Abundans cautela non nocet
Susan Waterflower Bell
Sequel to 'Kiss of the Yuki-onna '
A small grin curved upon Susan face as she broke away from her mothers hand and sprinted across the broken cobblestone paved area. She could not help herself really her heart had taken flight the minute she had spotted the hot springs from the screened in porch of there near by cottage.
"Mom! Look the water is boiling in some parts!" She cried pointing to a near by pool of mint green water slowly boiling from a unknown force or unseen source. She turned to her mother and smiled once more sheer words once more failed her a shame and a dishonor considering she thought herself one of most read members of her family.
"That's what you call geothermal my dear." Said Elizabeth smiling toward her daughter. She leaned down and placed her hand upon her head. "Now Susie, remember this, while we are here to have fun one must never ever let there guard down." She said slowly starting to run her figures through her daughters chestnut brown locks.
"Yes ma'am." Said Susan smiling toward her mother. A low warming feeling surrounded her heart as she felt her mothers figures running through her brown locks. Quickly she searched her mind for a Latin phase that would summon up how she felt and would hopefully show her mother she would take her warning to heart.
"Like the old Latin phase Abundans cautela non nocet, correct?" The phase could be translated as a good bit of caution never caused any harm. The phase seemed to fit like the missing piss of a puzzle to her. And after all she did like to boast about her somewhat masterful use of the romantic tongue. And the best way of boasting was to flaunt phases and half formed sentries around.
A wry grin curved upon Elizabeth's lips as she took a few seconds to translate the phase from Latin to English. And then it hit her like a ton of bricks, if she was in her shoes she would have chosen the same phase as well Susan was her mothers daughter in a coconut shell.
"Well at least those Latin class's are paying off. Just remember follow the saying to a letter if you wish to keep your bottom from being warmer than it will be after a good long soak." Elizabeth could not help it. She had long learned as a mother of two very bright girls to answer cheek with cheek muck like one would answer steel with steel.
"Yes ma'am." While Susan not daring to cross the invisible line that ran between play cheeking and straight bratish the line was invisible for a reason a darn good reason. The reason was simple and straight forward from the start one should never cheek off to there elders but on those rare events when the mood was light one could get away with a little playful cheek but never could one get away with straight bratish.
"Okay, since you've never been to a hot spring before let me give you a quick and easy to remember run down on the rules." Said Elizabeth reaching into her pocket and pulling out a small ponytail holder. She waited for a roll of the eyes or a deep sign or the traditional mixture of the two.
"Okay." Said Susan following her mothers example and reaching into her own pocket and pulling out a light pink ponytail holder. In there brief time together Susan had learned one very important thing from her. And that one thing was one never brats of to there mother, unless one would does not enjoy sitting.
Elizabeth was taken back by this it seemed the past two times across her lap had changed Susan for the better but for how long. If Susan was anything like Isabella and Isabella had been something of a carbon copy of herself as a teenager then she would be wise to keep her at arms length or have a brush at the ready.
"Okay rule number one. You are not allowed in the boiling hot springs, those are just for look and well if you all in to them, you best get your but out before you get cooked from the inside out. And that's no joke there have been reported death linked to that boiling hot spring." Said Elizabeth pointing toward the hot spring Susan pointed out earlier.
"Okay.." Said Susan shifting her eyes toward the low boiling water. She blinked and blinked again. She had heard stories about these kind of things but they had always been stories. But then again the Yuki-onna had only been a story a few days ago before she appeared to her and it was that time in the forest and in old Sakura.
"I see your thinking about something daughter, yes it seems your finally coming to a understand of what I told you a week ago there is a magic to this to this Kanto area. And you as a great grand daughter of a shrine maid must take care as the mystic creatures that still to this day walk the land will be drawn to power." She dropped her voice to whisper and as she spoke her voice took on the quality of a women trying to get her point across in a very commanding way.
"Yes ma'am.." Susan had a feeling there was more rules than just going into a boiling hot spring. She took a deep breath to still her beating heart and release some of the built in tension. This whole grand daughter of a shrine maid was still new to her, heck even she thought being a shrine maiden was a thing of the past.
"And remember the Kappa, those turtle things have been spotted around here, and no I'm just pooling your leg they have really been spotted around that boiling hot spring. So called the boiling cauldron. The name suits does it not." Spoke Elizabeth gathering her hair up and wrapping the ponytail holder around the very bottom it. Her voice had returned to normal now. But there was still a warning tone to it. She peered toward her daughter and smiles.
