The Witch in the Tower
The Witch in the Tower
Once upon a time the citizens of the Japanese city of Kyoto were terribly afraid because a fierce witch had taken possession of the tower over the city gate.
For years, people in the city of Kyoto had been free to come and go as they chose. But then, this fierce witch appeared. When the good citizens of Kyoto awoke in the morning and looked out their windows, they saw that the tower over the city gate had been blackened with smoke. Coming from the tower was a spine-tingling, hair-raising cackle.
The citizens feared that the Witch of the Dark World had come to their beautiful city. All the citizens of Kyoto had heard of her evil ways and appearances in faraway lands and cities, but none had ever believed she would appear in their fair city.
Soon, though, it was made clear to the Kyoto citizens that it was indeed the Witch of the Dark World. That first morning, as the people of Kyoto cautiously gathered on the streets to investigate the strange presence in the city gate tower, the evil witch cackled and spoke.
“Citizens of Kyoto,” she said in her hideous voice, “I am now in control of your city. Nobody may come or go unless I allow it. And, if I find that any of you is plotting against me, it will be the end of that person. So, I warn you against any treason!”
And so, a new way of life began for the citizens of Kyoto. The witch opened and closed the city's gate when she felt like it. If in the mood, she was capable of locking the gate in the face of travelers bringing food and merchandise. One group of travelers carried vast stores of exotic fruits and vegetables to share with the people of Kyoto. Jealous that she would not be given any, she refused to open the gates for the generous travelers.
Another time, the witch threw the gates wide open to a vicious tribe that savagely scoured the village for anything of value.
The citizens of Kyoto were saddened and frightened, but they felt there was little that they could do to defeat this powerful and evil creature. It wasn't that some citizens of Kyoto didn't try to destroy her, though.
Many, many brave samurai, the strongest and the best fighters in the land, had boldly faced up to the devious and powerful witch, but the minute she set eyes on any one of them, she hurled herself out of the tower at lightning speed, hair flying wildly in the wind. Then, screeching furiously and brandishing a fiery sword, she would attack them, one by one, until she left them lying dead in the dust by the city gates. Most of the citizens of Kyoto felt that there was no hope for their beloved city, and many people began to think of leaving it — if, that is, the wicked witch would let them.
As they discussed their plans to flee, they also spoke sadly of the warrior who would have saved them. “All of our brave samurai are dead, killed by the witch's fiery sword. If only our beloved Watanabi were still here, the bravest, most courageous of them all! But all that remains of him is his sword, and there is no one left who is able to use it.”
However, that wasn't quite true. The sword was not all that remained of the valiant Watanabi. There was also his son, a young boy who lived in Kyoto. As he began to hear what the citizens of the city were saying about his father, he wondered, “My father died fighting and now is gone, but we still have his powerful sword. I shall take it and face the witch. Win or die, I shall fight as a tribute to my father and in hopes of saving the people of the city.”
So the young boy bravely armed himself with his father's sword — which was almost too heavy for him to carry — and went off to the tower where the witch lived. Immediately, the witch saw him arrive and she grinned wickedly, but she did not make a move. She decided not to bother even using her fiery sword on that scrawny kid. Instead, she would wither him with a glance. So, she paid little attention to Watanabi's son as he quietly crept into the tower, climbed the hundreds of stairs, and entered the witch's room.
When, however, the witch heard the door close, she turned round and laid her wild burning gaze on the boy. But she'd neglected to think through her entire plan. She had not anticipated the splendor of Watanabi's sword. As the boy held up the hero's sword, it blinded her.
“This is Watanabi's sword!” shouted the young boy bravely, and before the witch could defend herself, he struck a blow and killed her.
In his father's memory and in honor of his sword, the boy had freed the city of Kyoto forever. He is still remembered today as one of the city's true heroes.