The exotic teapot from the land of the Samurai was the last gift from the nervous Warden and his now distraught wife; for they could not conceive how each of their gifts could be used to harm the King’s daughter. Never was it their wish to cause or bring harm; surely someone else was bewitching the royal gifts unbeknownst to all.
The frail dark child, cursed before birth, was made of sterner stuff though. Each attack had made her stronger and more curious if that was even possible – and now wondering who and why. Each new assault caused her to see and recognize the forces of evil that not only plagued her but seemed to encompass her small world.
In her perceptive agile mind she wondered greatly about the why and who and of course, the when; when it might happen again. Out right suspicion was not forming in her character but definitely the ability to tread warily.
Life outside the silver cage seemed strange – full of unknown beauty and horror side by side unlike the ceramic dungeon where it was waiting – always and plain to see. Outside was full of contradictions; the monstrous walked inside beauty’s skin daily and sometimes the grotesque contained splendor. In her ancient childlike way she knew something hunted her – the same as when she was caged she always ‘knew’ when the men in stained robes were coming for her – to torture her – and how bad it would be. She viewed everything with alert, careful eyes.
The beautiful porcelain teapot with cups fashioned for tiny hands was exquisite. The petite creamer and sugar beckoned to be picked up. But ever cautious the Princess watched as the warden’s wife artfully arranged the delicate tea set on the lacquered table; the beautiful table with strange gold writing was said to be a gift from the Elder Earth God appearing in the Princess’ bedroom the very morning she came home to the castle.
The delicate tea set looked so enchanting next to the plastic one the Princess had been using with her tablemates. Yet she did not touch the tea set; instead she kept a hold of her brown bear that had a different name weekly. The cloth doll with button eyes and yarn hair – a gift from the Queen’s mother sat in the play chair to her right. Close by was the brick she like to keep with her – it had no name but large eyes were draw on it in crayon. The Queen called it her brick baby since the princess would be inconsolable unless the brick was at hand. Little did the Queen realize the purpose of that brick.
Pausing only to consider the tea set and the terrified look in the warden’s wife’s eyes for a moment the Princess went back to coloring the images of the delicate faeries she had drawn.
After much whispered conversation with the Queen the warden’s wife took her leave. The Queen stayed behind watching her frail child for a silent moment; kissed her on the head then left the toy room leaving the door open just in case. The Princess continued to color for she knew she was being watched – she always knew. She could be a wordy talkative child when she chose to be or when she needed to keep the grown-ups from questioning her too closely. For one so young she had a remarkable vocabulary and a lively imagination coupled with a promising ability to see things normally hidden from the eyes of the non-believers.
So she colored her faeries and held lively discussions with her playmates; the bear, the doll and the brick; giving each playmate a voice carrying a conversation about the faeries on the paper that were coming to life with fantastic paint pencils, another gift from her Nana. After a few long moments the Princess felt the watching nervous eyes of the Queen retreat with her footsteps.
As soon as she was truly alone three tiny sprites burst out from under the yarn hair of the doll sitting at the table; exquisite faerie laughter filling the room and the tiny Princess followed suit. The girl’s laughter reached the Queen in her parlor putting her more at ease. She was expecting her second child now and worry had set in with earnest not, just for her eldest child but for the unborn one as well and the curse – was it truly gone, did it just concern the eldest?
The sprites, each adorned in shimmering pastel gowns that looked like confection spun from moonbeams and sunshine, pirouetted up to the porcelain tea pot, curious. The tallest faerie arrayed in pale yellow flew to the top of the teapot and looked inside. Shrugging delicately she came to rest on the spout peering deep inside the teapot. She looked up at the Princess and shook her head; it was empty, there was no imp or miniature gnome lurking inside.
The plump blue pixie impulsively and courageously flew down inside the teapot giggling the whole time. Her two companions zoomed inside and gleeful chatter ensued as the Princess leaned over carefully peering inside. As she did the three faeries flew up and around her head. Everyone collapsed in happy childish laughter which dissolved into magical chatter.
