Friday, August 29, 2008

Song of Momoki - Act II

Here's Act 2 of "Song of Momoki". It's a long one! Enjoy!


“Song of Momoki”
© 2008 by Charles Shaver. All rights reserved.


ACT II: Momoki the Marmoset in Hell

THUS SANG THE GRASSHOPPER: Wherein Many Gather at the Peony Tea House; Gogi the Grasshopper Speaks with the Ghost of Momoki; Wu Chan Chu Curses All Demons; Rdiant Gui Enlists the Aide of Momoki



With veritable swiftness did a plague of rumors, of words and knowledge spread across every country in every land; whispers so feared they passed over lips softly, faintly only after Kalavata had come nigh and night had swept over the land; knowledge so chilling adults swore never to speak it in the presence of innocence; so horrid were these that they rivaled the tales coming from the Plain of Adoration about the demon-dog Yaska Selith.

Some claimed the one they spoke of was a demon, others demanding him a mere mortal, a man possessed. Few denied, however, that he was a man of insanity, a man of no morals. And though his legacy, as it came to be, in every land he came to he was never noticed until it was far too late. This lead to fevered debates about his mortality, about his purpose, about whether or not he could bend night around him so as to slip in to any village or town or tiny hamlet all across the world to take his next victim.

His victims were the only trace he ever left. And he never left them whole. He left, instead, only their skinned bodies. A creature that could conduct such a matter as skin another was surely a monster and it was the passion for a monster that allowed Renorio – the true monster, the young man with little affectation to his person, the young man that mingled with crowds of men at any hour, the young man whose only discernable difference from all others was, perhaps, on the moment of rare occasions when he would grow quiet and watching as if waiting for something.

Renorio came into any land he pleased. He clumsily made friends, but made friends nonetheless and his stammering ways were often seen as some small shyness that was, for those that met him, charming. He would sleep in the beds of others, eating their food and living the life of a beggar of alms. Then, inevitably, he would grow very quiet. He would stand and stare as night swept over the land. Soon thereafter he would find an opportune moment – either when his host or hosts were sleeping or had their trusting backs turned to him with work – that he would take their life. he preferred sneaking up on his prey. He did not enjoy a good struggle. Rather, he enjoyed his victim to be supple and yielding under his knife.

He would skin them all immediately. On one occasion, while staying with a country farmer who had been widowed and childless and welcomed Renorio’s company, as he skinned the man with increasing skill his mind wandered and his stomach growled with hunger and Renorio found himself eating the flesh of the dead farmer.

With each new kill he tanned some of the skin and added it with awkward stitches to that of his brother’s. He soon found himself in possession of a long, tanned, malleable cloak with attached cowl that lifted over his head hung before his face to a point just below his nose and with crude eyeholes. As soon as his killing was complete he would go forth under this murder-cloak in heavy rains or deep in the country and far from others. He would never allow himself to be seen with it by others.

At last, whether by design from the Cosmos or by chance, Renorio found himself standing before the vast and elaborately decorated Peony Tea House. In his pack was his stitched skin. He stood and wondered at the teahouse’s features and at the creatures that passed through its doors. Of all the places he had ever been, this place more than any other he felt he could melt into and never be noticed.

He watched as some Gifted Ones passed around him to enter the teahouse. Renorio secretly hated these creatures, fearing them and his inability to command them. He wondered if a mortal like himself could ever kill and skin a Gifted One, but knew that could never be. Only another Gifted One or a god could kill a Gifted One, so he had been told all his life.

He suddenly wanted to leave, but the desire to peek within the walls before him was too great.

Renorio entered the Peony Tea House.



Wu Chan Chu pivoted her shoulders, swinging her arm wide and delivering a backhanded blow to Comet Fox, sending him crashing into a wall of the Peony Tea House.

“Where is it?” demanded Wu Chan Chu.

Standing nearby was Sal Igo, the owner of the Peony, and three of his servants. Sal Igo watched intently.

Comet Fox, fur ruffled and jaw sore from the blow, picked himself from off the floor and stared at his frog companion. “I had nothing to do with the theft,” said he.

“Liar!” again Wu Chan Chu struck Comet Fox with such a blow that the fox god stumbled backwards and fell to the floor. “You are the only trickster god here!”

Once more Comet Fox lifted himself from the floor, this time furious. He raged, “The Peony attracts sordid folk and breeds treachery! Gambling and prostitution reign here and you accuse only me?”

“This is my home!” cried Wu Chan Chu. “This is my livelihood and you foul it with your filthy, filching paws!”

“I did nothing!” defended Comet Fox.

One of the servants bent Sal Igo’s ear, saying, “Master, the time nears for our champion to prove her worth again.”

Sal Igo nodded. “Come, my champion. You’ve fights to fight.”

Wu Chan Chu started towards the main portion of the teahouse, glowering at Comet Fox. “We’ll deal later.”

Comet Fox retorted, cursing, “To the Hells with you, old friend.”

He lifted into the air and streaked like as a glittering comet through the interior of the teahouse, leaving it at once.

“I am happy he is gone,” said Sal Igo as he led Wu Chan Chu to the fighting floor.

Wu Chan Chu only grunted.

Challenger after challenger stepped forth from the crowd in hopes of proving themselves against the frog demi-goddess who was quickly growing her legacy within the teahouse. Challenger after challenger was put down by Wu Chan Chu. Her strong, long legs and powerful elbows crushed her opponents. In the end, no one stood before her and she was once more claimed Peony Champion and given the right to room at the teahouse and take a portion of all bets in her favor.

As Sal Igo called for the end of the fights for the night, one more challenger stepped from the crowd. Unlike most others, he was a Gifted One. He was a man and bird at once with long, colorful wings and a kestrel head with a cracked beak. About his arms ropes had been wrapped and tied. He was Motharus, son of Stork and the mortal and now dead Drae and vassal to the demon Adonai Ku-jal.

“I would fight your champion,” said Motharus.

“No,” Sal Igo shook his head vehemently. “Our champion is tired. She must rest.”

Intrigued by this new challenger, Wu Chan Chu said, “Stand aside. I’ll let him try my Muay Thai.”

Demi-goddess and demi-god squared off. The crowd, sensing the energy of the fight, gathered around the wooden floor, betting and braying in loud tones. As bets were placed and attentions turned to the two fighters, the people began to chant, “Ku-mi-te! Ku-mi-te! Ku-mi-te!”

