February 18th, 1982.
I had lived in the village outside of Kobe for five years now. The people didn�t ask any questions when I first came there. They welcomed me with open arms. I found that quite strange.
These people are nice, I thought. Too nice. That could prove to be there Achilles� Heel later on. Still, it was quiet; and that was all I needed.
I had just gotten up in the morning when there was a knock on the door. I looked up, confused.
Huh? Who the hell is that? I walked over to the door and slid it open. An old Shinto priest stood on the porch. He had on robes and everything. I recognized him right away.
�Harada-sama,� I breathed. �What are you doing here?�
�I came to see you,� my former boss said, calmly. I gave him a confused look, blinking at him.
�Why?� Harada didn�t answer at first.
�May I come in?� he asked. I looked stoic. Something told me that question had only one answer to it. I dropped my shoulders and sighed.
�Fine,� I said. �Come in!� Harada-sama smiled at me modestly.
�Thank you, Iwao-san,� he said. The old priest went inside. I felt uncomfortable as he slid the door shut behind us.
Harada-sama sat at the dining table with steaming tea in front of him. I sat across him and hunched my shoulders.
�What do you want, Harada-sama?� The old priest didn�t flinch.
�Come back home, Iwao,� he pleaded.
�No! I can�t go back!� We both knew why. Harada-sama looked on sympathetically.
�Iwao-san,� he said. �You can�t keep blaming yourself for their deaths. It wasn�t your fault!� I shook my head.
�I could have saved them!� I said. �I had the power to do it.� Harada-sama looked at me oddly.
�What do you mean?� I became nervous. Should I confess my talent to my former mentor and break my own personal promise that I made years ago in my youth? I loosened my fists. Might as well� I lowered my head close to Harada.
�Have you ever wondered why all of our sick and dying got better so quickly?� I whispered.
�The spirits healed them,� he reasoned. I shook my head.
�No,� I insisted. �I healed them.� Harada-sama didn�t believe me at first.
�What are you talking about?� he demanded. I felt my stomach drop. I knew this would happen. I would have to show him. I swallowed the lump in my throat.
�You remember when you got that burn on your hand eight years ago?� I asked quietly.
�Yes,� my former mentor answered. I hesitated and froze.
�Show me your hand,� I whispered. Harada-sama did so slowly. His hand was right in front of me. I took in a deep breath, held out my own hand and shut my eyes. I chanted under my breath. Instantly, I felt the burn scar disappearing. I opened my eyes to see his face. Harada looked surprised, staring. I nodded.
�Yes,� I confirmed. �I am a healer. Midori and Michiko�s illnesses rejected my powers. As a result, they died and I couldn�t save them. My hope for redemption is to save another� someday�� Harada-sama watched on, touched.
�So what will you do now?� he asked. I clenched my fists.
�I plan to help others until I die,� I said. �I don�t know how I�ll do it, but I have to try. Then and only then will I be able to redeem myself for their deaths.� Harada-sama gave me a warm smile.
�I wish you luck for it,� he said. I bowed.
�I thank you.� I had no idea how soon I would be able to fulfill my promise. Also, it would be the first time in years that I would encounter the Eda-Kimoto clan since Juriko�s death.