Chapter 37 – Reception of the Heads of Families
A/N – This chapter is from the 3rd person point of view.
Unlike the room where the ladies gather, the room where the heads of the families gather has a heavy air.
People in formal Onmyoji attire are lined up in a row, as if the aristocrats of the Heian period were having a dinner party.
The interior of the room is also of high quality, reminding one of the weights of time. The gold leaf-strewn fusuma (sliding doors) reflected the light of the andon lanterns, twinkling like stars. They represent the wealth of the Abe family.
The heads of each family exchanged information over a sumptuous meal.
Since the Onmyoji world is a small society and hidden from the public, the information obtained at these meetings is very valuable.
There is often super-important information that will lead to a major incident later on, mixed in among the rumors that are not covered in the Onmyou newspapers.
Tsuyoshi also exchanged information with his peers sitting beside him in the banquet.
They work in the field and have firsthand information. It is highly likely that they have more valuable information than those who sit in the upper seats of this auditorium.
“It’s pretty bad in Tokyo. Along with the recession, the number of Yōkai of the third degree of threat has increased.”
“It’s not just Tokyo. There is an atmosphere of gloom and doom throughout Japan. It’s a situation that allows for the accumulation of impurities.
“Maybe that’s why the seal deep in the mountains has been broken.”
A Yōkai with a threat level of 5 or slightly lower that had been sealed deep in the mountains of the Tohoku region.
Its appearance was still the talk of the town.
And the most powerful Onmyoji in Japan who exterminated it was also a topic of conversation.
“As I thought, Shiangsuna Ensa-dono is not here?”
“He recently used his power. It is understandable.”
“His only daughter is five years old this year, isn’t she? Wasn’t she invited?
“I heard that the succession is going so well that they can’t even converse with each other. I know it can’t be helped, but it still pains me.”
While listening to the voices around him, Tsuyoshi also talked with a colleague sitting next to him.
He seemed interested in the information that Tsuyoshi had.
“I see that Goken-dono is still alive and well. I thought he would be retired by now, since he is old enough.”
“He has been rather active since his son took over the reigns as head of the family. He has just recently appeased the wrath of the mountain.”
“I see, I see, he is as dynamic as ever.”
The man laughs happily when he hears Tsuyoshi’s story.
The man looked to be about 50 years old from his appearance, perhaps old enough to be retired by now.
Tsuyoshi does not know his family name, as he had not seen him at any of the gatherings in the past few years.
“I am Rai, the current head of the Henua Hea family. I am sorry it took me so long to tell you my name. I have only known you for a short time.
“Well, how did you heard about me?”
“As you may have guessed, I was working for Goken-sama. I was injured before you arrived. I was relieved when I heard that you had replaced me.”
He then rubs his right hand.
Just from the back of his hand, there is a deep scar running through it.
The scar continued to the forearm and must have reached the nerves. Rai was holding chopsticks with his left hand.
If one hand cannot move satisfactorily, it will be a disadvantage in expeditions, and he will not be able to make his mark in battle. This would be fatal for a team member of a Samurai family whose profession is to exterminate Yōkai.
“So you are Henua-dono, huh? I have heard of you. Everyone says that you are a wonderful calligrapher.”
“Haha, I think the rumors are greatly exaggerated. I don’t have that much power.”
He has a good-natured smile on his face, but he used to be a fine fighter, just as he was rumored to be.
The serious injury that caused him to resign was also an honorable injury, protecting his friends from a Yōkai’s surprise attack.
“You are very collected. I hate to say this, but I don’t think you’re suited for combat that much. You could have taken another path, couldn’t you?”
A statement that some listeners might resent.
However, his words conveyed a genuine sense of concern.
Tsuyoshi, who has always been self-aware, responded in a straightforward manner.
“It’s profitable, you see.”
“But you have young children. I’d rather …… have a safe job than take a risk right now.”
“We were in dire need in order to raise that child.”
“Perhaps the Nishikidos?”
Rai whispered in his ear, and Tsuyoshi gave a small nod.
