The Moonlit Corridor

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

Chapter 49 (v.1) - visitation

Submitted: August 30, 2019

Reads: 22

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Submitted: August 30, 2019

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Sensei Hawk listened intently as Hu-noz made his report regarding the stranger hiding in the Shrine of Autumn Mists…  “It could be that Korean girl,” he proclaimed proudly, “the one who you sent the twins to eliminate.”

Sensei thought about that for a moment while a smiling Hu-noz awaited his reward, but finally, impatient for a word of praise from his master, the inept ninja wondered aloud… “Have I surprised you with my perceptiveness, Sensei?”

“Not at all,” Hawk proclaimed. “I just find myself a bit stunned by your stupidity.”

Hu-noz slumped and the grin on his face sagged as a heavy silence followed Sensei’s proclamation.

After giving the matter careful consideration, Hawk continued… “The possibility of that person being the one whom the twins are looking for is way beyond remote, so far beyond the realm of plausibility that I truly wonder how you came up with that far-fetched conclusion. It also gives me pause to wonder how you’ve managed to live as long as you have in this complicated world. I can‘t fathom why you children of the night are so void of common sense. You all have good physical skill and are fierce fighters, but you lack brain power.”

The ninja frowned upon hearing that, and his dreams of praise and profit were suddenly dashed to fragments as they crashed headlong onto the rocky shore of reality.

“Get back to your barracks,” said Sensei Hawk, “and let me handle Chiharu.”

“Hai,” replied a disappointed ‘Hu-noz, who just managed to slump his way to the door when Hawk asked…

“What happened to your nose?”

Hu-noz stopped in his tracks, and without turning hesitantly replied “I ran into something hot.”

“The ghost lamp?” questioned Hawk.

“No,” said the embarrassed ninja, “old Chiharu…” Having said that, he bowed and made a hasty exit.

Sensei Hawk, although failing to get a proper explanation, overlooked his man’s poor etiquette as he laughed, the echoes of his joviality striking Hu-noz on the back like barbed missiles as he made his retreat down the hall.

Once he was gone, Hawk’s thoughts returned to the matter of the girl Chiharu was hiding. Based on her description, Hawk thought he recognized her. She could be the girl in black from one of his recent nightmares: the ireful stranger with the straight sword. In the dream she was trying to kill him, but now with this turn of events, if she was that girl, he now had the advantage.

But then, the description Hu-noz gave him would actually have described a thousand other Asian girls: Long black hair, delicate facial features, slender body, a little over five feet two inches in height. It could just as easily be another girl from his nightmares, the one with the circle of light.  Either way, he was determined to find out himself.

Who said Heaven determines one’s fate, he pondered as he devised his scheme. He always believed he was the master of his destiny, and had no fear, or belief for that matter, in Heaven, fate, or anything else his five natural senses couldn’t detect. Dream or no dream, it appeared that now it was within his power to eliminate the girl in black, if indeed it was she, and ascertain that his nightmares do not become reality.

As he sat plotting in his darkened chamber, trying to devise a suitable punishment for Chiharu, he abruptly sensed he was no longer alone. Without turning his head to look he moved his eyes to the left, having detected something in the blackened recess of the room, just a few feet from where he was sitting.

“I don’t have to see you to know you’re there. Come out! Show yourself.”

A shadow drifted out of the ebony darkness, and immediately an ominous sense of dread gripped Sensei Hawk. An icy chill ran up his spine as his distended eyes not only saw the shape, but recognized it as well. The air turned instantly cold and his breath escaped now in little wisps of vapor. His bravado vanished entirely when he turned to confront the girl in white, her head bowed, her long dark hair hiding her face as if behind a black waterfall, and the red scarf moving with a life of its’ own. He didn’t have to see her face clearly to know her beauty was masked by a malevolent expression. Either malice or insanity, he wasn’t certain. It frightened him, and once the thought of fear entered his mind, the corners of her mouth raised to form an evil grin and a blue mist rose from the floor at her feet.

