The servant leads the strange samurai through the halls of the governors residence. Tight boards of fragrant wood form passageways, shoji separate the main hall from the corridor and then shuttered windows bar the night outside.
At the end of the corridor a guard stood, one the servant recognised as part of the visiting hatamotos personal retinue. There was something strange about his face, something that told the servant this one was closer to the wild spirits than human. The iron helm atop his head marked him as in service to the clan Shoshida, whose Daimyo governed the city of Imachi.
Raised voices can be heard clearly through the door and the servant feels hot shame that he must expose the guest to such lack of harmony. The hatamoto from Imachi was arguing with the mokudai again. The mokudai was a good lizardman, the servant thought, who had kept the peace and managed the affairs of Fallen Harp Bay for the long years since Lord Five Tiger had been called to the Imperial capital.
“That you would leave me sit here, while there is piracy not a days sail from here is intolerable!”
“I will not have shogunate troops active while this remains an Imperial holding, it will not happen.”
“You would prefer piracy? Ha! This is why the magistrate must give the town to me, there is not the time to waste on pride!”
“There was no problem until you and your kind broke with the Empire. There were no pirates, order was strong and the kuge ruled well – and now look! War and brigandry, is this what your precious shogunate brings?”
The servant waves the guard to one side, clears his throat loudly and opens the door with the most fuss and noisy delay that he can.
The hatamoto, a medium sized man wearing functional gray robes kneels in the centre of the room to one side of the governors pedestal. His most noticeable feature is blue-gray hair that drifts around his head as if underwater. His swords stand on a rack behind him, obviously well worn and cared for, the cloth wraps of the grips stained dark.
The mokudai kneels on the same level on the opposite side of the pedestal, a lizardman in plain cloth robes elaborately embroidered with the Five Tiger mon. His scales are faded and worn with age. A staff of mangrove wood lies on the tatami beside him.
The servant leads the strange samurai across the bottom of the main hall. The hatamoto remained in position while the mokudai turned to the doorway.
“Our guest must be tired at this late hour. I will not trouble him with formalities, please take him directly to guest quarters and see that his needs are met. I shall meet with him once he has risen in the morning.”
The servant and samurai bowed and passed through the far doors. THe voices were rising behind them as they left.