The Moonlit Corridor

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

Chapter 51 (v.1) - sorcery

Submitted: August 30, 2019

Reads: 59

Comments: 1

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Submitted: August 30, 2019

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After intercepting Wind and her entourage, Storm and Sky secretly brought them to the Shrine of Autumn Mists, managing to bypass the watchful eyes of the three or four children of the night at their various strategic lookout points. Having been summoned by Sky, the other girls joined them, Jangmi, and Chiharu in the nun’s hidden chamber. After the truth and assumptions regarding Sensei Hawk are revealed, the twins and Silence are obsessed with thoughts of retribution. They all finally realize Hawk took them in, gave them a home and trained them not for their benefit, but for his own selfish reasons. Sung Ji helped them connect the pieces of the puzzle; Hawk was a former gang leader. Miyamoto and Ichiban were at one time his top two lieutenants, the three of them were in Tsukimi when the family of Silence was killed: Miyamoto and Ichiban were responsible for that crime, and Hawk hid the truth from Silence. It was Hawk who killed Sasumi and Sasami’s parents to abduct the twin girls for his private army of assassins. Years later Miyamoto returned to Tsukimi in hopes of escaping the Left Hand of God by hiding out in the mountain forest where Asako’s father Toshima had built his home. He and his followers killed Toshima and attempted to assault Asako, who perished while attempting to escape them.

“His crimes are far reaching and span many years. It must end,” declared Water. “It must end here, this night!”

All unanimously agreed. The samurai and the others convinced Sky and Jangmi to remain at the shrine with Chiharu. They reluctantly conceded, after Storm impressed upon Sky that should Hawk or any of his men come to the shrine she would be there to protect the nun, and back up Jangmi, who had yet to recover from the effects of the poison dart.

“But they could remain in this secret room,” argued Sky, “and Wind is still recovering from that toxin. She drained the wound…”

“I’m fine!” proclaimed Wind, unconsciously raising her voice. Then, in a more subdued tone, she reasoned with the younger girl… “Just stay here to protect our ‘mother’ and guest. You may be needed if Sensei’s men come here. Do you understand that?”

“Hai,” said the girl, out of respect to her elder and because she knew it would do no good to argue, especially against the combined group.

Soon after the others departed, as Chiharu was administering herbal medicine to Jangmi, Sky detected a suspicious sound outside the shrine. Without concern for personal safety, she left the hidden room, quietly went to and unlatched the main door of the shrine, and cautiously stepped out into the night. Her attention diverted by concern for her sisters, she was not as alert as usual.  Before she could react defensively, she was suddenly and violently attacked. From out of the darkness a black-clothed assailant delivered a powerful roundhouse kick to her solar plexus, instantly knocking the breath out of her. Sky doubled over from the impact, lost balance, and dropped heavily to the ground. Her survival instincts quickly took over as she rolled forward and sprang to her feet, her wooden tanto already in one hand. The moment she was upright, struggling to stabilize her breathing and regain her composure while facing the man who kicked her, she was unexpectedly grabbed from behind. The unseen attacker wrapped his arms around her, pinning her limbs to her sides. She reacted instantly, throwing her head back forcefully to strike the center of his face while simultaneously raising one knee high, then stomping downward with the bottom of her heal onto the instep of one of his feet. She raised the knee again and hooked her leg back striking the man’s knee with the back of her heel, followed by a second back heel, rising strike to the groin. Twisting free of his hold, she struck his midsection with a left leg back kick that knocked him off his feet and sending him flying backward.

Making an abrupt turn just in time, she struck the first assailant in the side of the head with the point of the tanto as he lunged forward in an attempt to grab her. She managed a second strike to his ribs, but lost the tanto when he hit her wrist powerfully with the heel of his right palm. Still, he dropped to one knee as one hand went to the side of his head where the tanto struck, and the other to his ribs. His companion was suddenly behind her then, grabbing her by the hair with both hands. As he pulled her backward away from his partner she managed to grasp the hilt of the sword the kneeling man carried on his back. She twisted her body, spinning in a complete circle while slicing with the sword. Blood splashed over one side of her face as her attacker went limp. He had not yet dropped to the ground when Sky turned to face the first man. A forty five degree upward slash with the sword stopped him in his tracks, while a second slash, downward, finished him. Both men struck the ground simultaneously, never to rise again.

Sky stood statue still, holding her pose in readiness to continue the fight if necessary when she heard a voice from behind her, sounding as if emanating from a distance.

“Wonderful performance,” declared Jangmi, who had arrived on the scene just as Sky managed to grab the first attacker’s sword.

Sky relaxed, and turned toward the voice. Chiharu was rushing to her side by then. “Are you injured, child?” she asked.

