((Trying to slowly get back the free time to work on this blog, even if only once or twice a week. I hope you all like this short story set in the Love Letter universe. Yes, the story fits all legal moves in a game of Love Letter – Check in later this week for a review of the game itself!))
A young priestess was walking down a hallway, clutching a letter tightly in her hands. Her eyes darted around the castle, looking to see if anyone was in sight. Seeing nobody, she sighed and looked at the letter for what must’ve been the fourth or fifth time in nearly as many moments. It was sealed with a fancy wax seal, and the front simply said “To my beloved”. The princess’s suitors had become more numerous once she had come of age, to the point where the daimyo had ordered all letters destroyed. Due to this, suitors had begun giving their letters to those closest to the princess, promising land or food to those that could help win the princess’s heart. This was one of those love letters, and the priestess was determined to try and deliver it.
“Ohoho, what have we here?” A painted face put itself between the priestess’s face and the letter. His smile was wide, but his eyes narrow as slits. “’To my beloved’…have you a suitor, perhaps? A strapping young man to sweep you off of your feet and take you away from this droll castle life?” He straightened himself back up, only to hop over to the priestess’s other side. “Or perhaps this is your own letter? For whom does your heart pine? One of the generals, perhaps? Or maybe a lowly soldier, to get his land when he falls on the battlefield? Dare I say it’s for me? You shouldn’t have!” The bizzarely dressed man reached for the letter, but the priestess pushed his hand away.
“You know exactly what it is, clown,” she responded tersely, “Although I can understand your confusion, given that you’ve probably never received one of your own.”
His smile vanished. “Oh? Do you believe yourself special? And I thought I was the only fool around here!” He laughed, and then continued, “I’ve already handed my letter off to someone of importance. We all know that the princess’s trusted advisors would have her best interests at heart, so any letters given by them would clearly have more value.” The priestess had already began to walk down the hallway, “Do be careful, my dear!” The clown called after her. “The guards are mighty anxious nowadays, it would be a shame for that letter to be taken!”
The priestess turned a corner quickly, and nearly bowled over one of the court magicians. The elderly man nimbly hopped out of the way, robes swishing. “You seem to be in a hurry, young lady,” he said, hand reaching for his beard. “Is there something that I can help you with?”
She began to shake her head, but the clown’s words echoed in her head. “Actually…” She pulled out the letter and explained the situation to the wise man. “…and so I am trying to get this to the princess. Do you think that you could help deliver it for me?”
“As it is, I was already on my way to visit the princess. Plus, this could be an amusing diversion.” He took the letter from her hands and placed it within his robes. “Now, shall we be off?” The two walked briskly towards the princess’s quarters, only to find an argument between one of the castle guards and a samurai.
“I apologize sincerely, but all visitors must be searched before entering the inner chambers!”
“That balding money-grubber was allowed to pass through!” The samurai’s voice boomed.
“Are you talking about the minister? What reason would I have to stop him? He is under the direct employ of the shogunate.” The soldier pulled a letter from the samurai’s hand. “What is this? I believe that the daimyo made his opinion on letters of betrothal for the princess abundantly clear. This is to be confiscated.” The soldier tore the letter in half, then tossed it into a basket. The samurai glowered, and then stormed past the priestess and her compatriot. As the two walked up to the soldier, he gave them a sideways glance, and then nodded at the priestess. One of the few luxuries of her job was her constant coming and going from the princess’s chambers. Plus, few would dare interfere with the temple’s work, giving her a certain degree of protection. The two of them continued on.
A corpulent man was walking ahead of them in the hallway. He seemed to be completely disinterested in any of the samurai, soldiers, or handmaidens wandering the halls. A singular man caught his eye. “My noble general! How are you today?” The general looked up from the letter to his hand to the minster, approaching him rapidly. “We have much to talk about, the shogunate is interested to hear more about your recent capturing of that roaming pack of miscreants!” He put an arm around the general and lead him off to a side chamber.
The two finally made their way to the princess’s chamber. As they opened the door, she ran up to the two of them, holding a letter in her hand. The priestess’s heart skipped a beat. “My dear friends, look what one of the soldiers just delivered to me! ‘To my beloved’…” she stared at it for a moment, before the wizard plucked it out of her hands. With a flourish, the letter disappeared!
“Now, my princess, you know your father’s rules regarding these letters. He wishes that you not take them seriously, and wishes even further that you not receive them in the first place. I wouldn’t want for you to get in trouble.”
The princess fumed. “Return my letter to me!” She held a hand out, staring at the wizard expectantly.
“Are you sure, your highness? I cannot guarantee -”
“I will not ask again.”
With a sigh, the wizard pulled a letter out from his robes and handed it to the princess. The handmaiden noticed a very familiar-looking signet on the wax seal. The two made eye contact, and the wizard chuckled. “Now, my dear priestess, was there something that you needed to say to the princess? If not, it is time for her studies.”
The priestess smiled, and shook her head. “I just wanted to remind her that her presence was requested at this evening’s service. A good day to you both.” The priestess bowed deeply, and then left the room.