'“Yoshi!” I call his name over and over but the valley remains silent. Not even an echo. Yoshi is not here.
It’s three weeks since we saw the smoke and he left to return to the White Tiger Temple. Is he safe with our friends Mei and Du Feng or fighting for his life as the Temple burns?
I wish I went with him but Sensei shook his head. “Yoshi must go alone. He will attract less attention that way and I know a man who can help him travel quickly. This man only owns one horse.”
So Yoshi left and I stayed behind.
Day after day, Mikko, Kyoko, Taji and I trudge after Sensei, north towards the Great Wall. But I am always looking over my shoulder, searching the horizon for my friend. I wish I knew where he was. Sometimes it aches to have one leg missing, but without my blood brother, I feel an even greater hurt.
“Come on, Niya.” Kyoko pulls me away from the cliff side. “Yoshi will be back as soon as he can.”
“But what if he needs me and I don’t even know?”
She looks directly into my eyes and through to my heart. “You would know.”
Deep within me, the White Crane nods its agreement.
“Time to eat,” Sensei calls and my stomach rumbles in answer.
Another long tiring day has tucked itself under the mountain’s edge. Kyoko hands out rice rolls and peaches picked from the Temple orchards, while Taji distributes the blankets.
We huddle together. Not for warmth, the evening air is cool and comfortable after a day in the sun. Not for safety either. Samurai kids are not afraid of the night and the back road has been empty for days. We draw together because it feels good to laugh and talk. Until sleep tugs me close and the moon dips its weary head in my direction.
Copyright © 2007 Sandy Fussell