The Moonlit Corridor

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

Chapter 8 (v.1) - rage

Submitted: August 22, 2019

Reads: 25

Comments: 1

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Submitted: August 22, 2019

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As Miyamoto immersed himself in the best ‘spirits’ the Twin Dragons provided, two kilometers away a different kind of spirit found herself possessed by an uncontrollable rage. On the abandoned, night shrouded toll bridge stood Asako chan surrounded by an intense, rapidly swirling blue mist, now tinged with rose red hues. In her desperate mind she kept repeating the same words, over and over: ‘It was he…It was he...It was he!!!

The mist turned blood red as her anger increased, becoming a maelstrom that swirled faster and faster, simultaneously rising until her spectral form was almost completely hidden. Earlier, she had been pulled back from a brief Peace of nothingness to sudden awareness; an awareness that shocked her senses and brought her close to the point of insanity.

Miyamoto had crossed the bridge at the onset of dusk, just before twilight, while she was unaware. Once aware, she managed to materialize just a moment before the horse on which he rode stepped from the bridge onto the pebble-strewn road that led to the city. The outlaw never saw her, nor sensed her presence. Self-absorbed as he was, at that moment blinded by anger and malice he could not have sensed anything related to the spiritual realm. Miyamoto had crossed the bridge at the onset of dusk, just before twilight, while she was unaware. Once aware, she managed to materialize just a moment before the horse on which he rode stepped from the bridge onto the pebble-strewn road that led to the city. The outlaw never saw her, nor sensed her presence. Self-absorbed as he was, at that moment blinded by anger and malice he could not have sensed anything related to the spiritual realm. Earlier, when he had reached the toll bridge, the horse first hesitated and then refused to cross. It infuriated Miyamoto to the point of mercilessly beating the animal with a hard leather crop while consistently digging his heals into its sides. Finally, its right rear flank bleeding profusely, the beast reluctantly moved forward, limping as it made its way across the oaken planks. Once reaching the opposite side, as he slowly disappeared into the gathering darkness, Miyamoto was completely oblivious of Asako’s presence, her fury, or her eyes glaring at his back.

It was the sudden knowledge of him being there, accompanied by the awareness that he carried something dear to her, something belonging to her that propelled her into the worst rage she had ever experienced. She sensed that he had the locket her father had given her, which held a small portrait of her mother, hand painted by Toshima. Her mind raced back to that other time and place; she recalled the miniature painting was a replica of a life-sized portrait her father had done of her mother before their wedding. When her mother died, the smaller portrait was his last painting… “Artists create from their hearts and spirits,” he told her. “When your mother left this world my heart and spirit were broken. I used the last of what I had to make that picture for the locket. Wearing it around your neck, your mother and I will always be close to your heart. She loved you more than life itself and through the locket she will always be with you.”

Thinking of that, and of how Miyamoto pulled the locket from her neck while attempting to physically assault her stirred uncontrollable emotions. Her shock and disbelief rendered her rigid and motionless, unable to conceive of what to do next. ‘Had the world been twisted completely inside out? How could any of this be…?’ she thought… ‘How could he have that locket?  Isn’t it enough that he and his men killed father, assaulted me and drove me to my death? How can Heaven allow such an evil man to go on living, hurting innocent people and beasts’?

As she watched the horse limp into the darkness, these thoughts plagued her consciousness, driving her closer to complete despair and madness than she had been since first becoming aware of her death.

Others were also unaware of Miyamoto crossing the bridge or of his presence in the area. While that event transpired Ahn Sung Ji was conversing with Kwai. As far as he knew, the outlaw who escaped him nearly three years ago was still running amok in Japan. So while others, like the stranger in the dark corner, could give finer details to the version of the story Jubai the Dreamer had begun in the Jade Teahouse, there were yet some details neither man could reveal to the attentive villagers who were listening, spellbound, as the tale unfolded. There was no one who knew Asako was there, on the bridge, as Miyamoto reached the opposite side. No one who could tell others what she was feeling, with the exception of Kwai. The wizard had the gift of knowing things beyond the understanding of ordinary men and women. How he knew, or how he came by his power of psychic perception, was beyond his comprehension. He only knew he had a gift and was compelled to use it to help others, as that was the only good reason he imagined he had such a gift to begin with. 

The storyteller in the shadows paused to take another drink from his cup, then continued the saga as the Jade Teahouse patrons gave their full attention… “Miles from the city and the Twin Dragons pub where Miyamoto was becoming drunk and surly, Sung Ji was returning from his visit with the Chinese mystic. On his way back to the city, he followed a different path from the one that earlier led him to Kwai’s modest home. Thealternate route took the swordsman into the hills just east of the city and Chiang’s Estate. The moon had risen, shedding its blue-white light on the mist shrouded ground. The mild, steady breeze was cooling to the skin, the air fresh and exhilarating. It was a good night for a stroll, although in the darkness he could not appreciate what he imagined was a pleasant view.

