Have you heard the legend of the killer from Forest of Ghosts?
Hundreds of years ago, these lands were ruled by Prince Kitamura. The entire poor harvest of the principality went to the maintenance of the army, and the prince knew that if any of the neighbours would start a war, he would inevitably lose and die, albeit with honour. Nonetheless, the prince obviously didn’t want such a fate for himself.
One day, prince of the eastern lands Nagata laid his eyes on the lands of Kitamura and began to prepare for a campaign. Having a great and loyal entourage, Prince Kitamura quickly found out about this and preventively visited the future invader. In conversation, he made it clear to Prince Nagata that his people will not surrender that easy. That the war will be long and after the rivalry, the remaining warriors of Nagata won’t be enough to protect the lands from other neighbours, taking into account that Prince Kitamura has no son, and his daughter’s husband will eventually get his lands. So why should two princes waste time, energy, and soldiers if they can solve all problems with one marriage? The son of Prince Nagata potentially could marry the daughter of Prince Kitamura, and instead of risking and wasting forces, the two principalities will only strengthen and rise in peace. After some thought, Prince Nagata agreed.
When Kitamura told her daughter that she must marry Prince Nagata’s son, she rebelled. The young princess did not want to hear anything about the preservation of the land and a possible war, because she loved Miura, who was one of her father’s warriors. The prince was very angry and expelled Miura, ordering him to go to a monastery deep in the Forest of Ghosts to live out his life as a monk. This forest was given that name because of the strange curved trees and the unprecedented silence in its thicket. Miura obeyed the order and left the prince’s castle, but the reckless girl in love went after him. She wandered through the forest for several days until she died of hunger and fatigue, but even death did not stop her. She nevertheless found a temple deep in the forest where her lover was, although she became an ethereal ghost yurei.
Miura immediately realized what had happened and was horrified. After all, this meant that Prince Kitamura could not prevent the war. He turned to the abbot of the temple, a wise thousand-year-old monk, who opened the way for the warrior to Yomi – the kingdom of the dead. For ten days and ten nights, Miura humbly prayed to the Under King to bring the princess back to life whatever the cost, and finally achieved his goal, but because of such a long stay in the spirit world, he also became like a ghost.
Coming out of Yomi with the sleeping girl in his arms, the young warrior bowed to the monk. He took her to the prince’s castle, but neither the prince, nor his friends, nor Miura’s acquaintances recognized him, and the house in which he grew up was abandoned long ago. Miura realized that this was the price he had to pay. He returned to the temple in the depths of the forest, but it looked like it had collapsed from old age a century ago, and there was no trace of his wise abbot. Miura erected a new temple on the site of the collapsed one and went on distant wanderings. Once a year, when the days are getting shorter, and the moon is especially bright, he returns to the temple in the depths of the forest.
Many tried to find and capture the ghost warrior in order to find out the secret of Miura’s longevity: princes, magicians, mercenaries, and even robbers… And they all met the same fate as their bodies were found neatly stacked on a pile of damp firewood, arranged as for a funeral pyre, and clothes washed from blood covered their deep wounds.
Someone says that Miura died long ago and decayed, and his spirit still visits the temple, destroying everyone who disturbed him. Others say that he appears in the flesh, and the curse he received in Yomi keeps him from dying. Still others say that these are different warriors, students of Miura, who were shown the secrets of the path of a living ghost, so they are just introduced by the name of Miura by tradition or simply wanting to share his glory. Only a few know the real truth, but none of them will ever tell it.