07. Beyond The Lanterns' Light
Mount Rokkon
On the center path, after defeating the Shishu Yoko, take the hidden path up the western wall (without approaching the eastern door) and pull the rope. Defeat Gorai the Uncaged.
It was a moonless and cloudy night... A small patrol of samurai was treading a shadowed path when, in the distance, they sighted the warm glow of a lantern. Knowing no honest man would be skulking about at this hour, they approached with caution─to find no man at all, but a single lantern, lying lonely and unattended. With some thought of preventing a fire, one of the samurai reached down to claim it.

In an instant, the samurai were surrounded. A crowd of cold, otherworldly flames hovered just out of arms' reach, as if taunting. Fiendish laughter echoed in the distance, then closer... Yet a mere moment later, the flames disappeared as though nothing had ever transpired. Darkness enveloped the path once again.

There are few in Hingashi who have not heard tales of the bake-chochin. Though these haunting lanterns typically seek only to play tricks on those that wander too close, the ones we encountered on Mount Rokkon clearly had a mind to give chase. According to Tokimori, generations of head monks at Shojo Temple carried a lantern of identical appearance on their nightly strolls, so perhaps the bake-chochin sought merely to protect their masters' home, albeit in a unique way.

The lantern now in my possession bears the following words in Far Eastern calligraphy:

If fortune you seek

Know that our light glows brightest

Within twilight's reach

And 'tis the kami of fire

This celebration entreats

I know not precisely what this poem calls upon its reader to do, but its words occupy my thoughts nonetheless.