If he had been asked to look for information, this would have ranked high. Except that he was not looking for them in the normal way. He was hunting for books hidden in the library, by the librarians because of their nature. Those were sensitive information hidden in the library as it was easier to store them.
And the difficulty of finding those books, which rarely were easy to stumble into. And this library was the biggest in the city, with well over ten thousand books. Which meant that for someone to stumble onto unwanted information, the chances were almost close to none. And for it to be more than one, it was impossible. As such, it was often by the very librarians who shelved them.
And as such, they needed to look carefully. They had few choices other than to scour the entire library, open the books one by and one to figure it out. Even as Kazuho could guess that it depended more so on a specific set of patterns. The shogunate would have a lot of documents to hide here, but in such a public library had to be detailed records. But nothing incriminatory, or truly sensitive.
Those had far better places to hide more sensitive information, but not so here. Rather it was information which they could refer, and perhaps hide something more than what the official had said. And also perhaps on family. He could look into the catalog on the list of families around, even as he knew that it was largely unlikely. As the public had little use for it, the shogunate on the other hand benefited from extensive and detailed documentation of the people.
Including the names, the births and deaths. Meant for taxes, which had been based on the number of families, and the incomes. It also meant the need to document their occupations, their status and their wealth. He had stepped inside here with Masami, Shinrou and Yuki. After all, for something like this he certainly needed all the help he could get.
The library on the inside was made of wooden walls. With shelves lined up with a space in between, where tables and chairs were placed and pathways. With staircases right in the middle, and lined up to the next level. The same could be said that this was a large place, as much as it had been old existing for a full two centuries, opened by a Shogun and patronized by them later. That even when it burned out, money had been poured into renovate the place. And the most recent had been merely two decades ago.
It had grand total of eight levels. With bookshelves in every level, due to the immense number. Even as he realized that perhaps the Shoguns chose to build this place as one where they could be used to hide important records. Harder to find, and less likely to be suspected. As long as it was mostly as records and not important information, things which could not be found by just picking up a book.
As such, he entered into the center knowing that there was a map here. One which they could use as a reference, and where they divided the sections by the type of work they shelved. And he could guess the same could be said for the various information. It was easier, as it could not have been small if they needed such a big library as a mirage. Filled with volumes, some dating as old as the library itself.
And some were as recent as the last year. Older books had been more fragile in its nature, and were more likely to be kept inside. Away from water, and all sorts of insects who would have made it their meal. Thus, allowing it to be preserved as long as possible. The older the book, the more their worth. And in its essence, was a way to tell the sort of wealth available to them.
Books now came in all sorts of sizes, whether it had been small or large. But back then, they were only in two. One which was a square
They fell out of favor quite a while ago, and was never practical for a wide amount of information. With most of them often being bound initially in a book, but turned into a scroll for prestige. But was never really the best way. It needing quite a bit of work to read. And for the shogunate, it seemed unlikely they would be in use.
As such he need not search the higher levels, where they might be stored away. And in the middle, as he read, he had been right. Here there was a general selection of books and the more recent with the oldest dating just a century ago. It had to be here, even if there was no one around they could find it. It was reasonable to hide it here. There was the most amount of people, with little risk. Many would make the connection that it had been at the top and not at the bottom. Because few people visited.
Which was why this was the best, with the most books and the largest floor space given to them. “So, are you sure it’s this level?”
“Spreading it across the levels is not something they want. It can be tricky or even difficult to locate, as such it would make sense to only have a single floor to make it easy to find. Thus this floor as it has the greatest volumes of books. And those who assume that it is from the highest level, would guess that they were kept in scrolls and hidden away. This was a far wiser way.
“There is a lot of books here, why are you convinced it’s here?”
“It’s because of this reason why it had chosen this floor. There are a lot of books, most do not just browse they often ask around for a specific book. Or use the system of shelving. As such, they are unlikely to pull out information which they would not want them to have.”
“How would we find out?” Yuki asked. Not really liking the idea of having to scour through books which she barely had any idea what they were talking about. She was able to speak, but the written language had been rather difficult.
