"We don't care over your mission details... Compassion and wisdom are the only weapons you will find here."
The brass board shone dimnly in the North-eastern Jade Hazelnut Tree Temple gate, standing between two gas-lit lamps. The motto was written in two versions: Northern Bellanian elegant strokes of syllabic, Sino ideographic characters and in the Sino Japanese kanji.
The trees surrounding the gates made the otherwise simple gates seem majestic and solemn. Along with the oil lamps that were made from ancient alabaster stone, the outer temple gardens were simplistic and yet, oneiric, as if the people who had planted the gingko trees, the pines, the bamboo, and the cherry blossoms were aware how a wooden and stone temple's effect with five pavilion would create in an incautious watcher.
Closing discreetly the wooden thick sliding door, the short and curvy woman wearing a beautiful and yet simple white exquisite tunic grasped her long five hundred and twenty two carnelian mala. Her long orange-coloured sash was glowing. Placing the Buddhist mala against her lips, Roshini muttered the Chinese version of “Om mani padme hum”, tears flowing through her eyes. Her knees were trembling, as though she had seen the end of world.
The High-Priestess had a nightmare, a retelling of her memory. She had seen her early life as a young cy-bata. In the dream, she was on her knees, a long stream of blood staining the precious white snow around her soft, humble dark hooded tunic. Her gloved hands were caressing numbly and absent-mindedly her brother’s cadaverous pale and sharp face. His tight, practical black kimono was stained with warm, deep and burning blood. Two dead emeralds were staring back at her, his small, firm lips in a soft, smiling expression. Both his legs and his chest were punctured with daggers, kunai knives, and poisonous arrows.
The twelve year old was crying endlessly, humming a soft, unknown and wordless lullaby. It was eerie and twisted. Despite the fact her brother had the complexion and the shape of a thirtyish man, Fen Li stayed as though she was a twelve year old. And yet, she was cradling the old man’s dead, wounded body.
How Roshini dreaded the north! In that dream, hundreds of shadows laughed evilly at her…As if they were mocking her.
It was all so cruel…
When she woke up, Roshini knew she no longer was a twelve year old. It had been over one thousand eight hundred years since her brother had been abducted. Her brother had been forced to murder her… And he got slaughtered instead!
Then… Die! After centuries, those two words pierced through her heart. Roshini knew her brother would never say that to her, that was merely the Oni in him hissing those words. And yet, they had crushed through her soul! Her brother had but vanished… This cruel Onisamatzeka had had replaced her brother!
« Qing was cruel even before he got abducted… He always tried to manipulate people into believing I was the one pestering him. I cannot help to sympathise with him though… The people in the village never wanted him near, while I was only called fat and big footed.»
The Jaze Hazelnut Tree Temple had been built twenty four years before Fen Li was born. Most of the designers were considered to be direct followers of Buddha’s enlightened disciples. It was astounding how the priestesses had known of basic hygiene. Roshini had engraved with her very hands the Buddhist mantras in Sanskrit across those graceful wooden Gingko pillars. Caressing with her fingers the ancient product of her work, the kinnara smiled lightly. Roshini was certain that had it not been for that meditative, single work, she had ran away. She would had never been able to reach the wisdom she had attained.
« How long…? » She asked to herself while cleaning her face in the warm bamboo sculptured bucket with water.
She had been plagued lately with sinful dreams… The more she chanted the beautiful, ethereal Lotus Sutra, the more her past Human experiences haunted her in her dreams.
« That was centuries ago, my memory of that pain is as mossy and as eternal as these walls… And Master Ishikawa was always protective and so stern of me… » She would like to think of her memory as an apprentice to a man… Well…This father figure of hers could be considered a ninja in this century!
What would the broken twelve year old say if she saw what became of Master Ishikawa’s dream? The naïve and ambitious Fen Li would have been astonished at what the humble Jade Hazelnut Tree temple became.
Roshini remained short as she once was as a teenager, her thighs wide and her waist curvy. No one called her “Little Lisaiten Lee”, their voices chuckling in the shades of the Northern peaceful and misty village. Her golden swan-like wings gave a solemn, serious appearance to her hexagonal, round face.
