Chapter 33: retribution

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

Reads: 58

Since leaving Madam Snow, Sung Ji had not spoken. Kenji reasoned that at least an hour had passed, and after enduring what he considered to be more than enough silence, he asked the samurai what was on his mind.

“The ‘mu shi yeoja’ (tattooed girl),” he replied.

“The Korean orphan who served tea,” said Kenji. “You’ve been thinking about Sung Mi.”


“That young girl will never be geisha,” Kenji assured. “Only girls of Japanese descent can become geisha.”

“Really?” said Sung Ji. “I’ve heard that only men of Japanese descent can become samurai.”

Tanaka was silent.

“I worry about her,” the samurai continued.

“Ah, so you have a soft spot for helpless unfortunates,” declared Kenji.

“Of course. That is why I use my skill to help others.”

“Madam Snow seemed to dote on that girl,” offered Kenji. “The ‘ire-zumi’ (tattoo) marks her face, but also protects her. No geisha would be marked in that fashion. I’m certain it was Madam Snow’s intention when she had the girl tattooed to begin with.”

“I see,” mused Sung Ji thoughtfully.

“And do you recall,” said Kenji, “that Madam Snow referred to her as daughter? Even when she is of age no man will be allowed to approach her. Madam Snow will find her a suitable husband when the time comes. Do you remember the Japanese name Madam Snow gave her?”

“She called her Ai,” Sung Ji responded. “It means ‘love’.”

“Precisely,” Kenji agreed. “Madam Snow truly loves her like a daughter. As an orphan, it is better for her to be with someone who will cherish and protect her, rather than to be homeless.”

“Dea,” repeated the samurai, before he lapsed once more into silence.


While the samurai and Tanaka were making their way to Sanada san’s estate, Ichiban, having left his employer’s chamber through a hidden door that led to a secret corridor few in his employ were aware of, was on his way to Mizaki room. He planned to kill the wizard and his daughter if necessary, then deliver Kasumi to Madam Snow. He moved with determination, but slowly, weighed down by the gold and silver within the large leather pouch he carried. He just passed a dark alcove along the corridor when he paused, attempting to get a better grip on the heavy bag. When he raised his head he was shocked to discover a woman standing in the center of the corridor the direction he was going. The surprise of seeing someone suddenly there wore off quickly. He continued on his way, imagining the newcomer was most likely a housemaid, perhaps responsible for cleaning the passageway. If that was the case, he could guarantee her silence by taking her life.

She had not moved since he first noticed her and as he closed the distance between them he saw her more clearly. Dressed in white, she wasn’t someone he recognized. Then he noticed something bizarre that brought a chill to the back of his neck; her long hair and scarf, lifted and moving languidly in the air, as if windblown.

He paused, confused by what he saw. There was no draft and no stirring of the air that he could discern within the hallway. Regardless, he was determined that no one, especially a frail woman, would block his way. He began walking forward again and was within eight paces of the girl when his legs went completely numb. Unable to move forward or back, he dropped the coin bag as fear seized his black heart. The girl, her face expressionless, stared at him hypnotically as he struggled to move. When his eyes met hers, a sense of impending doom gripped his consciousness as the paralysis moved upward from his lower extremities and his terrified thoughts raced back to that frightening experience in the garden when Ai used her magic on him; ‘Not again!’ his mind silently cried out.

 It seemed as if the floor beneath him was slowly dissolving. He imagined at any moment he would sink into a black void of nothingness. Slowly she moved toward him, as his incredulous eyes locked onto the red scarf trailing behind her. Her silken hair remained blown backward, but the scarf, like rose hued tentacles, changed direction. Each side of the gyrating material rose above her shoulders, reaching like outstretched arms toward him. He stared in stunned disbelief as the ends of the scarf came closer, caressing the skin of his face and then moving downward to encircle his neck before squeezing. The force applied by the serpentine arms increased, agonizing slowly, until he was unable to breathe. His vision began to blur, but he managed to draw his sword. As he attempted to cut through the material of the scarf, the girl became enraged. She gestured with a hand and without touching the weapon, her action knocked the blade from his grip. By the time it struck the tile floor with a metallic sound that echoed in the corridor, his eyes could only see blackness. He grabbed either side of the girl’s scarf with his hands in a frenzied effort to dislodge it, but couldn’t get free of its grip. Infuriated the instant he touched it, her eyes flamed in rage. Instantly he was lifted up, his feet no longer touching the floor, as the pressure against his throat became unbearable. A moment latter he dropped heavily and unconscious to the tiles.

In Mizaki’s chamber, Ai was sitting beside Kasumi, her concerned expression suddenly replaced by one of alarm as she saw the chamber door slowly open. She gasped involuntarily, causing a startled Kasumi to react accordingly. Silence, agile and quiet as a cat, stepped into the room. Had Ai not been watching the door by chance, she would not have known the ninja girl entered.

 “You’re here,” said Silence. “You’re both in danger. You must come with me now.”

Ai was already standing; “But what about father?  He was summoned by Sanada san. Perhaps we should wait.”

“This is not a good place to wait,” warned Silence. “Sanada and his killers know you’re here. I’ll deal with them, but you and Kasumi must leave this room!”

“That’s what the girl in the mirror was telling me!” declared Kasumi.

Both turned to look at her… “The girl in the mirror?” asked Silence.

“Hai,” replied the child. “The girl in the white dress with the pretty scarf.”

Silence suddenly thought about her encounter in the corridor… “Could it be the same girl?” she wondered aloud.

“What did you say?” asked Ai.

Before she could reply the door opened to reveal a surprised Mizaki, staring questioningly at his daughter.

“Good,” Silence declared, “you’ve returned. Take your daughter and Kasumi and wait for me in the west garden. The stairs leading there are steep, and if you’re discovered you’ll have time to escape while Sanada’s guards climb the stairs.”

“What is happening?” asked the wizard.

“Retribution.” said Silence as she started for the door. “You’ve just returned from an audience with Sanada?”

“Hai,” he said while stepping aside as she approached.

“Where is he?”

“In his bed chamber…but not alone. Ichiban was with him.”

“All the better,” said Silence as she took another step, then pausing, she said… “Earlier, you saw something in one of your mirrors…something to do with me I believe. You turned to look at me, and although you said nothing, your behavior betrayed you. What did you see?”

“Your Destiny,” he replied. “Should I tell you?”

Silence hesitated a moment before she spoke… “No’” she answered as she passed through the doorway. Turning her head to look back as she made her way down the hall, she shouted… “Take the girls now and wait for me at the pond beside the camellias!”

She didn’t wait for a reply. Like a wisp of smoke in a windstorm she was suddenly gone.


Submitted: August 28, 2019

© Copyright 2020 C Wm Bird. All rights reserved.


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