For anyone who read my post last mother’s day, The Beginning of a Tale, this is a continuation of that story. It’s a little short, but I think it is a good introduction to Tachi.
As the moon ascends to her full height the clouds of pollen settle on the ground, raining like volcanic ash. It falls upon the caravan, clinging to every crevice of cloth draped around those wayfarers. It builds a blanket along the road, inches deep at parts. A single set of tracks goes before the travelers, terminating in a little figure the size of a thumb. Tachi watches this vanguard’s tireless trek, and remembers his passing in the early moonmorning.
Like a ghost he had broken through the mists behind them, his presence nearly unnoticed. He marched to the head of the line, passing each of their members without a glance or word. Only the sound of his crossbow was heard, clinking with his regular steps. The hunter’s sign rested over his heart, foreboding of a monster’s presence.
As the little figure approaches the fork she prays to the sun he will turn left. Over the hill’s crest he disappears down the rightmost path. “It’s bad luck to tread the way of a hunter,” she whispers to herself. Tachi breaks from the line and the train stops. In the glimmer of the redlight she takes three paces from her company, turns, and kneels before them. The faceless spectators, known only by their spot in line, turn and look down upon her. Bowing, she presses her face into the dust.
“Your most excellent pardon,” she begins. Sitting up from her reverent position she places her hands together and holds them before her face. Resting on her knees, she continues, “A hunter hunts before us. Is the left not as pleasant as the right? Can tradesmen not sell and barter in another town?”
No answer comes. Their leader turns towards the road and obediently the line of robed figures pivot. Dust flies from their clothes forming a cloud around them. She rolls back onto her toes and stands, holding her hands before herself the whole time. Bowing head once more she says, “Your humblest indulgence, master.”
Tachi reenters the line, and they return to their march, following in the hunter’s steps. The moon ash has stilled its airy dance and lays upon the ground where chance ordains. They begin to climb the hillside. The drying pollen now crunches beneath their feet. One by one they surmount the crest. Tachi watches the descending heads before her, till finally it is her moment to stand atop the peak.
In a little dale rests the simple huts of farmers. A conflagration of the denizens make a half circle about a dark spot, the hunter. Beneath Tachi’s feet the caked moon ash slides, and she collapses onto the slanted earth. The momentum is too great, and an avalanche of pollen sweeps her tumbling form into the dell.
Twisting and turning, she knows not which way is up. Enveloped within her own cloud of dust she descends. The barren slope holds no recourse, her grasping hands find nothing to latch onto and stop her fall. Down she goes, until, suddenly, her rolling journey ceases as her head rams into something solid as stone. Obscured by the cloud she grasps the unseen obstruction, and feels the hard calf of a man. As the dust settle she looks up into the dread hunter’s black mask.
Read the first part Here: The Beginning of a Tale