Chapter 6: Fantajī no Nami

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There once was a man who owned a small travelling boat. Making funds was a really strenuous task in this hamlet he once cherished. While giving rides to people, an elderly woman walked towards him. He analyzed the woman's features. She was bent over in an odd way, wearing all black. She had a sunhat with a veil covering her face. Her hair was lengthy as well as her silk dress. "Afternoon Ma'am!" said the man as he bowed. The elderly woman pointed at his boat while saying, "Would you be such a kind young man and take me to the island across this body of water? I've been trying to find a way back home, but no one will give me a mount. They say I am too old and fragile." The kind man smiled in reply, "Of course! No one is too old to go across the sea. I will make sure you get home safely ma'am. You can count on me!" He helped the woman perch herself on the boat. Then, he grabbed his paddle, put it in the water, and stared back at the elderly woman. He decided to start paddling onwards toward the island across the sea.

While paddling, the man started humming a melody he adored. It was from a well known song he would play for his wife and his little ones. The elderly woman stared deeply in the water as if she was searching for someone. The woman then asked out of curiosity, "What is that tune you're humming? It's quite lovely." The man kept paddling forward while replying, "It's a song I used to play for my daughters to get them to sleep. Whenever it was bedtime, I would simply hum it for them to sleep. I used to hum it for my wife.. Well... until she left her debt on us." The man frowned while looking down a bit. He remembered how lovely his wife once was, how she cherished their children as much as he had. Or well, she seemed to care. A tear slowly dripped from his eyes. You left me to take care of such beautiful children who once loved you as well.., thought the man as he silently cried.

Suddenly, the boat bumped into something while the man wasn't aware of his surroundings during his sadness. He gazed upwards to see a tree full of blooming sakuras. It was a splendid sight for anyone to see. He faced the woman while asking, "Is this where you live?" The elderly woman nodded. "Yes, it is where I live. However, before I go I would like to give you this." said the elderly woman. She held out a biwa for the man. He stared at the instrument. The man, astonished, exclaimed, "Oh, thank you! Thank you! I will take good care of this! Thank you so much for giving me this." He grabbed the biwa and helped the woman up the tree. "It was a pleasure serving you ma'am. I hope we can meet again someday!" said the man as he waved while paddling away.

He finally reached the shore. He stopped his boat by the dock, tied it up with rope, and walked up the rocky pathway with the biwa in hand. He reached his house that was near cave Chō. A little girl with flowers in the strands of her hair jumped into his arms, hugging her father that she missed so much. "Pa! I missed you so much! You took forever and today is my birthday!" complained the little girl. He smiled in reply, "I know, I'm back from my task. I missed you too, my little Hana. Let's go inside." He set his Hana down and walked with her while holding her fragile hand. Hana frowned while looking up at her Pa. "Mi is still sick, Pa.. I hope she can get better after my birthday." Hana shed a small tear as she walked with her Pa. "Well, I got a gift for both you and her." replied Pa as they walked through the door. Pa walked to Mi's room while she lay in bed. She had fallen ill a few weeks ago. She was only 17 and had to take care of the house ever since their mother left. Pa grabbed the rag from her forehead. He exchanged it for a colder rag.

He frowned while holding the biwa saying, "An elderly woman offered me this biwa. She said biwas were able to help heal the sick. So, I'm going to play a tune. I hope you get well Mi. My poor little girl.." He started playing the biwa using the song he would constantly hum. Mi and Hana watched their father play the biwa. Suddenly, Mi began to feel light and healthy. But she couldn't move her legs. She grabbed her little sister's arm. "Hana, please, help me up. I think the biwa actually works!" exclaimed Mi. Hana helped Mi stand up, their father watching. He smiled happily. His daughter could finally walk again. He got up from playing the biwa to hug his cherished daughter. Mi turned a bit pale while a butterfly fluttered out of her mouth. Her father, shocked, stared at her. Mi looked at her family saying, "I feel... light and.. Happy." She smiled at her last while turning into a butterfly. Pa and Hana watched as Mi, the butterfly, got caught in vines. Pa and Hana couldn't believe what they saw in front of their eyes. Pa reached to untangle Mi, but the vines snatched her from his grasp. Pa cried his heart out. His cherished daughter had become a butterfly trapped within the grasp of vines. Pa felt miserable after knowing what he adored is now long gone.

The vines let go of Mi to send her on the way to somewhere across the sea. Mi fluttered all the way to the vast Sakura tree. On the tree, she saw a big caterpillar. It slithered across the wood as it circled around. "Ah, what a lovely sight to feast upon!" exclaimed the caterpillar as it slithered toward Mi. Mi gulped as she gazed at the scary caterpillar. The caterpillar wrapped Mi in a web of silk. "From dusk till dawn you will remain as my little pawn. For what use is a puppet if you can't control it?" said the caterpillar viciously as Mi struggled. The last thing she saw was a petal gracefully falling, eventually drowning within the waves below.

Pa held onto Hana tightly. The two cried endlessly through the night over disbelief. Mi disappeared within thin air, only to be somewhere but not quite there. Pa caressed Hana's hair, adjusting the flower crown on her head. While holding onto her, he calmly whispered, "There, there my little Hana...you have to be a big girl for your sister okay? I'll go out to sea tomorrow in search of her, I promise my little Hana. I will find Mi." Hana nodded as she felt sleepy from all of her crying. He picked Hana up to lay her down on the flower patterned futon.

It had been a few months since the disappearance of Mi. Pa and Hana had searched for her as much as they could, but ended up finding nothing as a result. They held concerts for the sick every week while playing their biwa. Although the biwa healed the ill, it also brought them wealth. Pa and Hana had enough to pay for the debts they were buried in. The once impoverished family now became avaricious. Pa and Hana set up on stage for the next concert. With their biwas hand in hand, they played Fantasy of Waves for the ill patients. Suddenly, the room became dark. They became engulfed in black flames. The patients turned into stone, as they let out a cry. Pa and Hana played their final note before opening their eyes to realize what happened. Hana began to cry while hugging her father tightly. "Pa, what's happening...?" asked little Hana. Pa held onto Hana replying, "Shh, it'll be okay little Hana.. It'll be okay. Focus on my humming." He hummed Fantasy of Waves for Hana. The familiar tune calmed her down as they both turned into butterflies, disappearing into the never endless dark abyss.

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