The Moonlit Path

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

Chapter 11 (v.1) - Ruse

Submitted: October 09, 2019

Reads: 15

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Submitted: October 09, 2019

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“I’m uncertain about the best plan of action,” Ai declared. “I could leave Kasumi here, or return her to Kenji Tanaka temporarily, until we’ve settled the matter of Yukari Yoshida’s mirror.”

“She can stay if you wish,” Chiharu assured her.

“That’s good. Although perhaps I should take her to Dame Sanada’s estate. Then I could explain this situation to my father. I prefer that he be the one to ask Hsiao if we can bring the remaining looking glass to the Edo Shrine.”

“That would perhaps be best,” said the nun.

Ai went silent a moment while considering her options, then decided that... "No. That would take too much time. I can do this myself."

Chiharu smiled, then suggested she take Mifune with her. "...and leave Kasumi here. She's enjoying herself and loves spending time with Silence. I can send someone to Kenji’s farm to explain things. Sky and Ice should be returning here soon, maybe with Asuka. Something tells me she will insist on taking part in this odious endeavor.”

“I agree,” Ai said thoughtfully. “I don’t know her well, but recall when meeting her in Tsukimi for the samurai’s burial that she was an extremely dedicated follower. I believe she would want to see this through until the end.”

 

Some distance away, at the Edo Shrine, Samayo-so had joined Hsiao and Souta for breakfast… “I’m surprised you’re starting the day this early,” he said. “Are you always so busy at night?”

“I don’t understand,” Hsiao replied.

“We all retired the same time last night,” Souta added nervously.

“Ah so….” Samayo-so mused.

“Why did you ask?” inquired Hsiao.

“I heard noises…banging and slamming.”

Souta began to speak but was cut off abruptly by Hsiao… “Perhaps you were dreaming,” said the abbot, “or maybe heard noises from the forest.”

“Perhaps…” Samayo-so repeated slowly, before going silent.

Judging from Souta and Hsiao’s reaction, he reasoned they didn’t wish to discuss the matter. He could respect that, but his curious nature compelled him to investigate. ‘I love a good mystery…’ he thought quietly to himself.

Souta remained quiet as well, and like the wandering monk, he was reflecting. He thought about the night before, when he was awakened by an uneasy feeling. When he opened his eyes he was shocked to see the restless spirit of Ayaka standing just a few inches from where he lay. She had a frightened and confused expression, and when she realized he saw her she raised an arm and pointed to the door.

He gasped in fright and she immediately disappeared. Afterward, realizing that she was obviously trying to tell him something, he regretted hisreaction. Now he wondered if the best thing to do was tell Hsiao about the incident, and after giving it a little thought he decided that he should. He just wasn’t certain where to begin, knowing that the Abbot would be disappointed that he failed to tell sooner.

The day passed quickly and soon it was time to retire for the night. Weary from the day’s work Samyao-so soon drifted off to an uneasy sleep, plagued by nightmares of dark shadows and dreadful demons, until finally rudely awakened by a loud noise. The room was quiet as he briefly rubbed his eyes while straining his ears for the slightest sound. He stood up and yawned as he stretched out his arms, then flinched when he heard a sudden pounding, as if someone was striking a heavy wooden door with a balled up fist.

He left his room and waited in the hall until he heard another sound, then set out in the direction it had come from. He continued like that, pausing then following the echo until he reached a set of stairs leading to a lower level. There was no light, so he was forced to descend the steps slowly while groping with his hands along the wall. The noise had ceased, but once he reached the bottom he heard voices and followed them to a door. When he touched it they went silent. A moment later he heard whispering.

“Is there someone there?” he asked.

“Help me…”

It was a woman’s voice, distressed…

“What can I do?” he wondered. “What do you need?”

“Open the door,” she implored him. “Those monks are holding me prisoner.”

“Why?” Samayo-so asked. “Why would they do that?”

“Why?” she repeated scornfully. “Why would men be holding a woman against her will? Think about it…”

He did, and imagined the worst… “Ah so,” he replied. That is most unbefitting of holy men.”

“Holy men…” she hissed, then once again pleaded, “can you open the door?”

“Hai,” he responded as he fumbled in the dark for the latch, never for a moment wondering why the door was bolted from the outside.

On the floor above, Souta, awaked by an intense feeling of dread, is startled to see Ayaka standing beside his pallet. A concerned expression masked her features as she slowly lifted an arm and pointed to the door. As he looked that direction she faded away and the room returned to darkness.


© Copyright 2019 C Wm Bird. All rights reserved.

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