Hikaru No Go Fan Fiction ❯ A Heian Fairy Tale ❯ Bedtime Story ( Chapter 1 )
[ A - All Readers ]
As you probably know, I don't own Hikaru no Go and appreciate the owners letting me play in their universe.
Chapter One is full of spoilers for the Manga, especially the really big one from about three quarters of the way through.
This is the first piece I've written in ages. I am definitely finishing You Lose, Miko and apologize to anyone who is reading that piece who wonders why I've been so dilatory with it. I'm finally back writing. Hooray. It feels good.
“Tell me a story, Uncle Hikaru. Tell me a story,” begged the 4 year old.
“Perhaps later,” Hikaru answered. His lap was full of a sleepy little girl in her pajamas. He sat in Akira Touya's living room with him, relaxing while Akira's wife cleaned up the kitchen. She understood the basics of Go but was not a player. She knew from long experience to leave the two men to their game or discussion or argument, whichever seemed the better description. Akira sat across from Hikaru. It was pleasant and Hikaru had promised to tuck Miyuki into bed before heading home. Akari would be home from visiting her parents soon and would be waiting for him.
“Not later. NOW!” She demanded.
“That's right,” her father said approvingly. “Don't settle for later. Hikaru promises to tell stories `someday' but someday never comes. He stared pointedly at his friend and rival with that smile which hadn't changed since he had been 12 years old despite the fact they were both fast approaching 30. Hikaru looked at his old friend appraisingly and considered while Miyuki bounced and yelled “Now! Now! Tell me a story now.”
“Very well,” he said, and watched Akira for a moment before smiling down into Miyuki's face. “I will tell you a very special story. It's about a phoenix and a dragon and a lion, and the story starts over 1,000 years ago.”
“Once upon a time there was a noble phoenix, proud and brave and intelligent. He lived in the Heian era, which was over 1,000 years ago. He had long black hair almost to the floor and deep violet eyes. He wore a white Kariginu and blue hakama with an eboshi hat such as the priests wear today. It was lined with a maroon kosode. He always carried a yellow fan and tied his hair up at the end to keep it tidy. He was acknowledged at the time as a most beautiful phoenix and all the ladies in the emperor's palace enjoyed paying Go with him. The phoenix's name was Fujiwara no Sai and his honor was very important to him. Akira sat up even straighter with a small gasp and Hikaru looked up at him and nodded.
“Now Go was important back then, even more important than it is today. Sai was one of instructors of the emperor himself as well as being a noble in his own right. Sai was a very important creature. Every day he would instruct the emperor and his court in Go. Sai played Go all day and the phoenix was very happy.
“As it happens in these kinds of stories, there was another creature who also instructed the emperor. This creature was a crocodile. He wasn't brave or honorable, but he was cunning. He went to the emperor and whispered in his ear, `you don't need two Go instructors. Let Sai and I play a game of Go, and whoever wins the game shall be your instructor and retain his position at court and whoever loses the game shall be dismissed.' Now the emperor was a kind and honorable man himself, but he agreed to the crocodile's suggestions. Such is the cunning twisted words of the crocodile.
“The phoenix and the crocodile started playing their game. The phoenix played white and the crocodile played black. When they were in the middle of the game, the phoenix noticed there was a white stone mixed in the bowl of the black stones. Just as he noticed this, he saw the dishonorable crocodile picked up the stone and slid it amongst his prisoners.”
Miyuki gasped. Even at the age of 4 she knew how Wrong and Horrible it was to move a stone from a goban or put one she found in the prisoners. That was one of the first things she learned about Go. Don't EVER move a stone once it was on the goban.
“Well, the poor phoenix was shocked. He stared at the crocodile and was stunned that he could be so dishonorable as to cheat at Go. The crocodile looked up and noticed the phoenix had seen what he had done. Immediately he shouted `How dare you. I just saw you put a black stone from your sleeve amongst your prisoners.' The phoenix was stunned. `But that is just what you did.' `Humph' the crocodile countered. `That is just your pathetic attempt to cover up your misdeeds.'
