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The Mooncake Message


by puregold0

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Perched high atop the misty mountains of Shenkuu sat a small pagoda, surrounded by elegant, orange flowers and billowing Bonsai trees. It was the home of Mr. Mitsu - a shrewd, old Draik with a passion for creating delectable treats for all of his friends and neighbors. Placed in colorful, rice-paper packages, the treats were often left anonymously on window sills, though everyone knew who the mystery gifter was.

      Mr. Mitsu rarely spoke; he always seemed to be enveloped in his latest culinary pursuits. Whether it was spicy, wasabi-crusted fish or sweet berry dumplings, he was always dishing out unique and meticulously crafted creations. Not surprisingly, whenever a festival rolled around, all the townspeople hoped Mr. Mitsu would surface to hand out his renowned moon cakes. These delicious cakes were filled with various fruit, nut, and seed pastes, complete with a flaky pastry crust. Mr. Mitsu would hand out a new kind each year, a humble smile brimming across his face.

     But for the past couple of months, Mr. Mitsu had rarely been seen outside of his home. He didn't show up at the town market - where he could always be spotted around sunrise on Sunday mornings, gathering hearty greens and freshly-caught fish for his dishes. He didn't even participate in the bi-monthly Kou-Jong tournaments, which he was quite talented at. The townspeople knew of Mr. Mitsu's softspoken and reclusive nature, but he'd always find a way for his latest concoction to circulate.

     ***

     "Two months and no treats from Mr. Mitsu," sighed Raiku to his mother. The young Kougra had been intrigued by Mr. Mitsu ever since the day he discovered a box of crispy, ginger crackers on his window sill. "But his windows open each morning, and the garden is well-tended to. I wonder why."

     "Mr. Mitsu is quite elderly, dear. He has generously supplied the people of Shenkuu with his tasty recipes for many, many years. Perhaps he's grown weary of it after so long." She patted Raiku on the head, and began to cut up an orange for breakfast.

     "I want to cook like him," Raiku said plainly, gazing out the window at the newly budding cherry trees. "I want to make people happy like he does."

     "Well, why not give it a try?" smiled his mother. "Maybe you will invent a brand new recipe and make a fortune!"

     Raiku scratched his head. "That's not what it's about, though." He picked up an orange slice and took a deep whiff of its sweet and tangy aroma before plopping it into his mouth. "It's about the simple things in life that make us happy. Like finding something you thought you lost, or feeling the cool, spring breeze against your cheek... something that most people look past."

     "You've got a strong head on those shoulders." His mother smiled. "You know what you want to do, and I know you will do it. I believe in you."

     "Thank you, Mom." Raiku ran over and gave his mother a big hug. "Say..." he said, stepping back and turning towards the open window. "I just got an idea... I'll be back in an hour or so, Mom!"

     And with that, Raiku snatched his backpack and raced out the door into the pale blue, sunny horizon.

     ***

     "Hellooo!" Raiku called, knocking lightly on the door. "Mr. Mitsu?"

     There was no answer. Raiku began to feel discouraged and wondered if this was such a good idea after all.

     Just as he started to walk away, he heard a low murmur emanating from inside. "Who wants to know?" said the voice.

     Raiku's ears perked up and his eyes widened with anticipation. "Hello, my name is Raiku!" he exclaimed, as the door slowly began to crack open.

     In front of him stood a petite, blue Draik with a long and twirly white mustache. He wore a red silk robe and carried a cane in his right hand. "Greetings, Raiku. Why don't you come on inside?"

     "REALLY?" Raiku nearly toppled over with excitement. He followed Mr. Mitsu down a long corridor and into a brightly lit room which looked out upon an elegant flower garden.

     "Please make yourself at home, young one. Help yourself to some of my homemade ginger candies as well." Mr. Mitsu took a seat and motioned for Raiku to do the same. "You know... I don't get many visitors these days," he sighed.

     "Well, Mr. Mitsu, I really wanted to come see you today, because you helped me to realize something very important!"

     "And what is that, young one?"

     "How important it is to appreciate the simple things in life. People love your recipes, Mr. Mitsu. They really do. Nothing puts a smile on their faces like waking up to find a little treat in their window and it isn't a celebration without your scrumptious mooncakes, either. But we can't understand why you stopped. Are you tired of it? Did we do something wrong? Are we being too selfish?" Raiku timidly glanced at the floor, awaiting Mr. Mitsu's response.

     "It is none of those things," he replied. "Creating will always be my passion and sharing my creations brings the greatest joy to my life. I am simply getting older and, well..."

     "I understand..." Raiku said, solemnly. "It's just too difficult...."

     "Right." Mr. Mitsu nodded. "I'm very sorry."

     "No, I'm sorry," said Raiku. "You have given so much to the Shenkuu community. You have made so many people happy. You deserve to relax. Anyways... I'd best be on my way now. I told my mother I'd be back in about an hour."

     "One minute, young Raiku. I'd like to give you a parting gift, if you don't mind." Mr. Mitsu retrieved a small red box and presented it to Raiku. Raiku thanked him, and opened it. Inside was a small, purple mooncake.

     "Why don't you break it open and have a taste?" Mr. Mitsu suggested. Raiku did just that, and upon doing so, noticed that there was some sort of hidden message carved into the two halves.

     "Old is the moon, bright star brings new tune," Raiku read aloud. "What does this mean?"

     "Even if something is old, it can always revive itself with new inspiration and promise. The old can learn something from the new, and the new can learn something from the old, you see?" Mr. Mitsu explicated. "But what I really mean by that is... will you be my assistant cook, Raiku? Though we've just met, I can see that sparkle in your eye... passion, innovation, kindness. You are much like I was when I was a boy. But now that I'm older, I need an assistant - someone to bring new imagination to my dishes. And that someone is you."

     "I would be honored!" exclaimed Raiku. "I would love nothing more than to carry on your tradition of creativity and kindness!"

     "Very well, then." Mr. Mitsu smiled. "We have to begin work on next year's mooncakes. And maybe we'll leave a little treat for all of Shenkuu tonight, so they can wake up in the morning with a smile."

     "That's the best gift of all!" Raiku followed Mr. Mitsu into his kitchen which brimmed with pots, pans, and utensils of every kind. The sun beamed in through the open window, and Raiku paused only for a moment to feel the cool, spring breeze against his cheek.

The End

I wanted to write a story about Shenkuu, since I don't see many pertaining to it. Hope you like my idea!

 
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