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 taking shelter from the rain in a temple which appeared abandoned.
Main hall of Tokyo’s Senso-ji temple, Copyright Tak1701d
“We should look for the monks’ living quarters,” Mizuki said as she unhitched the cart. “I can’t wait to sleep inside again.”
“May I interest you girls in a warm room and hearty meal?”
Umiko looked to her left and saw an elderly woman with regal bearing, a yellow robe sweeping the floor, and a very large stomach. “I hope we aren’t intruding in your beautiful temple, honored lady, and that we haven’t insulted you by bringing a horse inside. We only entered to take temporary shelter from the rain.”
The strange elder smiled. “There’s no need to apologize. Only I live here most of the time, and it’s my duty to serve all guests. What would you like to eat?”
The ten lines end here. A few more follow.
“Anything you see fit to serve us, of course, esteemed elder,” Mizuki said. “We’re the guests in your temple.”