Ianto has had a feeling Toshiko had been trying to gather the strength to tell him something. Three times now he had turned while practicing the blade to find her nervously folding and refolding his towel where he's flung it earlier.
"Toshiko, my clever little one," he said softly behind her left ear making her squeal with surprise.
"Ianto!' she laughed turning to mock glare at him, "don't do that!"
"Do what" he asked from her opposite ear and she laughed then blushed at the fun of it all.
"What is it Toshi?" he sighed leaning back to gaze lovingly down at her. "No-one can hear us here."
"You know my family come from an old Japanese bloodline and we were all taught to respect the blade and its song," she said softly through her hair as she tried to control the blush. "I love to hear your blade sing, it reminds me of my mother dancing in the sunlight with her robes floating on the breeze."
"Yes little bird?" Ianto said smugly, "Emperor Hirohito I believe?"
"Ah Toshiko, did I tell you that I have seen another sword?" Ianto asked with his head cocked to one side as she stared at him hard. Toshiko hard.
"No!" she said feeling out of her depth, "I thought you only had the blue-singer"
"Let me tell you a story as passed to me by my Great-Uncle's Son when I was last with my true family." Ianto sat and motioned for her to sit beside him which she did eagerly.
Ianto did not often offer information about his true self and she hungered for the knowledge of a people she had never met, as always Tosh was an analyst. Information was essential to understand things.
"My Great-Uncle Susano, named after the doctor's Granddaughter Susan, was unhappy with the Doctor's decision to "dump the family in Wales" as he put it and asked the doctor for an alternate choice. He took my Great-Uncle and his son to Japan, the Izumo province to be precise."
Toshiko went still with shock, her ancestral home. Really?
"He met a man called Ashinazuchi who was grieving with his family over the loss of his eight daughters. A giant snake had eaten them and the snake was expected to come for the final daughter they had in hiding called Kushinada-hime, whom he fell in love with when he saw first her. He put out several large half barrels of sake and when the snake was drunk he killed it. They gutted the snake and found that although it had consumed many people their trinkets and metal items like hair combs and daggers had been unaffected by its stomach acid, including a beautifully crafted sword he named Ame-no-Murakumo-no-Tsurugi." Ianto stopped for breath and Tosh looked at him defiantly.
"You're telling me that the Great God Susanoo was actually an alien visiting with the doctor who fell in love with my ancestor?" she challenged.
"Yes little dumpling of mine," Ianto chuckled stoking her face, "He married her!"
"Oh my goodness, really?" she laughed softly in that musical way Ianto loved leaning absently into his touch. Loyal little bird, so seldom touched yet so deserving of love.
"The sword had another name, "The Kusangi" I think it was called," Ianto struggled to remember the story told by the fire late at night and several beverages down.
Ianto missed how still Toshiko had become and he continued the story now he had found the thread in his edidic memory "It was said that generations later it was gifted to a great warrior called Yamato Takeru. A distant member of the bloodline who was caught in a grass fire and while using the Kusangi to cut the grass around him in an attempt to create a fire break for himself and his men he swung the blade, the wind shifted and it began to draw the fire into its tip."
Toshiko was leaning forward with her petite hand lightly sitting on Ianto's thigh and he placed his hand over it as a brother would his baby sister.
"You mean…" she whispered with anticipation.
"Yes little sister, the bloodline retains the bladesinger gift," Ianto smiled.
Ianto reached behind the seat and pulled a long sheathed blade from the shadows. The sword he had found deep in the recesses of the archives felt warm in his hands, it always had at T1 as well. He had first cursed Jack for having it and then realised that he would have scavenged it with everything else not nailed down before UNIT took over not knowing it was Ianto's friend and was grateful his little friend had survived. Without the red-singer he would have never learnt how to dance in the first place.
Tosh held her breath as her heart leapt into her throat and Ianto presented the blade to her in the traditional manner.
With shaking hands she reached for the leather bound handle. Looking at Ianto for assurance she grasped it and quickly pulled the blade into the light.
The resounding bell ring as it cut the air to swing at her side caught her by surprise, but not Ianto who grinned with glee as he watched the usually shy Toshiko strut into the middle of the floor.