"But the Kappa are nothing more than the stuff of folk stories." She said shifting her eyes from her mother steady gaze and down to the brown stones that paved the bathing area. Something deep within her knew her mothers answer before the words left her mouth.
" Just like the Ghost train ay Susan and the lost souls of Sakura. And lets not forget the Yuki-onna. Yes Susan you of all people should know that there a magic to this land if you don't heed my warning about the Kappa. I'm positive the land will then teach you." Spoke Elizabeth once more. Once more a small smile curved upon her lips as she peered toward Susan. "But we did not come here to talk about the occult now did we honey, I do think we came here to enjoy a nice long soak in the hot springs." And with that being said her mother strolled toward the nearest bubbling pool of water and slowly she waded into the deep.
Susan felt her cheeks prickle as a deep fresh from the oven brick red colored both cheeks. Quickly she folded her arms under her breast and turned her head toward the direction her mother had skipped in. Then mimicking one of the most classic acts to ever grace the airways during a Saturday morning she stuck her ruby red tongue out at her.
"Coming Susan?" Called her mother, the statement might have been posed as a question but its tone and deliverance gave the air of a simple order one that left no room to wiggle around in. With a deep sign she unfolded her arms and let her hands drop to her side.
"Yes ma'am." She called back quickly she wrapped the ponytail hold around the base of the gathered hair and in the blink of a eye her once neat shoulder length hair had been transformed into a messy ponytail. Well she could always bush it out latter that night.
"Well take your time, I'm going to soak my ol' bones." She said in a joking tone of voice. She shifted her eyes from the faint outline of her daughter among the many other bathers. Slowly she shifted her eyes away from the outline as she scanned the rocky shore for a nice place to sit and enjoy the warm water. Finally she found a nice place to sit and slowly she wadded toward that direction.
A soft smile curved upon her lips as Susan watched the form of her mother vanish upon the mass of the other bathers. Slowly she shifted her eyes toward the boiling spring. A closer look would not hurt now would it, surely not. Slowly but surely she made her way toward the muddy edge of the spring.
Upon looking closer Susan eyes widen in amazement. While the bank she was sitting on was redden muddy clay the other banks where nothing but black large rocks that seemed to form the rim of a old cooking pot. And the way the water boiled did bring to mind water boiling in a cauldron.
"Amazing!" Cried Susan.
"What's amazing human female." Cried a voice from a near by bush. There a given mystic quality about the voice. One that sounded like it belonged to a different age one where legendry creatures strolled the earth and brave samurai on horseback fought for the honor of there lord.
"The hot spring the way its boiling!" Cried Susan pointing toward the spring. The voice sounded strange to her and yet she did not lift her eyes to see the source or the direction of the voice.
"Oh dear me, you must be a little dim, this hot spring has always boiled, one could even cook a fish in its deep broiling waters if one choose too. Better watch your step you never know when one footing might come lose from under there foot." Came the voice once more. The mystic quality was still there but now only a warning and mincing tone was mixed in as well.
"Hey…" Said Susan finally lifting her head from the tea green water. A scowl crossed her face it was after very impolite to call somebody dim. Then her scowl turned into a look of pure fright for the source of the voice was not a human as she pictured in her mind no far from it, the voice belonged to a turtle.
But the turtle did not look quite right, its feet and hands where webbed and his head was about the size of a basketball and from where she was standing it seemed its body was three times bigger than turtle she had seen in all of her life. Add in the fact that it spoke the bloody English.
"Yes child, you look upon a Kappa. But unlike my brethren from the coast, I shall not drag you under the waves. My people have long since to live and to thrive from the offerings of the local population whom still believe we guard these springs." Spoke the Kappa toward Susan. His mystic tone of voice had now taken on the tone and pitch of a much older and wiser person. It was clear he was the chief elder of the group.
"Do you mean to tell me.. That there are such things as Kappa… I mean sure I know there ghost and spirits in this word. I've seen them for myself… But I always thought Kappa where just mystic animals only to be found within the tome's of childhood stories and upon the breath of the wind." Said Susan it was clear she was stunned.
"My dear child did not your mother warn you of the Kappa and of the Yuki-onna. Did she not forbade you from standing any closer to this spring. We Kappa have excellent hearing in case you are wondering how I came across this information." Said the elder Kappa toward Susan.
Susan slowly nodded her head.
"It would have been quite ease for me to give you a sudden and powerful push, your footing would have quickly given way and into the boiling water you would have gone. At the very least you would have suffered some burns and at the very worst death would have befallen you."
