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A Brilliant Protection Charm
by Tsubaki Nakamura


"Have you heard the news!? Everybody's planning to give Master a protection charm!"
Tsurumaru Kuninaga vigorously slid open the door to the repair room, to find Ookurikara with a weary look on his face.
Always showing up of a sudden, doing all sorts of outrageous acts―that was Tsurumaru Kuninaga. And Ookurikara was quite often the victim of his abuse.
Though Tsurumaru looked beautiful coming in with the pure white human form he'd been given, his energetic inquisitiveness unfortunately betrayed his fickle appearance, and he'd quickly been labeled the citadel's "problem child".
Opening holes in the citadel's walls in order to create secret passages, holding shows for weirdly-shaped daikon radishes he'd picked in the fields, always managing to stick a tiny flag on somebody's rice at mealtimes - and Ookurikara had the terrible luck of always being present at the scene. He'd grown sick and tired of constantly getting lumped together with him whenever these things happened, just because they were both Date Masamune's swords.
With his scratches now healed, he'd hoped to ignore Tsurumaru and head straight out the door―but with the exit blocked, he had no way out.
On top of that, Tsurumaru's appearance got Shokudaikiri Mitsutada - who'd been engrossed in fixing his hair - to finally put away his mirror.
"Mitsutada! Aren't you gonna go bald if you spend so long messing with your hair!?"
"Of course not. Anyway, I don't exactly spend every hour in the repair room fixing my hair. It's just the last step, after fixing up any cuts or frays or the like."
"What did you mean, when you mentioned protection charms?"
Sensing an irritating conversation about to start up, Ookurikara curtly changed the subject.
What he had learned after coming to this citadel was that it was best to always decline participation in events like this as quickly as possible.
"I'm glad you asked! Master's always giving us protection charms, right? You know, those super important necessities without which you'd die in a flash when you run into battle all by yourself!"
"...Tch."
Hearing him bring up an incident he hadn't wanted to remember, Ookurikara clicked his tongue.
"Well, the enemies were pretty strong that time, after all."
Mitsutada intervened, urging Tsurumaru to continue.
"See, we're always getting protection charms from Master, right? So us swords came up with a plan to be the ones to give Master the protection charms for once."
"The saniwa doesn't need those, though."
The ones entering battle were swords, not humans. There was no need to prepare for the unlikely event of a human being destroyed.
"That's why we're making different charms from the ones we've got. Charms for love and health and safety and stuff, I think it's anything goes."
Apparently the tantous had taken up their sewing sets and immediately set to making handcrafted charms.
"We're gonna get in on this plan too! And then we can astonish our master with the protection charm we throw at 'em!"
"I don't plan on getting along with everybody. You guys can do what you want."
"Right, now let's get down business. First we've gotta gather materials!"
"Hey..."
With the hem of his shirt caught in a strong grip, Ookurikara let out a low-voiced complaint.
"What exactly is your plan, anyway?"
"I'm still working on that. What I'm thinking is, it can't just be a small surprise; we're gonna give Master a surprise of epic proportions."
Tsurumaru gave an impish smile as he spoke.
―In other words, rather than a proper plan, all he had was the expectation that it should be some sort of gaudy surprise.
"Calm down, Tsurumaru-san. Why don't we go see what the other swords are making, first? We can decide on our charm after that."
Mitsutada turned to Ookurikara, looking hesitant to say his next words.
"Also...if you actually go through with not participating, you might get scolded...by Hasebe-kun, I mean."
It was a plan to give their master a present. With Hasebe being so keen to obey Master's orders, there was no mistaking how enthusiastic he'd be about this. If he heard tell of any procrastinating or lack of interest, Ookurikara likely wouldn't enjoy his reaction.
".......Whatever."
"Alright then, let's go see Hasebe first!"
Tsurumaru, eyes shining, cheerfully led the two to their first destination.

