The Swordmaster
Epilogue Two: The Dragon

"Do not be deceived by the surface. Learn to see what you are not meant to see."
- Mirumoto's "Niten"

The memorial was a simple thing, built by two pairs of hands from a pile of scattered rocks and broken stones. At its center, a few small sticks of incense burned lazily, their scent muted by the smell of the long grasses of the plains. "Kutsu of Tasagore," read the marker that graced the stone.

It was a motion they knew the monk would not have wanted…but in their way, both men were still warriors, and as warriors they chose to remember one of their own.

"You will make sure to look in on them often," Koshin asked as he stood at the edge of the Dragon lands, a traveling pack thrown over his left shoulder, a kimono a pale grey covering his thin, tawny body and a bittersweet smile filling up his handsome face.

Nikkan looked down from his pony and smiled, the emotion in the man's voice heartwarming, as he thought of his daughter and surrogate son, "As often as I can spare the eyes."

Koshin nodded in approval, his eyes growing serious for a moment in the sun. "You know, I was never sure that I could beat Kutsu, Nikkan, but you never had any doubt that you could defeat him, did you?"

For a moment, just a half-breath, the two faced each other as warriors, friendship and camaraderie both departing from their eyes.

Then the Mirumoto's aged face turned to a small smile edged with wrinkles, the kasa hiding only a little of his simple face. "You are the strongest one of them yet," Koshin commented evenly, not yet slipping into a smile as he looked at the small and wizened man. "When I am strong enough, then I will come back for you, you know."

Nodding, Nikkan removed his kasa and tossed it down to the wanderer, "I hope that day will come soon. Things are more interesting with you in my home."

The swordmaster accepted the hat and immediately donned it, the mountain winds twirling the edges of his fine, light hair. As his grey eyes focused on the road lain out before him like a long and meandering serpent, Koshin looked back over his shoulder. "You have my gift to give them."

Patting the pouch bound to the side of his saddle Nikkan nodded. "I am no so old as to forget that, you know."

Bowing low to his friend, Koshin smiled. "I will see you again, Nikkan. Tell Miyu that I will see her again soon, too."

"I do not doubt that," the Dragon whispered as the swordmaster departed down the road that would lead him to the next challenge, chasing the path that led to nowhere in particular, and to everything he wished to be. Koshin's path took his forward towards more experiences, tragedies and danger…but he would never be alone, on his warrior's road.

Hopes and dreams went with him, and from that his strength would come. Strength to be the man he wished to be.

* * *

The Mirumoto accepted the manuscript known as the Kouryo-no-Ken with mixed feelings; though before his death the legendary warrior Togashi Tenryuu honored the teachings with noble words. Since that day, there were always a few among the Mirumoto family who follow the tenants of swordsmanship laid down by the strange legend known as Kakita Koshin, searching for truth along the lessons of his road.