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, are on a mission to find friendly yokai who’ll lead them to Shoki, a great slayer of disease demons. They’re now in the forest, where they encounter Baku, a yokai assembled from various animal body parts. Despite his fearsome appearance, Baku is a very powerful force of good and a holy protector of humans.
Sculpture of Baku, Copyright Momotarou2012
A huge bear walking on its hind legs menaced out from a cluster of trees on the left and promptly raced back to its lair at the sight of Baku. An eerie blue light then appeared on the right, slowly turning into a giant reptile. The moment it began creeping towards the human intruders, Baku leapt on it and gobbled it up.
“Do you understand speech, Baku?” Umiko called. “We want you to walk with us till we exit the forest. You’re the supreme yokai, and everyone fears you.”
Baku paced up alongside the cart, pawing at the ground. As the travelers proceeded through the woods, Baku took turns walking on all four sides of the cart. Every few minutes, Baku leapt at ghostly lights and fearsome creatures, devouring them all. Other yokai fled at the sight of him.