Authors Note: A short fanfic I was inspired to write after playing module SoB 25: Castle of Water for the Heroes of Rokugan campaigns. Originally it served as a way to highlight my character's reactions to the events. Now it also serves as her back story, and has turned her into a completely new character. As this RPG Series is heavily based on Japanese culture, I used Japanese terminology for much of it.

While it says it's Chapter-ed, at the moment this is more of a One Shot. I am currently lacking for inspiration to continue expanding the story. That said, I do want to continue this, so feedback will be greatly appreciated!

Disclaimer: I do not own rights to Legend of the Five Rings. Just the few Rule and Lore books that I have bought, and my character.

Spirit Singer

Chapter One: Reflective Song

The night was quiet and still around Kyuden Isawa, oldest yet newest of the Pheonix Clans Castles, and the port village below. The full moon shone brightly in the sky, granting the night guards plenty of light. Aside from these noble individuals, all of the castles inhabitants were safely asleep in their rooms. All that is, save one young woman quietly moving about her room, with only the light of a single candle and the moon to guide her.

Clad in a light robe, Kitsu Yume gently ran a brush through her raven hair one last time before setting it down. Quietly moving from her seat to where her packs lay, she began to rummage through them, looking for a few specific items that she always packed. First she drew out some simple ritual items: incense, herbs, a bag of crystals and stones, and a bottle of purified water wrapped in a thick cloth for protection, as well as a bowl, an embroidered silk cloth and some small candles. Setting these items aside, she then reached into another pack, pulling from it a sturdy painters brush and a scroll. Yume smiled at these items, stroking the brush for a moment as if greeting a friend, before setting them aside with the rest. Finally, she pulled out a small draw-string bag of blue and green fabric, and carefully packed the items inside it.

Standing again, she moved over to the futon, where a set of robes had been laid out, and swiftly but carefully changed into them. The clothes were modelled off the traditional garb of the Miko, but differed in color greatly, with the hakama being a deep green rather than red, and the yutaka an equally deep blue rather than white. Additionally, the thick hemline threads of the yutaka were done in black rather than red, and the garment was embroidered in such a way as to give the idea of waves and ripples along the fabric. Once the clothes were settled properly, Yume reached for a few accessories nearby. First was a bracelet made of blueish white scales with a single white fang hanging from it, which she settled on her right arm. Then a rosary with the same scales and fangs strung between the beads in an alternating pattern. Last came a medallion depicting the five rings of magic, each shown in their respective color; blue for water, purple for air, green for earth, red for fire, and black for void. Once this was done, she tied a green sash around her waist, and slipped her sword into it. Miko garb or not, she was still a Shugenja, a magic samurai-ko, and she would not be without her sword!

Now dressed, Yume took a moment to check herself in the mirror, her deep blue eyes scanning for anything out of place. Satisfied with her appearance, she gathered her bag and knelt in the middle of the room. Taking a moment to focus her thoughts on the task at hand, she opened her mouth and sang a strange melody. To any other person, even the Returned, the words she sang would sound like nonsense. And well they should, for she was singing in the language of the kami themselves, asking them to aid her. If one were to translate the words, they would say something like "Shield me from the eyes of mortals and foes, pull me within the veil."

As she sang, the air around Yume seemed to shimmer, like when the summer sun has heated the rocks to painful degrees. Then Yume herself began to shimmer, and become transparent to the eyes of others. At last the song ended, and Yume looked around her room. The floor, walls and ceiling were all glowing faintly with green light, as were the futon, the table, the cushions and hangings, and even the mirror. Their outlines were blurred as well, as if they weren't finite objects anymore. The water in the basin nearby was glowing as well, a much more vibrant blue, while the air flowed around her in purple swirls. She had been pulled into the veil between her world and the spirit world.

Smiling, Yume stood and began to walk to the door.

"Now I understand why they wanted me to learn this song," she said quietly to herself. "Being able to Spirit Walk like this is useful, especially when I need to leave town without being seen."

With that, Yume slipped out of her room, careful to close the door behind her, and began walking down the halls. As she did, the lone candle in the room was blown out by the breeze. With her bag slung over her shoulder, she swiftly navigated the corridors of the castle, passing by beautifully crafted statuary and carefully woven or embroidered hangings without so much as a glance. She'd admired them enough when she arrived, and they were blurred in this realm anyway, so the details were hidden. Pausing at one tapestry, Yume looked to the bracelet on her wrist. The fang had begun to glow a bright green, and was hovering in the air slightly, pointing to the tapestry beside her. Trusting the magic of the kami who gifted it to her, she slipped behind the tapestry to find a secret passage, no doubt a servant's passage or escape route of some kind. Yume quickly moved down the twists and turns of the passage, guided by the glowing fang, until at last she came to a hidden doorway leading out of the castle.

