Chapter 46: children of the night

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

Reads: 58
Comments: 1

Chiharu, returning from an audience with Sensei Hawk, laboriously climbed the last remaining steps leading to the Shrine of Autumn Mists. She paused for a few moments once reaching the top, breathing heavily while trying to make sense of the foreboding physic impressions that had become more prevalent recently. Something was coming. Something extreme beyond her control.

She contemplated Hawk’s concerns, premonitions and nightmares as well. When he told her about the girl in white she immediately sensed something, but could not explain with words. She didn’t completely understand the bits and pieces that came to her…there were too many details missing. But the circle of light he mentioned. It did mean something to her. She believed it had something to do with fate or karma.

Her thoughts ran back to the last few moments of their conversation… “All that has transpired was predetermined by Heaven,” she informed him. “It is destiny, and once ordained, there is no negotiation, compromise or escape. A man destined to drown, though he may avoid water, could of a sudden be caught in the rain, stumble and drown in a puddle.”

Her words made him uncomfortable, and did little to lessen the fear and unrest that plagued him day and night. Although she took no pleasure in it, she knew he deserved any retribution Heaven deemed appropriate. It came as no surprise that he asked if she were using her magic against him… “If I had evidence you were the cause of this,” he threatened, “I wouldn’t spare you.”

“I should think,” she defiantly replied, “if you truly believed I was the cause, that I would be the last person you would want to offend.”

“Is it reasonable to believe these things are related to some unseen supernatural force?” Hawk bantered. “Once having left this miserable world do people become vengeful spirits that return to taunt the living?”

“Are you seriously asking me?” Chiharu responded. “How could one who has yet to leave this world, know anything about the next?”

“You didn’t answer my question,” Hawk fumed. “So be it. This life is difficult…why should afterlife be any different? I know little of spirits or oni, but I do know a sword can kill.”

“Do you think only of killing?” Chiharu said, not really expecting a reply. “Have you never considered the possibility of being killed?”

“Never,” he arrogantly remarked. “I’m too busy killing others to worry about being the victim.”

“Perhaps that best explains your present situation. Heaven may allow injustice to flourish for a time, but to maintain cosmic balance sets limits and eventually reaches an end of patience. The best advice I can offer you is to rid yourself of vanity. Then search your own heart for the answers you seek.”

“It isn’t vanity,” he argued. “It’s a matter of pride.”

“What nonsense,” said Chiharu, “vanity and pride are one and the same.”

At that point Hawk angrily commanded her to leave his sight. Now, standing in front of her beloved shrine, a cool breeze caressing her skin, her breathing returned to normal and she began to relax. But there was a questionable image in her mind that kept resurfacing from the depths of her subconscious; an image of tall trees, beneath which she stood staring upward at the sky. The trees were unlike those which grew on the mountain and the area was unrecognizable. She didn’t know that the image originated in the mind of Asako, and was one of her first remembered sights after becoming aware at the base of the cliff near her mountain home…after her death. She had climbed the path that led to the forest atop the cliff, and stopped to stare upward at the sun filtering through the branches of the trees. She was so moved by nature’s beauty that the sight became a permanent, beloved memory. That image, one she held dear in life, remained close to her heart long after death claimed her. It reminded Asako of her home and parents. Chiharu’s sixth sense could only pick up on the image generated by the deceased girl, but she could neither understand it nor tell from whence it came. Now mentally exhausted, she sighed, turned her face to the sky, took a slow, deep breath and sighed again. Perhaps in time, she reasoned, these images and pieces will form a complete picture…one that makes sense.

The sun had set by the time Wind located her sisters and the samurai at their campsite. Having detected her approach, the four companions were standing, weapons ready, before she stepped into the campfire’s light.

“Sister!” exclaimed Ice excitedly as she lowered her sword and ran to greet her elder.

Sung Ji removed his left hand from the hilt of his sword once he realized the intruder was not an enemy. After excited greetings, hugs and a plethora of questions, the four girls settled down and Wind explained why she came looking for them, that she left Jangmi with Chiharu, and the many suspicions the nun had concerning Sensei Hawk… “Sky, Storm and Water await our return,” she said, “and together with Chiharu we plan to confront Sensei.”

“How about you?” asked Silence. “How do you feel?”

“The poison has left its mark,” she admitted. “Perhaps that explains why I wasn’t able to approach your campsite without any of you knowing. Even my reflexes have been negatively affected.”

“Perhaps you should just let us handle Sensei,” ventured Fire.

“I’ll be fine,” she interrupted. “Just fine…”

The other girls knew better than to argue with her. Once Wind made her mind up about something that was it.

“That inept Kaji is out and about somewhere,” said Wind, strategically changing the subject. “He was sent to track Silence and the samurai. There are ten men at Sensei’s dojo, and then there is Kaji. Not all of them will remain loyal to Sensei.”

“I’m certain ‘Hey-u’ and his younger brother, ‘Yuu-to’, would celebrate if Sensei Hawk was gone,” ventured Fire, “and that eternally lazy Mifune. At least those three are too stupid to be thought of as a threat.”

“And Kaji?” questioned Ice.

“He’ll do whatever ‘Hey-u’ does,” replied Wind. “We can handle the others.” 

“Have you forgotten,” said the samurai, “that you have my sword as well?”

“That’s right,” affirmed Silence, “we’ve nothing to be concerned about.”

Wind eyed the samurai intently a moment before asking… “Do you enjoy shedding blood?”

Sung Ji returned her intense gaze… “Never. If I use my sword it’s because I’m forced to do so. There are times when it must be done to protect others. But the after effects are overwhelming. Each time I’m forced to take a life I add another regret to my spiritual burden.”

Wind lowered her eyes… “Mi-yan hamnida’ (I apologize),” she said in his native language.

Silence spoke at that moment… “Well, now that’s settled, let’s enthusiastically concern ourselves with Sensei Hawk and his children of the night.”

The others agreed, and then the samurai inquired… “And Kaji…”

“We need not concern ourselves with him,” Silence assured. “He’s probably out lost somewhere.”

“Hai,” said Wind. “Forget Kaji. We should go directly to Sensei Hawk. The sands in the hourglass move quickly.”


Submitted: August 29, 2019

© Copyright 2020 C Wm Bird. All rights reserved.


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An excellent description of inescapable destiny.

Sat, October 5th, 2019 6:57pm

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