|Guardian of the God|
|Title||Guardian of the God|
|Romaji Title||Kami no Moribito|
|Illustrator|| Makiko Futaki|
| Preceded by|
Traveler of the Void
| Followed by|
Traveler of the Blue Road
|Publisher|| Kaisei-sha (hardcover)|
January 2003 (both volumes)
Guardian of the God (神の守り人, Kami no Moribito) is the fifth novel in the Moribito series written by Nahoko Uehashi. The novel is split into two volumes, with God's Appearance (来訪編, Raihō-hen) containing the first half of the story, and Return from the Hard Journey (帰還編, Kikan-hen) continuing as the second half of the story.
When Balsa encounters a brother and sister being sold by a slave trader, she impulsively takes the girl, Asra, away when she finds out that the girl's life is in danger. As Asra draws closer to an awful god who can be a blessing for the people or cause a great disaster, her powers are felt in the Kingdom of Rota, where a conflict between the north and south grows. Balsa must protect Asra from secret agents of Rota and avoid a calamity that Asra can cause herself.
A few months before the events of Traveler of the Void in a prison castle called Shintadan (シンタダン), located in Northern Rota near New Yogo border, a horrific incident happens, with all guards and inmates being massacred in a mysterious way.
That year, Rota Kingdom is suffering from a sudden disease that hit hordes of sheep in the northern part of the kingdom. To avoid starvation of the Northern people, Rota king Yosam decides that taxes in the South part of Rota must be increased. That infuriates the feudals of the South. Concurrently, the North must significantly increase the head count of the brown-fur sheep, that North tribes stubbornly consider "dirty". That infuriates tribe leaders of the North. King Yosam will soon have to leave for Sangal's ascension ceremony, temporarily leaving the country in his younger brother Ihan's hands.
15 years ago, Ihan had a love affair with a Tal woman. However, mixing Tal blood, which sometimes gives birth to people able to call Terrible God Talhamaya to this world, and the royal blood, was not allowed since ancient times. Eventually, that woman disappeared, and Ihan could not ever find her. Later, Ihan got married and had a son and a daughter. Because Yosam only has daughters, Ihan is now first-in-line for Rota throne.
A few days after Shintadan tragedy, Tanda, still recovering from wounds of Guardian of the Dream, accompanied by Balsa, is visiting a medical herb market located in northern New Yogo not far from Rota border. Later they meet Tanda's old acquaintance, Rota's famous magical weaver Sufar, in the restaurant of the inn they stay in. Sufar tells Tanda and Balsa about his investigation of Shintadan incident, concluding that is was a supernatural event of unclear origin.
During their chat with Sufar, Balsa suddenly notices that in another corner of the restaurant, two shady merchants discuss something with Blue Hand's slave traders, and instinctively follows those people as they leave. However, when Balsa comes near the slave traders' room to eavesdrop, she sees them killed by something invisible, and that something immediately attacks Balsa. She deflects the attack but gets seriously wounded on the left side near her stomach. Two children who were supposed to be sold, Asra and Chikisa, remain alive in the room, with Asra unconscious and Chikisa having a wounded hand.
Sufar soon approaches Tanda and explains that Asra, who is the host of a terrible god Talhamaya, was behind Shintadan massacre and more deaths will likely follow. There's no way to cure Asra and she must be killed to avoid further deaths. Tanda, being already extremely scared of Asra, for the first time in his life, seems to agree with Sufar, but later on Balsa makes him change the opinion.
A few days later, Sufar's daughter Shihana comes to the inn to assist Sufar, along with two Sufar's disciples. Sufar and Shihana try to kidnap Asra and Chikisa during a stir caused by a fire at the inn's kitchen. However, Balsa knocks out Shihana and flees to the mountains with Asra, leaving Tanda and Chikisa in Sufar's hands. Sufar's disciples are sent to pursue Balsa but she eventually defeats them without killing.
Balsa and Asra reach Shirogai (四路街) city and hide in the house of a clothes merchant Martha (マーサ), who was once a client of Balsa and Jiguro. Martha and her family take a liking of Asra.
Sufar, facing a striking defeat of his highly-esteemed disciples, makes a magical contract with Tanda. Sufar would give Asra a chance to live, and in exchange Tanda would guarantee that he would kill Asra himself if she tries to use Talhamaya's evil power ever again. Tanda also gave Sufar clues on how to find Balsa in Shirogai.
