Spring was in Kyoto, if not yet in the mountains. The road into the city was lined with peasants preparing rice fields. The blossoming plum orchards hummed with bees.
The round moon-gate to the Spring Palace was flanked by pots of dwarfed cherry trees dripping in pink tinged flowers. Okurimono peered into the courtyard, thinking she had never seen anything so beautiful. Its pavilions looked to be as much of a playground for the gods as the formidable donjon of the shōgun’s castle.
The guards at the gate stepped forward, jabbing the air with iron tipped bamboo spears.
“Scram!” cried one.
“Come back in a few years. You’re too young for a tart,” laughed his friend.
Okurimono did not flinch. After the dangers she faced on the mountain road, these men seemed foolish.
“I come from the Lady Fujiko-san for Okaa-san, the Lady Yarite of the Spring Palace.”
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