A good person leaves an imprint on the people they are around. A feeling of emptiness in their heart. A better person leaves a part of themselves with you, engraving themselves and their ideals into your heart and mind, becoming a part of you.
I was walking along an old and overgrown path that soon merged into a larger, more uniform and busier one. I slipped into the crowd and started towards my destination. Just then I found you.
A young boy had slipped and fallen. The brass coins he was previously counting in his hands flew across the dirt trail. I kneeled down and helped the boy collect his money.
“This is your first time going to the market alone, isn’t it?” I remarked. You nodded and smiled.
“Thank you for helping me.” You said as you finished pocketing your coins.
“No matter…” I watched you start back on your path, shuffling next to the crowd trying to get in, bumping and bouncing off the people refusing to make way. Thoughts of going my way and leaving you went through my head. Acting like that and making those choices were my way at this point, but you looked so confused and scared.
I stood and caught up with you. You looked at me hopefully. “You know, it’s a very dangerous market we’re going to. I sure could use a partner to travel with.” I waved at you to follow me and you smiled an infectious smile. We started walking down the road together.
“My name is Asao.” You introduced.
“I am Kenshi. Nice to make your acquaintance, Asao.” We headed towards the gate, a large ornamental wooden structure painted red and atop it sat a man on a pedestal, focusing. In between its large pillars stood a gateway made of fog.
“What is he doing?” You asked.
“He is one of Nihon’s many samurais gifted with an ember of Lady Amaterasu. He and his twin brother have the power to link themselves to each other. Creating a portal that can instantly take us from our homes to the great bay. They’re very famous for linking the east to the west of Nihon.”
“Wow.” You looked down for a moment in thought, and then back to me. “Could I have a power like that?”
“Only Men with brave hearts and kind souls are granted an ember. So yes, I believe you will when you turn of age.” You smiled at me as we made our way through the gate. We engulfed ourselves in the fog. And soon after we emerged to the smell of seawater and the sound of traders yelling for our attention.
We headed towards a small shack with assorted fishes and sea creatures. “So, why does Lady Amaterasu give us these parts of herself?” You asked.
“Do you see the sun.” I pointed towards the horizon. The sun was locked at an eternal set, the sky a permanent and beautiful orange.
“Lady Amaterasu is the sun. She gives us bountiful harvest and casts the evil away.” I sat some coins on the merchant’s table. He gave me a small wrapped bundle of fish. “Evil had found a way to escape her sight and went to attack her. Climbing to her palace at the top of mt.fuji. The only way to expunge these monsters was to have her people kill them.” we bought a few more items.
“Then why is the sun setting?” You had become worried.
I looked back at the setting sun. “We’ve been too afraid of the Yokai to help her, only protecting ourselves with her powers. I think she needs help.”
“We’ll help her, right?” You looked at me, worried.
“Of course.” I don’t know if I was lying to you or not. I don’t know if I should have lied to you or not. “But enough of that. We haven’t even talked about girls yet.” Your face reddened and I failed to hold in a chuckle.
“Well…” You started.
“Oooh, I can already tell this will be interesting!” I laughed. You grew more embarrassed and smiled with beet red cheeks.
“There’s this one girl. We talk a little bit but I don’t think she knows I like her…”
“Well, who knows, maybe she has just as much of a crush on you.” I looked at you and you shied away. Realizing something you fumbled through your pockets.
“Here!” You showed me your hand which held a few brass coins. “I brought extra brass to buy her flowers!” I raised my eyebrows.
“Very poetic, I can see the marriage now.” you smiled and I laughed. “In that case, I think we need to take a trip to the florist.” I pointed towards a small shack covered in all different types of flowers and shrubbery. “But first, rice.” We walked towards the nearest rice shop and bought a bag of rice for you.
“And for you sir?” The man asked. I felt my bag. Only twelve brass… I pulled out six brass coins from my pocket “Just a small sack.” I Put the small canvas bag of rice in my bag and faked surprise. “It seems I have some extra brass.” I looked down and handed you the money. “Now we can get twice as many flowers.” You excitedly ran over to the flower shop and started eyeing the flora. Slowly your excitement turned to worry.
“What kind of flowers do girls like?” You looked overwhelmed. I pointed towards a bundle if white and purple flowers. “Women love sun lilies. It’s Lady Amaterasu’s favorite flower as well.” I handed you the mass of flowers and you placed your coins on the table and we started walking home.
“Wait, don’t you want to buy some for your wife?” You assumed.
I stopped walking. “Oh… I never married…” I fastened my bag and toyed with the straps.
“Oh, I’m very sorry…” You sat the lilies carefully in your small bag on top of your other food.
I looked down at you. “You’re forgiven.” We were silent for a moment. “How beautiful is this girl of yours?” I changed the subject.
You looked back up at me and smiled. “Oh, the most beautiful I’ve ever seen!”
You kept explaining her beauty to me gleefully, but before we knew it we had returned to the red gate.
We were smiling and I had one of the best day’s I’d have had in a while.
As we were ending our conversation the people and merchants eyes wandered to the horizon. They gasped and chattered. As I looked at the sea-line I saw the sun moving, a sight I hadn’t seen in years, a sight you probably never saw. “Boy, do you see thi-” I looked back at you and you had collapsed to the ground.
Vomiting a black substance, you shivered and looked up at me. “Kenshi…” wretching again you starting convulsing and gagging. Bones started snapping and regrowing larger and larger, your skin stretched and turned a brittle, smoky, and black.
You stood to your feet, a ten-foot tall creature hideous and sneering. Your pig-like snout twitched and sniffed. Glassy eyes floated around in your skull interpreting the world like new. You started moaning and fumbling towards me, gnawing your broken and yellow teeth.
I stepped back. My heart fluttered and my mind drew blank. My stomach turned and I felt hazy.
You started swinging your grotesque arms at me, reaching for me. I stepped farther back and bumped into a fisherman’s stand. People around me ran and screamed.
I noticed a fishing spear lying on the table and grabbed it.
You stumbled closer towards me. I pointed my spear in expectation. “Asao… Please…” I begged you, hoping for anything to be brought back into your mind.
I had no other options. I gripped the spear tightly and braced my feet. I readied myself to strike.
But I was interrupted by the samurai awaking from his meditation at the top of his pedestal. He drew his katana and lunged off his perch at you. Plunging his sword into your spine he slid down your back. You let out a deafening screech and fell to the ground.
You wheezed your last breath and mumbled. I still don’t know if it was just my imagination or if you said my name.
That day the sun set. Our unstable world changed and it was for the worse.
Rest well Asao. You will always be a part of me.