Book II 十八 Part 18 (Path)

Hime’s word had been true — he had neither seen nor heard another soul for the last forty hours. Shichi wrapped his arms around his stomach. It was groaning again. The rice balls Yuu had brought the previous night had been his only sustenance in days. He had gone without eating before. Even so, there was one thing he desperately needed — water.

Through the hole in the screen, he had seen the sky go gray with clouds. He longed for them to erupt, to release their riches onto the earth below. They had teased him throughout the day, rumbling and drifting with not a drop to show for it. Shichi curled forward, hugging his body in an attempt to silence his own gut.

Continue Reading →

Book II 十七 Part 17 (Claw)

A single day passed, each minute dragging like a boulder through the mud. Shichi had once again foregone a meal, undeterred as the girl began to cry. Even when her tears evolved into a tantrum, he did not waver, ensuring a night of well-earned stomach pains. The ache in his gut was trivial. He had spend a lifetime bending to others, yet this was one place where he would rather break.

In response to his defiance, Hime had kept him locked in the tea house for the day. He longed to return to the manor, not in search of food, but for another chance to speak with Yuu. He wondered, if an opportunity to escape arose, if he would be willing to leave without seeing her once more.

It was evening when the entrance latch rattled open. The guard outside made no effort to stoop and only his legs were visible through the small door.

“Out,” was all the man said. Shichi complied, greeted by two blades as he exited the tea house. Shichi resisted the urge to sigh. It seemed nothing in the jinya could be done without an gratuitous dose of theatrics.

Continue Reading →