Tora Pt. 03byOld.Lady.Sofia©
The Tora's relationship with the Shogunate was a discreet one. The Tora provided amusement that would be inappropriate at the Castle, and provided it for free to the highest-ranking samurai and state guests. In return, the Shogunate exempted the Tora from all tax and entertainment laws.
One of the Tora's perquisites had to do with the theater. The Shogunate banned women from the stage after it observed that orgies erupted too often after performances. However, the orgies continued even now that the women's roles were played by men, and the might of the Shogunate was less than absolute before the power of desire. The Tora had its own theater—perhaps the best in Edo—and playwrights vied to mount their works there, for they could employ actresses without fear of molestation by the authorities, who also turned a blind eye to the post-performance excesses.
This late afternoon, Sayoko sat with DaKar in the theater with a hundred others, all looking forward to the blood and passion of yet another double suicide of a courtesan and a married merchant. She had invited DaKar to the play for a reason other than his cultural edification and the fact that he had asked her about the custom—bizarre to him—of men and women killing themselves for love.
That morning, she had been in the company of the Shogun in the Castle's eastern garden. After skimming through her translations of the history of the warring tribes of Europe, he became unusually avuncular and asked her to arrange some flowers. She gathered grass, twigs, and blooms, and twisted and tied them into the shapes prescribed by the ikebana school of which the Shogun was the master. "Do you always adhere to the same aesthetic precepts?" he asked. She nodded. He said, "It is not among the feminine arts, but you excel in it. Your creations are consistently pleasing and varied." She bowed and protested that she was but an amateur. He continued, "They would be even more pleasing if contrasted with another style, a completely different philosophy, for then their qualities would be accented." Listening carefully, she murmured, "My lord is perceptive and I learn much from him." "And the one who views the arrangements," he said expansively, "sees the beauty of both and is doubly pleased, for they enhance each other." She bowed, dissecting his words.
"General Da Ka has been in Edo for one season now," the Shogun mused. "He must have noticed that the scrolls and flowers in the alcoves have been changed to welcome spring."
Sayoko had understood.
She returned to the Yoshiwara and searched for the playwright Chikamatsu, her friend and patron, and found him in a teahouse, inebriated. It was his play that would be performed that afternoon at the Tora. "I understand," she said, "that the actress who plays the courtesan is beautiful and talented." He laughed, "And I modeled her character after you." Smiling, Sayoko stroked his sleeve and said, "I would like to meet her after the play and introduce her to General Da Ka." He downed another tiny cup of saké and slurred, "She is excellent on stage."
Now Sayoko, in her orange and gold finery, escorted DaKar, dashing in a dark-blue military outfit rather than his customary scarlet. They sat on silk cushions before a low table, and as she peeled pears and oranges for him and poured tea, she felt the half-hidden admiring glances he drew from the women and was pleased.
The musicians tuned their instruments and tightened the skin of the enormous drum on the right of the stage. It was empty save for a ramp that spanned it. From it extended a long, narrow platform, like a pier in the midst of the audience.
The play began. The mind turned the ramp into a bridge, a castle wall, a mountain. The actors lured the watchers into their world from the main stage and entered the watchers' world from the pier. Sayoko was immediately entranced and, like the other women in the audience—courtesan, mistress, and even the occasional stylish wife who followed the latest in courtesan fashion—wept when it became clear that the lovers were doomed. By the time the merchant had slashed the courtesan's neck and hanged himself, the women's muffled sobs mingled with the men's appreciative cries, which were, however, elicited purely by the writer's and actors' skill. And this afternoon, Chikamatsu and his troupe had outdone themselves.
While Sayoko sighed and wept, she discreetly observed DaKar. Two actresses were outstanding. Although the long-suffering "wife" was undoubtedly beautiful, she was also suitably drab. The "courtesan," however, was not only beautiful and refined, but vibrant and convincingly passionate. It was at her that DaKar had gazed the longest.
