The moon couldn’t be prettier than the last night, but for the next couple of nights, it would be getting more charming than ever.
But I still didn’t believe I almost got forty-eight hours of exclusive lecture about the Three Realms from my mother. Well, since she was a librarian, it was not surprising that she knows many things from the books, scriptures, scrolls, and her own researches.
I did consult her about the Book of Pono, and she didn’t know much since the book was long lost in history. I had not dared to reveal the knowledge that I have on this book. I was afraid that the forty-eight hours of exclusive lecture became forty-nine days and forty-nine nights of bottomless discussion.
More than anything, I was glad for being able to stay on her embrace and learn many things.
Unfortunately, there was a price for everything. Mother gave me an errand.
Cane Spirit Festival just around the corner. One of the very first concatenations of events is about asking the blessing from the Goddess of the River and Lake, we call it the River and Lake Blessing.
The participants of River and Lake Blessing are the children under twelve in Violet Cane Village, which is including Ione and me obviously. And so, Mother asked me to take part in this event.
As a filial son and fear of losing honeyed ration for this month, I said a yes with full certainty.
The small Moon Shrine was decorated colorfully. And on its’ yard, there are a dozen child under twelve stood there nervously, except for two. Each of them wore a white ceremonial robe of Moon Temple Style.
Six were boys, and another six were girls. Some of them steal a glance at their parents those waiting with a smile outside the yard while waving their hands gently. I saw Mother was among them, she stood under a peach tree and having a conversation with some other villagers.
Before long, an old priest came out from inside the shrine. He at once arranged us neatly circling around him.
“Children, today you will walk to the Nine Colored Lake within the Violet Bamboo Forest. Three days until you arrive, one night of the blessing, and three days before you stand again here. Your preservation will show your heart’s will and become the judgment for the River and Lake Blessing. Like your parents before you, they took this pilgrim, so shall you – my children – to take part in this holy pilgrim and bring the goddess’ blessing home.”
“We will, for the Violet Cane Village, we will preserve, sincere, and courageous.”
All the children spoke the same line, of course, it was a pre-scripted annual oral tradition.
Then the old priest rose his staff up and high and with a loud voice said, “Now, for guidance and protection along your way, we asked Our Lady, the Snow Moon Priestess to kindly blessed us with your presence.”
The atmosphere became silent, all people at once at their knees. Small and orderly steps echoed from within the shrine.
Worn snow with clothes and robe upon her pale white skin, she looked like a celestial maiden in myths. Her left hand held long crystal staff with its’ crown edge resembling a transparent moon, while her right hand made a gesture so everyone may rise again.
She smiled gently, “My little brothers and sisters, I humbly come here to guide you on a journey and to protect your body from harm. But as for your mind and soul, I shall provide no effort in protecting them, it all depends on yourself. Belief in yourself, in your heart, and the fate shall be your unbreakable shelter.”
Each of the children could bring a simple backpack, they may bring dry rations, a canteen of water, sleeping bag, pure medicine or ointment, and perhaps some extra clothes or footwear.
No magical item allowed, and for this reason, Mother didn’t give Ione or me any storage device imbued with magic. Of course, this didn’t pose any problem for us. Ione was simply capable of commending any necessity to her summons and retrieve it later along the way. For me, the Way of Space & Time Continuum from the Book of Pono already gave me some simple, usable tricks. A week without honeyed tea or sweet bread is a big no.
There else ten other children except for Ione and me. They are around seven to twelve years old. Even the event for those under twelve, there is no child under seven would even dare to come for such a long trip. So, Ione and I were the exceptions to the average age range.
There are five boys, I knew all of them, they are Ratan Božo, Roffe Rasheed, Shiro Sho, Xenagoras Pece, Marciano Frano. And the five girls are Bernadette Treasa, Alinafe Micha, Remington Tayler, Ryleigh Aspasia, Leilani Euphrosyne.
While remembering their name, I wonder why there was such a complicated family name around our village.
Each of the children than said goodbye to their parents, while Mother just gave me a kiss on my forehead. For Ione, Mother simply whispered, “Don’t let Eiwa collapse again from overeating,” then she winked at me.
Fudge…, that was unbelievable.
Five hours later, we already left our village far behind – around a dozen kilometers.
The Snow Moon Priestess walked behind the children, observed them while smiling and sometimes chuckling lightly. Her left-hand hold Ione tiny hand together, so Ione walks silently beside her. And her right hand was carrying me, who laid leisurely on her bosom.
It was an hour after the long walk, the priestess saw a little under three was soaked with sweat and panting heavily with a pale face on her right side. How could her soft and compassionate heart stay cold when seeing such heart-broken sight, she then took the child and carrying him along the way. The child while sniffing a sweet fragrance of lady-like nectar, he stole a glance at the ten kids who march vigorously in front of him, he sighed deeply, ‘keep the good work peasants, this prince shall take a little nap. Why would you go when you already this old? The next generation should learn from this prince, there is always an easy way for every hard journey in your life.’