Accounts of Strange Incidents

Thirtieth Panel

Confessions

Takeshi and Kaisei are very happy for Akari


Akiteru approaches Kasumi’s door only to find Kaisei and Takeshi already there with bouquets in hand. With wide grins the friends of the Oniwaban press the flowers on him and then park themselves expectantly in the hallway as they watch their friend enter, close enough to be on hand should he need them but far away enough to ensure his privacy.

Feeling uncharacteristically nervous, Akiteru greets Kasumi, blurts out to her that he is really a she, that his…er, her…name is really Akari, and then, bracing for hysterics and rejection, asks the widow if she would agree to marry. Kasumi demurs and teases the Oniwaban a bit, but very quickly accepts. She however makes it very clear that she expects to accompany Akari and the other officers to the Shogun’s Winter Court, mentioning mysteriously that she may prove useful. The Oniwaban stumbles out of Kasumi’s room nonplussed and in a daze and is greeted happily by the Hatamoto and the Takumi, who expected nothing but success from their friend. The three then move off to see to the details of the arrangements they respectively are leaving behind.

Takeshi leaves instructions with his men regarding the security of the clan lands, particularly the recently acquired Chisu. He also tells them to keep an eye out for runaways and wanderers, especially if they are women since the Nohebi may be hunting them down for the slave trade. Should the ashigaru spot any runaways and wanderers, they are to be brought to the geisha house just within the Nohebi border where they will be kept safe. There are rumors of a peasant revolt brewing in Nohebi and the samurai there are preparing to put it down.

“Why didn’t you accept?”


Takeshi visits Kasumi bringing with him a beautiful wedding kimono as a gift. The widow admires the kimono but is reluctant to accept it because it is so beautiful. The Hatamoto tells her that the kimono is unused since it was given to him by a man as a wedding proposal. Appalled, Kasumi asks why he didn’t accept, and Takeshi is taken aback at the question: clearly, this woman is open-minded! They continue to talk and the Hatamoto comes to realize that this woman is more than she seems—for one thing, she seems at ease when it comes to dealing with men in power, and the resolve she shows is impressive, if not intimidating. Takeshi concludes his visit convinced that his childhood friend has made a good, if potentially dangerous, match. On his way out, he nods to Akita, a maiko sent by Setsuna to attend to Kasumi, as she enters the room of the widow.

When Kaisei calls on Kasumi, it is Akita who lets him in and attends to them while they chat. The Takumi suggests a friendly game of karuta which the widow gladly accepts. The maiko reads for them and she turns out to be surprisingly good at it. To his surprise, Kaisei wins against Kasumi by only the smallest of margins; he notes how focused and quick she is, and how she seems to know which card Akita is reading just by the maiko’s breathing. Clearly there is more to this woman than meets the eye. The widow inquires why the Takumi has not married. He simply replies that he has lost the love of his life and mentions that she left behind some clothes that the widow may like to use. Kasumi gracefully accepts.

Their conversation ends cordially with them talking about the children that the Takumi seems to be accumulating. Kaisei notices with admiration how subtly Kasumi had steered their conversation that way. He notices that Kasumi does not mention Kagami and when he mentions the tanuki child by name, she does not recognize her. This leads the Takumi to guess that the widow cannot actually see the tanuki child. On her part, Kasumi grills Kaisei about Kagami.

“Just who is this mysterious child?”


End of the Thirtieth Panel
to the Twenty-Ninth Panel
to the Thirty-First Panel

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