The two peered sideways into the upper room. Their gazes were directed toward the man sitting to the left of Abe no Haruaki, the head of the Nishikido family.
This man is connected to the three major Onmyoji in Kyoto, Japan, and is known for putting economic pressure on the weaker Onmyoji families to bring them down and take away the techniques passed down in their families.
The reason why such a man can sit in the top seat is that he has established a major faction in the Kanto region, and a bad decision would affect the governance of the entire region.
The current head of the Nishikido family has been overlooked because of the many contributions he has made to the Abe family. Yes, that is the rumor.
And the Kyobe family was among its targets.
Tsuyoshi’s parents and ancestors lost most of the wealth they had risked their lives to earn because the Nishikido family acted in the dark.
If Tsuyoshi had not worked so hard and been picked up by the former head of the Goken family, his land and secret knowledge would have been taken from him.
“Ah, the Kyobe family is a user of the summoning technique. I hear that the summoning team was their priority target. Is that your connection to Goken-sama?”
“No, my parents were in his care for a while. ……”
“…… I see. It was a tough time for you.”
Having come to know each other’s situation, the two were able to exchange the information they were seeking.
This naturally included the purpose of their visit here today.
He asked Rai about it, as it would have been difficult for the younger Tsuyoshi to bring up the subject later.
“I am hoping to find a fiancée for my son.”
“It is really unusual hearing about arranged marriages. Even in my time, it was rare to actually hear of such a thing.”
The main reason Tsuyoshi attended this get-together was to find a fiancée with an Onmyoji background for Sei.
In order to rebuild the Kyobe family from now on, what is needed is a lady who understands the work of an Onmyoji. Although it would be nice to just have someone like Reika to help them, there are still many things that can only be done with knowledge and experience.
Furthermore, if they can establish connections with other families, they will be able to help each other in times of need.
However, the only people who can find a fiancée at this age are the members of three major Onmyoji families. With the advent of the age of free love, the old custom of arranged marriages has become outdated, even in the Onmyoji world.
“Have you found a good match?”
“Many people have the same view as Henua-dono ……. Also, it seems that our family’s track record is not attractive enough.”
Tsuyoshi’s conversation with Rai made him think that he could have a friendship with him and his family.
If the Henua family had a daughter around his son’s age,…… he asked with such expectations.
“Is Henua-dono here today on behalf of your family?”
“No, I’m here today to look for my adopted son.”
Today he was invited to a house with children close to the age of Haruku.
Rai is too old to have a child around 6 years old. Considering his injuries, it is not surprising that he has already given up the reigns of the family.
When he asked if he was here on behalf of his busy son, his guess turned out to be wrong.
“Unfortunately, we were both not blessed with the gift of Onmyoji. We can’t afford to have any more children, so we gave up long ago. They are now adults and have refused to continue the tradition, saying they are not even interested in Onmyoji. To the average person, it must seem like a dangerous world, so we had no choice.”
In the olden days, people had concubines and mistresses and could have many children.
Today, it is not possible to keep on having children until a talented child is born.
It is so difficult that large families attract public attention through TV programs.
“Still, it would be unbearable for our ancestors to let our family’s secret technique die out. …… I have been asking the Minamoto family for a long time. I was specially invited today.”
“Oh, I see. …… have you found a good candidate for ……?”
“You are the first candidate. Do you have a second or third son? I would be willing to entrust my family’s secret art to your child. I suppose so.”
“I am honored to hear that, but unfortunately my second son does not have the talent. Another one is not easy to have, and considering the burden on my wife, we thought it would be difficult to have any more.”
“Well, that’s too bad.”
Chuckling, Rai took a sip of his sake.
It was disappointing for Tsuyoshi, too, because he found out that the Henua family had no daughters.
Both of them stood up from their seats, hoping that someone in the room would be able to solve their difficult problems.
The plates on the table had long been emptied and were being taken away by the servants.
From here, the group moved to a round-table with drinks in hand.
“May you have a wonderful karma.”
They wished each other good luck, but God was not listening.
The banquet ended without any success.