A sudden prickling blush colored Susan face as she locked eyes with the strange English speaking turtle. She could not believe her ear and she positive her eyes where being cheated by a charm or simple spell. When does a Kappa not kill or down those poor souls that come into its sight. Susan could only nod along to the Kappa words.
"And since it would not be proper for I to teach you a lesson, I shall tell your mother what a selfish brat you have been. I'm sure you are pondering how have I been selfish, well by putting yourself in danger you have been selfish because you would robbing yourself and your family of many more happy times if you did happen to fallen in. By my force or by the forces of fate." Explained the Kappa.
"Wow… wait a minute." Said Susan quickly snapping out of her daze. "Okay you're a Kappa, and you just bloody lectured me on a simple mistake and now your going to tell me mother! Okay something is wrong with this picture." Said Susan waving her hands in a dismissing jester. Somehow one plus two was not coming out to be three. It was more along the lines of one plus two equals fish or dog! Was that even bloody possible.
"You are correct young human female. Indeed I am going to tell your mother, I do believe she should be the one to deal with you and not I. Though trust me if I was a few hundred years younger I would be more than happy to deal with such a naughty and brash brat." Scolded the elder Kappa. The funny thing about his tone of voice was it had changed from a humans in pitch and tone to more rough like the grunt of a frog.
"It seems you need a refreshment course in why one should obey her mother the first time." Called her mother toward Susan. She peered sapphire pink eyes toward her daughter and then quickly she switched them toward the small Kappa.
"Elizabeth, so this is your daughter. There was a rumor among the mountain spirits that the young maiden how married the solider and moved to the coastal plains did birth two children. I knew there was something special about this child." Said the Kappa spinning on his feet toward Elizabeth.
Elizabeth smiled toward the creature and politely bowed toward him.
"Its been ages my lord, since those warm summer nights when you would invite me to join your brethren in play in the brooks and creeks. Please pardon my daughter for her foolish mistake, I promise thy she will learn her lesson." Said Elizabeth bowing her head toward the Kappa. Susan noticed something odd then, the way her mother spoke, it seemed like she was choosing her words carefully.
"You are most welcome Elizabeth. Had I known this human female was your daughter I would have not have scolded her as hard as did. Knowing you are the great Sarah's granddaughter I can rest at ease that this young one will learn her lesson well." Said the Kappa smiling toward. He seemed please by the sudden change in his tone of voice.
"Well Susan, it seems you and I once more have some business that needs to be finished." She said shifting her eyes away from the turtle man and toward her daughter. She pointed a crooked figure toward her and shifted her eyes into two slits. A very dangers air now surrounded her.
"Yes mother." Said Susan standing up and shifting her eyes from the strange English speaking Kappa toward her own mother, she swallowed hard and quickly rushed toward her side. She knew all too well where this conversation would end.
"Well I shall leave you two now." Said the wise old Kappa as he vanished into a near by grove of under bush's.
"Susan… honey…" She said drawing her daughter close to her. She wanted to scold her and yes she would but for now she just wanted to hold her. Bless be the name she graced her child with pink eyes a symbol of the Waterflower Family and a sign of greatness to all mystic creatures.
"Mommy." Said Susan burning her face into her mother chest. She wrapped her then arms around her waist and just clung to her. Not careening for the low whispers she could behind her or the tingling feeling in her ears of the light burning feeling that seemed to have settle upon her cheeks.
"You know honey, if it had not been for the fact that I once played with that Kappa you might have found yourself in that boiling soup." Said her mother stroking her coco brown locks of hair. How funny it was often the youngest child whom caused the most trouble as if to set them apart from there older brother or sister.
"Yes ma'am." Said Susan whimpering a little as she felt her mothers figures run through her coco brown hair. The whimper was due to the fact that the hand those figures belonged too wound soon be gracing her bottom with a hot stingy swats.
"First the Yuki-onna and now a Kappa. Susan are you testing fate? How many times have you come face to face with the spirit word? By my own record keeping too many times to count." Said with a sign. Slowly she removed her hand from her daughters head and cuffed her figures around her wrist.
"I hope, this is the final time you have to go across my lap for testing your luck young lady. Please let it be the last for I fear that one day you are going to run across something far more sinister than a creature on a lost spirit. There are such things as demons in this word and trust me a demon will not spare your life simple because your one of the Waterflower's." She finished her scolding and gently she tugged her daughter toward the changing room.
