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FOLKLORE | The Weeping Maiden

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Level 66
Shrine Lead

The Weeping Maiden.png

A special thank you to @RexLobo for giving me permission to post this and his encouragement as I struggled to write this. To my lovely proof readers @.Arkkwolf, @Oli and @SIMPL3Z. Also a special thank you to @RandomlyAccepted for the beautiful banner. For those who read this thank you to and enjoy.

The Weeping Maiden

Soft padding came from within a wooden hut. Pressed against the old towers of the mountains. The rain pattered down upon the roof as her soft cries broke the room. The sky was painted grey like the owner's mind, washed by the horrifying sight of her find. Weeks had passed and she sat alone at the table pressed to the corner. Who would remember him if her heart continued to sever? Skirts like the blood of one hundred sprawled around her, their vermillion touch painting the room in the sorrow she bore. Sleeves white like the pristine waves that crashed on the shore. Her dim room was lit by lantern light. Warding of the yurei of night. Memories resurfaced from her mind of the times he left before disappearing into time.

Sobs echoing the hollow room she knelt in her shrine praying for her doom. Tattered banners hung like sorrow curtains, concealing the small paintings and statues of the kami she looked up to so dearly. A place once full of warmth with the patter of his soft little feet, now left the room bleak. Incense burned beside the statues, three alone in a small pot. Their smoky swirls around her reminding her she would rot. Akari was a young maiden, who had given her heart away to a man of protection. Together a child was born. One so pure and also so forlorn. But in doing so she broke her code. The code that bound so many to hold. With every passing day, Akari would bring her son to meet him at the base of the old willow tree. With their hearts full, they would stay with each other until the very end of the sun's rule. All unaware of the secrets the tree was told and the secrets it could withhold. Eventually the following night, Akari’s child, full of pure joy like a bundle of light, changed. Slowly with his delicate soul something diminish. After time he became weak and confused like a fowl. In fear she wrapped her arms around him, even when his memory ran thin. Softly rocking and sunk between the silk sheets of her bed she sang lullabies. With his fading light the son would smile, sometimes his tiny hands reaching for the stars sprinkled across the roof like they were his home. Only fear was what drove Akari to know.

One evening, it was warm and rich Akari returned to the willow tree in hopes of meeting him with her son behind. Only to find his blood stained the tree red. Her memories with him severed like a thread. Horror washed her face and she scooped up her wandering son. His wide blue eyes stared at the red in curiosity so Akari smiled and spun. Her fear set in as she walked off as her pale child clung to her a ghostly reminder of him. Weeks had passed now, the work she did was drowned. The child she loved, and the child she could not budge. Some days Akari found him staring at the sky, mumbling his broken goodbye. For every tear she wept stained the floor with the memories before he left. Pressing her head to the old wooden floors. The house sighed to her crying calls. Huddled asleep in the corner her son would never know, his mind drifting to and fro. With the rest of the room cast in shadow, Akari was left alone astray in a broken meadow. Mumbling words over and over again her tears ran down her face quicker than they had ever been. Rain hummed a soft melody along the old roofs of the shelter she was shielded by. None of Akari’s co-workers came to visit, after the broken woman remained silent after losing a piece to her. When her final sigh left her, she wandered back to the sheets where he lay. Asleep with cheeks slowly dimming, Akari questioned if he was a part of him. Sickly blue eyes and a wandering kind, Akari could not place aside his displaced self. Maybe he too would join his father upon the shelf…

