The Moonlit Corridor

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

Chapter 72 (v.1) - confrontation

Submitted: September 06, 2019

Reads: 12

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Submitted: September 06, 2019

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The vengeful entity stirred, deep beneath the mountain where the Shrine of Autumn Mists stood. Perplexed beyond description, it morphed into one shapeless thing after another, its thoughts a maelstrom of feverish delusions and deranged fantasies. Agitated beyond reason, it was beginning to feel seriously threatened, which only served to make it all the more unpredictable and dangerous. All of its efforts to destroy the inhabitants of the mountain retreat up to this point had failed, and it knew that they were more organized than before, and much more confident.

Meanwhile, everyone, with the exception of Quiet, had assembled at the shrine, where Chiharu, Kwai, Sung Ji and Water devised a plan designed to end the evil’s mischief. They determined that Hu-noz, Hae-yu and Yuu-to would back up Quiet at the tori, in case the entity attempts an escape through the enchanted archway. Kwai and the samurai planned to spearhead an elite group to enter the catacombs by way of Hawk’s abode. The assembly consisted of Minori, Silence, Storm, Water, Wind, Jangmi, Night, Bara, Sky, Ice, Mifune, and Kaji. It was decided that Chiharu should remain at the shrine to pray for their safety and success.

“l am concerned,” said Ice, “about Chiharu being left alone. Shouldn’t someone stay with her in case of trouble?”

“Asuka will be with me,” declared the nun. “Won’t you, child?”

The innkeeper’s daughter was silent.

“That’s correct,” Sung Ji abruptly spoke. “She can keep watch while you pray, and greet us with open arms when we return.”

Asuka humbly lowered her head. Something in the tone of the samurai’s voice that told her it was useless to resist.

“Hai,” Asuka replied.

“If the shadows come for my sister,” Ice protested, “what would the two of you do?” 

Before Chiharu could reply, the false Fire screamed and yelled from the hidden chamber… “You’re all going to die! We’ll eat your souls!”

Chiharu sighed as the others turned to look toward the secret room.

“I can’t believe she can hear everything we say,” remarked Night.“I’ve become accustomed to her random outbursts,” the nun revealed. “But in light of the fact that creature is not our Fire I’ve reached an end of patience. You can take her with you. Then there will be no reason for any of the entity’s puppets to come here.”

The hidden room became quiet as the captive ‘Fire’ lapsed once more into silence.

“That is a good idea,” reasoned Kwai. Then addressing Ice he continued… “We’ll return that blasphemous empty shell to the catacombs and bring back your sister. I’ve heard only good things about her and I’m anxious to meet her.”

“Kwai sama…” Ice spoke slowly.

“I’ve always considered that an important goal,” he added. “Put your fears to rest.”

“Hai,” said Water. “In spite of all the distractions, we have not forgotten Fire. This won’t be ended until she’s back with us.”

“Right,” added Storm, “let’s do this.”

The three children of the night departed to join Quiet at the torii, while the others set out for Hawk’s building. On the way, Sung Ji stealthily dropped back from the group and hastily made his way to the archaic torii. Unbeknown to him, Asuka, who had been following behind his entourage after sneaking away from the shrine, shadowed him now as he rushed to arrive at the torii before Hu-noz and his brothers.

Moving quickly, the samurai arrived at the site before them. Quiet, oblivious of his presence, was on guard at the base of the steps leading to the ancient archway. Silent and agile as a panther Sung Ji climbed to the top of the rise through the trees, and was so focused and intent on achieving his aim that he had no idea Asuka was close behind. When he reached the stone landing he looked down to be certain Quiet was still watching the path below that led to the stairs. He was, so the samurai made his move then, slowly and quietly toward the torii, and was within inches from his goal when Hu-noz and his brothers came into view. The moment he saw them he leaped and disappeared beneath the arch before they noticed. They did, however, see Asuka as she suddenly darted from her hiding place and ran straight for the torii.

