The Moonlit Corridor

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

Chapter 61 (v.1) - the landlord's daughter

Submitted: September 03, 2019

Reads: 19

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Submitted: September 03, 2019

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Asako languidly drifted on the winter wind, the essence of her spirit blending with the pristine snowflakes carried hypnotically along in the air while skirting the barren white landscape. She was content because her samurai was happily reunited with friends and preparing to embark on a quest that ignited his passion for setting things right. But suddenly, for the second time since becoming aware of the development of this present drama, the undercurrents of danger resurfaced. She ceased riding the winds and materialized on the virgin snow draped surface of a deserted valley, her white dress blending with the winter white that surrounded her. The sense of isolation her present location inspired was eclipsed by her ghostly intuition that warned her anew of an immediate threat to her beloved and his friends.

Something had awakened her spiritual powers of perception and at that moment she saw with her mind’s eye a small part of the events that had been set into motion. She saw Mifune on Chiharu’s mountain, exhausted but proud of himself for accomplishing what he imagined was such an arduous task. He lowered his broom and turned to look back at the pebble strewn path he had just swept clean of the previous night’s snowfall. The small stones, sparkling in the daylight, gave voice to the wind scattered leaves that twittered along the surface of the walkway.

Mifune smiled as he took in a deep breath of the mid-afternoon winter air. It was exhilarating, clean and fresh, and would have stimulated or enlivened any mildly lazy individual. But true to his nickname, Helpless, he was an exception. He exhaled, then stretched out his arms and yawned. The winter sky was a foreboding mix of white and gray, but he could also see occasional patches of blue. Nonchalantly scanning his surroundings, he paused to gaze at Sensei Hawk’s private building, then rubbed his disbelieving eyes before taking a second look. It wasn’t his imagination, though he wished it were; there was a man standing on the front portico looking out over the snow laden trees. Although the distance was great, he still recognized him; the same bulky giant of a man that disappeared into the small rain puddle.

He could still picture in his mind those dark, spectral arms reaching up, grabbing and pulling the unfortunate worker beneath the surface while his body trembled and his legs twitched and kicked wildly. Mifune shivered, not from the chill in the air, but from primal fear. Albeit, he still found himself watching in morbid fascination as the man on the portico abruptly climbed atop the wooden protective railing and jumped, falling like a heavy sack of stones from the lofty terrace. Mifune gasped loudly, the sound of his own voice startling him into action as he dropped the broom and recklessly ran in the direction of where the worker fell. In spite of his consternation, this time his curious nature overshadowed his fear of the unknown and selfish concern for personal safety.

Within minutes he reached the site, several hundred feet directly below the terrace, but there was no body. There were, however, a set of footprints that penetrated the snow and several inches of earth, obviously the spot where the man heavily touched down.  Another set of prints in the snow led from there to a path downward from the mountain. Mifune imagined the worker was returning to the village, then common sense took precedence and he realized the impossibility of what he just witnessed and what the evidence in the snow revealed. No one could have dropped from that height, landed on their feet and just casually walk away. The nervous ninja finally decided to report the incident, and what he had seen earlier, to Chiharu.

 

The nun and Jangmi patiently listened as Mifune fearfully explained what he had seen… “It was the same man I saw being pulled into that small rain puddle,” he stammered.

“So what do you think he’s doing now?” asked Jangmi.

“I suspect he’s returning to the village,” Mifune replied.

“Just as simple as that?” said Chiharu. “The man mysteriously disappears into a half inch deep puddle, shows up later out of the blue at an abandoned building, drops several hundred feet without killing himself and the day’s work done, decides to nonchalantly walk over seven kilometers to arrive  home in time for dinner.”

Helpless initially grinned, then following a long uncomfortable moment of silence while Chiharu and Jangmi glared at him, his smile slowly faded.

“It’s obviously more sinister than that,” offered Jangmi.

“He may be planning to intercept Silence and the samurai,” said Chiharu, “to prevent her from bringing him here.”

“That makes sense,” reasoned Jangmi. “I lack physic ability, but I have a bad feeling about this.” Then addressing Helpless, she said… “Show me the direction this man went. I’ll try to overtake him.”

“Perhaps you shouldn’t go alone…” said Chiharu.

“There’s no time,” Jangmi protested. “Everyone is busy with various tasks. I can leave immediately.”

“I’m not busy.”

They turned the direction of the voice.

“Minori chan…” said Jangmi.

“I’m not busy,” she repeated as she picked up her ‘yumi’ (bow). “I’ll go with you.”

Jangmi looked at Chiharu for approval… “I-ke’ (Go),” said the nun. ‘Kiwo tsukete’ (Take care).”