Despite all, a grave was placed in his honour, under the tree he held to his name. But Akari was forever scared by his passing, blaming it on herself and bearing her shame. Over the days that ticked by Akari’s words morphed into a lullaby. So maybe her son would feel her emotions nullify. But she could never lie. Late nights he would begin to mimic her lullabies, sometimes they always ended in goodbyes. His little creations continuing to diversify. Little by little the other workers of the shrine only heard Akari and her son speak in riddle. She remained cooped in her room never to come out until noon. Every day when the sun rose high, and the light poured in from the sky. Akari would wander to the window and sit alone with him in her room. The light drowned out her growing doom. With colours sprinkled across her place, her son would stare in wonder at them from her lap. His cry of joy continued to lapse. In these moments sometimes she would forget the memories of pain. A cup of tea always within her reach, and an old ink jar that came from afar rested against the old windowsill. Promising her the feelings she carried would forever instil within her soul. For Akari the sun’s warm rays brought back the binding memories of when she had met him. He stood alone under the great willow tree looking down at the scars on his shin. When he turned around a warm smile was found. All that time ago, they met each other and returned even through snow. The son slowly incorporated himself into her dreams. His bright smile and chubby hands reached for the doors keys. However, when rain came her mood turned to the same. Tears welled from within her eyes, and she sat alone upon the windowsill for those to hear her cries. The rain came, every single day and Akari would sit alone always on her own. She cried for him and cried for her sins. Rain reflected her mood, but never was she alone when her son found her and hummed a tune. Wobbling forth he collapsed on her leg and giggled so she too may laugh at his wiggle. Laughter would break through her tears in these moments, and for then she forgot her bad omens.

Some of the guests across the shrine, would point to the room and complain and whine. Worried faces marked them as they became concerned trying to find traces. Tales started to spread about a monster of dread. Crouched alone in the building playing the cries of a young woman or cries of a young boy who was scared by the truth. Eventually the guests avoided the area, deeming the yokai would never leave. After months alone and frightened, Akari's co-workers began to visit the room. Each bringing a small gift and singing songs, bringing stories and unbreakable bonds. Sometimes when Akari heard a tune, it felt as if they were trying to heal her wound. With every song her son would slowly squeal in delight. Months had passed and the dreams that haunted her mind slowly began to subside. Akari one day wandered down the shrine with her son to the tree of old time. The room was their shelter, but it could not contain the emotions that surged within her. Forcing herself to walk down the path towards the place she knew best. Their feet drummed against the soft earth; the tree arose on the edge of the hill but could never be mistaken like the rest. Desperately she picked up her son and raced to the old tree and fell to her knees. Pressing her son to her chest slowly her forehead pressed against the soft earth as her sobs gave way to the tears. At this moment she questioned her worth. Takehito wouldn’t be around to see the pain and suffering she held her bow. A soft whine of annoyance broke her silence. Looking down the sky blue eyes stared at her with confusion and the light that changed and became the fusion for their emotions.

The soft crickets brought back time before it was over. The swaying of gentle leaves brought moments of comfort. Hours passed as memories of joyful moments flushed through her. Nestled between her skirts her son starred ahead too. Maybe he remembered him, but that would remain unknown. She remembered him with his sword placed against the old tree, telling her stories all the time in threes. A smile shining like the sun, and scars marking him for what he had done. The soft crickets in the night air hummed, as Akari stilled her heart that always drummed. Silence fell as finally time would tell. She didn't sleep like the rest of the world which was at peace. Instead, she sat with her son alone, next to the grave made of stone, humming a soft melody. Reminiscing of the time they spent together under the tree. When it was just them three.

From that day forward Akari would go visit him. Quietly together when night fell over the shrine. Its soft lantern glows forever there to shine. Humming soft tunes she’d sit with her son in the grass, her heart so fragile it was like glass. Sometimes when the silence fell Akari could never tell, if the world spoke to her quietly or if her son was the healing bridge she wished to look for. Or maybe she could see his face in the reflections of the water like it was reality. Prayers for Takehito’s safety in the heavens were always spoken. Gentle like the waves of a warrior's bokken. Despite his time away from this world, Akari always promised in the years she lived they would meet again.