Later when the sprites bid the Princess good afternoon and flew out the upper window; the tiny child returned to the table looking warily at the teapot. This time as she peered into the shadowy depths of the teapot it was not empty.
A tiny man sat inside the teapot. The Princess thought he looked very funny. His dark hair was pulled up on the top of his head like a short ponytail. He was dressed in a long white robe that was belted and strange wooden sandals completed his outfit. As she caught sight of this funny looking man she audibly caught her breath which caused the man to look up. A huge smile broke out on his strange face as he called out with an unfamiliar accent. “Hello Your Highness, now that the faeries are gone perhaps you can help me out of this confounded teapot?”
The Queen’s daughter responded with a smile of her own; ever so gently she tipped the teapot on its side until the tiny man gaily strode out, adjusting his robes. When he had cleared the teapot he bowed deeply “Thank you Princess allow me to introduce myself, we have much work you and I.” The Princess was not surprised he was a tiny magical man but she was intrigued by his very unusual appearance. There was definitely a twinkle in his eye as she caught sight of a tiny stick protruding from his belt, a miniature sword.
The strange man walked across the table and standing right in front of the Princess bowed again saying “My name is Jinn-San, I am a Samurai Magician from a land far away. I will only appear when you are truly alone and no one else is around. I have been sent here to instruct you.” Wide eyed the Princess asked in a hushed whisper “A samurai magician? Instruct me? Why?”
“You have been cursed and blessed Your Highness. To see within must be shaped to know light from shadow, when to stand and when to blend. This must be done in secret; so you and I will work together to prepare you for what will come and to understand what has gone before.”
“Will I be afraid” asked the King’s daughter? “Yes your highness but you will be ready, I will teach you how to conquer your fear and not let it conquer you” Jinn-San replied.
The Princess while slightly fearful had seen too much and been through more to be overly afraid. But her young heart beat faster. Back to that torture chamber she never wanted to go; images and memories rose up tightening her chest. As if reading her mind this miniature Samurai Magician spoke softly “I will do my best your highness so that you never have to return to that horrid place again.”
A silence fell for the space of several heart beats. The Princess’ eyes rose to meet those of Jinn-San “Ok Jinn-San” she agreed.
Jinn-San’s serous face broke into smiles “Great” he jovially shouted “So first I shall tell you the story of the Traveling Cricket” The Princess, chin cupped in her hands, elbows resting on the table drank in the fascinating story of the wandering cricket and his many adventures after being stranded far from home. When the story was over she cried, “Poor Michi the cricket do you think he ever wanted to go back home” asked the Princess?
Jinn-San laughed “The story does not say but I like to think Michi enjoyed his journey learning and sharing his special path as he went.”
Here Jinn-San became serious “Your Highness you must learn to not let the non-believers know what you see – you also must discern who is a believer and who is not. Especially grownups – they know and believe deep inside but they don’t always know how to handle things. Sometimes they won’t believe you – for they look at things with grown-up minds and want to fix things with grown-up ways.
“But aren’t you grown-up Jinn-San” queried the curious Princess? “Why yes Your Highness, as much as a 2000 year old Samurai Magician can be grownup” he chuckled.
“As long as you remember and believe. In the coming days I will show you how to really see, how to hide, how to call for aid, how to mask you mind, how to strike a blow and how to bend with a blow given. There are darker things than the night and I know you know this, but I am here to see you through it for a time. I will only be here for a short time and only when no one is present but I will be here for you until my time is done. Now let me show you how to trace the symbol of the All Mother for it will protect you in dark times and guide you when there is no light.”
Jinn-San didn’t let the King’s daughter notice that he had heard the movement outside her play room. But the evil being that lurked; looking for an opening was out maneuvered yet again, as Jinn-San taught the Princess the secret sigil of the All Mother. Jinn-San smiled knowing he had defeated the evil once again, unknowing the tiny princess returned his smile asking “is this the way to make the sign Jinn-San?”