The Moonlit Corridor

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

Chapter 75 (v.1) - departure

Submitted: September 10, 2019

Reads: 7

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Submitted: September 10, 2019

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"Ice, you should come with me now."

Seated beside her sister's bed, she looked up to see Jangmi at the door. Before she could respond, Fire spoke.

"Hai..."

Ice returned her attention to her elder twin.

"I know you've missed me," Fire continued, "but if you don't stop talking and flitting around the room I may never recover."

A painful expression overlapped the joyful exuberance her face previously displayed.

"Onee-sama (Elder sister)..." she remarked, her disappointment painfully evident.

Fire was firm, but spoke gently... "Do you recall what Chiharu and Kwai sama prescribed?"

"THey said toy should rest quietly and sleep as much as possible to regain your health more quickly."

"Hai, and I can certainlt do that if you if you go with Jangmi for now."

"We'll return later to check on your sister," added Jangmi.

"Hai," Ice conceded. "I'll go, but you must promise to sleep."

"It won't be a problem," assured Fire. "I've been feeling the effects of Chiharu's herbs for the last few minutes. It's taking all my willpower to remain conscious."

Inside the main hall of the Shrine of Autumn Mists, there was an air of festivity as Chiharu listened intently to Sky excitedly elaborate on the events that played themselves out in the cavern deep beneath Hawk’s dwelling. The young girl’s unrestrained exuberance was understandable, especially due to the safe return of Fire. She may have talked on uninterrupted if not for Jangmi and Ice abruptly entering the room unannounced. Chiharu’s attention was drawn to them almost immediately.

"Ari-gatou," she told Jangmi.

"Nani?" questioned Ice. "Did you send her for me?"

"Hai. Your sister needs solitude to rest adequately."

"I know," said Ice reluctantly. "But I've missed her so."

Chiharu's frustrated expression indicated a scolding for Ice, but Bara stragetically intervened.

"Come sit beside me, Ice. We've been telling Chiharu about our confrontation with the demon."

Although cut off before she could speak, Chiharu was grateful for Bara's intervention. She understood Ice was happy to be reunited with her sister. That being the case, the situation called for the nun to exercise empathy and patience rather than dampen the young girl's excitement with a lecture on obedience and discipline.

Sung Ji asked Chiharu of she or Kwai knew anymore about the entity now than before.

"A little," she replied. "Mainly from what you've discovered when facing it in the cavern."

"We know what we've experienced," agreed Kwai, "and what the monks wrote in the ancient scrolls."

"Had I not seen it myself," said the samurai, "I would have doubted its existence."

"Bit it's odd," added Kwai, "that you saw it as a beautiful woman, while I saw a formless, dark cloud and Asuka saw it as a handsome young man."

"We each saw it as something different," offered Jangmi, "which makes it even more of a mystery. Although we don't know much more than before, we have reason to rejoice since it appears to be confined, at least for the time being."

"It make me uncomfortable," voiced Ice, "Knowing it is imprisoned beneath this mountain."

"It is our duty and responsibility," declared Chiharu,"to see that it stays that way."

"Dea," Jangmi replied.

"This evil, though always in turmoil, will rest for now," assured Kwai.

"But we can't be certain for how long," Chiharu continued. "Evil thoughts and acts, like those committed by Hawk, coyld stir it to wakefulness."

"But he's gone," declared Ice.

"That's true," Chiharu agreed, then winked an eye at Jangmi as she continued, "as long as all of us behave ourselves, especially impulsive young ladies."

The others laughed, while Ice petulantly questioned... "Why is everyone suddenly looking at me."

 “Chiharu sama is teasing you,” replied Bara as she laid a hand on the younger twin’s shoulder. “Before you and Jangmi arrived, she voiced her concern about you prior to the return of your sister.”

“She knew you had been worried and under extreme stress,” said the samurai.

“Under the circumstances,” said Ice with a pout, “considering everything that’s been going on these past months and being so often around a psycho duplicate of my sister how could I possibly not be stressed?”

“It’s in the past,” said Bara smiling. “You can relax now.” 

“And let Fire rest,” suggested Kwai. “It wouldn’t do you any harm to get some sleep yourself.”

“She can sleep in our room tonight,” offered Bara. “Then her sister can rest undisturbed.”

“That’s a wonderful idea,” declared Chiharu. “You are willing to do that, aren’t you child?”