While preparing to flee to Sangal, Balsa receives a letter demanding that she must go to Jitan city in Rota, or Tanda and Chikisa will be killed. She agrees, leaving a letter in response, and assumes a job of a guardian of a caravan going to Northern Rota. Meanwhile, Sufar and Tanda find out about the letter, but Shihana, who was behind it, betrays her father and apprehends him and Tanda.
The name of this volume literally translates as A Visit, Making a Visit or Making Visits. In addition to Talhamaya's visit to this world, there are several other occasions of people making a visit. Notably, Tanda and Balsa's visit to herb market, king Yosam's visit to Ihan's feud, Balsa's visit to Martha and her family shop, and upcoming visit of Balsa to Rota, and of king Yosam to Sangal.
Return from the Hard JourneyEdit
Balsa and Asra, along with the caravan that Balsa guards, enter Rota kingdom via northern route. They are being hit by a sudden snow storm and take shelter in a house of local herders. One night, some of the caravan's horses run away into a forest full of wolves. Trying to save the horses, some men and Balsa head to the forest. Mina, a little daughter of the caravan's chief, and Asra follow the adults. As a result, they all get surrounded by enormous pack of wolves and death awaits them. However, Asra summons Talhamaya who kills the wolves. This is the third time Asra summons Talhamaya, and the first time Asra consciously control Talhamaya's movements preventing it from killing people.
Later the caravan reaches a huge market place designed for fur and wool trading. Balsa and Asra discover that not only Kashals like Sufar are after them, but also many supporters of prince Ihan. Balsa decides that they should immediately part with the caravan. They meet a young Tal woman called Ianu, who is also the Shadow Priests' apprentice. She promises to help Balsa to get to Jitan using roads only known to Tal people. However, Ianu betrays Balsa, arranging a burglars gang to kill her. Balsa is deeply wounded and falls into a cold river, while Ianu takes Asra away.
Meanwhile, Sufar and Tanda escape form Shihana and are also now heading to Jitan. They eventually meet with Balsa who is saved from the river by local Tal hunters. Sufar and his disciple soon leave for Jitan, while Tanda and Balsa stay in hunter's house waiting for Balsa to recover.
Ianu hands Asra over to Shihana. It is revealed that Shihana plans to revive Talhamaya in order to help prince Ihan in his power struggle with southern feudals and to stop the oppression of Tal people.
Shihana brings Asra and Chikisa to Jitan where they meet with Ihan, who promises to protect the children. However, Ihan refuses to use Talhamaya's powers and instead puts Shihana under a house arrest. Asra, on her side, does not want to become Sada Talhamaya, that is, being fully merged with Talhamaya. Sufar meets with Balsa and Tanda in Jitan city.
An annual celebration commemorating Rota country foundation is about to begin. During the celebration, various scenic performances depict the events of previous Sada Talhamaya being killed by the first Rota king. Shihana breaks from the house arrest and brings Asra and Chikisa to see the performance from a secret passage.
According to Shihana's plan, Ianu suddenly interrupts the celebration, loudly threatening the Rota people of punishment by Talhamaya. Ianu is apprehended and the mob of spectators, especially the people of Southern Rota, demand her immediate execution. Ihan is unable to stop the commotion.
In order to save Ianu from seemingly imminent death, Asra decides to become Sada Talhamaya. She rushes to the Holy Tree and climbs it, finally becoming Sada Talhamaya, while Shihana and her underlings hold Chikisa who can prevent the transition. Using her new power, Asra scolds and scares celebration guests without killing any, but Talhamaya's natural appetite for blood slowly becomes unbearable.
Soon, Balsa and Tanda arrive nearby. Balsa brings down Shihana and her underlings, ripping Shihana's right eye, while Tanda and Chikisa climb the Holy Tree to where Asra is. Holy Tree is invisible to anyone except Asra and Tanda, and persons climbing it look like they are hanging in the air. Chikisa does not see the tree but can climb it somehow.
Chikisa is being hit by an arrow sent out by Shihana's supporter. However, that actually wakes up Asra who manages to get rid or Talhamaya before it could devour Asra's personality. Tanda tries to hold Asra and Chikisa but still all three end up falling from the tree sustaining serious injuries.
At the end of the novel, Balsa, Tanda, Chikisa and Asra are still in Rota, slowly recovering from wounds, while Asra is still unconscious. Shihana and her supporters have escaped. King Yosam safely returns from Sangal.