Across the Nightingale Floor (Tales of the Otori, Book 1)
An international bestseller, Across the Nightingale Floor is the first book in the Tales of the Otori series by Lian Hearn. Don't miss the related series, The Tale of Shikanoko.
In his black-walled fortress at Inuyama, the warlord Iida Sadamu surveys his famous nightingale floor. Constructed with exquisite skill, it sings at the tread of each human foot. No assassin can cross it unheard.
The youth Takeo has been brought up in a remote mountain village among the Hidden, a reclusive and spiritual people who have taught him only the ways of peace. But unbeknownst to him, his father was a celebrated assassin and a member of the Tribe, an ancient network of families with extraordinary, preternatural skills. When Takeo's village is pillaged, he is rescued and adopted by the mysterious Lord Otori Shigeru. Under the tutelage of Shigeru, he learns that he too possesses the skills of the Tribe. And, with this knowledge, he embarks on a journey that will lead him across the famed nightingale floor—and to his own unimaginable destiny...
came quickly into the room. Kaede felt them step by her, one after another. Glancing at them sideways, she could see they were senior retainers. Some wore the Noguchi crest on their robes, and some the triple oak leaf of the Tohan. She felt they would have happily stepped on her, as if she were a cockroach, and she vowed to herself that she would never let the Tohan or the Noguchi crush her. The warriors settled themselves heavily on the matting. “Lady Shirakawa,” Lord Noguchi said at last.
know?” “If he is still in the capital, in one of the secret houses of the Tribe. But they may have already moved him out of the fief.” “Will I ever see him again?” Kaede said, but she didn’t expect an answer, nor did Shizuka give one. Her fingers worked on. Beyond the open doors, the garden shimmered in the heat, the crickets more strident than ever. Slowly the day faded and the shadows began to lengthen. � 11 · was unconscious for a few moments only. When I came round I was in the dark, and
with many narrow alleys and laneways, making it easy to move through unseen. At the end of the street we passed the temple, where lights still burned as the priests prepared for the midnight rituals. A cat sat beside a stone lantern. It did not stir as we slipped by. We were approaching the river when I heard the chink of steel and the tramp of feet. Kenji went invisible in a gateway. Yuki and I leaped silently onto the roof of the wall and merged into the tiles. The patrol consisted of a man
him again for saving my life in Mino, and bade him farewell. I thought I heard his voice and saw his openhearted smile. The wind stirred the ancient cedars; the night insects kept up their insistent music. It would always be like this, I thought, summer after summer, winter after winter, the moon sinking towards the west, giving the night back to the stars, and they, in an hour or two, surrendering it to the brightness of the sun. The sun would pass above the mountains, pulling the shadows of
rooms, and went towards the main guest rooms where Arai and his men were staying. Lights gleamed from the temple and, farther up the slope, beneath the trees, men stood with flaring torches round Lord Shigeru’s grave. Even at this hour people came to visit it, bringing incense and offerings, placing lamps and candles on the ground around the stone, seeking the help of the dead man who every day became more of a god to them. He sleeps beneath a covering of flame, Kaede thought, herself praying