Though the woods were still thick with the morning mists of early fall my feet continued there pace trekking on the brown grass still wet with night's tears. The old Forest of Apparitions stood still and silent as time. The magnificent trees already bear for the cold months ahead.
Up ahead my eyes could make out the fairy ring, the grass inside still green as an emerald, for this area did not know time as the living world. Kneeling before the circle I closed my eyes and recited the prayer my lips knew by heart. Opening my eyes I stared at the radius with baffled confusion.
My offering had been taken with no return! Quickly my mind began to search for any reasons as to what I may have done to offend the fairies. They had always exchanged with me before, even as a child when my actions had not been as good as they were mischievous.
"Looking for this?"
Without thinking of consequence I immediately commanded the air to lift me up to safety. Spinning around in levitation I directed a mighty gust toward the direction of the voice. I saw a shadowy silhouette side--step in defense. 'He had known it was me wind attacking…At least I know I wasn't spied on by a human, but that means…"
"You have to be have'n guts to be crossing into this part of living world, demon. Times of war be approaching soon."
I heard him make a fowl snicker before he walked out of the shadows. "Do you really think I came to this filthy feed store as a ignorant tourist?"
"Your matter of ignorance will be in debate till ye tell me who ye are?"
"I guess that would be appropriate," The dark haired man smirked coming out from behind the tress. "Seeing as I already know quite a bit about you, Jin the wind demon."
All of the warning signs seemed to be coming into my head at once. "Who are ye?"
"My name is Risho," He smirked. "And I am the heir to the title of Earth Master for the shinobi of the demon plane."
"What would a mercenary be want'n with me?"
"Tsk, tsk." He smiled. "Don't assume such horrible acts. I am calling on you merely as fellow apparition. As you said times are changing, wouldn't you like to be well invested in such time?"
"I'm offering you a job."
"Risho the former Master of Earth?" Ayame stared.
"That's right." Jin shuddered, at the memory which had began a certain path of events.
"And was that when you began your time as a shinobi?"
"Nah, I had me family to be with and protect. I didn't quite know what was going on with that biggie at the time, but I knew it was no good. Till then I just set me heart on the two things all Irish value."
"And what's that?"
"Land and family."
Keeping an old tune in my whistle that my Da use to sing, I continued to guide my mare through the soil. The arthritis in her joints were as bad as my Ma's had been, but I had to get that field plowed and planted before it turned even colder.
"That's it my Sammy girl." I encouraged as we continued further up hill. "Finish this row and I promise to let ye rest." As silly as it sounded to most people at that time, and now as well; Animals do understand our words. When we speak the emotion of our tone carries with our spirit sending them a message as clear as glass. We kept up the pace another twenty minutes before I unhooked the plow and began leading her back to the old barn. I used to make me living this way when I was younger. Working the land with a strong horse, clearing fields for harvest and planting, but as the years went by and I stopped my aging, people began to understand what I was. Thus, my offers to come back next season ceased to exists.
Those days, money was even more scares than food. My father had left little when he passed, and my mother's poor heart couldn't bear to be away from him. I didn't blame her for following him less than a year later. Even though my sister was disappointed that the act was not done within nature. I had never been in love myself, just a few rolls in the hay with the lasses next door back when my young oats were wild as the wind during a blizzard. However, I was no fool; I knew love existed. The look on me mother's face, that day my father had coughed up a lung full of blood…that was love.
My sister's boy-o had traveled to the city to get a job in the banks. She use to get letters with money every few weeks, but I could see the disappointment in her eyes these past few months when nothing graced our tin box. Times in the city were full of all kinds of activity be it political war…or prostitutes. I was never to fond of the guy to begin with, and frankly if it weren't for his money, and Ma's passing…I'm not sure my sister would have loved him either.
I was so lost in my thoughts while putting Sammy in the barn I hardly noticed the bundle of orange hair their, hunched over the well. On closer examination I found her stripped down to her undergarments and washing herself with the water from the well bucket.
"Erin!" I stared in shock. "What you be do'in lass! Ye crazy? If your Ma told you to take a bath you should be doing it in the kitchen tub, where it's warm. Not out here."
