Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday, weekly Sunday hops where writers share 8–10 sentences from a book or WIP. The rules have now been relaxed to allow a few more sentences if merited, so long as they’re clearly indicated, to avoid the creative punctuation many of us have used to stay within the limit.
I’m now sharing excerpts from a middle grade historical fantasy short story called “The Search for Shoki,” which I wrote for a contest last year. I’d love to expand this into a full-length book, with a lot more magic, details, and yokai.
It’s set in 737 Japan, during the last year of a smallpox epidemic which started in 735 and killed one-third of the population. Shinobu, the 100-year-old three-greats-grandma of Umiko Hamasaki, just suggested they might get help from nearby yokai (spirits). The ultimate objective is to find Shoki, a very powerful yokai.
Ue means “above,” and denotes a very high level of respect. Kun is usually used by older or higher-ranking people to refer to younger people and those of lesser status; sama is a respectful term for people of a higher rank; and chan is an endearing diminutive.
“Aren’t most yokai unfriendly? I’d be afraid to encounter any besides our zashiki-warashi and chopiraki.”
Shinobu smiled. “The kinds of yokai we need to summon have much greater powers than playful children. Mizuki-kun, are you interested in accompanying Umiko-chan? She’ll need a companion, and I can’t send her alone. You’d be her true companion, not a mere servant.”
Mizuki dropped her bronze chopsticks and looked up from her bowl, her eyes wide. “I have great respect for you and your wisdom, Shinobu-ue, but I don’t merit equal status with Umiko-sama. The only reason we’re sharing such close quarters now is because it’s too dangerous in the main house.”