Through the Cracks Ch4 bit – Definitions of Sanity

Karal swallowed dryly, untangling his fingers. The tension singing between Kero and Sejanes was making his stomach churn. “Look, I’m – not a fighter. What aren’t you two saying?”

“Lord Yamagata’s a war leader,” Kero stated.

“A Choshu war leader, at that,” Sejanes put in. “Who’s about to see his clan’s rivals and reluctant allies lose serious face when Selenay’s people ask pointed questions about just where that cannon came from. Who may well see a way to put them in his debt, and regain face lost to all of Valdemar by the clans’ mishap in the Jump, and rub Satsuma’s noses in the mud at the same time.”

“You think he’ll want Kenshin,” Karal realized.

“He’d be a damn fool if he didn’t,” Kerowyn said bluntly.

“And that’s why you wanted to talk to me, isn’t it?” Karal kept his face sober, turning toward the mage he could not, himself, see.

“It is,” Sejanes said, equally sober. “A few subtle, dropped hints from the ambassador of Karse. Some of my own as a representative of Tremane and Hardorn. Yes, I think the two of us could go far in impressing on Yamagata’s people the need for inner stability in Valdemar for the good of the allied kingdoms.”

“Hold up there, Instructor.” Kerowyn held up a halting hand. “Aren’t you taking this a bit too seriously? Scooping up a handy hitokiri’s one thing. You can’t possibly think Yamagata would use Himura as an excuse for a revolt! Valdemar took his people in. Selenay’s given him nothing but honor and fair treatment.”

“Yet before all that, their slip with the Jump inflicted on the samurai the mass insult of surrendering rather than dying with honor.” Sejanes stood. “There’s a moral quandary taught to young samurai in Yamato, Captain. A man has murdered your father. You’ve pursued the killer for years. During that time, he’s shown nothing but honorable behavior to his enemies and allies alike; an honor he shows once more, for you’re pursuing him across a harbor in a boat, which is sinking, and he turns his own boat around to rescue you. There’s no other hope of surviving. What do you do?”

“Let him rescue me, and give it up as a bad job,” Kerowyn said tartly. “Enough’s enough.”

“And that would earn you a caning, at least,” Sejanes wagged a finger at her. “For a samurai, the proper answer is to let yourself be rescued, thank your rescuer with all due politeness – and execute him the first moment you can.”

Kerowyn stared at him a long moment. “That’s insane.”

“Choosing your ruler based on talking horses who are servants of the gods, rather than a council of the great lords and a civil war or two,” Sejanes said dryly. “To Yamagata’s people, that’s insane.”


25 thoughts on “Through the Cracks Ch4 bit – Definitions of Sanity

      1. Doesn’t qualify, born after the American revolution and not born in the US, and knows that for very near certain. Plus his background does not give him an ideal skillset for the job, and some few voters will not vote for him for that reason.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. And Kenshin is very tired of being expected to kill other people in the name of someone else’s political agenda. He doesn’t want to be anyone but his own’s sword.

    Just because he is good at killing people does not mean he enjoys it. And he knows darn well that once Yamagata had him, he’d never be able to get away from him. Like how he knows that he’s going to have been even more cautious (not paranoia – people really are out to get him) because there will be some people who decide that if Kenshin isn’t their hitokiri, they better make absolutely sure he cannot become anyone else’s.

    And Yamatoans, killing each other might smooth your ruffled pride. It will also get any survivors kicked out of Valdemar because that type of violence rarely stays confined to the direct participates. And good luck finding somewhere else to take you in with that much consideration for your culture and automony.

    “Choosing your ruler based on talking horses who are servants of the gods, rather than a council of the great lords and a civil war or two,” Sejanes said dryly. “To Yamagata’s people, that’s insane.”

    It does sound crazy when you word it like that. 😉

    But most systems of government and choosing leadership do if you stop and think about them.

    To Quote Terry Pratchett: “A third proposition, that the city be governed by a choice of respectable members of the community who would promise not to give themselves airs or betray the public trust at every turn, was instantly the subject of music-hall jokes all over the city.”

