The Moonlit Corridor

Reads: 2472  | Likes: 2  | Shelves: 1  | Comments: 29

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

Chapter 34 (v.1) - silver

Submitted: August 28, 2019

Reads: 24

Comments: 1

A A A | A A A

Submitted: August 28, 2019

A A A

A A A

Silence paused outside the twin doors leading to Sanada’s private bedchamber. She marveled at the huge Chinese dragon above the portal, its scales eerily reflecting the candle light. Placing an ear to the rosewood surface of one of the heavy doors, she listened intently for any sound within. All was quiet. Carefully opening the door, she cautiously peered inside before stealthily entering the darkened room. She sensed death, hanging heavy in the air like an invisible funeral pall.

A single, wall-mounted candle lamp illuminated the interior, offering sparse light, but sufficient enough for her to see a body sprawled on the floor at the foot of Sanada’s large bed. On closer inspection, she confirmed what her instincts told her; it was Sanada. Close to death, he had been mortally wounded. Out of mercy, she finished him with a single stroke. Afterward, a sudden cold chill ran up the length of her back as her sixth sense prompted her to turn.

Emerging from the shadows outside the range of the candle light was the girl in white. Quietly she glided toward the ninja; her legs beneath the flowing white dress remaining still. She raised an arm and pointed to a tapestry at the head of the bed. Silence glanced at the woven fabric, wondering if the girl wanted her to go there. The girl in white nodded her head as if having read the ninja’s thoughts. Silence did so and after investigation, moved the thick, heavy material aside. Behind it, set into the wall, was a hidden door. ‘You want me to go through this portal?’ Silence inwardly wondered. The girl in white nodded her head. Nodding her own head in reply, Silence gingerly slid the wooden panel to one side, just enough to allow her to step through the opening.

She found herself in a narrow, darkened alcove that led into a dimly lit corridor. She was shocked to find the girl in white already there, standing silent and still in the hallway as if she had been waiting. “Are there two of you?” the ninja girl heard herself say.

The girl in white smiled as she moved her head side-to-side.

‘No,’ thought Silence. ‘Of course not…’ she told herself. ‘But you appear and vanish like smoke…the air is still but your hair and scarf move as if by ‘kaze’ (wind), you travel with the speed of thought’. A sudden chill ran down her spine as she realized… “You cast no shadow,” she thought aloud.

The girl showed no reaction, but raised an arm and pointed, indicating a particular direction.

“You want me to go that way,” said Silence.

She nodded, then proceeded to glide down the hallway in the direction she indicated, her rose hued scarf trailing behind. Silence followed and within a few moments noticed something on the floor of the corridor just ahead. The girl was blocking her view, but the moment that thought registered she went almost transparent, allowing Silence to see through her; to see what appeared to be another body. The girl in white reached the supine figure first, gliding in a circular direction around it until she was on the other side, facing back the way she had come. She glanced at Silence and motioned with an open hand, as if presenting a gift.

Silence stopped within a couple of feet of the body; a large one. She raised her head to look at the floating girl in white; her eyes were locked on Ichiban’s sprawled form, glaring at the prone killer. Abruptly he began to stir, as if awakening from slumber. Silence remained still, with the exception of her right arm with which she crossed her body to place her hand on the hilt of the short sword secured to the obi encircling her slender waist. She wondered where his men were. ‘There were usually two’, she thought inwardly, ‘hanging on like ticks’.

Ichiban moaned as he attempted to rise to a seated position. His hands went first to his neck, then to rubbing his eyes and finally to pushing off against the floor as he awkwardly rose to a standing position. The first thing he beheld when he raised his head was the last thing he recalled seeing before he blacked out; the girl with the lethal red scarf. Forgetting he had dropped his double-edged broadsword, he reached for it out of habit, only to discover an empty scabbard. Immediately he grasped the hilt of the shorter sword he carried, pulled it from its leather sheath and held it in a threatening manner. The girl in white smiled, as if in derision, as she raised her right arm and pointed toward and just beyond the giant. Ichiban trembled as he faced her, his eyes following the movements of the undulating scarf around her neck. Beads of perspiration formed on his brow as he lowered his chin and partially turned his head to look behind while he tried to keep one eye on the gesturing girl.

To his consternation he saw Silence standing at his back. The petite girl was completely relaxed, with her right hand resting comfortably on the handle of her razor-sharp short sword. He involuntarily took a quick step away from the ninja, then fearfully turned to where the girl in white had been standing…or floating; he wasn’t quite certain.

She was gone. Abruptly he turned his attention back to Silence, surprised to find she had neither moved nor withdrew her weapon, which gave him pause to wonder. Because of his bulk, he expected her to show signs of fear, have her sword ready or attempt to flee. As if she read his thoughts, she said contemptuously; “Do you think I fear your size? You are ‘se ga takai’ (height is tall)…big in body, but small in mind.”

“It’s not just my body that’s large,” he boasted. “My sword is large compared to that tiny blade of yours.”

