(The Kid has been practicing writing Japanese every day for a couple of years now. These days he writes enough to fill about 3/4 of a wide-ruled notebook page – with each row of characters taking up two lines for ease of reading/writing – and I’m making a point of ensuring that he practices a variety of kanji while occasionally learning new characters. Some days I dictate to him; others I just give him a list of characters to try to incorporate and he comes up with his own sentences; it’s good practice for both of us. This is a series of linked writing exercises that turned into a little story last fall… now available in English translation!)
(On the evening when the portly vampire came, none of us knew that it was a monster. We just understood immediately that he was nobody to be trusted.
The vampire stopped in front of the gate, and called out “Is the master of the house here?” in a bored-sounding drawl.
Our parents were resting at the time, so the one who opened the door was my oldest brother. Close-up, he took in the stranger’s red eyes and long teeth in a single glance, and slammed the door shut again.
Since time immemorial the land where we live, Iwayuki, has been protected by four great lighthouses. But just as mosquitoes sometimes slip inside your mosquito netting, every once in a while a vampire will manage to get in. Naturally our big brother, who has studied monster science at high school, knows how to deal with them.
When a vampire sees a collection of small objects, it’s compelled to count them. Our brother told our little sister, “Bring some rice.” But when she came running back, she was carrying adzuki beans.
That would have to do, so our brother got ready to throw the beans in the vampire’s face. Just in case I gathered a big handful of sand.
Our brother opened the door again and in the same moment he threw the beans, I threw the sand, and then with a shriek our little brother came up behind us and threw about a liter’s worth of rice, which he had managed to find at some point, all over the ground
But the vampire didn’t start desperately counting the rice or the beans. Instead, a smile slowly spread across his face. “You seem to be under a misconception. I’m not one of those arithmeticians from the East. I’m from the West.”
Up until that point the vampire had looked more or less like a human man, but there was nothing human about that smile; it was the carnivorous grin of a wolf or a crocodile. He pointed his yellow fingernails at us, sharper than honed blades, and said, “Well, perhaps I’ll teach you one more lesson before the end.”
More than those nails, though, more than his teeth, more than anything else, what frightened me was his self-satisfied expression. My whole body suddenly went cold; it was hard to even draw a breath. But before any of us could scream or turn to run, there was a hum as something pale and shining, like a miniature thunderbolt, came flying.
Our elder sister’s job is to spend about a week out of each month in the southern ward of the capital as guard on the king’s road. She spends most of her time practicing all the skills and arts appropriate to a warrior, starting with swordsmanship and magecraft, and naturally including the reading and writing of Old Speech.
The magic of most countries uses the power of the Fire Down Below or of Starlight. But the mages of the capital, where our sister works, borrow the power of the sun.
Weapons made of mere wood and iron have almost no effect against monsters. There are times when silver is better, but silver weapons are expensive and our household had none. I have no doubt that the arrow our sister fired was able to pierce the vampire’s heart, and put an end to it, because it was filled with the power of the sun.