Through the Cracks Ch5 bit – Emergency Diplomacy

“People see what they expect to see, Herald-Captain,” the hitokiri answered simply. “Especially if one has the skill to blur one’s ki. As I do.”

“In the middle of a fight?” Kerowyn gave him a skeptical glance.

“Of course in the middle of a fight!” the young samurai by Himura burst out, glaring right back. “Che’! What good’s a Gift if you have to stop fighting to use it?”

“Yahiko-kun,” Himura murmured.

“Oh, come on!” Yahiko exclaimed in their own tongue. “Why do you let her talk to you that way? She’s-”

“An honorable warrior, in service to the ruler of this land, where the emperor rules not,” Kenshin answered in the same manner. “It is not important.”

“Not important?!? Maybe if you were just some rurouni, it wouldn’t be important. But you’re-” Yahiko reddened.

Himura stilled. “Were you… surprised?”

“Kinda.” Mussed hair ducked. “But I guess… it makes more sense now why you’re as good as you are.” Brown eyes stared up, full of pain. “You can’t do this, Kenshin! Not to them! You just can’t!”

“What on earth is the boy saying?” Lady Donrevy’s elderly grumble rang across the Council tables.

“It would appear to be a matter of honor, my lady,” Talia noted. “Patience.”

Genteel of her, Yamagata thought darkly. He wasn’t sure where she’d learned it – likely that Imperial mage with his language-spells – but he knew Talia and Selenay both had a fair understanding of their native tongue.

“When his people’s lives are in peril, even a prince’s honor must kneel.” Himura smiled at the boy, eyes distant with sorrow. “How much more mine, the poor, tattered honor of a masterless sword?”

“But you’re not-!”

“Yahiko.” Red hair shook slightly. “Go to your sensei.”

With a strangled sob, the boy flung himself at Kamiya.

Yamagata blessed his foresight in putting on gloves. They kept his nails from drawing blood as his fists clenched.

Talia blinked, hiding a wince. Her ki rippled with pain.

And I hope you choke on it, Yamagata thought grimly, careful to keep the thought behind his shields. Feel our pain, Empath. Feel the shame you force us to. The dishonor. To speak of that which we do not speak of, save among kin and tested battle-allies. To force a samurai to explain himself to merchants and artisans-!

Himura stood alone now, drawing all the dishonor on himself.

35 thoughts on “Through the Cracks Ch5 bit – Emergency Diplomacy

    1. >…To Valdemarans, not so much.>
      That explanation will be funny as hell to watch.

      Valdemar: Why didn’t you tell us all this ages ago?
      Yamato: We did. What do you think the hordes of books, stories and kabuki plays that we were putting out in plain view, where anyone can read or watch were about?
      Valdemar: What do those have to do with anything?
      Yamato:………… Amaterasu-ōmikami grant he strength.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. “You had funny animals in it. We figured they were just metaphorical, okay? Like Reynard the Fox and his running feud with Grim the Wolf. Or Chicken Licken.”

        “You don’t have chicken people either!?!”

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Yes but since you made no effort to even IMPLY those stories were true. In fact, you keep saying they were most definitely not true.

        Remember, not the same culture. When someone tells them this is a made-up story that never happened, not true history, they believe you. Especially when it features things and people they have never seen or even heard of before.

        You don’t inform people about stuff they have no knowledge of by telling them that it isn’t real.

        It’d be like if the Heralds had been swearing up and down for the last two years that a Companion is just a very smart, white horse and aren’t you silly for thinking different. While still feeding you stories that demonstrate just how much they aren’t a horse . . .

        Or swearing up and down that Vanyel was never a real person . . .


