The oldest of the Miyazaki sisters is sitting in the middle of an empty room. Her dress is beautiful, her makeup elaborately done. Servants spent hours preparing the perfect white mask she is supposed to present to the world when she is going to marry the Emperor. Everything about her will be white, except for her long, shiny black hair and the dark, soulful eyes.
The white marble floor is cold beneath her knees. There is nothing in the room which is not white - floor, walls, makeup, her dress. To the people, she will present purity and perfection, and as tradition demands it, for tonight she is locked in to meditate, invoke the Emperess' spirit, become purity. Larger than life. Only a few special items surround her, representing her future duties. There is the opaque crystal, found in a deep cavern in the sacred mountain, brought up to the sunlight to go on her scepter. The Emperess' scepter is made for her, stays with her and gets buried with her when she dies. For centuries the Miyazaki family has had the honor to provide the perfect wife for the Emperor. The daughters are raised and trained for this opportunity. When a new Emperor takes over the throne, he choses among them, and the others enter a convent to spend their lives in prayer and contemplation.
There is also the cup for the marriage ceremony - fragile glass, delicately shaped. The most skillful craftsmen made it for tomorrow, and all tools involved in the process have been destroyed. Nowadays, the craftsmen get to live, and it is considered a great honor to be chosen for this special task. They will drink from the glass, twice. In the beginning, there will be white wine, young and fresh, from the hillsides of the Emperor's estate. At the end of the ceremony, they will drink a dark wine, blood red, from the wine cellars. The glass will be shattered afterwards and the shards thrown into the ocean, as tradition demands it.
A fine chain made from platinum has been put on a white cushion. Their hands will be joined by the chain during the ceremony. She has only seen the young Emperor once in her life, on the day he chose her. He seems friendly enough, and he sure is handsome. She alsways knew there was the chance of him chosing her - she is almost his age, and many people have told her she is the most beautiful of the Miyazaki girls. However, she strongly suspects her sisters' servants tell them exactly the same thing.
Her back hurts. She finds herthoughts wandering to all the things she loves doing. Things for which she won't have time after tomorrow. Her herb garden. Making bread. Long walks out in the forest. Archery. She was quite good at it, which was not a good thing in a woman, but her parents let her keep it up through her young years. They really liked her and prepared her well. She will miss her old life.
One last thing is in the room with her. The only really old thing. A dagger. The servants polished it to a blinding sheen, only in the tiny ornaments in the hilt you see enough aged metal for a glimpse at its history. The old people used to tell that in ancient times when one of the royal couple died, the other one was killed with this dagger, so they could be joined in life and death. It's possibly only rumors. She never believed them anyway. Although a tradition like this may have helped prevent murder in the imperial family.
Perfection... it's a heavy burden for a young woman. Slowly, she takes the dagger into her slender hands. Her arms are heavy, and cold creeps through her body. The candles keep flickering. The Emperor will have to reconsider his choice.
One eye lost. One life gained.