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Love Before Duty
Mikaya never planned on becoming a samurai. She was always training to become a geisha. Her singing and dancing was great. The only problem was learning to play the instruments. Besides her geisha career, Mikaya was doing well in martial arts. When they weren’t working, her father and brother taught her some moves. Otherwise, no one would teach her. People always said it wasn’t necessary for a girl or a woman to learn martial arts.
Her father was a shogun, protecting his city from invaders. Mikaya’s brother, Tai Natsumi, was training to become a better samurai. Mikaya was fourteen and couldn’t live alone. She lived with close friends most of the time because of their busy schedules. Mikaya could have lived with her mother, but Malin Solanga had died when their house caught on fire. No one really knows for sure how the fire started, but Mikaya was determined to find out.
Mikaya’s mother, Malin was a great poet. She wrote amazing tankas and haikus. Malin had a rough childhood though. She was the daughter of a general and was kidnapped from the Philippines. The family she was sold to started raising her as their own child. Instead of being a slave, she was free to be a normal child. She fell in love with a shogun named Akito Natsumi and had two loving children. The fire gave her a tragic death and left her daughter, Mikaya depressed.
The sun shone brightly outside. Birds were flying and flowers were blooming. Mikaya had just set out on her journey to punish the man who killed her mother. Her father had told her once of a man who was also in love with her mother. It was his friend Hiato Takira. The last word Hiato said to her father was “If I can’t be with her, neither will you!” She had a hunch that he had caused the fire to kill her mother.
To find this Hiato Takira, Mikaya had to impersonate a samurai. She was wearing her brother’s old uniform, sitting on the back of her horse, Mairiki with her dog, Taitiko trailing behind. A few hours later she arrived at her father’s campsite. Mikaya was not worried of what would happen because she was pretty sure she looked like a guy.
“Name?” asked one of the commanding officers.
“Mikâ€”Mikairo Yosama,” she answered nervously.
“Tent B,” he assigned while handing her a schedule.
So far, so good she told herself as she walked toward her tent. Now whom do I have to stay with, she thought. Two men came out of the tent laughing. Mikaya wondered who they were.
“Who are you?” one of them asked rudely.
“Mikairo Yosama” she answered obediently.
“Ah…I see. I’m Takanagi Maizo,” the rude one said. “And this is Keisuke Takira. His father’s a samurai too, so you better watch out!”
“Hello,” the one named Keisuke greeted.
As the two men walked off, Mikaya wanted to tell Takanagi, “Well so what if his father is a samurai. My father is a shogun and this is his shogunate.” This would have set him straight, but she didn’t say this of course because it would have blown her cover. Instead she just let it go. “Pick your battles,” her mother used to always say.
“Line up!” yelled one of the other commanding officers.
The samurais lined up in straight lines. The training session was about to start. This was just a reminder for those who couldn’t remember what they had learned. The shogun Akito Natsumi appeared to direct them. “Father”, she mumbled under her breath. Akito looked up and down the rows seeing if everyone was in position. Mikaya hoped her father wouldn’t notice her.
They were practicing drills when a guard came running down shouting “Ambush! Ambush!” Everyone drew out their swords. The enemies charged at them. Mikaya almost forgot her whole reason for being there until she saw Hiato Takira in the flesh clanging swords with the other samurai. This was her chance to kill him, but she couldn’t. She was too busy clanging swords with an enemy samurai.
The battle was almost over. Their army was still standing. They had won in the end but the samurai Mikaya was fighting slashed at her side before retreating. The enemies rode off back to where they came from. Her father’s shogunate was victorious.
Everyone at the battlefield congratulated each other. They threw a party in honor of their victory. All the samurais and leaders were there, all except for Mikaya.
Mikaya rode off to the near by creek. She took off her armor and cleaned her wound with water. Then she started to bandage herself when someone came up from behind.
“So…how’s daddy’s little girl doing?” the voice asked.
Mikaya was too busy to notice. She thought if I reveal my true identity now, I would be killed, but if I don’t someone would surely kill me by then. Mikaya began to sing a song to comfort her. When she turned around she nearly jumped because she was surprised to see someone behind her and of all people Keisuke.
“What are you doing here?” she asked deepening her voice.
“Give it up Natsumi,” he replied. “I already know you’re a girl. And nice voice by the way.”
“Thanks, I was a geisha in training,” she said. “So how did you figure out my secret?”
“I read your diary,”
“What! How could you?” Mikaya exclaimed.
“Well I thought it was really strange for a guy to keep a diary, so I read it to find out what he wrote in it.” Keisuke explained. “To my surprise I find out it was a girl named Mikaya Natsumi writing in it…so anyways you’re really out to get my father, huh?”
“Yeah…I guess,” she shrugged.
“Don’t worry I won’t tell your father or anyone else your secret.”
“Not even Takanagi?” she asked.
“Nope.” Keisuke grinned and went back to the campground.
The past few days after her true identity was revealed were quite awkward. Keisuke and Mikaya always felt shy around each other, even if Mikaya was still dressed like a guy.
“Troops, prepare for battle!” Akito commanded.
Everyone went to their positions. The enemies were approaching. Mikaya felt a little afraid, but determined to win. She also planned to kill Hiato Takira during the battle. Mikaya worried though. What would Keisuke think of her if she just killed his father right in front of his face? She couldn’t back down now she had come too far for this and what Hiato did was wrong. Mikaya was sure he started the fire because she had over heard him saying he planned it, to some other samurai.
“Grab your weapons!” Akito ordered.
The enemies came toward them. Grabbing their weapons, Akito’s army charged at them. Swords clanged together and arrows struck in every direction. Mikaya took on several enemy samurais. She stabbed them with her katana. Then she saw Hiato fighting with an enemy samurai. Mikaya struck the enemy’s samurai with an arrow. Then she went up and stabbed Hiato with her katana saying under her breath, “This is for my mother.” This was the end for Hiato. Mikaya wasn’t sure if she had to kill Keisuke as well. She knew she liked Keisuke a lot, but he was the son of her mother’s killer.
When Keisuke came up to her after they had won the battle, she drew out her katana and swung it at him, but he blocked it. Mikaya kept swinging at him determined to kill him as well. Keisuke lost his sword at the last hit, and Mikaya held her katana at his throat. This was her chance to finish him off, but then he spoke.
“Do you really want to kill me?” he asked.
“I have to, in honor of my mother,” she replied holding her katana firmly at his throat.
“Well before you do, I should let you know…” Keisuke started to say. “That I love you”
These words puzzled Mikaya. She knew she was in love with Keisuke, but she put her duty before her one true love. Mikaya lowered her katana and replied, “I love you, too.”
And after she uttered these words Keisuke leaned in and kissed her. It was a long passionate kiss that made them think sometimes things need to come before duty, especially true love. Together Mikaya and Keisuke got on their horses and rode away toward the sunset.
Round Lake, Illinois
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