Hello Readers! PJ Blog Tours asked me to write a new scene involving Kojiki’s main characters for its Indie Summer Scavenger Hunt. The theme is World Tour. Head on over for your chance to win a Kindle Fire. I hope you enjoy reading the following entry as much as I did writing it. For those of you who like such things, I’ve included two Easter eggs in addition to the World Tour theme. I’m curious to see if anyone uncovers them. Guess away in the comments section, and I may award you with a signed ARC of Kojiki! Now–on to the scene!
Keiko gripped an old leather satchel under one arm and raced over a bridge so ancient she was half afraid it might collapse before she made it to the other side. Consciously, she knew it wouldn’t; the thing had lasted for several hundred years. Its solid construction, eight-planked and zig-zagging over the Imperial Palace’s South Pond, defied earthquakes, typhoons, and tsunamis. Nevertheless, the document she carried inside her bag was precious enough to make solid ground seem treacherous.
Not that it should. The papers, while ancient, were not at all what they seemed. The holy Kojiki purportedly recorded Japan’s creation, the Gods who crafted its lands, and the powers they wielded. Purportedly. The fact was, this Kojiki was indeed a myth, a story intentionally written to disguise a more incredible history–one of frighteningly powerful spirits. Spirits that really existed.
Keiko snorted at the irony and hurried over to the figure waiting patiently on the opposite bank. A light breeze played through the young woman’s silken hair, the golden flecks in her chestnut-colored eyes blazing with an inner light.
“That took longer than I expected.” Yui Akiko’s voice, normally light and musical, carried a steel edge. “I thought we arranged everything for you.”
Keiko rolled her eyes. “Not everything. You forgot to send someone who speaks English.”
“Oh, I didn’t forget. I just wanted to see how resourceful you were.”
“Of course you did.” Keiko sighed heavily. Over time, her memories had started to come back to her. The Japanese she didn’t think she knew was part of it, not that she shared that with Yui. Yui spoke to her in English, with the occasional Japanese word sprinkled in here or there. Even so, the more Keiko recalled, the more she realized Yui’s Japanese differed from what people used now. It was older, often ceremonial, and at times unrecognizable.
Pushing the thought aside, she pulled the satchel from under her arm and handed it to Yui. “I still don’t understand why you wanted this. Taking a priceless, though admittedly misleading, document and replacing it with one that’s, amazingly, harder to believe seems a little crazy. Besides other copies of the Kojiki exist. Everyone will think yours is a fake.
“The Emperor won’t. He’ll know it’s real. That’s why why I wanted this copy, the one kept in the old Imperial palace here in Kyoto. The Emperor’s scribes, not to mention members of your family, knew about us, Keiko. They kept records. One in particular is very important to them.”
“Which one is that?” Keiko prompted. She reached into the pocket of her new cargo pants and pulled out a package of cinnamon biscuits she bought at the Otabe shop in downtown Kyoto. The things were addictive. They’d been around for over two hundred years, and no wonder. Keiko had never tasted anything like them.
“My father’s promise to tell the Emperor the truth. After everything Japan’s been through–after all the destruction, the dragons and other Guardians–I think we owe him that.”
Keiko wasn’t sure Spirits as powerful as Yui’s father, not to mention Yui herself, owed anyone anything. That fact that Yui believed she did meant a great deal to Keiko.