365 Writing · Book · Stories

Jin and the Solstice of Blood (Part 13)

“Who are you?” I asked. “Did Satoshi send you?” Guessing wildly.

“Now who’s a smart little boy” she replied. “Seems like you found something by your reaction. What is it?”

She might just kill you as soon as she knows.

True, but she might just kill me anyway. “What’s it to you? Isn’t Satoshi behind this? What’s his goal? To drive up crop prices and force people to buy from him?” I was guessing wildly.

“Not as smart as I thought,” I could hear the smile in her voice. “Satoshi wants to stop this as much as you do. So it’s a drought then? Now that you’ve tracked the ritual you’re not using, and Satoshi was clear with me what I should do if you were no longer of use.”

I didn’t like the sound of that. “Can I at least see who it is who’s going to kill me? I deserve that much honor at least don’t I?”

“I’m not as stupid as you, goodbye Yashimuro-San.” She said as I dropped as fast as I could into a spin. Evidently, she wasn’t expecting this, a blast rang out over my head, as I struck out with my leg in a kick and connected with armor hidden underneath robes. I heard her inhale in frustration and she jumped back from me as I began to shift and prepared to draw my sword.

I could see her more clearly now. She had hidden most of her face in her long hair before, but now it was pulled back into a ponytail behind her head. Oversized monk robes had what must be the armor I felt underneath. She held a giant hand cannon like I had guessed that was now smoking having just been fired. I knew it would take her some time to reload, but I also could guess this wasn’t the only trick she had up her sleeve. As I thought that she drew a second out of her literal sleeve. I was good with the blade, but not enough to deflect projectiles, so I did whatever any sane person would do. I ran.

Jumping over a table of books I made a zigzagging path towards the entrance, trying as best I could to keep the woman’s line of sight obscured. This didn’t stop her though as I could hear her following me rapidly through the archives.

She was fast despite the armor she was wearing, and she wasn’t far behind me as I reached the front desk. The monk I now saw had a dart in his neck, I guess that explains the sleeping. I dove past the table and out the door as another shot rang out and I felt the air ripple past me.

Too close!

While she was out of shots, I didn’t risk going back as I was sure she would be pursuing me. At this point the courtyard was empty, and I wove my way as fast as I could towards the front gate. This I found closed and no one around. I glanced back and didn’t see the woman, but I didn’t want to rest easy. Taking a running jump, I was able to grab onto a wooden strut and start climbing the gate. Up and over, I thought catching the roof overhang and pulling myself up saying a prayer or blessing for the potion holding my ribs together.

But it wasn’t of use. She was there on top of the roof waiting for me. “I’m glad to see that you don’t disappoint Yashimuro-San. Or may I call you Jin? I like Jin better.” Her face was tilted with a gleeful smile.

“Where are all the monks?” I asked her, she seemed to be unarmed, but I wasn’t stupid enough to believe that.

“My, my, aren’t you full of questions?” She took a step closer. “Let’s just say I made an emergency that they would care more about than two people running through their compound.”

That’s it. I smelled smoke, distant but I hadn’t been paying attention or maybe then blasting powder from her hand cannons at close range had covered it up. I didn’t dare to take my eyes away from her to see the source. “You had better not hurt anyone…”

“Please Jin,” she responded cutting me off. “I’m not stupid enough to kill a monk. Besides, that’s not my job.”

“If killing isn’t your job, just let me be on my way. Besides if Satoshi wants to stop this as much as I do, then what’s the harm?” I responded hoping to reason my way out of this.

“You’re tricky,” her smile broadening. “I’m beginning to like you Jin, but unfortunately for you, my job IS to keep you from being troublesome once I learned what I needed to.”

I placed my hand on my sword. If I could just make it past her and into the city, I would be safe. I could evade her in the streets, or the Taihoji would intercede, either way, win-win. “In that case, let me leave, and I won’t be?”

“Oh no Jin, you’re far too meddlesome for your own good. While we both may want this stopped, there’s no telling if you’ll go too far in the process. I’ll take it from here.”

She stepping forward drawing a third, even more massive hand cannon from under her robes.

What does she have under there?! Ikiru chimed in.

I didn’t have time to think, but leaped forward, drawing my sword as I ran.