The Moonlit Corridor

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

Chapter 78 (v.1) - Guiding light

Submitted: September 10, 2019

Reads: 19

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Submitted: September 10, 2019

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Everyone awoke to pleasant weather beneath a somber gray canopy, with just the hint of a breeze to keep the temperature mild. There was no indication of rain; just an overcast sky, which prompted Asuka to imagine that on this day of bidding farewell, Heaven was sad. Not for Ahn Sung Ji, but for those he left behind. His worldly problems and struggles were over, but theirs would continue.

Out of respect for the deceased there was no morning meal. Toshiro had a feast planned for the end of the day, assisted by some of the villagers, who would spend the afternoon in preparation. Asuka chan requested a late start for the procession, explaining that she wanted to hold the ceremony early evening, ending at twilight. No one contested, especially her father and sisters, who were still concerned about her emotional state.

Shortly after mid-day, the funeral party set out, leaving Tsukimi behind as they made their way slowly toward Asako’s mountain. Moving quietly amid the chirping of birds, the procession of mourners soon reached the point where the sakura trees, lining the road either side, created a rose-hued arboreal canopy through which they passed. Although the blossoms were not in full bloom, they were still beautiful to behold. Jangmi, like many in the group that were here for the first time, found it easier to understand why Sung Ji had come to admire these isolated surroundings. The closer they came to the mountain, the natural beauty of the area became more evident and the clearer the sky became, eventually turning powder blue as the sun evaporated the gray shroud of morning. Soon the sound of the waterfall began to drown out the whisper of the breeze and singing of birds.

Asuka had planned well; they reached their destination by late afternoon and began the slow ascent along the trail leading to the forest where Asako was raised. Eventually they reached the apex and soon were within sight of Toshima’s cabin where Ryoko and her family awaited their arrival. Kyoko chan and her brother, playing in front of the house, were the first to see them. While Sajiro hurried to tell his parents they had come, Kyoko ran to greet them. Asuka chan, in the lead, pulled back on the reins when she saw the young girl running toward them. Although they had not met, Asuka ‘knew’ it was Kyoko, who stopped abruptly when close and stood silently looking at the innkeeper’s daughter.

While her behavior had no significance to the others, Asuka noticed and knew that Kyoko sensed that a part of Asako was within her. A moment later Ryoko was at her daughter’s side, while her father Junichi waited in front of the house with the other children. Looking up at Ryoko, Kyoko chan declared… “Mother, that is the kind lady cousin Asako told me about. She is the one who shares cousin’s life flame.”

Asuka smiled and she bowed her head in courtesy, then introduced herself. Ryoko thanked her for bringing Sung Ji home, and invited all of them to come forward.

 

Later, at the twin-tree beneath which Asako and her parents were buried, the ceremony for the samurai was near an end and the time had come to remove the stones that sealed Asako’s ashes from the elements. The sun was setting as Asuka placed Sung Ji’s urn in the grave beside Asako’s. As Junichi replaced the stones, Asuka reached inside her clothing and withdrew the samurai’s flute; the one Toshima had made for his daughter. Asuka had found it, while still at the Shrine of Autumn Mists, in one of Sung Ji’s saddlebags after his death.

Asuka took in a deep breath, then placing the polished bamboo reed to her lips, as a requiem began to play Asako chan’s mother’s favorite love song, to the amazement of her father and sisters. As she initiated the melancholy melody the placid breeze began to intensify, scattering the dry leaves of winter and sending them twittering along the surface of the ground. The failing light seemed an appropriate backdrop for the somber tune as second-born Mariko turned to her elder sister… “Onee…” she whispered with a puzzled expression.

Midori quickly held up a hand to silence her, then whispered; “Ah so’ (I know)…our younger sister never learned to play the flute, and yet...”

 

Unknown to the others, the exact instant Asuka began to play she sensed Asako awakening, and her immediate concern and longing for Ahn Sung Ji. The woodsman’s daughter had been in limbo since the samurai fell to his death, and was unaware of the events that followed until this moment. She had been asleep, was now aware and as though she had been summoned, was being pulled toward the mountain, the forest and twin tree beneath which she was laid to rest. For the first time since becoming aware of her passing, she felt a deep sense of purpose as she sped toward her love. Simultaneously, the samurai abruptly became aware, finding himself suddenly standing before the twin tree just a short distance from those assembled for his interment.