Heshikiri Hasebe was ordering people into a line in preparation for battle.
"Is everyone prepared? The strength of your horses will decide the outcome of our next battle! Negligence will not be forgiven."
The oodachis all looked like they were fed up with him. It was the same look Ookurikara had given Tsurumaru earlier.
"Hasebe-kun, were you supposed to be setting out today...? This is an unusual formation, too..."
"Mitsutada, is it. We are about to head out on an expedition, in order to obtain protective charms."
"You're not going to the general store?"
"No. We're going to look for jade for Master. The team I've assembled here consists of those with the physical strength to bring home the rocks we will acquire."
The amount of fighting spirit he exuded was beyond the ordinary. Even Mitsutada could not help but be drawn to him a bit.
"Why jade, in particular?"
"It seems that jade is an effective ward against evil spirits. There are a few other reasons as to why I wish to offer jade to our master, but I'm a little too busy to explain at the moment."
"Couldn't you just...give them the store-bought kind?"
"Definitely not. The talisman's powers would decrease if it was touched by human hands. We must obtain the ore from a time period in which it is still brimming with spiritual power, long before it was depleted from excessive mining. I've also considered having Ishikirimaru purify the ore, as an added precaution."
It seemed that Hasebe's team planned to go around to each era in search of the jade ore with the most value, that value being based on the passage of time and area of production. In other words, they would be going on quite a large number of expeditions in order to obtain it.
"The kebiishi aren't going to like this."
"So what? For Master's sake, there is nothing I won't cut down."
Hasebe cut short his conversation with Mitsutada, grimacing as if to say he had no time for such idle chatter.
He pulled out a map of his targeted time period, giving it one last review.
Tsurumaru furtively whispered into Ookurikara's ear.
"It looks like they're planning to give one of those 'power stone' thingies. If you have one of those equipped you'll attract swarms of the opposite sex - I read that in an ad in the back of one of Master's magazines."
"Whatever..."
Wanting more than anything not to get involved, Ookurikara put himself at a distance from Hasebe's group.

Pulling themselves back on track, their next destination was the Samonji brothers' room.
"It might be a little rude to say they don't seem all that motivated, but that might be just fine after all of Heshikiri Hasebe's fighting spirit."
Having calmly said what was honestly an incredibly rude comment, Tsurumaru threw open their door in his usual overzealous manner.
"What is this sudden intrusion? You're being rather loud..."
Souza Samonji, unhappy-looking as always, and Kousetsu Samonji, sitting so still you could mistake him for a bronze statue.
Among all the swords in the citadel, they were part those considered to be particularly quiet. When angered in battle, however, you couldn't help feeling a little bad for the enemies.
They didn't seem to be making charms, from the looks of things. Perhaps they'd been drinking tea - there were teacups and teacakes sitting on the table.
It seems they'd been enjoying a peaceful day of relaxation, on a day away from the front lines.
"We were hoping to know what kind of charms you charms you planned to give."
A tiny shadow slipped past below Tsurumaru's arm.
"I'm back..."
Sayo Samonji settled himself into the space between his brothers.
"I got yours, too..."
He pulled out three pouches, lining them up on the table.
Mitsutada squatted down, meeting Sayo's line of sight.
"What are these?"
"They're giving out charm pouches, in the tantous' room....The tantous made them...I helped, too."
The pouches, made of hempen cloth, were small enough to fit in one hand. You could put something you liked inside one, and pull it tight shut with the attached string.
It seemed the tantous had not only made their own charm pouches, but were distributing them to the other swords as well. With this, you could participate without needing to go as far as Hasebe had in his running off in search of rocks.
"Well, Hasebe-kun probably went off on that expedition to show off the difference between him and other swords..."
Halfheartedly, Ookurikara - who hadn't wanted to wander around the citadel as much as he had - gestured towards the pouches with his chin.
"Tsurumaru Kuninaga. This'd work for you too, right?"
