A/N: Tad sorry about this, but my craving towards writing one-shots have left me racked with ideas that I'm unable to continue with my on-going ones. Therefore I reach out to you readers to help me make a decision on which one-shot I should write first. Don't worry, I'll finish all three one-shots and my on-going ones, but first and foremost I really need to get over my cravings. So I hope all would help me in this! There will be a total of three prologues for the three different one-shots, the poll will be kept open until the end of the year so I look forward to your final decision! I hope I do not disappoint anyone, thank you for the hard work!
First of the prologues of my one-shot series, titled: One last hail. Set in Ancient Japan, Mai-Hime characters, ShizNat.
I always thought, wouldn't it be better if I was born a boy?
Sadly I was born a girl. I use to remember how my father complained to my mother that everything would be better if I was born a male. He wouldn't need to be working like an ox on the rice fields. I daren't look him in the eye, much to the expectation where I had the feeling he would strangle me and curse me that I was useless and all I that I was, was a burden to his family. A few months later, I never saw him again, with the exception of my mother crying in her room. She never told me, but I guessed as much that he had abandoned us. The rice fields which he had tended to were beginning to wilt and the harvest that he was to bring in was long gone. I stood at the edge of the field with hope of salvaging what ever that was left. However, all I set sight to was nothing but dead padi that swayed like wandering spirits during the festival of the dead.
Time after that was slow and steady, like that of a tortoise that made its way to the banks of the river. My mother took up a job at making hand made accessories by using flowers and different types and shapes of leaves. Garlands of them were sold widely on the streets of Kyoto. The ruling of the Shogun was long over and the coming of the Meiji Era was clam and peaceful. The warring states were long gone and battles were no more to be fought, but the system of class and status was still there, it was yet to be demolished in this Era that was ruled by lurking hunger. My mother being a street vendor wasn't one to be called of a great class compared to the samurai that still served the upper-class. She was usually spat upon but she struggled on silently to feed me and nurture me. She thought me from time to time the arts of making such fine and beautiful handicraft. Soon I could turn dandelions into a bracelet that I usually saw the women of class wear. However our family of two could barely stay alive especially when winter came and no one ever came out when the temperature dropped and the northern winds blew in.
Wouldn't it be better if I was born a boy? My father would have not left us to feed our pitiful selves and I would have been able to have made him proud when I worked with him in the fields. I was pulled into a miserable state when I realised that I was nothing but a burden to my family when I was born a girl and not a boy. However, maybe the great god Izanagi had heard my prayers and made the future a little smoother when one day I was mistaken for a boy when I was walking back to my mother after gathering the flowers she needed. I was quite shocked that I was mistaken as a male as I thought my long dark hair that was pulled into a low tail and my lean face would be seen as feminine; and I thought I was correct. As days passed when I helped my mother with her work, people who came to buy these small handiwork often asked my mother why I was not working as apprentice of skills. My mother was quite shocked when she found out that I was often spoken of as a boy; so was I.
My mother told me not to worry, but I myself was not in any worry. I was happy in fact that I could lie about my gender, my chest wasn't that developed and as it was always covered by my thick woollen top; I realised that they was no key difference between a male or a female in me. My voice was rough and husky, my figure tall and strong, overall, I could pass as a male. I thought about registering as a cadet in the police force as I chanced passed a police post and saw a signage that read that they needed people for a workforce. My mother dismissed my thought I said I should focus on how we were to survive. She was very glum that day; I guessed I should have told her about the pay.
I thought Izanagi would keep my happiness for a little longer, but it seemed that he didn't want me to enjoy so much. On a hot summer day when the cicadas were shrilling loudly and the sky blue and clear of clouds, I realised that my mother was no where to be found. I had woken up in our old house all alone. I couldn't find her at the usual spot she sold her handicraft on the streets of Kyoto. Not until the commotion held in front of a government caught my attention. A huge crowd had gathered around the wooden fence that surrounded the open courtyard, everyone was silent and the atmosphere heavy with apprehension. I was caught unaware of what was happening, but something at the back of my head was urging me to find out what was with this silent commotion.
