It’s Tenshi 11, thought Koji. Tenshi 11. Not “2033,” whatever that means. The date is so strange. Two thousand years after what? Is it two thousand years after an emperor? It doesn’t matter. What matters now is that it’s warm, and the air smells of charcoal and rain and rice paddies, and I’m sitting a good horse, and I’m going home.
Koji looked around, trying to hide his smile. He sat his borrowed horse on a hilltop, and below him Kyoto’s slate roofs, colorful banners, and teeming streets sprawled in the sun. The temple-studded city sat cradled in green hills, surrounded by endless fields of rice. Every square meter of arable land was claimed by house or farmer. Wisps of charcoal smoke wreathed the town. High above, a falcon screamed as she stooped on a pigeon. Koji’s companions were starting to ride down the hill, those strange beings who now wore armor as fine as any Daimyo’s.
Koji couldn’t hide his smile any longer as he touched his mount gently with his heel, urging her forward to follow them. Gone were the strange metal vehicles that screeched and honked when their driver became irritated. Gone were the sky-scraping buildings made of metal and glass. Gone were the peasants all dressed in brightly colored, tight clothing. Gone were the seas of hard, painted ground. Instead he felt his horse moving under him and saw the peasants working the fields wearing only a brief fundoshi. In Kyoto down below, the tallest building was perhaps an eight story Yagura.
Koji followed his companions, riding down the hill. The dirt road was firm. He looked at their fine armor, once again vowing to earn a set like it one day. The woman sat a huge gray horse with feathery hair on his feet, easily four or five handspans taller than any horse he’d ever seen before. Her armor was glossy deep green and black, and though she was truly lovely, he knew she was as good with a katana as she was with an automatic pistol. The man was bearded and quiet, his armor a deep blue. He sat his golden mare easily and she kept up with the gray stallion with eager, bouncing steps. These two must be sorcerers, he thought, though he’d never be rude enough to voice that suspicion. How else could they rend time and bring me back to where I belong?
Strange technology had brought him to their strange, cold future time. And now will, knowledge, and simple friendship would bring him back home. He quickened his pace, following his new friends, happy to be on his way to his province, his parents, his loved siblings. The day was bright.
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