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. 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.
Umiko Hamasaki and Mizuki, daughter of her household’s senior lady-in-waiting, have set off on a mission to find friendly yokai who’ll lead them to Shoki, a great slayer of disease demons. They’re now on the beach with shojo, an orangutan-like race of yokai who are generally good to humans.
Wine offerings at Meiji Shrine, Copyright Berlinuno
“Please have some of our wine,” a tall shojo repeated. “We love serving humans.”
Umiko took a drink from the extended blue bottle. The liquid which hit her tongue had a taste like nothing she’d ever experienced. It had a distinctive flavor of grapes, but everything else was hard to decipher.
“What do you use in your wine?” Umiko asked as Mizuki drank. “Do you grow underwater grapes?”
A slender shojo shook her head. “Our wines are made with secret recipes. All humans are allowed to know about them is that our wine tastes delicious and distinctive to good people, and can be poisonous to evil people.”