When the locals saw you they knew at once that you were an outsider. Without being asked, they invariably pointed you in the direction of a small, single-story dwelling just outside of town. The house you now approach is that of the only outsider ever accepted as one of their own by the people of Tokuwa.
The house itself is a modest dwelling, made entirely of wood, like every dwelling on this shadow. The large, old logs are dove-tailed together to form a cozy cottage, which is surrounded on three sides by large evergreens. A path of small, round stepping stones mounts the incline from the road to the front door. However, it is really just a doorway, as no actual door exists. As you approach, you note the soft tune made by the windchime next to the doorframe as it gently sways in the light breeze.
A boy of no more than twelve appears in the doorway and bids you enter. He motions to your feet and to a small shelf to the right of the door. Entering, you remove your footwear and place it on the shelf. The inside of the house is bright and airy and consists of a single room. In the back-left corner there is a tatami mat that appears to be where Tatsuka and her two young servants sleep. In the back-right corner there is a large, wooden bathtub. To your right there is a small stove and a low table, and to the left there are a couple of half-finished paintings and a small bookcase.
As your gaze returns to the center of the room you see that the young boy has disappeared and that Tatsuka now stands before you. She is dressed in a simple, off-white cotton dress. She bows politely as befits your station and says "you must have traveled a long way. You are welcome here." She then guides you to the low table and sits cross-legged on the floor across from you. A young girl, who looks the twin of the young boy you saw but moments before, enters and pours you a drink. She then places a tray of pastries next to you and disappears again.
As you drink, Tatsuka begins to gently massage your feet. While you eat she sings softly in a high, clear voice. Neither the song, nor the language, is familiar but the song is beautiful. As she sings she firmly massages your feet, which take up much of the space under the table. The song ends just as you are finishing the last of the pastries. The young girl reappears and hands you a warm, moist towel with a faint scent of orange. You clean your hands as she removes the dishes. You realize that you are feeling much better than when you arrived. Your problems, which seemed so important when you came in, somehow seem less urgent now. And that ache in your side seems to be gone too.
Tatsuka appears to be in no hurry to hear what brought you here, but when you do begin to speak she gives you her whole attention. She does not interrupt or ask questions, instead allowing you to say all that you need to say. When you are done she asks softly, "How can I help?"
Please report any problems to me.