“The emperor immediately stopped them, saying `I cannot believe that either of my instructors would have so little honor as to cheat at Go. Continue the game immediately.'
“The poor phoenix was so stunned and disheartened by what happened that he could not control his emotions or his mind. He could not focus. He lost the game. The emperor kept his promise to the crocodile and dismissed the phoenix from his court.”
“Aw,” Miyuki said, “that's so sad. I want a happy story.”
“Yes, it is,” Hikaru replied, “very, very sad. Don't worry, the story will get better. We're not up to the part where the baby dragon and lion cub's story begins. It will get happier.” Hikaru looked up at Akira, who had been watching him with wide eyes.
“The phoenix' reputation was ruined. Even though the emperor didn't accuse him of cheating, the story of the game raced around the court and the capital, and the poor phoenix' reputation was shredded. There are far too many people willing to believe any filth rather than think for themselves. Fujiwara no Sai left the court and wandered through the countryside down by the Seto River and Lake Biwa. He leaned on his goban and cried. He cried so many tears 4 days later he turned into tears at the bottom of the lake and drowned. But Sai's spirit could not rest. He was the greatest Go player of his time, or any time. He had not yet played the hand of god and he had been unjustly accused of cheating. So the Kami pinned Sai's spirit into his goban. It was the same one he had cried and cried over for 4 days and it was stained with his tears.
“For 850 years the phoenix Fujiwara no Sai stayed in that goban. One day in the Edo period, a small child approached the goban. He looked at the goban and asked someone `what is this stain on this table?' Torajiro was 6 years old, and he didn't know what to do with this wooden goban.” This time Hikaru heard an audible gasp, and looked into Akira's stunned face. Akira still never said a word. Hikaru gave him a small shrug and a smile and continued his story.
“No one knew what to say to the child. Someone told him `there are no stains on the goban. It is ancient but there are no stains.' `There are, there are,' insisted the child. `They are right there. Can't you see them?' But no one except the child could see the stains of the tears. Then the child heard a voice. `Can you see them?' `Who's that?' `You can HEAR me?' The voice seemed amazed and thrilled at the same time. The next thing the child knew there was a flash of light and he saw the phoenix come up out the goban. He was three times as tall as the small boy. With his long shining hair and beautiful face and elegant silk robes he looked like a god. Torajiro fainted.
“When Torajiro woke up, he was lying on his pallet with his mother looking over him in concern. He was fine but something changed that day. From that day on the phoenix' spirit stayed in the world inside the consciousness of Torajiro. He could talk to Torajiro and Torajiro could talk to the phoenix and see him. The spirit of the phoenix could walk along side the boy just as though he were you or I. However, no one else could ever see the phoenix. He was a spirit. At first Torajiro told his mother and father about the phoenix but of course no one believed him. After all, who would believe a phoenix would come out of a goban and stay in his consciousness.” Hikaru looked up at Akira as he said this. “When he kept insisting that Sai was nearby his parents became worried and called for a doctor again. So Torajiro stopped telling people about Sai and pretended he had just been playing.
“Sai was thrilled to be a part of the living world and to be able to talk to at least one person. Torajiro was a kind boy, and when he learned Sai loved the game of go he agreed to play it for him. Sai was thrilled at the idea of playing Go again. He sat next to Torajiro and played all the games. Torajiro only moved the pieces for Sai but it was Sai who fought all the fights.
“Now the phoenix was the best fighter in over 1,000 years so Torajiro at the age of six looked like a genius when really it was Sai who was the tactician. Torajiro became famous as a fighter and they lived happily in association for 18 years. He changed his name to Honinbou Shuusaku, and he and the phoenix fought all comers in the forest. The nobles all wanted to fight him. When Torajiro was 34 he died and the phoenix was very sad to lose his friend. Torajiro moved on to the great wheel, but Sai was pinned back in the goban. The goban was now stained with Sai's tears and blood from Torajiro's illness.
