I am a Mantis.
A Tsuruchi Samurai.
My life is a lie.
Among the Mantis I am truly a mixed breed. More than I can even let others know. Each generation of my mother’s line seems to marry into another family, or have a samurai marry into hers. Her line has had bad luck with the fortune of wealth and has always found it easier to keep status and wealth through politics and marriage. While the Yoritomo may descend from the Crab and the Lion of generations past, I have Samurai of both clans within the last six generations of my blood. I descend from Yoritomo, Mochi, and Tsuruchi within the last four. This has always been a point of pride for me, and I have always worshiped my ancestors with great reverence. While I was always as strong as any of my fellow Samurai, my devout nature lead me to the path of the Shugenja. While not the most skilled, I excelled in my training, gaining great insight and ties to the water kami. I also found a natural talent for with fire spirits as well, so much so that I seemed to have the blood of Osano Wo and be blessed by Moshi Azami herself, and I have tried to reflect her devotion and faith in my actions. I had many reasons to take pride in myself and my heritage, but pride is a sin and a weakness in Samurai, as it is often an illusion of arrogance.
After my Genpuku, my summoned me to discuss something that would shake my faith and destroy my pride. She had wed my father not out of love, but of duty, as is not uncommon for samurai. This was not unknown, however, when she married, there was great stress to bear him a child. While she tried, she was unable to, and went to a Shugenja with particular insight to find out what to do. She was told that there was nothing wrong, she had not offended the spirits, her body was capable, and she should be able to bear a child, but the Shugenja had divined that my father would never be able to have a child. When she told me this, her head sank and she fell silent, so in my confusion I asked what she did. She said that I was not my father’s child, and that I was in fact the son of a family servant, not even a vassal but a peasant. I was filled with emotions; shame, anger, disgust, and fear alike. I wanted to lash out, but even though I was of peasant blood, I was a still Samurai, I was a man, and I could not tell my mother what I thought. I could not betray my family and tell anyone, even though I had learned of this dark secret. I merely bowed to her and left without saying a word, and I have not said one to her since.
I sank into despair, my dreams haunted by nightmares, and my meditation clouded by doubt of myself. I began to question many things, and even questioned if I should petition for seppuku. The one thing I held onto was faith. I was a Shugenja, and my connection to the kami stayed strong. I knew that the spirits, the fortunes, and my ancestors would guide me, even if the living could not. I decided to forsake the material concerns and politics of my clan as best as I could without faltering in my duty. However, it is hard to be an aesthetic in a clan whose power is derived from wealth. My Lord was gracious in allowing me to go on a journey to find the truth of the balance between wealth and faith. In truth, nobody expects me to ever return, even though I am not officially an outcast. For him, it was a way to have me leave and release me from service without putting shame on my family. For me, it is a way to find my true path, and for that I am grateful.
While I am still plagued with doubts and nightmares, they are fewer and I believe I will find the answers I seek in the mainland, even if I must first find the right questions.