Suzue Miuchi - Other Works
Kuroyuri no Keizu (The Curse of the Black Lilies)
Asako Hojo's mother is dead. It is said that she committed suicide, but the girl can't believe it:
Chisato was an happy woman and she loved her family! But to tell the truth, in the last period the woman's
behaviour changed... Everything started when Asako found that black lily in the garden; her mother was shocked:
she ordered her to pull it away immediately! And then the woman became so absent minded! Sometimes she talked as
if she was going to die...
And finally, it happened.
At the funeral, no relatives of the woman's showed up. Only a misterious old woman named Masa Kawaguchi comes to burn some incense for her. She says she used to be a friend of Chisato's 20 years ago. Asako talks to her; the old woman seems to know something about the black lilies: she trembles, and she tells Asako to pull those flowers away and to burn them if she ever sees any! Asako is the only descendant alive... Asako would like to get more info, but the old woman runs away advising her to be careful! The girl is determined to learn more about her mother's past but her father doesn't seem to know very much: he met her when she was 18. He only knows that his wife's family name was Hiryu. But she never wanted to talk about her family and her past, and he didn't insist. The only weird fact the man remembers is that one night, Chisato had a nightmare: she was in a valley named the Valley of the Demon Princess, and many black lilies grabbed her legs and tried to kill her...
Later, Asako finds in her mother's bedroom a small hiding place, containing a sword with a dragon on its case (maybe a coats of arms? The second kanji of the family name Hiryu means exactly "dragon"!) and a talisman to protect agains demons!
The school is over, and during the Summer holidays Asako decides to find this Valley of the Demon Princess and to visit it. Thanks to the author of a book about misterious Japanese villages, who replied the letter she sent, she knows where she has to go; she has to take several trains and buses, and after a long day she arrives to Tatsuno, which is only 1 km from the Valley of the Demon Princess.
It's late, so Asako spends the night in Tatsuno, in the Yamamoto inn. During the night, something strange happens... Suddendly she cannot move, she can feel the presence of something, maybe a ghost, and she can hear a voice saying: "You're the last one!". A nightmare?
Mrs. Yamamoto is surprised to know that the girl wants to visit the Valley of the Demon princess. Not many people visit it... Anyway, the little boy Hideo will escort her to that place, which is not easy to reach. During their trip, the two meet a young traveller, who came to the same place to investigate about a certain legend... He is surprised that someone came there from Tokyo... But he doesn't say more.
Hideo and Asako reach the Valley. The inhabitants of the village don't seem to be happy when the girl asks them about the Hiryu family... Finally, a man tells them how to get to the Hiryu house. But... It's just an old abandoned house! Even if they say it's infested by ghosts, the girl wants to enter. What happened to those who used to live in that house? There are still furniture and everyday stuff in the house... As if they had to run away all of sudden! Moreover... A rope with a loop knot is hanging from the ceiling... And there is a sword, and some stains of blood on it and on the floor...
Hideo persuades Asako to go away. They happen to arrive at an old castle: the little boy explains her that it is said that a long time ago a Demon Princess used to live there... Then they meet a good looking young man, named Shiro, and a beautiful young woman, his cousin Mitsue. Shiro was a student at Tokyo University, but he came back to the village after he fell sick. Thanks to him, Asako finds out that the Castle used to belong to the Hiryu family... So... The girl is a princess! Shiro advises her to go the the Nanzenji Temple and to ask the monk Osho questions about her family. The monk informs her about her that most members of her family were murdered or committed suicide. The death of all of them was announced by the appearance of a black lily. Asako is the last descendant of the noble family, so she has to be very careful! But what is exactly this curse of the black lily? The explanation can be found in the legend of the demon princess, the princess who once upon a time lived in the castle, ans who gave the name to the valley...
Katsuhisa Matsunaga won the war and conquered the castle of his enemy. Some time later he had a daughter with two little horns on her head, like a demon... The girl was named Chiya; the older she grew, the smaller became her horns. At the age of 2 or 3, she looked like a normal child, but her heart was a demon's heart. She enjoyed killing animals and insects, and soon not only her servants but also her father started being afraid of her! Chiya eventually murdered all the members of her family and inherited the castle, and then she conquered all the nearby castles with cruel battles. Some time later, in Autumn, some floods and landslides destroyed the village and caused the death of hundreds people. A predictor said that they had to sacrifice a girl born in the month of the moon in the day of the sun to a local god, who lived in a hill where black lilies grew. If they build a shrine for that god, he would protect them from the catastrophes. The girl was sacrificed, but she cursed the Hiryus before dying. Her body was divided into pieces and every piece was lowered in a different grave. The catastrophes stopped, but the princess fell sick and after seeing a black lily in the garden, she killed herself. Since that day, all the descendants of the Hiryu family died in mysterious circumstances, always after seeing a black lily.