The only thought that crossed Susan mind as she was being lead toward the changing room was she was being lead toward her own death the mental image of a man being lead toward the gallows came to her mind. But this time the identity of the hooded hangman was known to her, for this time the hangman would be her own mother and her figures would not be wrapped around a lever but something far worst a well seasoned brush.
Soon the strong smell of bathing herbs and spices filled her noise as soon as they entered the changing room. The air was hot and humid each breath one took was like breathing in a glass of hot water. Large white clouds of steam hung in the air and the low chatter of bathers added a very human feel to the room.
Elizabeth looked around and for a good two minutes she searched for there own private room. Once she found it she ushered Susan in and a low metallic click of the door handled was the final seal to her fate. She then peered toward her daughter and with a quick swing of her arm she brought her arm up and pointed toward one of the corner of the room.
"Two minutes, Susie." Commanded her mother. Then without waiting to see if the order had been followed she marched over to a near by bench and sat down. Then she started searching through her massive overstuffed hand bag.
Susan did not dare open her mouth to protest. Slowly she sank toward the allotted corner and with a defeated sign she placed her noise upon the hard plastic wall. Once her nose came into contact with warm plastic she started to count down the second in her hand. Since a child she hated corner time.
One hundred and twenty seconds passed it seemed in a blink of a eye. And soon her mothers voice called her away from the wall and beckoned her toward her lap. A sure sign her doom was near and there nothing she could to change the course of fate that had been chosen it seemed for her. Like a convicted man waiting the official word from the judge she stood before her mother.
"Susan Waterflower Bell." She said going for the grand effect of using her daughters full name. She peered a death glare toward her daughter as she reached for the wooden well seasoned brush she finally in those quick one hundred and twenty seconds fished out from handbag.
Susan was struck wordless and speechless' at the glimpse of the wooden brush. Taking a deep breath and slowly releasing it she then did something that she hoped would save her honor and allow her to gain face with her mother. She reached down and in one of the most darning and brash acts of being a brat. She removed her own bottom and with every ounce of self control she could muster she stepped out of strange cotton and plastic garment.
Elizabeth was taken back by this act. Never before had she seen Susan act like this, had she just entered a game of mental chess with her daughter. Had this move been to simply through her off her balance. So many questions to consider and so little time. Yet she did not have times for questions. She only patted her lap and waited for her daughter to lay across it.
Susan knew that jester all too well with a lump at the back of her throat she laid down across Elizabeth lap and a feeling of dread seem to surround her. This position always made her feel so helpless so exposed. The way her bottom cheeks like two curved hills sat in the air. Almost begging for the first swat to land.
And then it happen like a clasp of thunder from the heavens striking the earth the head of the wooden brush came thundering down. A loud popping sound filled the room as the wooden head came into contact with the tender bottom skin a wave of sting flooded from the brush's head into Susan bottom making each developing cheek bounce.
A few seconds passed before Elizabeth once more brought the head of the brush down upon her bottom this time with increased force.
"I hope, you understand Susan." Elizabeth said smacking her daughter bottom like a smith would strike a piece of hot iron. "That while you might go behind Isabella's back." Elizabeth wielded the brush with all the skill of a mother of two. Over and over again the brush was smack her Susan backside each one driving the message further and further in.
Her mothers words cut her like a warm knife cuts through cold butter. Each spoken word chipped away at the mental dam that held back her tears and each might smack with the brush crushed the wall. It would not be long now before small salty tears gathering at the edge of her eyebrows would form two rivulets.
"You will not sneak out behind my back. Your not going to put me through what Isabella put me through.!" She cried giving her daughters bottom several more goods smacks with the wooden brush. She smiled at the sight of her daughters rosy red bottom, proof that she still had it her. "Do you understand me." She said bringing the brush quickly down upon her center.
"Yes ma'am!" Bellowed Susan as she felt the brush falling into her center area. She was breathing quite heavy now, her mothers attack had come quick way to quick for her to ready her mental defenses'. She closed her eyes hopping she could at least block out the glowing sting. And yet she failed too. And soon tears where rolling down her cheeks like a swollen river.
"Good.." She said at last smiling toward her youngest daughter. Slowly she placed the wooden brush down upon the title floor and slowly she lifted the sniffing teenager from her lap and into her arms. She smiled a little as she wrapped her arms around her quivering back.
"There, there.. Its okay honey. Its over and Mommy forgives you." She whispered in a softy in her daughters ear as she rocked her back and forth. And in her heart Susan Waterflower bell felt her mothers love and her forgiveness. From that day forward she never wounded off without telling her mother or sister where she was going.
Acta est fabula plaudite