Flower Spelling - Chapter 14
Chapter 14 – Spring Night’s Disturbance
Why did this happen…?
In the corridor, clutching a piece of paper, Sogetsu desperately struggled with her inebriated and unsteady mind.
It all occurred three days ago, on the 18th of March.
That same day, the magistrate’s office issued a reprimand to Katsura and Ito. As Nagai Uta had foreseen, the punishment was a mild reprimand, prompting a collective sense of relief among those at the clan residence.
“To celebrate their release, let’s all party down some sake!”
At the suggestion of Ariyoshi Kumajiro, Sogetsu, Shido, Yamato Kuninosuke and Nagamine Kurata proposed to host a small banquet. In an effort to astound them, he had made preparations privately without the knowledge of Katsura and Ito, which proved to be fruitful, for they were both overjoyed at the sight of the sake and food laid out in the room.
“It’s a good drink, by the way.” Katsura admiringly noted as he poured himself an unbelievably high quantity of cups.
“That’s because it’s the best sake from Kyo.”
“Everybody contributed to the price.”
Nagamine and Yamato were triumphantly proud of themselves. Ito whirled his eyes around as if to say, “But…”
“I would have preferred to have a beautiful lady serving, anyway.”
The gathering in a room at the Yubikan was all men. Even the lone female member in the group, Sogetsu, looked less than spectacular in her male attire.
“Well, we ran out of money for sake and catering.”
“There was no money left for the geisha, was there?” Sogetsu took over from Shido.
“Then Sogetsu ought to have done it. I would have enjoyed seeing you again in your geisha costume.”
“What! Shunsuke, did you ever see anything like that?”
“Didn’t I tell you that? Yes, when we first met. Only briefly though.”
“Hmm, I only saw her in these hakama, so I can hardly visualize it.”
Ariyoshi casually glanced at Sogetsu and said that he would like to see it. Then the rest of the group followed by, “That’s great, we’d love to see it”.
Hey, the conversation has gone in a weird direction…
Inwardly flustered, Sogetsu smiled and waved her hand. “It’s no fun to see me as a geisha. It simply doesn’t suit me.”
“Don’t worry, no one is expecting it. It’s just a sideshow.”
Even though she claimed it didn’t suit her, somehow it made her annoyed when others mentioned it. Particularly with Shido.
“Don’t take the liberty of treating people as a sideshow! Hey, Mr. Katsura.”
“I want to see it too.”
“Even Mr. Katsura!”
“Let’s do this.” Katsura flashed an impersonal smile. “From now on, we will play a game together, and if I win, Sogetsu will be asked to perform a dance dressed as a girl. If I lose, I will take the winner to Yoshiwara. The hanadai will be on me.”
“Let’s do it, let’s do it.”
Sogetsu’s protests were overshadowed by the cheers that erupted. Everyone was completely intoxicated.
“So, what’s the game?”
“How about a drinking contest?”
While Nagamine, who was a great drinker despite his thin face, lifted a sake bottle, Yamato, who was a big man, said, “No,” and rolled up his sturdy arms.
“In a case like this, strength will decide.”
“Stupid. What’s the point of playing that with all men?”
Shidou immediately dismissed the idea. “Well, well, well,” said Ito, appeasing him.
“Isn’t there some sort of game in the place you came from, Sogetsu? Something that can be done by both men and women.”
“My place? I suppose so…”
She tilted her head and said, “Yes” and mentioned the name of a game.
“All set, all ready.”
Seven people lined up in a corridor.
They moved out as swiftly as the signal was given, searching for the object indicated on the paper; whoever was the first to bring it back won. In short, it was a scavenger hunt.
In retrospect, she wondered why she had made such a suggestion, but without even realizing it, she had gotten quite drunk.
Each person wrote down what items should be brought on a piece of paper and left it at the end of the corridor.
“So let’s start with one, two, three… one, two, three!”
Under Katsura’s command, the seven of them all sprinted towards the paper simultaneously. Once they had picked up the paper on the floor and read it, all of them froze in their tracks.
There it was written.
“The Shunga I hid in my room”
I? Who even is I!? Nagamine bared his eyes.
“One of the seven wonders of the Choshu domain, the armored helmet in the dojo moving in the night”
How am I supposed to carry such a massive weight? Katsura wrinkled his brow.
“The Oshibana that I made in secret between the books in the library”
Book, which book! How long do you think it takes to search through hundreds of books!? Ito made a face like he was about to cry.
“One of the horses in the stables”
Like anyone can bring a horse into the room! Yamato’s hands were shaking uncontrollably.
“In the kitchen, there is a plate in this shape”
As if I can tell from a picture like this! It looks like a squashed bun! Shido, with a blue streak on his temple.