Wu Chan Chu and Motharus circled one another, passing around the outer edge of the wooden floor. The fight was begun.

Fresh incense filled the air as Motharus struck first, lunging forward, wings stretching to glide him across the floor at Wu Chan Chu. The odd flying charge was a feign and Wu Chan Chu read it well. Motharus had plunged forward, his fists out but with little force behind them. Wu Chan Chu sidestepped the attack, lifting a knee towards her opponent’s chest.

Motharus planted his feet and grabbed the knee with one arm while delivering an elbow to her chest.

Wu Chan Chu stumbled backwards. She righted herself and jumped, her knees outstretched and targeting.

Motharus flapped his wings and lifted himself above the assault. He flew up to the second level of the teahouse. People scattered in ever direction, making room for him. He quickly eyed the god Hanuman who sat in a plush chair nearby, watching the fight as he was fed fresh fruits from a polished oak bowl.

Wu Chan Chu, with a strong leap, joined Motharus on the second floor.

Some on the first floor, people who had pushed and shoved their way to stand at the edge of the fighting floor, protested this shift in the fight. All others, however, cheered this new development.

“Don’t try to escape me,” Wu Chan Chu warned.

“I don’t run from you,” said Motharus as he gestured towards Hanuman, “I merely bring the show closer to our honored guest.”

Wu Chan Chu attacked with a hard punch aimed for Motharus’ head.

Motharus parried the punch and sent forth a short jab of his own.

Wu Chan Chu parried this jab, stepped towards Motharus, grabbed an arm and brought a knee up and into his gut.

Motharus gasped loudly before bending all the way forward and using his cracked beak to peck rather painfully at Wu Chan Chu’s chest.

Wu Chan Chu let go the kestrel demi-god and placed a hand on her wounded breast. He hand came away speckled with blood. She grunted and clenched her fist.

Motharus pressed the fight with a pair of punches.

Wu Chan Chu blocked both, but found the second punch buckling as Motharus bent his arm and sent his elbow around her blocking hand into her shoulder, knocking her backwards into several members of the crowd who pushed her towards Motharus.

Wu Chan Chu let them and while Motharus was ready with another punch, he was not ready for Wu Chan Chu to duck low under his fist and tackle him, her shoulder slamming into his waist. Afraid she might push her opponent all the way into the seated god Hanuman, she instead pulled up. She reached up Motharus’ shoulder, her arm wrapped around his torso, twisted her shoulders and throwing Motharus through the wood railing. Motharus crashed through the wood, splinters digging into his back. So fast was his descent he couldn’t flap hard enough to keep himself from falling to the wood floor far below.

The crowd cried out wildly as Wu Chan Chu leapt once more, her legs folded so her knees stuck out beneath her, driving down to the first floor, but Motharus rolled sideways and out of the way. Wu Chan Chu’s knees dug into the floor, cracking the planks. Splinters ate their way into her knees.

She struggled to get up, her knees weak with wounds, and fell on her butt.

Motharus was the first to stand. He turned on his prey. With two quick steps he lifted a knee into the seated Wu Chan Chu’s temple. Her head snapped sideways, blood spraying from her mouth and nose. Motharus did not give up the pursuit. He stepped into her and punched downward into the back of her head. Blood sprayed from her nose and her eyes rolled up. One last time he kicked her, bringing his foot up under her chin, making her lower jaw snap loudly against her upper jaw. Blood flooded from Wu Chan Chu’s mouth. She toppled.

Sal Igo ran over, waving his hands frantically. “It’s over!” he cried. “The kestrel-headed man is our new champion!”

The crowd roared. Many, those who had been great fans of Wu Chan Chu and placed bets in her favor, sent up cries of dissent.

Wu Chan Chu blinked. The crowd was drowned out by a high-pitched ringing in her head. She placed her hands under herself and lifted her head and body off the wood floor. She glared, weary-eyed, at the teahouse’s new champion. She wanted to continue the fight, but her blurry vision told her she had been defeated.



The heat of day had surprised the grasshopper. The evenings had been going through a cooling trend. Gogi hated the humidity, but knew he had to work nonetheless.

Szu Ri had asked him not to work this day, instead suggesting they spend the hours lounging in the cool mound of mud they called a home. Gogi had said he would not do this. “There is work to do,” said he and with a timid smile added, “and I’ve a home to feed.”

Szu Ri could only smile in return. She could not bring herself to taking away her love’s work and worth.

So as Gogi worked, throwing out the line he used to capture bugs and wrangle them in off the water or to catch minnows from out the creak, Szu Ri sat in the shade of a nearby tuffet, weaving together a new bowl with a lid in which she planned on preserve and saving some manner of food.

Gogi had retrieved his thatched grass hat from the muddy banks of the creak and brushed it off, but had not completely cleaned it. As such the mud had dried and stained its brim here and there. He liked it thus, thinking it made him look a bit dashing and work-laden.

As Gogi and Szu RI worked, fighting the heat with their will more than anything, Gogi hummed.

Soon, though, he began to sing aloud:

“‘Tis a rough, tough life
We mortal ones always know
Yet each day we work
On and on we must go

But we won’t shed a tear
An’ we’ll stay our fears
For ‘tis the only life we need
An’ we’ll plant our seeds
An’ we’ll smoke our leaves
S’long as we’ve friends like Momoki”

Gogi looked at Szu Ri, somewhat timidly and from the corner of his eye.

Szu Ri smiled. She said, “I think he’d like that.”

Gogi smiled a big, bright smile and said, “It’s not great, but I think it would make him laugh.”

He threw his line out into the water.



The sun was setting when Shabar returned home. He was greeted by his family full of smiles. His son jumped about at his feet and Shabar handed him a small handcrafted wooden toy elephant. His wife kissed him and held him. She asked, “How did it go?”

Shabar pulled forth a leather pouch full of coins and handed it to her with a smile.

She took the pouch and peered into it. She set it on a table and said, “That’s a good sum, but we’ve little use for money here.”

“I can return and buy more supplies for us. Winter approaches and our children could use new blankets.”

Alia looked at her husband. She had hoped his trip to the city of the Bizo would quash his desires, to temper his guilt for his part in the Elephant Crusade. But with his mention of returning, with the way he seemed afraid to look at her, she knew his trip did no good. It perhaps strengthened his desires.

“I had hoped you’d come home ready to be a father,” she said.

Shabar rubber her belly and bent low to kiss her there, to kiss the child that grew within her. “But I am ready to be a father again.”