Now that she was outside, Yume took a moment to observe her surroundings. She had emerged into the forest behind the castle. The ground, plants, and rocks all glowed a vibrant jade green, fairly humming from the natural earth magic within them. Glancing up to the sky, she could see swirls and eddies of purple colored winds against the shimmering black of the void beyond them. Within the void were specks of red light, showing the far distant stars. Only the moon remained unchanged, her shape defined and her silver light shining down upon the world in her nightly vigil.

Yume quickly shook herself out of her reverie. She could not afford to lose her focus now! She had an important task to complete! Taking a few breaths to center herself, she focused on what she needed; a safe location surrounded by the elements, steeped in spiritual power where she could complete her task. With this firmly in mind, Yume opened her eyes and once again began to sing. This time, it was the Song of Guidance.

"Lead me to the place I seek, where we may gather and speak in peace," was the rough translation. As she sang, Yume walked forward into the trees, putting her faith in the spirits around her. As if to reward her for her trust, the spirits began to show themselves around her. Little tree spirits called Kodama ran beside her on the forest floor, one of them darting ahead to lead the way. Larger, more humanoid tree kami, the mothers of the little Kodama, joined as well, with one of them taking her left hand. Animal spirits gathered around, deer, foxes, wolves, squirrels, birds, and mice all walking or fluttering along, as though enjoying the song. A pair of Kitsune, differentiated from their ordinary fox cousins by their many tails, darted ahead to ensure the way to Yume's destination was clear.

As they walked along, a small part of Yume's mind couldn't help but remember the events that led to her being able to walk among the spirits like this. It had all occurred many years ago, when she was but a small child known as Chiyo. She had been heavily sheltered back then, due to having been born under the Curse of the Meido. Because of it, any time she wasn't involved in a task or game, she would enter a trance-like state and lose all focus of her surroundings. At the same time, she would always feel compelled to sing just as the trance started, and would often wander mindlessly in this state. Then one day, she emerged from the trance to find herself in the middle of a forest far from her home village. Frantic and scared, she had attempted to find her way out only to get even more lost, until she finally collapsed at a river.

"That's when I had the epiphany," Yume thought to herself. "I had always blamed my trances on my habit of singing when bored, so I decided that if singing without thought got me into that mess, then maybe singing with a clear purpose would get me out of it."

And that was exactly what she did. Sitting on that riverbank, she sang for someone to find her, and help her find her way home. The pure emotion and magic of her voice drew two local kami to her. First was the Kami of the river itself, a beautiful blue and white dragon who asked to be called Yoshie. The other was the acting protector of the forest, a wolf spirit with a radiant white coat named Chie.

After hearing her story, the two had examined her closely for several long moments, conferring quietly on whatever they saw in her, before both agreed to guide her safely home. Chie had used her keen sense of smell to follow the trail Chiyo had left in her wake, while Yoshie took on a more human form and walked beside the little girl, telling her stories to distract her. Whenever Chiyo had tired, they would take turns carrying her. When they were finally within sight of her village, the two spirits had offered her a bracelet made of Yoshie's scales and one of Chie's fangs, the same one Yume now wore. They told her she had an important destiny, and the bracelet would allow them to watch over her and guide her when she needed them.

And guide her they certainly did. In the years that followed, the two spirits became Chiyo's close friends and mentors. They taught her many things about the spirit world, and about her destiny. They had even gone so far as to teach her how to understand their language, and to sing the sacred songs, which they told her was very important to her fulfilling her destiny. Exactly what that destiny was, they waited to tell her until she was nearing her coming of age, where she would take on her Adult name before going out into the world.

At long last the strange procession arrived at a glade far from the castle. The ground was covered in sweet grasses and clover, perfect for the deer to snack on, with closed flowers all around, waiting for the sun to return. To one side of the glade was a crystalline spring, feeding into a stream that disappeared into the forest, no doubt to join with a distant river. Beyond the trees opposite the spring, Yume could clearly hear the sounds of the sea, letting her know that they were near the shoreline. All of it was lit by the jade, sapphire and amethyst glow of the elements magic, creating a truly mystical atmosphere.

Smiling, Yume let the song fade away with a murmur of thanks as she moved to the center of the glade. There she knelt and began her final preparations for her task. First she laid out the silk cloth in her bag, revealing images of graceful dragons and proud wolves lovingly stitched into its face. Upon this she set the bowl, filling it halfway with water from the cloth-wrapped bottle. One of the tree kami came over then, her hands cupping water from the spring with not a drop escaping. She gently poured this water into the bowl as well, eliciting another smile of gratitude from Yume. Next came the candles, one set on each corner of the cloth and lit, adding the faint red glow of their magic to the many lights of the world. The herbs came next, sprinkled along the edges of the fabric, followed by a few stones and crystals from the bag. Lastly came the incense, the scroll, and the brush. Lighting the stick of incense from the candles, Yume secured it in the ground beside the silk cloth. She then opened scroll, revealing it to be completely blank, laid it across the length of the cloth, and settled the brush at one end of it. For the finishing touch, she removed her sword from her sash, and laid it along the bottom edge of the cloth.

