In the time of the Kigiku Empire, ruled by King Suisen II, the royal family produced a single daughter named Shirayuri before the Queen tragically passed away. She was raised in the most richest, and glorified way, showered with presents, jewels, and valuable merchandise, shielded from any darkness of society. She was living in such a carefree way, perhaps almost utopian like, that she did not realize any of society’s ways.
As a child, I had always played with my cousin, Sayuri, after my mother had passed away. He would make me smile, laugh, and forget the pain; the memories that I had hidden deep in my heart. In truth, when I picture the face of my mother, I no longer remember her. But what had replaced my pain was for my love for Sayuri; my gentle, kind, saviour, rescuing me from the depths of depression and sorrow.
I caught the sound of his voice, breaking away my current thoughts about my 16th birthday coming soon. He was walking behind my father, the King, laughing melodiously at something my father had said. I smiled, my furrowed brow eased into a warm, welcoming face as I tried my best not to run full speed towards him. Sayuri’s face lit up when I saw him, and after exchanging polite greetings, he laughed, saying that I did not have to be so polite to him, which inevitably resulted in my face turning into a very red tomato. He patted my head, walking away to talk with some other lords. He seems to still treat me like the kid I was ten years ago.
As I watched him disappear from my sight, my father turned towards me, wearing a rather serious face. I was surprised because my usual merry-looking father, seemed to look like he was dealing with a war plan. “Shirayuri”, he said, “How would you like to marry one of these lords on my list?” He handed me a piece of paper, his hand writing scrawled across the page with a bunch of names listed from different regions and states. Horrified, I skimmed through the names with shaking hands, hoping, and hoping that maybe Sayuri’s name could be written on. To my disappointment, I read until the last name on the list. My father raised his brow, as if asking if I had already chose one. “Father, I do not see Lord Sayuri’s name on this list. Did you forget to write his name?” I exclaimed, heat raising up to my flushed cheeks. “No Shirayuri. You will not marry Sayuri.” My father said obstinately. “Why not!?” I cried, “He is the one I want to marry, and the most trustworthy out of all the other lords!” “NO!” My father yelled, “I have given you everything you have ever asked for, but I cannot give you Sayuri.” Surprised, I fled the room, tears filling up into my eyes, more confused than ever about my father. I hurried as fast as my feet could allow, and collapsing on my bed, I stayed confined in my room.
Later on in the night, I gathered up my courage to ask my father again about my future spouse, too worried about myself to notice that there were no guards outside my father’s door. What did catch my attention was the fact that the door was already partially open, and ignorantly I called out to my father. Sliding the door, I came face to face with Sayuri, his hands holding the sword dripping with blood that was embedded into my father’s heart. There was blood everywhere; on my father, the floor, and on Sayuri’s hands. My eyes widening in shock, I rushed to my father’s side, and slowly sank to my knees. “Sa..Sayuri, the.. the doctor.. call the doctor!” I cried desperately, not wanting to believe what I just saw. Sayuri closed his eyes, drawing the sword out of my father’s lifeless body so easily as if he had just sewed some silk. “Oh, Princess Shirayuri, I was told by the guards that you do not usually enter your father’s chambers… Why now, of all days?” I didn’t notice, but I had bitten the inside of my cheek so hard that the scarlet red littering the floor was also dripping at the corner of my mouth. I called my father’s name over again, only to be interrupted by Sayuri.
“The king will not wake. I, am the one who killed him.” Oh, why did it take my own father’s death to realize my own incompetence? My father had noticed something was going on. Why didn’t I? I closed my eyes, burning tears rolling on my cheeks. “Why did you do this Sayuri? You were the king’s closest advisor…” “Exactly, innocent princess of Kigiku. I have longed for this day, to satisfy my ardour for power, and clutch it in my hands, however bloody they would become. Your father was a foolish king; easily decieved. He allowed an infiltrator like me, to become so close to him. If all goes according to my plans, I will be the last one standing with royal blood.”
I thought of the memories I had with Sayuri, as a child he was a frail and sickly, but he was also gentle and kind. The person I had fallen in love with, was only an illusion. My poor torn, broken heart. No, he broke my mind and very soul. Hate seethed inside of me, and like a helpless mosquito caught in a spider’s web, I clung to it.
“You TRAITOR!” I screamed, were the last two words that came out of my mouth, before I too, felt the glistening sword slash against my throat.
I used Japanese flower symbolism (Hanakotoba) through out my story.
Kigiku (Yellow Chrysanthemum) – imperial
Suisen (Daffodil) – respect
Shirayuri (White lily) – purity/ innocence
Sayuri (Orange lily) – hatred/ revenge