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Excerpt for Dragon Sword and Wind Child [Archive]

DRAGON SWORD AND WIND CHILD – NORIKO OGIWARA

Saya walked along the river for one last look. Tomorrow she would leave. It was a clear, early summer evening before the start of the long rainy season. The willows with their leaves unfurled swayed in the wind and frogs croaked. The breeze already smelled of summer, heavy with the fragrance of deep green leaves and the scent of grass from the warm fields. The last rays of the sun rested on the tips of the mountains, and downstream the water gleamed red where it reflected the sky. Standing on the stones at the edge of the water with not a soul in sight, Saya strained to see the river’s end.

How often she had played here; how often she had dreamed of places unknown, people unknown, gods unknown. On little leaf boats she had set her dreams sailing, never once thinking that she would leave this village. Mahoroba was said to lie far to the west of the end of the river. She had never before thought of its location in relation to her village. She had only imagined a misty palace somewhere far away in the direction she would now journey.

She gave a small sigh and removed the magatama on its cord from around her neck. The sky-blue stone, warmed by her skin, seemed to breathe. She laid it in her right hand, as she had done so often, against the birthmark on her palm. She found it difficult to believe a baby could be born with this squeezed in its tiny fist. But she could not deny its beauty. How proud she would have been if only it had been a betrothal gift.

“I’ll throw it away.”

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