Late Evening, Wilday the 13th of Vanger, 658 AG (After Godswar)
A small village on the western coast of the Kingdom of Arcadia
Toshiko Ren had just sat down in front of a roaring fire and was savouring the aroma of a freshly brewed cup of tea when someone knocked on the door. Grumbling, he picked a lantern and walked over to the door. When he peered through the peephole, he smiled and quickly slid the bolts and opened the door. A young man in his early twenties stood before him wearing leather riding armour and a plain green, mud splattered tunic and pants and armed with a bow and sword. His clothing was drenched from the torrential rainstorm raging outside and he was gently cradling a tightly wrapped bundle. “Jiro, m’boy, get inside. What brings you all the way out here in this ungodly weather?”
Jiro stepped inside the farmhouse, shaking off the excess rainwater as Ren closed the door behind him and handed him a towel. As if on cue, the bundled emitted a small gurgle and Jiro loosened some of the wrappings to reveal a small baby just waking up. “Actually, I’m here because of him,” Jiro began as he looked over to the cup by the fire, “also, you wouldn’t happen to have some more of that tea would you?”
Ten minutes later Yamasaka Jiro was sitting by the fire wearing dry clothes and nursing a cup of tea while Ren held the baby. “So lad, what possessed you to travel with a baby in this storm?”
Jiro smiled, “I’ll be twenty six in spring, I’m not a boy any more Ren.”
“Ahh Jiro, you’ll always be the freckle faced youth who could barely lift a sword that I met at the training grounds.” The two men shared a laugh. “However I hear that they finally accepted you into the ranks of the Royal Guard, all that hard work paid off.”
“You taught me well.” Jiro answered as he sipped his hot tea.
“So, what’s the little tyke’s name and who was the lucky girl.”
The young man spluttered into his tea nearly dropping the cup. “I’m not his father, and as far as I am aware, the boy has not yet been named.” Jiro finished his tea, reached into his satchel, and pulled a beaten leather document wallet. “What I am about to ask of you is no small matter, but there is no one whom I trust more.”
“Sounds serious,” Ren responded sitting up straight.
“This letter,” Jiro continued as he produced an envelope from the wallet and handed it to Ren, “explains everything. In short, the boy is in need of a father.” Jiro opened the letter dubiously and began reading. As he did so, his eyes widened in disbelief. “The law of the land is quite clear on this matter,” Jiro explained, “in situations such as this there should only be one course of action. However the boy is an innocent and deserves the chance at a normal life regardless of the circumstances of his birth.”
Ren folded the letter and looked down at the boy. The child gurgled contentedly and yawned, oblivious to conversation going on around him. “What of the mother?” he asked.
“Sadly, we were too late to save her.” Jiro reached into his pocket, pulled out a handkerchief, and passed it to Ren. “Before she passed on, she made me promise to make sure the boy was given this.” Ren opened the handkerchief and from within, the blue crystal pendant sparked in the light from the fire.
“I’ll do it on one condition.”
“That you don’t wait too long until your next visit,” Ren stood up and clasped Jiro’s hand, “it’s been too long old friend.”
Jiro smiled, “I’ll try to visit whenever I can, my new duties keep me busy.” He reached into the wallet and pulled out a second envelope. “This is for the boy, when he is old enough this should explain everything.” Ren nodded and took the envelope as Jiro got up and gathered his gear. “Sorry to drop this on you and leave so suddenly but I have to get back to the capital before I am missed.”
Ren gently placed the now sleeping child down on a blanket on the floor in front of the fire and walked Jiro to the door. “I understand, but don’t be a stranger for too long.” The two men embraced and then Jiro was gone, out into the storm. Ren closed the door went back to the fire crouching down next to the blanket he watched the tiny form sleep peacefully. “Well little cub, it seems you are in need of a name.”