"Memory of Saniwa" Game.1
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You startle on your cup of hot drink and, after having checked your fingers are not burned, you raise your eyes towards the troublemaker.
These eyes sparkling with excitement, this familiar face shining a grin of good humour, these hands slammed on your desk and not planning to nudge until you have heard their owner out.
You stare back at your interlocutor with a faint smile of surrender, waiting for her follow-up that comes before you could even utter a syllable.
"Take the day off and come with me on Friday!"
You blink two or three times, your eyebrows arched in dumbfundness at the bossy request.
... now, that's a first. Despite being so upbeat, your friend is not the style that would ditch all responsibilities, yours included, for a random day off without a reason.
Now that you're looking more attentively, a flyer is pinned under one of the hands your friend has slammed onto your desk. The couple letters escaping from under the fingers let you into the topic of today.
"A rare katana swords exhibition?"
"Bingo! It's in town for the entire summer and they open to public on Saturday!"
... then why Friday and not Saturday...
"You can guess my Dad has some staff pass, right? So we're sneaking in a day earlier. Like that we'll have time to check all the original explanation in display under each sword before the half-assed translation team messes them up! To think they hired such amateurs who wouldn't even check Japanese History properly before translating, humph."
You would have probably talked back to any normal person that most people in the public wouldn't be reading the displayed explanations anyway, so why being so picky on the translation. But you know Japanese swords is a topic your friend is too much of a fanatic of to reason like a normal person. Not the kind of topic to hear about on a daily basis but the type of intense passion one keeps in their heart without even needing someone to share it with.
Well, not that she hadn't tried to share it, long ago... She did drag you to the dojo her father runs - the single unique kendo dojo of the entire county - for an entire year of initiation to the Japanese 'way of the sword'.
More like the 'way of discipline and pain' though, as you hadn't touched a sword at all in the entire year, barely a wooden one during some katas at training. Your legs and arms still remember it painfully and even today you feel grateful for having managed to politely reject the offer for another year of Sparta teachings.
The only benefits you had kept from that period until today are the ability to sit in seiza for almost an hour without sore legs and enough vocabulary to follow what your friend is saying once launched in her mania.
The last point especially is being put into full use right now when listening to her marvelling about the different types of swords that will be exhibited, about how rare they are and about the genius smithing techniques from centuries ago that had brought them to life, etc etc.
When would be a good time to interrupt her monologue and tell her you don't mind joining her on Friday... ah, from her way of speaking, it sounds like she has already decided on her side that you would be coming...
A faint smile stretches your lips at being bossed around as usual.
THE FOLLOWING FRIDAY
You sigh with an amused smile at seeing your friend face pressed onto the glass of the display cabinet. It is actually lucky that you both came a day before the exhibition opening date thanks to her Dad's staff pass, or the crowd about to press at the doors on the morrow would have to put up with a katana maniac hiding an entire face of the cubic cabinet by almost climbing onto it to see closer.
"What does this one say, what does this one say, read it to me!"
First amused, you gradually turn more and more bored as the explanation cards succeed one another without a rest, mostly about swords called something-maru or something-kiri, jumping from Wakizashi (Jap. short katana usually used as secondary sword) to Yari (Jap. spear) without forgetting the all-mighty Tachi (Jap. long katana from the era before Uchigatana) that sent your friend into high-blood pressure delighted frenzy.
... well, it does look like the exhbition team rounded up quite an impressive collection despite having apparently hired amateurs in their translation team... perhaps all the budget went to the swords and not on the marketing...
"LOOOOOOOOOK! This one is the rarest, this one is the most beautiful! Awww, I can die happy!"
You kind of want to talk back to her to avoid dying for such a senseless reason but you're suddenly pulled by the sleeve and almost smash nose-first onto the explanation card.
You blink a couple times to recover your senses and start browsing through the Japanese characters to give your friend what she looks so avid of hearing.
"One of the Five Swords Under Heaven (Jap. Tenka Goken). It was initially owned by the Kengo Shogun, Ashikawa Yoshiteru, then claimed at his death by the Miyoshi Clan. After some unclear period, its ownership is established again when the blade is owned by Nene, wife of Daimyo Toyotomi Hideyoshi. After Nene's death in 1624 CE it was given to Tokugawa Hidetada and remained property of the Tokugawa dynasty until modern days when it found its place at the Tokyo National Museum.
