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We left village of Midaki without ceremony. All worn from the events and town peoples most of all. Mayor glad, I thinking, to be rid of us. Half way along road, terrible storm. Icy-ice rain down. Wind almost blow Te’Ka’Mok from back of horsey G’dah’la. Gami-Gami catch me. Rein horse and sigh. I hear her mutter something in Hengeyokai speech and spur horse forward. She bow to Tatsuoh and they ride off with old Mir’Itus, he know these roads well.
We huddle and wait. Storm get worse. Only Neiki seem fine, but then what spirit gets cold, yes? Even with fur, I getting cold. They come back, maybe hours later, it seem to Te’Ka. Probably 20 minutes.
Happy, they find old fort shelter for us. We go and maybe they should take longer for the exploring. In middle of dinner we over runned by little squeaking ankle-biter animal things. Nothing like Nezumi, these not rats at all. Good to eat, yes, and nothing like rat. Princess charge in and help with the killing. She get bitey a little bit. She OK. Grandpa all worry-worry but she fine. I happy that Princess help keep squeaker from Ookami. Doggy not knowing what to do with little thing in face.
Then: squeakers all dead and in our bellies. Yum good to eat. Te’Ka happy with outcome. Gami-Gami chop with blade and protect important shaman of Third Whisker. It is good.
I say to Mir’Itus, “This tiny space! You not find anything bigger? How I sleep in same breath as Princess? I no like.” I cross arms like final word. He not move. “Go!” I shoo him. “Go tell Lion we sleeping under wagon or with horsey.” Gami-Gami frowned at my words, but I feeling not right as we move from city home. These not Crab. Not know our ways and Nezumi worth. We animals to the humans.
Princess, yes-yes she Crab, but eh, not same. Feel like fluffy pet to Princess. Not seriously. Not true. We here to serve and help on journey and not to be forgetting that human think we rats. I say these things before human can! It is the way. But no, Princess overhear Mir’Itus and say to Lion, “We will all sleep in the shelter.” I stay by horsey anyway.
Gami-Gami talk about door beside us. No like the door and wonder what on other side. I say “Pull open! Why wonder? Yes?” Gami, she open and la-la! Nothing. Dusty squeaker poop. That all.
Come morning and shelter still less inviting. Doors from squeakers seem worse now, in daylight. We make hurry-hurry to leave. G’dal’ah, horsey, she nervous. Feel tense legs. I getting food-treat from pouch and old Mir’Itus being granny mama say “What? What? We going!”
“Dal’ah nervous. I give her treat.” He mount horsey. “Fine. See you outside.” Gami-Gami bow to me and mount her horsey, too. I wave her away. “I come soon.”
I wondering to speak or not to the Princess. We not alone since healing of villagers. Before I decide, we hear scream. Later find out number 1 maid, Shasuki, attacked at wagon. Gami-Gami hit with spear. It make her mad.
Tatsuoh Lion warrior see all and charge to help. Nya do same. At first, they not seeing enemy and then out of cropping come hairy giant man-beast. He throw spears. He yell out in Shadow tongue. Who can hear with ears to understand? Shaman, she is inside with Princess.
Gami-Gami arrive in time to slam satsumah spear into Hairy face and he down and over like a squeaker.
I have staff and Grandpa. Princess has her sword and I know she can use. We hear shouting. Princess turn to me. “What is that? What does it mean?” I shake my head. “Not sure, my Princess. Shadow tongue, for sure. Maybe something about a dark samurai. Not hear goodly.”
I hear Gami-Gami yell back. She say “Come out and fight with honor! I would see your face before I send you to your ancestors. Come and fight. If you dare!”
Suddenly we see a large Hairy running to shelter opening. Running towards us. Mit’Itus see and he stop at doorway and draw bow. Arrow fly and Hairy number 2 keep running. “Behind me, Princess!” I move arms with touching her. “What is he saying?” She ask and not move.
I turn and look at her face, full and rude like. “Princess! He say ‘Not to wake the dark samurai.’ Now get behind. Please. Grandpa want protect you.” The Hairy broke through the doorway and headed to far door, where Nya and Tatsuoh guard all night. He see us to side and stop. “You go! Not to wake the dark samurai.” Before Princess can ask, I translate. He seem scared, for us and by us. I not understanding. Princess, she good. Sense it too.
She put her hand on my arm. Oh boy. “We must help him. Poor creature. Tell him we will help. Tell him that we meant no harm.” I closed my eyes. “OK. OK.” I step forward so Princess is behind me. “Ya-ya! We not harming. Hey! Look! We help you, yes? Who dark samurai warrior man?” (my Shadow tongue very rusty.)
He stop and stare. “No one help. Leave this place, rat.” I stand up straight, pound staff to ground. “I am Te’Ka’Mok! Great shaman of Third Whisker. I help you.”
He step closer to me, his hands clenched. At that moment, Gami-Gami burst in and see that I am in danger. So she think. Start toward Hairy. “Gami! Hold.” She frown but obey.
Hairy look at me. “You shaman. Help me with undead?” I swallow hard. Must get Princess out. “I great shaman. I help you.” I started to step forward and Princess there beside me. “What is happening? Are we going to help him? Poor creature.” She reach for my arm again. “Yes. Yes, my lady. We will help him. But you have to go. Grandpa say. Te’Ka say. You go outside. Now.”
“Let him know that we never meant any harm. Will you make sure that he knows we thought this was an abandoned place? I wouldn’t want any hard feelings.” I nod and try to shoo her without touching. “Yes-yes! I tell him all these things. You go. Please?” And suddenly we hear a loud BOOM! from behind far door. I see Hairy and his eyes get big. Oh no. “Princess, please leave now. You must go. I will stay and help the beast. We will make it right. OK? Whatever we did, I’ll make it right. Please, you go now.” I paused. “For Te’Ka. For Grandpa. You go.”
She turned to leave and I hoped that she hadn’t noticed that my speech changed. Sa’ham’bir! I was too stressed to speak broken English. I walked quickly to Hairy. Gami-Gami and Mir’Itus were beside me. “What are you doing?” I turned. “I don’t know, but go with the Princess.”
The yeti had taken some wounds as he ran to the shelter. I knelt beside him. I healed his wounds as the noise got louder. I blessed him and his weapon and then I did the only thing I could. I told him the truth. “I shaman, yes. But not powerful enough, not yet, to battle undead. I being very sorry.” He smiled at me and said “Go now. Go in peace sister.” And he turned towards the door.
I am not ashamed, not much anyway, to say that I turned and ran.
They were just starting to leave. The Princess was upset and obviously didn’t want to leave us behind. Tatusoh was at the rear and had not started moving yet. As we burst out of the shelter, he nodded. For him, that was pretty expressive.
I started to reply when I saw Nya ride into my line of vision. She had a strange look on her face, but I thought I could read it well enough. She did not want the Princess to worry about the situation. I nodded. “It all being OK Princess! Yeti will be fine.”
“But the dark samurai and that booming noise…?” I shook my head and called out, “Not to worry, Princess! We go now.”
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