As you might have noticed, I love sharing excerpts! Well, Insignia: Castles & Kimono was just released on Sep 27th, so I’d like to introduce the authors and share a few teasers from the wonderful Japanese fantasy stories in this collection.
‘PORTAL TO MIYASHITA’
BY CARMEN INDALECIO
When Izumi opened her eyes, she found herself lying on her back in a bed of green plants. Kaede was sitting next to her, his big, round eyes just staring. She reached up and scratched his ear.
“Alright, you’re awake now,” said a gruff voice, “So will you please, GET OFF MY DAIKON!”
She immediately stood up, but all she saw were smashed sprouts and a tanuki.
“Umm, who said-,” she began.
Izumi stepped back in shock, the tanuki was talking. He then got on his back legs, grabbed what looked like a lily pad from a bush, and put it on his head. Turning his back to her, he then started to wave his paw over each sprout. One at a time they slowly straightened up. She then realized that this wasn’t just any tanuki, but a bake-danuki. Looking around, she discovered she was in a garden with many different plants and a pond. But there was something unusual about everything, even the sky was a peculiar mix of brown and blue.
“Wh-Where am I?” she stuttered.
“My garden, in the second ring,” said the tanuki, “and if you know what’s best human, you’ll leave right now. These daikons were supposed to be my gift to the Kami.”
“I’m sorry; I didn’t mean to smash them. We fell through something, I’m not sure what. And before that, we were being chased by a…” Izumi then realized something. She looked down at Kaede. “Oh my gosh, that was an actual oni that was chasing us, wasn’t it Kaede? But what did he want with you? Oh no, I hope Masaki isn’t involved with this.”
That got the tanuki’s attention. “You know the Chiba boy?”
“Yes, he’s my friend.”
“Huh, I was wondering why you were with this komainu.”
“Komainu?” Izumi made a glance at Kaede, who at that moment was trying to bite an itch off his rear. “Kaede, along with his sister, Chika, are stray dogs my friend’s family adopted from a nearby animal shelter, not an ancient and terrifying temple guard. Wait, do you know Masaki?”
“I’m familiar with his family. They were taken by the Forest Kami herself not too long ago. There has been a great talk about it.”
“What! But why?!”
“They’ve angered her, so she plans to punish them soon. Rumor has it, to the point where there will be no evidence of the whole family’s existence. I’m amazed this little guy was able to get away.”
“But that makes no sense. Masaki loves the forest. He organized many protests against construction companies that have been trying to clear it. Even his parents take part in them. What could they have done to deserve this?
“I don’t know what to tell you,” he said sadly, “You might as well find your way home now. You’ll never see them again.”
Izumi was stunned. The very idea of her friend getting hurt or worse frightened her. She firmly asked, “Where are they?”
The tanuki’s eyes widened, “You’re not thinking of—”
“I’m going after them.”
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Insignia: Castles & Kimono is also included in the new omnibus edition The Insignia Series Omnibus Volumes 5-8. If you haven’t read the previous volumes you might like to buy this set at the discounted price!