An Excerpt from Dragonsword, by Deborah Teramis Christian
Month of the Tiger
Spring 1369 C.R.
Norigeo stoically watched the last embers of his mother’s pyre burn to the ground. The shrouded form of Kanato Miyobi was no longer to be seen — her bier, the white funeral hangings, and the chrysanthemum petals that had decked it were all reduced to ashes. For the last hour Norigeo and his little brother Eoshigi had stood alongside their father, Kanato Takata, as wailers cried in counterpoint to the mournful flutes of the musicians. Eoshigi cried as well. Norigeo pretended not to notice, and bit the inside of his cheek to stop his own tears from flowing. Takata was not so understanding: he cuffed Eoshigi once, embarrassed that a samurai’s son should weep in public for so small a reason as death.
The ceremony had taken place when the rising sun painted a halo around Ling’che’s snow-capped peak. The mountain was said to be the home of Usembo, Dragon Lord of the Wind, invoked at funerals to speed the departing soul on its way to the outer spheres. It was chance that Nuridon Estate, the Kanato mountain fief, rested in the foothills of Mount Ling’che. Norigeo thought Father would be content that Usembo was so near; instead Takata seemed unhappy that they could not conduct the funeral in Shikoku on the seacoast.
There was no explanation offered for his discontent about the funeral. Nor was much explanation offered for his startling announcement afterward.