The Moonlit Corridor

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

Chapter 59 (v.1) - Bara (Rose)

Submitted: September 03, 2019

Reads: 7

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Submitted: September 03, 2019

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It was a beautiful day, in spite of the cold and snow, thought Sung Ji as he sat beneath the bare limbs of the immense twin tree. He had been staring at the small sakura sapling he had planted not long ago close to Asako’s grave, marveling at the white and rose hued blossoms that should not bloom in winter. And the tree itself, in a few short months, was now over twelve feet in height. It shouldn’t have grown so quickly, he reasoned. It didn’t make sense, but neither did other things in this enchanted forest. The tree reminded him of one of the connotations of Asako’s name; ‘Autumn Cherry Child’. Since Sakura trees didn’t bloom in late autumn, the connotation was in reference to something extremely rare or something that never happens. Sung Ji assumed her parents gave her that named because of her blue eyes. Thinking of her, and knowing she was at peace, warmed his heart. 

With her in mind he took in a deep breath, then picked up the flute he had laid in his lap and began to play. Almost immediately he stopped as he felt something touch his right shoulder…a vagrant leaf from the twin tree, yet it felt like the touch of a hand; a tiny hand like Asako’s. The moment that thought registered in his mind, his ears detected the sound of approaching horses. He arose and returned quickly to the house, arriving just as Silence and Asuka reined their steeds to a halt.

Sung Ji greeted them, addressing Silence as ‘nayeo deung sing’ (younger sister). He gazed at Asuka, whose head was bowed and cheeks blushed rose-red from embarrassment.

“You’re Toshiro’s youngest daughter…”

She smiled slightly, keeping her head lowered as she spoke… “Asuka…”

“Dea, Asuka chan. The one with the winsome smile.”

Asuka’s face beamed bright red and her heart almost burst from happiness at hearing her secret love give such a pleasing compliment.

“I’ve no need to wonder how you found your way here,” he spoke to Silence, while indicating Asuka.

“You mentioned the Jade Teahouse when you spoke of Tsukimi,” she replied. “The landlord volunteered his daughter to guide me.”

“Here is quite a distance from the Shrine of Autumn Mists,” he continued. “I would like to think you came this far for a casual visit, but I sense it is more than that.”

“It is much more than that,” declared Silence ominously.

 

Meanwhile, several leagues from Tsukimi, Minori and her two companions had finally reached the mountain which Silence called home. Wind, on watch, was the first to see them. Though the distance was great, she still recognized the archer on her small Mongolian horse. Quickly she descended from her bamboo lookout post in the trees and rushed to greet them. A few minutes later the riders halted their mounts as first Minori and then Cho-nyo detected Wind’s approach.

“You’ve returned,” hailed Wind as she met them. “You left without giving any of us an opportunity to thank you for ridding our world of Sensei Hawk.”

“I apologize,” she replied. “But I had a personal reason for eliminating Hawk. He was responsible for the death of my Master. Once I finished what I had set out to do, I returned immediately to inform his sister.”

“Sounds like a long story,” Wind mused, then looking at the other girls asked… “Are they your ‘sisters’?”

“Companions,” Cho-nyo spoke up. “We’ve recently met…”

“We’re seeking our ‘sister’ Jangmi,” Bara interrupted. “She is Korean…”

Wind turned her eyes to the petite girl… “Ka-wai-e’ (Cute). You remind me of my younger sisters, Sky and Ice.”

“She’s impetuous,” said Cho-nyo, “and sometimes forgets her manners.”

“So-di-ka’ (I see),” Wind said thoughtfully. “You’re looking for Jangmi… There is a Korean girl by that name here. She is a disciple of the nun Chiharu.”

Bara beamed, failing to conceal her enthusiasm.

“Calm down, Bara,” said her elder.

“Bara?” echoed Wind. “Are you marked with a rose tattoo?”

“Hai,” she replied excitedly.

“Perhaps our Jangmi is the one you’re seeking.” Wind revealed. “She’s spoken about a younger ‘sister’ marked as her.”

“Ah-so,” said Night. “I am called Cho-nyo.”

“Cho-nyo…” echoed Wind. “Isn’t that Korean?”

“Hai,” replied Night. “Jangmi gave me that name.”

