Dappled forest light,
Memory of a sweet past;
Yet forward I go.
~ Miyara Miwa
Our brief time in the forest shrine of the Druidess came to an end and we gathered ourselves for the trip to Kurusa Hoven. This place, even full of barbarians as it was and ignoring the ugly architecture, reminded me more strongly of home than any other place I have seen in the sunset lands yet. Even under construction, as it were, it was a quiet, tranquil place set among the flickering light that filters through the forest. Different gods, different trees, different priests; yet the feeling was similar. As much as I always long to return to where I belong, I have not been this sick for my home since I left. As a gift to the shrine, I placed my most intricate design yet: a wasure nagusa *. It took me several sheets of my precious tinted paper from home. I left it for the god of the shrine, whoever it may be.
Sutoiko joined the others who had other paths to travel. Mongo returned to his home; Shan remained at the shrine. Sutoiko did not say where his path led him. I had appreciated his kindness to Kyosuke. He seemed to be the only one who viewed him as a person, rather than my shadow.
The rest of us journeyed to Kurusa Hoven. This place turned out to be a small village by the side of a river that saw much travel by traders and other travelers. The second group of strangers had been here before, and knew just where to go ask questions. The person I sought, Etiyen Bastiyan, had indeed been here, but had left some time ago to another village downriver, Sonefutu. So, once more we boarded a boat. I truly missed Mongo's cooking: for a barbarian he prepared meals quite edibly. Not so true on this boat, but I was able to select fish and vegetables for myself.
We spent little time in Sonefutu: We immediately learned he had been here, but had departed upriver, back to Kurusa Hoven just the day before our arrival. We had passed him, all unkowing, upon the river. The gods do like to play with us.
Upon returning to the river to find a boat back upriver, we discovered that no one wished to travel for the next few days. These western barbarians feared the night of the two full moons. We did eventually persuade one crew to take us back.
Before we left Sonefutu, the White Faerie had another vision, of a man he thought could be Bastiyan dying if we didn't get to Kurusa Hoven soon. I did not know why he thought it was Bastiyan: he had never set eyes on him before.
Wasure nagusa is the Japanese name for the forget-me-not.