Every autumn, The royals would take a trip to the rural area for hunting. Prince Onamuchi turned twelve. He could only stay on the sidelines while his family hunted. To kill his incredible boredom, he casually ran around on the grass. The attendant was chasing after Onamuchi and repeatedly yelling, "Mind the steps, your highness".
Ōnamuchi looked around. He could only see a field of silvergrass, absent of any trail of prey. Suddenly, a nearby bush rustled. Ōnamuchi kept his ears to the ground and pushed the bush aside. With blood tainted fur and an arrow in the thigh, a shivering rabbit grovelled on the grass.
"Poor thing……" Ōnamuchi gently pushed aside the fur around the arrow to cleanse the wound before pulling the arrow out. The rabbit jumped at the sharp pain, but Onamuchi held it tight as he applied applied powder medicine onto its thigh and dressed it with a red scarf. When it was done, he let go of the rabbit, which then hobbled away immediately.
Meanwhile, someone nearby shouted, "I hit that rabbit right! How could it run that far?" The voice came from Yachishū, his half-brother. Yachishū excelled at archery. He never let his prey get away. He questioned Ōnamuchi about the rabbit. Aware of exactly which rabbit he was talking about, Ōnamuchi"s voice faltered with a forced chuckle. Yachishū glared at Ōnamuchi, humphed and left with a shrug.
Time flew by and years later, Onamuchi had now grown up. He was innocent and virtuous like crystal, carrying with a simple mind and vigorous heart. Despite his status, onamuchi helped with farmwork, winning him the hearts of the people. Yachishū envied his younger brother"s reputation. Yachishū treated his good deeds as a sham to earn feelings from the masses. He had become nothing but a thorn in Yachishū"s side. Every day since Yachishū schemed to root out his half-brother…..
Another autumn came. The brothers met at the same old grassland where they hunted years ago. Both of them were now taller.
"Ōnamuchi, we should split. Your archery level is mediocre at best. A good number of prey can be found at the foot of the hill. They are yours. I"m heading to the village—" Yachishū paused, and raised his bow to launch an arrow, which flew straight into a nearby bush. His prey fell down upon being hit. Afterwards, he led his troop towards the village.
Ōnamuchi was accompanied by a single attendant as he headed to the foot of the mountain. There was a vast golden grassland in the foot. Sharp layers of mountain shadows overlapped each other under the cloudless sky.
He lazily sauntered around with zero motivation to hunt. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. He could smell the odor of coal…...He quickly opened his eyes, dense smoke had surrounded him. He realized he had lost his attendant after looking back. The raging fire blazed after him. He fled immediately for his life, but he could not outrun the fire. Before the smoke swallowed him, a voice of an adolescent spoke in his head.
"The cave is broad but the entrance is narrow. Care not about what"s ahead, but what"s underneath."
Ōnamuchi paused, and stamped his feet repeatedly on the ground. It only took a few tries to open up a burrow. The fire was rapidly approaching. He did not hesitate to leap into the burrow…...
"Ouch! I think I hit something……" The burrow was neither big nor small. Ōnamuchi slipped on something tender. Looking up, he saw a white-headed adolescent.
Ōnamuchi was shocked. "You, you are?" The adolescent did not answer. He merely gazed at Ōnamuchi in silence.
The youth wore white clothes in a rural style. A red scarf was tied around his thigh. His blood-red eyes stared at Ōnamuchi.. They gazed at each other until dusk. The adolescent hobbled out of the burrow and craned his neck. Then he signaled to come out by waving his hands.
When Ōnamuchi stepped out, rosy clouds was hanging in the night sky. He slowly crawled out of the ground. The white-headed boy followed behind. His hair glowed in the pitch-dark.
"Where are your parents? I can walk you back." Ōnamuchi ducked down and asked. The adolescent gazed at Ōnamuchi and simply shook his head, and grabbed Ōnamuchi"s sleeve. Ōnamuchi sighed and held the young boy"s hand on their way home.
"Prince Ōnamuchi" is back! Prince Ōnamuchi" is back!" Commotion flooded the palace. Against all expectation, Ōnamuchi had survived the fire without a scratch.
Yachishū nervously stood up from his seat and rushed to Ōnamuchi", "Thank god! You are alive! We worried about you the whole night!"
Ōnamuchi patted his brother"s back and told him, "it"s okay." The adolescent stared at Yachishū with an unreadable expression
Late at night, Ōnamuchi came back to his room for some rest. However, the youth was gone. He searched the area with no luck. He thought, "Is he lost?" and carried a lantern to search in the palace, but still nothing was found. Returning to his room, he was shocked to find the youth sitting on the bed alone. The boy beckoned him closer.
The baffled Ōnamuchi sat beside the boy, who then patted the bed and lifted the quilt, signaling for Ōnamuchi to open the bed board.
Ōnamuchi"s curiosity outweighed his hesitation, so he did as the boy wanted.
As they lifted the board, a pair of eyes stared right at Ōnamuchi beneath, sending chills up his spine. Those were dead eyes of his attendant, who was lying on a pile of weapons that came out of nowhere.
"What happened?" Ōnamuchi was shocked. The adolescent mimicked the posture of Yachishū pulling a bow. Ōnamuchi sighed, because he could no longer deny the unspeakable truth. "Yachishū did this…...I knew it even though I have never admitted it." Ōnamuchi was always aware of the hatred coming from Yachishū, but he never thought Yachishū had wanted him dead. Despite their imperfect blood-tie, Ōnamuchi had never competed against him, thinking that they were brothers after all. Nevertheless, Yachishū was not quite on the same page…...
The adolescent took a deep breath and swished his hands. In a blink of an eye, the corpse and weapons vanished!
"What was that? Wit-witchcraft?" Ōnamuchi asked in astonishment. The youth softly put the bed board back, and lay down on the bed. Patting the bed again, he signaled Ōnamuchi to sleep at ease.
Everything happened on that day made no sense. Ōnamuchi was exhausted.. A fire, a corpse out of thin air and weapons under the bed…...Ōnamuchi decided to deal with them tomorrow.
Early in the morning, Ōnamuchi woke up. The adolescent sleeping next to him earlier disappeared. It was like a dream, but a profound and realistic dream.
When his bleary eyes regained focus, a servant slammed the door open, and requested him to proceed to the hall right away.
At the hall, Ōnamuchi was surprised to see Yachishū kneeling with his hands tied in front of their father.
"Last night one of our servants saw a rabbit trespassing in Yachishū"s room. A brief sweep for it found the body of your attendant and numerous weapons in the process by chance. Ōnamuchi, how should we deal with this incident?" His firm tone expressed his determination.
"According to state law, possession of excessive amount of weapons shall be deemed an act of rebellion. Offenders shall be executed. No exceptions. Ōnamuchi glanced at Yachishū, who was staring at the ground with a glum face.
"Put him in custody until the execution day is arranged."
At this moment, Ōnamuchi recalled the adolescent"s face……
On the execution day, Yachishū vanished. His father sent a search team after him, but not a single trace was found. That night in the palace, Ōnamuchi found a rabbit with a red scarf tied to its thigh. It was leading another brown rabbit running towards the Moon. In absolute silence, Ōnamuchi heard the youth"s voice,
"Thanks for saving my life years ago. I"ll take the bad guy who made me lame.
Years later, Ōnamuchi inherited the throne. When he was young, they called him Ōnamuchi. After becoming the king, he earned the title of Okuninshi, which means "the king who rules the great empire."