Dreams of the Kisei -- A Prologue
by Aris Katsaris - email@example.com
Author's Note: This piece stands by itself, but is at the same time a prologue to a much longer story I plan to write. All of the characters belong to the creators of Hikaru no Go, used here without permission or intention of profit, etc, etc.
"I have been here before... "
And he turned, and Sai was there looking at him, in his dream, as had happened but once before. And his heart filled with joy, and his eyes brimmed with tears, and his tongue stumbled over the thousand things he had wanted to tell him in the past ten years.
But Sai was not smiling this time.
Hikaru awoke and for a long moment just lay absolutely still, staring at the ceiling, hearing nothing but his own heartbeat and Akari's soft breath next to him as she slept.
Why had Sai appeared to him again after so much time, when Hikaru had long lost hope of seeing him ever again, during his lifetime at least?
Hikaru had been content with the memory of Sai and the games they had played together. Content in the knowledge that Sai was still with him in every single game he played.
Content with the image of that last nostalgic smile, carved forever in his heart.
Sai had not been smiling this time.
The room suddenly seemed much colder and he felt a shudder go though him.
He disentagled himself gently from Akari's soft arms and walked over to the window. Moonlight streaming over the city of Tokyo. It looked more beautiful than ever before. Then he glanced back at Akari's sleeping figure and smiled as the exact same thought crossed his mind.
And at the living room outside there were the plaques and trophies indicating him as the holder of the Tengen and Kisei titles. New trophies and new titles might soon be added. He hoped he'd soon get to challenge Touya for his own new Meijin title -- and smiled again as he thought of how the two of them had quickly made the titles of Japan little more than the battlefield for their own eternal, if friendly, rivalry.
I have everything, he thought. I have fulfilled all of my dreams.
Another memory came suddenly to his mind, vivid and strong and absolutely fitting. A short theatrical play that Tsutsui had written long ago, when they were still all attending Haze Jr. High, and which all the members of the Go Club of that time -- and Kaga as well -- had then acted out.
What is this feeling inside that will not disappear? I am now at the top of everything, what do I have to fear?
Mitani had spoken those words then, the words of general Mitsuhige. Triumphant over the tyrannical Shogun, Nobunaga, but unable to find his defeated enemy's head, and staring at the triple Ko that had formed on the Shogun's goban. A triple Ko - an omen of great misfortune. An omen given to Nobunaga as he was standing at the top of *his* world. An omen which Mitsuhige then took for himself.
Mitsuhige was also to be killed, just eleven days later.
What do you have to fear, Sai? Is something bad going to happen? Is this a warning?
"Hikaru? What is it?"
Her eyes were open and she was looking at him fondly, still half-covered in the sheets of their bed.
"Did I awake you? I'm sorry, " he said.
"That's okay. Why did you get up?"
"I... I woke up and didn't feel as if I'd get any more sleep tonight."
"Hmph." Akari frowned. "And rather than cuddle next to me, you preferred to look at the city instead. Tell me, do all newlywed men get so quickly bored of their wives?"
He smiled in spite of himself. "You don't do mock anger nearly convincing enough, Akari."
"Hmph." But she was also smiling.
They stayed like that for a long minute. He let his gaze drift back outside.
"You look so handsome like that, Hikaru."
"Hmm? Like what?"
"Like that. Thoughtful, gazing at the city. Moonlight washing over a half-naked body. You are like the image of a god. Or a saint. The Kisei-sama. Mmmm."
He grinned. "You should compliment my looks more often, Akari! Or I would start thinking it's my brains you married me for!"
"Hmph. Get off your high horse. Most of the time you are the *other* you, the one who's not divinely handsome, just very very cute." She giggled.
"The other me? Are we back to the 'there's another person inside you' thing, Akari? Touya first said that almost ten years ago -- you are a little bit behind on things!"
She groaned and rolled her eyes skywards.
"I'm not talking about Sai, you dolt. Another... *you*. Anyone could see it, really. There's the Shindou Kisei you, the one who thinks deep thoughts that most of us couldn't follow, serious, meditative...
"And then again there's the Hikaru-kun you, the one who takes me to the latest Disney flicks, gets all upset when Dumbledore dies in the seventh Harry Potter book and has problems following a simple grocery list. And when he proposed to me, he was so nervous that he put his elbow in his dinner plate and twice dropped the ring before he did it right."
