The days had been long. The nights had been filled with wonder. After all this time, Minfe was finally reaching the end of her quest. She reached the bottom of the Tushi meadows. This was where she would find the enchanted Tushi tree, with its sacred fruit that held the key to her fertility tea. The meadows stretched as far as the eye could see. The beautiful trees blossomed with the most stunning blue flowers. Rows and rows of yellow flowers lined the pathway through the fields.
Chuji hopped out of the basket and frolicked among the flowers. She spotted a butterfly fluttering above the ground nearby. Minfe giggled as Chuji crept up on the butterfly and dived at it, missing entirely. The small cat looked up at the butterfly in confusion. Her face was visually puzzled at the possibility that the butterfly had escaped her grasp. She quickly forgot about the butterfly and trotted back to Minfe’s side.
Minfe smiled at a farmer as she passed through the beautiful fields. He carefully harvested his crops. His faithful dog trotted up to Minfe and carefully placed a ball by her feet. She smiled warmly and picked up the ball. The dog’s tail wagged like crazy. Chuji warily watched from inside the basket. Minfe tossed the ball across the field and watched as the gleeful dog bounded after it at full speed. The dog stayed at Minfe’s side as she continued through the farmland, dancing around her feet. It was a glorious day. As they reached the edge of the farm, the dog carefully stopped at the edge, blissfully unaware of the fact that he was able to travel further. Minfe gazed back as the dog sped back towards the farmer.
A large hill stood at Minfe’s feet. The hill stretched high into the sky and was filled with a wild array of vibrant flowers in every colour in the spectrum. Minfe took a deep breath and allowed the soothing aroma to fill her entire body and rejuvenate her spirit. She knew that she had almost finished her quest. At the top of the hill that stretched into the sky lay the enchanted Tushi tree. After a moment of recollection of her adventures, Minfe began her ascent of the hill.
The hill stretched for miles. Minfe could barely see the summit above her. A row of trees stretched above the natural path allowing the sunlight to cascade down in angelic rays. A small rabbit trotted out from the foliage onto the path. It stopped and carefully eyed Minfe. The small cat concealed in Minfe’s basked raised her curious head and inspected the rabbit. Chuji dropped from the basket and onto the dirt path and crept towards the rabbit. The curious animal inspected the rabbit before gently pawing it. The rabbit froze in its place. It did not yet know that Chuji was not like the other cats it had previously encountered. Chuji did not see the rabbit as something to hunt and eat. She saw it as a new friend.
The rabbit’s courage grew with every passing second. It began to carefully trot behind Minfe and Chuji as they continued up the hill. Minfe pulled her legs forward. The journey had begun to take its toll on her old bones, but that would not stop her. She had travelled so far to give up now. She would not allow it. The mission was of the highest importance. Empress Syjin Ren had personally visited Minfe’s home in order to bless her with this wonderous voyage.
There it stood. The magnificent Tushi tree. At the top of the hill, the grass parted in the wake of the magnificent tree. The beautiful golden fruit hung down from the luscious golden branches. The aubergine leaves glistened wondrously in the sunlight. It was truly a sight to behold. Divine was the word Minfe used to describe it. The golden and purple tree stretched high above her head. The fruit was in the perfect cycle of its season. Each and every spherical piece was at its height of ripeness. Minfe’s eyes lit up with sheer joy. Her aches and pains faded away as she gazed at the scene with the giddiness of a child.
Minfe approached the tree and very gently picked four different bulbs of fruit from its branches. She placed them in her basked alongside Chuji and took a minute to admire the wonderous view from above. She could see the entire Kingdom of Shai Min at her feet. The grand palace of the Empress looked miniscule as it sat far away on the horizon. She charted her course back to her home before resting under the gentle shade of the Tushi tree.
The journey home was far quicker than the first. Minfe passed by Taketori and stopped with him to exchange stories and catch up once more over a cup of tea. Taketori was still visited by Kaguya at night when the moon shone brightly through the bamboo fields. She whispered to him in the night. Minfe departed shortly after and was reunited with Momotaro. The forest had been living in harmony ever since he and his companions had defeated the scourge of the ogres. He and his companions had been appointed as official protectors of the forest. Next, Minfe encountered Kintaro. He had continued to bravely stand up for those in need against the wicked forces that resided there. He had been inspired by Minfe’s kindness and had stopped picking fights with anyone he could find. Minfe smiled graciously as she realised the profound impact of her actions. She had helped the strange people find their true purpose and better themselves. A small tear dripped from Minfe’s eye as she headed back towards her home.
The marketplace was bustling as usual. Minfe knew she must make a stop to visit her oldest friend. She trotted through the various stalls as she once did before arriving at Xia’s Omaretsu stand. The crowds gathered around as usual. Minfe carefully waited for the crowds to disperse to be reunited with her old friend. Her heart was giddy. Minfe and Xia had spoken every day for eighty years and now she had been without her for weeks. The final few people parted from the market stall and Minfe gazed ahead. The feeling of sheer joy melted into a wave of sadness. Standing in Xia’s place was her daughter, Chi. Xia’s words rose in Minfe’s mind. She would be at the stall every day until she passed. Minfe did not need to ask Chi if her suspicions were true. Deep down she knew that her friend was gone. She knew that she was now alone. Xia had lived a long and full life. She had adored every minute of her time at the stall.
The world rejoiced Minfe’s name. The Empress Syjin Ren gave birth to a beautiful child thanks to Minfe’s special tea. She was hailed as the saviour of the kingdom of Shai Min and was awarded the highest honour as a Protected Citizen, one of a select few citizens whose lives must be protected at all cost. Minfe looked back on her life and felt nothing but joy. A huge celebration was held in her honour throughout the Kingdom. After a long journey and many celebrations, Minfe wearily trudged up to her cottage on the edge of town with her loyal cat Chuji in her basket and retired to bed. As she lay her weary bones she looked back on her life with nothing but joy. Minfe was content.