“Figure out the system, find something that doesn’t fit. It has to be a pattern, most would not look for it consciously. And avoid any questions, try to come up with something instead.” Even as he looked at the top for more hints, there were four main sections. One had been mostly about the religion, the classical texts.
“I’ll take that. Because it would often mean gibberish to anyone else.” They all agreed upon it. Given the age they dated from, and that they knew many needed time to even decode a sentence. Let it be sent to the person who was somewhat familiar with these texts, even as it had been years since he had opened them. But he could still make sense of them, and the real difficulty had been in its antiquated manner.
With the possibility that it was even written in such a code, perhaps the chance to hide things which were better off to be so. Records in his opinion need not be so well hidden, but he might not know. As such, it was best for them to simply make the decision to search everywhere.
“Then, I’ll take the prose tales and translations of popular works from aboard.” Which had a section on its own, due to the illustrative history of publishing here. With it being larger, as it tended to be longer.
“I’ll take the poetry. For the same reasons as you.” He could, but Masami had been able to decode it as well. And he was needed more for archaic texts at the end of the day.
“Yuki, you’ll take the encyclopedias. They tend to be updated every now and then, or reprinted and revised. So, it might still be understandable to you.” She nodded, not really wanting to open books which she would not even have a clue on what they were saying. And trying to see whether it was.
He did have a couple of ideas, he was more likely to get records which were sensitive. And he could always tell that it would have been finances. Things which were often a sore point for many, and often became the motivation for political machinations. As such, he knew it would be something which would be coded.
But he could be wrong. The same could be said for theorizing that Masami was more than likely to find correspondence, things which were often details of the plans. Yuki the most likely about the detailed records of the general population. And as for Shinrou, perhaps the various events of the shogunate. There were many festivals, many ceremonies which needed to be held. Along with the detailed records about the shogunate and its etiquette and rules.
There were many, which he knew. And he started by taking the inside row and looking from there. Scanning through the various bookshelves, to identify a pattern. Something which he knew was there. And he spotted it, as most had been stuffed. Books which were worn, and thus unlikely to touch. And behind it, was a book hidden. He opened it, and it was indeed coded.
Although he knew the language well enough to know that this was the finances, the taxes, debts owed by the Shogunate. Which were a detailed compiled list. And it had been for merely thirty years ago. He placed it back, knowing full well that it was a step. And thus went to the next, and it was the exact same records from twenty years ago.
Which meant that the bookshelves here were hidden with a five-year difference for each. With fifty being set aside, and thus it meant that they were one for each year in the recent fifty years. He then took the last shelve, guessing that this was the most recent. Perfectly hidden as few would be choosing to take the bottom shelve. And as he opened and took the chance to read, his lips curved into a smile.
Precisely what he had thought. He stood up before making the decision to look for Shinrou or Masami to compare. He had been right in his theory. Even as the arrangement would be different. He first went to find Shinrou, and he was holding a book on ceremonies. Which was just a part of the full length of it. Including a detailed book on how the shogun’s relatives and children were treated.
One where he opened to take a quiet peak. Before placing it back to the right shelve. “It’s as I thought it would be. The places are all right in its placement or you, so it’s time for me to check on Masami.”
And sure enough, she showed him a book about the cagey collaboration with a shogun of a century back. Which masked naked opportunism, and to many would be the sign that the man was cunning, underhanded and devious. With the next being an even dodgier correspondence of another shogun, and offering a bride to the current shogun. And the current shogun had been old enough to be her father.
“So, does it fit with your theory?”
He nodded. As he was about to join Yuki, as she walked over handing him the book. He had been curious to know how she had found it so quickly. But he opened the book, realizing that it truly was within the last twenty years. Slowly turning the pages, in hopes of finding what he wanted. Many names he still remembered, because they were still alive a decade back. Thus, this truly was a recent copy.
And he found it right there, taking out a piece of paper to note down. A man married to a Severian woman back then, and also happened to have had a daughter born that year. But too old to be Rin, as she said that she was even younger than he was, born after the new year and at the same time before the lunar new year. And Rin did say that she had an elder sister.
Noting down some of the names, some of which shared a similar structure. He closed it, knowing full well that this was what he was looking for.
“How did you find it?”