“Stop!” yelled Hu-noz. “Don’t do that!”

Quiet turned quickly, just in time to see the girl, running full speed, vanish beneath arch. In an instant, her legs still moving vigorously, she ran into the samurai from behind. The impact knocked her off her feet and sent her flying backward. Alarmed, Sung Ji abruptly turned, his left hand already on the hilt of the star sword.

“Asuka chan!” he exclaimed as she landed ungracefully on her bottom..

“Hai!” she said after she struck the ground, mortified but unharmed.

Although there was little illumination in the cavern, there was enough that he recognized Toshiro’s daughter.

“What are you doing actually?”

“Go-mensei…” she said slowly, in obvious embarrassment.

Before she could say another word he offered a hand to help her rise up.

“What are you thinking? You’re supposed to be at the shrine. You’ve no idea of the danger you’re in.”

“I want to help…” she began as she brushed cave dust from her clothing.

Sung Ji opened his mouth to speak but was immediately stifled by a melodious voice from the shadows… “Who is that?”

Startled, they turned their attention that direction to see a duplicate Asuka, head bowed, stepping toward them from the darkness.

“Who is that beside you?” the duplicate asked the samurai.

“Who are you?” Asuka boldly asked in turn, only to lose her bravado as the duplicate repeated her words simultaneously as she spoke them. 

Sensing Asuka’s fear Sung Ji placed a hand on her arm and pulled her back slightly behind him… “Patience…” he whispered, then took a step toward the false Asuka.

“I won’t be tricked by your illusions…” he proclaimed. “Her innocence is something she can’t disguise. But you…you’re not able to hide your malice.”

The other slowly and silently raised her head. Her evil grin becoming a grotesque frown as her eyes began to glow a bright red and anger distorted her face. Behind the samurai, Asuka gasped in fright. She had experienced many things as a hard working innkeeper’s daughter, losing her mother at a young age, but never anything as bizarre as this.

The samurai assumed a defensive stance with the sword then, which began to pulsate and radiate with a golden incandescence. Abruptly the other morphed to black shadow and blended back into the darkness within which it had been standing. Sung Ji turned his gaze to the sword, while Asuka looked first at it before turning her eyes to him, an inquisitive expression masking her face. “Don’t ask,” he said. “This archaic weapon is still a mystery to me.”

“Perhaps it acts that way in the presence of extreme evil…” ventured the girl.

“I’m not certain,” he replied. “I only know it hasn’t done this before now.”

At the forbidden torii, the children of the night, perplexed and uncertain how to behave, were locked in confused conversation. Since it was their duty to guard the area, they all felt responsible for Asuka’s disappearance beneath the enchanted arch.

“How is it she happened to be here?” voiced Hu-noz.

In sign language, Quiet chided him… ‘What does that have to do with the fact that we’re responsible for what happens here?’

“I’m not certain. Who kno…”

“Don’t say it!” warned Hae-yu.

“She was at the shrine when we left,” said Yuu-to. “She was to stay with Chiharu.”

“Chiharu and the others won’t be pleased,” Hu-noz predicted. “I may lose my position because of this. I’m certain others are just waiting for…”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” interrupted Hae-yu. “Nobody in their right mind would want your position. But for certain Chiharu will be angry.”

“But there was nothing we could do,” whined Yuu-to.

“Maybe it wasn’t her. Maybe it’s some kind of demon trick,” said Hae-yu.

Quiet slammed the thick bladed end of his monk’s staff on the stone surface of the ground. The abrupt noise silenced the trio who simultaneously turned their attention to their otherwise silent brother. He motioned with his hands, telling them it was his responsibility, that he was guarding the torii, while they had just arrived as Asuka ran under the arch.

“It’s no more your fault than ours,” surmised Hu-noz. “These are indeed trying times.”

 


© Copyright 2019 C Wm Bird. All rights reserved.

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