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“It’s known as the Path of the Wise Serpent.” Yuki corrects me as she parts the sheer ‘curtain’ on her uchikatsugi. “Although I can see why you’d assume it was ‘White Serpent’…”
“So what’s the story behind that?”
“Many years ago, the Daimyo commissioned the construction of a post road between the capital and major cities throughout the islands.” the lamia explains.
“Well, it was said that the Daimyo at the time ordered them built so that decrees from the imperial court could be delivered to his regional governors without delay and artisans, magistrates, nobles and craftsmen could quickly make their way to the capital when summoned.”
“So a road like this one?”
“Not quite- the first of these roads went along the coast-“
“The ones Kori and Fuyu are supposed to be taking?”
“That was the original alignment. However, washouts and landslides were a common problem during the rainy season or whenever a major storm moved through the area.”
“Then this would be an alternate route?”
“Yes- although the winters in the mountains are harsher. It was said that the Daimyo had a seer who he trusted more than anyone else- a Shirohebi who was also rumored to be his concubine. She reasoned that a path through the mountains would be far more passable during the temperate months and even during milder winters- and thus would ultimately be worth the investment in time and resources to construct it.”
“Makes sense. So the Daimyo names it in honor of the seer who convicned him to build it.”
“Well- that’s one version.”
“What’s the other version?”
“Oh my….the more popular version is a bit….how should I say?…..immodest.”
“Yuki- come on. How can a story about building a road through the mountains be- as you put it- ‘immodest‘?” I ask with finger quotes to emphasize the last word.
“I…I’ve said too much.” the nervous shirohebi stammered.