“Kimono”….a Tengu speaks.

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(Not a Tengu, …European Eagle Owl, but just as fierce…Jane Kohut-Bartels, watercolor, 2005)

I have finished a 10 year project: a novel about a 21st century Japanese-American woman who is pulled back into Japan, 16th century by a possessed kimono.  Lord Yoki is a Tengu, a (supposively) mythological creature (originally from China) who has fallen in love with her.  He bemoans his karma, to be  besotted with a mortal woman, hardly a proper mate for a shape shifting bird.

“Kimono” will hopefully be published in 2018.

Lady Nyo…..who has come to love Tengus. 

 

Kimono, Chapter 42:  Lord Yoki speaks.

 

Lord Yoki perched on the window ledge.  He felt most comfortable perching.  A Tengu was just a big bird, after all.

He still dressed in an old linen kimono, badly patched and stained. It was this one or feathers.  It was harder and harder to maintain the glamour.  He had to concentrate on those parts that were reverting back.  His hair, his limbs, but he could do nothing about the feet. They would always remain clawed.

He was conflicted.  This was the first time in centuries (for he was very old) that his heart hurt.  He was racked with emotion from the time he awoke until the time he roosted.

He thought he might be in love.  And of course, his beloved would be one out of his league.  A mortal woman.

How could he have fallen to such a state?  He prided himself on being a tough old bird. He looked at the world through a cynical eye.  He only believed in the warmth of the thermals and sake. And a few pretty trinkets for he had a magpie nature.

And now he found himself in love.  How could he reveal himself to her? Would she find him distasteful, ridiculous, and insane?

He pecked at a flea amongst his breast feathers. He remembered the story of Lucifer.  He had fallen in love and knew she would be horrified if he revealed the truth of his form. He was a skinny, molting old bird, and a skinny old ‘man’. A devil cannot hide in the form of an angel for long.  The nature rebels.

He felt like Lucifer, the Great Deceiver.  Could she overlook his appearance to see into his heart?

He was fooling himself.  He was up against too powerful a force opposite him.  A mortal man, even if he didn’t have the magical advantages of a tengu. Surely the man would win in any battle between them.  And he knew that he had much more to lose than a friendship.  His rival would wear his head on his battle helmet.  The man had joked before to the woman about this, but he knew this man was  a barbarian at heart.

No, his love, his admiration for her would have to remain secreted in the bottom of his heart.  He chanced losing both of them and that would be unbearable, even for a stoic tengu.

If not love, how could he protect her?  Only the mystical gods knew what would happen and even they sometimes faked it.

Bah.  He wished he was back in San Francisco, in that park, in the form of a pigeon.  Then he could look up skirts as he strutted around and there would be no complaints.

Still, he knew why he mourned. She was the only one who knew what the world was about.  The parochial mentality of the people around him drove him nuts. Though he wasn’t affected by the diseases of humanity, (except for bird flu), they still waved their  amulets in the faces of the sick, they smoked up the room with incense until the sick couldn’t breathe, and brewed noxious potions for them to swallow.  They usually died. Or maybe, because all of this.   A little common sense and some soap and water would work miracles.

She knew this.  She also knew nostrums that could save lives.  He was sure of it.  Further, she was the only one he could talk with about history.  He couldn’t read, not many birds could, there were not schools for them, schools were for fish, but still he could ask questions.  And he did.  She told him about the world before their century, and of course, after it.  The world was a pretty big place, and though his eyes were closed as he flew by the moon, he knew something of this.

These generals!  These nobles! They thought they knew about warfare?  Hah!  They knew nothing.   As a pigeon walking around San Francisco, he had seen television in store fronts.  His hackles raised at the inhumanity of nations!  Atomic bombs, nuclear bombs, these were just some of the arsenal of these modern warlords.  These daimyos who went to war against each other?  They might have been hurling rocks and sticks at the opposition, jumping up and down like baboons considering what was to come.  His century, right now, hadn’t really seen the guns yet.  These men only had the blunderbusses of the Spanish who threw them away.

The men of this century were savages.  They killed for the sport of it.  The  samurai were the worse.  They killed commoners for anything they thought an offense,  The only laws were those that came from Edo, and most of those were ignored.  The real law lay within the two swords carried by men, and there were too many walking the streets.  He had trained the yamabushi, who trained many samurai, but things had gotten out of control.

He picked at his feathers.  Even if she could come to love him, where would he take her?  Tengus lived in mountains, in nests, where they fought other tengus for territory and tripped up arrogant Buddhist priests.  What would she think of that?

She didn’t lay eggs, and she wouldn’t know how to clean a nest properly.  And she didn’t have feathers to fluff in the cold months. She would be disgusted by the food she would have to eat.  It would be a bitter life for her.  He loved her more than that.

He knew she was a pawn in this bigger game.  Lord Mori needed her knowledge to build a bigger life for himself.  He was ambitious, he was a daimyo.  But could she deliver what he wanted?

Then he realized  if she tied her wagon to Lord Mori, he would have to secret her away from court life.  She would always live in the shadows of the castle. Was that any better than living in a warm nest in the mountains?

Perhaps there was hope.

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2017

 

 

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3 Responses to ““Kimono”….a Tengu speaks.”

  1. Frank Hubeny Says:

    Congratulations on finished Kimono!

    Like

  2. ladynyo Says:

    Thanks, Frank. Ten years of research and writing…and editing. Now? I want to go through the entire book and do a final/final edit. When this will get published, I haven;t a clue, but it is my first full length novel. I hope the characters delight other readers as much as they have delighted me!

    Like

  3. look at here now Says:

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    Like

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