Wednesday, October 3, 2018

#WIPJOY: Day #3

Today, the challenge is to print a line from my current work in progress (WIP) about a theme or topic that you care strongly about.

Let me make something very clear. I write solely to entertain. I do not use my works as bully pulpits in an attempt to change somebody's mind or push an agenda. Nonetheless, there are topics I care about, but they will be secondary, if not tertiary, to the simple act of telling an entertaining story.

However, if there are two subtle themes that permeate The Shrine War trilogy they are the importance of family and community and the innate sacredness of nature. However, if a reader is not aware of that, she or he could easily read the entire work and not be conscious of an overarching motif.

Case in point is the opening of the entire work where I introduce Sen and Hoso. The themes are understated, surrendered to the simple act of telling a story without the need to beat a message into the head of the reader with all the subtlety of a crowbar:

An alternate cover for The Shrine War
“Sen-sama? The sisters have gathered in the oratory as you have ordered.” In the dim light before dawn, an observer would have seen the forms of two young women. Each wore the traditional garb of a Shinto shrine maiden: long, red skirts bound with an obi, a white kimono jacket, and white hair ribbons and ivory combs tying back long, waxed hair.

“Well done, Hoso-san. Arigato.” For a moment, they watched the sun rise above the horizon beyond Mount Tomuraushi. As the growing light illuminated the mountain’s summit, what little mid-summer snow remained glowed with a brilliant radiance. On the lower slopes the small hardy bushes and wildflowers turned the slopes a verdant green.

As the gloom dissipated in the growing warmth of morning, sunlight reflected from the eyes of the two watchers, eyes that were brown and a fitting shade and shape to match the white-furred, fox-like faces of the pair.

“You enjoy watching the sunrise, do you not?” Hoso asked.

Sen remained silent for a moment and Hoso wondered if her superior had heard her, but after a pause Sen slowly nodded her head. “If the weather allows, I have not missed a sunrise in the five centuries I have been here at the shrine.”

Hoso stared with envy at Sen’s nine tails, one for each century of her life and the greatest number a Kitsune could acquire. For a moment, and not for the first time, Hoso regretted her youth. Only two tails emerged from a cleverly designed slit in the back of her skirt and Hoso had seven more centuries to go before she could enjoy Sen’s status and glory.

Ashamed of her jealousy, Hoso bowed to Sen, her furred hands with their dainty claws sliding down the front of her thighs. “We will await you, Sen-sama, but I humbly ask that you not tarry. The Inugami emissary will be here soon.” With that, she turned and left.

Sen watched as the risen sun turned Mount Tomuraushi into a brilliant and shining beacon, and wondered if today would be her last opportunity to revel in the gift of a new day. She turned to see the sun gleaming off the red tiled roof of the hodon. Surrounded by its protective bamboo wall, the hoden served as the most sacred part of the shrine where Inari's mirror stood in glory and splendor, primal and serene. In front of the hodon, stood the haiden, the public oratory where her sisters waited. All around her, the peace of the shrine lay inviolate, but Sen feared it would not be so for long. An invading force of the Inugami were coming. The emissary only served as a pretense of peace. With a shake of her head, she turned to walk up the tiled sandō to join her sisters.

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