“One hundred and fifty years passed and the goban changed hands until it ended up in the shed of an old man who had been a good amateur go player in his youth. One day his grandson the lion cub came upon the goban. He thought he could clean it up and get a little money for it. He told his friend `it's too bad there are stains on it.' Well, his friend couldn't see the stain and the cub said impatiently, `the stain, the stain is right there.' It was just like before. He heard a voice saying `you can see the stains? You can hear me?' Then the cub saw the phoenix flow up out of the goban and he knew this was a ghost. He felt the ghost go into him and the feeling was so disturbing he collapsed.
“When the cub woke up there was this strange creature next to him. Sai the phoenix was connected to him. The cub wasn't possessed exactly. He could control all his own actions but the phoenix was always next to him. He could see and hear the phoenix but no one else could do that. The cub didn't tell anyone about Sai because he didn't want anyone to think he was crazy. The phoenix told the cub his story but the cub said he thought Go was a boring old man's game and he wasn't going to play it.
“Ha,” laughed Miyuki. “What a stupid cub.”
“Yes, he was,” agreed Hikaru.
“Oh Dear! The phoenix was so sad the cub refused to fight he cried and cried. The phoenix could be a bit childish himself sometimes. He was so upset about not being able to play Go he made the cub sick and the cub agreed that perhaps he would take the phoenix to a fighting arena and let him fight a few times. The phoenix was thrilled and immediately became happy again. Then he cried because he was so happy.
“So the cub went to a fighting arena and asked to fight, but all he saw was these stuffy old men and he didn't like the idea of fighting them. Then he saw a baby dragon off by himself. The dragon looked like he was about the same age as the cub and he had dark hair and green eyes.”
“Like me. Like me,” Miyuki cried.
“That's right. Exactly like you,” Hikaru agreed and he tapped her nose with a finger.
“He saw a babydragon?” Akira asked with a bit of a look. It was the first words he had spoken since the story began.
“Well, it was a very young dragon,” Hikaru responded.
“`Hey, he looks about my age,' the cub told the woman in charge of the fighting arena. `Can I fight him?' The manager knew how strong the dragon was but the dragon agreed to fight the cub. The dragon asked how strong the cub was and he said he didn't know but he thought he was pretty strong. The dragon thought that was an odd thing to say.
“Now what the cub didn't know was this was no ordinary baby dragon. This was the son of the dragon king himself, the fiercest fighter in the entire forest and the baby dragon was already so strong he could out fight most of the animals in the forest except for the elders.
“So the fight began. . .
“The first thing the dragon noticed was the cub couldn't even hold the stones properly. He held them like a complete beginner. The baby dragon was surprised that such a cub would even try to fight with him, but then as the fight went on the dragon grew shocked.”
“`This cub who can't even hold the stones is playing shidougo. That's impossible. He isn't really trying to win. He is playing a teaching game. He is teaching me? How can this be? It's impossible.'
“The phoenix won the game of course and the cub smiled cheerfully and said he had to get home for dinner. The baby dragon was stunned. `This just isn't possible,' he said. `He beat me. Who is that lion cub? He doesn't know what to do with the stones but he played shidougo with me. I'm the strongest in the forest except for my father and the elders. This can NOT be.'
Hikaru grinned down at Miyuki. “Of course, he didn't know that it was the phoenix, the spirit who was behind Honinbou Shuusaku who had really fought with him. A baby dragon, no matter now strong, can't compete with Shuusaku, now can he?” Miyuki giggled and shook her head.
The baby dragon was crushed. He had to know who that cub was. He had to fight that cub again. He had to try harder to win. But the dragon couldn't find the cub until one day he got a tip and raced through the forest to a place he was told the cub might be and there he found him. “Fight me,” he told the cub and the clueless cub agreed because the phoenix wanted to fight the dragon again. This time the dragon fought as hard as he could with tooth and claw but the phoenix wasn't at all worried. He just smiled and thought `What a bright child with wide eyes and a bright future. This child clearly has a passion for the fighting game. I want to encourage this little one. Yet this baby dragon is baring his fangs at me. I can see it in his eyes. What should I do? Should I dodge his fangs and pat him on his head?' Hikaru patted Miyuki's head and she giggled again. “`Or should I pull my sharp sword and cut off his head?' The phoenix reached out with the power that made Shuusaku famous and crushed the baby dragon. Now you should remember the dragon couldn't see the powerful phoenix standing behind the cub. All he could see was this young and foolish looking cub who couldn't even hold the go stones properly. He was crushed. He was confused and he was devastated.”
