Of course Waya was to blame for it. Waya always was to blame, so what else was new? This time Waya was to blame for the fact that A: Isumi had missed a full night's sleep and was dead tired to begin with. And B: Waya had not bothered to wake Isumi up after he had fallen asleep in the viewing room during the last tournament game of the day.
And so it was that when Isumi did wake up, the room was pitch black and the institute was utterly deserted. It was also locked, from the outside, as he found after going down to check. All the lifts were down and so was the electricity; a recent policy to reduce the institute's bills. That left emergency lights only. Oh, just great!
Isumi hurried back up the stairs to the only room that had been at least moderately warm; the viewing room. On his way there he passed the open door of the Room of Profound Darkness, which at that moment was living up to its name in spades! Then suddely the short hairs on Isumi's neck suddenly stood up, spreading goose bumps all the way down his back; he had spied a movement inside the room from the corner of his eye. He was not alone? Was there an intruder?
He stopped dead and stood perfectly still, trying to look into the room without turning his head. There! There it was again. He was now sure it was real! He, quickly and as silently as possible, slipped into the room, leaving the door open behind him. Now that he had his eyes facing forward he could see the dim outline of a figure. His hand found the switch of the emergency light on the wall and flipped it.
The room was flooded in a deep red light, illuminating a lone figure sitting in seiza at one side of the Goban as though he was quite innocently waiting for a game. Isumi was momentarily stunned by the figure and it was only partly due to the presence of the man (woman?) but more by his/her garb. The figure wore an outfit that Isumi had only ever seen in a Noh play; an outfit that off the stage was just plain outrages, idiotically long sleeves and super tall hat and all.
'What – who -?' Isumi stuttered.
It was only then that the figure looked up at him, an almost bored expression on his/her face. When Isumi said no more the figure turned his head back to the board, as though intently studying a game on it, though the Goban was totally empty.
'Who are you?' Isumi tried again.
At this the figure turned his/her head quickly towards the young Pro and said, 'you can see me?' The voice was low enough to be male.
'Well, of course I can see you!' Isumi was starting to get miffed now; what kind of nonsense was this?
The figure's face lit up with a wide smile. 'Oh, how delightful!' He cast his eyes up for a moment, clapping his sleeve covered hands together with a small but dull thud, exclaiming 'Kami be thanked for this opportunity!' He lowered his eyes back to Isumi and swept his hand, that was suddenly holding a closed fan, in the direction of the vacant seat across from him at the other side of the Goban and said, 'I've been waiting long for a game with you Isumi-san, if you would take a seat please.'
It wasn't until after he had sat down that Isumi remembered to close his mouth. Then, before he had a chance to speak, the strange figured started speaking again.
'I am Fujiwara no Sai, pleased to meet you.' The figure bowed and Isumi could not stop himself responding in kind, 'Isumi Shinichiro, pleased to meet you.'
'Alas, I am unable to touch to the stones!' the figure continued in a effeminately lamenting tone. 'If I may prevail upon your generosity to place my hands, I would indeed be very grateful,' he said, again bowing.
Isumi found himself agreeing to this request and not for a moment did he find himself wondering why this Fujiwara could not play out his own moves. No, he didn't wonder at any of the events so far at all, all he could think at first was that this was a very strange dream and that he'd murder Waya in the morning. Very shortly after that he forgot any thoughts of vengeance or anything else for that matter and could only think about formations and strategies, 'cause this Fujiwara turned out to be a very formidable opponent indeed!
Chapter 2: The Pro and the Ghost (part 2)
from prompt: If Ogata had actually been able to play Sai in an even match, do you think he would have been satisfied?
Fujiwara no Sai, once Tutor to the Emperor, now dead over a thousand years, slowly opened his eyes, only to find himself in a familiar room. Again. He recognized the place immediately and sent a heartfelt thank-you up to heaven.
Like the last time, the Room of Profound Darkness was indeed just that; dark. With relish Sai sat down at the side of the Goban furthest away from the room’s single door and settled down for a long wait. After waiting a thousand years, a few hours’ wait did not bother him much.
Presently a figure appeared in the shadows of the open door and suddenly the room was flooded with the same red light as before. If it hadn’t been for the fact that Sai had long since given up trying to understand the world that Hikaru had lived in, he might have wondered why the light here was always red, but he didn’t and he just ignored the fact; it didn’t interfere with playing Go anyway.
Sai was only slightly disappointed that the person revealed by the ruby radiance wasn’t Hikaru - he so missed the boy! - but Ogata! Ogata, whom he never had had a chance to play properly. In fact his one and only game against the title holding Pro had been a drunken sham. Sai sent up another silent thank-you; playing Ogata would be bliss indeed.
When Sai didn’t see Ogata make any attempt to open the conversation, he waved his fan towards the other seat and said,
‘Ah! Most gracious of you to come and visit! Please sit, so that may play!’ To round it off he gave a small bow and then held his breath – such as it was – because he wasn’t altogether sure the other man could actually see him.
Ogata didn’t speak as he moved into the room and slowly took the empty player’s seat. Not until he was settled he said, ‘Am I dreaming?’ To which Sai answered smilingly, ‘probably!’ And then, as if to confirm it, asked if Ogata would lay his stones for him. Ogata frowned but consented.
The game was all Sai had hoped for and more; both Ogata and Sai himself had grown in their Go. But no game can last forever and after the last stone had been laid and winner was known, Sai had no choice but wave his fan and put the other man in a deep and restful sleep. At which point Sai’s own eyes closed and he knew no more.
Sai’s eyes opened to darkness. A familiar darkness, in a familiar location. He almost jumped for joy at being back here again and he quickly sat down at the empty Goban, preparing for a long wait. As he sat perfectly still for some time, the merest trickle of light made him realize there was a ‘something’ in the corner of the room. A something that hadn’t been there before, he felt sure. Curiosity made him get up and investigate.
As he came closer he found it was a huge lump of material and then, just as he had stepped closer to it, it suddenly moved and groaned, scaring poor Sai half to death!
A head appeared. Sai’s jaw dropped with surprise and delight as Ogata yawned and asked, ‘Well, are you up for round two?’
555 words (not including the title)
Let me know if anybody is interested in more chapters to this story.