Here it is my Darlings, the final part of Mom’s story. Enjoy.
The Dragon’s Promise
by Cillanoodle (aka Mom)
Tomoe had never seen anything like it. True, she was only six years old so she hadn’t seen a whole lot of the world yet, but this sight was amazing. She knew her Mother had been here several times and had many friends here, but the trade district was still a bit scary.There were many merchants selling things like clothes, weapons, armour, and many types of food. Crowds of people milled about, inspecting wares and tasting food stuffs. Tomoe clung to Miya’s hand, a little scared of all the activity. Miya smiled down at her gently as she led Tomoe and her brothers into a shop. They were greeted at the door by an elderly lady dressed in a simple brown yukata. The woman spoke with Miya for a moment before looking pointedly at Daishiro. She ushered them into a meeting room and they sat down to wait. The elderly lady came back with tea. She introduced herself as Hamasaki Kameyo and said that her husband would be in to see them soon. Daishiro looked around nervously as he sipped his tea. Tomoe wondered what he was thinking of. She was about to ask him when the door opened. Hamasaki Yuji was not a small man by any means, but he was not tall, either. Most of his size came from his muscles, especially his forearms which were very impressive. Daishiro gulped audibly and began to sweat. Ryutaro, who remained calm despite his brother, pushed the box to Hamasaki. The man looked at both parts for a second before placing them back in the box. He closed the lid and looked down at his knees. They heard a snort and at first Tomoe thought that the man was crying. Then he threw his head back and laughed long and hard. He doubled over, still laughing as the siblings stared at him in shock.. Soon he calmed down and wiped the edges of his eyes with his sleeve.
“Oh, I was wondering when this would happen.”
“What do you mean? You expected the statue to break?” Ryutaro looked confused. Hamasaki hiccuped and smiled.
“Yes, young man, I did. You see, when you’re Father came to me and asked me to make this, I was just starting my apprenticeship. He had confidence in me, which was inspiring, so I took the job. The night I finished it, I was so tired, I fell asleep on the table and I completly forgot an important step, which was to seal the stone to protect it. When I woke up, it was a half an hour before your Father was to arrive . That was not enough time, so I just buffed it to a shine and told him that it was very fragile and to be very careful with it. He was so grateful that I didn’t have the heart to tell him why he should be so careful. I expected him to be back soon after, demanding my head and his money back. But he never came. It’s been fourteen years and now his sons come to me.”
The smith smiled and drank his tea in one gulp.
“Wait, so this is originally your fault?”
“Technically. But you broke it, Boy.” Miya spoke up before the two could start an argument.
“Why don’t we just get the statue fixed and then we can forget that it all happened.”
Hamasaki opened the box again and picked the tail up. “I might be able to fix it. It will take a few hours though.”
“Well, we’re just going to have to stall her when she gets home.”
“But it sits on the hall table so she can see it when she comes home. She’ll know right away that it’s missing!”
“Then we have to keep her out of the house. Maybe if one of us had gotten hurt on our shopping expedition.”
“Why are you looking at me?!”
“First of all, this is your fault. Second, it can’t be me. With my training, Mom will never believe it. Third, it can’t be Tomoe-chan. Do you know what she would do to both of us if she got hurt when we were supposed to be watching her? It would be worse that if she found out about the sculpture, I can tell you that.”
“Yeah, but why does it have to be me?”
Miya gasped suddenly and clapped her hands together. “I’ve got it! Here’s what we’ll do. You can tell her that you came to see me because I wasn’t feeling good and you decided to stay and help with the shop.It’s true because before you came, I had a stomach ache.”
“That might work. It’s really the only option we have.”
Everyone said their goodbyes and Hamaski promised he would bring the dragon by the shop when it was finished. On the way back, they stopped into a small clothing store and picked up Tomoe’s scarf. She danced and whirled down the sidewalk, enjoying the way the pink fluff of her new scarf tickled her face. She happily bounced into the shop and saw something that crumbled their hastily laid plans.