“I’m fine,” assured the girl. “Now that the threat is past I actually feel light, as if the slightest breeze could lift me up and carry me away.” Then, wiping a hand across the side of her face that felt wet, and looking at the blood on her fingers, she sighed. “This is precisely why I dislike swords and daggers,” she complained. “They’re so messy…”

“This attack concerns me,” Chiharu declared. “Sensei Hawk must have sent these two, which means he may have already put a plan into action. Of late he has become a man tormented by dreams and forebodings…it’s made him even more unpredictable and dangerous.”

“I agree,” said Jangmi, already with sword in hand. “I think we should vacate the shrine and look for him and his followers. They may even have set traps for the other girls and Sung Ji.”

“There are still seven children of the night here,” ventured Sky.

“Not all of them will turn against us,” said Chiharu.

“Not all of them…” reaffirmed Sky, “But Jangmi is right. My sisters and the samurai may need help.”

“You’ll not go alone,” Jangmi boldly proclaimed. “Chiharu’s medicine has rejuvenated me enough to join the fray.”

“I won’t argue,” said Sky, “It would only waste valuable time.”

Jangmi glanced at Chiharu. The nun smiled, and tells her in her native language… “Bal-le ka, (Quickly go). But be careful, the toxin has weakened you. Both of you take care,” she commanded. “Be alert, and watch out for one another…”

Before she could finish the sentence they were well on their way. In a blink they were out of sight, swallowed by the darkness.

Chiharu hurried after them.While the incident at the shrine unfolded, not quite certain where Sensei Hawk may have been, Sung Ji and the shinobi girls decided to split into two groups. The samurai joined Water and Wind to investigate the dojo. Silence, Storm and the twins chose to search Hawk’s private quarters. Surprisingly, the four girls met no resistance as they climbed the steep path to Sensei’s dwelling, and then the likewise steep stairs leading to the front portico. They found no guards at the door as they cautiously entered the isolated building, but are shocked to discover that rather than being in the front anteroom, they found themselves standing in the immense back room. It was dark and foreboding with a high vaulted ceiling, and a second door on the opposite side that opened to an even darker corridor leading to the rear exit of the building. Beyond that was a cavern that penetrated deep into the mountain… “What manner of sorcery is this?” Ice wondered aloud.

“Don’t lose heart,” assured Silence. “Chiharu warned us about this. Black magic or not, we have an agenda.”

Going back the way they came, they failed to find the front door through which they initially entered, but instead discovered they could go no further than the main hall beyond the anteroom.

“Where is the anteroom?” Ice wondered. “Where is the way out?”

“Never mind that,” said Storm, pointing at a wide staircase leading to a landing with two more sets of stairs that led in opposite directions to the upper levels. “Sensei Hawk’s bed chamber should be on the third floor.”

The four girls ascended the main staircase, but once they reached the landing they found themselves once again at the foot of the stairs on the ground floor. Confused and speechless, they exchanged startled looks. “Again!” Storm declared as she vaulted up the stairs a second time, followed by her three sisters.

Once more, they reached the landing only to find themselves at ground level. A third attempt produced the same results.

“Now what?” asked Fire.

“This way,” exclaimed Silence, indicating a corridor to their left.

The others followed, treading cautiously down the dimly lit hallway until…

“Here,” declared Silence. “This is the door to Sensei’s private day chamber, where he meets with guests and clients.”

A firm grasp on the handle, she slid the door open to find the candlelit room beyond apparently empty. The four of them stepped inside for closer inspection, only to find themselves suddenly in a different room than the one they just entered.

“Wah!” exclaimed Ice. “More dark magic.”

“Forget it,” said Storm. “We knew this wouldn’t be simple.”

“Chiharu warned us,” added Silence.

“Hai,” said Fire. “We should move on.”

The others agreed, and once leaving the room they were in a different place along the corridor than where they were when they entered what they thought was Hawk’s day chamber.

“This is really beginning to enrage me,” declared Storm, who took the lead. The others followed her down the hall, which seemed to elongate as they advanced. Regardless of how much distance they covered, the corridor still seemed to stretch out before them. Suddenly stopping before another door, Storm carefully slid it open: more candlelight, but just an empty room. It is the same, each door they try, until they open one leading to a room that requires them to enter for closer inspection. Storm stepped into the room with the other girls close behind. Once inside she cautioned them to be careful…but there was no reply. Turning to look, she found that she was alone… “Cursed black sorcery!” She snarled.

Silence and the twins, meanwhile, find themselves in a different room than the one which they followed Storm into. Too, Storm seemed to vanish in a flash before their incredulous eyes. While they deal with their confusion, Storm suddenly forgets her own as she parries an abrupt sword attack from her right. The blade of the assassin’s weapon is rendered ineffective by one of her thickly studded gauntlets. The attack is relentless, and in her attempt to evade and block his sword, she lost balance, falling backward beside a large oaken table. Before her body reached the floor she managed to grab a jutte from atop the table. With the longer spike of the two pronged weapon she stopped her assailant’s descending sword from striking her head.

