Legend – Chapter 03
Jennifer realized she’d made it home only when she was opening the front door. I drove home entirely on autopilot.
“Mommy!” The delighted cry from farther in the house preceded a small, slender, black-haired dynamo who catapulted into Jennifer’s arms so energetically it almost knocked her down. “It’s a commercial break, so I can come out now, I had my bath, Gran’s reading in the other room, she said I’m a big girl now so I can watch by myself, I’ve done some more drawings – can I have ice cream?”
“Slow down, pinball girl,” Jennifer said, laughing, and scooped up her six-year-old daughter. Yuki hugged her fiercely. “Yes, I’ll get you some ice cream, while I get myself some dinner. Don’t pester me, though.”
“Of course you won’t,” Jennifer agreed, smiling. “Except during the commercials.”
A familiar quick fanfare came, faintly, from the living room, and Yuki practically leaped out of Jennifer’s arms to run over and sit by the widescreen TV. About a quarter of the TV was visible from the seat Jennifer preferred to use when eating in the kitchen.
Gran – Samuel’s mother Linda – came out of the den. “Welcome home, Jenny. Are you set, or do you need me to stay a little longer?”
“No, no, it’s fine. Thanks so much for watching.” She shook her head. “I always feel I’m taking too much advantage –”
“Never. If I think you’re imposing, I’ll certainly let you know. Have I ever been shy about that? Of course not. Still, it will be good to get back to Will; he doesn’t mind a few hours without me in the house, but once it gets to nighttime –”
“Then shoo, go on.” She kissed her mother-in-law on the cheek. Once Gran had left, she threw the deadbolts and activated the security system. So far, I haven’t needed it . . . but I’ve got someone very valuable who’s worth it.
The refrigerator yielded half a steak from earlier in the week, the fixings for a small salad, and a little brown rice. Not a bad dinner, and she could afford the calories today.
“Yuki, do you really want your ice cream now, or do you want it when the new episode comes on?”
“Oh! Umm . . .” The battle of now versus later on Yukari’s face was of heroic proportions. “I . . . I guess I’ll wait.”
The next half-hour passed quickly as Yuki watched Densetsu no Densetsu and Jennifer heated and ate her late dinner. She’ll want me to sit with her for the new one, so I’d better finish up.
She just made it, putting the dishes away and bringing in Yuki’s snack as the opening began to play. “Yon Youso, Yon Kami . . .” her daughter sang along with the opening, which showed the “Yon Kami”, or “Four Spirits” – Dragon of Air, Tiger of Stone, Turtle of Water, and Phoenix of Fire – coalescing into Densetsu.
After today’s session, that armor and face – animated or not – struck a new chord. Elements and Spirits . . . the Five are element-spirit paired, at least that’s what I’ve read. I wonder if that part of Densetsu is a reference to the Five.
Of course, Yuki could – and sometimes did – reel off an almost unending list of facts about the show, and the actual legends it drew upon, such as the relationship between the Chinese Four Guardians of the Compass Directions and the Shishin of Japan and how the choice of which element was related to which Guardian affected the direction of the show, and what powers Densetsu had because of them, and so on. Undoubtedly, if Jennifer were to ask about whether the Four were a reference to the Five, Yuki would be able to tell her if the creators had ever said so, what the fans thought, and how many fanfics had been written crossing the Five over with Densetsu.
Having watched most of the series with Yuki, Jen had somewhat unwillingly come to appreciate what it was that made the show so popular with so many people. Oh, it was obviously playing to audience expectations, but doing it in so straightforward and un-self-conscious a way that it came off as an adventure with the same earnest, clear-eyed sense of right and wrong that a six-year-old might understand. At the same time, there was a depth to it that children might not directly see – the implications of events in the pasts of both Heroes and villains, the choices Densetsu and his friends had to make but that they almost certainly sensed, which made the show that much more real.
And the resonance with the real world itself can’t hurt. The real Legend had fan clubs, and she wondered how all of this affected him.
She yanked herself out of her woolgathering to realize the episode recap had ended a while ago, replaying the cliffhanger it had left off on. This season’s villains were a mangled Egyptian pantheon and their representatives. At least Set’s been given a demonic ass’ head in this one, rather than getting the snake treatment.
The episode held Yuki spellbound, ignoring the ice cream in front of her. Even though Jennifer knew perfectly well how the music and animation were being used to evoke her reactions, she found herself drawn in towards the end, when Ma-Sho, one of Densetsu’s oldest enemies, walked slowly toward the beaten hero. Densetsu was too weak to do more than turn his head as the gray, stone-like face of his enemy impassively looked down and then glanced back to the glowing manifestation of Set.
“You may finish him, foreigner. We know he has been your enemy. You have served us well. Take that which is his, and it shall be yours.”
The light of the setting sun glinted from the amulet around Densetsu’s neck – one detail that was not the same as his real-life counterpart, the source of his curse and blessing. If Ma-Sho gets that . . . she thought, and then smiled to herself. It really is a well-done show, even if it’s not quite what I expected my little girl to watch.
Ma-Sho turned back. “I had expected better of you . . . Densetsu.”
He reached down, unhooking the kusari-gama from his belt. As he did so, a tiny object dropped from his hand, bounced off his boot, and rolled in front of Densetsu–in a place that those behind Ma-Sho could not see. It looked like a dried fruit: wrinkled, round, and slightly golden.
“Look, Mommy, look! It’s a dragon berry!”
Densetsu’s eyes flickered up, and for just one split second his eyes met those of his enemy . . . and Ma-Sho’s mouth turned up in the tiniest of smiles, even as the gray-skinned Demon General prepared for his final strike.
The kusari-gama whirled and came down – but in that instant its target was gone. Something moved so quickly it could not be followed, and Ma-Sho was sent flying, disappearing in the distance. Now Densetsu stood before his enemies and raised his arms above his head. “You trusted in greed; I trusted in honor, and now I am reborn.” Fire gathered about him, blazing brighter, gathering to a point of intolerable brightness, and Set’s warriors tried to scramble back.
“Too late!” Yuki crowed. “Ohh, you’re going to get it NOW! The dragon berry brought him back, even stronger than he was before. That’s the way they work, and I’ll bet he’s got a new–“
As Yuki said the word attack, Densetsu’s arms swept down like wings. “PHOENIX . . . ASCENDANT!” he shouted in an echoing voice, and the gold-white fire raced out in all directions.
Of course, that also ended the episode. “Awww! I wanted to see him beat them!”
Jennifer laughed. “Well, that will be next week. Now he’ll have a whole episode to –”
“–open up a can of whup-butt!” Yuki looked down and made a face. “My ice cream’s soup!“
Her daughter’s face was so mournful that Jennifer couldn’t keep from laughing. “I’m sorry, Yuki. Maybe I should have let you eat it earlier.”
“Can I have another bowl?”
“You’re supposed to be going to bed, pinball girl.” Another pleading look. “I’ll give you a small cup. But then you brush your teeth and go straight to bed.”
Jennifer had thought she’d do a little reading once her daughter was in bed, but now, in the quiet of the night, incredulity caught up with her. Has anyone ever tried analyzing one of these people before? What does it mean to literally change yourself back and forth? Who could I even ask to get a different perspective on this?
This is going to be . . . interesting.