He stood and finally looked her in the eyes.

“How was it?” she asked.

Shabar, hesitant, said, “Worse than ever.”

They stood staring at one another moment.

“The things they do,” said Shabar. “The things they do to those beasts, they are ugly things.”

Alia shook her head. “No. You can’t. Whatever you’re thinking, you can’t.”

Shabar sighed. “I can’t help but think it started with me.”

“No, it didn’t. It started with the Empress. If anyone is to blame it’s her.”

“But I could have done something.”

“But you can’t now. Now you are a father and your place is here by the side of your wife to be a father to your children. If anyone is to do something about what is happening, let someone else do it.”

Again they were quiet. Shabar’s head was lowered with thought.

Alia asked, “What about our dear friend Albert?”

“What we heard was true. The Empress herself greeted me into her palace and I asked her of the matter. She said Albert had turned traitor and the matter ended with him spitting upon her and her aid – the fish creature known as Fei Li Mi – ending Albert’s life in her defense.”

Alia squinted. “That doesn’t sound like Albert.”

“I know, but I asked a few others and no one contested her tale.”

“What in the Heavens would possess Albert to spit upon the Empress?”

Shabar shook his head. “Whatever it may be, we can be assured his actions were just. He was a good man, a decent man.”

Alia nodded in agreement.

“And once more,” added Shabar, “I learned one of the elephants I herded – a young one named Balori – was made into a Gifted One by Albert. This elephant confronted the Empress about the atrocities against his kind and she sent him on a quest. If he succeeds, she will release all the elephants.”

Alia shook her headed first slowly, then fiercely. “No. No no no no no. No! You can’t!”

She plunged herself into his arms. “You can’t! I won’t let you leave me. you can’t join him. I won’t let you. I won’t let you.”

Alia sobbed deeply into her husband’s chest.

They stood in an embrace, their son playing at their feet, as the sun speared rays through their house and across their forms before finally dipping beyond the horizon.

Kalavata overtook the world.



Though dark of night flew over the land, their forms could be spotted upon the edge of the horizon. Negkendra, Akadia Dorn and Macia Thrace were riding hourseback while Balori sat atop his mystic cloud floating nearby and some small distance ahead. Their journey had been long and the three men showed signs of having lost some weight. They each were sore with riding and tired with the days’ recent heat. They had decided to ride early in the morning and only after dusk, saving the rest of the day for sleep.

Balori had been silent for two days. It was Akadia who approached him now.

“Balori,” said he, “you’ve gone quiet. Your eyes look to things far beyond the horizon and you barely eat when we stop to do so. Know I how your mind must roil with pain for your kind–”

“You know nothing,” Balori interrupted. Balori huffed, “We proceed far too slowly. I could have flown the length of the many countries by now and made my first imprints upon the Plain of Adoration. And we do not truly know if the gem we chase, the gem you saw, was the very Jewel of Zingtai. And with each day that passes over us more of my people perish. The futility of it all weighs on me.”

Akadia nodded. “Why not go on ahead of us?” he suggested. “We will ride onward and meet up with you there.”

Again Balori huffed. “I fear then the gem we seek is genuine, that it is the Jewel of Zingtai after all and I would have troubles taking it alone. As much as I hate you three by my side now, I admit the logic of our union. Though,” Balori finally took his eyes from the horizon to peer at Negkendra, “I trust not that mahout.”

Akadia also looked to Negkendra, who was still behind them and did not hear any of their conversation. He said, “He is here with good reason. It was he that sent me to see the atrocities of the Elephant Crusade. It was he that first left it. I merely followed his footsteps. His heart, like mine, could not house enough shame for our previous actions so now he and I follow you to right the wrongs we had a hand in creating.”

Balori harrumphed. “Bah! Shame. What know you of shame? Shame is watching your mother die while you stand near unable to save her.”

Akadia nodded. “Shame is also the hand that killed your mother. And though not my hand committed the murder, my hands are as stained with blood.”

Again Balori harrumphed, though he saw Akadia’s point. He flapped his star-filled ears in irritation, making it appear as though a galaxy swirled about his head.

That night they stopped to sleep under an huge oak tree. Their sleep was broken by restlessness. Early the next morning odd, drunken singing came to them and peeled away any last bit of sleep that was in them.

As they rose they saw Comet Fox, filled with fruit wines and rice wines and every other kind of wine that had found its way into his paws. He staggered, almost falling with every step. An empty clay jug, each once filled with corn whiskey, filled each of his hands.

“It’s a Gifted One,” said Macia upon seeing Comet Fox, “just like you.”

Balori harrumped at this. “He’s nothing like me. I can control myself.”

Comet Fox stumbled toward them. He was sick and barely conscious. His words slurred and his song was an old drinking shanty. His blurred vision cleared long enough to notice the three men and the gigantic Balori he had almost run into.

“G’day, gents,” said Comet Fox before he fell on the ground.

“By the gods,” professed Akadia, “he’s more drunk than anyone I’ve ever seen!”

Negkendra, without thought, went to Comet Fox’s side and lifted him to a seated position.

Comet Fox laughed and winked at him. The clay jars dropped from his hands. He patted Negkendra on one shoulder and said, “Thassa grassaa boo… haha, what I mean to say is year good boy.”

“He smells worse than a distillery,” Negkendra said as he backed away.

“What could cause a Gifted One to get like this?” asked Macia.

Akadia answered, “His heart must be heavy. I doubt any of us have lived without at least a week of drunkenness due to an unrequited love or some other such matter.”

The men nodded.

Balori shook his head in disgust. He said, “Let’s get our things together and head out.”

“What about breakfast?” asked Akadia. “We’ll need our first meal to strengthen us against this morning’s ride.”

Balori sighed. “Very well. But let’s make it a quick meal. I wish to spend as little time on our laurels as possible.”

So breakfast was fixed and Negkendra attempted to feed the drunk Comet Fox as he slipped in and out of consciousness.

“Don’t feed him,” Balori warned.

“He’ll need to eat to stave off the alcohol,” said Negkendra, ignoring Balori and feeding Comet Fox a small bit of oats.

Comet Fox shook his head at the taste, making gagging sounds.

“He doesn’t like it. Leave him be,” said Balori and this time Negkendra followed his instructions.

Comet Fox sobered enough to speak with them a little as the men gathered their provisions.

“We go to find the Jewel of Zingtai,” explained Negkendra.