Daishiro could swear that he saw his short life flash before his eyes.
“Where have you been? I was worried sick!” She stared pointedly at the boys as they walked hesitantly toward her.
“Well, Miya-san wasn’t feeling well, so we came to see her.”
“You have such good kids, Suki-chan! I am so jealous. They saw right away that what I needed was some fresh air, so we went for a walk.It must have worked, because I feel so much better.”
“Oh. Well you could have left a note. I was so scared.”
“I’m sorry, Mother. I’ll remember next time.”
“Good. By the way, do you have any idea what happened to my dragon sculpture?
“Yes, the one that sits on the hall table.”
“I’m not sure. I didn’t see it before we left.” This was not technically a lie as the dragon had been in the box when they left and Ryutaro honestly had no idea where exactly the dragon was now. Suki frowned as she thought this over. She was so confused that she didn’t really notice when Miya led the group into the back room and sat them down at the table.
“I just don’t understand. It was there when I left. I had put Hamasaki-san’s phone number next to it so I could call him.”
“Did something happen to it, Suki-chan?”
“It’s the weirdest thing. For twelve years, that dragon has sat on that table and it’s been perfectly fine. Then yesterday, I was doing the laundry and the phone rang. When I went to answer it, the hamper bumped the table and the dragon fell over. It didn’t fall off or anything, it just fell over. When I picked it up, I noticed a crack on it’s tail.I wanted to get it fixed before Takehiko returned home. I just don’t understand what could have happened to it.” Suki jumped slightly as Daishori’s head fell to the table, hard.
“What’s wrong, Shiro-chan? Are you sick?”
“You could say that.”
Ryutaro figured it was time to tell the truth, if only to keep his brother from getting a concussion.
It took some time to tell and by the time Ryu had finished the story, Tomoe had fallen asleep on her mother’s lap. Suki sighed deeply.
“You could have come to me even if I had not cracked the sculpture. I just don’t know where you got this fear of me.”
“It wasn’t really fear of you. I think it was more a fear of disappointing you. Father gave it to you as a promise and we knew you would be very sad that it was damaged.”
“Well, at least I know the truth now. You’re not getting out of this unscathed, any of you.” She looked over at Miya and raised her eyebrow. Miya looked down at her teacup and tried her hardest to be invisible. She understood how her friend felt. After all, she had conspired with the boys to lie to their mother. Even if it was for a good cause, it was still not her brightest idea.
“It’s okay. I know you were just trying to help. When is Hamasaki-san supposed to be here?”
“He said it would take a few hours.”
“Let’s just hope he gets here before your Father does.”
In the end, Hamasaki ended up coming to the shop an hour before their father arrived at the train station. They made it home with half an hour to spare. Suki had reworked the chore list so that each boy got an even amount of extra work. Daishiro grumbled, but he didn’t outright complain. The only thing they ended up getting away with was the apparent bribery of Tomoe and that was only because she was not letting go of that scarf for anything. When their father arrived home, Suki told him what had happened. She told him what Hamasaki had told the boys and showed him where the tail had broken off. Takehiko smiled as he put the dragon back in it’s place.
“Well that explains why he offered me such a steep discount. I’m just glad he was able to fix it..” Suki rested her head on his shoulder and smiled.
“Either way, I’m not sure it would have mattered.”
“Why do you say that, Love?”
“Because even without the statue, I know you will keep the promise you made all those years ago.”
Takehiko closed his eyes and kissed her forehead.
“But it is nice to have a reminder of it and the boys did go through a lot of trouble to fix it.”
They heard a distant thump that sounded suspiciously like a head hitting a desk.
“I’ll go check on him.” Suki leaned up and kissed her husband’s cheeck before walking off towards Daishiro’s room. Takehiko ran his finger down the length of the dragon.
“Thank you for helping keep my promise.”
He walked down the hall, completely missing the tiny sparkle in the little dragon’s eyes.