1 Contact with the Pearl

Warring States… the time period when the weakened Muromachi Shogunate set the stage for the feudal lords as they waged bloody wars hoping to expand their territories and conquer the realm(Japan).

This is the story of one woman's extraordinary survival through such chaotic time.

A woman who played a major role and conquered in the early part of Edo Shogunate's history.

Like a pearl, she shined in such a difficult environment.

This is the story of Imai Uka.

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A group of children were playing Oni Gokko(hide and seek) at a yard inside the Imai Castle. Among the group of children, the daughter of the Lord of Imai Castle Imai Kyuichi, Imai Uka was playing this game.

Imai Uka, who is seven years old, was the second daughter of Lord Imai and Princess Rai. Princess Rai was the second sister Oda Nobunaga, who was busy conquering the lands so that he can unite the entire realm.

"10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1"

A young boy opened his eyes after finishing counting down. He then started searching for the other children who were hidden.

This young boy was the son of Yazawa clan, Yazawa Shioko. He will have a special relationship with Imai Uka in the future which both of them were not aware of.

Meanwhile, Imai Uka was hidden near a bush. She was giggling as she watched the young boy search for others but was not able to find anyone. She thought that the boy was an idiot because he was still not able to find anyone. Then suddenly something flashed by her eyes which blinded her for a moment. She then turned around to look and noticed a shining pearl which was so beautiful that she was mesmerized by it. She reached out towards the pearl and grabbed it. When she was about to see the pearl which she grabbed, a hand reached out and touched her shoulder.

"Caught you Uka."

Uka was startled and turned around to see a young boy who was smiling foolishly at her. Then she looked around and saw that she was the first one to be found out. She then said in a grumpy tone, "How did you find me first? I was hidden in a good place."

Shioko laughed as he said,"If you come out of your hiding spot, then anyone can find you. Now it is your time to count."

She was still annoyed but did not complain and walked over a distance so that she could count. While walking, she opened her palm so that she could see the pearl. But she noticed that the pearl was gone. She remembered that she was tightly holding the pearl a moment ago. She didn't think too much about this and thought that she lost the pearl and started to play again. The pearl was not lost but it was absorbed and merged with her effortlessly without any pain that she didn't notice a thing. She didn't realize at that time that this pearl would pave her towards a new path.

After playing to her hearts content, she joined her siblings and mother for lunch. At the centre, her mother Princess Rai was seated. Imai Okimi, Princess Rai eldest daughter, was seated right beside Uka. Opposite to Uka, was the one and only heir of Lord Imai, Imai Terao was seated.

Uka didn't like the food in front of her especially the soup for some reason. While she was trying her best to finish the soup, she heard her mother talking to Terao.

"Terao, how was your practice today with the spear?"

The topic piqued Uka's interest because she was not allowed to play with weapons. But her brother's answer dampened her mood because he didn't say much.

"Mother, it was alright. I just learnt a new move but it was hard and my hand is still paining."

"Terao, you are a boy and the heir. Don't start to whine in front of me. You will get a hang of it."

"Mother, I understand."

Then her mother spoke to her elder sister. Uka liked her elder sister but once she starts talking, she just doesn't stop. That's the only point she didn't like about her. Other than that she loved her a lot and took care of her.

"Okimi, how is your needlework going?"

"Mother, today I was doing a bird. I try hard but i always get stuck...."

After she finished talking, she took a deep breath.

"Okimi, I understand. If you need more help you can ask your wet nurse."

Then she turned towards Uka. Uka tried to look towards her mother face directly but she got scared and looked down again.

"Uka, how are you today?"

Uka replied timidly.

"Mother, I am fine."

After they finished eating, her mother told them to study and left them. Okimi then started talking with Uka.

"Uka, why are you scared of mother? Its not like mother is going to bite you or anything."

"I don't really know Okimi because every time I see her face to face I get scared easily and I feel that mother might scold me anytime."

Terão intercepted them in the while they were talking.

"Sisters, we should go to our teacher as soon as possible because he doesn't like anyone being late. You can talk again later."

The sisters didn't continue their talk and headed towards the room were there teacher was. Uka was learning how to write and the other two were learning there respective study material.

After completing their studies, they had dinner with the family. Uka's father didn't talk with the sisters much and only with the heir because he was fond of him. Uka didn't like this at all but she didn't complain about it.

After dinner, the siblings headed to their respective rooms to sleep.

Uka closed her eyes to sleep but she didn't realize this will lead her to a brand new world where her whole world view would change forever.