“I wouldn't quite say he was devastated; motivated, perhaps, is a better word.” Akira said with a small smile.
“Alright then he was motivated. He studied and learned and worked as hard as he could for 6 months, and then he argued with an elder teacher in the forest for the right to face the lion again in battle. All the other animals around him disliked him and wanted to humiliate him because he was the baby dragon and was stronger now as a baby then they would be even if they worked hard all their lives, but the baby dragon endured. He did his best and studied and practiced to face what he thought was the might of the cub. He didn't know it but he didn't want to battle the cub at all.” Hikaru looked back his friend. “He wanted to face Shuusaku the great phoenix and the Go Sage himself.”
“The day of the great fight finally came and the fight began. At first it all went well, and the strong fierce phoenix and the baby dragon started their fight. It was going to be a grand glorious fight. The dragon tried to bite the phoenix who dodged the attack and responded with sharp claws and beak. Suddenly, the cub stopped the fight. He looked thoughtful for a moment, and then decisive and then made his move. He pushed the phoenix behind him and said `Phoenix, you have been teaching me to fight. I have been learning. I want to know how well I can fight against that baby dragon.' Well the phoenix knew it was no fight at all and tried to talk the cub out of it but he couldn't do it. The cub was VERY stubborn. He couldn't stop him since the cub controlled his own actions. The phoenix could only stand there and watch as the cub reached out and tried to attack this fierce and strong experienced baby dragon with tiny claws that wouldn't have hurt your nose.” He patted Miyuki's nose again. “You could have beat the cub easily yourself, Miyuki-chan.”
“WHAT A TERRIBLE MOVE. The dragon eyed the fight and wondered what he was missing. Perhaps there was more to this move than he had thought. He was cautious. Then he moved and the cub moved again and again it was a terrible move. The dragon couldn't believe it. Suddenly there was this idiot lion cub in front of him instead of the fierce giant he thought he had been fighting. `What are you playing at? Fight properly.' But the cub just continued playing his own game, and it was a very bad fight. After all, the lion was very young and very foolish but he had his pride, and suddenly he wanted to attack the dragon. Of course it all ended badly as the cub didn't have the beginning of enough strength and knowledge to even make the dragon blink. Then the dragon who had won the fight was so angry and disappointed at the weakness of the battle that he yelled at the cub and left.”
“The cub was very sad about that but something else happened. He vowed he would practice and learn and grow stronger and stronger until he could attack that dragon and make that dragon pay attention to him. He wanted the dragon to acknowledge himself, the cub, and not the strong phoenix.
“So the race began. For you see, even though the dragon was angry about the weak battle, he knew there was something about that cub, and the cub started racing after him. He ignored the cub in front of all the other animals in the forest and he pretended the cub was less than dirt; but deep in his heart he knew there was something about that lion and he was growing up fast.” Akira snorted at the comment and Hikaru just grinned at him before continuing his story.
“`Who are you, lion?' the dragon yelled at him for he was confused about the brilliant games and the pathetic game. So the lion yelled right back `if you continue to chase my ghost you'll find the real me catching up to you.' Of course the reason he was growing up fast was because the phoenix fought him at least once a day and he couldn't fail to get better when Shuusaku himself was teaching him how to fight.
“Before anyone realized it, he was fighting with the other elite animals some of whom had been fighting for years. He wanted to become a professional so he could fight that dragon again. Then he did become a professional fighter and it was much sooner than anyone other than the clueless lion would have ever thought it could happen. It happened since the lion had his eyes set on the dragon. They were no longer babies. In their place were a young lion and a young dragon. The dragon looked behind him and saw the lion, and he took off running so the lion had to run twice as hard to try to catch up.