  1. If what has been said about their bond is correct, Rolan felt that. I can’t help but think he had it coming to him.

    IIRC, Kenshin is a farmer, below merchants and artisans. We all know Yamagata has incomplete information, and I’ve said these first instincts aren’t that susceptible to reason anyway.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Actually, if I remember correctly farmers were above merchants at least theoretically. I don’t remember were Artisans ranked. It was accepted for poor masterless samurai to become a farmer and village headmen were allowed a sword (I think?).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It depended on the domain and the decade. But yes, samurai did sometimes become farmers and artisans, and headmen did have swords… sometimes. You might want to check out Conrad Totman’s Early Modern Japan, among other books, for more specifics. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Yeah, that is a lot of where my memory issues come in. I’m slightly more familiar with the historical Chinese class hierarchy, which needn’t be identical, and I’ve essentially forgotten that. (This probably would’ve changed over time, despite pretensions to unchanging uniformity. Farmers were lower than artisans. Merchants were low because their economic thinking was zero sum fixed pie crap. Scholars were above those three, because they were calling the shots. Anything else, I’ve forgotten. Except that Emperors were religiously important, and were definitely above scholars.)

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Well, Yamagata, farmers and artisans are IMPORTANT, and one of the people you’re explaining to is the Queen, so yeah, very important person there. I hope that pain hits Rolan in the head. Hard. Because he deserves it. Behold the glory of incomplete information on both sides!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. So Yamagata doesn’t realize that Himura is of farm stock, either.

    Ohoho. Weeeeeeeell, he might not be objecting to Himura being a little bit interested in obscurity, after he realizes both that fact, and his own embarrassing ignorance of the fact for years and years and years…..

    Liked by 2 people

    1. >*Snrk* I’m wondering how long it takes him to find out. If ever.>
      Kenshin: Sessha would prefer that Yamagata does not find out that I do. There would be many, many unneeded complications should he learn this knowledge.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Such as viewing Himura’s honor as expendable, I suspect? Especially since Kenshin refused any such rewards of position, title, or honors that those of similar background were granted?

        Or maybe Kenshin being born a farmer but also so greatly honored and respected – possibly even more than Yamagata himself, given Battousai’s sobriquet as ‘the Greatest of the Revolutionaries’ – upsets the precarious balance of the class conscious and rigidly hierarchical society of Maboroshi? Or at the very least offends the pride of the leadership that was raised Samurai?


  5. …I really hope Sano makes his entrance and explanation of having possibly Chosen Kenshin soon – or at the very least having Chosen someone who must have been Hanyou, since only Hanyou have red hair. If that mess gets publicly brought up here it means that the Valdemarens have to recognize that Hanyou are not ChangeChildren, after all they can be Chosen.

    It would also comfort both sides because it would put Kenshin’s status and position as that of a newly Chosen Herald for the Valdemarens (though not actually a Trainee, I suspect. They’ve got to have some rules in place for experienced campaigners getting Chosen, like Alberich and Kerowyn). Kenshin being Chosen would also grant him status and place his honor as a warrior under Queen Selenay for the Yamatoans… Especially since Kenshin is now already of Kaoru’s Clan…

    Speaking of, that’s something else I wanted to bring up:
    >>Kamiya, no doubt. Well, now I’m certain where her loyalty lies…
    Yamagata, you’re finally starting to give us a half-decent impression, don’t ruin it now! Of course Kaoru’s loyalty is to the Queen, she’s a Herald! Yes, her father was a good and loyal Revolutionary, but part of his role was leaving his clan and being released of his obligations and debts. His daughter having any position to do anything at all is practically a miracle (although not really; this is Kaoru we’re talking about here. Even without being magically Chosen she’d find a way to make a difference no matter what society she’s part of). Nevermind that – from what we’ve seen – You, Yamagata, weren’t exactly treating her like a trusted ally or giving her much consideration at all really.