Finally ready to begin, Yume stood and once again focused her mind, this time on what she wished to convey to those gathered around her. Taking a breath, she began once again to sing. First came the Song of Gathering, calling as many of the local kami to her as would heed her voice, followed by the Song of Greeting to welcome them to the glade. The area was now filled with spirits of many different elements, rather than just the earth spirits who had guided her here. Air spirits of all kinds gathered on the tree branches, some taking the forms of winged people of ethereal beauty, while others appeared as birds, bats, and even insects. A pair of dragons rose, one from the spring and one from the stream, and settled themselves near-by. Ningyo and graceful water people slipped through the trees that blocked the ocean from sight, wondering why they had been called to land. Finally, her beloved Guardians Chie and Yoshie arrived from their distant forest, greeting her with soft nuzzles before settling behind her.

Her audience gathered, Yume shifted from the traditional songs to a new one, a prayer for the sake of the two young girls she had met in her recent adventure into the domain of the Oracle of Water, twin sisters Isawa Sayuri and Mitako. This song she joined with a dance, to help her convey her wish to the gathered spirits. Through them, she prayed for the girls' well-being and happiness upon the roads they were set to take, imploring the spirits to watch over them. She prayed for their bond to remain strong, and for prosperity to find them on their paths. Finally she prayed for fortitude on behalf of Mitako, whose destiny was now set in stone, and would one day part her from her sister. Unnoticed by Yume, the brush she had set down lifted itself onto its tip, and colored ink began to appear on its bristles.

As Yume continued her song and dance, her mind replayed the events of the previous day. She had journeyed to Kyuden Isawa with her samurai mentor, a man of the Lion Clan entrusted with helping her gain confidence in navigating the courts, to participate in talks of whether or not the Returned should be allowed to stay in the world of the living. However, the talks had been cut short when word came of a missing ship carrying Isawa students. Yume and her mentor were among those tasked with discovering what happened and finding the missing children, a process made easier by the discovery of Isawa Sayuri, one of a set of twins aboard the missing ship, yet also made direr, to Yume at least, with the revelation that the common peoples children had been disappearing for a while.

After a series of events that Yume shuddered to think about, involving some crazed Nezumi aboard a pirate ship, they had been pulled beneath the very waves to the Oracles castle. There they had found the lost children, including Sayuri's twin sister Mitako, safe and unharmed, playing under the watchful eyes of the Oracle herself. Her story and reason behind keeping the children with her had been heart-breaking to Yume, but she could not in good conscience allow the Honorable Being to continue her actions. That said, she had still hesitated to speak, for she had not been given permission to reveal her true identity to other humans yet. In the end though, she had stepped forward when the Courtier from the Pheonix Clan could not find the right words to sway the Oracle.


"My Lady Oracle, if I may be permitted to speak?" Yume inquired, stepping past her companions. Said men looked at her in surprise, especially her mentor, and she didn't blame them in the least. This was a far cry from her usual shy self, and she had to focus on the woman in front of her to keep from slipping back into that state.

The Oracle's eyes focused on her, and examined her for a moment before she responded. "And who are you, young spirit-touched shugenja?"

Yume had to bolster her courage a moment before answering. "I am Kitsu Yume, Lady Oracle. I am the new Spirit Singer."

The Oracle of Water's eyes widened a moment, before gentling as she smiled. "I see. You are most welcome in my domain. Do not worry about being exposed child. I shall wipe the memory of your revelation from the minds of your ningen companions when you all leave."

The samurai with Yume started at that, not understanding the significance of her Title. She quickly responded before any of them could interrupt.

"Thank you My Lady. The talks of my being revealed to the ningen are still ongoing, so it had been a concern."

"Of course dear one," the Oracle stated, smiling kindly. "But come, you asked to speak. Do you have a view to add to this conflict?"

"Yes my Lady Oracle," Yume said respectfully, gathering a bit more of her courage. She needed to be careful with her words here. "I understand where you are coming from, with your desire to protect these children, as I have similar desires. But I fear that, by hiding these children away, you yourself are causing them harm."

"Am I now?" The Oracle asked with narrowed eyes. "Please explain. In what way am I harming these children?"

