The Moonlit Corridor

Reads: 2591  | Likes: 2  | Shelves: 1  | Comments: 31

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

Chapter 69 (v.1) - combined effort

Submitted: September 05, 2019

Reads: 16

A A A | A A A

Submitted: September 05, 2019

A A A

A A A

The samurai’s restless slumber was interrupted abruptly by an alarmed scream that echoed through the corridors of his mind. Although not audible, it sounded in his brain, the reverberations stirring him to consciousness. Immediately he recognized Asako’s voice, evidently alerting him to the present danger. When he awoke he was not alone. Three dark, mist-shrouded forms stood above him, one of them crouching, his large hands reaching toward his throat. He quickly rolled to one side, followed by the dark hulk who managed to grab him by an ankle. Sung Ji twisted onto his back and with his free leg kicked the assailant in his formless face. A second kick, more forceful, dislodged the fiend’s grip. The samurai managed to reach his katana, quickly standing as he withdrew the blade, and slashed one of the three shapes across the midsection. A second vertical slash should have finished the creature but it appeared unaffected. The dark trio pressed toward him in unison then and were almost within reach when a bright light, emanating from behind Sung Ji, suddenly filled the room. In that instant, as the shadows attempted to shield their eyes from the brightness that was reflected and increased tenfold by the vapors, he grasped hilt of the star sword. He unsheathed the blade underhanded, making a horizontal slash as he did, quickly followed by a forty five degree angular downward strike.

Two of the hulks exploded into brightly burning red ash. The third turned and bolted past Kwai as the shaman charged through the doorway of the samurai’s room. Just behind him, Jangmi and Silence adroitly jumped to either side of the hulking fugitive that nearly ran over them in its haste to escape.

“Nani-yo…!” exclaimed Silence in startled surprise.

“Mu-ah’ (What)?” said Jangmi in turn. “What was that?”

“Just a sample of what we’re dealing with,” declared Kwai.

Sung Ji stood silent as the jasmine scented mist in his room dissipated, looking first at his friends, then at the star sword in his left hand. The blade was glowing bright red, but gradually fading until at last it appeared normal. The samurai inquisitively looked at Kwai.

“Don’t ask,” said the shaman. “I’ve explained all I can. You know as much as I do about that enchanted weapon.”

“What brought you here?” he asked.

Kwai explained, after which they all returned to the shrine where Minori remained to protect the others, since she had one of the three weapons they knew were effective against the shadows. When discovering that Bara, like Chiharu and Kwai, had been awakened by an intense sense of dread, they wondered why no shadows came for her.

“Perhaps they fear her,” ventured Kwai, “or could not determine exactly where she was.”

Chiharu agreed. “I’ve said it before. There is ‘something’ about her. She is different from the rest of us, and may be an important key in solving this enigma.”

Their conversation was suddenly interrupted by an outburst from the false Fire... “You’re all going to die!” she screamed.

During the tumultuous tirade that followed she blurted out a plethora of blasphemous and cryptic words. Ice, distraught and equally embarrassed, began to apologize, prompting Chiharu to inform her that she was convinced the creature confined in the hidden room is not her sister.

As Ice began to panic, Kwai spoke... “It’s possible Fire is imprisoned somewhere by the evil entity.”

Chiharu agreed, and the shaman suggested they begin searching for her in Hawk’s private dwelling.

“I want to see that infamous mirror,” he said, “especially since Chiharu and I believe the duplicates and shadows can enter and leave this world through things that reflect. The surface of metal is perhaps too vague, and the surface of water not stable or substantial enough to allow them to completely emerge. But the surface of a mirror is solid.”

“When do you suggest we go there?” asked Jangmi.

“Now. There’s no better time than the present.”

That being said, the false Fire launched another verbal tantrum.

 

Ignoring the outburst they decided to form two groups. Rather than speak, Chiharu and Kwai conversed in written words. It was determined that she and Asuka would remain at the shrine, protected by Jangmi, Water, Mifune, Hae-yu and Yu-tu. Minori left seven of her bamboo arrows with Yu-tu, who was proficient with the bow.  If the shadows came for them or the false Fire, the star stone tipped barbs could easily eliminate them. Kwai and Sung Ji would lead the other to Hawk’s abode, comprised of Minori, Silence, Storm, Wind, Sky, Ice, Cho-nyo, Bara, Kaji, and Hu-noz.

It was an hour before dawn when they left the shrine, and discovered a heavy mist had settled low over the ground. The closer they came to the elevated building Hawk once called home the higher the mist rose, becoming noticeably thicker and denser as they approached, so thick that visibility was reduced to zero. Bara remarked about it and immediately the smell of jasmine permeated the air, prompting Silence speak.

“She’s helping us isn’t she, Sung Ji?”

He remained quiet. As they advanced the mist just a few feet ahead of them began to part, separated by an invisible force, closing behind as they moved forward. Thus, although immersed in fog, they were able to clearly see the path ahead. The samurai knew she was ‘hiding’ them even before Bara spoke.