"Hmmm. They're really nice pouches, so if we found something equally refined to put in them..."
Turning pale at Tsurumaru's words, Sayo muttered:
"I don't...have anything refined..."
Souza frowned, and a sad look clouded Kousetsu's face.
"I'm sure your feelings are important, for things like this. And you went to all the trouble of making these pouches for us, too."
"This world is full of sorrow..."
"S-sorry. Please forgive me, I didn't mean to make you sad."
Sayo dejectedly turned his gaze downward, making Tsurumaru grow increasingly flustered.
"I'll think over it together with you, so please cheer up!"
Mitsutada and Tsurumaru tried to cheer him up, but not once could they get the depressed Sayo to look up again. He hadn't been a particularly cheerful character to begin with, but this was too much. Slumped as if a heavy burden had been placed upon his shoulders, his retreating figure was pitiful to watch.
Ookurikara clicked his tongue, picked up a pouch, and held it out in front of Sayo.
"...Humans write their wishes on a paper to put in here."
"Wishes on paper..."
"I don't know what the other swords are putting in theirs, but you should put what you want in it. What I mean is, it should be fine as long as it's not something you'd take for granted."
"What I want...revenge..."
He'd started muttering something repeatedly to himself, but he took the pouch, and it seemed he'd regained his motivation.
"You're pretty good, Ookurikara. When'd you become such a good babysitter?"
"Shut up."
Waving off Tsurumaru's persiflage, Ookurikara watched over Sayo's actions.
Sayo peeked quietly at what his brother swords were doing. The stylish-looking Souza, who'd put a few pieces of fragrant wood in his charm pouch, spoke to the younger sword with a kind voice.
"Just put something you like in it, Sayo."
Then Kousetsu suddenly pulled out a writing brush, and began to write something.
The word he spelled out on the tiny piece of washi paper was...
"Peace..."
Upon Sayo's reading it aloud, Kousetsu calmly nodded his head, and waited for the ink to dry. He'd written that surprisingly quickly.
Once this paper wish was folded and placed inside the pouch, the charm would be complete.
Tsurumaru folded his arms as he watched over its progress.
"I mean, I guess it makes sense you'd go with that and all, but couldn't you have picked a more unpredictable word for it? This isn't exactly surpris―"
"Be quiet, Tsurumaru-san."
"Mph!"
Mitsutada forcibly covered Tsurumaru's mouth with a hand, a cheerful smile on his face.
"If Nii-san wishes for reconciliation, then wishing for revenge would go against it..."
As Sayo hesitated, Tsurumaru - having finally managed to escape Mitsutada's grasp - posed a question.
"You've got something you like besides revenge, don't you?"
"Something, besides revenge..."
Tsurumaru's gaze landed on the persimmon sticking out of Sayo's pocket.
"Like hoping Master gets to eat lots of persimmons, for example."
"Yes...it would be good to avoid famine..."
"Wait just a moment."
Tsurumaru disappeared from the room like a gust of wind, and came back like a storm.
His hand was full of Persimmon Seeds.
These were a rice snack their master often enjoyed eating as a side dish with alcohol.
"This way Master can munch persimmon seeds anytime, without having to peel the persimmon!"
Ookurikara was disgusted.
"They have that rice cracker smell, though..."
"That's because of the high oil content!" A desperate Mitsutada replied, stopping him from continuing this line of conversation.
Before Tsurumaru could needlessly mess things up again, Ookurikara silently ate a Persimmon Seed.

*:・゚'✿,。・:*:❀・゚'❁,*:❀・゚'❁,✿,・:*❀・゚'❁

"Alright then, what should we do?"
Back in the room they'd been given, Tsurumaru folded his arms.
"I still think even protection charms should have a surprise in there somewhere."
"I want it to be cool."
".............."
The sun was already setting. Ookurikara was just thinking about how much he'd like to eat dinner and get into his futon, when―Tsurumaru snapped his fingers.