As I squeezed my way to the front of the crowd and reached out to grasp onto the wooden crossed poles, my ears picked up the stern voice that had finished his last sentence. My eyes narrowed onto four figures that kneeled under the hot sun, their hands were tied behind their backs with thick ropes, their head hung low. I could see their hair pulled away from their necks…I shivered. A man clad in deep blue that had just spoke rolled up a document and walked to in front of the four people and then I became oblivious to everything when I noticed that one of the people that were kneeling on the sandy hot ground was my mother. My eyes widened in horror as I watched four men dressed equally in the same dark blue march up to the side of the four people, they drew out their long swords from their scabbards and lifted them high above. I screamed out to my mother in terror and then everything happened in seconds.
The same dark green eyes which I shared the same the coloured looked up sadly towards my direction. I saw a flash of happiness within her eyes and saw her mouth a word which I could barely figure that she had said my name. Then after that I heard a hiss through the still atmosphere and her eyes went blank with all her other emotions. All I saw after that was blood. Red, red, blood; I thought I would not to have see blood gush out like the swelling river that ran through the Kyoto canals during the monsoon season. I was gripped with dread and I had lost my voice for a few days after I had seen such a sight. The image of that decapitation had been scared into my mind like an engraved wood print and at every sight of a samurai or an official with a sword; I would break out in cold sweat.
I soon found out that my mother had been a conspirator and had planned to over throw the current Meiji government with a few other conspirators. I kept my mouth shut and drew myself into seclusion. My eyes were peeled onto inspectors and policemen that patrolled the streets, I had the distinct features of my mother, I couldn't afford to be caught and be labelled as a danger to the government, and I needed to hide until things were settled. I ran into Kitayama Mountain and had luckily been graced by Izanagi's kindness that I was able to find a small abandoned shrine. The interior was still strong and sturdy and I soon made it into my house. My surroundings were filled with the fine green bamboo that was soon dominated with the tall cedar trees that grew on this quite mountain.
I had to live on my own; no one was there for me. Then all of this wouldn't happen if I was a boy, I insisted on that fact.
I survived on wild hares and other small animals that had fallen into the traps that I had set regularly when I started to live like a hermit in the mountain, wild fruits and herbs were to my liking too as time passed. Yet the rays of the goddess Amaterasu shined onto me one day when I found a broken wooden rickshaw that was left on the side of the pathway that ran through Kitayama. I inspected it to find that that only thing broken was the wheel and everything and especially the cart was still intact. The seat was still fitted with a comfortable cushion. The top shade was still curved and no damage could be seen, expect for a few scratches here and there. The handle that stretched out from the cart was still yet to be broken. I gave a good look at it and back to the tall cedar trees, and I thought…
It wouldn't hurt if I tried.
I was somehow able to get the sturdy rickshaw back to my small house and I started my work on the broken wheel. I realised that I was to make a new set of wheels if I wanted a ride to be smooth, I couldn't have to uneven wheels; it would make travel very uncomfortable. I measured with whatever I had with me and found out that I indeed should have taken up an apprenticeship under a carpenter; my mending work here would be so much easier. Months passed from the spring I had found the broken rickshaw to a coming winter. I had turned from a small tiny girl to a very different grown-up adolescent. I had cut my hair to a suitable and manageable length and left it untied. My face was now toned with the sun and palms rough from the tedious hunting and repairing work I did from dusk to dawn. My limbs were getting strong and stiff that soon I realised I deserved to let all my muscle relax and get a good soak in hot water.
When the last brown leaf had fallen from the towering trees, I had completed repairing the rickshaw, along with the many failures that had come along. I had finished sanding down the wood of the handle bar and it looked as good as new. I stared at 'my' masterpiece and gave out a breath of content. A quick thought came into mind when I watched from high above the travellers that passed through the pathway of Kitayama out of Kyoto. I could sell the rickshaw away to get a good amount of money that I could use to pamper myself after years of seclusion, I was still considered an age of pampering; am I yet to become a woman. I realised I had to hurry as I had to sell my rickshaw before the harsh cold winter struck Kyoto.
After I had washed my old woollen shirt and dirty pants, I pulled over my dark yukata. I was dressed and ran my fingers through my hair before pulling it together into a tail that was tied at the base of my neck. I tied a thick cloth over my neck to keep my chest and neck area warm in the cold whether of the closing autumn. I got together two heavy wooden blocks and tied them together with a loose string; I used it as a weight to hold down the front when my hands were not on the handle. I found it useful as I could easily undo them and hang them around my neck; they weren't as heavy as I thought they would be.