Its maker, Sanjou Munechika, was an expert craftsman of the Heian era. Like many in this era, his name comes from having lived in Sanjou Avenue in Kyoto and he became renowned enough under this name to have two distinctive signatures for his works, 'Munechika' and 'Sanjou'. Although this blade was signed 'Sanjou', it became famous under the name 'Munechika' during the Muromachi era (1392 to 1573 CE) when it became regarded as the most beautiful of the Five Swords Under Heaven. The beautiful 'Uchinoke' pattern of the blade is created by the difference in hardness of the material used during smithing, and its unique crescent shape gave the blade the name of 'Mikazuki'.
Sword: Mikazuki Munechika | Sword Type: Tachi | Blade Length: 80cm | Forge Date: 989 CE"
Unsure if you have lost your friend mid-way the translation, or if on the contrary she's silent in rage at some potential mistakes on your side, you turn towards her.
She is stuck to the window display glass again with star-shaped eyes and an almost drooling expression. Whether your words have flown by her or entered an ear to exit the other is not confirmed yet, but you don't feel like repeating the long tirade again, so you heave a short sigh and gaze at the sword beyond the glass.
It does have patterns on its blade in shape of crescent moons. The light of the display cabinet comes and dances on them and gives them a shimmering glow worthy of a jewel rather than a weapon. You can't help feeling something warm and blowing your mind softly, irresistibly.
"... it deserves its title of most beautiful sword under heaven..."
"Kawarini, juuichi seiki ni umareta, yousuruni jijii sa, wawawa (Eng. since I was born in the 11th Century, I guess you should call me an old man instead, hahaha.)"
An unfamiliar voice... an unfamiliar poised easy-going voice speaking in old Japanese...
Your eyes slowly rise from the blade that seems to have become blurry, all of a sudden, and you forget to breathe when meeting with an ethereal silhouette in night-blue kariginu clothing.
His pose would qualify as relaxed if he was not floating in mid-air and you gap for long seconds, too shocked to even have the reflex of rubbing your eyes to make sure you are not seeing things.
Your friend has not moved an inch and you can't even bother to call for her as your own mind is a mess and you are not famed for your quick reactions. The last eearie words are still dancing in your ears as if to support the idea that not only your eyes but also your ears are playing tricks on you.
"J-jiji...?!" is the only word you manage to utter in a whisper, not having defrost yet.
The ethereal silhouette startles and gazes down at you from his floating position beyond the display glass, a hint of surprise in his eyes soon replaced by nonchanlancy as he leans forward with interest.
"... Kikukoto ga dekiru ka (Eng. You are able to hear me)?"
Your eyes widening even wider when maintaining eye contact with him give him enough of an answer.
His peaceful handsome face lightens with a laughing smile.
"Hahahaha, yokikana yokikana (Eng. Very well very well). Soreni ore ga mieru made, sou darou ka (Eng. and you can also see me, is that not so)?"
You instinctively relax when facing his easygoing nonchalent poise but are still unable to react in any way other than closing your mouth, nodding slightly in answer to his question and staring more intently at the ethereal apparition and his surroundings, as if hoping to get whatever could have escaped your brain to understand the situation.
"... Saniwa kamoshireru na (Eng. it could be that you are a Saniwa sage)..."
Your heart skips a beat at seeing him suddenly dive to come at the level of your eyes, still floating.
You have all leisure to wonder at the serious light in his golden-blue pupils as your eyes are barely ten centimetres apart on each side of the glass.
Just like a golden moon in the night blue of the sky...
But the light disappears as soon as it had appeared and is replaced by nonchalent good humour, letting you resume breathing again.
"Djaa~ (Eng. Well then)..." The ethereal handsome man pulls back from you as fast as he had come and floats-turns back to pick the moon crest pendant resting with the hamon and other accessories below the beautiful blade on the display stand.
Before you can wonder how and why or even pull back, the crest has left its place with a chiming sound and magically passed through the display glass to reach you, pushed by the man's delicate fingertips.
The cold feeling of the crest on your lips is soon replaced by an unconceivable feeling of losing your bearings while being engulfed into a warm wind smelling of bloody sakura petals.
Before you surrender consciousness, the now-familiar masculine voice echoes in the tempest that has engulfed your mind.
"Sudeni shitteiru youni, ore wa Mikazuki Munechika. Yoroshiku tanomu, Saniwa-sama (Eng. As you already know, my name is Mikazuki Munechika. We will be counting on you to take good care of us, Mistress Saniwa)."