"I've got it! If it's gonna be surprising then obviously we've just gotta throw the things in as they are!"
It wasn't exactly a decent lightbulb moment.
"As they are...what are you planning, exactly?"
Mitsutada's timid question was answered with a proud "Just wait and see" from Tsurumaru.
Standing up, he suddenly cut down the nearby candlestick.
"This should be good for Mitsutada's piece, first off."
"What are you doing!?"
"I was thinking we could give things associated with our names. You can tell who gave it just by looking at it, and having it feel like we're always with them'll be reassuring, right? Sorta like saying the present is M~e~"
Ookurikara was lost for words.
There was no mistaking that Tsurumaru had probably learned that behavior from Master's manga magazines. Why else would he have done such a shudder-inducing―actually, no, being Tsurumaru he could possibly have thought of it himself.
"Next up is Ookurikara's dragon and my crane!"
"Forget the crane, where are we going to find a dragon? Give it up."
Forced to spend the night in darkness now that there was nothing to hold up the candle, Ookurikara scowled. He wished they could have used the candlestick from another room instead of their own, at least.
"Don't worry, I've got that covered! See, I caught a rat snake near the citadel recently, and I've been raising it carefully ever since!"
Tsurumaru pulled a large transparent case from the closet.
The snake shifted its glossy body, its slender tongue flickering in and out.
"W-when did you―"
Neat freak Mitsutada, upon seeing the extra roommate he didn't know they had, looked like he was about to faint.
"Just look at those cute round eyes! Wanna take a closer look, Mitsutada?"
"......"
Ookurikara resolved never to look too deep into the closet.
"I've been bringing it up under my own personal care, and I think it's got a real charm to it. I bet Master'll be happy to have something to take care of every day. You can't really call it a dragon, but if you think about the similarities...oh?"
When he vigorously pulled the lid off the case, the snake flew out.
"Whoa, that surprised me."
"This isn't the time to be...huh?"
Looking at the swiftly moving snake, Mitsutada's lips began to tremble.
"Wait...that's not a snake, isn't it a pit viper?"
"A viper?"
Tsurumaru looked puzzled.
"You mean it's not a rat snake?"
"It's not. But we've got to do something quick, vipers are poisonous...!!"
The viper was quickly advancing in Ookurikara's direction.
(I need to throw it outside...)
As Ookurikara violently grabbed the pit viper, Tsurumaru's face paled.
"Wait a minute, Ookurikara, apparently the little guy's poisonous! It's dangerous to touch it!"
"I know th―"
That's why he was going to throw it out. Tsurumaru looked like he was planning to rescue Ookurikara, rushing madly towards him.
The viper, surprised by Tsurumaru's sudden appearance, twisted vigorously in his grasp.
Ookurikara unthinkingly grimaced as a sharp pain ran through his hand.
Tsurumaru's eyes widened in surprise.
"Ookurikara!"
"...I misread it..."
He was just pulling the viper off his arm, but it turned out to be a difficult fight.
At last he managed to throw it out, and immediately collapsed on the spot.
"Ookurikara...Ookurikara..."
..........Shut up.
He wanted to curse out the noisy voice yelling way too close to his ears, but his body was so numb he couldn't move his lips.
The bitten arm swelled up, intense pain running through it. His skin was turning a dark red.
"I'm gonna get a crane now. If you don't get up..."
It seemed he still planned to steal a crane, this late in the game.
Just go do it without me, Ookurikara grumbled in his mind.
(Viper's venom, huh...I can't move.)
His body felt hot, did he have a fever? And yet, on occasion, he'd shiver.
"This is some bad luck. Getting injured on a day when Master isn't coming back..."
It was Mitsutada's worried voice. He felt something cool being placed on his head.
It was probably an ice-filled towel.
Tsurumaru asked a question in an uncharacteristically flustered tone of voice.
"Do you think Master will pay attention to the notice we sent out?"