“Hai,” Ice timidly agreed, quite aware she was outnumbered, but also knowing they were right. “Hai,” she repeated, but with enthusiasm this time.

They all laughed then, which pleased Night, who had been listening just outside the main doorway of the shrine. It sounded good to her, especially Bara’s laughter.

Later, in the room shared by Cho-nyo, Bara and Asuka, Ice had just finished laying out her palette for sleeping when she overheard the innkeeper’s daughter remark… “You don’t have to accompany me to Tsukimi…unless you sincerely wish.”

“What was that?” asked Ice.

“She said it isn’t necessary for me to ride along when she leaves for home tomorrow,” replied Bara. Then turning her attention once more to Asuka she continued… “But I do wish it.”

“Bara’s had few friends,” explained Night, “especially any her own age. I don’t mind if she goes with you. Then Silence will not have to make the return trip back here alone.”

“Minori will be riding with us also,” said Bara. “But afterward she will return to her Master’s dojo. It may be some time before we see one another again.”

“It is difficult to part from friends. I want to go too,” declared Ice. “I don’t know when I’ll see Asuka again.”

“Then it’s decided,” Bara proclaimed.

Asuka studied their determined and excited faces a moment, then agreed. “Hai!” she conceded. “If I return with such wonderful friends, Father won’t scold me without mercy.”

“How will you explain leaving unannounced?” Ice wondered.

“I will tell him the truth,” she replied. “I followed the samurai because I had a premonition I would never see him again.”

 “Ah so…” replied Ice slowly.

“Is that why,” asked Bara, “you seem somber rather than excited about returning to Tsukimi?”

“Hai. The present moment is all that really matters since I am with him now.”

“The present moment,” said Bara, “is the doorway leading to infinite possibilities.”

They all fell silent then, pondering Bara’s words until Night suggested… “You three should get to sleep. Kwai sama and the samurai plan to depart at sunrise.”

The following morning, Sung Ji and Kwai were sharing a few moments with Chiharu outside the girl’s quarters while Minori, Asuka and Bara made final preparations for the journey. The snow was gone and the first buds of spring were beginning to bloom. The samurai recalled how beautiful the area was by mid-season, when the lush greenery served as a backdrop to the colorful flowers that blossomed for an all-to-brief time. His reverie was broken by Chiharu’s tranquil voice when she wistfully stated… “It is a good day for travel…”

“I would rather wait,” said the samurai, “just a few more days…just in case.”

“You needn’t be concerned,” Chiharu said with conviction. “Now we know, more or less, what we’re dealing with. Kwai sama has given me his enchanted tanto, and we have the bamboo arrows crafted by Bara, tipped with points made from the star stone. We have the children of the night, and the girls here are the kind that when they awaken each morning, demons take flight.”

The samurai smiled… “I suppose that evil thing won’t be a bother, tucked away in the cavern with the implanted star-stone sword keeping it at bay. Humanity has one less problem.”

“Perhaps,” ventured Kwai, “but humanity is still its own worst problem.”

Sung Ji considered leaving well enough alone, but against his better judgment he asked the shaman… “How so?”

“The problem,” he proclaimed, “is that humanity is made up of opinionated individuals that can’t get out of their own way.”

“But not all people…” said Sung Ji.

“Agreed,” remarked Kwai as he turned to look directly at Chiharu. “Not all people.”

Their conversation was interrupted then, as Ice and Sky arrived on horseback, apparently planning to join the little caravan.

“What’s this?” voiced Sung Ji.

“Bara invited Ice to accompany you,” said Chiharu. “But they failed to mention Sky.”

Before he could speak, Sky, noting the perplexity masking his face, declared that… “I couldn’t let them go without me. We five girls have become a team.”

“There’s no use complaining,” said Kwai. “I for one sincerely enjoy the company of such vibrant young ladies.”

Sung Ji opened his mouth to speak, paused, and just sighed. Chiharu laughed.

“It’s a sign of great wisdom,” she proclaimed, “when a man exercises patience against overwhelming odds.”

The samurai smiled and then slowly raised his eyes to the powder blue sky. There was a light breeze, embracing, enhanced by the early morning cool. It was a pleasant beginning for a new day. The last thing he wanted to do was spoil the moment by telling Ice and Sky they couldn’t come along. Doing so, he may incite the others and create an uprising. Far safer, he mused, to stir up a hornet’s nest.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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