Comet Fox nodded, accepting some hot tea from the man and sipping it slowly. “Oh? A quest! Adventurers on a quest!”

“Yes, I suppose we are.” Negkendra smiled. He then added in a lower tone so no one else could hear. “Though I confess I fear this quest in a small way.”

“Oh! A quest!” Comet Fox sipped again. He whispered, “Why fear? Fear is ugly. Don’t let fear into you.”

Negkendra confessed, “From the rumors we follow, we seek a demon. I am a mere mortal, not a Gifted One like you. If I did not feel so strongly in the matter, if I were not so invested, I would not go.”

“Oh-ho! Demon! Haha! Hoo-hoo! I once fought a demon,” said Comet Fox. “It was wary times for me. But I made good friends. Good, good friends.” Comet Fox sobbed.

Balori approached. “We must go now. Come.”

Negkendra asked, “What about the fox? Surely we cannot leave him.”

“He’ll be fine,” said Balori. He blew the cloud from his nose and mounted it.

“He may die if we leave him here,” said Negkendra.

“A Gifted One? Die from whiskey? I doubt it. And if he does, that is a matter for the Cosmos. Our matter is the stars. Come.”

Wondering if a Gifted One could die from alcohol. He doubted it. He mounted his horse along with the others. Balori and the three men rode away.

Comet Fox, having been gifted a warm cup of tea, drank from it deeply before he rolled from his seated position sideways to lying on the ground. The remainder of his tea spilled out, soaking into the dirt near one of the oak’s massive roots. As sleep overcame him, he mumbled, “I’m sorry… but I didn’t… no… no, no, no… made good, good friends…”



Every privacy booth was full except one and Renorio took it. Someone came to him and took his order of tea. He wasn’t sure what else to order. It seemed only right to him to order tea in a teahouse. The tea was brought to him and he paid with the few coins he had taken from his last victim. The tea was hot with flowery taste of jasmine. He let it cool some before enjoying it.

He could not believe the bustle of the teahouse. He knew right off tea was not the only matter important in the Peony. As he wondered what other dealings went on within the Peony, the floor was cleared in its center. People crushed in near his booth. He could barely see the fighters, but could hear them and saw bets being placed and he understood perfectly.

He did not like the people crowding near his booth, but of course said nothing of it.

Then one man turned, cursed about not being able to see the fighter nor push his way through the crowd, then asked Renorio if he could stand on the seat across the table from him so he could see the fight.

Renorio did not like this idea, but allowed it because he feared angering the man and causing a scene. Renorio enjoyed more than anything his ability to blend into the crowd and to be relatively invisible.

The man thanked Renorio and stood on the seat, watching the fight. He watched many fights from there. So many fights did he watch, in fact, that Renorio thought to leave the booth to the man and find another small hovel within which to hide and relax. But the crowd around the booth was so thick he knew he would not be able to move through it.

The man stood, watching. Unlike the rest of the crowd, this man did not cheer or hoot or make other such noise to or for the fight or the fighters. He instead watched intently, as if studying.

A final fight was fought. The crowd roared – half with glee, half with sorrow – and Renorio could make out from the nearby conversations the house champion had been defeated. The crowd thinned, backing away from his booth. At last Renorio was once more at ease.

The man jumped down from the seat. He sat across from Renorio and looked at him. “Thank, kind sir. I needed to watch those fights. Let me buy you more tea as a sign of my gratitude.”

Renorio said that was not necessary, but the man ordered more tea anyway.

“My name is Sinverguenza,” said the man. “What is yours?”

“I am Renorio,” the skin-eater timidly said.

“Well met, Renorio. The is quite the establishment, is it not?”

Renorio, head down and unwilling to make eye contact, merely nodded.

New tea was brought to them and set upon the table.

“It’s been a long time since I last was here,” said Sinverguenza. “I’ve come here looking for fighters. It would seem I was correct to come here. At first I thought to hire that frog. So powerful and indomitable she seemed. Then that kestrel-headed one really gave her a fight! I think I should speak with him.”

Renorio poured himself tea and said, “I did not watch the fights. I sat here with my tea.”

Sinverguenza chuckled. “It’s a bloody business, fighting, but sometimes I would think it’s the only business to be involved with.”

Renorio only nodded in agreement. He wasn’t certain he truly agreed, but wanted to appear agreeable.

“You wouldn’t be a fighter, would you?” asked Siinverguenza.

“Me? Oh, no no no. I am but a farmer’s son.”

They chuckled together.

“I suppose you’ve not killed much more than chicken, eh?”

Renorio lifted his head and looked at Sinverguenza. He smiled a friendly, plain smile. He nodded. “Yes, not much more than chickens.” His mind went to the skins, the cloak he had made now hidden within his pack lying on the seat beside him.

Renorio thought a moment, wanting to switch the subject from off himself. “Why do you seek fighters?”

“For my master. He’s a powerful thing. He needs more fighters for his army.”

“An army? Is he a king?”

Sinverguenza smiled. “More powerful than a king.”

Renorio thought more on the matter. He thought of all the tales he had heard about the horrors of war, the blood spilled by warriors of armies. For a moment he wanted to ask if he could join, if he could lend his particular skills to whatever cause this Sinverguenza’s master sought. Then he thought of soldiers fighting against soldiers. He didn’t like the idea of others fighting against him. He said nothing of his thoughts.

Sinverguenza said, “Should you ever want to be more than a farmer’s son lopping off the heads of chickens, I’d say try your hand at the fights.”

Renorio shook his head. “Oh, no. I don’t much like it when they fight.”

Sinverguenza laughed. “Then you are certainly in the wrong place.”

Renorio looked around and said, “I suppose I am. I just came in for a bit of tea.”

Sinvergunza smiled. He drank down two cupfuls of tea, saying, “I’ve business to attend to. Thank you for the seat. May you fare well, Renorio.”

Renorio said, “Thank you.” He thought to wish Sinverguenza luck in his business, but Sinverguenza was already gone.

Renorio sat in his small booth, quietly finishing his tea. No one noticed him.

Sinverguenza left him. He walked through the teahouse, determined and searching. He found Motharus, but the kestrel-headed man was being swept away by Sal Igo, the teahouse’s owner, and his many servants. He watched as Sal Igo gave instructions to redecorate what he called the “Champion’s Room” for their new house champion. Many people tried to crush In on them to get near Motharus, to make friends with the new champion.

