1703 AD

I climbed the hill one final time to talk to him.

Upon reaching the summit, I was greeted by a warm and now familiar sight I had come to enjoy daily over the past two years. For the briefest moment I wondered how much I will miss this place; then I let it go. The cobble-lined walkway towards the temple, found atop The Ascent of a Thousand Steps and leading up to the proving grounds and the main halls beyond, was opened in the middle by a sturdy and determined cherry blossom tree featured in perpetual bloom—a truly spectacular sight to behold. The surrounding earth was carpeted in thick, attentively manicured grass, and the butterflies still preferred this particular spot over any other in the entirety of the vast temple gardens to frolic about.

Senpai Yasahiro was raking the fallen blossoms again into neat little piles on the lawn. I always thought he approached the task of yard work with more delicacy than required, but he always seemed so content in his decision that I never felt the need to question him about it.

He greeted my smiling approach without breaking from his flowers.

“We remain foolish, brother. Always so eager to exact our will–“

He drew the rake across the lawn, pulling a few flowers along; others would slip between the prongs and be left behind.

“–that we never appreciate what can be all by itself.”

He gestured with his down-turned head to the remainder of unraked flowers off at the rear of the cherry blossom before turning back to me and capturing my gaze. His eyes were the softest sky blue.

“Just as you already know the answers you think you seek, you come not seeking truth.”

He returns to the fallen flora.

“My final teaching to you is this:  Even as I willingly rake these flowers, it is done with the understanding that tomorrow the wind will blow again.”