Hawk involuntarily let loose a cry of alarm as he pushed himself away from the table before which he was sitting. Struggling to gain his balance as he attempted to stand, he blinked his eyes and phantom was gone, taking with her the cold. He just began to relax when the door slid open suddenly with a bang and an unearthly gust of wind blew into the room, driving away the mist within which the specter stood. As it died down, the wind likewise wafted his dark cloak hanging in the shadows from where she had emerged. Standing there, breathing heavily and wiping sweat from his brow, he cursed his overactive imagination.

“It must have been the cloak,” he murmured. “Lack of sleep…and too much sake.”

Not far from the Shrine of Autumn Mists, Sung Ji and his entourage were still riding in spite of the sun having set. After giving the matter some thought, he reined his black Arabian to a halt, and turned to address Silence… “Are we close to your mountain home?”

She and the other girls pulled back on their reins.

“Close,” said Silence. “But still some distance away.”

“Perhaps a days-ride,” said Wind.

“Close,” reaffirmed Fire.

“But not as close as far…” added Ice.

“We should stop to rest,” said the samurai. “We can continue tomorrow at first light.”

“That would be perfect. It would be early evening by the time we reach the mountain,” said Silence. “It would be better if we wait until after dark to return.”

“That is a good idea,” ventured Wind. “Hawk has sentries watching the road for intruders. They’ll alert him, especially if they see the samurai with us.”

“And Sung Ji is right about the need for rest,” offered Fire. “It would be futile to travel all night to arrive in the morning worn out from the journey. We’ll need all our strength to confront Sensei Hawk and his children of the night.”

“Hai,” said Ice. “And our horses also need rest.”

 

Meanwhile, Sensei Hawk, having waited until he was certain Chiharu and her guest would be sleeping, sneaked into the shrine under the cover of darkness and the dense fog that returned before sunset. The unnatural mist unnerved him and caused sleeplessness, gradually wearing him down, but he could still creep about silently. He stealthily made his way to the old nun’s sleeping quarters. The room was dark, but candlelight from the main hall filtered in, allowing sparse illumination but just enough for him to make out a reclining form on the floor.

He approached slowly, carefully, so as not to awaken the sleepers. Expecting to see another person on the opposite side of the pallet, he was disappointed to discover only one in the chamber. Because her face was turned from him, he had no way of knowing if it was Chiharu. She laid there with one eye open, trying her best not to laugh. He is good, she reasoned, but he is no ninja. Momentarily she rolled over, stretching out her arms as she yawned. She opened her eyes then, and pretending to be surprised, she teased him.

”Wah…Sensei Hawk? You flatter me. It’s been more decades than I can recall since a man sneaked into my bedchamber.”

Surprised and flushed with embarrassment he began tripping over his own words as he protested… “No, no… Hu-noz told me there was a girl with you in the shrine…a girl in black…”

“A girl in black?” repeated Chiharu as she raised herself to a seated position, holding her blanket across the front of her body. “Do you mean Sky? She is staying with me in the shrine to help me with work. If you’re seeking Sky I’m certain you can her in the guest quarters. But then, if you’ve taken a liking to me and are using her as an excuse for silently entering my room uninvited at such a late hour…” she spoke as she let her cover drop down on one side, exposing a bare shoulder.

Hawk began to panic… “No…” he assured her. “You misunderstand. Please forgive the intrusion. I must be going…” he stammered as he quickly turned, tripping over a small table and painfully banging a shin as he made a hasty exit, mumbling curses as he went.

Once he was gone, Jangmi emerged from the hidden room. They had a good laugh at Hawk’s expense. “I wish I could have seen his face,” said the Korean girl.

“It was priceless,” assured Chiharu, “especially when I exposed my right shoulder. Honestly, in all the time I’ve known that man, I’ve never seen him so confused and mortified. Even in the dim light, his facial distortions were hilarious.”

“Well now,” Jangmi declared… “You’ve just given me a good lesson in survival.”

“Did I? What was that?”

“Something I learned at the beginning of my martial art training,” she said. “Target the mind of your opponent,” Jangmi said with a grin.

“That's right,” agreed Chiharu, “the mind is our most powerful weapon. With it one can easily outwit an adversary. An alert, intelligent mind is sharper than any sword.” 

 

 


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