Avatar: Hm? Whose map is this? And what are all these figurines?
Yukimura: Lord Avatar! My apologies! I've made a mess of the table.
Avatar: So this all belongs to you, then?
Yukimura: Yes, I thought I'd run through some tactical exercises for our next encounter.
Avatar: By all means, continue. Your advice has been invaluable to us. You are a man of singular talent and genius.
Yukimura: I would not go that far, milord. I merely had good teachers. The knowledge I possess was given to me by King Sumeragi and my father.
Avatar: You learned from both of them?
Yukimura: Yes. I learned the fundamentals from my father, who was minister in his day. Later, I was sent to serve the king as an aide. I saw firsthand how he took my father's strategies and took them even further.
Avatar: Is your father still around?
Yukimura: No, he died on his sickbed when I was still quite young. However, I spent much of my youth pouring over all the papers he left behind. Battle strategies, fighting techniques, tactical manuals—all sorts of things. Afterward, the king more or less took me under his wing. I suppose you could say that King Sumeragi was like a second father to me.
Avatar: I know he... He died trying to protect me. I'm so sorry. It's my fault we both lost him.
Yukimura: Lord Avatar, stop right there. It was never your fault. It was King Garon's. And it happened long ago. There is no benefit in us discussing this now.
Avatar: I know, I know.
Yukimura: Now, I think I should clean up this table. I finished the exercises before you got here.
Avatar: Yukimura, what tactics would you suggest we use in this situation? If we pursued, it would leave our allies over there vulnerable, which seems reckless. However, it would also take out a huge number of the enemy in a single action. And the gains made from their sacrifice might save many lives in the fights to come.
Avatar: It's a very difficult situation, don't you agree?
Yukimura: Ah, my apologies, Lord Avatar. You are correct. It's a very difficult situation. The only thing to do is to decide for yourself which loss was acceptable. It reminds me of something.
Avatar: What's that?
Yukimura: The one and only time that King Sumeragi scolded me.
Avatar: He scolded you? What could you have possibly done to make him upset?
Yukimura: It was during a discussion much like this, where we considered different scenarios. I developed a plan involving puppets and traps that wuld decimate the enemy. It was an extremely effective plan, saving many of us while eliminating the enemy. However, when I recommended the plan, King Sumeragi grew very angry.
Avatar: What did he say?
Yukimura: "It's not a matter of killing as many people as possible. That is not what war is about." He placed much importance and value on the lives of enemy soldiers. He did not believe in killing any wh surrendered. Nor did he approve of killing without giving a man a chance to surrender. It was this latter point my plan was in conflict with.
Yukimura: At the time, I thought he was being a soft-hearted fool. But now I see his wisdom. The plan you presented to me tries to reduce the bloodshed of your own allies. But you should not be so quick to shed enemy blood needlessly either. Conquerors make a wasteland and call it a peace. This is not our way.
Avatar: I think I understand.
Yukimura: Many people naively think reason and logic are opposed to emotion and compassion. In truth, the former cannot exist without the latter. The simplest decision are, at bottom, rooted in the inner life of the individual. A person cannot walk across a room without asserting some kind of value. I believe that understanding this is the hallmark of a master tactician.
Avatar: I will remember your words, Yukimura. Your words... but also those of my father.
Yukimura: I believe that would please him greatly.
Avatar: I've been thinking a lot after out last conversation, and I want to say something. My father i no longer with us because of me. And I am tremendously sorry I caused you such pain.
Yukimura: Hm? Didn't I tell you the other day that you needn't say such things?
Avatar: Even so, I only realized after our talk just how large a role he played in others' live. Not just in my family's lives, or even in all the people of Hoshido's lives. But in the lives of those he met and knew personally, simply as a man. And, in particular... I realized just how important he must have been to you. You looked so happy and peaceful while you were talking about him... So I DO feel I need to apologie to you.
Yukimura: Milord... The truth is, when I heard that Lord Sumeragi died, I indeed resented you for it.
Yukimura: I was still very immature, I must admit. But as I grew older, those feelings faded. And in their place, a new respect for the king arose. Lord Sumeragi fulfilled his greatest duty as a father by protecting his son. Now I feel his end was one of the few befitting a man of his integrity and virtue.
Avatar: I'm not sure it's my place to say this, but I think he would be happy to hear that.
Yukimura: Thank you, Lord Avatar. It does me good to hear you say that as well.
Avatar: He was a father to both of us. As his sons, let us strive to live up to his example.
Yukimura: Yes, and to do so in all things we are and all that we may someday become. As warriors, as statesmen, as fathers... All things.
Avatar: Yes. I believe we can do it, so long as when one of us falls the other helps them up.
Avatar: Yukimura, could I have a moment of your time?
Yukimura: If it isn't Lady Avatar. How can I be of service?
Avatar: Well...I was wondering if you could tell me about my parents.
Yukimura: You mean King Sumeragi and Queen Mikoto?
