Kathleen’s been exploring Japanese ghosts and deamons and other folklore. She shares this passage from
Dragon Scroll, by I.J.Parker.
Oni (鬼?) are creatures from Japanese folklore, variously translated as demons, devils, ogres or trolls. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oni]
Intro: The Rat is about to tell the story of a friend who saw a whole procession of oni one night, and lived to tell about it. Akitada and his servant/friend, Tora. have to figure out which parts are story and which parts may have a seed of truth.
“Tora, his eyes round with suspense, shook the Rat’s arm impatiently and made him cough again. Otomi refilled the Rat’s cup. He drank, wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, and continued.
‘Oh, it was a gruesome sight,’ he said, his voice rising a little. ‘It was a whole crowd of oni, as evil a set of devils as you’ll ever meet, and passing before his very eyes. There were near a hundred of them, he said, and they looked horrible. Some had only one eye in the middle of tehir face. Some had horns, or pointed ears and long noses, some had long red hair all over their bodies. There were some as thin as chopsticks, and some as round as chestnuts. And in front walked a giant with a face like fire and claws for hands. They all gathered by an old well in the middle of the temple courtyard.’
‘Now,’ continued the Rat, ‘what with the moon and all them torches, it was bright as day, and my friend could see they had a young lady with them. The young lady was as beautiful as a fairy and had jewels in her hair and she was crying. The giant with the red eyes and fiery flames shooting from his face got in a fight with the others over the jewels. He roared like the fiend he was, but the other devils were too fast for him and ran away. So he roared some more and then he saw the lady lying there in her thin gown and went to her. The lady screamed and she fought him. And then he took his knife, shoved it in her, and fell upon her body…’
Ayako gasped, and the Rat broke off and said piously, ‘In the presence of ladies I can’t talk about what happened next, but demons are nasty creatures. Anyway, when he was done with her, he dumped her in the well and went away.”
Yikes! This came as a surprise about halfway through the novel. I had to read another chapter or two to be able to sleep easier. You understand.