Here’s a deleted scene from my current WIP. The scene was a good exercise to get to know the three characters at the same time, but it didn’t add anything to the story. So I thought I’d post it here. Enjoy.
Yuri sighed and placed her hand inside the bucket of water she brought, grabbing the sponge and washing off the paint. Once that was done, she would need to draw the young lord’s bath. A task she was not looking forward to in the least. Where do children learn words like these? Maybe if she spent more time here, someone else would tend to the bath. Life, however, was never that fortunate for her. She’d been given the specific duty to serve Kaito and as much as she hated the brat, he was the son of the Shogun. If Yuri failed in any way, it would mean certain death.
She continued to wash, taking longer than was required. Her life was on the whims of an eight year old boy and everyday felt like it would be her last. Jin wasn’t in his right mind. His parents couldn’t see that, but she could. Just a few more years, Yuri thought. Then the child would be old enough to fend for himself. When that time came, Yuri could focus on more important matters and resume her duty as Kanrei.
After finishing with the rest of the shrine, Yuri went to find Kaito. It took a lot longer to clean every nook and cranny of the shrine, but Yuri didn’t want to deal with the young prince right now—even to scold him. The boy would be sorry at first, but as time passed, he would forget and do the same thing. He was a child, but what the brat needed most was discipline. The Shogun left it upon her to deliver appropriate punishments. If she could, Yuri would leave him out in the woods to learn the meaning of self-discipline. She pushed the thought to the back of her mind. She’d be discovered within days of Kaito’s disappearance. They might not know it was her, but she would surely be blamed for his absence. To think that the position of Kanrei had sunk to babysitting. Yuri heard laughter coming from the young boy’s chambers. This was it. If she could catch him in the act …
Don’t get yourself worked up Yuri, she thought. Jin is too much of a family man to punish his son. Adopted son, no less. Jin was perhaps the youngest Shogun, his lineage dated back to Yoshitomo of the Minamoto clan. He wasn’t too fond of woman—even his best friend from childhood, Ai Shingen. Yuri wondered how she was doing in this time of growing political tension. She hadn’t seen her in, how long ago was it? Eight years? She nodded to herself. Yes, that’s how old Kaito was now. To think that they’d just gotten over the Yoritomo rebellion eight years ago. It was the reason why they received Kaito in the first place—as a prisoner. Someone opened a shoji. Yuri could see a small shadow enter Jin’s quarters. Curse that boy, she thought and ran after him, lifting up her kimono so she could move about more freely. Lord Jin would be asleep at this hour. She stopped. This may be exactly what she needed to prove how obnoxious Kaito was. If it was a battle of accusations, Kaito always won. With this she had proof.
She walked the rest of the way to the Jin’s bedroom and poked her head around the corner. Kaito attempted to put on his father’s armor. He dropped it. The kabuto rang as it hit the tatami. She looked over at Jin’s bed and quickly turned the corner to stay out of his sight when he woke up.
“Father!” Kaito said, alarmed.
Yuri heard the sound of ruffling cloth. Kaito must have jumped on the bed. She fought the urge to enter and risk blowing her cover. She needed to enter when the time was right. Jin’s voice sounded in her ears.
“You can come in, Yuri,” he said.
Yuri did as requested, trying to act innocent as she entered the room. “Yes, my Lord?”
“Are you the one who let Kaito in?”
She hesitated, before shaking her head. Finding her resolve, she barked, “He violated the sacred statue.”
Kaito blushed. Yuri tried not to let a smile creep up on her face. She couldn’t tell if she was successful or not.
“That’s not what I asked you,” Jin said calmly.
“But he …”
“Were you the one who let him in?” he asked, again.
“It was me, father. I wanted to try on your armor.” Jin smiled and ruffled the boy’s hair. Yuri winced. It took her ages to do his hair, let alone get him to sit still for long enough for her to properly dress him.
“I told you, you’ll get this armor when you are ready,” Jin said.
He turned his attention to Yuri. “Why did you lie to me? Have you not earned my trust?” Yuri gritted her teeth inside her mouth, fighting the urge to speak her mind. This was an outrage. Kaito should be the one being scolded, not her. It wasn’t right.
“Apologies, my Lord,” she said, bowing. “It won’t happen, again.”
Jin nodded thoughtfully, taking out a scroll and brush. He dipped the hairs into a nearby container of crushed up soot and charcoal and stared blankly at the scroll in front of him. All he cared about was painting. The smell of fresh ink and the sight of the recently used inkstone were a testament to his passion for sumi-e. The great Sesshu Tomo was even hired help with the young Shogun’s progress. Yuri had only witnessed a few of their sessions, but Sesshu was certainly wise and a visionary in the field. Every time she saw Jin, he was always wielding a brush, leaving Yuri and the other members of the Bakufu to tend with matters of the nation as a whole.
“Leave us,” he said, not looking way from the scroll.
Yuri bowed and left the room. She closed the shoji behind her and stood as still as she could, waiting for some kind of conversation to start. All she heard was silence and the occasional crushing of charcoal to make more ink. Finally, she heard Jin speak.
“Do you know why I was given that armor?” he asked. Yuri could picture Kaito shaking his head, looking innocent.
“It had nothing to with my age. Do you want to know the reason?”
Yuri stepped back, shocked that he’d called Kaito a liar. It was only implied, yes, but something like this was rare indeed. She leaned in closer as the conversation picked up, again.
“You lied to me about what you were doing?”
“No I didn’t,” Kaito said, sounding innocent.
Even Yuri believed the boy. That was, until the corner of her eye caught sight of black ink splotches on the floor and walls. She smiled, continuing to listen with increasing interest.
“Vandalizing the shrine is a serious crime. You’re lucky Yuri cares for you. Other’s may not be as lenient as me or her.”
You got that right, Yuri thought.
“How is that lying?” Kaito asked. “You never asked.”
“That, my son, is something you’ll have to figure out on your own.”