And yet, many other kinnara respected her. Her muscled shoulders were noticeable, especially if she was flexing her arms. In the midst of the summer, the young dryads would help the teenage Human priestesses practising the yoga dances. Roshini was the most accomplished dancer within the temple’s protected grounds. Her golden swan wings would flutter in the misty summer dawn, slowly and gracefully. Obviously the choreography that was there shown had nothing to do with Onisamatzeka, North-western Bellanian or North-eastern dances.
Yet, there were times when Roshini would have missed dancing like the warrior communities of Losjafhden and Shunamari.
Her rich voice echoed dreamily in the tones and chords of the North:
Kato Enok and Swerdinada,
The blue rose ninja and the Rainbow Princess…
What the world will do with these passionate souls?
Enok loves Swerdi,
Swerdi has become Enok
Infatuating, inflaming love!
Wild, dark North
And the warm, gentle South,
These two are Bellanária personified!
The harmonious, soulful Northern-sounding lyrics came out of the sudden, as her long golden wings sprinkled the golden sparkling dust. Shèng Yù Fěn, the kinnara wing’s dust. Roshini frowned at the fact she had released a considerable amount of it.
Hastily Roshini took a feathery golden-painted wooded brush and started to search in the graceful and realistic dragon-legged safe.
« Oh thank all the Bodhisattvas there is always five emergency vials in the shelf. The Shèng Yù Fěn is an unstable, powerful potion ingredient! » Roshini had already seen what the dust could do when placed in Black Magic poisons. In the old Gingko wood-made safe that was where she kept all of her kinnara wing dust.
Taking a small glance at the circular greenish bamboo window-panes, Roshini noticed how the devastating storm had given away to a turquoise and beige-coloured morning. Her round, hexagonal, feminine face was gradually reflected in the small mirror.
Roshini appeared to be in her early thirties. Whilst the young Fen Li might had appeared innocent and lovely with her big almond, tender, friendly and brave eyes, the over one thousand eight hundred year old fairy had a bitter shine in her greenish almond-shaped eyes.
During her fiftieth decade, a small beauty mark had appeared a few inches next to her left nostril.
Of course, the one hundred and eight guest rooms were southwest divisions in the temple. Roshini always took care there were enough leave-flavoured pillows with bamboo-made mats covered by fresh cotton coverlets or homemade silk blankets. Roshini herself slept in one of those typical Bellanian futon.
The small brass wind-chimes tinkled in a soft, melodious and relaxing sound.
Someone was trying to touch the Buddhist metal bowls. Centuries ago, the wind and the laws of physics caused anyone who touched the metal gates to be denounced in the immense and majestic monastery grounds.
The six thundering roars of a gong echoed through the whole temple. The hour of the Rabbit drew closer…Sunrise.
Roshini had carefully ordered the motto to be written both in Japanese and in Northern Bellanian. She truly hoped that whatever the chaos that Shunamari was immersed in, it would never disturb the training of the future kinnara and warriors. The low-ranking Human female guards were so easily convinced by the defeated Northern ninja… Although the Jade Hazelnut Tree was not meant to be seen by the common Human eye, even a Human shinobi could easily discover the secret behind the powerful mist barrier spell.
This was why the High-Priestess rushed throughout the water-propelled mechanical wooden and deceptively simplistic corridors. Now, the immense hazelnut tree was alive, and Roshini together with other industrious priestesses, had created a way to allow the pavilions to float propelled by the powerful, centuries old tree and the energy she created from unifying wind, earth and water. The Jade Hazelnut Tree temple was not a single building but a true living being. The four element pavilions would move according to the Twelve Chinese Zodiac signs.
This was why it was most difficult for a traveller who found the “vanishing temple” to find his way back to it again: if he (or she) arrived at a completely different day, in a different year season, the temple would be completely different from what he – or she – had seen.
Thus, the winged kinnara had a true appropriate home. The low-ranking female guards were trained exclusively to change their shift so they could easily enter into one of the moving pavilions.
