The Moonlit Corridor

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

Chapter 62 (v.1) - an assult

Submitted: September 03, 2019

Reads: 10

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Submitted: September 03, 2019

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Ahn Sung Ji awoke before the others, just in time to gaze in wonderment while the eastern sky gradually turned an array of colors from yellow to gold as the sun slowly rose over the horizon. Soon his attention was diverted by a subtle movement to his right. It was a small whirlwind, languidly revolving, lifting snowflakes that spun faster and faster to finally form a maiden’s shape.

“Asako…” he subconsciously intoned.

The pearl white image appeared to smile, then drifted closer. He smiled in return, until the shape’s expression changed to one of concerned apprehension. He wondered how she could have worry or concern, now that she was spirit. At that moment the others awoke, startling the image of Asako. She glanced in their direction, then back to the samurai. With a nod of her head the winds dissipated and the shape became formless as the snowflakes ceased swirling and slowly settled like fine white powder to the waiting ground.

“Oh hi-yo’ (good morning),” said Silence as she stood up and stretched her arms and torso.

“Good morning,” Sung Ji responded as she bent to touch her toes.

Kwai had risen by the time she settled down into a full Chinese split.

“You’re very flexible,” said the shaman.

Silence smiled… “I’m working at it,” she humbly replied.

“Me to,” he replied, after which he swung his right leg up three times, touching knee to shoulder. He did the same with his left leg, then immediately dropped into a Chinese split. “If you do it every day you’ll keep your flexibility, even when you’re at my age.”

“Hymph!” said Sung Ji. “Imagine, showing off for girls at your age…”

“What was that?” asked Kwai.

“Nothing,” he replied, thankful the shaman didn’t hear him. Kwai had a healthy temper that even the samurai was wary of. No need upsetting him so early in the day, he thought as he glanced at Silence. She had heard him, and was shaking her head while she smiled at him. A moment later she stood up and began walking his direction while brushing off her clothes.

“That’s one you owe me…” she said as she casually strolled past him.

Asuka awoke and began stirring the burning embers of the previous night’s campfire, while Silence and Kwai took the horses to drink from a nearby stream. Meanwhile Sung Ji had gone searching for wood to rekindle the blaze. Kwai returned carrying water to boil rice, just in time to see a stranger stealthily approaching Asuka from behind while she sat tending the coals. Abruptly the lumbering lout seized her and pulled her upright while spinning her to face him. He had both hands at her throat by the time Kwai managed to strike him forcefully on the back of his head with the iron cooking pot. It had no effect, and Kwai sensed that although he appeared human, he was empowered by something not of this earth.

Angered by Kwai’s attempt, the brute quickly released Asuka and she helplessly watched in horror as her assailant moved with blinding speed to seize the diminutive shaman and toss him like a rice sack. To her surprise he landed unharmed and, agile as a cat, rolled and quickly stood erect, while she struck the giant with first one rock and then another when he advanced toward the old man. It had no effect, but before he reached Kwai, the shaman pulled a twelve inch tanto case from inside his tunic from which he withdrew a katana length blade. The brute paused a moment, as if sensing danger, then took another step toward Kwai.

He paused again when he was suddenly struck in the center of the back by an arrow. Seemingly unaffected, he took another step only to have the back of his skull pierced by a second arrow.  He reached for and broke the arrow’s shaft like a twig and tossed it aside, then screamed and rushed at Kwai. As Asuka screamed, the shaman adroitly moved to one side, reversing his grip on the katana. Holding it underhand, the dull side against his forearm, he slashed across the man’s midsection. Before Kwai could raise his sword to finish what he started his assailant burst into an explosive cloud of red and black ash.

Attracted by Asuka’s cry, Silence and Sung Ji arrived simultaneously, just in time to see Kwai’s sword slash the stranger. As the ashes slowly settled to the snow covered ground, the sound of approaching horses caught everyone’s attention. A moment later Jangmi and Minori arrived.

Following an exchange of excited greetings Silence made introductions, after which Jangmi explained why they had come, giving a detailed description of the incidents related to the giant witnessed by Mifune.

“We were tracking him when we heard the girl’s scream. That set Minori Chan into motion, who notched an arrow and let it fly as her horse began to a run. She sent the second arrow flying at full gallop while standing upright in the stirrups.”

“I saw two people in trouble,” explained Minori as she inspected Asuka Chan’s throat.

“Ken cha na-yo’ (Are you okay)? Are you harmed?” Sung Ji asked Asuka.

“I’m fine,” she replied, “thanks to Kwai San and Minori Chan’s bow.”

“That man appeared human...like Fire…” said Jangmi, “but…”

“Let’s not allow our imaginations take flight,” she said. “If the girl Chiharu has subdued is not the sister of Ice, it doesn’t necessarily indicate that our Fire has left this world.” Then turning her attention to Minori, she said… “We meet again.”

“Hai,” she replied, “it appears so.”

“I believe this belongs to you,” said Kwai as he approached to hand an arrow to Minori. “That creature broke the other.”

“Ari gatou gozai masu,” she replied.

“I can’t believe the arrows had no effect,” Kwai remarked. “Nor the cooking pot,” he said as he pointed at the dented vessel.

“I wish I knew exactly what we’re dealing with,” said Jangmi.

“Hai,” said Minori and Sung Ji together.

“We should make haste,” ventured Silence. “The sooner we return to the mountain, the sooner we can unravel this mystery.”

As they prepared, Sung Ji asked Kwai about his tanto… “A gift,” he replied, “from a Japanese mage whom I befriended when the man was visiting China. It has magical properties... Some not so obvious,” he said as he displayed the tanto, “and some obvious…” he continued as he tapped the twelve inch case before extracting the long blade.

“I believe Sky would be intrigued by that tanto,” the samurai said with a smile.

As they prepared for the journey, at the mountain training hall, after five hours of sword practice, Sky was near the point of collapse. For most of the last hour, although on the verge of tears, she pressed on with a fierce intensity. Her slightly younger ‘sister’ Ice, who had been watching from a shadowed alcove, finally stepped out where she could be seen.

“You shouldn’t waste your self…” she advised.

Sky lowered her sword and turned to face her. “I don’t know what else to do. This is so confusing. How can we fight against an enemy that can’t be seen?”

“With courage and tenacity,” Ice replied. “But most important, patience and discretion. If you exhaust all your strength now, you will have nothing left with which to battle.”

“You’re beginning to sound like Water.”

“Ari gatou,” Ice smiled. “Actually, Water once said the very same thing to me; don’t waste yourself.”

“Hai,” said Sky as she smiled in turn. “And that reminds me of something your sister Fire said to me; whether it be sunshine or storm, we must face life bravely.”

“She’s said that to me also,” said Ice. “I think it has something to do with courage and hope. We are both lucky to have elders that care for us enough to give us such sage advise. That gives me hope. Everyone is working enthusiastically to help my sister. With so much positive energy we should most certainly prevail.”

“Hai,” Sky agreed, then following a pause asked… “What brings you to the dojo?”

 “Hae-u told me you were here. I was hoping you could help me with my ‘kara-te’ (empty hands) training?”

“Hai. I’m happy to do so” revealed Sky. “It’s lonely training by myself.”

 


© Copyright 2019 C Wm Bird. All rights reserved.

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