The audience began to stir and the musicians shifted to a more risqué repertoire. Trays and trays of saké jugs appeared and ribald laughter filled the theater. The sadness of love was forgotten and replaced by cravings induced by the play's vivid erotic scenes, so explicit that they astonished even Sayoko and the other courtesans. Now the men bared the shoulders and breasts of the courtesans, exposed the thighs of their mistresses, and pushed their wives down to the tatami to give them a taste of licentiousness before they returned to their respectable homes.
Sayoko and DaKar picked their way through the tangled limbs and moaning heaps of brightly colored silk. In the Room of Clouds, she kept his saké cup full and served him raw oysters, paper-thin slices of horse sashimi, and tendrils of seaweed on tiny, thin plates. Soon, the Tora's Master slid the door open, and behind him was Yukiko,? the "snow child," her face clean and unmasked, eyes long and luminous, lips soft and pink. Her hair, lacquered into a complex structure for the stage, was now soft on her shoulders and flowing down her back. She was radiant in a confection of pink and green gauze. The Tora's Master wished them a good evening.
Sayoko was delighted with the girl's translucent beauty and DaKar's surprise. After the pleasantries and the toasts, however, she began to sense something amiss. Yukiko was courteous and suitably dazzled by DaKar's celebrity, but she was not what Sayoko had expected, which was what she had seen on stage. Yukiko was behaving like a serving girl. Her speech was a bit coarse, not at all the polished, complex language of the courtesan. Sayoko attempted to engage her in the clever, literate repartee any courtesan would be expected to master, and was greeted with perplexed giggles. DaKar's eyes glazed over and he rubbed his brow. Sayoko was at a loss and wondered how she would tell the Shogun that she had failed him.
Chikamatsu's drunken words come back to her: "She is excellent on stage." Very well, then, Sayoko thought, Yukiko will perform under direction and not be expected to stimulate the general in any way other than physically. If it pleases him, it will please the Shogun.
"It would amuse the general if you would do exactly as he says," she said to Yukiko, again surprising DaKar. Sayoko waited for him to dismiss her for the night; she was expected at Chikamatsu's party in the Room of Chimes and looking forward to a disorderly night of wit and laughter. But DaKar merely smiled broadly at her, his torpor gone. Savoring his saké, his eyes glittering, he appraised Yukiko.
"Stand and remove the layers of your clothing," he began. "One by one. Slowly."
Sayoko was startled. She did not think he would begin so directly. Yukiko was taken aback, but his voice and eyes compelled her. Under his command, she blossomed into the enthralling actress that she was. Her eyes and skin glowed as her soft hands passed languidly over her robes and bare neck. She caressed her small feet and elegant calves. Sayoko was spellbound by the exquisite creature and knew that DaKar's loins must be on fire.
His deep voice floated in the candlelit room, stroking the shadows. Under his spell, Yukiko undid the white cords of her sash and uncoiled the pink damask. Her outer then inner robes fell like whispers. A sheer white under-kimono skimmed her curves, the light-brown nipples, and tiny wisp of dark hair on her smooth mound. She was warm with a desire that she did not recall ever having felt while being directed in a play, even during an erotic scene. She passed her hands slowly over her breasts and rolled the nipples through the thin silk, her gaze both bold and yielding.
Here, she was not the actress who could enchant from the heights of the stage. Here, she did not control her audience. And now his voice enfolded her in a haze of desire as she languorously stroked her skin. The warmth of her own palms and feel of the silk excited her. She dropped the robe to show her powdered shoulders and full breasts. Her fingertips stroked her nipples. She let the last robe float to the floor and stood naked in the candlelight.
He commanded her to sit on her heels and part her thighs, upturned palms placed lightly on them. She drew a finger between the swollen brown-rose petals and stroked the red nub slowly. She closed her eyes and breathed hard.
Sayoko swayed, faint with lust. She was as moist and flushed as Yukiko, whose hands she seemed to feel on her own skin. Suddenly the clothes she had chosen so carefully and worn with such pride this afternoon were hateful and she wished she were naked, too. A vision of DaKar's limbs entwined with Yukiko's enveloped her in a searing wave of jealousy. Surely, she thought grimly, he will dismiss me now.
