An excerpt from "An Imperial Childhood," by Shiba II
'... many had questioned my father's wisdom in entrusting our safety- and a degree of our education- to a man who had spent most of his life up to that point as a ruthless Hikaru warrior, but events proved he'd chosen wisely.
Jiyo Sora's exploits are now a matter of long-standing record, and deservedly so- his role in rescuing my uncle Hisomu, the assassination attempts against me and my sisters that he foiled- sometimes at the cost of grievous injury to himself, his role in creating the system of Imperial Libraries that so delighted my father, to limit ourselves to just my earliest childhood. But in all of the writing about the hero, I feel sight has been lost of the man, and it is the man, rather than the hero, that I write of here.
The man who loved my mother, Jiyo, perhaps a bit more than he was supposed to.
The man who came back from the south with a beautiful young fiancee, Kinyoubi, whose histories are perhaps less glamorous than some, but which are undoubtedly the most accurate, and whose devotion to her never wavered.
The man who taught five little girls how to fish and always, always honored his agreements with them, however silly or trivial.
The man who helped us come up with nicknames for our aunts and uncles that were more descriptive than dignified.
That was who "Uncle Sora" was to me, and I sometimes think it was his adamant humanity that led my father to entrust him with us.
There are two anecdotes that sum up what I took away from the time I spent with him, before age and time limited our interactions.
One was when I was very little- I had almost stepped on a venomous snake, only to find myself swept up in Sora's arms as he got me out of harm's way. I was upset, crying, afraid of the snake... so he caught it, and told me that I'd run into this sort of situation quite often- "It doesn't want to hurt you, but it's afraid you'll hurt it. Just as you're afraid of it. But if it bit you, I would be here to suck out the venom, call for your father. The snake has no one if you step on it. Do you see why it's afraid?"
He didn't kill it, either- although on other occasions, he was quite ruthless with anything that posed even the slightest threat to me or my sisters- but instead released it back into the undergrowth.
"Always look where you're walking, little one. You never know who might be afraid you'll crush them under your feet."
The second was years later. There'd been some play recounting Hisomu's rescue, talking about Courage and Duty and Honor and Loyalty as the keys to saving him. Uncle Sora had watched, seeming unimpressed, and I later asked him why he hadn't enjoyed the play.
"It wasn't Duty or Honor that led Reiko to marshal the forces for that expedition. It wasn't Duty that made me volunteer to go. There was plenty of courage to go around, but it wasn't the courage of abstract ideas, and there was loyalty to spare, but it, too had a simpler source."
He shrugged, something he did quite often when coming up against the building social order.
"It was love that saved your uncle from that place."'
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