Hikaru thought about it for a second, and then cocked his head. "Which one of us is sharing your bed, then?"
She threw a pillow at him and he caught it laughing, but when he looked at Akari again, her expression seemed to have suddently grown sober and thoughtful.
"That's Hikaru. That's definitely Hikaru. It's Hikaru-kun that's mine."
She looked at him, with a brief smile again. "The Kisei on the other hand is Touya's. And Sai's of course. He belongs to the Go community and to Japan and to the world. He stands at the top of everything and very few people can reach him there."
Her smile grew furtive and she bit her lips. "Hikaru stands at a far better place, by my side."
Hikaru considered that for a long moment.... at a far better place... that's not the way he had thought of it just a minute ago, was it? No, it was more like...
"There is no difference," he said out loud.
He looked back at her and grinned widely. "Tell Akari-chan that both Hikaru-kun and Kisei-sama think that being by her side *is* to be standing at the top of the world."
She blinked. And then slowly a wild blush came over her face, such that he didn't remember seeing on her since their very first time together as a couple.
"Oh. Hikaru... that was... oh.... one of the most... that you've ever... oh, I love you so!"
In a second (he never really understood how she had moved so fast) Hikaru found himself with an armful and mouthful of Akari, as she had somehow leapt from the bed straight into his embrace and started kissing him madly all over his face.
"Um.. Ak- will you, um... Akari! mmfh, that's very nice bu-- oh, okay!"
For a quite long time afterwards the only sounds to pass between them were squeals of laughter and screams of pleasure. And Hikaru allowed his heart to be lightened of the burden of Sai's frightened and frightening expression, and when he and Akari would fall asleep again, entwined in each other, their sleep was deep and restful and dreamless, filled only with the smell and feel of each other's bodies.
And just before he fell asleep again he thought: Sai -- I have the joy of this existence. I know you don't begrudge it to me and I will treasure every second. And whatever dread thing you fear... no matter what happens I will face it and protect all that is important to me. And strive after all of my dreams.
To face what frightens you.. that is what must be done in life as well as in Go. For Hikaru as well as the Kisei. And I'll do that, Sai. I will do that.
That same night, across the Japanese Sea, on the Korean peninsula, the unstable son of a dictator, madly trying to cling to the vestiges of his regime's crumbling power, launches the first nuclear attack the world had seen since the end of World War II. The target: Seoul, and hundreds of thousands of people of that city would be incinerated in a handful of seconds, as they slept in their beds.
But the wars that were soon to come in the ensuing months would envelop the whole of eastern Asia, from China and the two Koreas, all the way to Taiwan and Japan and Vietnam and Laos and the Phillipines. Millions would perish, borders would be recarved at will, nations would cease to exist, and the dreams of the people of an entire continent would turn into nightmares.
The Dread Year of the Panasiatic War had arrived.
Here follows an excerpt from the foreword of "2011-2020: A decade of Japanese Go in Review", published by the Go Institute of Japan.
There's no aspect of Asian culture that can be discussed in a modern setting without talking about the effects of the Dread Year of 2012 upon it. In the area of Go one might at first glance think the effects would be lesser than in the fields of science, of art, or (of course) of politics. Nonetheless the two-month occupation of Japan by Chinese forces left its catastrophic mark upon this area of human endeavour also. Among the thousands of artists, singers, journalists, politicians and scientists that the military junta of China rounded up and took to concentration camps in the mainland, with the accusation that they were "bearers of Japanese and Western cultural imperialism", was the rising star of Shindou Hikaru, Kisei and Tengen at the time.
The most experienced Go veterans all described him as the man who could be the next Honinbou Shusaku in terms of skill and strength in the game, his amazing ability all the more impressive due to the youthfulness of this young Master - a youth which makes the tragedy of his loss all the more intense and yet at the same time constitutes a sad parallel to Honinbou Shusaku's own early demise.
As we all know, out of the thousands of prisoners thus brutally carted off to mainland Asia none ever returned, and within one year China had announced their execution, a fact which China's military junta itself denounced as a war crime and later used as an excuse for internal purging during its years of political infighting.
Little would that denounciation matter to the families of the thousands of civilians murdered in this fashion - and little would it matter to Shindou's young widow and orphan daughter; a child that Shindou would never see, born nine months after the start of the war.
- Kosemura Miyazaki
Dreams of the Kisei -- End