“A ladle full of well water. Not a drop of it should be spilled”
This, isn’t this purposely making me lose by default!? Ariyoshi’s mind was clouded.
“Grandfather’s secret sake”
Grandfather? You don’t mean Mr. Kurushima? Sogetsu’s head went blank.
Still, she had to do it anyway. A reward awaited her if she succeeded. All seven of them scattered around the residence in search of what they were looking for.
“What’s all the fuss about since earlier?”
Kurushima, who was engrossed in a game of Go with his colleague, arched his thick eyebrows in reaction to the noise of people scrambling around outside.
“Oh, it must be the youths. They have been preparing something to celebrate the release of Katsura and Ito. Well, let’s give them a break for today.”
“Ah, a celebration.”
With a snap of the stone, Kurushima stroked his chin thoughtfully.
By that time, Sogetsu had been searching for Kurushima all over the clan residence. Even in the office or his room, there was no sign of him. She assumed he might have gone out, though when she confirmed it with the gatekeeper, he informed her that he had not.
“Excuse me, have you seen Mr. Kurushima?”
Finding a well-lit room, she questioned the man cleaning the Go board, who paused and faced her.
“Lord Kurushima just now went to the Yubikan, where a banquet was being organized. He said he would give them his best sake.”
After a brief thank you, she turned on her heel. However, on her way back to the Yubikan, she halted with a jolt.
Down the corridor, there was a black shadow, looming suspiciously.
On closer inspection, it turned out to be six men who had gone to search for something they needed to borrow and were in the process of carrying a heavy suit of armor.
“What are all of you doing?”
“Oh! Sogetsu!” Hearing Sogetsu’s unintentional outburst, Ito glanced over impatiently. “Did you perhaps already find the stuff you were looking for?”
“Eh, no, not yet but…”
“Great, then there’s still hope!”
“Huh? What do you mean?”
Katsura chuckled, “It seems that everyone has given up the idea of going to Yoshiwara because of the difficulty of the chosen item. At least they are cooperating with me so that we can witness your dance.”
“No way! Unfair!”
“You never mentioned anything about not cooperating!”
“Even without stating it, isn’t it standard for everyone to know that!”
Not to be outdone, Shido retorted and Sogetsu too raced to the Yubikan.
“Wait a minute, Sogetsu! You haven’t found the item yet, do you? Then you won’t win even if you go back to the room first!” Ariyoshi hurriedly exclaimed.
“Don’t worry! My item is Mr. Kurushima’s treasured sake, and apparently, he’s on his way to the banquet hall with it right now.”
Sogetsu, being lighter than the six of them, was swifter.
In no time at all, she had caught up and overtaken them.
“Oh no, Kumaji, stop Sogetsu!”
On the order of Katsura, Ariyoshi stalled Sogetsu by putting him in a wing choke with his broad arms from behind.
“Hey… no matter what, this is foul play!”
“Don’t feel bad, Sogetsu, it’s for a good cause!”
“You’ve got the wrong idea about the cause――!!”
Sogetsu struggled in vain as the armored helmet was carried in front of her, accompanied by a heavy clattering sound.
I can’t go on like this!
“Mr. Ariyoshi, if you let me go, I will exchange a trip to Yoshiwara for you.”
“… Is a lie―!”
“Ouch――!?” Ariyoshi screamed, pressing his foot.
Sogetsu stomped on the back of his foot with all her force.
“You’re the one who cheated first! Even I would love to go to Yoshiwara!”
Leaving Ariyoshi in pain, Sogetsu pursued the five again. Shoving and pushing against Katsura and the others who refused to let her advance, they rounded the last corner.
“――Ah, Mr. Kurushima!”
Up ahead, the back of Kurushima, with the sake bottle under his arm, barely a few steps away from entering the banquet hall could be discerned.
“… Mr. Katsura, in case you don’t mind me asking, what happens if only the title item arrives first?”
“Shunsuke, if you don’t have the goods and the people, it defeats the purpose of the game, so it’s a no-draw game.”
――Not after getting this far!
In this precise second, the spirit of the whole team was united.
“Old Kurushima, hold on!”
“Mr. Kurashima, please give me a minute!”
Before the seven screaming people, Kurushima’s foot unceremoniously crossed over the threshold.
Together, they collapsed on the floor.
The armor crashed to the floor with a thud.
“What’s the matter with you all?”
The only person who didn’t know what was going on was Kurushima, who laughed gaily and remarked.
“I have no idea what’s going on, but have a drink! I brought the best sake I own.”
Support Fan’s Translations
Note: Individual translators usually have their own ko-fi buttons.