When Sayuri was just a small child she was not much different than she was presently. Curious to the point of ignoring her own safety, much to the stress of her parents. One winter afternoon when she was wandering out near the woods where she most definitely should not have been on her own, she had happened on a terribly sad scene. A hungry fox had cornered a pair of crows, through what mastery she never knew as one could fly and the other was earth bound. The white furred fox had made a horrible mess of one of the black birds while the other cried and squawked, clearly injured as it hopped around with one wing shorter than the other and the other wing bent at an unnatural angle. The crystalline landscape was marred with splatters of crimson blood and dark feathers, spots of shadow amidst the sparkling snow. She stopped in her tracks as she realized what she was looking at, but the fox had already sensed her and took one of the birds in it’s jaws and disappeared into the forest with it, leaving it’s companion to scream and wail discordantly as it sought in vain for relief.
She had approached the disfigured creature hoping to help the poor thing, not that she had any idea how to do that. She could see the pain of the bird and her heart told her to help, which to a small child meant ‘approach and cradle’. It was not an unreasonable assumption given her age, all of her pains and fears were healed in the same way. She had no pets, nor had she witnessed anyone at all in severe pain before, she could not have known how the bird would react. As her tiny hands reached down to comfort the injured animal it reacted violently out of fear and pain, pecking at her arm and drawing a small amount of blood. Sayuri had cried but she didn’t give up, searching for some berries and leaving for the black bird in a small bowl she crafted out of ice. She hadn’t told her parents about the encounter, worried that they would be angry with her for ruining the sleeve of her dress and so she was left with a tiny diamond shaped scar on her forearm and no explanation as to why it had occurred.
She had only come to her senses years later when she was older and somewhat wiser which had led to this moment. She knew that the strange man before her was unwell in some way, and that he most likely needed comforting, but she also knew that to move quickly or suddenly would get her into trouble again. Since this man wasn’t an animal she hoped that she could reason with him, reassure him that she wasn’t going to harm him, and it seemed her hope was not in vain. She heard a low growl yet he made no move towards her as her fingertips brushed against the cold and smooth bone along his jawline. It looked to her as though perhaps it was his jaw protruding from his skin, or maybe he had two - she would need more time to discern it. All around her grew darker and before long all she could see was the stark white of the jaw and the icy blue of his eyes. His eyes warned her away as he caught her gaze where hers searched for answers. She wanted to know what his story was, how he came to be in the woods, who had hurt him so utterly that he believed himself an abomination; where all she saw was a mysterious stranger full of intrigue and turmoil.
As he pulled away she would gasp softly at his snarl, her eyes fluttering defensively as she feared the worst. But nothing came. She watched as he moved away from her, not quickly, but with purpose. Her shoulders would slump slightly and a look of sadness mixed with guilt would set itself firmly upon her features. She wasn’t surprised that he’d chosen to leave, but she did feel that it was her fault, that she’d pushed too far in an effort to reach out and connect with him. Believing that she would never have friends was a self fulfilling prophecy; the more she believed it, the more she behaved in a manner most likely to push people away from her strangeness. So it was with much excitement that she accepted his direction to assist him. As he turned to address her, her shoulders and back would straighten and a shy smile would light up her face as she would leap from where she sat and hurry to catch up with him.
Sayuri would nod emphatically as she walked up to the man, eager to be of service in the hunt for a place to stay. He seemed content enough to stay in the forest it seemed as he made no move to go further towards the village and Sayuri was content with his decision. The village meant more people, and more people meant more talking. And she didn’t want that. So she would move along happily looking for something suitable. She saw many trees that she might have hid in, but they wouldn’t protect from the cold so she peered high and low to find anything more suited to someone who probably would want a fire at some point. Eventually she spied a rocky outcropping with just enough shadow that it may have some semblance of shelter. She would point towards it, waving the man towards what she hoped would not be a disappointment. Until she remembered his instructions were to tell him, and a frown would form on her face momentarily as she struggled again with speaking. “There.”