Asuka’s flute had awakened him to awareness, like Asako, and led his spirit to this time and place. He was as yet unaware of where he had been, had no immediate recollection of the accident, or exactly what brought him to this precise moment. As confused seconds passed, his mind was deluged with images that played out the last minutes of his earthly life. Too stunned to move, he remained still and silent as first little Kyoko chan and then Bara turned to look in his direction, as if prompted by an innate sixth sense. Neither of them spoke, but only gazed at him in wonder as Asuka played the last notes of her song. Having done so, she likewise was compelled to look his direction. She involuntarily gasped when she first saw him, standing quiet and serene in the gathering darkness.

Before he could speak, his attention was abruptly diverted to the corridor of trees a short distance away. Only he heard the musical tinkling of temple bells coming from that direction, just before he became aware of the sweet scent of jasmine and the gradually increasing white light emanating down the tree-lined path. He had seen the beauty of the moonlit corridor when alive, but it was different this time, the light made all the more radiant because of her.

“Do you see that?” questioned Sky, breaking the silence following Asuka’s requiem.

They all turned their attention toward the moonlit corridor.

“The light through the trees…” Kenji Tanaka’s granddaughter Kasumi exclaimed, never completing the sentence.

‘And the jasmine…’ thought Silence. The aroma had significance to her, Kwai, and to Ryoko and her family. They knew it was somehow connected to Asako. 

“The light…” ventured Midori, “the full moon does that.”

“But there is no full moon,” stated Kwai.

True enough. At that moment there was a crescent moon high above, its meager light made pale by the dark gray clouds that had moved across the heavens from the southwest, but no full moon near the mountain forest or tree lined corridor leading to the cliff edge.

Following the action of the others, Asuka gazed toward the arboreal corridor, then back to the Left Hand of God. He turned his eyes toward her then and smiled, as if to relieve her of any guilt she may have had connected with his death. She returned the smile and nodded her head in mute gratitude as tears formed in her eyes. He nodded in return and then began walking toward the trees, pausing only once to look back at his friends a final time before he continued toward the light.

Those assembled could see the bright white illumination, but only three of them, Kyoko, Bara and Asuka could see the source. As they watched, spellbound by the sight, they beheld a glowing Asako chan in a flowing white dress emerge from the trees, moving as though gliding on ice. When Sung Ji approached she reached out with a slender hand to grasp one of his, after which they both entered the moonlit corridor.

“Ogasa’ (Mother),” said Kyoko as she looked up at Ryoko, “can you see? Cousin Asako has come for the samurai. She is truly happy now that he is beside her. At last she is with her first and only love.”

Ryoko, speechless, looked at her daughter, then back toward the Moonlit Corridor.

Even before Asuka saw the woodsman’s daughter, she knew, because her spirit essence was in tune with hers, that the brilliant luminescence was somehow generated by Asako.

“They will be together until the end of time…” mused Asuka.

“Sister,” said Mariko, “you seem so sad, yet still you smile…”

“I smile for their happiness,” she revealed, “even though my own tears fall.”

“I’m relieved to know you’ve accepted that,” interjected Midori. “To be honest, I’ve been concerned. And yet, although you fell into the rushing river of love you never behaved as if you were struck by lightening. You were moody, but for the most part just rode the currents, never straining against the tide.”

“Will you love again?” Mariko asked sheepishly.

“Perhaps…” Asuka mused, then went silent.

“I’m not certain exactly what you’ve experienced these last few months,” Midori declared, “but I never would have expected that you would have matured so much in such a short time.”

Asuka remained silent, but her eldest sister’s words brought a smile to her face.

Meanwhile, the light from the corridor faded and waned, finally disappearing altogether.

“It is done,” said Bara with a smile. “His temporal sojourn, like hers, is over. Their journey united is just beginning.”


© Copyright 2019 C Wm Bird. All rights reserved.

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