In a faraway land, there lived a king and a queen with two glorious sons. The king went out on his daily expedition to explore his land and meet his people. His curiosity took him to the cursed forest where creatures live unseen by the light of day. Eyes followed his movement for a king to be inside the forest is a rare event indeed. Then when the darkness lifted, an opening appeared where a lake lay sparkling beneath the moon.
A maiden floating on the water glittered red with blood. A sharp blade stuck out by her stomach. Her eyes blinked away the pain of her tears holding on the string of life unravellings before her. The king and his men quickly rescued the injured damsel but it was to no avail. The maiden's last words were, "Your wife... will bear you a girl. A girl that will rule your kingdom or... or destroy..." And her lips stopped.
The king wanted to know how this young lady had the knowledge of his wife's pregnancy. He ignored her words, though it lingered in the back of his mind. The knights searched for anyone around the forest who could have killed the girl but found nothing except a belt inscripted with the word 'Kumiko' which everyone assumed belong to the dead girl.
Meanwhile, the queen screeched in pain. She felt as though a sharp blade punctured her stomach. The midwives rushed quickly to help her through the birth. When the king returned, he was not only greeted by his lovely wife and two sons but one shining girl. He was happy to be blessed with a child and gave heed to the warning of the maiden.
Sixteen years passed through the ancient land like the gust of the wind. The kingdom grew along with its riches. The earth plummeted the realm with a supply of fruits, vegetables, and wondrous flowers. The people lived off the land peacefully and blessed it everyday.
Soft ebony hair flowed pass the air. A mysterious rider with a gray horse rode swiftly across the fields. She passed a pair of princes who were bewildered by her speed.
"Catch me if you can!" laughter spread through the voice of the girl. Her eyes gleamed with a sparkling likeness of a cat. Her clothes were ruggedly tattered from use but it was her smiling face which hinted to her royalty.
It was the princess' birthday. She was honored with the name of the maiden who died long ago. Kumiko is her name, meaning eternal beautiful child. She wandered through the trees and came to a halt when she saw her father ahead. She commanded the horse to stop and fell backwards in the mud while doing so. The two older boys howled in laughter, taking joy in their sister's suffering. The queen and king tried their best to hold their amusement but even their faces crack from seeing their daughter rising out of the muck. Kumiko frowned then smiled at her family.
"Father. Thank you for the wonderful gift. She rides like the waves of the rushing rivers but can be tamed to the calmest of winds," Kumiko spoke while brushing as much mud off herself.
"What are you going to name it?" asked the king.
"How about Sakura? Even horses are as delicate as a flower," she said, staring into her new companion's eyes.
The horse seemed to appreciate her new name and nudges her owner in agreement. Their meaningful moment gets interrupted by her two elder brothers already riding their own horses.
"Bet your horse couldn't beat ours!" they replied in unison.
Taking the challenge face on, she jumps on to follow her brothers away from the kingdom and pass the nearing villages. They soon came upon the ever-familiar forest of doom. Many children, even royal children, enjoy challenging each other in the deep dark forest. The elders warns them several times about the dangers of the creatures lurking inside during their time but their time has passed. All that remains of the creatures is the dark aura still haunting the woods.
"How about a deal, sis?" asked one of her brothers, "When you beat us through the forest, we'll give your our presents early. How's that?"
"You got yourself a bet and if I happen to lose, you may ride Sakura," smiled Kumiko.
They went towards the forest with incredible speed. They passed the animals, which were staring at their reckless riding with no concern. The trees whistled ominously as they passed and the princess started to get a bad feeling. She felt as though eyes were watching them from every direction but the darkness of the leaves prevented her from pinpointing their actual location. She grabbed the reins and pulled to a halt but her brothers kept on going.
"Wait! Yuki! Keeichi!" cried Kumiko.
"No way! We're not falling for your tricks again!" shouted Yuki.
"Yeah!" agreed Keeichi.
"Stop! No!" cried the sister but it was too late.
Kumiko tried to catch up when suddenly a hand shot out of nowhere and grabbed her around the waist into the suffocating darkness. Another hand shoved a handkerchief to her face filling her nostrils with a horrible smell. The smell made her weaker. Her eyes fluttered shut and she fell into a deep sleep not knowing where she'll be taken or what they'll do to her.