Chapter 11: Asako

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 50

Kwai listened intently as the samurai described his encounter with the specter in blue. As Sung Ji elaborated, the shaman smiled and nodded his head knowingly. The moment he finished his story, Kwai spoke poetically… “When a beautiful soul like her leaves this earth too soon, tears of angels fall from Heaven…” He paused again, as if searching for the right words… “Perhaps she was curious. I believe she is seeking someone…maybe one who wronged her in this life, or is responsible for her death. She is a sad, lonely spirit. Did you see her face?”

“Yes…and no,” he replied. “She was close enough, but her features were not clear. It was dark. She was lucid, almost transparent.”

“Hmmm,” Kwai remarked thoughtfully, “I’m still certain, though I can’t say why, your destiny is somehow intertwined with hers. Perhaps she sensed that as well. Evidently you aren’t the one she is seeking, which may explain why she did you no harm.”

“There was something familiar about her,” said Sung Ji, “something about her eyes…” His voice trailed off briefly, then he repeated; “I couldn’t quite make out her features. But that melody; I’m certain I’ve certain I’ve heard it before. Even now it echoes in my mind. And the jasmine…what is significant about that? And how can there be an aroma of jasmine in places where there is none?”

“There will always be questions,” ventured Kwai. “Patience and persistence will help you find the answers.”

“And yet I wonder,” the samurai mused, “if I discover who this spirit was in life and why she haunts that place, will that allow her rest in peace? Will the bridge be free of the curse? And more importantly, can I solve the problem within three days?”

“Three days?” repeated Kwai. “Are you concerned about the curse now that seen the specter? Don’t concern yourself with that. You have a kind heart and genuine concern for others. Please allow me to join your quest. I believe that together we can solve this riddle.”

Sung Ji was surprised… “Didn’t you investigate this mystery already?”

“Yes…but I’m compelled to do so again,” replied Kwai. “These other-worldly matters intrigue me.”

“You’ve dealt with spirits like this before?”

“I have. One in particular comes to mind; the young daughter of wealthy family, whose fiancée perished at sea. Before he left on that ill-fated voyage, she promised to wait for his return in the spring at a pavilion on her parent’s estate. When news of his death reached her she slipped into a deep depression and one fateful night went to the pavilion in despair and hung herself. Afterward, her spirit could not leave that place. Like the sprite that haunts Chiang’s bridge, she was a lonely, lost soul…very poor.”

“Were you able to help her?”

“Regrettably,” said Kwai, “I could not. She had intentionally killed herself. It was not her choice to remain trapped there waiting for one who could not return; it was Heaven’s punishment. I believe she waits there still, longing to reunite with her fiancée. It has long been my hope that it won’t be an eternal wait…that Heaven will eventually be merciful.”

Sung Ji shivered.

“What is it?” teased Kwai. “Does all this talk of ghosts unnerve you?”

“I suppose,” said the Korean. “In my homeland, there is a belief that ghosts are always around us, and that when the living talk of ghosts it summons them, causing them to gather and listen, to discover whether or not they are being talked about. With the ghosts comes cold, and that causes the living to shiver.”

“Do you believe that?” Kwai asked.

“Never before…never before the episode on the bridge. Now I’ve cause to wonder…” his words faded off. Following a moment of silence, he asked… “Is it possible the spirit who haunts that bridge is a suicide? Perhaps she jumped from there to drown in the river…”

“I think not,” reasoned Kwai. “What I perceive as truth about this or that comes in bits and pieces. I can’t give a detailed account in every case. But in this present situation, I know more now than when I looked into it originally. Perhaps together we can help this spirit find peace.”


Before Kwai finished speaking the keen ears of the samurai detected the soft hoof falls of an approaching horse.

“The beast is rider less,” stated Kwai.

“Dea (Yes),” ventured Sung Ji as his left hand sheathed the half exposed blade he had begun to draw the moment he was aware of the horse.

Kwai reached the door by the time the samurai stood, and with him at his heels, he stepped outside onto the wooden porch. The sweat covered horse, saddle empty, ambled slowly toward the house. “I recognize that horse,” said the shaman. “It belongs to the blacksmith. He has a small stable in the city.”

“Perhaps the man was attacked by bandits,” ventured Sung Ji, “or fell from the saddle.”

“Something tells me this not an emergency,” determined Kwai. “It would be difficult retracing the animal’s tracks in the dark.”

“I can do it,” the samurai proclaimed.

“Not necessary,” said Kwai. “We can return the horse in the morning with first light.”

The samurai conceded. He knew Kwai just long enough to trust the man’s sixth sense.


Later that night and elsewhere, a weary Miyamoto was skulking his way toward the city walls. His wine addled head was still spinning and his legs were shaky. He had failed to find the horse that escaped him earlier at the toll bridge, so decided to return to the city and look for a safe place outside the walls to sleep for the night. He knew he could enter the metropolis without drawing attention to himself at sunrise when the gates opened for the day. There would be many others coming and going at the time and one stranger, more or less, would go unnoticed. He believed returning to the city was his best choice if he hoped to procure another horse on which he could escape to search of a more suitable haven. The thought of leaving the vicinity appealed to him, especially after his encounter with the specter on the bridge. Albeit traveling would be much easier if he had a steed with which he could quickly put distance between himself and this troublesome place.

He approached the city walls cautiously, constantly looking over his shoulders as he scurried along haphazardly in the darkness. Whatever that thing was that he either imagined or actually saw at the toll bridge horrified him still. He wondered if it was a prelude to his destruction and was fearful it would manifest itself again, perhaps even harm him physically. Even now his insides in general seemed to have been twisted and turned inside out. He desperately wanted to sleep, but doubted his ability to do so. When he closed his eyes even to blink he saw the fierce countenance and flaming hair of the spirit he encountered earlier. “What was that?” he found himself mumbling aloud. “What kind of wretched place have I brought myself to?”

There was no one to answer, and perhaps that was best. Hearing even the slightest sound caused him to jump, darting his frightened eyes this way and that, fearful of sighting that frightful apparition. He was becoming impatient and angry with himself as the practical side of his wine soaked brain questioned whether or not the metaphysical incident actually happened. ‘Perhaps it was the wine,’ he told himself, and yet in spite of the drink, the experience, still vivid in his memory, was all too real. He struggled to recall the specter’s face, before it changed…before it became warped and demonic. That waif like face was familiar, but try as he may, he couldn’t place it with a person, place or time.

He walked on like that, lost in confused thought, until he discovered he had reached the city. He found a small grotto sheltered by trees, and a tiny stream, which was a more than welcomed sight. After drinking and splashing water on his face he found a place to rest until morning. Sitting, he placed his back against a tall tree. Now, he reasoned, he only needed to fear attack from three sides. Drawing his sword, he laid it across his outstretched legs, at the ready and within reach if needed. Against mortal men the blade was quite effective, but against demons or spirits…he didn’t know. These troubled thoughts and more like them plagued him as he slipped into a restless slumber.


Submitted: August 23, 2019

© Copyright 2020 C Wm Bird. All rights reserved.


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