Sinverguenza thought to wait out the bustle around the new champion. He sat around, watching and waiting. All that time, so concentrated an effort had he made to spy out Motharus he did not realize he himself was being watched by Renorio.

At last, later that night, Motharus emerged from his new room to stretch his muscles. Sinverguenza approached.

“That was a good fight,” said he.

Motharus eyed him. “Thanks,” was all he gave.

“You know, my master looks for new fighters. I would have liked to offer a position in my master’s army to that frog demi-goddess, but then he fought you. Why not, thought I, recruit the one that defeated the master fighter Wu Chan Chu?”

Motharus’ eyes narrowed. “Who are you?”

“I am Sinverguenza, trusted servant to Yaska Selith. I have to ask you to join the ranks of his Bone Warrior army.”

Within Motharus’ head came the demonic voice of Adonai Ku-jal. “Yes, take this opportunity.”

“Will he lead me into greatness?” thought Motharus, this conversation going on within his head without anyone’s knowledge.

“Yaska Selith is powerful. His very existence defies the Cosmos. You must aide the one upon the Plain of Adoration. Do this.” And Adonai Ku-jal was gone.

Motharus studied Sinverguenza. At last he said, “I will join the ranks of your master.”

Sinverguenza smiled.

Sal Igo approached, saying, “Come, my champion. We must ready you for your first title defense.”

“I am no longer your champion,” said Motharus.

“How’s that?” asked Sal Igo.

“I’ve other matters elsewhere to tend to. I am through with your teahouse fights.”

“No! But you can’t! We need a champion!” Sal Igo protested.

“Find another. I’ve got other things to do.” Motharus nodded to Sinverguenza. “Lead the way.”

Sal Igo grabbed Sinverguenza by the arm. “What do you do with my champion?”

“I merely offer him greatness. I cannot help that my master’s offerings are superior to your free room and board.” Sinverguenza laughed and led Mothaurs toward the door of the Peony.

“No! No! We need a champion!” cried Sal Igo.

As Sinverguenza and Motharus neared the door, Sinverguenza felt a light finger tap upon his shoulder. He turned, thinking it to be Sal Igo again, but there found Renorio.

Sinverguenza squinted, looked at Renorio curiously.

“Yes?” he asked.

Renorio stammered a bit before he said, “I would like to join you.”

Sinverguenza considered denying Renorio’s request. He knew his master’s army needed more than farmer’s sons. But then he thought better of it, thinking the army of Bone Warriors could use some padding, some bolstered numbers. He smiled, saying, “Sure, my friend. Come with us. I’m certain my master will gladly take you.”



The day had dragged on and on. Kalavata was flying slowly, so slowly that Gogi wondered if he was tiring of his chase.

Gogi sat atop a large stone near the creak’s edge. He had dipped his hat in the water and put it on. It was now drying atop his head, cooling him. He looked at his calloused hands. He smiled.

Night at last came to him. The moon rose high. its light bounced off the creak’s surface and projected a glittering, glassy image in the distance.

“Momoki!” cried out Gogi.

He jumped from the stone and ran along the creak, chasing the spectral image. When at last he drew near, Gogi said, “Momoki? Is that you?”

The silvery, shining image of Momoki turned briefly too look at Gogi. It shook its head and mouthed the word “No” before disappearing.

The air grew cold around Gogi. He shook with nerves and chill. He walked quickly home.

Inside his mound-home, where Szu Ri was busily preparing their evening’s meal, Gogi sat in a small chair by the fire.

Seeing something had disturbed Gogi, Szu Ri asked, “What is it, Gogi?”

Gogi shook his head. “I thought I saw him again tonight.”

“Oh, Gogi,” she hugged him. “You can’t let your grief pester you. We’ve a new life. it’s one thing to sing praises about your old friend, but to imagine him nearby when he’s not will only hurt you. Please, Gogi, don’t do this to yourself.”

Gogi sighed. He hugged Szu Ri back.

They ate dinner together and went to bed together.

As they were falling asleep, Gogi felt the immensity of the world around him. He said to Szu Ri, “It’s a difficult thing to be a small creature in the enormous world.”

Szu Ri kissed him and said, “But we can still make our way.”

The next day, after all his work was once again done, Gogi lighted upon the very stone he had been sitting on the night before. Szu Ri came out of their mound-home to sit with him, worried for him. They held hands as they watched the night overtake the world and the moon’s glow dance on the surface of the creak. Once more the silvery image of their lost friend Momoki came to them. Szu Ri gave a gasp, “Oh!”

Gogi gave chase with Szu Ri flying after. As he neared the image, Momoki turned to him.

“Momoki! Please! Speak with me!” cried Gogi.

Momoki sighed.

Szu Ri landed at Gogi’s side.

“Please, Momoki! Say something!” Gogi beseeched.

Momoki nodded and said, “Hello, old friend.” As he spoke, his voice was as an echoing form of his old voice, as though he were standing deep within a cavern.

Timidly Gogi asked, “A-are you… dead?”

Momoki nodded.

“A-are you… a ghost?” Gogi winced at this, afraid of the answer.

Momoki said, “Something like a ghost.”

Szu Ri, whose voice wavered with fear, asked, “Have you come to haunt us?”

Momoki shook his head, “No.”

“Why are you here?” she asked.

“I wanted to see if you two were well. And I miss you both very much.”

“I have a garden!” blurted Gogi, wanting desperately to please his old friend. He was not disappointed as Momoki smiled.

“That’s good, Gogi. Have you planted your seeds well? Are they deep enough? If you don’t plant them deep enough they’ll wash away in the first rain.”

“He been doing well with the garden,” Szu Ri exclaimed proudly. Then she asked, “Are you well, Momoki?”

Gogi nodded at this, wanting to know.

Momoki’s shoulders lifted then descended again with a sigh. “We are well enough.”

“We?” asked Szu Ri. “Is Twila with you?”


“Can she visit, too?”

“I don’t know. I can’t entirely explain how I’m here. I’m not really here, you see. What you see is a misty form much like my old body. I have… a new skin within which I dwell. Each night after, well, after each day I curl up next to Twila and think of you two. Then I find myself here. It’s as if I ride my desires to your new home.”

This confused Gogi. He felt very foolish not knowing about important things such as death. At least he felt death was important since it seemed to affect everyone, even Gifted Ones and Gods. And it seemed far too final not to be important. But he mused whether or not death was truly final since, after all, he was looking upon the ghostly visage of his friend now.

At last Gogi said, “I-I miss you, Momoki. We both miss you. And Twila.”