“Come,” Wind invited them with a smile. “We can talk on the way to the shrine. It would be best if you dismount and lead the horses on foot. From here the trail is steep and narrow, with thick foliage and many low hanging limbs burdened by snow. ”

As they climbed the path they passed a sleeping ninja’s lookout post. Wind threw one of her darts in his direction. The weapon embedded itself in a small limb above his head, dusting him with snow. As he scrambled awake she yelled… “Hae-u! You’ll have to keep your eyes open now, as I’m busy. And retrieve my dart. I dislike wasting good weapons frivolously.”

The others laughed as the dazed and confused child of the night stared in eyes wide open bewilderment.

 

Soon, following a joyful reunion with her sisters, Jangmi, Wind and Chiharu listened intently as Night explained how she, Bara and Minori came together, after which Chiharu asked the archer about her Sensei.

“He’s left this world,” said Minori. “It was Hawk’s doing. That is what brought me here to begin with. When I returned to my master’s dojo to inform his sister Yui about Hawk’s demise on this mountain, she was shocked and spoke of fate. She said you and your beloved Sensei were friends of her and her brother. That is why I returned. To bring you greetings from Yui and pay my respect by apologizing for disappearing so abruptly.”

“Ah-so,” said Chiharu. “Ariegatou (Thank you). You say you are called Minori…that means Harvest.”

“Hai,” replied the girl. “My family comes from a farming and fishing background in southern Japan, so that is why it is an important name to live up to. It was given me because my mother and grandmother wanted me, being the first daughter, to grow to be nurturing in my life. Farmers nurture crops like a mother nurtures children. ‘Harvest’ is the literal translation of my name, and ‘Nurturing’ is its metaphorical meaning.”

“When I saw your bow,” said Jangmi, “I thought perhaps that name might have reference to the harvesting of enemies. Like riding the rice of its chaff.”

“It could mean that too, I suppose,” mused Minori. “When it comes to that, I would much rather not have to use my bow; but because evil is relentless, more often than not I have no choice.”

“It ended Sensei Hawk’s evil existence,” declared Wind, “for which we are eternally grateful.”

Minori lowered her head… “Hai,” she said. “But it didn’t change the past. It didn’t bring my master back.”

“Hai,” Chiharu agreed. “But it did make it impossible for that evil man to cause any more damage or heartache. He will never kill again.”

Chiharu gazed at Bara then. “You’re named as Jangmi…”

“Hai. She was the first to be marked with a ‘ire-zumi bara’ (rose tattoo). I was the second,” she said as she lowered her kimono and turned her left shoulder to reveal the image. “Because Jangmi is Korean, Sensei named her by Han Gul (Korean language). Because I am Japanese, he named me Bara.”

Moved by a sixth sense, Chiharu came closer to inspect the intricate workmanship.

Bara remained still, allowing Chiharu to reach out with a hand… “Your tattoo is magical…appears to be alive,” she said before touching it with her fingertips, then… “It feels like a real rose. I don’t feel skin, but the texture of petals.”

“Hai,” Bara replied, almost fearfully.

“Hers,” said Night, “of all the ones done by the artist, is the only one like that. It is a combination of the image and the girl that makes it so. Even the tattoo artist was amazed, and frightened, when later inspecting it himself. Especially since he had etched it on her right side.”

“Her right side…?” echoed Chiharu.

“Hai,” replied Night. “It moves…”

Chiharu eyed Bara for a moment, then spoke… “I can sense the magic that surrounds this petite girl. But there is nothing to fear. It is a magic of life and light.”

Their conversation was interrupted suddenly when a chaotic tumult arose from an adjacent room. Chiharu quickly stood and raced off with the others close behind. By the time the door was to the room was open, a ballistic Fire had already overpowered her sister Ice. Without asking questions, Night and Jangmi joined the fray and managed to subdue her, though she put up a fierce fight, all the while cursing incoherently while Ice stood stoically by, shocked into immobility.

“Such foul language,” said Ice tearfully. “She’s never before spoken like that…”

“Return her to the palette,” Chiharu told the older girls, and while Wind and Jangmi re-secured her wrists and ankles with leather straps, the nun forced more sleeping herbs into her mouth. In a matter of seconds she was out cold. Chiharu told everyone, including Ice, to vacate the tiny room. Once done, the nun secured and bolted the heavy door that kept Fire contained.

Although stunned, Bara managed to speak… “Exactly what is that all about?”

They all turned her direction.

“I apologize,” said Night before anyone could reply. “She’s easily amazed and extremely inquisitive.”


© Copyright 2019 C Wm Bird. All rights reserved.

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