The Moonlit Corridor

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

Chapter 38 (v.1) - Jangmi

Submitted: August 28, 2019

Reads: 23

Comments: 1

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Submitted: August 28, 2019

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In the predawn hours before Silence and Sung Ji awoke to begin the second day of their journey, a weary Sensei Hawk anxiously paced back and forth on the polished wooden surface of the porch that encircled his dojo (training hall). He slept little that night, disturbed by nightmares until he reluctantly rose from his palette. He spent the remainder of the nocturnal hours outside beneath the starlit heavens in an attempt to shake off the uncanny feeling of impending disaster and the bizarre images that stubbornly refused to exit his troubled mind.

There were two in particular that disturbed him most; one was of a ghostly, longhaired girl in white whose form took shape and emerged from within a spectral mist that filled his sleeping chamber. She wore a long rose-hued scarf around her neck, each side of which moved as if stirred by the wind, yet the fog within which she stood was not dispelled. The mist-shrouded wraith slowly faded away, as if consumed by the thickening vapors. The second image was that of a girl in black who appeared like a specter as the mist that took the first girl dispersed. When the fog cleared she was standing above him, sword in hand and her long black hair blowing as if by the ‘winds of change’. Anger distorted the angelic beauty of her countenance and her lips were parted in a sneer, as if she held him in disgust. Her eyes, although initially beautiful to behold, were the eyes of one seeking vengeance… He awoke in a cold sweat at that moment, fearfully trembling.

Now, as he paced, trying to sort out those puzzling, residual images, another dream memory resurfaced; the girl in white first appeared with one arm behind her back. Her feet and the bottom of her long dress were hidden by the vapors, and she seemed to glide rather than walk. As she approached, she slowly moved her arm from behind her back. Her hand, palm up, held a circular nimbus of light; not really held. It was suspended slightly above her outstretched palm. She wasn’t presenting it, but rather displaying it as if it had some significance. She stared at him intently, as if peering into the hidden depths of his corrupt soul, analyzing and memorizing what was revealed there. Then the fog rose and swirled about her until she was completely enveloped, and only the circular luminescence of the ring remained, glowing like a spectral halo in the mist. Momentarily it faded away, winking out, just before the swordswoman in black appeared. He wondered about those wraith-like figures, and the ring…the circle of light that hung in the air above the solemn girl’s hand.

Hawk shook his head in disgust, frustrated that he would allow something as commonplace as a nightmare to disturb either his rest or peace of mind. Yet regardless of his efforts, the foreboding weighed heavily on him. His world of ninja was inundated by black arts, magic and mysticism, although when it came to that he was a novice. What magic he did have at his disposal came from a secret source he feared. The rest he bullied from Chiharu, the old nun and sole inhabitant of the mountain temple and grounds he now occupied. He was certain she knew much more than she was willing to reveal, but refrained from pushing her, fearing she may forget her passive philosophy and turn her magic against him. Like Sanada, he had a healthy fear of shamans, wizards, and all things mystical. There was a time when he believed birth and death were no more than accidents, but experience altered his perception and taught him to respect premonitions and omens, even if they materialized in dreams. 

 

Thirty kilometers to the south, another evil man was awake before dawn, with lecherous designs on his mind.  Leaving his wife’s bed, Danjo Kuriyama quietly made his way to the sleeping chamber of a female retainer, Jangmi. She was Korean by birth, kidnapped when a child and brought to Japan to be sold on the underground slave market. After being purchased by Kuriyama, she was sent to a disreputable martial art Sensei, to be trained as a bodyguard. She grew up thinking she was ‘ko-ah’ (an orphan), who was indebted to the Kuriyama family for taking her in. Having been sent away a little girl she returned a beautiful young woman. The fire of Kuriyama san’s lust was ignited the moment she arrived, but he managed to restrain himself for more than a year. This night, he finally decided to make his move.

There was sparse light in Jangmi’s room, just enough that he could see her shapely form beneath the silk cover of her pallet. Earlier that evening she dined with the Kuriyama family in honor of his birthday, and he made certain she was served more than enough sake to put two people out for the night. Thus he was assured she would remain unconscious or at the very least be incapable of resisting. He wasn’t quite certain of the level of her martial art skill level, but felt confident the sake would be sufficient to hinder her abilities.

Moving cautiously, he dropped to his knees he crept, silent as a serpent, until he reached her.  She lay on her left side, with her back to him. Trembling with anticipation, he reached out with one hand and grasped her top cover, gingerly tugging at the material and pulling it down, exposing a bare shoulder. Moonlight slowly illuminated the room as night winds drove the clouds away. She was all the more visible, her charms more obvious in the lunar light, fueling his forbidden desire. He was enticed by the curve of her back, and as his eyes moved upward along her spine he marveled at the intricate beauty of the rose tattoo just beneath her right shoulder. He snickered as he recalled the Sensei he sent her to was infamous for marking his disciples with tattoos based on the name he gave them. He knew ‘Jangmi’ was Korean for ‘Rose’, so he called her by that name and marked her accordingly.

The rose is a beautiful flower, but its thorns, which protect it, can pierce flesh and draw blood. The connotation of her name was not lost on Kuriyama, but having done his best to sedate her, he had neither fear nor concern for his own safety at the moment. He reached out with a shaky left hand and gently touched the tattoo. Moving his fingers slowly over the detailed image, he was inflamed by the silky softness of her skin. She remained still, which fueled his brashness as he boldly placed his other hand on her right shoulder. That was the last thing he did in this world.

Like a sudden flash of lighting in a storm cloud, the girl suddenly gripped the wrist of his groping hand and pulled him off balance, throwing him over her body. He landed flat on his back on her opposite side with a muffled ‘thud’, the breath knocked out of him. Before he realized what happened she sprang up and was on her knees when she pierced his heart with a ten inch silver hairpin. She grabbed the blade she always kept at her side when sleeping, ready for what may come next. In her moonlit room all was quiet, and only afterward was she aware of whom her molester was. ‘So be it,’ she thought as she knelt beside him. The hairpin, with the red metallic rose on its end, looked like a flower growing from his chest. She had more of those pins…they were her ‘thorns’, and like the thorns of the rose that served to protect the blossom, her thorns protected her chastity and life.

She retrieved the lethal hairpin and stood upright, her head spinning slightly from the sake. She rapidly dressed, gathered and packed items for travel and quietly made her exit. Stealthily crossing the courtyard she entered the stable, saddled a horse, left the grounds, and headed north. She had no destination in mind and no plan, other than to put as much distance as possible between herself and the castle of the Kuriyama family.

 

 


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