Part 13: JUNIKA AND THE BANK OF SECRETS
West of the old Wara river, at the centre of the misty, haunted lake Drumi, was the small rocky island upon which the bank of secrets was built. Powerful wizards wishing to guard their secret spells from rival mages, kings and politicians with dark scandals to hide, wealthy murderers trying to hide evidence of their wicked crimes, anyone who had a secret to keep from the world would come to the bank of secrets because it was guaranteed that any secret told to the secret keeper who lived at the centre of the lake would remain a secret forever.
Many had tried to steal secrets from the bank because a secret can be worth more than gold in the right hands but the lake itself was haunted by terrible ghoul creatures called Drumid who would drag down any one trying to cross the lake with the wrong intentions and drown or devour them and the secret keeper himself was a terrifying half-demon who had profited from his deals with powerful mages by accumulating great magical power of his own.
It was here that Hiriki sent Junika to find a secret that would help them defeat the tyrant Sagemusha. Hiriki, who knew the bank of secrets well, had told her, “Those who have tried to rob it always pretend to be a customer, as they are rowing the boat across the lake of Drumi they think of a secret that they wish to keep hidden”.
“But what secret could I possibly think of to hide?”, asked Junika, “I am only fourteen”.
“I will tell you one of my secrets and you can say that you are banking it for me”,
But Junika said, “No. I have just thought of a secret. One that I never wish to be known”.
Hiriki was worried that a fourteen year old girls secret might not be convincing to the Drumid or the Secret Keeper but Junika insisted, “This is a secret that would kill me if it ever spoke”, she said and went off to fullfill her quest.
When Junika came to the edge of the Drumi she got into the black rowing boat that was meant for customers of the bank and, thinking only about her secret, she rowed across the black waters of the lake and tried not to look downwards through the white curling mists at the pale, ghoulish drumid that were swimming below but she could feel them prying into her mind, trying to find out her true intention and, when she was three quarters across the black lake she heard a terrible cry and saw the faces of the drumid rise from below the water “Thief! Thief!”, they cried and moaned and all around the edges of her boat she saw their fingers clutching, trying to capsize it and round about her ankles saw their slimy hands creeping but the power of her spear
gave her great strength and agility and, as she was getting near to the island she
leapt from the boat and landed safely infront of the doors of the bank of secrets.
Suddenly the doors of the bank opened and she was faced with the Secret Keeper. Half-man and half-monster, his hands were scaly claws, his face was covered in fish scales, his lips were thick like a fishes and between them were rows of spiky teeth and on his head were long curving fins, fanned out like horns.
“Before you try to fight me”, he said, “I will let you know a secret. I have signed a deal with the dark ones which says that ‘No-one will be able to kill me’”.
Junika laughed when she heard this, “Now I will tell you a secret. Before my father Samegusha buried his children alive he thought it amusing to give them all names. My brothers, he called Useless, Purposeless and Nothing. Me, he called
No-one” and, saying this, she thrust her spear into the secret keepers heart and it died but, before it died, all the secrets that it had ever been told went into the memory of Junika and, all in an instant, her body aged from fourteen to thirty and she fell down from exhaustion.
Picking herself up off of the ground, with the secret of how to kill Samegusha in her keeping she looked back over the lake and wondered how she would get to the other side again, since the boat she had crossed over in had been dragged
beneath the lake by the drumids. Searching inside the bank she found a stack of large locked books full of wicked secrets and setting them down upon the lake, so that they floated, she used them as stepping stones to skip quickly across.
When she returned to Hiriki he did not recognize her because she was now a thirty year old woman and rather than the clothes of a fourteen year old she now wore a long black velvet dress covered in silver crescents and pentagrams and she looked like a powerful sorceress which is what she had become.
“Who are you?”, asked Hirki.
“I am your triumphant flower but now my name is Konjunika”, she said, “Which means Flower Of Mystery”.
“I am amazed and happy to see you”, he said “but there is something that I wanted
Before he could speak, the sorceress Konjunika had plucked the question from his mind, “As I rowed across the lake of Drumi, that secret that I kept”, she answered, “was ‘I love Hiriki’”.