The fated battle is upon us. Those damned fools from the Sun Clan, with their self-righteous speeches and hypocritical acts are about to attack. With just the meek light from my lantern and the comforting guidance of the moon overhead, I make my way to the Castle, where the ancient powers of my Clan remain asleep. For many years, the Sun Clan has kept watch, getting traps in fear that a worthy follower of the Moon will arrive to free the great Kagachi. Likewise, we of the Moon do the same to theirs. All this time, we have kept our unsteady peace, toeing unspoken, imaginary lines in the sand. Until now.
The castle gates are unguarded, giving off the illusion of safety. The first challenge lies beyond those gates, at the barriers that keep out unwelcome intruders, or those like me: champions with the spirit to attempt to break the unwilling pact between Sun and Moon.
I step through the gates and then pause, eyes narrowing at the almost unperceivable shimmer in the air. Something is not right. I pick up a small rock by my feet and toss it forward into the distance. It sails through the air, and then with a buzz, disintegrates into dust.
A force barrier? How… trivial. No force barrier, no matter how powerful, is impenetrable. All it takes is a pair of well-trained eyes, and a talisman carefully aimed at the weakest point of the barrier, to bring the entire spell collapsing upon itself.
I adjust the crossbow slung over my shoulders and venture on, leaving behind me the protection of the moonlight to depend only on my lantern to show me my way.
I walk through a long passageway that seems to go on forever. There is a hazy light before me, and beyond that mist, a shadowy figure waves in greeting. Is that the spirit of my ancestor? What are you trying to tell me?
There be dangers ahead.
You will need help. You have eyes but do not see.
I do. And I have help. I have the pride of my clan, the blood of my family, the wits of my betters, and the blessings of my ancestors.
The spirit does not speak further. Instead, the mist clears to show me the next room I must enter.
Thank you. I bow in gratitude and carry on my mission.
The next door opens to daylight and a bare cliff. I see my target in the distance: the altar where the Great Kagachi is imprisoned. To do that, I will have to, what? Get to the other cliff. But how will I do that? Jump? Surely that distance is too great. Why have the intelligence gathered by my clansman not mention this?!
‘You have eyes but do not see,’ the spirit has warned. How have I answered? With great confidence in what I now question. If my eyes do not see, then- I shut my eyes and take my first step. My second step. And the next, and the next, and the next.
If my eyes do not see, then let my other senses guide me to the altar where I must be.
Photos by Ken Koh
By Tessie Tan
© POPCultureOnline 2019