Then... Is Asako the last descendant of that family? The girl is confused and upset. While she's getting away in tears from the temple she meets Shiro again. The young man tells her that his family descends from some vassals of the Hiryu family and he invites her to his house. Here the girl meets Shiro's mother and grandmother, who give her some info about her mother's family. Since she lost her parents when she was a child, Chisato used to live with her uncle, her aunt and her nanny Masa Kawaguchi... That is, the old woman Asako saw at her mother's funeral! One day, Chisato's aunt and uncle were found dead, the man hanged and the woman murdered with a sword. And in the same day, a black lily sprang in the garden. Nobody entered that house again.
Shiro's mother and grandmother look worried, as if they were hiding something... Asako is determined to find out more about her family by herself. While visiting the temple of the local god, she meets again the young traveller, and she finds out that his name is Gentaro Tashiro, the man who wrote books about Japanese villages and the one who helped her to find the Demon Princess' Village by replying her letter. What a coincidence! In the temple they see the mask the girl was wearing when she was sacrificed. Asako confesses to the young man that she is a Hiryu; the two start investigating together. There are some things about the legend that are not clear. It is said that the princess saw a black lily and committed sucide. But where is her grave? If they could see her skull (with horns) they would have a proof that she was a demon... Her grave must be found!
They ask around and they get to see an hexagonal pavilion which Katsuhisa built to protect her daughter Chiya... "Born in the month of the moon in the day of the sun"! Then, there were 2 girls who could be sacrificed! While the two are trying to guess what speculating about this, Asako feels sick. Gentaro leaves her lying at the foot of a tree and goes to take some medicines; Asako feels the presence of someone, and she is almost killed by a snake. Gentaro arrives just in time to save her, anyway later when they are on their way back to the Yamamoto Inn they lose sight of each other in the wood. Once again Asako risks her life, as someone grabs her by her ankle and pulls her down a pit. Gentaro alerts some people in the village and they find her, still alive. Then, he takes her to Tokyo, where she is recovered at the Nittei Hospital. The young man will go on looking for info about the Demon Princess, while Asako will try to rest. Thanks to an old article about some findings near the Hiryu Castle, that is a woman's skull wearing a mask, Gentaro guesses that actually the Hiryu family sacrificed the Princess instead of the other girl!
In the meantime, strange events occurr in Tokyo. Some friends of Asako take a picture of her, and in the picture a ghost appears behind her; Asako's father finds a black lily in the garden, he eradicates it and throws it away. Daughter and father hide their secret from each other, but Asako eventually finds the black lily in the bin. The girl sends Gentaro the photo her friends took by post. Then, other accidents occurr at school, in the train and finally in her own house, but Asako is always saved in time. In the last of the accidents, a gas escape, it's Gentaro who saves the girl, since she was alone in her house, fainted.
Asako and Gentaro eventually decide to get back to the Valley of the Demon Princess to find the princess' skull to give it to an exorcist. Shiro's mother and grandmother are not happy with that. Shiro's mother is worried that Asako is investigating about the Hiryu family, because her own family took all the Hiryus' lands: the woman will not let the girl find the grave of the demon's head! The two young people visit them, and Asako eats some poisoned vegetables and falls very sick, so Gentaro leaves her at Shiro's house. Shiro guesses that her mother is responsible for what happened, even though his mother denies everything. While Asako is lying in bed with high fever and unable to move, Shiro's mother makes sure Shiro is not there and sets fire to the room where Asako sleeps.
In the meantime, Gentaro finally finds the grave of the Demon Princess' head: the other 8 graves are situated in circle, and the grave with the head is exactly in the centre of the circle, that is... In the temple! The young man calls the exorcist who throws some holy water on the skull, which is destroyed. The ghost of the Demon Princess disappears and Asako is saved from the fire. Shiro's mother was probably possessed by the Demon Princess, since she doesn't remember anything. Asako meets Masa Kawaguchi, the old nanny, who tells her how her uncle killed her wife while trying to kill the Demon Princess, how he committed suicide after that, and how Chisato wanted to forget about the past and start a new life in Tokyo. Asako doesn't care about her family's lands, which the Hiryu's vassals took, and she takes the train back to Tokyo with Gentaro. The girls has never had a brother, so she asks Gentaro to be her brother... The young man is embarassed, but he eventually accepts... Even though he admits being happy they are not really brother and sister...
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