The Lion of Kyoshi Hi, this is a story I have been planning for a while about a samurai lord trying to survive and keep his clan alive during the chaos of civil war, tell me what you think and if you have any suggestions or improvements they would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for your time : ) Prologue; Winter Blues The valley below was entangled and covered by the thick snow of winter. A cold wind blew across its surface almost as if someone mighty was trying to cleanse the earth of impurities. The trees usually so lovely and pretty had faded and died, they scattered the road along the valley in their ghostly twisted bareness, as though they were trying to remind men of their own mortality. The sight made the figure overlooking the valley glad that he could return home and stroll through his garden. The Weeping cherry trees bloomed in winter, and he loved wandering past them looking upon their ethereal beauty, treading the beautiful snow next to his orchids, and walking beneath the cedar trees with their distinctive bronze leaves. He took a deep breath and could taste the clean air. Winter was always refreshing, though admittedly colder than he liked. He closed his eyes and a smile broke across his face, distorting his usual tough looking features. It was not often the Lion of Kyoshi was worried, and at such times it was his garden he would wander to clear his mind of politics and everyday life. He turned to face Ujioro, and studied him briefly the way he always studied his retainers. If Ujioro noticed he showed no sign of interest, his face cold and empty of emotion like the valley below. His red armour stood out significantly against the backdrop of white snow that caked the land. It was splendid and expensive, only the finest metalworker could produce work like that, he thought as he took in the detail of the suit, with its golden inlay and Lion sticking out from the ends of his shoulder plates and breast as though it were leaping out to attack. He doubted none alive today knew the secrets of such art. Ujioroâ€™s helmet was also stunning, and for a moment he felt a sudden jealousy. It was ridiculous to feel such a thing though; Ujioroâ€™s armour had been worn for centuries, it was as important to him as his own life, ancient family heirlooms always were. The Lion of Kyoshiâ€™s gaze wondered behind Ujioro, to stare upon the great castle of his land. Standing tall and proud the castle of Kyoshi, built by his ancestors more than a thousand years ago, its beauty clear even at this distance. The seven story high castle of Kyoshi with its rust coloured roof and walls that were stark white was a picture Ietsugu had wished to capture with paint and paper. So that when he was not there, all he would have to do was look at the painting and feel at home, but no matter how many times he had tried to paint it he could never do it any justice and had painted the picture in his mind instead. It was a sight that filled his heart with pride and it was made all the more beautiful by the surrounding mountains and their white peaks that shone radiantly in the sunâ€™s caressing light, it had been a sight he had missed while away. His eyes rested upon the great lion that stood out from the highest mountain, carved out of the very rock of the giant hundreds of years before his birth by craftsman that far surpassed their modern equivalents. He could see scaffolding clutching at its surface and men working on it, repairing the damage received by the statue from nature over the years. He could almost imagine the wind from the mountains as its roar. â€œMy Lord.â€ Ujioroâ€™s voice was soft but piercing, like his calm but strong nature. Ietsugu turned his attention back to the man in red shining armour. â€œWhat is the matter Ujioro?â€ he asked, an interested look upon his face as he stroked his chin, feeling the stubble that had grown in a matter of days. He would have to shave as soon as he returned to the castle, his unkempt look made him appear rugged, at a pinch almost far from his station as the lord of his land, more like a ronin than Daimyo. It was something he liked though his wife would say otherwise. â€œShould we not be going back to the castle?â€ Ietsugu considered the question briefly and looked over at his men on horseback. Twenty warriors in all, his personal bodyguard, riding the finest horses in all the land and trained well in the art of the Sword and warfare. They all looked tired and cold he thought; though they did not utter a complaint. â€œAll in good time Ujioro, I am just taking in the sights. Does it not lighten the burden of the heart to look upon such a thing as this?â€ he said, stretching out his arms indicating to the scenery that surrounded them. He considered his words, it was a sight he enjoyed, but it just sent home the great responsibilities he had to live with. He would definitely go for a walk in his garden he thought as he went to mount his horse. With only the grace a man could muster through years of disciplined training Ietsugu placed his foot on the stirrup and raised himself onto the saddle. He watched Ujioro do the same. Slowly and with Ujioro in tow, he returned to the front of the line of warriors and began a slow pace home.