Rising quickly she parried and trapped the man’s blade between the prongs of the jutte, redirecting the sword, the blade of which ended up point first imbedded in the surface of the table. Storm twisted the jutte, snapping the sword in two while simultaneously striking the side of the swordsman’s head with one of her gauntlets, after which she delivered a powerful sidekick to his ribs. The sound of fragile bones cracking almost drowned out his cry of pain as the impact of her heel sent him flying.

Although stunned, and obviously in critical pain, he managed to rise to his feet quickly and renewed his attack. Storm, disgustedly voicing the non-word “Aiyessh!” bent over and reached for the hilt of the broken sword and flung it forcefully, embedding it in her antagonist’s chest. It stopped him in his tracks, and his body fell, trembling, to the floor.

“Why did you try to kill me?” she yelled in obvious frustration. There was no reply.

Abruptly leaving the room of death she found herself alone in a darkened corridor that shouldn’t exist. Deciding on a direction to go, she began to make her way down the passage when she suddenly heard voices behind her. Looking that direction she was relieved to see Silence and the twins emerge from the opened entrance of another room.

Ice was the first to notice her… “Onee-chan’ (Big sister)!” she yelled.

The excited trio ran to meet her.

“What happened to you?” asked Fire. “When you entered that chamber you disappeared suddenly. We found ourselves in an entirely different room, completely vacant. We called out but you didn’t respond. Where were you?”

“Where was I…who knows?” reasoned Storm. “Somewhere else. I can’t believe Sensei has knowledge of such black arts.”

“I’m sure there is much about him we’ll never know,” proclaimed Silence. “Just moments ago we opened the door to a dark, empty room. When I closed the door we were no longer in the hallway, but inside that room without having entered. Once we opened the door to leave we found ourselves in a different corridor than the one we were in when first opening the door.” 

“It’s overwhelmingly confusing. Just what do we do now?” questioned Ice. “How can we find Sensei Hawk and his followers if we ourselves are hopelessly lost?”

Before anyone could respond, the hushed quiet of the corridor was suddenly shattered by the musical sounds of crystalline wind chimes. Simultaneously, the dank odor of the hallway gave way to the sweet aroma of jasmine, and as the four stared wide-eyed in disbelief, the walls of the corridor began to fade and shimmer, like waves of heat on a hot summer day seen rising in the haze of distance. As they marveled, Silence was first to see the girl in white, her rose red scarf wafting, drifting into the corridor several feet away, as if emerging from a mist shrouded mirage. The girls remained speechless but on guard, with the exception of Silence, who simply smiled.

Asako was silent as well, and gestured by raising an arm and pointing to a place behind the shinobi sisters. They turned to look, and all at once found themselves once again on the front portico outside Hawk’s private building. A sudden gust of cool night wind snapped the four of them out of their temporary shock. When they turned their attention back to the girl in white they discovered she had vanished.

“What just happened?” asked Storm.

“Who was that strange girl?” wondered Ice.

“You seemed to recognize her,” declared Fire, directing the statement to Silence.

“Hai,” said Storm. “She looked directly at you when she pointed the way.”

“We can talk later!” Snapped Silence, as she quickly walked past them and into the front room of the building. The other girls, bewildered, followed and are shocked to find themselves suddenly face to face with Sensei Hawk, a startled expression masking his face. The look of surprise faded instantly, to be replaced by one of hostility.

“I don’t know how you managed to penetrate my defense, but it won’t do you any service. You troublemakers are as good as dead.”

“Is that so?” said a voice from behind the sisters. They all turned, happy to see the Left Hand of God. Sensei Hawk, however, was not pleased. His wall of illusion dissolved, he not only faced his lethal ladies, but also the samurai, his body outlined by a golden glow almost as bright as sunshine. He stood still and solemn, wrapped in the winds and leaves blowing into the main room, causing recently lit candleholders to swing and sway as the drapes, whipped by the breeze, broke the silence with the snap and cracking of the heavy material. As the echoes of the drapes died with the cessation of the wind, the candleholders and flames became still as Sung Ji, his fierce gaze locked upon Sensei Hawk, awaited the outlaw’s first move. The Korean’s appearance, his clothing hidden by a black cloak, gave Hawk cause for momentary inactivity.

“You look like an executioner,” he declared, the words being no more than thoughts he inadvertently gave voice to.

“There are times,” said the samurai, “when the necessity for one arises.” 

 

 


© Copyright 2019 C Wm Bird. All rights reserved.

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