“Obaasan! Please tell us the story of Shinjo and Lady Kitsune again.”
The door barely slides open before Inari is upon her. She is almost as tall as her grandmother now, even at seven winters. The old woman laughs and smiles, allowing herself to be guided into the room by a granddaughter much more sprightly than the one who looms behind her.
Ryojiro awakens from the comfort of his dream by a different scent in his room. It is subtle, but there is no mistaking that someone is watching him sleep. His body is still, relaxed, and unmoving, his mind focused on his next few actions. His sword is four paces away to the wall, a table two paces away to block anyone moving toward him, a small pillow beneath him that would open in enough time to roll from his mat. He waits for his next breath to move.