The Moonlit Corridor

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

Chapter 32 (v.1) - reflection

Submitted: August 27, 2019

Reads: 60

Comments: 1

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Submitted: August 27, 2019

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Sanada’s castle was a sprawling, imposing structure, with many levels and a plethora of maze-like corridors that meandered throughout the numerous buildings. Silence had gained entrance, and had been informed where to find Sanada, but she didn’t know where Kasumi, Ai or Mizaki were. She thought it best to locate them, get them somewhere safe, and then confront Sanada.

At that precise moment, Kasumi and Ai were in Mizaki san’s chamber. Kasumi loved being there, and called it the magic room. There was the large mirror, one of many the magician had throughout the castle, and an abundance of other mystical artifacts. Kasumi especially loved the ancient mirror that reflected much more than those things before it. She was sitting at that very mirror moments ago when a housemaid summoned Mizaki. Kasumi turned her attention to the chamber door when the maid rang the chimes, then back once more to the mirror. Whatever the maid was telling Mizaki had nothing to do with her, and although the magician intrigued her he was still an adult and she didn’t care much for overly serious adult business. Facing the mirror again she giggled when she saw that her reflection was still sitting there with head turned to look in the direction of the door. Kasumi waved her arms, trying to get the attention of her distracted reflection. Ai glanced at her momentarily, then, shaking her head smiled and returned to her cleaning. She didn’t notice Kasumi had abruptly stopped waving and was sitting completely still, staring at the huge mirror as if hypnotized. At that moment, her reflection suddenly animated, smiling and waving at Kasumi chan, who began to giggle again. Then, as abruptly as she began laughing she became quiet, still staring intently at the looking glass.

Although she and Ai were the only ones in the chamber, Kasumi saw the reflection of a woman in the mirror, deep in the shadows across the room behind her. Turning to look that direction, she saw no one there. When she turned her eyes once more to the mirror she saw the woman again, this time gliding toward her as if floating.

She was very beautiful thought Kasumi, perhaps a little younger than Ai, but maybe the same age as Silence. The girl in the mirror was dressed in white, which gave contrast to her long, flowing black hair that cascaded like an ebony waterfall to her shoulders and beyond. The hair, like the rose-hued scarf around her slim neck, was wafting and moving, as if stirred by a breeze. While Kasumi watched, the mirror girl stopped advancing and raised an arm, extended it forward and with her index finger, pointed to the chamber door. Kasumi turned to look at the closed door. When she turned back to the mirror the girl in white was still there, pointing.

“Do you want me to leave the room?” Kasumi asked the girl in white.

“What?” questioned Ai. “What did you say?”

“I was speaking to the girl in the mirror,” said Kasumi. “She’s pointing at the door.”

Ai put her cleaning cloth down and walked over to the where Kasumi was seated… “The girl in the mirror? Do you mean your reflection?”

“No,” Kasumi rapidly replied. “The pretty lady in white… that one,” she added while pointing at the looking glass.

Ai looked again, just as Kasumi turned toward the mirror. Only their reflections were visible. “She’s gone! But she was there a second ago. I think she wanted us to leave this room.”

Ai felt a sudden chill, accompanied by an uncanny sense of foreboding, as if a door opened behind her in a darkened room and a cold draft caressed the back of her neck. She shuddered. It was not just the mirror, although she recalled when a little girl it initially intrigued her, but eventually she came to fear it. Even now she felt discomfort and a little fear when around her father’s mirrors. Mizaki had inherited them from Ai’s great grandfather, who purchased them from a magician rumored to practice the black arts. Ai doubted if her father Mizaki knew how or why the mirrors did what they did. Only the original owner knew their secret, and he carried it with him to the grave.

Having grown impatient for a reply, Kasumi finally asked… “Should we leave?”

“We should wait for father,” said Ai, as she turned to look at the door, then back at the ominous mirror. She could not deny she had a physic impression of impending danger.

Kasumi meanwhile turned her attention once more to the looking glass. The girl in white had returned. As Kasumi watched the mirror in captivated silence the girl smiled, then turned and glided to the chamber door reflected in the glass, opened it, stepped through the archway and was gone, leaving the door ajar. Kasumi quickly turned to look at the door outside the mirror. It was still closed. 

 

Elsewhere, on a whim, Silence checked the library on the ground level, searching for Ai and Kasumi chan. She considered the kitchen, Mizaki’s quarters and the garden also. While exiting the library she detected the aroma of jasmine in the air, and in the next instant was startled by the soft, melodious sound of a girl’s voice… “Ne-mut-te i-ru-no (Are you asleep)?”