"There are many ways my Lady." Yume asserted calmly. "For one, I am sure that many of these children still have parents of their own, as well as siblings and other relatives. People they undoubtedly miss and wish to see again."

Sayuri chose that moment to speak up. "She's right. Mitako and I already have parents, and we would like to return to them."

The Oracle seemed to consider this, and Yume nodded to the child before continuing. "In addition, by removing the children from the outside world, you are preventing them from completing their destinies, and harming the empire as a whole. These children will not remain as they are now. They will grow into adults one day, and will be woefully unprepared for life then. I understand that you wish to spare them from pain, but the truth is that pain is a necessary evil meant to strengthen the body, mind, and soul. Would you truly be willing to allow such things to be stymied?"

*Flaxhback end*

The Oracle had reeled back as if struck by Yume's words. She'd looked to the children around her with hooded eyes, before looking to Yume and admitting that she may be right. She had agreed to return the children to their homes, and decided that it was past time for her to begin searching for a successor. Surprisingly, Mitako had then stepped up and revealed that she had been dreaming of the Oracle for some time, and her destiny was to become the new Oracle of Water. She offered to stay, but requested her sister be allowed to remain as well for as long as she wished. A request the Oracle granted, after warning them that eventually they would be parted by Mitako's destiny.

With that, the whole conflict came neatly to a close. The Oracle agreed to testify on behalf of the Nezumi to the Celestial Courts, as the crime that left them crazed had been made out of ignorance. Avoiding the questions of Yume's companions afterwards, she sent them all back to Kyuden Isawa, and the children to their homes on the surface. True to her word, the Oracle did indeed alter her companion's memories so they did not remember Yume's hidden identity. They returned to the castle with the rest of the Isawa students, and reported on what had transpired beneath the waves. Yume herself had received much praise for her part in resolving the conflict, which had made her shyness return with a vengeance, much to everyone's amusement.

At last Yume's Song of Prayer came to an end. As the last few notes left her lips, she stilled from her dancing to stand before her simple alter. Opening her eyes, Yume smiled to see the brush putting the finishing touches on a full color ink painting of Isawa Sayuri and Mitako. The images portrayed them both as she had last seen them in the Oracles Domain, and how she pictured them in the future she had prayed for, strong, confident, beautiful, and secure in their paths. Hovering over the painting were two of the smaller air spirits, a bird and a dragonfly. Yume had to stifle a giggle at the sight of them, for the bird spirit was holding the dragonfly spirit upside down by his tail, stabilizing him while he used his rapidly beating wings to help the ink dry a bit faster. After completing the last strokes of the painting, the brush settled itself down at the end of the scroll, radiating a sense of satisfaction and pride in its work as the ink faded from its bristles.

"Well done my friend," Yume said to the brush, or rather, to the spirit of the brush, her voice slightly hoarse from singing for so long. "A truly fine work indeed."

The sound of soft footsteps drew her gaze up from her alter, to see the spring kami approaching in a humanoid form. In his hands was a crystal bowl filled with cool water from his spring, which he offered to her. With a grateful smile, Yume accepted the bowl and drank deep of the water, soothing her sore throat and quenching her thirst.

With the nights most pressing task done, Yume settled herself beside her alter to rest for a bit. As she did so, the gathered spirits began to approach. For the next few hours, Yume spoke with the many spirits who had joined her, learning their names and faces, all while letting them get to know her as more than just a random girl. Eventually the spirits began to disperse, returning to their homes or nightly duties. As they left, one of the ningyo turned to Yume, and assured her that they would convey her prayers to the Oracle and the twins. Smiling, Yume watched them all go with words of farewell, until the only ones left in the glade were herself, her Guardians, and her alter.

"That was very well done Little One," Yoshie said with a mothering smile. "You are coming along quite well."

Yume couldn't help but flush slightly at the praise, causing Chie to snort in amusement.

"She is right Cubling," the she-wolf stated. "You have come a long way from the tiny child you once were, and we are both very proud of you. A few more years and you will be ready to take your place as the Spirit Singer, mediator of the Spirit Realms."

"Thank you Chie, Yoshie," Yume responded, smiling happily. "I couldn't have done any of it without your help."

"Think nothing of it, my dear," Yoshie returned lightly. "But come, the ink is dry now and it is very late. We'd best get you back to that castle so you can sleep. We don't want anyone asking awkward questions should you sleep in late tomorrow."

With that, Yume packed away her alter, pouring the water back into the spring and burying the incense. The painted scroll she handed off to Yoshie, who would place it with others in her sacred shrine for safe keeping when she returned home. Happily, Yume returned to the castle, guided and protected by her beloved teachers, leaving no signs that she had ever been in the glade at all that night, as was only proper. After all, she had a reputation to uphold as the Spirit Singer.