« Dear… I only wished it was the mother of the Rainbow Princess’s reincarnation. But it will take a few hundred years, if not two hundred! » Roshini heaved an exhausted sigh.
Her visions were more practical… A storm and the rumbling deep voice of a dragon humming an ancient melody. The waves rolled as if they were rumbling a mystical, dramatically music. Thundering, mysterious and low rumble of music as the waves crushed the shores of Yotanji.
The shores of Yotanji were located to the North-west of the great Bellanian Isle, the centre of the surprisingly strong Empire. No matter how much older Roshini, she could feel the northern warriors and their ninja were the reason why there were few European ships who dared to sail close to the Northern Bellanian shores. A hundred years ago, a dreadful massacre had made the European settlers forget any hopes of conquering all the Bellanian isles. During that time, the stunning black and golden Von Tifon flag had waved proudly, the northern Shunamari Duke’s ships fighting alongside the ones of the exiled ruthless Japanese ninja Clans. The thundering of the powerful Northern Bellanian wooden fortress’s canons were “devilish” and fiendish to the Russian battleships.
The Duke of Shunamari was a descendant of German pirates. And yet his blood also traces of the Duke of Bavaria and of the Bellanian Storm God, Lord Jutierkajam. The falcon storm god rivalled in popularity with the dragon god, Lord Jetwas. And for century, generation upon generation, the family Von Tifon had dedicated their lives in paying the Storm falcon God their thanks.
Shunamari, the land of the crafty and cunning Saburou Di Euncätzio (the founder of both the Murakami and the Kato ninja clans) and the land of powerful musician and warrior that had had been dead for centuries, Yasunori Saburou. No longer the silvery dragon or the black magnolia flapped in imposing flags in the Shunamari lands or in the North-eastern towns of Cy-bata Teito or Lisaiten. Now the neighbouring towns of Lisaiten and Cy-bata Teito were ruled by humans , and not by Onisamatzeka. It had been in the twelfth century that the Murakami and the Kato clans had became less powerful.
And yet, the Shunamari Falcons were a timid, and yet, eerie reminder of the powerful black sorcerers of the ancient days when Roshini was but six centuries old!
These shinobi had nowhere to go but to live in Shunamari. They were fighting for their land.
In the fifth day of June of 1686, a powerful European armada consisted of Spanish, Italian ships and Russian ships had been reduced to a pile of sunken wood and an immense ominous pool of blood could be seen in the far city of Merlonograd as thousands of corpses of European soldiers floated in the blood coloured sea. Roshini had witnessed that battle with her very eyes. Centuries of war had given her the faint hope the dreadful slaughter the Shunamarians and the native Bellanians had committed was for a greater purpose.
No bitter enemies were more begrudged or crueller than the Merlonotov family against the “heathen and treacherous” Duke Rüdiger Von Tifon. To the Russian Empire, Shunamari and the Yotanji Bay was truly the “Tartarus Realm” many ancient Greeks told of…
The Chinese dragons were much more intelligent and more powerful than the serpent beings that inhabited the Southern Bellanian isles. A silvery reptile dragon appeared in the Yotanji Bay, his long and majestic scales more similar to the ones Roshini had seen in the Russian books. This serpentine creature was far more imposing than the wise Master Ishikawa in his draconic form, his wings reminiscing those of a bat to a surprised swan-winged fairy.
« After hundreds of years, the Merlonotov family will see why… Centuries and centuries waiting for my vengeance! Flowery-named maiden born in the Month of Jetwas, with my hatred seeded on her heart, the land will shiver at her blood-thirsty dance. » A dreadful, and yet melodic thundering sound came in the form of words. Although the fairy had no idea what sort of language was that, she could almost guess what they meant.
The Kinnara Queen could feel the imposing, majestic creature was seething with hatred and lust for blood.
Was this Lord Jetwas’s voice? No, the former husband of Lady Shamanarta would never speak with this voice…? Why in the world he was speaking about the Merlonotov?