Avatar: Yes. You served them both, right? I was hoping you'd tell me what they were like.
Yukimura: Ah, I see. You don't have many memories of them. You were quite young. Where shall I begin? Perhaps with King Sumeragi?
Avatar: Sure! What was he like?
Yukimura: He was hard on himself, but he treated all his subjects with dignity and respect. It was this, more than anything, that earned him the trust of his people. However, he was a different man with his family.
Avatar: Really? How so?
Yukimura: When he was with them, he shrugged off the mantle of the King of Hoshido. And instead, he simply focused on being the best father he could possibly be. I remember when you were a babe, he'd come to check on you ever day. At court, he rarely smiled, but when he was around you he never stopped beaming. It was a heartwarming sight.
Avatar: I had no idea.
Yukimura: As for your mother, Queen Mikoto—she thought of you as her pride and joy. If you so much as sneezed, she would dash around the castle in a mad panic. It was always left up to me and Orochi to help calm her down. Heh.
Avatar: Haha. That sounds like a lot of work. Sorry for causing you so much trouble.
Yukimura: Oh, not at all. I look back on those days fondly. Both of them loved you very deeply, Lady Avatar. So. Does that help with your problem? I imagine your sudden curiosity was brought on by some trouble. No?
Avatar: It was that easy to tell?
Yukimura: It was. But you can talk to me about it if you feel it will help.
Avatar: Both of them... Both of them died protecting me. Sometimes I think if I had never been born, they'd still be alive.
Yukimura: Do you still feel this way?
Avatar: No... And I feel a bit better after hearing you talk about them. It sounds like I really made them happy, which is worth something.
Yukimura: Yes, you did. That reminds me! I have something to show you.
Avatar: What is it?
Yukimura: It will take me some time to find it, so you'll just have to wait until then.
Yukimura: Lady Avatar, I found the object I wanted to show you. It's this.
Avatar: A box? Oh! Is this a gadget of some sort?
Yukimura: Yes, that would be one way to describe it. Here, take a look.
Avatar: Is that paper inside it? What's on the paper?
Yukimura: They're pictures. You can move the lid to the right to look at them.
Avatar: Oh! It's...
Yukimura: Your parents, yes. This is what they looked like when you were a baby. And if you tug on this rope on the side of the box like so... it changes to the next picture. You might think of it as an automated storybook.
Avatar: Wow! This is amazing! And they're all pictures of us! Did you make this, Yukimura?
Yukimura: Yes. And I drew the pictures as well. It took quite some time. I worked on it nights on end for you.
Avatar: For me?
Yukimura: Yes. At the time, both Queen Mikoto and King Sumeragi were very busy. It was difficult for them to find time to play with you. But they didn't want you to feel lonely, so they asked me to make this.
Avatar: That was very kind of them.
Yukimura: After you were taken, it broke the queen's heart to see it, so I stowed it away. I never thought I'd be showing it to you again one day as a grown lady.
Avatar: Yukimura...I think I remember having seen some of these before. Only just barely, but I do. Mother and Father are at my side...laughing?
Yukimura: I'm so glad you remembered. I'm sure your parents would be happy to hear it too. So please, Lady Avatar, you must dry your tears.
Avatar: Ah! I'm sorry! I didn't even realize...
Yukimura: Don't worry about it. It's OK. Please let me know if there's anything I can do for you. And know that if you'd like, you can come by anytime to look at these pictures, OK?
Yukimura: Ah, Lady Avatar. Have you come to look at my pictures again?
Avatar: Yes. I never get tired of looking at them. They feel so...familiar. And warm. Happy.
Yukimura: You may take them with you, if you'd like.
Avatar: Really? Are you sure? But you've taken such good care of them all this time.
Yukimura: They were made for you. I think it is right that you should have them. Please, don't give it a second thought.
Avatar: Thank you, Yukimura. I'll take good care of them.
Yukimura: I'm glad you like them so much. I hope these pictures will be a source of strength for you in these difficult times. Just as they were to me.
Avatar: What do you mean?
Yukimura: After you were taken, I would sometimes look at these pictures. I lost my family when I was young, so looking at these always cheered me up. You all look so happy in them. And I was, of course, very close to your father. And when I felt short of hope, these reminded me there was good in the world. There was still happiness, and family, and honor. Things worth fighting to preserve.
Avatar: Yukimura... I vow to you, on these pictures—on the honor of my father and my mother... I will protect Hoshido. I will bring peace to this world.
Yukimura: Then I once more vow to you: I will give all that I am to help you protect Hoshido.
Avatar: Hello, Yukimura. What brings you here today?
Yukimura: I have something I’d like to give you. Would you take a look?
Avatar: It’s a picture of the two of us. What made you want to do this?
Yukimura: I thought it would be nice to add to your picture-box. Something of an update. To show the woman you’ve grown into and the bond we’ve formed. What do you think?
Avatar: That’s a great idea! I’ll go get the box.
