17 Serpent 1189
Today was the Iaijutsu tournament, the final event of the championship, and a strange day it was.
The tournament was going well right up until the quarterfinals, when I came up against Hiruma Tamotsu-san. I saw through him. I struck first. But as I drew my ankle turned. My strike wobbled. Hiruma-san dodged it easily and defeated me. He then went on to defeat both Kakita Toshiaki-san in the semi-finals and Toku Jun-san in the finals, so I am somewhat mollified. I think, between Hiruma-san and myself, we may have broken Kakita Toshiaki’s “unassailable” confidence.
Grandfather had come to watch, though. He was stern as ever. I came in second for the tournament, by only two points, to Hiruma-san. (Ironically, if he had lost to Toku-san I would have taken the championship, but I think I prefer the smaller blow to my pride.) First he asked me “You’re not satisfied with this, are you?” Of course not! I came to win, after all. Then he asked if I might be tractable enough to join the clan army. I might have, had a better offer not come along that very evening.
I, and my companions from the road save Kakita-san (who appeared to have little interest in the “fate” Iuchi-san believes binds the five of us together), were called in for dinner with Bayushi Soushichirou-sama and Kitsuki Mai-sama – and Prince Tadashi-sama! I was very honored to have been a part of that dinner, as nerve-wracking as it was.
When I return home, I will have to convince Father and Grandfather of why I prefer to go on a musha shugyo, rather than joining the army. I expect they will understand.