“My blade will not strike your sword, ‘kyo jin’ (giant),” she declared defiantly, “but the hand that wields it. There is no flesh that metal cannot penetrate.”

Instantly enraged, he snarled... “Obviously you’re ready to die. It’s my pleasure to help you do so.”

“Well now,” she said sarcastically, “that is really harsh, isn’t it? You want to kill me. Mah-da-kai’ (Are you ready)?”

Screaming in rage he leaped at her, thrusting with his sword. She deftly stepped just out of reach and moving with agility, avoided two consecutive angular strikes. The third time Ichiban lunged he executed a side-to-side strike, which she easily evaded as she took a single step toward him, ducking beneath his sweeping sword and passing closely by his body. She unsheathed her sword as she did, bracing the dull side against her forearm as she moved her arm in a semi-circular motion. Ichiban cried out in shock as his free hand went to his waist. He felt something warm and wet, accompanied by a sharp pain. Raising the hand, he screamed in alarm and anger when he saw it covered with blood. The thought of anyone, especially this tiny girl, causing him to bleed was unacceptable. He was fast, but not fast enough to best Silence. In her eyes he was a lumbering ox, moving slowly and lethargically.

Ichiban renewed his attack with three forty-five degree angle slices, which Silence easily avoided. She likewise evaded a forth attack, stepped to one side and executed an outside-in circle kick to his right hand, knocking the blade from his grip. Without placing her foot down she quickly recoiled her leg, delivering a side snap heel kick to one of his knees. He collapsed, crying out in pain. Landing within reach of the broadsword he dropped earlier, he grabbed it, regained his footing and stumbling slightly advanced toward Silence. He paused to regain balance, while glaring at his diminutive target. Rage flared within him as she smiled. Launching another furious attack he raised the sword for a downward strike.

The image of him standing like that, the sword raised above his head, stirred something deep in her subconscious: the image of a big man with sword in hand, standing above the bodies of her parents. Having a fraction of a second to react, she quickly jumped to one side, passing within inches of the giant, her sword whistling as it sped speedily through the air, and through the side of his neck. The only sound in the corridor that could be heard after she lightly touched down in a semi-crouched position was the sound of air escaping from Ichiban’s windpipe. Ichiban paused in shock, teetering on the verge of collapse, his wide-opened eyes staring in disbelief. He tried to scream, his voice stifled as his lifeblood sprayed forth in a fine red mist. Then his body dropped, lifeless, to the floor.

Silence rose, looking where the giant lay, and once certain he was finished, she relaxed and sighed. She despised killing, even if it was a ruthless death dealer like Ichiban. She never aspired to be shinobi; it was thrust upon her by capricious fate. When that thought entered her mind, she thought again about the image of the man who slew her parents; could it have been him? Had fate delivered him to her? Is that why the girl in white motioned with her hand as if presenting him to her? Her mind raced, but she snapped herself out of it. There was still much to do. She could reason it out later.  

She re-sheathed her sword and inspected the large leather bag Ichiban had dropped. Not really surprised by what she found inside, she imagined what must have transpired earlier in Sanada’s chamber. Obviously, she reasoned, the giant stole the coins after attacking his employer. She smiled as she thought of a good use for all that wealth.

 

Beside the garden pool, Kasumi, who had been placing rose and white camellia buds on the surface of the water, laughed as the carp, mistaking them for food, knocked the blossoms about. Abruptly distracted by her arrival, Kasumi looked up to see Silence. “She’s here!” shouted the girl excitedly.

Ai and her father turned to see the petite girl in black silk coming their way, carrying something cumbersome.

“We were worried!” exclaimed Ai as Mizaki rushed to help Silence with her burden.

“Wha…” he said as she let him have the bag, the weight of which caused him to lose balance. “This is heavy. You’re surprisingly strong.”

“It’s full of gold and silver,” she said. “Enough for all of you to start a new life.”

“What about Sanada san?” asked Ai as her father inspected the contents of the bag.

“Gone from this world,” she informed. “Mortally wounded by the giant. Out of mercy I finished him.”

“And Ichiban?” questioned Mizaki.

“With Sanada,” she said. “He tried to kill me. I’m not ready to die; he insisted but I refused.”

Kasumi chan had been listening to the three of them long enough; “What about the ‘ka-wai-e’ (cute) girl in the white dress?” she asked.

They looked her direction to see her standing petulantly with her hands on her hips, her bottom lip protruding in a well-rehearsed pout.

“She was there one moment and gone the next,” said Silence. Judging from what I’ve seen, she is either a fairy or wraith. Obviously she is not subject to time or space. She moves without stepping, casts no shadow and speaks without making a sound. With the exception of once, much of what she said I heard with my mind, not my ears.”

Kasumi nodded her head slowly, as if trying but failing to comprehend.

“We should leave,” declared Ai. “Before someone discovers Sanada’s body.”

“Hai!” agreed Silence. “There will be many blades to deal with in that case, and I’ve had more than enough extreme violence for one day.”


© Copyright 2019 C Wm Bird. All rights reserved.

Chapters

Add Your Comments:

Comments