Yukimura: Wait—before we do that, there’s something I wish to tell you.
Avatar: What is it?
Yukimura: Lady Avatar, when I drew this picture, the bond I wanted to represent… It was not simply supposed to be that between a princess and her advisor. Nor was it only a bond of friendship.
Avatar: What do you mean?
Yukimura: I mean that...That is to say… I love you, Lady Avatar!
Yukimura: I wish to support you in all things. Not only as a servant, but as your husband. When you came back to us, I saw in you the same strengths I saw in your parents. But since then I have come to see so much more. I see someone I could love forever. I wish to stay by your side, always at hand to draw new memories for your picture-box. Memories that we’ll make...together. Would you like that?
Avatar: I’m so happy to hear you say that!
Avatar: Yes! As we’ve grown closer, I’ve come to feel the same way about you. Yukimura...will you be with me?
Yukimura: Yes! Yes, of course.
Avatar: Thank you...I love you so much.
Yukimura: We will make new memories together every day... my love.
Kana: Hey, Papa! I've been making a ton of progress on our contest! How about you?
Yukimura: Well, I haven't done anything too special yet, but she's thanked me many times. Let's see... I've got a tally right here.
Kana: WOW! That's so many! And you got all of these already?
Yukimura: Yes. I am as surprised as you are. I suppose I do more for your mother than I thought. Heh. It's a nice feeling. Maybe I'm an OK husband after all...
Kana: Hmph... Well, I'm still not going to lose! Here, see! I recorded all mine too! And the total is...um...
Yukimura: Hmph! It appears we have the same number.
Kana: We do? We do! Haha! Kana's gonna beat you big-time, Papa! I don't have to work like you, so I've been spending all day doing things for her!
Yukimura: Heh. So that's your secret. And what, precisely, were you doing?
Kana: Mostly I've been trying to help out around camp! I spend each morning making arrows for the fletchers. Then, at lunch, I slice the bear meat and hand out food to the soldiers. Oh, and at night I make sure the mounts are all fed and outfitted for the next day. Plus I do a bunch of other little things whenever I have the time!
Yukimura: I see. That's quite a lot of work for someone your age. I'm impressed. You really have been growing up, haven't you?
Yukimura: Oh, just a thought. It wasn't so long ago you were still a cute little lump in swaddling clothes. Now, all of a sudden, you're making real, important contributions to the army. Maybe I've been treating you like too much of a child as well.
Kana: Heehee. Yeah, I've been working real hard. Soon there'll be nothing I can't do!
Yukimura: I believe it. And I bet your mother has been very proud of you.
Kana: I hope so! And I'm gonna make her even prouder tomorrow!
Yukimura: I'm sure you will, Son. (Hrm. This is turning out to be more difficult than I believed it would be...)
Yukimura: What's the matter? I expected you to still be exulting after your little victory the other day. Or has besting your father already lost its charm?
Kana: Oh, no. I'm still happy about that, I guess. It's just that I was trying to do things for Mama earlier, and she made me stop. She said I should be spending more time playing around with my friends again. She still thinks I'm just a kid. Haven't I shown her I'm old enough to handle helping out around camp?
Yukimura: I see—so that's it. I wouldn't worry. It's not you. You're doing good work, I promise.
Kana: Then why doesn't she want me to help with anything?
Yukimura: I think your mother knows full well you're capable of handling these things. But seeing you acting so grown up makes her feel sad.
Kana: Huh? Why?
Yukimura: Well, she doesn't want to lose her baby boy. She is very, very proud that you're growing up and working so hard. But at the same time, she's worried it means you won't need her anymore. It's a little silly, but it's true. Parents can be funny like that.
Kana: So...what should I do?
Yukimura: I'd say to keep helping out around camp, but don't work yourself so hard. Take breaks to see your friends, play games, go on adventures. You know. And try to spend some quality time with your mother every now and then. Think you can handle that?
Yukimura: What? Do you not want to spend time with your mother?
Kana: No, that's not it! It's just... I feel like that stuff is for babies.
Yukimura: No, Kana, it's not for babies. It's for children. And your mother wants you to stay a child for just a little while longer. We both do.
Yukimura: Kana, we know that you're growing and that you want more responsibilities. And we know that you're going to be a fine young man someday. But for now...relax. Don't try to grow up so quickly.
Kana: OK. Thanks, Papa. I'll think real hard about everything you said.
Yukimura: Good. You know... I think it would be good if you spent the night in with your mother. I'll go talk to her about it now.
Kana: Wait! What about you?
Yukimura: What? Me? No, I have wor—
Kana: But, Papa! I thought you wanted me to enjoy my childhood. It wouldn't be much of a childhood without a papa...
Yukimura: Ghhk. W-well, when you put it that way... All right, all right. Go tell your mother.
Yukimura: How does he do it? Sometimes I'm not sure which of us is in charge here. But...I'm glad he talked me into it. A night in with the family sounds splendid.