you enter the world in spring, to thickets of lilac trees and sakura blossoms. to the buzz of crickets at night and the most beautiful twinkle of stars overhead. you remember being young, over one thousand years ago. small and inexperienced, curious about this new world that you've been introduced to. wide-eyed and innocent your master's name is munechika; it is your name as well. he calls you mikazuki--it takes three nights to forge you. mikazuki
; moon of the third night. he always said that your stunning silver blade glowed brighter in the moonlight.
he also used to call you too fragile to fight. therefore, he put you on display.
you are a treasured family sword, sitting high in status in the samurai clan of ashikaga. you are pampered and preened, revered for your beauty and grace. you're so young but already you feel as thought you've lived a hundred years. you are not the only sword he forges that year, but you are one of the first. your master tells you that you are going to be a great legendary sword, someone that people will fight over. someone that others will want, no matter what the cost. you've been primed, since you were first forged, to be arrogant and vain.
you are, however, neither of those things.
vanity comes to you in someone by the name of kogitsunemaru and he is only vain because he is part fox. he doesn't think you know this, but you and him are master's only two swords for a few years before the others come along. you know kogitsune's entire story, hear your master talking about it in hushed whispers with his fiancée. blessed by the fox gods, that is kogitsunemaru.
he is preened because he is a fox. he is preened because he, too, is beautiful with his flowing white hair and his charming wine-colored eyes. he's a little rougher around the edges than you are and you attribute that to his being part fox. he interests you, he is your first friend, despite your obvious differences. he's a little more wild than you're used to; he likes climbing trees and catching bugs when his predator instincts get the better of him. you like to sit on the porch and sip tea, you like to watch the blossoms fall, and listen to the birds sing. he learns to like these things as well.
even when the others are formed and become your friends, you never feel as close to any of them as you feel to kogitsune. but this is a different kind of feeling, one you aren't sure how to explain. you watch master and his fiancée talk beneath the blossoming trees. he holds her hand as they walk and then they stop; she smiles bashfully and he tucks hair behind her ear. then he kisses her and you are transfixed. innocent and sweet, you seek out kogitsunemaru immediately.
you're no longer children, you're into what others might call your teenage years, but neither of you are entirely sure why the humans do what they do. that will take years still for you to learn. but you take him there anyway, link your arm in his and walk until you stop. there's a determination in your bright blue eyes that he later calls endearing as you stare at him. you kiss him first, with your hands splayed out on his chest, you need to rock up onto your toes to reach him properly. you are bashful when you pull away, innocent and new as this is, but he takes your face gently and leans down to do it again.
in a lifetime full of firsts you will never forget all your firsts with kogitsunemaru.
you have your first fight when iwatooshi is formed. spry and young, he comes into your lives like a whirlwind of color and sound. he's eccentric and vibrant and he likes to be violent; he feeds that fox side of kogitsune that likes to hunt, despite his proclamations that he is a monk. its jealousy that draws you cold to kogitsune, something that burns and rages so deep inside you that it makes your entire body buzz. you are jealous of iwatooshi and the time he spends with your kogitsunemaru. you don't tell him that, but he knows. he promises that he will always be yours and you don't want to doubt him, but sometimes you do.
your master is to be married to his fiancée and on that day is the first time you feel like you, too, could be married. there's no one you'd rather marry than kogitsunemaru. but a sword marrying is no easy task and you cannot do it the way humans do. frankly, you don't entirely understand the ritual, but you do know that foxes mate for life. he is willing to keep you for the rest of your lives, your raging jealousy and all. you watch their ceremony and have a quiet promise of your own. just as red ribbons keep them bound by eternal fate, you promise--as you tie a red string around your finger--that you, too, are bound.
but you have a duty as a sword and, one day, that duty calls. ashikaga yoshiteru takes you for his own and separates you from kogitsunemaru. the infamous collector of legendary swords of japan adds you to his collection, pampers and spoils you. you had little less than a day to say goodbye to the fox that stole your heart, that truly holds your everything. you act with poise and grace but inside you are destroyed.
absence does not make the heart grow fonder, it only makes it ache.
the eirkou accident will go down in history as a massacre. you'd come to respect your new master, you fit into his household with the other legendary swords, made friends and partnerships. you are loyal and demure, you are strong and diligent. you are, however, not really a fighter. he's never used you in battle before and so you realize he should have known that you weren't ready to fight. you see him back into the room, using sword after sword, your brethren, your friends. they all break, felled by the troops attacking him. you process your grief in an instant, knowing that you are the last. he pulls you to fight for him and then he is gone. a sword sliced through his belly, he falls, still with you at his side.
for the first time you feel as though you've truly failed. there was so little you could do, but so much you should have tried. you are there for your master as he takes his dying breath. afterwards, you are taken as a trophy and put on display once more. years later you come into the possession of a feared warlord who presents you to his wife, nene. a samurai. it is she that trains you to be less fragile, to be unbreakable, to be formidable. she trains with you ever day, shares he ruthless spirit with you. as much as you don't like to fight, you promise her that you will never fail again. you inherit her brutality in battle and you prove to her, and everyone, that you are not as fragile as they think.
after years of being passed around, after nene's death you are given to the tokugawa shogun family and it is there you stay until the turn of the century. you always wonder where fate has led kogitsunemaru. you've not forgotten him, how could you? you've spent a lifetime surrounded by great love. your first master and his wife, ashikaga and his, nene and toyotomi. you've seen love in its purest and weakest forms and know that this is what you feel for your bonded. you want to see him again, you want to know if he still loves you. your jealousy tells you that he must have moved on. you still keep that string on your finger, can't bear to take it off.
even when you're placed in the care of the tokyo national museum, you hold onto hope that, one day, you'll see your fox again.