Pulling off my thin shabby coat I quickly wrapped her up, turning her towards me. "Ye got's to have more sense than that-" My breath caught in my throat the second she came face to face with me. Her pale ivory skin once soft, and unblemished was covered up with angry red scratches, and bloody streams. "Bleeding Christ." I swore, tracing one of the marks to see how deep it went. "Erin, lass." I demanded, "Who did this to you?"
"N-no-" She stuttered, licking her split lip. "No one Uncle Jin."
"Don't lie to me!" I yelled, my tone coming out harsher than I intended. "Hit'n is one thing, but hit'n a little lass is Hellish! Tell me who did this to ye! I swear this is their last night living!"
"It." She blinked, brown eyes damp with tears. "I'm not lying Uncle. No one hit me I swear, just don't tell Mama!" She begged.
"If no one hit ye, then why shouldn't I tell yer Ma?"
"Because I fell Uncle!"
"Fell?" I stared. "Ye fell? Erin. Ye don't get scrapes like that from a simple fall. You would had have to fall off a bloody cliff, or jumped off the roof, or-" Suddenly it dawned on me why she didn't want Emily to know. My niece had fallen alright, from the sky. "Oh, lass." I stared, nothing that day could have kept my heart from filling with worry…and pride.
"I'm not sure I understand." Ayame said, her brow wrinkled. "You wind apparitions have to be taught to fly?"
Jin blinked staring at the woman. "Were you created, knowing how to fly on your paddle? Are wee birds born knowing how to take off without going splat to the ground?"
"I suppose you're right." She blushed. "It' just not something you think about."
"To some I guess."
Despite popular belief we were not born knowing how to fly. We had to be…invited. At a certain age the wind would begin calling to us. Sending Her gently whisper of welcome to our very soul.
"Come on now lass, don't be shy!" I encouraged, watching my niece from the bottom of the hill. "If the sky doesn't catch ye. I will!" I promised looking up at her on top of the mole hill. "Ye just have to find your own way."
Taking in a gulp of air, I watched her raise her arms over her head before giving a small charge. As soon as her feet left the ground she levitated for a few moments before crashing into my waiting arms.
"Aye!" I praised, "Ye almost had it! See you're almost there, Erin!"
"I don't feel like I have it." She admitted.
"Ya have to trust the wind. She trust's you. That's why She called." Placing her feet back on the ground, I took her hand and walked with her up the hill. "Come on. I'll try it with ye."
It's still hard for me to compare the sensation of learning to fly. It's as if a part of your innards you didn't know existed finally began working. It's freedom, and contentment all rolled into one. It's love, and wonderment, faith and uncertainty. It was…my everything. My entire being all rolled into a living action.
We all have to find our own pattern when we begin flight, just as we have to crawl before we can walk. Some of us start running to pick up speed, before jumping. Some of us extend our arms and wait for a breeze to pick us up. I decided to teach her the old technique that I was taught when I was young. It wasn't the most graceful method, but once she got the hang of it, I knew she would be able to call the wind to her anytime she desired it. It was after all, in her blood.
"Like a chicken?" She stared, nose crinkling in thought.
"Exactly, except you'll fly better, than one I guarantee. Now just hold our arms out like a scarecrow." I commanded setting an example by stretching myself. "Now flap them up and down." I exaggerated, smiling at her giggles.
"You look silly!"
"Aye and so do you!" I smiled. "But at least we'll be flying while we look silly! Ready?" I asked taking her hand in mine. "Keep flapp'n!" I instructed as we broke into a run heading towards the edge of the hill. "Now's the time lass!" I shouted, feeling my feet reach the edge of the soil. Within a second I felt the wind called to us carrying us off the hill and up into the heavens! "That's it! We're lifted. Call Her to ya!"
Feeling her energy push out towards the very zenith of the universe my eyes became moist with pride and wonderment. Without hesitation I took my hand away from the little lass I had known since they day she entered the world, and watched her take off into a future that would be all hers…or at least that's what I thought.
Oh my God I'm on a role with the updating tonight. Sorry for the delay, I actually had half of this chapter written a while ago. I just had to finish it. I must admit this is one of my favorite stories that I'm currently working on. I love exploring the backgrounds of these characters. So here's an update! Please review! And remember except for this plot direction I own nothing.