The landscape through which he walked was dotted with small trees that became larger the further he went. Soon he could see the twin towers of a huge edifice rising above the treetops to his right. Obviously some distance away, the immense structure appeared to be a castle or perhaps a temple or pagoda. He wasn’t quite certain. The hills of the steep terrain through which he now trekked, like the trees, were larger than when he first left the main road. Somewhat hidden by those hills, towering trees and the darkness of night, the tiered building appeared ominous and forbidding, almost threatening. That would have been enough to dissuade an ordinary man from further investigation, but Sung Ji was not an ordinary man. In his travels, no matter where he happened to be, he always found time to study the people, their culture, customs, art and architecture. The building beyond the trees intrigued him. In fact, the samurai believed it demanded his attention, thus he was compelled to have a closer look.

Passing just beyond the trees he entered a bamboo forest, some of the stalks reaching more than thirty or forty feet above him; it was difficult to discern in the fog shrouded darkness. The bamboo ended at the ten foot high, handcrafted stone and mortar wall that surrounded the buildings and grounds. What at first sight appeared to be a single structure he discovered was in fact one of a series of buildings. The largest one with the tallest tower was no doubt a temple. Not wishing to enter like a thief he walked along the outside wall until he discovered the torii and gateway, above which he saw a sign made up of Chinese characters that read ‘Temple Moon’. He passed beneath the tori and paused at the door of the massive gateway to chime the visitor’s bell. After three times without responsehe tried thedoor and foundit unsecured. He opened it and passed beyond. In spite of the darkness, in the lunar glow he could see the grounds had been kept clean of debris. The steps leading to the landing and doors of the main building were clean, as if having recently been swept. Close to the temple he could just barely see what he imagined to be gravestones, which was common for Monasteries or holy places.

Although there were signs of maintenance, the place appeared deserted. No light showed through the rice paper of the windows of the main building and the ornate front doors were locked and secured. Sung Ji pulled the leather strap of the temple announcement bell three times without result. Like when he rang the visitor’s bell at the front gate, no one responded. Either those who maintained the site were sound sleepers, or perhaps it was not their habit to answer the bell at such a late hour. And because the time was late, and the samurai not certain just how far he was from the city, he determined that the wisest thing to do at the moment was find a place he could lay his cloak on the ground and rest. The sound of the breeze stirring the slender leaves of the bamboo was pleasing to his ears and relaxing. ‘I should sleep well,’ he imagined. In the light of day he could see more, better appreciate the beauty of the temple buildings and grounds, and perhaps even find a well where he could quench his thirst.

By the time the samurai finished inspecting the grounds of the Moon Temple and was preparing to sleep, miles away in the city at the Twin Dragons pub Miyamoto had already successfully managed to alienate more a handful of patrons. After touching a serving girl inappropriately, and eventually the landlord’s daughter, he found himself facing the points of at least five swords and a trio of daggers. Having drawn his own sword he backed his way to the exit, and once there began screaming and swinging the blade erratically before turning and crashing headlong through the door, tearing it from its hinges. Once outside he kept running, leaving the lame stolen horse behind. Having absolutely no idea where he was going he rushed into the night-darkened streets, eventually turning into an even darker alleyway in an attempt to escape the group of angry, sword-wielding men at his back. For an instant he managed to elude them, until, running blindly he tripped and fell into a makeshift bamboo shelter, startling and rudely awakening the man inside. The sleeper awoke, yelling curses and screaming… “Get out of my house!”

His raspy voice echoed as Miyamoto scrambled to his feet and continued running, fired on by the approaching sounds and cries of the men who had chased him from the Twin Dragons. Soon managing to put a couple of hundred yards between himself and his pursuers, Miyamoto quickly gained a second wind when he heard the previously sleeping beggar in the bamboo shelter shout; “He went that way…He smashed my house!!”

As the inebriated outlaw picked up the pace, stumbling haphazardly along, he was oblivious of the old woman seated on her second story balcony, stroking her fat Persian cat and laughing with glee as she eyed the chase. Miyamoto, so intent on eluding pursuers and bent on escape could care less about his surroundings or if others observed his frenzied flight. Running headlong through the streets and just as quickly running out of breath, his panic ridden mind reasoned the best thing to do was find a good hiding place.  Just a few feet ahead he spied the mouth of another alley. Reaching it he made an abrupt turn into the darkened corridor and moving at full speed covered at least twenty feet before briskly slamming into a stone wall. As he lay there in the dark slipping into unconsciousness he was completely hidden from the mob chasing him as they passed the entrance of the dead end alley. While the sound of their running feet and angry shouts echoed into the night and distance, the drunken outlaw spiraled into the merciful shelter of a deep sleep.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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