“We miss you, too,” said Momoki.

“I-I wish there was a way we could remain together. Is there a way, Momoki? Is there a way?”

Momoki shook his head. “That I do not know. Perhaps. But the only knowledge I have is in death.” At this Momoki stammered, he feared his words may affect and influence Gogi. “But, but death is not the answer, either. I was sent to, well, where I was sent I because I am being punished by the Cosmos for the desires I had that conflicted with my purpose.”

“Punishment?” Szu Ri asked. She feared her next question. “Are you and Twila in Hell?”

Momoki took his time to answer. He did not want to tell them the truth, but he did not wish to lie to his friends. He told them the truth, “Yes, I’m afraid we are.”

“No!” cried Gogi.

Szu Ri began to cry. She hated the thought her old friend Twila may be suffering at the hands of some demon.

Gogi then asked a question he could not believe he had the courage to ask, but he so desperately wanted to know, to see his friend was truly well. “M-may we visit you?”

“No!” Momoki’s eyes were wide with horror. “No no no! You cannot! I won’t allow it!”

Gogi apologized.

The three were silent a moment.

Momoki said, “I should go.”

Szu Ri wiped her eyes and said, “Will you come again? Tomorrow? And will you bring Twila?”

Momoki thought a moment. He said only, “Perhaps.” He then disappeared.

Gogi and Szu Ri both shivered as the air about them grew cold.

On the third night Gogi and Szu Ri once more sat upon the stone. Momoki appeared before them. At his side, in glittering silvery whites, appeared the departed Twila. Old friends cried, pined to be able to hug one another, and generally held a great reunion. Old friends talked. Twila followed Szu Ri on a tour of their mound-home. when they finally settled, ghostly Momoki and ghostly Twila sat by the creak’s edge with their friends Gogi and Szu Ri.

They spoke.

“I wish there was a way we could again live together,” said Gogi.

“We are here and we are together,” reminded Momoki. “We can always visit.”

“We miss our old friends,” said Szu Ri.

“You know where we are. You know we are in Hell. There is no reason for you to want to live there. We certainly do not wish to be there.”

They were silent a moment.

It was Gogi who gave voice to reason, though he was uncertain of his words for his thoughts seemed so much larger than he. He spoke slowly, “Momoki, old friend. My dearest and oldest friend, I-I do not know the workings of the world. In my little life I have learned, however, that some appear to have paths set before them that will lead them unto greatness, while others are destined to be their friends.”

Again the four were silent a moment.

Gogi said, “We are friends, Momoki. We belong together.”

Twila crawled to Momoki’s side. She said, “Momoki, I do not know what I did to suffer in Hell. I don’t know that I agree with the reasons you are there. But as I said when we first were reunited: as long as I am with you, I can never truly suffer. Hell has no power over me. Perhaps it is the same for our dear friends.”

Momoki sighed. “Dear Twila, you are not in Hell to suffer. You are in Hell so that I may suffer all the more with the knowledge I have brought you there with me. It is no life to live. There is no place in Hell for the living. I fear our friends’ safety and well-being”

Gogi again spoke the words that welled in his heart. He repeated, “Some have paths set before them that will lead them unto greatness, while others are destined to be their friends.”

Momoki’s face drew downward, looking long and forlorn.

“Is there no way?” asked Twila.

“At least for a visit?” added Szu Ri.

Momoki thought. He said, “Perhaps there is a way, though it is not easy.”

And so it was agreed Gogi and Szu Ri would follow Momoki’s instructions. Well past midnight they set out from their home, diving deep into the dark forests nearby. Owls and nocturnal predators hooted and howled at the two small creatures. They ducked and weaved between blades of grass, under twigs and through mushy, leafy bedding.

At last they came to a part of the forest so dark they could bare see one another as they stood side-by-side. As per Momoki’s instructions, they closed their eyes. Momoki had said, “No matter what, no matter if you think you hear my voice calling out your name, do not open your eyes and look upon what is around you. Open your eyes only when I touch you upon the shoulders. You will know it is me for I alone will be able to touch you. Whatever is there cannot touch you or harm you unless you gaze upon their forms. This is most important, do not open your eyes. Do you understand me?”

Szu Ri and Gogi had said they understood.

As a final act before their first steps forward, Szu Ri and Gogi reached out to one another and clasped hands. They stepped forward.

Cries and screams, laughter and sobbing filled their ears. Voices ancient and new, alien and familiar called out to them. Szu Ri wanted desperately to say something to Gogi but was afraid he may get confused at the sound of her voice and answer another. She remained silent, content with merely squeezing his hand.

Gogi called out, “I love you, Szu Ri!” but his voice was lost amongst the screams and howls and whipping winds. The air shifted from freezing cold to oppressively hot.

On they walked.

Gogi thought he could hear sharp, angry teeth chattering beside his head. He winced, his eyes remaining closed, and his steps quickened. He then feared outrunning Szu Ri, but felt the tension in their arms slacken and he knew then she was keeping up with him.

Lapping, ugly sounds abounded. The ground beneath them shook. Gogi and Szu Ri stumbled about, so afraid. So very afraid were they that they nearly froze in their places, but a surge of desperation pushed them forward.

At last a voice came to Gogi’s head. It was calm and said matter-of-factly, “We have your love. We have Szu Ri. She opened her eyes and we took her from you. Her hand slipped away and we replaced it with a slug. We are busily raping her now.” At this terrible shrieks lifted onto the air.

“Hear that?” said the voice. “We’ve torn her wings from her body. Now we will eat her.”

Gogi cried out, “Szu Ri!” but no answer came. He wanted to open his eyes to see, to look at the love of his life and make sure she was still there. But Momoki’s warnings returned to him. “I don’t believe you!” he yelled at the voice.

The same voice came to Szu Ri. It said, “Death is upon you. Gogi has opened his eyes. We have slipped his hand from yours and replaced it with a snake. Open you eyes and join your lover. open your eyes as he has.”

“No!” cried out Szu Ri.

“Open your eyes. Gogi opened his eyes because he is so weak. Now he is dead.”

At this Szu Ri knew the voice was a liar for she knew Gogi was far from weak. She smiled contentedly and squeezed Gogi’s hand.

Gogi panted. His breath was escaping him with gasping fear.

At last the winds died. The voices grew silent. The ground stopped shaking.

A soft finger, a light touch fell upon Gogi’s shoulder. Another fell on Szu Ri’s shoulder.

