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Prayer of the Oni

Without him and his bravado the courtyard at once had become larger and darker, the water hiding a thousand corpses and the shadows cast by the two corridors and their pavilions obscuring demons and ghosts. The whine of the wind was an evil voice nagging at her, calling her to it. She moved away from the sleeping chamber and the old gentlewoman’s sickly breathing, returning to the lake, which she was sure in the daylight would be splendid to see but now however was only another mystery, another dark place within which things lurked and watched. She saw again in the grass on the closest island that strange pendant which had been dropped there. Glancing back at the sleeping chamber, seeing the rain shutters and beyond them the blinds pulled down over the antechamber, she returned to the island and crossed the bridge, her sandals clacking against the wood.

She bent down and picked the pendant up once more. She held it between two fingers and then turned it over. One side held that monstrous face and the other was marked with a character she knew, that made the hairs on her neck stand up suddenly. It was one of several she could read, for she also knew the character for ‘Buddha’, and this one her father had told her what it meant over and over, had scared her with it as a child, and it was the character that signified the word ‘oni’. At once she turned again, looking at the sleeping chamber where the old gentlewoman was. She saw nothing but that. It came to her clearly now that something very wrong had happened here.

In the dying days of Japan’s Heian period, as the country starves and the corrupt court rots from within, two nobodies – a peasant girl without even a name and a bandit disguised as a Buddhist priest, attempt to steal treasure from the house of an old noble family…but the Hashimoto Estate is no ordinary house, and the family that lives within no ordinary family. Over the course of a single hellish night the girl and her partner must try to escape the clutches of the Lord Hashimoto and the unearthly forces that have claimed his home, and as well, to escape the stain of the crimes that led them here…

This is a passion project I’ve been working on for over two years, a short horror novel set in one of my favourite historical periods, influenced by the Tale of Genji, Kenta Miura’s Berserk, the horror cinema of Kaneta Shindo, and the classic PC game Cosmology of Kyoto; something I don’t know if I could get published anywhere else, but which I’d like to share with you all. So if you’re interested then settle down, sheath your sword, and immerse yourself in the dark, bleak, beautiful world of…

Prayer of the Oni

1 – The Market

2 – Wisteria Tree Lane

3 – The Courtyard

4 – The Tunnels

5 – The Bottom of the Well

6 – The Storeroom

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