As I was ready to leave, I checked my house and I smirked as I knew that no one would be able to even get in safely; my traps were something I found that even bandits disliked. Then I pulled the wooden rickshaw and head back to Kyoto. I found my speed to Kyoto fast and smooth; the rickshaw didn't give me any problems. In my hands, I found pulling it as light as a feather and I realised that maybe all the work I had been through by living alone had become a benefit.
I left my house in the evening, I would not need to get caught with the after work traffic that usually built up in the pathway of Kitayama. The air had stilled and the cricket chirps could be heard clearly as I slowly got to the main road when the hour of the chicken had passed. I could hear the loud sound bell from the capital that brought upon the hour of the dog. It was soon to be morning. I caught some sleep in the rickshaw when I found a peaceful spot between the trees that was little off the main road; I started again when I heard the bell strike at the hour of the tiger. I could reach Kyoto by early morning.
As I neared the entrance of Kyoto, sudden apprehension gripped me and I faltered slightly. Luckily, no one was around then, the sun had yet to rise and I took a dreadful step to near the entrance to Kyoto. The terrible memories of the past flooded my mind and I gulped awkwardly as I passed the guards, I had hoped that the events of the conspiracies were long forgotten over the years that I had fled. I feared them and suddenly the real fear struck me when the entrance guards stopped me, the sword tucked neatly between his belt clinked and I shuddered. He sternly asked me where I had come from, I stuttered and I started to sweat in the cold. I felt terrible. Luck arrived swiftly when the other guard came up to behind him and eased him away saying that a rickshaw puller would be already so tired. I gulped, it seemed that I was still easily mistaken; the guard that stood in front of me narrowed his eyes and pulled aside and motioned me to continue. I gave a low bow before pulling the rickshaw with me in Kyoto; the other guard had just saved me.
The streets of Kyoto hadn't really changed; just that everything was just a little neater here and there. There was the addition of a few more streets and bridges that stretched over the main canal. The sky was cloudy and the sun's rays were yet to illuminate the streets, the air was still and I was constantly easing out warm breaths to keep my face warm. By the time I had finally made my way to the main street, after much confusion to the new paths, I had heard my stomach growl loudly; I should have brought something along from the forest. As I rounded the first corner and the sun had still yet to shine, I caught sight onto a long white steam drifting out from a shop that was snuggled cosily at a corner. A mouth watering aroma wafted around me and I realised that I hadn't smelt such a good fragrance for a long while. Without much thought, I had pulled myself there with my rickshaw. Peering through the main door, I lifted the blue cloths that hung from above and I caught sight onto light lilac eyes that had caught my hungry stare.
Soon I came to know her as Tokiha Mai.
That is another story to be told. Mai had mistakenly me as a male and I was gifted a bowl of ramen because of that. She slapped herself on her head when she realised she had been fooled by my appearance and it seemed that it wasn't her first time being fool by looks; she didn't throw the chopping knife at me when I told her the truth. I laughed with her. I was quite amused by her cheery character. She had told me to come back again when I had the time, but I realised that once I had sold my rickshaw, I wouldn't be coming back to Kyoto again. I had promised her that I will come back to pay, I ignored her protest when I exited her store at the first cock crow.
By the time I heard the last cock crow, I had seemingly found myself lost again in the maze of Kyoto. People had already started to filter onto the streets; I had to avoid them dearly, in fright that one would come to me and ask for a ride. I travelled down an unusually quiet street when suddenly I heard a voice that apparently wanted my attention. I turned my head to fine a middle-aged man standing patiently at the foot of a tea house. He had fine white hair and abnormally pale skin, his eyes were of the colour of blood and his face crossed with lines of tiredness. I had wanted to ignore him, but at the sight of the matching pair of swords at his belt, I shuddered and turned round to him. As I tugged my rickshaw with me towards him, I had a bad feeling of going to him. Little did I know I had stepped into a terrible mess, which made everything around me turn so blur, that I thought I had lost my sanity.
Things around me seemed so float, so I thought I had died…to become someone else.
A boy perhaps.
A/N: Two more to go, Keep this one in mind!