The Moonlit Corridor

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

Chapter 47 (v.1) - ghost lamp

Submitted: August 29, 2019

Reads: 17

Comments: 1

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Submitted: August 29, 2019

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A tapping at his door brought a startled Sensei Hawk to his feet… “Who is it?” he demanded as he strained to calm his nerves.

“Hu-noz,” a voice replied sheepishly.

“Enter,” said Hawk.

The nervous ninja slowly slid one of the twin doors open while in a squatting position and remained that way as he maneuvered into the room. Bending at the waist, he bowed his head to the floor in respect to his master.

“What are you doing?” screamed Hawk.

The ninja was confused. “Sensei?”

“Approaching my door without producing a sound!” he bellowed. “Are you practicing stealth while answering my summons?”

“It wasn’t my intention,” he stammered. “You called. I came.  I have no idea why I failed to make a sound…”

“Hu-noz…” mused Hawk. “Even before Chiharu gave you that name, ‘who knows?’ was the way you often replied if asked a question.”

“Hai,” he replied, head still lowered to the tatami mat.

“You don’t like questions, do you?” asked Hawk.

Hu-noz quivered when he heard that. In his mind his thoughts were speaking to him; ‘Questions are like secrets and hidden things…if left alone and ignored they’re harmless…once asked, once stirred, more than one imagined may be awakened’. His attention distracted by inner voices, he failed to hear Sensei speaking, until finally his ears became conscious of sound, as if coming from a distance. Too late, he realized it was Sensei Hawk yelling.

“Wake up!” He screamed. “Are you listening to me?”

“Go-men-sei (Sorry)…” he began.

“I asked you,” Sensei repeated…“if you lit the lamp in the courtyard as instructed?”

“Hai,” he replied.

“If that is the case, perhaps you can explain why, when I checked it an hour ago it was not burning.”

“Hai,” he answered. “I extinguished it at sunrise.”

“Did you…?” Hawk asked sarcastically. “Why, pray tell, did you do that?”

Hu-noz began to tremble. “I did the so because it was daylight.”

“But I only ordered you to light the lamp. I didn’t ask you to extinguish it. Is that correct?”

“Hai, Sensei,” he replied, obviously shaken.

“That lamp was blessed many years ago by the head abbot of this shrine,” said Hawk. “While lit, it repels spirits or demons. If the fire is put out, the lamp cannot serve its purpose.”

Hu-noz slowly began to raise his head.

“Eyes down!” yelled Hawk. “That is a ghost lamp and only functions when ablaze. Therefore you are to keep it lit. Do you understand?”

“Hai,” he replied, with a shaky voice.

“Then see to it!” demanded Hawk.

His head still lowered, Hu-noz asked… “Even during daylight hours, Sensei?”

Sensei Hawk grabbed a brass cup and flung it at him, striking the him atop his bowed head.

“Oo!” he cried out.

“Hai, you simpleton! Keep it lit night and day!”

“Hai!” he responded, wanting to soothe the lump the cup left his head, but refrained, fearing it would anger Hawk all the more.

“Go. Do as I commanded. Afterward, as punishment for your stupidity you can assist Chiharu at the shrine for the remainder of the day.”

“Hai,” he said, then keeping his face to the floor he backed his way out of the room on his knees. Once outside he slid the door closed, then stood up, muttering to himself… “Hymph…a ghost lamp? Who sold you that bogus ginseng?” he said while rubbing the aching knot on his head. “Those things are only effective in darkness…” he added, unintentionally raising his voice.

“What was that?” yelled Sensei Hawk from the other side of the door.

“Nothing, Sensei,” he stuttered, “I was just repeating your orders to myself.”

“Just carry them out!” he yelled. “And stop talking to yourself like some ‘baka’ (fool).”

 

On the portico in front of her beloved shrine, Chiharu was doing her best to remain optimistic. The day more so than the dark clouds, brought sadness with it. She sensed something ethereal, and her senses were correct. The twilight fog was created by Asako, having become more aware of Sensei Hawk’s connection to the men responsible for the death of her father. Even now, Asako’s own sadness, began with a beautiful golden sunrise, but soon was overshadowed by a heavy cloud bank that gradually moved in from the west. The dark clouds were high in the heavens, but gave no promise of rain. They simply brought the appearance of twilight to the day, which prompted the nun to think that the sky looked sad. Early that evening the dense fog returned, wrapping the mountain in a gray-white shroud.

‘It’s not the autumn mists’, Chiharu mused. This wasn’t natural. The fog,more so than the dark clouds, brought sadness with it. She sensed something ethereal, and her senses were correct. The twilight fog was created by Asako, having become more aware of Sensei Hawk’s connection to the men responsible for the death of her father. Even now, Asako’s own sadness, carried by the mists, came from memories and the injustice she felt by the knowledge that Hawk was still plotting evil.

As Chiharu stoically watched the ghostly fog, the thicker it became and the less visibility it allowed, the more she sensed something was coming. Her spiritual intuition warned her there was danger connected with whatever it was she perceived to be in motion, but not necessarily for whom. She felt as if some sort of cosmic circle was about to close; like two arms emerging from the same central source, moving in a circular pattern in opposite directions until both ends meet to form a complete whole. That thought, that image, left her with the feeling that some good may yet result, if Heaven had a hand in it.

 

While darkness over-shadowed the twilight of evening, Asako materialized, emerging like an animated mist within the mist, just within arms-reach of Sensei Hawk’s ghost lamp. Its golden glow barely perceivable in the thick gray white vapors. She smiled as she stood there looking at the lamp, amused by the thought of Sensei Hawk believing that a man made thing, blessed by the head abbot or not, could repel ‘yu lai’ (ghosts or spirits). She thought about how foolish men were, and wondered how Heaven could tolerate them.

Asako turned her attention from the lamp, and looking at her dress, noticed that it was becoming a lighter shade of blue. The color seemed to increase or decrease, depending on the altitude of her mood. Unhappiness, sadness loneliness; these emotions altered the color of the dress, turning it a darker shade of blue. When her mood changed for the better, or when she thought about or was within close proximity of Sung Ji, her dress almost glowed white.

The thought of the samurai suddenly motivated her to go to where he happened to be at that precise moment. It was not something she had to investigate. She knew exactly where he was at all times. It was one of the things she liked about being whatever it was she happened to be now; ghost, specter, phantom or wraith. She imagined it was all the same, and at times wondered why Heaven allowed her to be earthbound. Even after passing beyond the veil of earthly life she was still bound by limitations, and although she had entered the light with her parents and was able to return, it was with no recollection of what it was like to have been there. Perhaps that was normal, she supposed, but still wondered why she allowed the freedom to come and go. So many mysteries, she thought, as she momentarily basked in the glow of the ghost lamp.


© Copyright 2019 C Wm Bird. All rights reserved.

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