The Moonlit Corridor

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

Chapter 57 (v.1) - dangerous times

Submitted: September 02, 2019

Reads: 16

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Submitted: September 02, 2019

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Mifune barely managed to dodge a dark rapidly flying object as he approached the front doorway of the Shrine of Autumn Mists. It flew past his head, narrowly missing him, and collided with one of the stone lamps twenty yards from the front portico. The impact snapped its spine, killing it instantly.

“Wah! I can’t believe you did that,” he heard one of the girls say. Entering cautiously he saw Sky and Storm, busy cleaning the entryway.

 “Sometimes your ferocity frightens me,” declared Sky.

“I can’t stand rodents being inside!” bewailed Storm.

“We could have chased it out…”

“I know,” Storm agreed. “I overreacted, but it surprised me when I bumped the table. Before my mind could think my foot move and I kicked it.”

“Your foot moved,” said Mifune, “so that rat will never move again.”

The two girls looked his direction.

“What are you doing here?” demanded Storm. “Did you finish the work Chiharu gave you? Should I kick you to?”

Mifune was shocked into silence.

“Are you looking for more to do?” Sky asked.

Mifune’s mind suddenly raced back to the ominous incident that sent him running to the shrine.

“Something terrible!” he yelled.

“You want to do something terrible?” she replied.

“What are you stammering on about, Helpless,” said Storm. “Are you talking in your sleep? Were your tasks that difficult?”

“No…no, not that,” said Mifune. “Something horrible happened. I saw it with my own eyes. Where is Chiharu?”

“Busy,” declared Storm. “Just tell us what you saw that is so terrible.”Meanwhile, ten kilometers to the south, two riders were moving slowly along a narrow trail through the mountains. In the lead was Cho-nyo (Night) on a white Arabian horse, closely followed by Bara (Rose), riding a black and white spotted Mongolian. The fugitive pair had fled from the same Sensei who trained and marked their ‘sister’, Jangmi. As they rounded a blind curve in the road they discovered their way blocked by a mismatched group of scruffy, armed men. Bara cautiously reined her Mongolian to a halt, while Cho-nyo continued moving slowly forward. Finally she stopped her mount close to the men flanked across the road, eyeing them apprehensively.

One of them, a tall, broad-shouldered brute, accompanied by two spear bearing subordinates, arrogantly approached the weary riders. When close enough he boldly reached out to seize the reins of Cho-Nyo’s horse, but before he could grip the leather straps his hand was suddenly pierced by an arrow out of the blue. As he cried out in shock and pain, his two henchmen found themselves abruptly unarmed as first one and then the other spear shaft was struck by an arrow, with sufficient enough force to knock the weapons from their hands. The lead man turned to rally his followers, but before he could speak a fourth arrow struck him in the forehead. Dead before he hit the ground, all his bravado was rendered meaningless as his cowardly cohorts fled for their lives, leaving the confused and startled women alone.

Momentarily Bara prompted her horse to move, and stopping beside her senior asked… “What just happened?”

“I’m not quite certain…arrows from Heaven…” Cho-nyo murmured as she went back to scanning the surrounding trees for the invisible archer.

“Sister…” said Bara.

Interrupted by her junior, Cho-nyo turned to gaze in the direction Bara indicated. Almost two hundred yards away a lone rider emerged from the forest, moving slowly toward the two girls.

“He looks like samurai,” reasoned Bara.

Cho-nyo, renowned for her sharp vision, corrected her… “More like a priestess, if her ‘hakima’ (dress-like pants) was red rather than black.”

“Amazing,” said Bara. “It’s startling that you can discern that from this distance. No wonder Sensei gave you that name. He said many times you can even see clearly in the dark.”

“He had a penchant for over exaggeration,” Cho-nyo humbly remarked.

Within moments the archer reined her horse to a halt a few feet from the two women. “These are dangerous times,” she spoke. “I’m Minori.”

“Ari-gatou-gozai-masu’ (Thank you) for your intervention. I’m called Cho-nyo, and this is Bara.”

“Night and Rose,” Minori repeated. “I’m on a journey to visit old friends. One of them is Jangmi. That is Korean for ‘Rose’.”

“Jangmi?” exclaimed Bara. “Could it be our sister?” she asked as she turned her attention to Cho-nyo.

“Is she Korean?” Cho-nyo asked Minori, who had dismounted to inspect the spears that the outlaws had dropped.

“Hai.”

“Where is she,” Bara inquired.

“The last time I saw her she was at a mountain retreat; the Shrine of Autumn Mists. It’s perhaps ten kilometers from here.”  Minori spoke as she looked at the spears. Her arrows had pierced both shafts.

“We’re searching for Jangmi,” revealed Cho-nyo. “She also is Korean.”

Minori lifted one end of a spear from the ground, then stomped with a heel, snapping the shaft in two.

“Then we should ride together,” ventured the archer as she broke the second spear. “I know the way there, and it would be safer than traveling alone.”

“Hai,” Cho-nyo and Bara agreed in unison, intrigued as they watched their benefactor.

“These arrows are useless now,” said Cho-nyo to appease their curiosity, “but those louts may return for their spears. Broken, the weapons are as useless as those arrows…” she said with a smile just before she remounted her Mongolian.

“What about that man,” inquired Bara, “their leader? Shouldn’t we bury him?”

“Better for us to leave,” advised Cho-nyo. “Most likely his men will return soon.”

“Hai,” Minori agreed.

Later that night, alone in their shared room, Ice was stirred from a restless slumber, awakened by Fire’s return.

“Where have you been?”

There was no reply.

“I was worried…” said Ice. “No one’s seen you since this morning. You missed the evening meal. Where have you been?”

“Here,” she replied after a pause, “always here on this mountain…”

She stood like a statue in the darkness for a few moments, silently staring at her confused sibling. Finally she laid down on her palette and feigned sleep, ignoring her younger sister.

“Un-ne chan (Big sister)…?” said Ice in bewilderment.

No reply.

Reluctantly she laid back on her headrest, knowing sleep would, elude her. It wasn’t just her sister’s odd behavior, Ice sensed something sinister in the air…oppressive and claustrophobic. A diabolical presence.

 

 



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