To Yukiko he said, "Prepare the bath." With a courtly bow he directed Sayoko to follow, and laughed at her uncomprehending stare. He finally took her hand and led her into the pillow room where he undressed her, gently stroking her face and body, kissing her deeply, calming her heart until the pain left her eyes. She undid his clothes, aroused to aching by the textures of his clothing, by his scent and his eyes. When they stepped into the bathing room, which was full of steam and gentle flame, her delight in Yukiko's ivory beauty returned.
The women piled their glossy hair on top of their heads with long lacquered pins, baring graceful necks and gleaming backs. With trained fingers they explored every part of him, smoothing him with soap. They glided across his skin, their breasts soft and lingering against his back, chest, and legs. Yukiko knelt before him and took his shaft between her large breasts. Sayoko embraced him from behind and rubbed her small breasts and her groin sensuously against him. He closed his eyes, imprisoned in their warm, wet flesh and their soft sighs and moans. The Way of the Warrior, he smiled to himself, is not always a harsh one.
After the women rinsed him he sat in the cedar tub, his limbs floating, soothed by the fragrant steam. As women do in baths everywhere, Sayoko and Yukiko took turns scrubbing the other's back. But their strokes were not the purposeful scouring that was part of the gossipy, merry public bathing ritual. In this dim, luxurious refuge, Sayoko and Yukiko were immersed in the other's beauty—the curve of the breast or mound or hip, the sweeping line of the back, the smoothness of a thigh.
DaKar watched small hands fondle soft breasts, parted lips travel over shoulders and necks, pink tongues harden brown nipples, slim fingers explore drooping, swollen petals and moist folds. The women brought their faces close, and shyly, then frantically, touched tongues but not lips. Then they kissed deeply, crushing the other's mouth. The hands wandering over ivory and gold skin, loins pressing hard against each other, straining thighs—all taunted DaKar with a passion that excluded him. He groaned with a desire that was painful.
Yukiko lay Sayoko down on the gleaming tile and licked her neck and breasts and bit her nipples, pulling them taut. Sayoko moaned as the pleasure flowed to her heat. Yukiko stroked Sayoko's thighs and pushed them apart. Sayoko lifted the wet lips to her. Yukiko parted them with the hard tip of her tongue and flicked the shiny tip of the clitoris. Sayoko sobbed and pressed Yukiko's head to her loins long and hard.
Yukiko twisted around to move her groin above Sayoko's mouth. She licked Sayoko's clitoris in long, firm strokes and felt her tremble. Sayoko moaned into Yukiko's heat, sucking her clitoris and flicking it rapidly. They were frantic and their muffled whimpers became spiraling, desperate cries that echoed against the damp walls. With a will of steel, DaKar stopped his seed from spilling.
The women lay in a tranquil tangle of limbs and hair. Their curiosity in each other satisfied for now, they turned their sensual attentions to DaKar. He leaned back as their hands and mouths wandered across his skin. They stroked him with their bodies, a mouth on his mouth, a tongue in his ear, lips on his neck, palms enclosing his erection underwater. He felt near spilling again and clutched their flesh, bruising it as he fought to contain his desire.
In the pillow room they massaged him with fragrant oils, releasing the remaining tightness in his muscles until he groaned with pleasure. Then the women stroked each other, making their skin shimmer. He saw every nuance of motion, how they gazed at each other as a man would. So, this is what he sees when he loves me, they thought, my beautiful neck and breasts. How soft my lips are and how moist I am. And how lovely my voice. His veins were on fire as the women knelt, Yukiko behind Sayoko, and as the smaller Sayoko lifted her lips to Yukiko's, gently stroking Yukiko's cheek. Sayoko lay Yukiko down and pulled the pins from her hair, spreading it like a shawl. Sayoko loosened her own hair and leaned over Yukiko. Through the black silken waterfall DaKar saw the women's tongues dart at each other.