    Liked by 3 people

    1. *G* Kenshin has made great use of Obfuscating Stupidity, and they haven’t quite figured it out yet.

      Think about it. Where’s one place in Haven that A) isn’t under Selenay’s direct authority, but B) has enough ties to, oh, say, the Heralds, the Guard, several mages and even Inari, if you go by certain older responsibilities that particular kami has, that will make it very, very tricky for Yamagata to drag him out of?

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  2. To be fair, the idea is that you can’t live under the same sky with your father’s killer. It is a matter of filial piety and duty to your father, rather than just honor alone. Chinese Confucian culture is behind some of it.

    But yeah, Japanese culture had a hard time with forgiving or sparing certain categories of enemy. I suspect that is why Japanese police dramas go so dramatic when they capture a murder suspect, and why there’s so much fictional murder done to avenge unintended manslaughter.

    The avenger of blood (if restrained by rules) is almost a law enforcement position in a lot of cultures, rather than someone motivated by passion. A Norse woman who didn’t have useful male kin was obliged to live as a man for the rest of her life in order to act as the avenger. The Bible goes into great detail about what male kin could avenge a death, and about the sanctuary cities where the guilty could flee. Joel 3 ends with the Lord promising to be His people’s avenger of blood.

    Little known fact: Christ’s title of Redeemer is related to the position of the avenger.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I’ve been reading a lot of xianxia, and man, what Chinese and Chinese Confucian culture seems to say on the issue…

      Modern American culture is not the sole form of culture. There is a religious influence that most take for granted, which strongly influences even those who identify as strongly unreligious. Hence the lower priority on vengeance, as you say.

      There’s also the psychological qualities cultivated to produce warriors or a warrior class. The US does have somewhat of a warrior culture, but the successful examples express that through our much more obvious soldiering culture. There’s a fair amount of people in prisons who have some of the warrior psychological qualities without the soldier ones. Certainly we don’t the effects of making special allowances for a distinct warrior category in how they treat the non-warrior category conditioned on those behaviors making them more effective warriors.

      My apologies for the poor writing, my thinking is poor because my sleeping has been bad.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. That’s Kenshin: making the best of it since getting taken in by Hiko, where the skill was refined. 🙂 And hey, this time his making the best of it has netted him a home, a girlfriend/mate, and several kids who will happily pounce on him! 😀 Inari does indeed wear a lot of hats, some of which you wouldn’t think were hats at first glance…;P

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Of course Inari also insures that life will continue to be interesting for Kenshin. After all, no matter how many generations apart and ningen blood mixing he is still of the Kitsune. And what sort of Kitsune could ever be happy with a mere boring ‘happily-ever-after’ life?

      The fact that she gets to watch a bunch of gaijin, spirit-horses and stuffy Samurai all have varying levels of BSOD and/or minor heart attacks is merely icing on the cake.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Inari: Cackling at chaos for at least the past 2,000 years….

        Do you think Inari has ever or will ever work together with a certain Merciful Goddess to create such lovely chaos . . . er, solve a problem to which both of their respective favorite mortals are uniquely suited to handle?

        Liked by 2 people

  4. ” ‘That’ is insane” is always an interesting prelude to culture clashes of occasionally epic proportions, but admittedly my favorite parts in stories with culture clashes is when the two or three cultures involved sit down and try to figure things out. (Normally includes some swearing and some flat ‘whats’)

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I have to wonder if there is a not so insignificant faction of people from Yamato that think that they should get rid of the samurai. If you are dependent on the goodwill of a foreign culture for your continued survival, then having the ticking time bomb that is samurai culture is a great concern.

    And that’s before you realize that a faction of samurai wished everyone had died, gloriously.

    The Yamato faction that want to get rid of the samurai probably ask themself, ‘How long before a samurai starts a war by deciding to test his sword on peasants in Valdemar?’ or any of the other things that samurai are known to do, that would be call crimes if it wasn’t samurai doing it.

    Liked by 2 people

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