cerulean and white as pure as the driven snow seemed only to accentuate the woman’s eyes. Hizashi, in all of his seven years, had never seen a woman as beautiful as she, and while he had been told that beauty was a weapon all-too-often used by their enemies, he stood frozen in fear. Hair of midnight hung freely to the bow of her obi, and her face, devoid of cosmetics, was warm and welcoming.
With a bow, she greeted the Bushi, and her voice harmonized with the flowing stream below their feet. “Akodo-san. I am honored by your visit. May I say, you appear to be the picture of health.”
Akodo Goro sneered slightly, and less-than-graciously accepted the compliment. “Yes, thank you. We can dispense with the pleasantries, however. I believe we both know why we are here.” He boomed, causing the boy to lightly jump out of the distracted trance he had been in. “This is my son, Akodo Hizashi IV. We typically reserve Ancestral names for our Samurai’s gempukku, but he seems to like it all the same, that he will doubtlessly keep it. Won’t you, boy?” Goro continued, nudging his son faintly, which all the same caused him to stumble.
“Hai. I am the descendant of the great warrior, Akodo Hizashi, who stood with the Akodo Honor Guard at the Battle of White Stag!” He said, with all the rehearsed repititon of a child who nkows the words, but could not understand the gravity of their meaning.
“An honorable name, for a most honorable ancestor, I’m sure!” The Crane woman said, as she bent at the knees to look Hizashi in the eyes with a warm smile. “And my name is Kakita Kasume. I do not have a great war hero, in my past, but I’m hoping that with training, I may have one in the future.”
The boy simply looked upon her, the compliment far too subtle for him.
“Hizashi.” Goro bellowed, once more. “When you are complimented, you bow, and say ‘arigato-gozaimas.’”
Hizashi once more snapped to attention and, as instructed, bowed deeply. “Arigato-gozaimas!”
Kasume smiled, and laughed like wind-chimes. “Indeed! And such manners for a boy your age! I’m sure you shall fit right in, here. Hizashi, this will be your home for now. We will teach you all you need to know, and you shall be a part of our family.”
“I do not want to be part of your family.” Hizashi replied, with the tact of a tetsubo. “I want to be Akodo Hizashi. Not Kakita Hizashi.”
“Hizas—” Goro began, before Kasume raised a hand to calm him, which, while silencing him, seemed to do just the opposite.
“Of course not, Hizashi. While most hostages do hold their host family’s name, temporarily, you are free to keep yours as you will. We want you to be happy here.”
“Right.” Said, Goro, his red-face telling of his lack of patience. “Very well, boy. Kankuro will give you your things, and you’ll need to be on your way.” Goro turned and clapped loudly, as a teenaged peasant hurried from their pack-horse, carrying trunks full of supplies, which were deposited on the other side of the bridge.
“I assure you, Akodo-san, he will be quite safe here. Why, I myself have a daughter that’s a little younger than he, I will watch over him as if he were my o—”
“Spare me your flowery promises, Crane. Don’t dare suggest that you could keep my son safer than the mightiest Clan in the Empire.”
“Absolutely not, Akodo-san. I merely wish—”
“And further, while our Emperor has requested that this exchange be made in hopes of peace, rest assured that you shall know it’s true purpose. You are forging a weapon. And this Kakita weapon will, I promise you, be your undoing.”
Kakita Kasume showed no signs of anger, or sadness, or fear. She merely looked ahead, waited for him to finish, and then bowed.
“Hizashi-chan.” She spoke. “Say ‘good-bye’ to your father.” She gentley instructed. “It’s time to go.”
The boy sniffled back tears that threatened to come to bear, and bowed respectfully to his father, who promptly mounted his horse, locked eyes with his son one last time, gave a nod, and then spurred his mount away. When Hizashi had turned around, a soft, white hand had been offered to him. As Hizashi raised his hand to clasp it, he stealthily wiped away his tears. Then, hand in hers, she escorted him across the bridge.