It was the same question she asked Ichiban the first time she saw him. The voice came from behind her back, settling like a breeze blown leaf on her shoulder. Turning rapidly, Silence was shocked to see the girl in white; the same girl she had seen following behind the samurai. Perhaps the same girl she encountered on the road the night before. She noticed the rose colored scarf, now hanging loosely from her neck. And her eyes, deep and mysterious, but reflecting a youthful innocence. Silence didn’t know why, but didn’t feel threatened. For some reason she trusted the stranger. Before she could speak, the girl in white said… “They are on the third level, in the magician’s room. Go quickly. There is no time to talk. All will be as it should be if you don’t waste time."

”Silence obeyed; “Hai!” she said, before rushing off, all the while wondering how the girl knew who she was looking for. As she hurried along a thought abruptly occurred to her: ‘That strange girl didn’t say who was in Mizaki San’s chamber’. Silence wondered… ‘Was she talking about Ai and Kasumi Chan? And did she actually speak’? Now that she thought about it, Silence wasn’t certain if she heard the girl with her ears or her mind. The perplexed ninja was still wondering when she arrived at the wide staircase that led to the upper levels of the castle. Her mind raced, like her feet, as she hurried up the steep incline.

Meanwhile, in his private chamber, Sanada was quickly losing temper while Ichiban impatiently stood at attention. “It wouldn’t surprise me if one day you’re buried beneath an avalanche of your own excuses, mistakes and failures! I don’t know why I pay you primates?” 

The giant kept his head lowered. He was accustomed to the verbal abuse, but it bothered him now Mizaki was there, adding embarrassment to resentment. Ichiban, whose anger was equal to Sanada’s, was so distracted by his emotions and bewilderment over the meaning of the word ‘primates’ that he had completely forgotten about Silence, who should have arrived at Sanada’s room before him.

Sanada turned his ire to Mizaki for a moment, and after berating him for an uncontrollable assassin like Silence being sent for, he threatened to harm Ai chan if he disappointed him again. That threat being made he dismissed him and turned his guile once more toward Ichiban as Mizaki backed toward the door.

A short distance away, Sung Ji and Kenji were siting in one of the reception rooms of the only geisha house within miles of the village, awaiting an audience with Madam Snow. The house was opulent, located near a small, but wide waterfall, and surrounded by lush vegetation. The natural beauty of the locale brought many visitors who paid well for the relaxing baths, saunas, and natural hot springs. Sadly the house also attracted local gangsters and despots like Sanada. His henchmen terrorized her patrons until she was forced to pay him ‘protection money’. Afterward she began to realize great profits and a luxurious style of living rivaling that of royalty.

Following a brief period of waiting, within which time a young, tattooed Korean girl brought the visitors tea, Madam Snow entered the room. She recognized Kenji immediately, and knew why he had come. She bowed respectfully, lowering her eyes as she did. When she raised them she gazed at the twin swords in Sung Ji’s obi.

“You are samurai,” she said.

“Hai,” he replied.

She bowed in respect, then turned her attention once more to Kenji. “Judging from your companion, there is no reason to wonder why you were able to come here today. Sanada san ordered your death. He plans to bring your granddaughter here once your demise was confirmed. He is evil, and as  often as I bend rules to suit myself, I regret having ever done business with him. Now I’m trapped within his web. There is no way out for me.”

Kenji nodded his head… “Then Kasumi is not here...?”

“Regretfully,” replied Madam Snow, “she is not. She is at Sanada san’s estate, under the care of Mizaki san’s daughter. I’m certain she is well. She is too valuable a commodity for him to allow any harm to befall her.”

“Do you often deal in the trafficking of young girls?” asked the samurai.

“It is our custom,” she said with her head bowed, “to take in orphans and homeless waifs. Although taking Kasumi chan goes against my ethics, fearing the wrath of Sanada san I was willing to comply. I feared for the many girls who call this place home, and what would become of them if I refused. If Kasumi chan came here, she would be educated in the arts of calligraphy, poetry, dance, music, proper etiquette and decorum. She would be nurtured, well cared for and protected.”

“And trained to be a comfort woman,” added Sung Ji.

“Hai, but not a prostitute,” said Madam Snow. “There are worse things in this life, and worse places in which to grow up.”

Sung Ji nodded his head. Perhaps she was right. He saw many homeless children following warfare. Young girls were especially vulnerable, and at the mercy of evil men. He had dealt with more than one of those men in the past and because of his sword there were less men like that among the living, and many defenseless, orphaned girls who were able to keep their innocence.

Kenji Tanaka thanked Madam Snow and bade her farewell.

“But you didn’t finish your tea,” she said. “It is cold now. I will have my daughter bring more.”

“We appreciate your hospitality,” said Sung Ji, “but our time is limited.”

“Then I pray ‘Ten’ (Heaven) grants you success and victory,” Madam Snow confided. “Freedom for Kenji Tanaka’s granddaughter means freedom for my House as well.”


© Copyright 2019 C Wm Bird. All rights reserved.

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