One night as she sat with her son in the gentle light of her lantern he looked up to the sky, hands raised high. In the months that had progressed Akari could not digress that with every passing year her son seems to fade like a tear. His eyes were now almost white matching his skin tone under the bright summer light. Some mornings he slept in, and as time passes he became very thin. Akari reached out to her son, knowing he would never be done. Like he could tell his father was there, up in the stars that hung over them everywhere. He looked at Akari and let out a soft cry as he looked up to the sky. Slowly his breath began to shorten, and Akari knew he would be forgotten. Shifting forward she clutched him closely, only tears formed as he closed his eyes. She began to sing lullabies, trying to hold onto him before she said her goodbyes. From day one she knew he would leave her, but never had she expected he would leave so soon. As his light faded and his body stilled. The world silences and the rain matches her gloom. Akari cried out as she stared at the tree. Was it a curse or blessing to those who sat under its wispy branches?

A few weeks passed and the shrine agreed to complete his funeral. Gathered beside the very tree that used to shelter all three was he laid to rest. Like his father a stone was placed in his honour. Alone under the tree where Akari knew they forever will be. As the shrine staff filed away, she stood there staring at the graves in pure dread. Turning around she walked alone, not with her son she had grown to know. Once she passed through her door, she lost it all. Tears welled in her eyes as she cried to her shrine her goodbyes.

Summer, spring, winter and autumn Akari would wander down from the monastery to visit their graves like every other day. Sometimes when it snows, Akari would sit down and remember all. Quite often she was found alone under the tree humming a sweet melody. Hoping that maybe her son would remember his own and sing back carefully. Some who passed would stand and stare for afar. Her soft melody singing through the twining trees and reaching them so gently.

For every passing year she would shed another tear. With her gentle brown hair shifting to a soft grey telling her her time was near. A song full of sorrow and writing a new song for tomorrow. When she went to visit flowers of colour and life were bestowed upon the graves. Sometimes she would stay for longer, spending time to remember their names, but with every time she returned to the tree. Akari dreamed she wished to be returned to them and forever free. With some silent nights, she would remember her son and his bright light. How he reached for the stars, even when they were so far. When he waddled to her knowing she was in pain and needed a tiny joyful lantern. Holding back tears and stumbling over her fears Akari pressed her nimble body to the cold surface of the stone floor. Her head kept down, she remained silent for the passing moment and then spoke to the kami in such torment. Sometimes reminiscing over the changing seasons without them she kept her head bowed to the old statue. Praying softly to the kami of her world she asked if when alone in times with her that they could forgive her and heal her broken heart that those who left her could heal.

A whispering wind was all that answered her call. But never was she told the time took its toll. Closing her eyes, she stood up so gently. Her legs shaking from the weight of her frail legs. By the shift in the air, she could feel that there was despair. The gentle padding of rain filled the roof and twisted through the empty room. Fingers curled along an old umbrella and her vermillion skirts swirling sound as Akari headed towards the place she called home. Sometimes against the ancient stone stairs her steps would falter. After her years of living it was still breathing. The drive that swirled around her as she walked down the stairs, she remembered their faces and her sons' quiet prayers. But halfway was all she could manage and Akari fell to her knees pressing her hands to the old surface. Maybe she wouldn't make it back to them and her words she wished to tell them before her time ended would be lost. With the rain pattering down across her back sinking into the fine silk of her kimono and her eyes blurring with the tears that welled within flowed gently across her weathered cheeks. It could be a curse that she would never see them again, or rest in the same place as they had. But for her these old stairs would be her final time. Akari smiled softly, the kami were cruel she had learnt and sometimes would watch as those devoted to them suffered the most. She was a mother once, many years ago… But the son she had carried passed away with his father. Now Akari understood his obsession with the stars, maybe her little son could see his father and was kept in his sickly body forever trying to reach forward to greet him. The son never met his father, maybe it was for the best but now, Akari imagined them sitting together peacefully in a land where they all go to rest. His face isn't a sickly white, and his eyes aren’t dull but they shine so bright that as she turned her head to the sky she could see a small star flying by.

