July 19, 2010

Okurokami - part 1

This story like many stories begins with a birth and with blood.

Long ago, in an impoverished yet noble family, a little girl was born with long hair as dark as clouded nights and so glossy it would reflect every star above when the clouds parted.

At first her parents were delighted: being born with hair was considered an excellent omen. They laughed and imagined she would grow into a beautiful young woman who would marry favourably. But as the weeks turned into months, people began to notice that their personalities had changed. Where once they had been relatively pleasant and open people they had become secretive and short tempered, they turned visitors away be they friends or family, and no one could see their baby daughter.

It was the nursemaid who was the first to realise that they had gone completely mad when they ordered her to put the child to the blade. The nursemaid bought some time by claiming that such a deed must be accomplished at the darkest hour, and promised she would execute their order that very night. As soon as she had a chance she swathed the child and escaped, but her departure was quickly discovered… The nursemaid used the last seconds before the raving parents caught up with her to hide the child in the tall grasses in the ditch next to the footpath.

Just in time to save the child from the raving parents who promptly slew the nursemaid. The mad couple argued over the slain woman’s corpse and returned to their home. The next morning, a villager who had come to deliver vegetables found them dead, they had killed themselves. The local priest was called in who claimed that a curse was at work and that the home should be burnt to protect the villagers from it.

And so, dutifully the villagers set the house afire and put the whole affair behind them. Little thought was given to the child and those who did dismissed it as probably having been the first victim to her parents’ insanity.
No one knew that a blind vagabond had found the infant child crying in the ditch and had taken her away.

The next part will be up Wednesday.