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Entry 6

An old monk under an eave was listening to the rain.

In the sound of the rain, came a set of quiet ripples--footsteps of a traveler, light and calm; crests of the waves, casting aside a thin layer of new ash. Cracks of the tiles did not make a sound under the gentle steps.

The traveler came under the eave, to share the only dry floor in the mountain. Against what remained of a temple wall, the traveler rested a package, two notes of contact, six feet apart.

"A maiden of the strings, perhaps?" the old monk deduced.

"Old monk's ears can hear the strings before they are struck. The maiden had disturbed the old monk's meditation," replied the traveler in a fine, resonating voice, yet to pass her twentieth spring.

"Sounds of the world, old monk have heard enough; except the peace of an echoing bell. Footsteps of fifty years, yet to meet one." The old monk spoke of the bronze bell in the courtyard, half-buried in the rumble of burnt beams. The hollow artifact moaned in the slanted rain.

"Peace and echo, transient and illusive. Old monk's journey, perhaps too difficult." As she spoke, the sound of delicate touches untied the smooth fabrics. Beneath the silk, a fragrance of cherry flower blossomed in the charred mist:

Thirteen flowers came before the rain;
one fell, twelve remained;
the fragrance of the flowers filled the wind,
as the thrivings blessed the fallen kin.

As the strings rejoiced, the fallen bell echoed the living verses.
In the echo, the sound of the rain had become distant.

"Voices of the living breathing life into the speechless. But the voice of strings cannot sing for a bell. The twelve strings was singing for the missing kin." The old monk spoke what he heard.

"Old monk's ears, truly discerning. Resonance of twelve cannot hide a missing string." Sou no koto,, thirteen strings. The kin string was missing--the string with the youngest voice.

"Maiden's strings sang in blessing, but the wind carried the fragrance of yearning. The twelve strings would wish to rejoice with the kin, just as much as the kin longed for their voices."

"Old monk's ears, can discern a tear from falling rains. May the old monk find a bell with true voice, for the maiden has naught but shadows." Gently, the maiden rested the strings.

A clap of thunder broke through the maiden's voice. Where the maiden sat, a small item fell in a tinkling sound. As the old monk reached for it, a thunder trembled under his hand--heavy horses in pursuit, swirling flags surrounding the temple. Two riders stomped across the courtyard, cracked tiles shattered beneath their heavy feet.

"Where are they!" spoke the first rider. Roaring of a halberd, cutting the wind.
The old monk put his hands together, and bowed slightly.

"A blind monk, captain," spoke the second rider. Hissing of a bow, fully drawn.
The old monk nodded.

By a clap of command, the swirling flags dispersed into the mist. The old monk opened his hands. A small round bell echoed:

Thirteen flowers came before the rain;
twelve fell, one remained;
the fragrance of the flowers filled the wind,
as the fallens blessed the thriving kin.