“The phoenix taught the lion and the lion fought hard against the other animals in the forest. He wanted to catch up to the young dragon who was far ahead of all the other animals. The only problem is since the lion was fighting the phoenix could not fight. It wouldn't have been honorable for the phoenix to fight a battle the young lion had said was his fight. So the lion fought and grew stronger. The phoenix became a little sad that he could only fight and teach the lion. There was no way for him to challenge any of the elder animals in the forest. He particularly wanted to challenge the dragon king and to test his strength against the wise old dragon. Sai thought he could win, but he wanted the challenge of finding out if that were true. There was a strong snake who had heard rumors about the phoenix and desperately wanted to fight him. There was also an old baboon who snuck around who would have liked to know more about the shadowy phoenix. All of this interest in the phoenix worried the young lion and he was afraid someone might find out about Sai.
“Now you should remember this was a magic forest, so the cub knew a way for the Dragon King and Fujiwara no Sai to fight without fighting face to face. He had used this to let Sai fight some other of the stronger animals around the forest while still hiding him. Remember the phoenix was a spirit. He couldn't touch anything in the world and had to depend on the lion to help him fight. The phoenix had enjoyed those hidden fights so much until the other animals in the forest all got together and tried to track down this phoenix who could win against the strongest of them. So the lion and phoenix had to stop the shadow fighting and it made the phoenix very sad.
“The lion went to the Dragon King and said `the phoenix wants very much to test his strength against you, but he can only fight from the shadows. Will you fight him?' The dragon king was reluctant at first to fight a creature in the shadows but he finally agreed when he realized the lion truly thought Sai might win. The dragon king could never resist a true challenge. The lion and the dragon king kept it all a secret so none of the other animals, especially the snake, would find out the lion knew the shadowy phoenix. They even kept it a secret from the young dragon.
“The day of the great fight began and what a fight it was. All of the animals around the world watched the battle of these two mighty titans. The earth shook from the thrashings of the dragon's huge tail and then again from the might of the phoenix as he used his fire to attack the dragon. The earth was gouged by sharp claws. No one had ever seen anything like it. They fought and fought using every bit of their strength but the phoenix eventually won. Even the might of the great dragon king wasn't enough to overcome a 1000 year old phoenix. All of the animals were awed by these two giants and knew they would never see a battle like this again.
“After the fight, snake the elder overheard the dragon king and the lion talking about the phoenix and he attacked the lion, who just kept denying he knew the phoenix. The phoenix was a secret and he certainly wasn't going to tell the snake about him. The snake was jealous of the dragon king who had gotten to fight and he wanted to fight the phoenix just as badly. He was angry when the lion kept insisting he didn't know the phoenix. Whatever else the snake was, he was not stupid and he just knew that young lion knew the shadowy phoenix. It frustrated him.
“Uncle Hikaru, why didn't the lion just let the snake fight the phoenix like he did the dragon king?”
“That's a very good question, Miyuki-chan. He was afraid that someone would try to find the phoenix if he admitted knowing him. He couldn't show anyone Sai because he was the only one who could see and hear him, so he kept him hidden. It would have made sense, perhaps, to have admitted knowing the phoenix but to say he couldn't see anyone face to face and he always had to stay in the shadows. He was also afraid if the snake knew the lion could help the elder animals fight the phoenix then too many animals in the forest would find out and then he didn't know what he would do. He was afraid people would not believe him and would perhaps think he was crazy; so the lion kept his secret even when it seemed to cause more trouble. Besides, the snake was the snake and the young lion didn't really trust him with any secrets.”
“Very wise of the lion not to trust the snake, I'm sure. That does not explain why the lion kept this from the young dragon,” Akira said with a twist of his mouth. He had had time to recover from the shock of learning about Fujiwara no Sai whose go was the strength behind Honinbou Shuusaku. He was feeling a bit aggrieved it had taken Hikaru this long to confess the truth. Akira didn't doubt the story at all. It had a feel of truth about it and it fit all the facts.