Sayoko straddled Yukiko and lashed her wrists to a slender bamboo rod above her head. Startled, Yukiko breathed hard as Sayoko bound her ankles to another rod, forcing her legs wide apart. Yukiko arched her back and moaned, no longer the famous actress who held her audience in thrall, but only a helpless toy at the mercy of her watchers.
Sayoko moaned softly at the sight of Yukiko forced open, of her breasts heaving, of her petals swelling moistly. In Yukiko's eyes were fear and excitement, and she gasped and whimpered, rolling her hips. Sayoko straddled Yukiko's head and lowered her petals to the woman's mouth. Yukiko tongue reached up to part Sayoko's flesh and flick her swollen clitoris. She took both petals in her mouth, swirling her tongue around them, sucking them until Sayoko moaned.
Before she began to spasm, Sayoko rose and sat on a cushion near the futon, saving her pleasure for later. DaKar's blood and flesh were aflame at the sight of Yukiko's bound limbs and her wet heat. He crouched over Yukiko, took a handful of hair, and kissed her mouth roughly. Sayoko's loins warmed as he bit Yukiko's nipples. When he licked her petals, Sayoko seemed to feel his tongue on her own heat. She parted her thighs and stroked her own clitoris as Yukiko moaned.
Aroused so long and relentlessly, DaKar roughly pierced Yukiko, groaning as he sank into her hot moisture, as her folds clasped him, and as she moaned uncontrollably. Sayoko watched him rape Yukiko and continued to stroke herself, as excited as if it were she violating her. His muscles hardened and he strained to reach Yukiko's deepest parts. Her hips rose to meet him. She whimpered, moaned, whispered filth. So, Sayoko thought, moaning, that is what he looks like when he takes me. And that is what I look like when I am taken—soft and wet and surrendered.
DaKar gazed down at Yukiko, at her bound, slender wrists, at her moist skin and mouth and her fevered eyes. Her soft breasts were crushed beneath his chest, her thighs strained against his, her hips pushed against his groin, and her heat clasped him. What raged through him was primal and he was barely aware of it.
Yukiko submitted to the onslaught, fearful and enraptured. DaKar was strange to her—the color of his skin and hair, his massiveness. Yet her bonds released an uncontrollable fire that spread beneath her skin and rushed to her heat. When Yukiko finally sobbed long and helplessly and DaKar groaned deeply into her hair, Sayoko's body was seized by powerful spasms, and she swooned, moaning. She dreamed that DaKar cradled her and laid her gently on the futon.
When DaKar awakened the sun was bright on the tatami. He stretched long and luxuriously, and then put his arms around the fragile shoulders of the still-sleeping women. They nestled against him, seductive even in sleep. His erection rose. He stroked their backs, asses, and heats, which, however, remained closed and dry. The women stirred then burrowed back into the futon, pushing his hands away, trying to find their dreams. When he persisted, they sighed and rose from the clouds of warm silk, unsmiling, and went about the rituals of washing and dressing. Seated before round mirrors in their filmy under-kimonos—Yukiko in white, Sayoko in black—they brushed each other's hair and exchanged oils and herbs for the skin, ignoring him. Before they dressed they helped DaKar get ready for the day. As they held his robes open for him and tied his sash, they gossiped about the brothels and teahouses of the more fun-loving and cultured cities of Kyoto and Osaka, and which courtesan had won the heart of which tycoon, chattering and giggling as if he were not there. Well, DaKar sighed, amused but annoyed at the loss of his erection, the women are not, after all, so different.
He strode through the Tora's hallways to the stables, the renowned actress and the celebrated courtesan, now both mercifully silent, gliding proudly behind him. The looks of open envy from some of the richest, most powerful men in Edo, also on their way to find their mounts, compensated for any earlier irritation DaKar may have felt. His step became easier and his gaze more arrogant, and he barely suppressed a smile.
In the courtyard, Yukiko stifled a scream when the grooms led out DaKar's bronze-feathered tarn. As he rose swiftly into the brilliant spring sky, Sayoko smiled radiantly at him, her eyes filled with an emotion that was banned at the Tora.