I thought I'd share with you a short story I wrote yesterday. I plan on expanding it, but this could be considered the prologue or so. :) Stop by Rhian's to see who else is playing on the train today.
By: T.A. Chase
Tembo watched the man weave a pattern with the swords. Whirling and twisting his lithe body, the stranger danced to silent music and mesmerized Tembo. The man held a katana in one hand and a wakizahi in the other, but at times, his movements were so fast, the weapons became blurs. Tembo swayed in the doorway, breathless at the deadly beauty of the dance before him. The stranger froze when he spotted Tembo.
“Who are you?” Tembo knew it was impolite to ask so bluntly.
The stranger tucked the blades away and bowed. “I am Kouchou.”
Tembo bowed. “Will you teach me to dance with the swords?”
“It’s not for young silly men.” Kouchou frowned at him. “I’ve been sent from Lord Nagashon.”
“My uncle? Why would he send you here?” Now that he was no longer distracted by the flashing of the swords, he focused on Kouchou. His uncle’s emissary was brown and plain. Nothing stood out except for the man’s voice. It sounded like bells ringing in the Temple. The words Tembo heard next were spoken in such dulcet tones, he almost didn’t realize what had been said.
“He sent me here to kill your honorable grandfather.” Kouchou bowed again.
Tembo’s jaw dropped and fear beat like a drum in his heart. He turned to yell, but an arm wrapped around his waist. Looking down his nose, he saw the tip of Kouchou’s wakizahi pressed against his throat.
“But I must warn my grandfather’s guards.” Tembo didn’t want to die, but he understood his duty.
Kouchou shook his head. “You have heard of me, haven’t you?”
Tembo thought for a moment. “Kouchou? You are a legend.”
“I am a monster.” The emotion in Kouchou’s smooth voice brought tears to Tembo’s eyes. “Once I perched in a garden like this one, singing my joy of life for everyone to hear.”
He saw the plain man nodded towards his grandfather’s personal garden. Frowning, Tembo asked, “How is that possible? You’ve always been a person.”
Kouchou shook his head, eyes keeping a watchful gaze on the gates to the gardens. “Your uncle coveted my songs. I was once a simple bird, singing and building my nest. There was nothing special about my looks. You have seen the nightingale that lives in your grandfather’s garden. He has no special plumage. Nothing to make him stand out except for his voice.”
Tembo didn’t make a move as the wakizahi lowered and Kouchou stepped away.
“A dark sorcerer trapped me in this body and they made me kill for them. In this form, I’m lost. What am I to do? I just wish to return to my original life. I want to sing in the twilight as the sun dies and the moon is born again.” Kouchou sheathed the sword, turning his back on Tembo.
“Why tell me? Why warn me about my uncle’s plot against my grandfather?” He heard the sound of footsteps. Grandfather approached and Tembo hadn’t warned the guards yet.
“The Emperor, Lord Nagason, worries your grandfather plots against him.” Kouchou turned to face Tembo again.”I tell you this because I would make a deal with you.”
“A deal?” Tembo was young and didn’t have a lot of experience with people, but he didn’t think making deals with an assassin was smart.
“Yes. I will teach you all I know about the swords. In return, when the time is right, I need you to kill me.”
“Kill you?” He shook his head. “I can’t kill a little ant. There’s no way I’d be able to end your life.”
“I think you are stronger than you give yourself credit for being.” Kouchou walked further out into the garden.
Tembo watched in silent awe as several birds flew to the assassin, settling on his shoulders and outstretched hands. Their chirps and songs filled the air. A smile broke on Kouchou’s face and suddenly the plain brown man was no longer plain. He was beautiful.
A noise made them both whirl. Grandfather was entering the garden. Kouchou waved the birds away and looked at Tembo, hand reaching for one of his swords.
“What is it to be, young one? Do I end your grandfather’s life or will you end mine when I say it is time?”
Tembo understood he didn’t have any choice. He bowed again and said, “Honorable teacher, I would learn all you have to show me.”
Kouchou let the sword drop back in place, bowing to Tembo in return. “You have chosen the only path you believe open to you. I admire a man who would take on an unpleasant task to save someone he loved.”
“Honored grandson, who is this man?” Grandfather and his guards halted a few feet away.
Tembo knelt and bowed, touching his forehead to the ground. Kouchou took his place beside him. “Most honorable grandfather, this is Kouchou. He’s been sent by our esteemed Emperor to be my weapons teacher.”
Thus began the strangest and most wonderful time of Tembo’s life. Simply because a plain man with a nightingale’s voice asked him to kill him.copyright (c) 2007 TA Chase
Hope you enjoyed it. :)
Labels: Poetry Train