“It did not matter in Aragane, but Lady Ayame is not only bushi,” Kurusu stated. “She is noble. That brings responsibilities. And consequences.”
“Consequences?” Mumei crossed her arms, skeptical. “Nobles do what they want. Until the Kabane eat them.”
“No, they do not.” Although Kurusu knew he would be lying if he said he’d never once wondered about Lord Kensho’s actions that horrid night. For their lord’s body to have faced them on the tracks, Ayame’s father must have been bitten not long after he’d left the manor; and how could half their force of bushi have failed so horribly?
We’ve mourned the dead. We must fight on with the living.
“You said once that Lady Ayame was not one skilled in war.” Kurusu eyed Mumei. “It was true, though we work to remedy that. But she was trained to lead. And in a time of war, when every day we face the Kabane to win our survival… we need many voices. We need all your thoughts, so we find tactics none of us might think of alone. But we must have one leader.”
Odd, to see Mumei frown while Ikoma nodded. But then, she’d been betrayed by a leader already.
“And that leader,” Kurusu said bluntly, “is not Dogen. No matter how much he assumes it is his right.”
That had their eyes on him, sharp as honed blades.
Kabane strength and a human mind. No; I will not turn such guardians away.
Ikoma let out a slow breath. “He said he wouldn’t try to take the master key.”
“He has not,” Kurusu agreed. “But there is more than one way to slaughter a lord’s honor. Already Lady Ayame has had to overrule him, in what we will do should we encounter another Hayajiro.” That irked him; even more because Dogen had so politely told them Lady Ayame was in command only hours before. “It would seem he heard our stories of the Fusojou’s assault on Aragane, but did not listen.”
“The whistles.” Ikoma blanched. “You think a Wazatori might have decoded the yielding whistles.”
“We would be fools to assume one has not.”