“It just seemed important at the time. The young don't always make the most rational of decisions.”
“Shortly after the fight with the mighty dragon, the lion noticed the phoenix become quiet and sad. The lion would see the phoenix watching him with a strange expression on his face. He didn't know what was wrong so he just yelled at the phoenix to cheer up. He wouldn't let the phoenix fight any fights. He told the phoenix that he, the lion, had to fight right now and the phoenix could fight again in a few months or perhaps a few years. The lion thought he and the phoenix had forever so he just yelled at the phoenix and accused him of being selfish. The phoenix told the lion that he might have to leave but the foolish lion just laughed and thought it was ridiculous. Again he told the phoenix he was just being selfish.
“One day not too long after the fight, while the stupid cub was yelling at the phoenix over the goban, a sudden silence filled the air. He looked up to see a trace of wavering light before there was nothing. NOTHING!
“THE PHOENIX WAS GONE! He had VANISHED without a trace.
“At first the lion thought the phoenix was being childish and hiding so he looked everywhere. Then he started to panic. The lion and the phoenix had been together for two and a half years. He had literally never been alone since he was 12 years old. The phoenix was the first one he saw in the morning and the last one he saw before sleeping. HE WAS ALONE! There was no one with whom to laugh or talk or study. He was alone!
“The cub was horrified. His master and his friend was gone and the lion couldn't conceive of what to do. He ran all over the forest and especially went to the fighting arena. Sai was gone. He rang to the scrolls in the forest where he was told a ghost might linger. He saw the old fights of the phoenix from when he was Shuusaku but there was no phoenix. He yelled for the phoenix and ran again all over the forest like one demented. Then he remembered that Shuusaku had a grave and memorial in Kyoto so he took the train all the way there and ran to the graveside. He cried out for the phoenix to come back, but the phoenix did not return. The lion was crushed. Then another animal told him there was a grave to Shuusaku back in his own forest so he raced back to the forest and to the gravesite. The phoenix was gone.
“The poor lion; He was devastated and the worst part is he couldn't tell a soul. How could he explain his loss when he had never admitted he knew the phoenix at all? The lion blamed himself for Sai's disappearance. He told himself he was stupid and mean and very, very selfish. He was angry at himself and said he was undeserving of the phoenix' friendship and guidance. He told the Kami if the phoenix would only return he wouldn't fight at all and would let the phoenix fight all the fights. He knew that Torajiro had let the phoenix fight and he had stayed with Torajiro until he died.
“All the light left the lion's world. Where it had been bright with sunshine and blue skies, green forests and rich browns, it was black and dark and grey. He couldn't fight. He wouldn't fight. The lion decided the phoenix had left because the lion wouldn't let him fight. It wasn't true. The phoenix had left because he had set the lion upon his life's path, and perhaps because he had showed the world the fight between himself and the dragon king. In the end it didn't matter really why the phoenix vanished. The lion thought it was all his fault.
“`If only I had let the phoenix fight for himself,' the lion thought. `Then he wouldn't have left me. I can't fight ever again. If I don't fight, then the phoenix will come back to me and I'll never fight again and I'll always let him fight.' The lion in his grief and despair vowed to never fight again. He wouldn't even pick up a stone to fight. He thought if he ever picked up a stone, then Sai would be lost to him forever. The lion crawled into a small dark cave and refused to move.
“At first the other animals came to the mouth of the cave and asked about him, but he refused to talk so they left him alone. He stayed in that cave for two months vowing to never fight again. He didn't care who came and yelled at him. He couldn't fight. If he hadn't fought at all, then Sai would still be there or so the poor lion thought in his confusion and darkness.
“Then one day Isumi, the spring, flowed back to the forest. He had been in China for two months mingling with the waters over there. The first thing he did was go to his friend the kitsune. `Kitsune, it is good to see you. I learned a lot from the waters in China and now I am back and ready to fight once more. How is our friend the lion?' Well, of course the kitsune told the spring all about the lion. No one knew what was wrong but it seemed the lion refused to fight. `But WHY?' asked the spring. `No one knows,' said the kitsune, `but we have all left him alone.'