    I’m getting distracted. My point is: Yes, Kaoru’s father was a revolutionary. Kaoru did not inherit his responsibilities. Instead, since even before the Jump, Kaoru has had her own responsibilities and loyalties entirely unrelated to you, Yamagata. Loyalty to one’s Lord in addition to conducting oneself in an honorable way is huge part of honor. Kaoru’s behavior has been frankly nothing short of exemplary given what she has to work with. She’s maintained her loyalties and fulfilled her oaths. She’s done her best to broker peace, understanding, and foster cooperation between her native Valdemar and the Yamatoan refugees. Possibly most importantly: she’s otherwise kept her mouth shut and shown discretion – reporting only to key people who even you recognized need to know this information – when doing otherwise could have resulted in a genocide of your people, Yamagata. You may have desired her allegiance, but were she any other native of Valdemar with her same responsibilities and knowledge – including its glaring holes – you’d respect her for her honor, actions, and loyalty to her Queen.

    …Sorry. That line just bothered me. Rant over, I hope.

    Oh, and in the italicized thought I quoted above from the previous snippet, you had a period after the ellipses, so it’s currently four dots instead of three.


    1. >…Sorry. That line just bothered me. Rant over, I hope.>
      The thing is Yamagata isn’t just responsible for himself. He’s the leader of the Yamato people in Haven. Ergo there are going to be things that he might not want blabbed/reported to the Queen as a matter of fact.

      Presumably before he might not have known precisely here in the spectrum of loyalties that Karou had placed herself. Now he is sure who she considers her ultimate lord and that there are things he or his subordinates need to isolate her from if they want to keep it in house.

      She’s not an enemy, simply not part of the organization/clan etc.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Yeah. That and Kaoru being an Herald probably predates the arrival of the Yamato in Valdemar. Two years is not a long time to figure out how Heralds work from the outside. I’m not sure if we get a precise timeline of when a) Kaoru is Chosen b) her father dies c) Yamato shows up.

        I infer, from vague memories, that Kaoru’s exposure to Herald ideology would not have been reported to Yamato.

        That said, I’m wondering about the circumstances of Koshijirou’s death.

        Liked by 2 people

  6. To force a samurai to explain himself to merchants and artisans-!

    A little unfair there Yamagata, considering that they don’t (repeat after me) view artisans and merchants the same way Yamato does. Therefore they do not known until someone tells them and explains why this is bringing dishonor and hurting your pride.

    And they never stop stepping on your pride if no one tells what they are doing wrong. Which is difficult when you keep acting like they should know what they are doing yet at the same time refusing to explain because it injuries your pride to do so – well, if you wouldn’t tell them what they are doing wrong then your injured pride when the exact same thing happens again is entirely self-inflicted.

    Of course, Kaoru isn’t loyal to you first and her queen second, Yamagata. She isn’t Yamatoan. As I’m sure many, many of you have pointed out to her. Several times. Every day. Since you arrived two years ago.

    And I bet Kaoru is getting a little annoyed at being too “gaijin” to be trusted but “Yamatoan” enough to be expected give her first loyalty to Yamato and to know its culture as intimately as if she had been born and raised in Yamato instead of halfway around the world by everyone . . .

    Also since most of you barely gave her the time of day until she took in a rurouni, you have no one but yourselves to blame when and if she feels more loyalty toward her mother’s people and culture than her father’s. Doesn’t exactly inspire loyalty to be told constantly “You are not part of the club. Go away.” Especially when the same people yell at you “How dare you not follow the rules of the club we aren’t letting you in!”

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I give him credit for trying but the man is very stubborn about admitting that maybe he was wrong about how he was handling it. Hitting him over the head with the clue hammer very hard about just how he is messing up and how badly might be the only way for that fact to sink in.

        Characters who are less stubborn don’t require as a big of a hammer or as many blows to get the point.

        Granted, Yamagata is not the only one who needs a good whack from said hammer in this story. He’s just the one annoying me at the moment. 😉

        Through I will give Yamagata credit for needing a far, far smaller hammer and far, far fewer blows than Yamamoto-Genryuusai needs to get anything through his skull. Through I’m having a hard time thinking of someone who is more resistant to clue hammers than Yamamoto . . .

        Liked by 1 person

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