Misty Mountains Part 4 | Morgan Wood

The dramatic conclusion to Morgan Wood’s Misty Mountains quartet.


Misty Mountains Part 4

Morgan Wood

The Queen’s Cryptographer Award Part 4


 

Her voice brings me from the darkness, mumbled words drifting in the quiet. I open my eyes to see her, her tear stained face looking far off, short hair sticking to her tears. My head rests in her lap and I sigh as her fingers comb through my hair.

“Let us sing together friend. Let us sing until the…” Her words trail off as the sliding door is slid open. Naka stands tall and his smile grows as our eyes meet.

“Good, you are awake! I thought you might sleep through the morning. Now that you are awake let me show you my favorite part of this place.” His smile drops as he stares at Yuko. I can feel her tremble as he enters. “You come as well.”

He offers his hand to me. Not wanting to be struck again I sit up and take his hand, struggle to my feet as my head throbs in pain. I consider commenting on it but the threat of being struck again if not something worse keeps my tongue held. We walk through the temple, thin halls with bare walls. There is nothing to focus my sights so I withdraw to my thoughts.

How am I to convince them to return? How had I thought simply appearing would move them? Why did I have to bring Yuko into this mess?

Vaguely I recognize the room we enter and the large wooden doors we pass through. The lion statue stands tall, a dark figure against a dark forest. It must be early morning, for even the sun has yet to rise. We walk on, the darkness obscuring any familiar sights. I grab for Naka’s hand for guidance, a childish move, and his laughter stings. I want to hold Yuko’s hand as well but she refuses my silent offer as I hold out my hand. I can hear her stumbling in over the terrain, the ground slick from fresh rain fall.

It is not till pink begins to tinge the horizon that we reach Naka’s destination. He guides me gently towards the cliff side and I look over the landscape. Below stands the former capital, the palace an eyesore against the cityscape. Beyond that lays rice fields and small villages littered about. The day has come for the sky goes from darkness to light, the sun rising slowly as we stand in the chill morning air.

“It’s beautiful.” I breathe in the fresh mountain air. I look to Yuko but she refuses to meet my gaze.

“Yes.” Naka agrees. Silence stretches on for a long moment before he steps away from me. “A proposition, dear sister.” He cracks his knuckles deliberately and smiles. “I and Oama will return with you, if…” He taps his chin slowly and I watch as his gaze wanders. I tense as it falls on Yuko. “If that woman dies.” I look to Yuko, and his words slowly reach into me, clench their talons around my heart. “A simple exchange. Two descendants of the imperial family for a single servant.”

“I am not you. I refuse to take a life.” His eyebrows shoot up and his lips stretch into a thin line.

“I did that for the sake of us all. And if you believe so thoroughly that Oama and I are necessary in the court than you will do what needs to be done.”

“I refuse.”

“Do you refuse to take a life or do you refuse to take hers?” I tense, fear and anger battling within me.

“What does that matter?” He crosses his arms and sneers down at me.

“Hashi-“

“Yuko not now.”

“Goodbye.” I turn to where she stood only to find her cowering figure gone. “I love you.” I turn towards her voice and my blood runs cold. Yuko stands at the edge of the cliff, smile small and hands knit together. “I love you Hashi.”

“Yuko.” She takes a step back. I move towards her but my body is slow. I reach out to her but she is too far away. And before I can speak again she is falling, a flash of movement ending in a scream. I can hear screaming as I run to the Cliffside but something tries to hold me back. I struggle to follow, to see Yuko again. I can hear only screaming.

But the screams die eventually and what is left is silence. I am on the ground, hands dug into the mud, throat aching and face wet with tears. I see Naka edge towards the cliff, watch him look down. A low whistle pierces the air, his pursed lips the source probably.

“I was not expecting that….” He fidgets with his clothing, expression uncomfortable. “Hashihito I… will get Oama. We should leave soon.” He leaves but I don’t care. I don’t care about them coming home. I don’t care about the future of the country.

My love has left me again.

She broke her promise.

I am all alone.
These thoughts come in whispers and each thought burns inside me, a pain I have no way to soothe. I hear distantly the silly song from our childhood and I sing along quietly, unsure what else to do.