Chapter 44: Matsumoto Kokuyo

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After three days of sail, the ship finally docked in the harbour of Matsunoki. During those three days, Tamie got to know Byakuya better and became friends with him, and presented him to her whole group, and they all got along well. So, when they set foot in Kenshin, Byakuya turned to his new friends and smilingly told them:

"Let's go to my order building. There are many spare rooms and if it goes well, you might get permission from Matsumoto-sama, my magister, to settle down there while you stay. But if he does not permit you to stay, you will have to leave not only the Order building but the whole town".

"Or rather, we'll go and ask the Prefect what this all means," Shiba politely smiled, for he was not a man to easily give up on his jobs only because some land-lords and order magisters desired so.  

"If you get a denial from Matsumoto-sama, I doubt even the Prefect can help you... Anyway, let's hope on the positive outcome. Follow me," Byakuya led them up the hills and forests, to the summit of the whole town, where there stood the building of the Blade Warrior Order.

"Ugh, I hate these slopes... We're walking forever now!" Tiger complained, carrying Astra in her hands and leading Christo and overly-energetic Blizzard whose energy still hadn't drained (if it could ever drain).

"Hehe..." Byakuya chuckled, scratching his head. "Not much is left now..."

Indeed, soon the green fields could already be seen, full of cherry blossom and pine trees, and a giant wooden building with Japanese words on it meaning 'Blade Warriors'.

"There we are," Byakuya beamed and led them in the yard of the building.

There were a lot of swordsmen training in the fields with their katanas, sparring against each other, honing their skills.

"Wow, all of them are so fierce..." Riza contemplated the warriors' strong, but subtle movements.

"They're warriors since their deep childhood," Byakuya explained. "When we don't go on missions, we train. The only spare time we have we spend on books and calligraphy".

"Hmm, quite a strict schedule you have..." Shiba noted.

Byakuya noticed how Tamie was writing down notes.

"What are you doing?"

"I'm writing down all possible materials for my work-in-progress - Byakuya the Blade Warrior. The one I told you about back in Rosenweld, remember?" she grinned, "When I told you Byakuya was my character's name".

"Ah, that's lovely!"

Byakuya arrived at the Order building door and informed the guards in Japanese of his arrival and his intention to present the guests. They nodded and went into the building to alert the magister.

"You don't have the Ring Security System?" Riza asked as she knew their order operated with that type of a security Edmund had implemented.

"No. That's western style. Matsumoto-sama loves traditions, so he puts on guards who have brisk reactions if anything suspicious happens".

"Cool," Shiba was impressed, while Tamie was furiously putting down the notes.

Soon the guards returned and invited them in, but they whisperingly informed Byakuya that Magister wasn't really pleased to have foreigners visit his town and especially his order. Byakuya only nodded and told his friends to take their shoes off before leading them in, and didn't alert them of this last remark of the guards.

They arrived in a great wooden hall where there were two elder warriors sitting on cushions, and in the center, on another cushion, there was sitting a young, twenty-nine-year-old, black-haired, dark-purple-eyed man, wearing a black kimono and a white cloak. He looked strict and serious. His black-handled katana was hung on his waist. Overall, he looked majestic and fearsome. Tamie and her friends gulped once saw him. Byakuya whispered to them to sit onto their knees in front of him, and so they did. Then Byakuya bowed down and spoke in Japanese, explaining the situation to the young man who most likely was his magister. But this latter's frown deepened even more. He spoke in English:

"You know I do not allow strangers to step in my lands

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"You know I do not allow strangers to step in my lands. And what does it mean, the Prefect requested their presence? Matsunoki is our territory, and Blade Warriors operate perfectly fine".

Byakuya sighed. Shiba puckered at such a stuck-up attitude of the guy and replied:

"We had an official request from your Prefect. Here's the paper".

Matsumoto-sama puckered and grabbed the paper, eyeing it carefully. He then sneered and yelled:

"Hidoshi!"

One of the Blade Warriors ran up to them and bowed down to the young man:

"Yes, Matsumoto-sama!"

"Go and tell the Prefect to inform me first when sending out requests in impure lands, or else I will not leave this matter unanswered the next time".

"Yes, Magister!"

The guy named Hidoshi left right away. Then Matsumoto-sama turned towards the guests again and strictly spoke in English:

"You are not needed here. Leave".

Shiba flared up - how he dared talk to them like that, as if he were their boss?!

"Listen_"

But Tamie, noticing how Matsumoto's frown deepened so that he resembled a raged beast, grabbed Shiba's shoulder and stopped him, and then spoke in Japanese:

"Matsumoto-sama, I am pleased to meet your excellency - I am Tamie Wingfield. I am sorry for trespassing on your territory without your permission. But the thing is, this is my very first Grandmaster mission, so if you could make an exception_"

"You are Tamie Wingfield? The writer?"

Tamie gasped - how did he know she was a writer?!

"Y... Yes..."

Matsumoto chuckled and took a book from behind him, handing it out to Tamie with both of his hands:

"Matsumoto Kokuyo, it is a pleasure to meet you... no, rather, a pleasure to see you, Tamie Wingfield-san. It is so funny to meet in a situation like this... But still, please, if possible, give an autograph to your number one fan, Matsumatsu," he winked playfully.

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