The iron claw in the velvet glove

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Part one The journey

© Barbara Boot 2020. Cover art by the author. Published by DR21 Publishing. All rights reserved. 


In the early six hundreds, the Yamato Clan discover their leader Teńjō Hisashi is planning on going back to China for more metal. The problem was none of his men knew why. The Commander Tanaka Arata goes to find out why he has kept it quiet and most importantly why was he going alone?

The stunning god gently pats the side of the man’s face and replies, “You should not trouble yourself over this. As you know, no one would ever attack me. Because if they did, they would be dead before they have even drawn their sword, for I am way faster than you mortals.”

   “My lord Hisashi, please do not do this alone... Please allow at least a small group of us to come with you.”

   “You do not understand. Even a small group could look like we are about to attack. That is the last impression I want to make, my son.”

The commander shakes his head and replies, “No, I do understand, but if anything wer-”

Hisashi quickly silence him by placing his left index finger to the man’s thin lips and says, “My dear boy, nothing, nothing will ever happen to me, hm?”

   “Yes, my lord,” replies Arata, performing a deep bow. “Please may I ask, why now are you getting more metal?”

Hisashi pats him on the shoulder and replies, “That my son, is on a need to know bases and right now you do not need to know.”

The commander looks at him all confused and the moment he is about to ask, please tell me. His lord whispers in his ear, “Keep this to yourself, my son. We are going to be attacked, in autumn. I saw leaves were littering the ground.”

   “A vision?” Arata whispers.

   “Yes. A strong one too. You know yourself with the army growing we need more armour and swords.”

   “That is true, my lord. I’ll come with you.”

The god laughs and replies, “No matter if I try to sneak away quietly and order you not to come, you will. Fine, you can come, my son. On one condition do not tell anyone. Just say it is a private mission.”

The commander watches the god wink his left eye. In response he gives him a nod and replies, “My lips are sealed, my lord.”

   “All right, pack for I leave at first light.”

   “Yes, my lord,” replies the young man, performing another bow before he stands up and walks over to the door. He turns back to give him another bow as he steps backwards into the corridor and slides the door closed.

The moment some of the other men see the Commander emerge from their leader’s home, they crowd round him to hear the news. However, when he tells them it is a private mission, the men are not pleased and they start to demand him for more information.

  “My orders are not to say a word,” replies Arata in a bold voice.

The small crowd falls silent, and one of the men asks, “A vision?”

   “You should not ask him that,” says another in a harsh whisper.

   “You’re right, I take it back. Just one question, you are going with him?”

The commander nods and replies, “I persuaded him.”

All the men congratulate him, then they return to their duties and Arata returns to his home; where on the way he is greeted by the woman he loves. It is obvious from her expression she is concerned.

   “Is everything all right?” she asks with a troubled voice.

   “Do not worry, everything is all right. Our leader would just like me to accompany him to China. It will not be long before-”

The commander is unable to finish his sentence for his love gives him a kiss. He then takes her into his arms, and they continue home. Where he goes on to pack with her help before they spend some time together.

The following morning before his love awakes, he sneaks out of the house and down to the harbour to meet up with his lord, on board his ship.

   “Good to see you,” he says, patting him on the arm.

This is when the commander sees they are not alone as there is a full crew on board. He looks back to his leader who just gives him a faint smile and winks his left eye, then gives the order to set sail.

The crossing is rough, which makes Arata feel unwell, until the god gives him a green shoot to chew on and the feeling of sickness goes away.

Once they reach the port on the southern cost of China. They head inland to a small village who is more than happy to give the god all the materials he needs to make good armour and weapons. They even provide them with stirrups so shooting an arrow whilst riding on horseback became possible. Hisashi has no trouble hitting the targets, even when the horse is at a gallop; which impresses the mortals, because when the commander tries he is lucky to hit two.

   “Practice, dear boy. Practice.”

“Yes, my lord.”

The once bright sunny weather turns dull, and a cold wind starts to come in off the sea. A storm was coming. They all take shelter in the huts which creak and moan in the strong wind. All through the night the storm continues to rage, all the commander can think of is his dear love. It could be a few days more before he sees her again.

Arata is right, the bad weather continues on in to the next day. His thoughts again turned to his love and how much she must be missing him.

   “Hanako, my love,” he whispers.


Meanwhile, back in Japan, Arata’s love awakes to blue sky and the sun shining down. This makes her go for a walk across the open fields picking flowers as she goes. Then she hears her name being called, “Hanako. Hanako.”

The voice seems to be coming from the forest. A place she dared not enter; for it is a dark uninviting place and the trees seem to creak and moan even when there is no breeze blowing through them.

   “Hanako... Come to me my love.”

   “Arata, is that you?”

   “Yes. Come to me. Come. Come.”


#98 in Fantasy
#26 in Dark fantasy
#47 in Short stories

Story about: romance, supernatural, fantay

Edited: 28.07.2019

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