If she was to embark on this monumental journey, then she must know who among her Yojimbo were the most loyal, most honorable, most trustworthy.
At midnight, a moving shadow left the princess’s sleeping quarters, slipped through the gardens, past sleeping guards (the potion had worked), and walked deep into the forest.
Placing her palms together, bowing to the Kami, she prayed for a sign, a way to test her Yojimbo. Against the darkness of the trees, a letter, then another and another appeared, glowing, slowly floating upward towards the starscape.
She did penitence, readying herself for the test. She sent word to the Yojimbo: gather at the edge of the forest at dawn. She came with her large entourage of royal officials, servants, banner carriers, her samurai on horseback, musicians. She wished she could travel as she did at night. Quietly, alone, her own servant and master.
The carefully chosen Yojimbo were waiting. She sent her youngest sister to kneel before them, a royal guard on either side. “So I know who I can trust on my wedding journey, I have devised a test.” She thought, “Oh how callous I will seem.”
“Who among you will come forward, and, at my command, behead my sister.” Without a murmur or contention, most of the men moved forward, raising their katana as a symbol of their loyalty and willingness to follow her orders.
Five men had stayed in the ranks, swords in their belts, unable to meet her gaze. She stood in front of each, and bid them tell her why they did not show their loyalty, their willingness to do whatever she asked.
Each professed loyalty, but confessed could not behead her youngest sister. “Why,” she asked. The men replied that the child was only five, and what harm could she have done to the princess to warrant a death sentence. They thought the princess was honorable, gentle, kind, and forgiving. This was a side of her they did not understand.
Those who had come forward shouted they would kill these traitors who dare question her word. “No,” she said, “These five men will be my Yojimbo. They will not kill for killing’s sake. It is time that more than martial ability marks out the best of my warriors.”