"Master's usually pretty distant in regards to this sort of thing. So there's a chance it might get ignored..."
Tsurumaru, folding his arms, made an ill-omened comment.
"Hey, if nobody can do repairs when Master's not here, then doesn't that mean that sometimes it could be too late for someone?"
"We're swords, so I think it should probably be okay..."
"Is there anything I can do?"
"For now, let's try to stay quiet. If we let him get a little sleep..."
Ookurikara felt relieved as Mitsutada led out Tsurumaru, who'd been squawking by his bedside all this time. Just getting rid of the noise was enough to put his heart at rest.
(I'd rather be alone...)
Delirious with fever, he gazed blankly at the ceiling.
But, to die to a viper Tsurumaru had pulled out for a prank was an incredibly idiotic way to go.
Ookurikara might have often talked about dying alone, but to have this be the cause of death was something he'd never forgive.
Caught in a repetitive cycle of intermittent sleeping and waking, Ookurikara suffered throughout the night.

―The next morning.
He opened his eyes to see a multicolored something hanging from the ceiling.
As he stared up at it in a daze, someone laid a hand on his forehead.
(Mitsutada...?)
Ookurikara sprang up at the sight of the saniwa by his bedside.
"I..."
"Oh, good. It looks like you're okay now. Master came rushing back here after hearing you were in danger."
Mitsutada spoke with a look of relief on his face.
It seemed he'd been repaired. The numbness was gone, and he'd had the strength to jump up like this just now.
"What's that?"
Ookurikara frowned at the curtain-like thing hanging in front of his face.
"It's something called A Thousand Cranes. It's a charm to pray for health. Tsurumaru-san put all his effort into making it last night."
The vivid origami cranes - a mix of colors from light blue and pink to the occasional gold - swayed gently at Ookurikara's touch.
―He was surprised.
So he'd woken up because this was strung up on the ceiling? Seeing all that excessively bright color filling his field of vision, for a moment he'd thought he was in another world.
"A charm, huh. So he hasn't learned a thing."
"It's not Master's, it's yours. For you to get well quickly, he said. I helped a little too, but he did most of it himself."
"......"
Ookurikara kept silent, gaze flicking back and forth between the origami cranes and Mitsutada's face.
Though he was usually calmly stirring people up, occasionally he'd act bewildered himself. That was Tsurumaru Kuninaga.
"I'll go tell him the news. He seemed pretty worried, after all."
Worried or not, it was his fault for having kept a viper in secret in the first place...
Ookurikara thought that to himself, but for the moment he just gazed dazedly at the thousand paper cranes.
Folding a thousand of these and stringing them up like this seemed like it would be a really boring task, wouldn't it?
"Ookurikara, are you okay!?"
Tsurumaru once again recklessly threw open the screen door as he rushed into the room.
"I'm real sorry, it's all my fault."
"Forget it."
It was a curt answer, but Tsurumaru didn't seem to mind it.
"Does it still hurt anywhere? You don't have diarrhea or anything?"
"......"
Hearing lively voices outside, Mitsutada took a peek outside.
"It looks like the expedition team's come back."
It seemed they were looking for Master. You could hear the sound of something large and heavy rolling along behind them.
Hasebe's crew came running as soon as they caught sight of the saniwa's form.
"A present for you, Master."
Hasebe was full of pride as he stood before the cart, to which was tied an incredibly large rock.
"We've acquired raw jade ore. Please accept this as our offering to you."
Ookurikara clicked his tongue in annoyance as he came outside.
He peeked quietly at the nearby saniwa.
As expected, the saniwa looked bewildered by the offering.
Being suddenly presented with a gigantic rock from who knows where - there was no other reasonable option but to be bewildered by it.
"Master. You see, there was this plan..."
As a flustered Mitsutada attempted to explain the situation, Hasebe angrily snapped at him to stop.
