Author web site: http://www.crystalkey.fr.st/
Editor’s Note: This 11-part story was originally posted to the Pinkboard in 2005. It’s set in Japan and, as a help, the author included a lexicon of names and references, included below.
Japanese names have a pronunciation in Japanese “letters” and a writing in Chinese characters; with one pronunciation, you can have several meaning depending on the Chinese characters you use)
- Suzu = bell
- Kurozuki = black moon
- Akio = white prince (should be ‘Akiou’)
- Tsukisa = path of the moon
- Honokami = god of fire
- Tenme = eye of heaven
- Yuugami = god of hot water
- Takayama = high mountain
- Sora = sky
- Shinseimon = gate of new life
- Shinonome = dawn
- Tenki = instrument of heaven
- The Old Ones = refers to the people of the island of Okinawa where there’s the highest percentage of century-old people.
- The Ancient Ones = refers to the Ainu people who lived in Japan before the Chinese immigrations; they’re said to have come from Caucasian territories during pre-historical times (there are different opinions about their origins) and were trapped on the island when the glaciers that let it reach this land melted. They were confined in the northern island and their culture has almost completely been assimilated by the Japanese culture.
- The Banished Ones = refers to the “eta” or “burakumin” (there are other names for these people), descendants of families who worked in certain jobs who were considered impure (jobs in contact with blood, like butchers or executioners).
- The lullaby that Suzu sings to Kel at the beginning refers to the fairy tale at the origin of the Tanabata festival.
Tales of the Far East
Part 1: The Angel
Everything was yellow and orange, a strange day… no, it had been an ordinary day in fact, silent, empty. But it was yellow now… and orange.
He stopped. A small pebble had rolled into his wooden slipper. He removed it, threw it to the side of the cracked road. It rolled and bounced down the slope of old concrete towards the bed of the river. Its movement filled his mind for a few minutes until it disappeared into the wild grasses: movement, almost life. He tightened his grip on the canvas bag he was carrying and resumed his walk on the deserted road.
It was still yellow and orange but now there were some hints of red too. And wind blew. Dust flew into his eyes, stinging. He blinked a few times, his vision blurred by tears. He wiped them with the back of my sleeve. Dust had settled back. And now there was someone on the road, some distance ahead of him. At least it looked like there was someone; a tall immobile figure, facing the side of the road, the head inclined as if staring at something in the riverbed or at the ground. It could have been the statue of a forgotten deity, the ghost of the dead city that had been alive here. But it could be…
He walked more quickly, his heart beating faster and faster as he neared my goal. A man.
Who’ll stop me and talk to me.
He drew closer. He could see the lines of his profile against the yellow light, the elegant nose and the high forehead; familiar and yet… a foreigner? What was he doing here? There was no more foreigner here, no more foreigner… nobody at all in fact… except a few ghosts like himself, haunting this place that should have been… His mind froze.