Let wrath guide me, Anko.
The traitorous woman is dead, and to the shadowlands we move. Not in fear, but in hope. We traverse under Isawa-dono’s expertise, but the war is upon us. No doubt the legions will fall upon Shinomen Mori if we do nothing.
I have sent word to guide the legions to the forefront, so that we may fight in the great shadows before the forest. I have sent to help the Naga, promised a non-human slave freedom and protection, may my vow never waiver.
And there is a safe zone. What have we found?
This blessed place—a place to which all pilgrimages have failed. We are brought here as if by divine calling. The courtier begins to speak. Although his words are beautiful, I have not the time to take them in—the war is upon us. The Oni are coming. My mind races for ways we can transport these holy relics without loss to them. I dare not touch them, the Thunder—my ancestor—her serenity might be disturbed by my impudence.
The words come to an end. I wasn’t listening, Anko. Why did I not listen? Hida-sama smiles, and we vanish, all but for one. At the steps of Osano-wo’s temple we stand—Mantis lands, far away from my calling. Desperation, anxiety, anger. A miracle for all but the Sword, and a curse of equal value for me. In the distance, the Thunder roars. A dragon heard the prayer.
I was about to turn. I would have cried at Moshi Jo for his insolence, for not leaving me behind—it must have been his prayer. Tears were already welling on my lashes, threatening to dash my pride with a trail down my cheeks. I stood, but as I turned, the world was set into circles again. I could not even make out the Courtier’s face when I stared at him in awe-struck confusion.
What had happened? Where am I?