“`You left him alone in his cave?' `Yes' replied the kitsune.' `I will go see the lion,' announced the spring. Our last fight ended very badly and I need to try to beat the lion.' `The lion will not fight you,' said the kitsune. `We'll see about that,' responded the spring.
“So he went to visit the lion. He stood at the mouth of the cave and said `Lion, come fight me.' The lion just said `no.' The spring went into the cave. `Lion, I said come fight me.' `I won't,' responded the lion. The spring went right up to the lion but the lion just kept his back to him and curled up facing the wall at the back of the cave. `Lion, you must fight me. `I won't. I will never fight again.' `Lion,' the spring shouted, `you owe me a fight.' The lion just ignored him. Then the spring did what none of the other animals had done. He flowed around the lion and pushed him out of the cave and over to the small fighting arena at the lion's cave. The arena was sadly neglected and covered with weeds, but the spring cleaned it up and told the lion that he had an obligation to fight him. He told the lion he needed to know who would have won their last battle and that it was the lion's obligation to fight. The spring kept pestering him until the lion gave in and agreed to fight. He apologized to the phoenix in his mind and said the fight wasn't for him but was for the benefit of the spring, so perhaps it was alright to fight just this once.
“They began to fight. At first the lion just fought apathetically with no real plan for attack or defense. Slowly, the lion began to enjoy the fight but that enjoyment seemed like a betrayal of Sai's memory. He tried to deny the enjoyment. `I must not get excited,' he thought, but he couldn't help himself. The excitement and his love of fighting got the better of him and he started fighting harder. `No, I can't,' he thought. `If I fight then Sai will never return. I'll have lost him forever. I can't! I can't! I can't!' The lion fought against the joy of the fight, but it returned to him nevertheless and suddenly he saw a move and reached out with his paw to attack the spring. Then the Lion froze. That was an attack of the Phoenix. He would have used that attack. He is here, inside my Go. The spring has found the Phoenix. He is inside my Go. Am I allowed to fight? I can fight?' Suddenly it came to the Lion in a rush. He had stopped fighting in his effort to find the Phoenix and yet it was in his fighting that he found the Phoenix. The Phoenix was with him in the Go he used.
“At last the Lion cried. He cried and cried over the goban, mourning for Sai the Phoenix who he knew he would never see or talk to in this life again, but rejoicing that he hadn't truly lost him. The Phoenix was there, inside the Lion's Go.
“You know what the tears did?” Miyuki shook her head. `They washed his world clean. They washed away the clouds and the darkness and the world shone with color again. It wasn't as bright or beautiful yet as the world before he lost the Phoenix, but it was a start.'
“Do you want to know the first thing the lion did?”
“He raced out of his house and all the way to the main fighting arena. Then he found the young dragon and confronted him. He said `I'm back and I will never stop fighting. I will fight dozens of fights, hundreds of fights, thousands of fights. I'm chasing you, dragon.' The dragon smiled at him and said `I will not stand still. I will continue to run away and move forward.'
“So the great race between the lion and the dragon began anew. At first the dragon was ahead but the lion fought hard to catch up, and then they raced into the future, two friends and rivals pursuing each other and pushing themselves to get stronger. Sometimes the dragon was ahead and sometimes the lion got ahead, but they each challenged the other to become stronger and fiercer, on into the future while trying to play the hand of god.”
“Sugoi. The end,” Miyuki smiled.
“Oh no, little one, that wasn't the end. There is no end to this path. We walk this path forever. For you see, the dragon grew up and found a beautiful lady dragon. He had a baby dragon of his own. She is a bright, brave and fierce baby dragon. One day, if she continues to love Go as much as she does now, she will grow up into a wise old dragon who may someday be the strongest creature in the forest. Of course, there is a lion cub or two who may challenge her right to that name. This is why we fight; to link the distant past with the far future.”
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There will be a second chapter to this which is a sort of epilogue.