The blade was nearly as long as her leg and she would be able to lean on it if she would ever disrespectfully used it for that, which of course he knew she wouldn't.
She gave an exploratory swing around her hip and the melody sounded again soon to be added by her soft laugh. As she began to dance the tip bled the flickering tendrils of flame and soon she was surrounded by fire in the air.
Ianto closed his eyes and welcomed his sister to the song of the bladesinger as he stepped forward to dance with her. His own blade throwing cold blue ice to counteract the red fire as fire and ice was renewed.
The history of the Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi extends into legend. According to Kojiki, the god Susanoo encountered a grieving family of kunitsukami ("gods of the land") headed by Ashinazuchi (足名椎?) in Izumo province. When Susanoo inquired of Ashinazuchi, he told him that his family was being ravaged by the fearsome Yamata-no-Orochi, an eight-headed serpent of Koshi, who had consumed seven of the family's eight daughters and that the creature was coming for his final daughter, Kushinada-hime (奇稲田姫?). Susanoo investigated the creature, and after an abortive encounter he returned with a plan to defeat it. In return, he asked for Kushinada-hime's hand in marriage, which was agreed. Transforming her temporarily into a comb (one interpreter reads this section as "using a comb he turns into [masquerades as] Kushinada-hime") to have her company during battle, he detailed his plan into steps.
He instructed the preparation of eight vats of sake (rice wine) to be put on individual platforms positioned behind a fence with eight gates. The monster took the bait and put one of its heads through each gate. With this distraction, Susanoo attacked and slew the beast (with his sword Worochi no Ara-masa). He chopped off each head and then proceeded to the tails. In the fourth tail, he discovered a great sword inside the body of the serpent which he called Ame-no-Murakumo-no-Tsurugi, which he presented to the goddess Amaterasu to settle an old grievance.
Atsuta Shrine in Nagoya dates back to c. 100 CE and houses the Kusanagi sword
Generations later, in the reign of the Twelfth Emperor, Keikō, Ame-no-Murakumo-no-Tsurugi was given to the great warrior, Yamato Takeru as part of a pair of gifts given by his aunt, Yamato-hime the Shrine Maiden of Ise Shrine, to protect her nephew in times of peril.
These gifts came in handy when Yamato Takeru was lured onto an open grassland during a hunting expedition by a treacherous warlord. The lord had fiery arrows loosed to ignite the grass and trap Yamato Takeru in the field so that he would burn to death. He also killed the warrior's horse to prevent his escape. Desperately, Yamato Takeru used the Ame-no-Murakumo-no-Tsurugi to cut back the grass and remove fuel from the fire, but in doing so, he discovered that the sword enabled him to control the wind and cause it to move in the direction of his swing. Taking advantage of this magic, Yamato Takeru used his other gift, fire strikers, to enlarge the fire in the direction of the lord and his men, and he used the winds controlled by the sword to sweep the blaze toward them. In triumph, Yamato Takeru renamed the sword Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi (lit. "Grasscutter Sword") to commemorate his narrow escape and victory. Eventually, Yamato Takeru married and later fell in battle with a monster, after ignoring his wife's advice to take the sword with him.
According to legend, the "sword in the snake," Kusanagi, was found in the body of an eight-headed serpent killed by the god of storms and seas. It's part of the Imperial Regalia of Japan, icons of the ancient imperial family's descent from the sun goddess––the symbols of their divine right to rule.
The Kusanagi is said to be housed in the Atsuta shrine in Nagano Prefecture, though it isn't on public display and hasn't been seen in centuries. The sword is occasionally brought out for imperial coronation ceremonies, but it's always kept shrouded in wrappings. Even though it has never been seen, and is only recorded in collections of oral history and pseudohistorical documents, authorities have nevertheless succeeded in keeping the world guessing about the Kusanagi by never officially confirming nor denying its existence.
The only official mention of the sword came after World War II—even though the late Emperor Hirohito disavowed any claim to his divinity, he was also recorded as having ordered the divine regalia's keepers to "defend them at all costs."