"I'll be the one to explain my own offering, thank you very much."
He cleared his throat, and began to speak.
"Master. Since time immemorial, jade has been considered a charm against evil spirits, and was beloved by the upper classes. To protect against calamity, grant wishes, open the heart...it has been said that the rock can procure such effects as these. Whichever time period you happen to peruse, jade has always been something which only nobility was permitted to obtain. In order to show that you are the most noble person in my eyes, I decided to procure jade for you as a protection stone. I went to the jade producing areas of every time period, with the aim of bringing back a stone from the period which produced the clearest, most priceless and highly valued jade. I will explain further details to you in another room."
Hasebe cast a fleeting glance towards the group.
"Oi, Ookurikara."
He pulled a small rock from his breast pocket, tossing it in Ookurikara's direction. It was a rugged piece of jade.
"I heard what happened. Has your condition improved, then?"
"It's none of your business...what's this?"
"A spare rock. I'm giving it to you to ward off misfortune."
Having said his piece, Hasebe turned his back on Ookurikara. He was probably going to go attend to the saniwa in their room.
Ookurikara opened his hand, examining the jade on his palm.
He'd seen the processed rock before, but never the pure ore.
(It really is green.)
Spots of white and gray were mixed into it here and there. The processed product might have been more convenient to carry, but it was much harder to get tired of looking at the ore.
"Ah, Master! We've got something to give you, so we'll head over there later!"
The voice that rang out was that of Midare Toushirou.
The Awataguchi swords all called out their various greetings as they passed by their master, heading towards the repair room.
"Huh? Ookurikara's gone!"
It seemed they were looking for him.
He didn't know what they wanted with him, but he couldn't stand having to listen to them noisily looking everywhere for him. Ookurikara reluctantly raised his voice.
"What is it?"
"Oh, you're better! I'm so glad~"
In each of the tantous' hands was a familiar pouch.
Charm pouches colored like cherry blossoms, wisterias, and dayflowers swayed gently in the breeze.
"Look, we all made these!"
"I see."
He'd already heard from Sayo that they were making these for Master.
"These ones are yours!"
"...Huh?"
"You got bitten real bad by a viper yesterday, right? So we all made charms to pray for your recovery."
"Weren't you going to give them to the saniwa?"
"We have ones for Master too, but everybody rushed to make some for you too!"
Sayo timidly came out from the sidelines.
"Here..."
Accepting the charm pouch he was given, he could feel something hard inside.
"It's a real persimmon seed, so you don't have to worry..."
"...Right."
Accepting a charm from each of the tantous, he was now carrying so many his arms could barely hold them all.
Even when he'd come back to the citadel heavily injured, he'd never gotten treatment like this. Just as he was thinking how strange this was, Mitsutada came up with a box.
"Yes, it looks like you've got quite a lot. How about we put them in here?"
The box was full of lucky cats, talisman slips, and other charm-related things.
"This is for you too. They're from the other swords."
"Why is everyone giving me things?"
"Well you see, Tsurumaru-san made quite a fuss yesterday about how you'd been injured. And with Master gone, everyone in the citadel was worried, not just us. Tsurumaru-san being in such a panic wasn't exactly normal, either."
That guy's never normal―he thought, as he accepted the box from Mitsutada.
"Where did he go?"
"Tsurumaru-san? Come to think of it, where did he go?"
The two went out into the courtyard, looking for Tsurumaru.
The clamoring voices they could hear would probably be everyone lining up to give their charms to the saniwa.
As they passed by the saniwa's room, they unsurprisingly found the entrance clogged with a throng of swords.
Tsurumaru was standing in the garden. He was staring unseeingly at the enshrined jade.
(He's surprisingly quiet.)
Staring blankly at that rock like that.
Ookurikara finally realized.
He couldn't help being quiet. Tsurumaru had spent the entire night folding a thousand origami cranes.
As Ookurikara approached, Tsurumaru turned around.
