Mind your Manors
Kira woke up to the smell of her mother making breakfast. Through the thin paper windows, she could hear the sound of the birds singing a glorious symphony. She took a deep breath and stretched as she sat up to see her mother smiling at her holding a small plate of dumplings.
“Thank you mama!” she said, shoving the delicious bite-sized treat into her mouth.
“Slow down musume! We have a little time before work begins. And brush your hair that cute priest will be visiting again today.” Her mother admonished as she laid out a green and blue dress on the edge of the bed. The garment was shorter than her normal servant’s uniform, inlaid with intricate designs. It was just nice enough to stand out but not enough to be out of place. Kira's mother must have overheard her and her friends giggling about the fledgling priest.
Kira finished her food then slipped into the perfect dress. Whereupon she spent around five minutes looking for a matching ribbon for her hair then headed outside to walk with her mother to work. They served one of the noble families in Agsuma, the Kinoshita. Though there was some controversy surrounding them, the Kinoshita family is wonderful as far as she was concerned. She had heard some of the men in the tavern complaining about a recent political feud, but even with her eavesdropping, she hadn't heard much about it yet.
Kira began the day by helping her mother cook breakfast for the family. They served sticky rice with a fried egg on top along with some ham and berries. Mr. Kinoshita picked at his food for a bit before rushing off muttering something about Kichiro, the god of swiftness.
Kira's mother then went on to do the laundry and tidy up the living areas, while Kira took aside the two young girls of the house, Shounen and Sakuma, who were five and six years of age. Due to the high marks she had received in school, she was permitted to help with the children rather than participate in the more menial tasks of her mother. . She had to take on more duties now that she was older but with the master’s help, she continued to study in her free time. She and the girls would usually start the day with a prayer to Emiko, Goddess of education, and children, but Kira decided to save that for later. They began with singing nursery rhymes, then headed out to the garden for a walk through the carefully cultivated trees and stones before making their way inside to attempt to practice handwriting. Just as lunch was beginning to be late, Mr. Kinoshita returned home with the young priest and another nobleman trailing just behind him. Kira then took the girls to the shrine to pray as the priest smiled over at them. He certainly was more friendly than any of the old and grouchy priests that Kira saw at most temples. The girls giggled when they caught Kira staring.
She dropped the girls off to have rice, fish, and seymoka. Her mother slipped her a piece of the rare and juicy fruit and they ate it together in the garden. The delicacy usually only grew in orc territories, so it was a lovely treat when they could get some. She took a bite and her mouth was filled with the explosively sweet flavors before in a few moments it turned into a sour burn. They laughed as they spit out the fruit. Her mother licked her thumb and wiped some of the juice off of Kira's lip. They headed back inside to clean up as everyone finished eating. Mr. Kinoshita and the other man were deep in a hushed conversation while the priest smiled and chatted with the little girls. He grinned at Kira as she took his plate to the kitchen. The girls giggled when she came back with flushed cheeks.
The priest then took the family to lead them in prayer and Kira and her mother took some time for a short break. Her mother took a nap as Kira once more walked through the garden. Soon Mrs. Kinoshita came and told Kira they had finished. She once again took the girls and they practiced mathematics, playing the flute, and using their inside voices. Mrs. Kinoshita returned and took the girls away so that Kira could help her mother cook and serve dinner. They had sushi, made from the fish that lived in the ravine that ran through the city. It was incredible and Kira and her mom even got to eat some. After dinner had been served the priest approached Kira and complimented her.
“That was a delicious meal! Thank you and send my regards to your mother. You’ve done a wonderful job watching over the little girls today, they don’t seem like they’re the easiest to handle.”He said with a chuckle. “I’m impressed you could do that all in that magnificent dress. I hope I get to see you again soon.” He gave a suggestive wink before returning to help ease a jittery Mr. Kinoshita.
Kira and her mother then walked to their small home just outside the garden. Her mother demanded to know everything the priest had said to her and they stayed up giggling like school girls till the songs of birds shifted to the hoots of owls and chirps of crickets. Kira laid in her warm bed and just as she started to drift off into sleep she heard a deafening shriek.
Kira and her mother jolted awake and lept out of bed. They rushed out of the house to see a crying and bloody Mrs. Kinoshita running out of the manor. Kira's mother rushed over to comfort her, where through shrieks and sobs she revealed the master had been murdered in his sleep. Leaving her mother to deal with the still wailing widow, Kira darted inside to find the children and make sure they were safe. Fortunately, they were. As she herded the frightened pair out of the manor she saw a faint shadow in the darkness. The figure was clad in black, the only marks that they were even alive were the eyes reflected in the faint light of the moon. The silhouette froze at her sight, before ducking behind a building and slinking towards the slums of the town. As Kira returned to directly the children, she couldn’t forget those eyes. The eyes she had been pining over for weeks.