“Let’s stop here, I don’t think I can go another step!” Michael sighed.
“Ok, but let’s be sure that there’s no one here.”
“Who’d live out here in the middle of no where? I mean, this is the first sign of life in days!”
“I know.” James said, “But just the same…”
They divided, one going towards the left, the other the right. There wouldn’t have been many places to hide, the building was low laying, the roof just above the earth in certain areas.
The door stood slightly ajar, and with sword in hand, James walked towards the door. He pulled it open with one hand. Nothing, there was no-one, but there were signs of someone living in that run-down shack.
He descended the steps slowly. There was a table, laid for three people, three chairs and a cupboard full of glasses and dishes. From the ceiling hung a cured ham and corn husks. In one corner was a small fireplace with a cauldron over a low fire. In another corner, there was a bed with a colorful duvet on it. The house was warm.
“Hey, Michael, come here!”
Michael entered and took in the room. They looked at each other then grabbed a bowl and a spoon from the table, went over to the cauldron then dished themselves up a bowl of porridge. There was a pitcher of water and one of milk on the table. They drank their fill of the water and poured the milk onto the porridge and ate heartily, finally using a bit of some fresh-baked bread to clean their plates.
A girl came into the room at this point. She was graceful, with long black auburn hair. She smiled a warm welcome to them, which took them by surprise.
“Ah, so I see you’ve made it at last, ’tis a week I’ve been waiting for you!” she exclaimed happily.
“You can’t be waiting for us, we didn’t know we’d be coming here!” said Michael.
“You may not have known, but the forest knew and it told me. You are the one called Michael,” she said to him “and you are James she said turning to the other.”
“And who are you?” James asked.
“I’m known as Kitsune, and this is my home. Not only the house, but all the forest you’ve been walking in.”
James had never heard of someone owning the forest, but Michael who’d lived many years in the area had heard of Kitsune.
“You are a witch!” Michael shouted as he pulled out his sword.
“No, I’m a Kami! She laughed “and you are a ghost! You both died a week ago whilst wandering in that terrible snow storm. Now, you may stay with me for a time before resuming your journey.” She poured them a glass of wine and pulled out a fruit cake. “You are my guests.”