Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Flash Fiction: Walk With Ueda 1 (Maralda's notes)

From the collected diaries of Maralda Inculti, circa 1785 AO.

Dark grey clouds roiled above us.  Ueda Burning-Storm and I walked together through the Grand Bazaar.  The two of us always involved swapping stories.  I'd found the Tengu Brewer to always be somewhat inspirational.  Ueda tilted her head up above us.  Then she shrugged.

"That still seems... curious to me."  I told her.

"You expected the same answer?"  Ueda replied.

"Well, I thought maybe Tengu worshipped the Voice outright.  I'm not surprised by the difference in claims on the First Bard."

Ueda gave a brief leap into the air, letting a pair of cats rush past her.  I shook my head.  Graceful.  Like wind.  The Tengu Brewer just moved like a dancer, and didn't even seem surprised by it.

"The Voice is..."  Ueda moved her talons as if weighing words.  "A past life of mine thinks of it like the Southern Wind, but is Sagely enough to know better than that."

"Southern Wind."  I processed those words.

"Yes.  He... He is the summer wind.  He reminds us that we must always smile.  The importance of humor."

"That isn't quite the same, thing.  I think you're right on that."

We passed by another arcade.  Stalls full of wines, ales and more greeted us as well walked by.  Ueda sniffed at the air.  But she seems less than impressed by the alcohol she saw.

Ueda sputtered something I didn't understand.  I'd picked up a bit of Tengu.  Enough to get a word or two.  Something about she didn't like.

"What is wrong with it?"  I asked her.

She blinked at me.

"I'm still picking up specific words."  I explained.  "But I'm not stupid, Ueda."

"Ack."  Ueda shook her head.  "Sorry.  Old habits.  Few thousand years of bad habits about gaijin."

"No offense, I just want to know."

Ueda paused.  "There's this story, in my clan.  Crafts should not be crass.  They shouldn't be work, they should be worthy in and of themselves."

"A story?"

Ueda sighed.  "Bards.  Always with the stories, aren't you?"

"And brewers, always about giving you tastes that make you want more."

"You flatter me."  Ueda tilted her head.

We continued on our walk.  Ueda told me a story about a Monkey who ruined a festival.  How the creature had almost damned a entire village.

"A monkey?"

"Monkeys are evil.  There's a tricksy race, always at odds with we Tengu.  Crux is better for not having a cabal of them."

"I'll take your word for it."

The Monkey failed to brew the ale.  But the spirits forgave the village for the error.  They asked for the Monkey's head.  In return, the spirits fixed the problems the monkey had caused.  The villagers cared, they worked hard to brew something true.  Being crass, failing to treat the brew properly, ruined it.

"It isn't just you folk who do it, though."  Ueda added.  "Clan Burning-Storm is one of the few clans I remember who preserve the ideals of perfect craft.  Among the Tengu at least."

"Wait."  I turned to her.  "You aren't going to start ranting about pastries again, are you?"

"Perfect craft, Maralda."  Ueda announced.  "Your stories are well and good, but somethings are crusty, sweet and perfect."