30 September, 2012 by katelaity
“The samurai peered into the darkness. There could be no doubt about it. The blue light flickered far away down in the depths of the cave.”
“What was it?” Maggiormente could not stop himself from asking.
For once, Eduardo did not shush him, but also blurted out, “I think I know! I am almost sure of it.” His tail whipped around to show his excitement.
Myojo smiled and her hands halted. “Are you sure?”
Her audience found themselves at once chastened. “Perhaps we should wait to see,” the alchemist muttered. He did not want the magic to end, that was for sure—not a moment before it had to do. His lion nodded his assent. Let the story continue.
Myojo grinned in triumph. Seito whirred a little sound that might have sounded suspiciously smug, too, but no one thought any the worse of her. Indeed it had been well earned.
“The samurai began the slow trek down the cave entrance. The way had great peril as the rock surface varied much and many loose stones threatened to roll across his path and block the way.
“Carefully he trod down the path and the flicker of blue light grew stronger. He could see a shape in the light. His heart leapt up because he became certain that the shape was that of a woman.
“The samurai did not know whether the demon could sense his presence, thus he moved with care, but he thanked the hare who had shown him the way. How kind the little creature had been! He thanked his wife, too—it was her wise example that had guided him so far.
Seito’s song managed to capture the enclosed space of the cave and the hope that had sprung again in the samurai’s heart. The trill raised the hair’s on Maggiormente’s neck and he thrilled again to the excitement of the adventure.
“The samurai came around the last turn and saw there the woman of almost unearthly beauty. Her face offered a grimace of fear and pain but it could not diminish her beauty which took light from something deep inside her. The samurai looked to the chains that held her. This was old magic, indeed.”
Seito’s song picked up a theme of melancholy and awe. The samurai became vivid in the sweep of Myojo’s hands. So too did the beautiful woman cowering against the cave wall, chained by an unearthly evil. The demon had done this.
“The samurai bowed low before the woman. ‘I have come on behalf of the emperor, who wishes you to be rescued.’
“The woman recovered herself enough to acknowledge his obeisance, but shook her head sorrowfully. ‘The demon who enslaved me here set his seal upon these chains.’ She rattled them in vain. ‘No human hand can free me from these bonds.’ Her tears flowed anew at the pronouncement of her terrible fate.
“The samurai would not accept the truth of this and sought at once to attack the chains. His sword clanged against the rock and the chains, but could do nothing to release her, setting off a shower of sparks but making no mark even upon the links. He was at a loss.
“Just then a small sound behind him made him turn. There he saw the young hare once again. She had been joined by all her family, the little kits crowding around her. They were frightened by the presence of the humans, but they were also excited to be there. At once they set to nibbling at the chains. The samurai stared. Surely they could not have any effect on the heavy iron chains!
“The chains however were not iron, but made of old magic. The rabbits made quick work of the links, chewing away at the bonds until they fell from the arms of the woman who cried again, this time with relief and delight. She picked up the rabbits one by one and kissed them each on the forehead.
“This is why to this day you will find the mark of the goddess on the forehead of exceptional hares, for goddess she was, sister of Amaterasu, and her seal was that of good luck and abundance.
“The samurai took her hand and they left the same way he had made his uncertain journey into the mountain. The rabbits followed behind them and skipped into the green meadow behind them, turning somersaults of delight.
“The samurai begged the woman to take a seat upon Dawn’s Light, preparing to lead her back to the emperor’s palace. But the woman only laughed. The samurai was distressed. Having been able to free her from the torment of the demon, it seemed an unutterable sorrow not to be able to bring her to his emperor.”
“Oh, that is wrong!” Eduardo blurted out.
“Shhh,” the alchemist threatedned.
Myojo smiled broadly. “The woman said to the samurai, ‘Mount your horse, good man. I shall fly by your side until we return to the palace of the emperor and all will be well with us all and all abundance shall come to your land and your people.’
“The samurai felt such gladness in his heart at her words that he could not speak.”