“There was a place which said the Samurai, and it happened to be shelved there for all to see.” She gave a smile, even as he mostly looked in surprise at the situation. This had been displayed for all to see, no hiding. Perhaps guessing that most would not have found reasons to bring this out at the end of the day.
But this was something which they could use. And he had taken what he needed, and she had placed it back where she found it. They had finished what they needed to do at this point, and so they left.
Sachiko had been surprised to see this showing up a few days later. She thought that the Satou clan had ignored her letter, as she thought they would have done so at this point. And thus, she was coming here. Being over for tea, something she knew that would take time and allow them to discuss things without being strange.
And it was better that it had been between two women, perhaps as a chance for her to become a part of the social scene. Make connections and see who was available for her, or who would be asking for her hand. This was something that many assumed she was here for, rather than to help her family’s fortunes. Taking advantage of this to make alliances, and this was her front.
Heiresses should not be underestimated to say the least. They held great wealth, even if they were underestimated. But some of them had more wealth than twenty man combined, and some would say that it was unnatural. But not so, as long as she knew how to keep her power. Even when married, a woman was not powerless and she did not fully cease to exist.
And even now, she was able to leverage herself. The same could be said even later. The palanquin stopped, with Kaede at the side of her. Lifting the cloth and helping her to get out, it was a quick one either.
And at the front had been the footman who was bowing upon meeting her. Before showing her the way into the house, and bringing her to the study room. Not the tea room, this was an important distinction in terms of its size.
Inside, was a young woman. Her face had been emotionless, she held a fan. Her kimono was a dark blue kimono, her hair was into a high ponytail. The sleeves had been tight, barely a few inches from her hands. While Sachiko’s had been slightly longer. She turned to see her before giving a curt bow.
Sachiko returned it as well. Before taking the chance to have a seat. Taking a seat, even as a maidservant poured a cup of coffee. She looked at it in skepticism. Even as the door opened to reveal Enyou stepping in. The most shocking thing in that moment. Her sleeves were far longer, and today she chose to wear a paler orange dress.
Before seating right next to her. “So, you both happen to be in an alliance.”
“Precisely.” As Enyou took the cup to drink from it. “It became easier for us to join together since our enemies became one and the same. From those who wish to rise and take our position, funny as it may seem. And those whom we owed a lot to.”
And thus it served them better to simply do it together. Even as it might end in the near future. “So, when you came to them you also came to me.” And effective explanation, even as it was curt.
“It would also be easier to have them come to me first. Since they were spies first and foremost and her safe places to do this discussion.” And here might not be so, given that her own estate had spies in them. And who knows what else she might find there.
“The shogun assigns a spy here, that is a definite in this city. He can’t stretch his surveillance to the ends of the country, and instead chooses to track the correspondence coming in and out. It just needs to be something suspicious. That was something we had filled while we served him.” And thus, it would be common to say that it had occurred. “But in times of greater trust, they mostly waited until there was something truly suspicious. A rumor spreading around, to finally send someone there to see whether it needs to be so.”
“And for us, we were effectively diplomats and spies of the Shogun to the Emperor.” Having chose to stand by their side, and taking the lucrative appointment as a delegate between the two parties. And could also mean as a spy for both at any times. Even as they were retired because Misaki had been a woman.
“Does this mean that the relationship is not always cordial?”
“Far from it. A lot of Emperors resented the Shoguns, for their break in traditions. And the shoguns resented the Emperors for their lack of understanding of their vision. Which could be said to have brought much help to us, if we remained closed who knows just what sort of world we would have ended up living.” But it was far from the whole picture.
Their relationship would have varied and depended on each shogun, more so than anywhere else. And this was the selling point of their connection. She would know intimately just how the imperial court could hold sway over them, and of the effects of it. It would also mean fully understanding perhaps who was behind it. It seemed too simple to blame one without factoring in the other.
“But this is something you know of.” She nodded. Even as they lifted their cup to drink. “And something I can bargain for.”
“And also, important information about the truth behind certain events. One where the official story does not cover everything and omitted quite a bit. But that comes with a price, as only we have records of it.” Perhaps for future use against the Emperors of the shoguns. And that was all she needed from her right now.