Early in the Ashikaga shogunate, a samurai known as Sōtan who had performed exceptionally well in the recent civil wars was summoned from his daimyo’s side to the Imperial court at Kyoto. Sōtan had fought furiously against Emperor Daigo’s forces during the Kemmu Restoration, and personally thought it odd that he would be summoned by that same emperor’s son, now a powerless young figurehead under the rule of the shogun. But, bound by duty, he went anyway.

Sōtan was not allowed to view the Chrysanthemum Throne, but was instead received in an antechamber and given a letter with the Imperial seal, along with a small lacquered box sealed with pitch. The Emperor wrote that, shortly before his father Emperor Daigo’s death, he had given the box to his son with the warning that it contained a “wayze,” a word which neither the new Emperor nor Sōtan knew. Whatever the “wayze” was, it had been found by the Hōjō clan during their rule and reclaimed by Daigo when he attempted to return power to the Emperor.

Sōtan found himself cleverly retained by Daigo’s son: having been commanded by his daimyo, who must have thought the mission a trifling one, to do as the Emperor bid, he was duty-bound to carry out the mission. The Emperor had turned one of his father’s fiercest adversaries into an ally.

His mission? Destroy the “wayze” by any means necessary–short of opening it.

Advertisements