Soft clicking of heels echoed before her and gentle padding behind her. With the draining time of her soul slipping away she mumbled something quietly. A familiar face appeared, and the soft smile spread across their face. Linking their arms around hers the kind soul lifted Akari from the floor and lifted her off the soaked stone stairs. The kind soul's hair flowed like a river and with her gentle touch she spoke of a time like no other. Pressing her weight against her friend she took Akari down the final stairs that were littered across the mountain. Rain pattered and flowed down the cliff face like a fountain, its trickle echoing into her soul. The kind soul beside Akari hummed softly as she slowly led her towards the one place she only wished to be. Beside them. With every wavering step she took her sight began to fade softly and her hearing followed too. The soul's melody echoed into her mind, something of sorrow and joy but was lost in the blue.

Edging over the hill and to the two graves alone under the tree Akari stumbled forwards in desperation wishing to be free. The kind soul set her down beside the graves and spoke to her in a gentle voice. Slowly her sobs tore through her throat, and she pressed her head to the largest stone. The gentle touch of her friend only became ghostly as her mind began to fade. Her sight left first and then her hearing… a smile bloomed across her face. Though she didn’t die with them, she would see them again. His steady smile while his sword rested at his hip, and the bright cries as her child ran to her trying not to trip. Akari remembered every hour she spent weeping for them and with every year that rolled by she was without both of them. Night or day, sun or rain never once did she doubt her choices or her name. He was the love of her life, and the son was the light to her life, and the final goodbye. They both had cared for her when she was lost and now when they were alone, she was here for them. Maybe in the time she drifted from the soft rain would she see them again. Would he embrace her and whisper kind words into her ears, and her son would run around frolicing without any fears. Maybe then her tears would clear, and she would remember her family and those she held dear. A light would be opened to the darkness within her gut when the tiny son of hers left without a cut. Closing her eyes, she began to drift into a state of peace. The rain still patted gently against her back and hummed a melody to them quietly.

Without her hearing she could guess it was a broken tune, a tune that rippled and reminded her of the time she spent every noon. Somewhere in the distance Akari swore she could hear the sound of her son singing the same lullaby like every year. With every fading thought released into the soft tears she relinquished like her mind. His voice and her son's gleeful cries echoed to her through the misted time. Its gentle melody surrounds her and pulls her away from reality. Akari finally understood peace, and that in the silence she went and released. Time would change slowly but with every war she held within her mind she released the time into the afterlife. With them, the final wish she asked for was given. Her son's bright smile never could be forgotten, and the gentle embrace of a warrior forgiven. Akari turned around to see the kind soul. Sitting with her body that was still completely whole. With a soft bow to her she took her son's hand walking forwards to another land…

The kind soul kelt there looking down at Akari with a peaceful smile. In the end she got what she wished with her broken heart and lonely soul. Maybe in the afterlife they would meet again and she would become whole. In some strange way the kind soul could feel Akari like she was whole. Standing tall she bowed to her in a feeling that felt like she knew. Maybe Akari could see her and thanked her too. Slowly she turned away to see her friends again. Spread the news of her passing to the shrine and to place a memorial for the love she had.

In memory of Akari the kind soul worked with people across the town. A statue was made from the ground. When it rained it wept like she did. Her peaceful gaze was set to the bridge where maybe her soulful children would meet. Echoing the rejoice and sadness the rain brought her when she felt so bleak. Some question why it cries, maybe the kami heard her for one final time. Maybe it's a final blessing for the years that past, and the time she spent raising a child only for it to never last. Forever she would be with them even when times ran thin. For a mothers love is wide and far until it meets the rim.

Everyday she’d visit their graves,

weeping to set them free of the word they were locked in.
Asking that they always survived,
begging for them to be free and alive.
Wishing to see her son again,
maybe then she'd finally find love to regain.
Sometimes in the silence of the night.
She would bow to the kami in lantern fire,
but the kami would hear her cries,
and they could only tell her lies.
One night, in a moons light.
The maiden stumbled down,
breath heavy as she hit the ground.
For every breath she took,
the earth shook.
Finally the kami would listen,
to the prayers the maiden had written.
Written by DivingBlues.

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