They opened their eyes.

Before them stood Momoki is his ghastly, black, smoky form with crimson eyes and hat. Despite his horrendous form, Gogi and Szu Ri recognized him and were filled with cheer.

“D-did we do it? Did we really do it?” asked Gogi.

Momoki smiled an unseen smile. He nodded, “You did it, Gogi.”

They stood before the massive doors of the Chamber of Despair. Momoki leaned against them and they swung wide.

Together they walked into the courtyard to find Twila waiting for them.

Old friends rejoiced in their reunion.



Wu Chan Chu was given a chance to gather what few items she could call her own before she was officially removed from her room. Not knowing what else to do, she sidled up to the lone bar in the Peony and ordered rice wine for herself. She drank it quickly and deeply. A few of the Peony regulars bought her a few more drinks, sad to see her finally lose her title as champion of the teahouse. She accepted these gratefully.

At the far end of the bar, a wicked send up of elation was going on. She spied the member of a small group of people as being the benevolent host of the party. She wondered at him. She knew him as a regular and as a poor thief and a coward. She wondered why he was suddenly buying everyone around him, mostly women, when he was usually poor.

Wu Chan Chu approached him.

“Hey! Wu Chan Chu! The froggy fighter! Ha-ha!” cried Roku. His words were slurred with his drunkenness.

“How are you, Roku?”

“Oh! I’m great! Let me buy you a drink!”

“Thank you.” She ordered another rice wine and drank it down. “Tell me, Roku, was is it that a no-good thief like yourself is suddenly buying everyone drinks?”

“Ha-ha! ‘cuz I bet, I bet… Ha-Ha! I bet on you in yer last fight!” Roku lied.

“Oh?” asked Wu Chan Chu. “That strikes me as very odd seeing as I lost my last fight?”

“Ha-Ha!” said Roku. “Wait, what?” Roku’s eyes blinked stupidly.

“I said I lost my last fight. I am no longer the champion of the Peony Tea House.”

“Oh?” Roku grew suddenly nervous. “Wait, what?”

Wu Chan Chu, frustrated and angry, grabbed Roku by the neck and lifted him off his seat at the bar. He brought Roku’s face close to her own. “Where did you get the money, Roku?”

Roku blinked. He knew he was found out. He almost broke into tears as he said, “It wasn’t me! I swear! I was made to do it! I was tricked! You know me, I’m stupid! I don’t know how to read, write or do math. That’s why I’m such a horrible thief. I’m as shocked as you are that I was able to steal the coffers, but Sal Igo made it so damned easy. All I had to do was disguise myself as one of the guards. I don’t even know how I was able to do that much! I don’t like one of those hulks. I’m tiny! I’m an idiot!”

“Where’s the money?”

“The other guy took most of it. He threatened to kill me if I didn’t let him have it all. I’m such a coward I didn’t know if I could fight a Gifted One.”

“Gifted One?”

Roku nodded as best he could as he was being held by the neck. “He’s as a man, but with black tentacles where his feet should be. In fact, that was his name! Black Tentacle!”

Wu Chan Chu set Roku down. She mocked him by brushing him off, as if she cared about his well-being. She lifted his chin up, then brought her hand before his face and clenched it into a fist. Her knuckles popped as she did this.

She said, “Where is he?”

Shaking with fear, Roku said, “He owed some king, I think someone named Aniabas, a great deal of money. He was going to use the money to get Aniabas off his trail. I can only he guess he went to that kingdom.”

Wu Chan Chu smiled. She grabbed Roku by the shoulder and led him to Sal Igo.

Said Wu Chan Chu, “Here’s your real thief. I go to find his partner.”



Zom Loa raced across the country with a stolen mule and a cart he purchased with the money from the stolen coffers. He did not pause for night nor heat of day. He barely paused to eat. He rode on and on until, at last, he came across a band of soldiers formerly dispatched by King Aniabas.

He dared approach them. “I’ve come with the monies your king claims against me,” said Zom Loa.

The four soldiers peered at him curiously. Their captain said, “Have you not heard? Our king has been deposed.”


“Yes, by a Gifted One called the Weasel King. He is the charge of a demon that has settled upon the Plain of Adoration north of our former kingdom.”

“Then my debt?” asked Zom Loa.

“For all purposes your debt is no longer owed,” answered the captain.

“But what of the new rumors?” asked one of the other soldiers of his captain.

Curious, Zom Loa asked, “What new rumors?”

“We have heard our king is once more seated upon his throne,” answered the captain.

“Then we’ll go to him and give him the monies,” said Zom Loa.

The captain shook his head. “When we received word he had been dethroned, we essentially became mercenaries. We did not remain loyal. I doubt he’ll have us, if he truly is once more the king.”

“I need to make sure I am free from his demands,” said Zom Loa.

The captain smiled. “That’s much too bad. We’re afraid you won’t succeed in that.”

“Why not?” asked Zom Loa.

The captain and his men drew their weapons against Zom Loa.

“Wha-what is this?” Zom Loa exclaimed.

“Don’t fight, Gifted One, or we’ll find a way to kill you.”

And so Zom Loa the Black Tentacle was captured. A cage of bamboo was lifted onto the very cart Zom Loa had purchased and he was placed within. The soldiers took turns guarding him and spending the money within the coffers in nearby towns.

One night, when three soldiers were asleep after filling themselves with hardy ales, Zom Loa caught the captain within his tentacles as he passed too near the cage. The black tentacles tightened quickly about the neck of the captain. Air escaped his throat. He could not breath. He could not shout for help. Zom Loa held him fast and high against the cage, a nearby campfire silhouetting their forms as shadows cast upon the ground. The captain’s face turned purple, then blue. At last it turned pale gray.

Zom Loa released the captain. His tentacles searched the dead body and found keys to the lock and chain that had been placed upon the door. As he stepped out, one of the soldiers awoke, needing to pee. He saw Zom Loa and raised an alarm.

The other soldiers jumped from their slumber and armed themselves.

Zom Loa seethed at them. He said through clenched teeth, “I am prepared to kill you, all three. I doubt I can make my escape with the coffers, but should I leave them I can hope you’ll accept them as payment for my freedom. If not, I will follow the path to the demon that now pesters your king and command him to bring Hell’s fury down upon you.

“Now, let me pass.”

The three soldiers let Zom Loa pass. He escaped into the night.

