M i m i c h i
Mimichi did most of her dreaming in the morning, it had come to be her most anticipated time of the day. When she opened her eyes, while the blurry world hurried into focus, she found she could catch full glimpses of the things that fleeted from her in the day. Some mornings she would see her home, nestled into the Lorro’s crux with naught but the torches to light it in the dark, early morning. Others, the grain in her eyes would fool her into seeing the valley proper, long and tapered like a delta of fertile land. Those were the nice mornings, the pleasant ones whose memories brought less pain than warmth. Some–bittersweetly few–were less kind. In the waking blur she would, on occasion, see her old friends. She would see the other Serpents, strolling the small roads or practicing in the field outside of the manor. She would see her brother, Sazo, sometimes happy, sometimes bearing the look of hatred and betrayal he’d worn the last time she saw him. Yuna, too, would appear on the drearier mornings. She was small, and still had hair down to her shoulders. Sometimes she would smile, sometimes she would cry.
These were the difficult mornings, where the nostalgia weighed so heavy her breath would catch and her eyes would sting. It hurt to see, but it hurt worse for the moments to pass. For every bit of agony, she would not trade them for the world.
This time she saw Hiroyuki lying beside her. His face was abnormally touched by the blur, but she could tell his eyes were shut, and he was smiling. By the way his side rose and fell, it was clear that this time he was sleeping.
A sting caught her eye, and when she blinked the world was focused, Hiroyuki was gone.
Mimichi rolled onto her back and groaned through a series of stretches. She reminded herself, 'this is not the valley,' when she was done and got to her feet. It wasn’t, these were forest trees, much taller and more densely packed than the trees of Lorro. The south was its own kind of lush, one she was not used to, but certainly welcomed. Forests were hard to track through and easy to hide in. Trading in a comfortable night’s sleep on the bed of an inn for the relative safety beneath the towering shadows was something she’d become long accustomed to.
She buried the remains of her cooking fire and pulled her bag down from the branches she’d hid it in. With dismay, she saw one of the flaps had opened, and some of her vials had come open. A misting had passed through earlier, the ground was heavily dewed, her blanket damp. Worst, the moisture had crept into her bag and turned a monkshood paste to slush, which had then seeped into a smaller satchel of raw ingredients.
Frustrated, she dumped the contents of the satchel, then buried the thing itself. It wasn’t exactly rare for ingredients to leak, but where she’d once just pick the replacements herself, her position and disposition made that difficult. She was near a small town, but during festivals even small towns were usually diligent about harvesting the most obvious herbs. What she had left–mostly odds and ends additives, and nearly empty vials of ingredients snagged from the valley–wouldn’t make much without the more basic components. She’d comb with careful eyes along the way, but it was becoming clear to her that she’d need to visit the town to restock what she could. A glance into the pocket holding her money told her it would not be much if she planned to eat.
‘There’ll be work,’ she thought with some level of certainty. Big events, big crowds, these things tended to spark conflicts, and conflicts–at least the way she implemented herself into them–brought coin. Even if nothing needed doing that day, she was confident the next days would see plenty of people in search of aid of one kind or another. Investing in the materials would be worth it. She could likely find cheap food during the festival anyway.
This time she made sure the bag was entirely shut, and all its contents were secure, before slinging it around her shoulder. Last, she hooked the two halves of her weapon to her belt, bound in cloth to keep them from clacking together as much as to hide what they were. She might have called the thing a naginata, if she’d ever seen any respectable form of the weapon come apart at the middle, and require a ridiculous twisting mechanism and pin to keep from breaking at the slightest motion. Even the blade was more a ruined spear than a glaive, which was due more to the shoddy quality of the metal than the shape itself. But it had been cheap, and, to her surprise, had endured crossing a bandit’s sword–though the edge was now severely chipped.
The town, of which she didn’t know the name, wasn’t far. With the traffic, she even felt she could follow the road without trouble. Indeed, festivals, crowds, excitement, they had their merits, and part of her wondered if she might find some enjoyment in the events herself. A small part, though, and one she didn’t give much mind to once she was on her way.