The Moonlit Path

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

Chapter 4 (v.1) - swordplay

Submitted: September 13, 2019

Reads: 61

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Submitted: September 13, 2019

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“Have you seen Asuka this morning?”

The sound of her elder sister’s voice startled Mariko, momentarily distracting her from her task. “You may find her in the garden,” she replied. “I believe she’s practicing kendo.”

“Swordplay.” Midori said scornfully.

“She is very good at it,” Mariko beamed. “Her sword moves so quickly it’s a blur. Yesterday, with a single strike I saw her slice through seven large bamboo stalks she had tied together.”

 “I’ve seen her too,” Midori mused. “She is good, but honestly, is swordplay something a young girl should do…how can she ever hope to marry at that rate?"

“Actually,” Mariko declared, “she told father that she won’t marry, and that if not for him and our teahouse she would become a nun. She’s no longer the demure young girl we knew. She’s changed so much since returning from the Shrine of Autumn Mists….”

Midori quietly listened as her younger sister’s words trailed off.

“That Korean girl, Jangmi, gave her a new name; ‘Byul’,” Mariko continued, breaking the awkward silence. “It means ‘Star’.”

Midori frowned… “That explains why she wears those star shape ear rings.”

“They represent the samurai and the woodsman’s daughter,” declared Mariko. “Wearing them she feels closer to Sung Ji and Asako chan. Asuka believes they are now stars in ten goku (heaven).”

“After all this time she still carries him in her heart,” sighed Midori. “I really don’t understand.”

“Can love be truly understood?” asked Mariko. “Father said it can be sensed and felt, but not really understood.”

“I suppose he is right,” agreed Midori, then lapsed once more into silence. Presently, as if thinking aloud, she echoed her sister’s words… “Asuka has changed so much since returning from the Shrine of Autumn Mists."

Outside of the Teahouse, in the garden Sayaka laughed as Asuka severed another large bamboo with a downward angular strike of the samurai’s sword. “Wonderful…” exclaimed the old woman.

Asuka sheathed her blade and smiled before speaking, “I don’t understand Sayaka sama, why it entertains you so much when you can’t see.”

“I can hear,” she declared as she leaned back in her chair, “with a little effort. Your sword is quick and every action precise, but almost imperceptible. It’s as though you were trained by a Master since birth."

Before she completed the last sentence Asuka’s left hand abruptly gripped the hilt of her sword. She withdrew the weapon and made a horizontal strike less than an inch from the old woman’s nose.

Sayaka gasped.

“Forgive me,” Asuka began, “there was a large bee…”

“Did you kill it?”

“No,” she quickly replied. “I used the blunt side to knock it away.”

“Good,” said Sayaka. “You certainly have the true samurai spirit. I’m certain the bee meant no harm, curious most likely."

“Hai,” Asuka agreed. “But before I could think, my hand moved…”

She stopped speaking abruptly, distracted by Sayaka, who had suddenly turned her attention toward the garden gate at the young girl's back. Looking that direction, Asuka saw a young, dusty clothed swordsman standing beneath the lattice-work awning, staring at her sword.

“Who are you?” she asked defiantly.

“Where did you get that sword?” he asked on reply. “Let me see that.”

“You want to see it up close?” she said sarcastically as she took a step toward him… “It will be my pleasure to oblige you…”

“His name is Tadashi Yoshida,” Midori spoke as she gave him a gentle push from behind and entered the garden. “He’s looking for the Left Hand of God. I thought it best that he speaks to you.”

Sayaka laughed. “Life around here is about to get interesting again,” she declared as Asuka stubbornly glared at Tadashi.

“Hymph!” Asuka finally responded. “I can’t imagine why some rude vagabond would be looking for Ahn Sung Ji.”

“That sword…where did you get it?” Tadashi repeated.

“This sword,” said Asuka, “this one? You certainly are single minded. Is that all you can speak about?”

“The sword was inherited, young man,” Sayaka intervened, “more or less. The samurai knows she has it and is quite content.”

“No samurai would give up his sword. Where is he?” Tadashi asked her.

“With his ancestors,” Sayaka replied.

Before Tadashi could respond, Midori spoke up… “It certainly is hot today. I think we should all go inside. We can talk while we eat cold noodles."

Meanwhile, two days journey from Tsukimi, Usagi polished her wakizashi (short sword) while boiling rice on the previous night’s campfire. Seated on a log, she was doing her best to ignore the two men in black that she had tied to a nearby tree.

“Please…” one of them implored. “You’ve had us tied here all night. I need to go…”

“Nature calls…” said the other. “We need to pee…”

“Go ahead,” she told him, “both of you. Just pee.”

“Have mercy,” the first man moaned.”

“No problem. I’m not a mean girl. Just answer the question I asked you last night and I’ll consider untying you.”

“What question?”

“Who are you, as in what is your name.”

“Hey-U…”

“Hey me? There you go again. Evasion and disrespect. That’s exactly why you're tied to that tree, and you too,” she added, addressing his companion.

“That’s me,” he said quickly. “I don’t understand how you know my name but you’re right. And he’s my brother Hey-U. We’re from the Shrine of Autumn Mists.”

She ceased polishing and raised her head to look at them. “The Shrine of Autumn Mists? You’re from there?”

“Hai,” Yuu-to confirmed.

“Who is master there?”

“The nun Chiharu,” he answered.

Moon stood and slowly approached the pair. She eyed them both a long moment, then began to undo the rope that secured them.

“You look so pitiful sitting here,” she said. “Go relieve yourselves in the woods, then come back and I’ll serve you breakfast before we leave for the Shrine of Autumn Mists.”

“You’re going there too? Why…?” Yuu-to inquired.

“Because,” she replied, “it is my destination."

“That’s rather vague…” pondered Yuu-to.

“You know our names now,” Hey-U interrupted. “What is your name?”

“My name…” she said, then gave him a wink of an eye,”you can call me Miss Chiveous.”

 

 


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