Wu Chan Chu chased rumor after rumor. She found it easy to follow the black-tentacled Zom Loa as all who saw him took note of him. At last she came upon the soldiers and their small encampment. She recognized immediately the coffers they guarded.

“Those are the coffers of the Peony Tea House. I’ve come for them.”

The soldiers armed themselves. “We’ll not let you have them,” said one.

Wu Chan Chu deftly caught the man who had spoken thus and pulled him close. She lifted a knee and slammed it into his face, cracking his skull. He fell dead in a spray of blood and gore.

The other two soldiers dropped their weapons, saying, “Take the coffers! They’re yours!”

“Good,” said Wu Chan Chu, “now tell me this: where has the thief gotten to?”

The soldiers shook their heads. “We stole these from someone, but you can take them. Please, don’t kill us.”

Wu Chan Chu drew close to them. “Tell me where the one called Balck Tentacle has gone and you may yet live.”

The soldiers looked at each other in confusion. One said, “We stole these from a Gifted One who did indeed have black tentacles instead of feet, but we never learned his name. It must be the same one you seek, though.”

Wu Chan Chu was losing her patience. She spoke slowly as she cracked her knuckles. “Where is he?”

“He left! He said he may seek out a demon rumored to be living upon the Plain of Adoration. That is all we know. Please, spare our worthless lives!”

At this the two soldiers prostrated themselves before Wu Chan Chu.

“A demon, eh?” asked Wu Chan Chu.

“Yes,” said one of the soldiers, his face shoved into the dirt beneath him, “that is all we know.”

Wu Chan Chu thought of her battle with the demon Ketsueki Sato. She thought of this new demon the soldiers spoke of. She cursed, “I should like to raid every layer of Hell and murder each demon with my own bare hands.”

Wu Chan Chu said no more. She knocked the cage from the cart and loaded the cart with the coffers before grabbing the reigns of the mule and leading him away, heading back towards the Peony Tea House.



Wu Chan Chu’s cursed lifted onto the air and was spread across the world. It soon filled every ear of every demon in every land. It caused a great stir among some demons. At last, it woke the very Yama Kings from their slumber. They whispered softly within the head of every demon, “We must not allow this. The creature known as Yaska Selith stirs embers of a fire that could leave us reeling. He must be dealt with.”

This left many thinking. At last, only one demon could think of a solution.

The horse-demon Radiant Gui closed his eyes. He grunted, opened his eyes and peered at the Midnight Sun blazing red high overhead. His baboons cackled nervously near him.

“Shut up!” he shouted them down. The baboons grew silent.

Radiant Gui sighed. “How wicked the Cosmos’ love for irony.”

He arched his back and cursed the Cosmos. He then turned and walked toward the doors of the Chamber of Despair. He kicked them open.

Momoki jumped, scrambling about. He shouted, “Hide! Hide! Hide!”

Gogi, Szu Ri and Twila, afraid, did not know what to do. They headed for the hut in the center of the courtyard.

Radiant Gui caught sight of the new creatures. He roared with anger, “What is this? Who are these?”

Momoki ran toward Radiant Gui, placing himself between the horse-demon and his friends. He fell to his knees, lowered his head and extended his hands clasped together in front of him.

“Please!” cried Momoki. “Spare them!”

“You defy the Hells by bringing living things into our realm?” Radiant Gui’s voice shook the ground.

Twila, Szu Ri and Gogi hid. They could not believe the horrid nature of the horse-demon. They found him quite ugly, especially as he belched fire while speaking.

“I’ll kill them! I’ll destroy you all!” Radiant Gui stepped towards the hut.

Momoki ran again and placed himself between the demon and his friends. Again Momoki bowed to the master of the Land of the Midnight Sun.

“Please!” Momoki yelled. “Do not harm them! I will do whatever you say!”

At this Radiant Gui remembered why he entered the Chamber of Despair. He glowered at Momoki, eyed the three cowering friends, and looked at Momoki again.

The baboons howled wickedly at the door, salivating from the fear the smelled on the air.

Radiant Gui bent low. He said, “I will not harm your friends on one condition.”

“Anything,” said Momoki. “Please name it. I will not fail you.”

Radiant Gui sighed. He sat on his laurels. He spoke, “There is a demon in the world. He not truly a demon, however. He is a pseudo-demon.”

Momoki looked up at him. “Pseudo-demon?”

Radiant Gui nodded. “He is a dog that has eaten a mystic bug. He is no real demon at all. Yet his presence in the world threatens all demons. He must be destroyed.”

“I will do it,” said Momoki. He feared the fate of his friends. He quietly cursed himself for allowing them to come here, to see these things that was now his new life, his afterlife. “I will do this for the safety of my friends. Simply tell me what I must do.”

Radiant Gui said, “You will gather together a band of warriors and ride with them against this Yaska Selith.”

Momoki thought of something. He was confused. He said, “I thought training warriors was not to be my purpose?”

Radiant Gui bellow incoherently with rage. He backhanded Momoki and sent him rolling across the full length of the courtyard. He then spat molten saliva at the marmoset.

The molten saliva struck Momoki, burning away part of his flesh. He cried out in pain.

Gogi started towards his friend, but Szu Ri caught him and forbade him to go.

Momoki wept as his black flesh grew back.

Radiant Gui left the Chamber of Despair, cursing the Cosmos once more as he went.



Comet Fox, drunk, followed rumors across the world until he at last came to Taliesin, the Mountain That Lived in the Sky.

He fell into one of the many vast fields.

Word spread through Taliesin about this newcomer. Bugs and birds and bees passed by Xiao-tep, who was picnicking with Aglina and Zingtain, telling him of a fox that flew into the land and now lay unconscious. Xiao-tep knew immediately the identity of this creature.

Xiao-tep flew to Comet Fox’s side. He lifted him out of the full grass. Comet Fox came awake a moment. His words were slurred as he spoke, “Heya, Shoh-tep. Shao-tip. Teppy, tippy, tap. Haha!”

“What has gotten into you, Comet Fox?” asked Xiao-tep. He lifted the drunk fox upon his shoulder and carried him towards a small cave.

“Me? Haha! I, uh, I thaw, um…” again Comet Fox fell unconscious.

Xiao-tep sighed. “I thought you’d given up drinking.”

Comet Fox remained unconscious.

Xiao-tep rested him against a cool stone made soft by green, fresh moss. He tended to his old friend.


That's it! I hope you enjoyed Act 2! Be sure to check back Friday, September 5th to read the third and final act of "Song of Momoki!"

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