"Oh, Ookurikara. This rock sure is amazing. It's not just green, there's all sorts of colors in there. Plus with that size, I'm astonished."
Tsurumaru was smiling unconcernedly.
"You...don't have anything to give to Master, huh?....I'm―"
I'm sorry, he'd been trying to say, but Tsurumaru interrupted.
"Whoa, don't say any more than that. I should be the one apologizing, anyway."
"You were the most excited out of everyone about this, though."
"Of course I was. I love projects like this."
If he gave those cranes as a present, the saniwa would probably be really pleased.
But he'd folded those cranes for Ookurikara's sake. Tsurumaru had chosen to spend the night praying for him rather than participate in any fun projects.
Ookurikara stood silently for a moment. And then, he managed to squeeze out a few words.
"...Er, about those cranes."
"Hm?"
"...They...really surprised me."
"Really!"
Tsurumaru's face was practically glowing.
Pulling a red paper crane from his chest, he placed it in Ookurikara's hand.
"If you don't cleanly fold the edges on these things, they turn out ugly. This is one of the ones I kinda messed up on."
Ookurikara touched the crane. One of its wings was bent.
"Tsurumaru-san, you've gotten pretty good at folding these."
Mitsutada pulled out another pouch.
"I managed to put one together - do you want it?"
It seemed he'd specially put a pouch together after noticing how Tsurumaru was at a loss on what to do.
"Nah. I'm fine without it."
So saying, Tsurumaru proudly puffed out his chest.
"Because apparently I surprised Ookurikara with those thousand cranes! I'm gonna give Master cranes too!"
"Are you going to fold another thousand cranes?"
"Nope. Master already saw the thousand cranes in the repair room...if we're gonna make it a surprise, it's gotta be ten thousand!"
"Huh........?"
"Just imagine - Master wakes up in the morning, only to find the room packed full of ten thousand cranes! Alright, now that's decided it's time to make the preparations."
"Wait."
"And then once Master runs out of the room, surprised by the origami cranes, an actual crane will make its gallant appearance - that'll be a real big surprise, right? Of course, by a real crane I don't mean me."
So of course he was planning to catch a real crane.
It had wings, and a beak. And of course, you had to take it home alive. There was no doubt it was much more difficult than a rock to obtain.
"Since his name's got kind of a connection with Ten Thousand Cranes (manbazuru), let's get Yamanbagiri in on this too."
Ookurikara was lost for words at seeing another hapless victim added to their numbers.
"I'm not going to join you on this."
Mitsutada tried to reason between the two, a troubled look on his face.
"He just recovered, it would be a bad idea to let him do too much just yet."
"Ookurikara's got loads of protection charms now, so he should be fine! My origami crane especially is perfect proof of how well they work!"
That was total nonsense. The results had come from the saniwa's repairs, so to say it was because of the cranes was...
(wrong...probably.)
Ookurikara closed his fingers around Tsurumaru's red paper crane, careful not to crush it.
The fact Master just happened to receive the notice, and got back before things got serious, was probably just coincidence rather than because of the paper cranes.
"I'll make sure to teach you how to properly fold those cranes! You can hold on to that one I gave you as an example!"
So I have to fold cranes too, huh...Ookurikara thought with a discontented look on his face.
He pinched the wings of the paper crane, holding it up in front of Tsurumaru.
The red paper crane, shining before the smiling Tsurumaru's white, made up an auspicious red and white.
"Alright, now that that's decided, we'll have to make that origami and look up crane habitats! Let's go call up Yamanbagiri to help with the Ten Thousand Cranes!"
After this, with bodies weak from lack of sleep due to folding paper cranes all night, the challenge of catching a crane would be pure folly. Getting injured once more by the crane's beak constantly pecking his head - once more finding countless paper cranes twirling over his head - these were events that Ookurikara had no way of knowing were about to happen.

End

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Kestrel

September 2017

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