“Your guardian is masking our movements from the shadows…” she declared

“Dea,” he replied as his thoughts ran back to the incident that awakened him earlier. The mist in his room, he was certain, and the light that blinded the three hulks came from Asako. That light brought back memories of the Moon Temple after his battle with the outlaw Miyamoto; it was the same white brilliance. It was Asako’s doing.

“She’s protecting us,” Bara repeated. “Trying to shield our whereabouts from our enemies.”

“From the evil…?” voiced Wind.

“No,” said Bara.

“She’s right,” assured Kwai. “In spite of her efforts, the entity won’t be tricked by this fog. It knows exactly where we are and precisely what we’re doing. Its minions can be fooled, but not the evil itself.”

“Is there any chance we can overcome this thing?” Inquired Ice.

“Perhaps,” said Kwai, “once your doubt becomes a shooting star.”

Ice lowered her head, embarrassed, as though she had just been reprimanded by a stern parent.

“Have faith, sister,” encouraged Sky.

“The power of positive thinking is immeasurable,” said Storm.

“Hai,” Wind affirmed. “We have only to believe we’ll overcome this evil through our combined efforts, confidence and strength of will.”

“Hai!” agreed the other girls in unison.

The mist continued to part before them as they progressed and after a steep climb they reached the front portico of the abandoned building. Upon opening the heavy front door they were astonished as the mist speedily filled the spacious entryway, seemingly sucked in by some gargantuan draft. As before, the vapors parted for them as they made their way to the wide staircase leading to the upper levels. Although alert and ready, they met no resistance as they climbed the stairs and traversed the dark corridor that led them to the door of Hawk’s private chamber.

“Here,” said Storm. “This is the one.”

Sung Ji opened the door and Kaji raised the lamp he carried, illuminating the darkened room. From where they were standing the samurai could see Hawk’s large, ornately framed mirror.

“It’s massive…” he remarked.

“Yes,” said the shaman, “but a conduit for those who serve the entity.”

Sung Ji entered first, followed by Kwai, Kaji and Storm, after which the door abruptly slid shut. Startled, the others stood helpless while Wind and Hu-noz attempted to pry the door with their swords.

“What just happened,” asked Night as she grasped one of Bara’s wrists, pulling her close to her side.

“We’re fine,” the samurai called out. Then looking at Kwai, said… “You were the last one in. What did happen?”

“I’ve been through this before,” said Storm, “The night of Hawk’s downfall. This place reeks of dark magic, which is precisely why we don’t use this building.”

As she spoke Sung Ji attempted to open the door from the inside and Kwai, prompted by an uncanny sense of danger turned toward the looking glass. Large, shadowy figures began to emerge. The shaman took a few steps toward the mirror as four hulking shadows advanced, then slowly began to surround him. Eyeing them with cool determination he removed the magic tanto from beneath his tunic, extended his arm to display the case, and slowly withdrew the blade. The minions ceased moving, their attention diverted as Kwai pulled the katana length sword from the dagger-length tanto.

The samurai and the others turned their heads when they heard the sound of the weapon being drawn. Kaji gasped at the sight of the four giants as Sung Ji told him and Storm to stay back. In the melee that followed Kwai, and Sung Ji with his star sword, easily defeated their antagonists, each exploding into ashes as the blades made contact. But there was no time to celebrate victory, as at least five more shadowy figures emerged from the looking glass. As another struggle ensued Storm hoisted a small iron table above her head and flung it into the mirror, to no avail. The heavy table, as if it were made of paper, bounced harmlessly off the glass. At that moment the door gave way and there stood Minori, one of Bara’s arrows notched to her bow. Quickly raising the yumi she let the arrow loose, stopping one of the dark assailants at almost the same moment both the samurai and Kwai dispatched one each. Minori immediately notched a second arrow, aimed at the mirror and released. The barbed tip struck and penetrated the polished glass, shattering it into thousands pieces of crystalline shards. The two remaining hulks, meanwhile, were reduced to ashes by the samurai’s lethal blade. Bara would later tell those nervously waiting at the shrine that it was Minori’s bow that turned the tide. Presently, as the archer lowered her weapon she recalled Chiharu’s cryptic words; “From a distance, your reach will disperse the shadows”.

A solemn silence settled over the room in the aftermath of the chaotic last few moments. Kwai meanwhile, was stoically staring at the broken mirror.

“What is it?” asked the samurai.

“I’m not certain,” he replied, “if breaking the looking glass was the right thing to do.”

“Go-men-sei’ (I apologize),” said Minori with a deep bow.

“Don’t worry,” said Kwai. “In the heat of the moment, I’m sure it seemed like the best option.”

“Hai,” she replied.

“What do you suggest we do now,” asked Wind.

“It’s dawn,” said Kwai. “Let’s watch the sunrise.”

 


© Copyright 2019 C Wm Bird. All rights reserved.

Chapters

Add Your Comments: