The Morning after a storm is quite serene. The rain from the previous night still remains and causes everything to glisten in the newly risen sun. Such a scene can almost make one forget nightmares…almost.
“How I wish it could…”
Their shack had one room and was a bit off the ground by about 2 feet. It was supported by sturdy stout logs. They didn’t have a door, just a tarp that served to protect them from the elements. It wasn’t much but it was home.
He was seated outside of the tarp on the little “porch” of their residence overlooking the view. His long white hair practically was aglow in the morning light. The small building was tucked nicely into a mountain alcove. Nice place for it. There was shade and the wind wasn’t to bad.
“Ah…Ryoji, I see you up early this morning…”
The young man looked back to see his aged teacher hobble from inside. One could hear just about every pop of his old joints as he seated himself with the boy. He set his walking cane beside him once he made himself comfortable. The boy, he noticed, did not look all that rested. He had been seeing this more and more as of late.
“I…had the nightmare again last night…”
Ryoji turned his gaze back to the view of the valley. He didn’t want to close his eyes; for fear that the images would try to assert itself on him again. Dreams were supposed to fade when one woke up, not become so vivid that just closing your eyelids brings it back. Such visions haunted him.
“Ah…that is the 4th time this week my boy…”
The young man couldn’t help but sigh. He was right…they were happening more often and becoming more real, or so it seemed. He could swear he felt the claw marks on his back.
“I fear going to sleep again…”
The old man took out his pipe and lit it.
“That isn’t good. If something isn’t done, you will slip from sanity.”
The other sighed.
“What should I do then, Master?”
There was silence as the man inhaled deeply before exhaling a long stream of white smoke. He wanted to take a moment to think on how to respond to the boy. He didn’t want to give him any foolish suggestions. That wouldn’t help him in the slightest.
Finally he spoke again to the lad.
“Alas I can’t tell you what to do my boy. I can try and make another charm for you.”
Ryoji just gave a small smile and shook his head. This wasn’t something a charm could fix.
“Thank you Master, but I don’t think that will do anything. No…I don’t think waiting for madness to overtake my mind is what I want to do…”
There was a slight breeze that brought the sweet smell of the flower as everything was finally starting to dry. The valley looked like a rainbow.
Again they were both quiet. The nightmares were always a heavy subject. When Ryoji was younger, he would often cry for hours after waking up from them. If his mentor wasn’t there, he didn’t know what he would do.
After another moment, the younger took a deep breath.
“I am going to…I’m going to find it. I know it’s because of that place…”
The old man raised his brows and looked right in the youth’s eyes.
“Ah…that place you ran from…are you sure my boy?”
Ryoji nodded, though still looking out over the landscape.
“I don’t want to be tormented anymore. I ran, and it just is slowly taking hold of me. So I have to face it…where ever it is.”
After another puff of his pipe, the old master replied.
“Then that is what you need to do my boy. Just let me know what you need, and I will assist the best I can.”
The decision was made. He would journey out the following day and pray to at least get a peaceful sleep that night. He spent the whole day with his teacher preparing. Since the old man was a hermit, there wasn’t much he could offer the boy when it came to money. But he gave him all he could along with a map from his days of pilgrimage. Ryoji was always a good student and retained much of the knowledge his master gave him when it came to surviving in the wilderness.
That night, his prayers were answered and he was allowed to have a blissful sleep, the first time for that week.
The next morning, Ryoji readied his pack and cloak to leave. The last item was a black staff he was given when he was little. He always took it everywhere. The best thing about it is that it would change length when needed.
After securing his things, he gave his mentor a hug.
“I wish you fortune my son. I do hope we see each other again.”
Ryoji smiled as he parted. He was sad to leave this peaceful life, but he felt that this was the right thing to do. As anxious as he was, he was also very eager.
“I know we will Master!”
And so, the young man started his journey.
End of part One.
Part Two Coming soon!