 

While riding, the samurai reflected on various pieces of the puzzle that brought together the valiant group now heading to the Shrine of Autumn Mists. He thought about Asako’s warning the night Silence arrived in Tsukimi, and Kwai’s premonition, which is what brought him to Japan. The shaman also mentioned a dream he had of ancient stairs leading upward to a mysterious Torii draped in menacing shadows that were consistently changing shape. Kwai didn’t understand the meaning of the images, but sensed they were somehow related to the present situation.

“I have a feeling we are being followed.”

He didn’t notice her approach, but the sound of her voice stirred him from his reflections. Before he could respond, Kwai spoke.

“I’ve had the same impression,” said the shaman, “since leaving Tsukimi.”

“Kwai mentioned that last night,” revealed Sung Ji.

“And you didn’t tell me?” she questioned with a hint of frustration.

“It was a mere assumption at the time,” Kwai said in his defense. I asked the samurai to keep it to himself until I was convinced it was more than that.”

“So-ka’ (I see),” she replied.

 “Since we three now share the same belief,” Sung Ji suggested, “we should be more alert than usual.”

“With all due respect,” offered the shinobi girl, “I have an idea…”

 

Sometime later, less than one kilometer behind the heroic trio, a lone rider astride a brown Mongolian horse persistently forged onward, leaning slightly forward in the saddle to brace against the winter wind. It was easy enough to remain a safe distance from the samurai and his companions; the rider needed only to follow their tracks in the snow, which served to muffle the sound of the Mongolian’s hooves. Grateful for the quiet that accompanied the white veil of snow, the stalker was lulled into a false sense of security. 

Suddenly the shrill cry of a hawk distracted the stealthy equestrian, whose steady gaze left the path ahead to peer at the gray sky above. The momentary diversion was the perfect opportunity Silence had been waiting for. At that moment she emerged from her hiding place in the trees beside the road, with sword in hand. Caught off guard, the unwary rider gasped involuntarily as Silence exclaimed… “I can’t believe it. What in the name of heaven do you think you’re doing?”

Startled, Asuka pulled back on the reins, abruptly stopping her horse. “Go men sei,” she stammered.

Ten minutes later the two girls caught up with the men. Kwai wasn’t surprised to see Asuka chan.

“Give her a chance to explain,” Silence demanded as Sung Ji began to open his mouth. “She came for good reason.”

“It was because of Sayaka sama…” Asuka declared.

“The blind seer…?” asked Kwai.

“Hai,” replied Asuka. “She visited our tea house after you departed. She said she knew the Left Hand of God had been there…and that sprite that follows him.”

“Sprite?” echoed Silence. “Was she referring to me?”

“I’m not certain,” replied Asuka. “But I don’t think so.”

“Let her continue,” said the samurai.

“Sayaka sama said that even though you had left, she sensed magic in the room…”

“Perhaps residue of the monk’s sword,” reasoned Kwai.

‘And Asako’s spirit…’ thought Sung Ji.

“Sayaka sama spoke of a rebirth of evil,” added Asuka. “An evil force holding a grudge against those responsible for the elimination of its servant. She warned there was extreme danger lurking ahead for all those concerned…for all of us. She said that this evil entity, consumed by jealously, hatred and a thirst for revenge, is willing to sacrifice even its own existence if necessary to successfully follow through with its vendetta of destruction. It virtually has no fear.”

“Evil entity?” Silence wondered aloud.

“I don’t know what to call it,” declared the girl. “Sayaka-sama said it was an evil as old as time itself…and may well be indestructible.”

“It is courageous of you to bring us this information,” said the samurai. “Have you done so with your father’s blessing?”

Asuka demurely bowed her head… “I left a message…” she muttered, “in my best kanji.”

“You must return…” said the samurai.

Asuka pouted, and shaking her head defiantly proclaimed… “I won’t!”

“You must,” repeated Sung Ji. “It’s too dangerous…”

“I won’t!” she said, louder this time.

“I’ll have to take her,” said Sung Ji to Kwai.

“That’s a bad idea,” said the shaman. “You’ll lose valuable time. Time we can’t afford to lose.”

“Right,” agreed Silence. “Time is of the essence. She’ll have to come with us. I’ll take responsibility for her.”

Outnumbered, the samurai reluctantly agreed, much to Asuka’s delight. Kwai, knowing the young girl’s infatuation for Sung Ji, was beginning to enjoy the situation.

“I suppose we can blame this present turn of events on destiny,” said Kwai as he gave the samurai a wink, causing him to frown and grumble incoherently. Kwai & Silence laughed, while the innuendo was lost on innocent Asuka.

 

 

 


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