“Pardon the intrusion Mistress.” Tan Son Shu knelt outside the door, sliding the rice paper covered panel aside a few centimeters.
“Son Shu, you are a welcome intrusion.” Sai’Li said, “Come and have some sake with me.”
“Mistress, there is a man who claims to be from one of the Houses.” He said, still kneeling. “He wishes to respond to an offer?”
She moved a hand slightly and a black pearl the size of her thumb rolled from her sleeve. Even as it stopped rolling, it swelled into a glistening black spider the size of a Labrador and silently skittered out of the open window. Son Shu felt cold sweat break out on his forehead.
Sai’Li poured sake into a pair of beautifully lacquered cups and reclined on her couch, running her hands though the tiger’s fur that lay next to his own large dish of liquor. Her kimono was loose, showing the alabaster white of her legs all the way above her knees and parts of an intricate tattoo coming over her left shoulder.
“Come drink with us Son Shu.” She said with a smile, “Our guest will join us shortly.”
Not being able to ignore a direct command, he came and knelt at the low table. Lifting the cup, he took a sip and savored the exquisite taste. Sai’Li packed her kiseru with tobacco and struck a match, lighting it and exhaling a cloud of fragrant smoke. Son Shu found it easier to relax than he had anticipated, his mistress’s easy manner was infectious.
The elevator chimed and Son Shu looked to his mistress. She inclined her head and he went to the door. “Please master Yashida, won’t you join us for a drink?” He asked, sliding the door aside.
Tanaka was wearing a rumpled black suit and had an unlit cigarette clamped between his lips. Son Shu extended a lighter on reflex and Tanaka seemed to respond on reflex as well, leaning in to light his cigarette and bowing slightly to Sai’Li.
“Lady. Circumstances have caused me to reconsider your offer of patronage.” He said, stepping into the room.
“Please Tanaka, come and have sake with us.” Sai’Li said, “Let us discuss whatever troubles you. But I insist that you drink with me. I find sake to ease difficult conversations.”
He hesitated, but removed his shoes and came to kneel at the table. Sai’Li herself poured him a cup of sake. She waited for him to settle, taking the opportunity to refill her pipe.
“I find myself in need of assistance.” He began, “I am not certain what made me think you could offer it, but I had the idea that your offer of protection was genuine.”
“Indeed.” She said, exhaling smoke from her nostrils in curling trails. “I do not make promises lightly Tanaka Yashida, nor do I take them lightly. What promise are you making?”
Tanaka backed from the table and bowed from a kneeling positon, pressing his forehead to the floor. “If you can save my people, I swear fealty to you Lady. My blood shall be spilled at your whim. My life spent at your desire.”
“I do not spend the lives of those who swear themselves to me without cause.” Sai’Li said, “Although I must confess that blood may be a significant motivator. Do you promise me your blood?”
“I do.” He said without hesitation.
Sai’Li shivered and licked her lips. Tanaka noted that her canine teeth had grown long and sharp. “I claim you and your clan once more as mine. This pact shall be sealed in the old way, the ancient way. My way.”
“If it will help my people, I consent.” He said, “Please hurry.”
“In this matter, I shall take my time.” Said Sai’Li, she stood and swayed across the room, eyes smoldering. “You have my word that no more harm shall come to what is MINE.” At this last word, her eyes turned blood red
Her mouth opened wide and he saw those elongated fangs descending on his throat. He wasn’t just powerless to resist, he wanted to feel them pierce his skin. Tanaka Yashida lost himself in the terror of his new Lady’s kiss.