The Moonlit Corridor

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

Chapter 60 (v.1) - star sword

Submitted: September 03, 2019

Reads: 46

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Submitted: September 03, 2019

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It was late afternoon by the time Sung Ji, Silence and Asuka arrived in the village of Tsukimi. The samurai was prepared to ride directly to the Shrine of Autumn Mists, but Silence objected to leaving Asuka on her own.

“O-pah’ (Brother),” she reprimanded, “living alone all this time, perhaps you’ve forgotten manners, which dictate that I should first return Asuka chan to her father at the Jade Teahouse. It’s the proper thing to do inasmuch as he entrusted his daughter to me, after feeding me and my horse and boarding us at no charge.”

“Of course,” agreed Sung Ji. “Go-men-zai (I apologize). Forgive me, both of you. My mind was on the urgency of the situation.”

“Quite forgivable,” said Silence, while Asuka blushed and bowed her head. The samurai didn’t notice the bashful, coy smile on the young girl’s face. ‘Typical man’, thought Silence.

When they reached the Jade Teahouse the shinobi girl accompanied Asuka inside while the samurai waited with the horses. Momentarily she came to the door and beckoned him with a wave of her hand. Thinking that perhaps Toshiro might want to speak to him he dismounted his Arabian, secured the reins of both horses to a post and entered the Inn. He never would have imagined that in doing so he would be united with an old friend. Toshiro greeted him with a single word, ‘Irashaimase’ (Welcome), then immediately told him a visitor has been waiting, a man who traveled a long distance. Sung Ji followed the excited host to a table near the coal-fire where he discovered… “Kwai!”

“I recognized him on sight,” said Toshiro, “from the tale of the Specter in Blue.”

The samurai flinched when he said that, which didn’t go unnoticed by Kwai… “Don’t worry. I mentioned something about having a talk with you for boasting about your exploits, but Toshiro assured me that you just finished a story another had started.”

“Jubai the Dreamer,” said Toshiro.

Sung Ji gave him a nod in appreciation, then he and Kwai exchanged greetings and afterward he went through the formality of introductions. “You see,” he said looking at Silence, “I haven’t forgotten proper manners.”

Asuka smiled, while Silence mockingly raised a fist as if she wanted to strike the samurai. The others laughed as Sung Ji winced and brought up an arm to ward off her attack. “You’ve been around Jangmi too long,” he teased. “I think you’re turning Korean.”

“You don’t have to be a Korean girl to lose patience with a man…” she said sarcastically.

“Dea,” said the samurai, “and you don’t have to be Korean to be ‘yeopgi-juk geun yeo’ (kooky or crazy girl).”

Toshiro strategically intervened at that point. “Please sit,” he said as he motioned toward the table. “A reunion of old friends demands a festive meal.”

Before anyone could protest Toshiro was spouting commands… “Mariko, you and Asuka tell your sister to prepare rice, shrimp tempura and udon noodles. Then Mariko, you brew some ginseng…the Korean red. Asuka chan, you set the table.”

“Hai,” they replied in unison as they rushed off.

“Sit, sit,” said Toshiro to his guests.

“Wonderful,” said Kwai, “my stomach is as empty as a beggar’s purse.”

“That explains it,” the samurai teased. “I thought that rumbling I heard was thunder.”

Later, after the meal and a lull in conversation, Sung Ji addressed Kwai… “You’re a long way from China.”

“I was compelled to leave,” he replied, “to bring you a gift.”

“Compelled…?” the samurai said.

Kwai reached for and placed a narrow, leather bound box on the table. He carefully undid the straps that secured it, then opened it to reveal a thick purple cloth, which he unfolded slowly as the others patiently watched. Inside the fabric was an antique, metal studded black leather scabbard which housed… “A sword…” said Silence.

“It is rumored to have certain powers,” said Kwai, “when in the hand of the right person.”

The samurai accepted the sword and inspected it while Kwai intently observed… “How does it feel? There is something about it, hmmm?”

“Dea,” the samurai replied. “It has an energy…I can’t explain, but I feel it. And although the length of a katana, it’s light…lighter than a dagger.”

“I feel an energy too,” said Silence as she stared at the weapon, mesmerized.

 “Not everyone can say that,” said Kwai, who went on to explain that other than he, the monks from whom he acquired the sword, or the one destined to use it would find it too heavy to wield.

“It is in the hand of the right person,” said the shaman with a triumphant grin. “It is one of a set of two, and older than you can imagine. They were fashioned from a fallen star.”

“How did it come into your possession?” asked Sung Ji.

“My nephew. You may recall that while you were in China, he and the other Moon Temple monks were on a pilgrimage to Tibet. Their destination was the isolated monastery from which they were founded. Centuries ago those original monks managed, with the sword, to subdue and capture an evil, ageless entity.”

“Ageless?” said Silence.

“Yes,” Kwai conferred. “An entity that existed before humankind; the author of rebellion, revenge, disease and destruction.  That evil entity was subdued and transported to the Moon Temple, then eventually to another monastery here in Japan. Once there, the monks sealed it in the deep caverns beneath the mountain on which the monastery stood.”

Silence and Sung Ji simultaneously looked at one another. The interchange didn’t go unnoticed by Kwai and, as if having sensed their thoughts, he declared… “That’s right. That evil was imprisoned beneath the mountain on which the Shrine of Autumn Mists stands. Those monks were directly descended from the Tibetan sect.”

“How did you know I had friends at the Shrine of Autumn Mists?” Sung Ji asked before thinking.

Kwai went silent, eyed him scornfully a moment, then asked; “What are you doing? Are you conducting an interview?”

“No,” he replied. “Forgive me…”

“I’ve said I was compelled to come to Tsukimi,” Kwai declared.

“Then you came specifically…” Sung Ji began.

“To help you help your friends,” said Kwai, “and in doing so, to help mankind. The Moon Temple monks knew the entity had been awakened by an evil man who surrendered himself to its influence. Thus the pilgrimage to Tibet to retrieve the star sword. ”

“An evil man…” pondered the samurai.

“Sensei Hawk…” spoke Silence hypnotically.

 

At that precise instant, miles away in Sensei Hawk’s private bedchamber, the surface of the large ornate mirror he favored became blurred, then quivered like the surface of a wind-stirred pond as a solitary figure haphazardly emerged. Once outside the looking glass, the hulking shape stood still and silent while the mirror’s face returned to normal. A rasping whisper, audible only to him, emanated from beyond the surface of the glass as a myriad of shadowy shapes slowly gathered to peer from the world within the mirror. The hulk nodded his head as if in agreement, then slowly turned and walked toward the door.

 


© Copyright 2019 C Wm Bird. All rights reserved.

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