Jun rushed across the polished wood floors, the same ones her mornings are spent bent over on her knees washing, and did the best to quiet her steps as she reached the partition. Back to it she breathed a quick breath to settle herself. Tray held before her she slid the rice paper partition aside and backed into the parlor. On the table there was a scroll unrolled and hanging from. Both sides of the table and the priestess head bowed mutters over the yellowed roll and its inked swirls.
Hair lacquered to a shine as deep as their best serving bowls the priestess had been sitting at the table and reading the scrolls in a low monotone since Jun had finished with the floors before sunrise. The pretty heart shaped face rose and the violet eyes looked through her. Her eyes were shot with red and they pointed to a position on the table away from the roll open on the table. Jun bowed quickly and placed the tea without the usual ceremony even for the devout of the faith. Jun bowed deeply was the violet bloodshot eyes focused not he hiragana of the page and the low breathy mutter returned. Jun backed to the screen and slid it shut with all ceremony.
The hall filled with the sounds drifting in from the outside. Looking to the entrance a cart stacked high with barrels was rolling by and cast a shadow down the short hallway and the bellow for Jun came from the other side of the roadside inn. She ran to the alley side exit and looked to see where her grandmother was standing near a bundle of clothing covered in brown stains. Baba slated at her and merarly pointed with the business side of her pipe and motioned away down the alley while holding her eyes on the girl.
"What obaaasan, I did not..."
She did not even look back just waved the pipe again at the pile and said something about not needing the attention the garbage would bring. Adding "let not one see you with it"
Jun wondered at the importance of a bundle of rags snatching up getta to keep her feet from getting too filthy in taking care of yet another worthless task. Get more scrolls from the temple and bring them, don't look at the soldiers, don't mention the priestess to the villagers, let me sleep, cook, be glad your not a boy, be glad your not pretty." Jun scowled at her grandmother back and crouched to gather the stained pile of fabric.
Damp from the morning dew and the rains of last night she wrung the cottn between her fingers and brownish metallic smelling water dripped from it and something within dropped to the mud. Jun held it away from her body and thought Bitch about her grandmother looking at the mud and grime on her hands.
Their little town was situated beside a fast flowing stream that lead to a river nearby and while leaving by the short Main Street she passed three ashigaru carrying a litter with a fourth with arrows stuck in his writing body. The spears they usually used to kill with had been made into the poles for the litter gleaming metal tips sticking out the ends. The one carrying the for side turned his head towards her his coned helm hiding all bet his mouth and the bottom of his nose from view. Minutes after passing the soldiers who had become so common a sight in the village these last few weeks she got to the wooden bridge crossing the stream and looked at the brownish bundle she held. Jun did not realize she had rubbed it against her yu kata but her hip was now wet, hair was wrapped in the bundle as if someone had cut a away tangled mass. She dropped it into the stream and walked down to the water to rinse her hands.
In her bright robes the priestess was outside the in when Jun returned up the street, the ashigaru were standing around her watching her pray over the still form of their fellow warrior. Samurai did not come into the village with their lackered ornate armor and perfect blades but shed seen lots of the peasant soldiers. One of them held his coned straw helm in his hand head bowed the others just stood heads bowed. At least the guy on the litter was not writhing anymore Jun thought and went to the alley.
She scalded her hands while trying to get the stains from her fingers and under her nails. When she checked on the priestess her grandmother was sitting with the woman who for once in the days seemed quiet if not at pease.
"I'll take it girl" was all baba said and the finer woman looked up to her. Jun caught the red stained lips of the priestess in motion, not done with the jabber just whispering. Jun's baba reached forward and snatched the scroll away from the priestess who's hand caught her quick as a snake. The fingers on that hand were stained with both black squid ink from the pot on the table and from the worlds of the ashigaru she had tried to save outside. The violet eyes pierced through her grandmother and through her. The woman's lips never stopped their motion forming unspoken words.
"Yes, I do have to baba said and tore her arm away from the much younger woman; jun saw redness and scratches on her baba's arm before the yukata she wore fell to cover it. The scroll in her hand now was covered with not writing but a painting in blacks and whites. Jun catches a glimpse of kitsune on the page and something else that may have been hair like the braid she saw in the rags. Her grandmother looks her in the face and scowls. She then kisses her on the forehead pulling the girl down to the level to do it with way more force then Jun had ever known her to use.
Jun slept fitfully that night dreaming of the men fighting in the valley to the south of them, of the samurai and ashigaru standing against a force of decayed and moving deadman who shine in the moonlight. She is one of the men; the one worth the bow and straw helmet she had seen in the town she is he shooting forked arrows into the approaching army of the unliving. Waking with a start as they get within arms reach.
The inn is quiet in the violet pre dawn and there is a short message written in her baba's hand. All it says is sorry granddaughter, go to your aunts to the south. I'm not as strong as the priestess though and her curse is now mine. Hunger is taking me. Run.