Swordmaster Previews

Since I'm taking a break for Spring Break after finals, I thought that my loyal readers (all three of them) would appreciate a glimpse of some of the battles yet to come.  Don't threaten my for more information about Yoshinoko or Ujirou's first duel, however...you will see everything in time. :) - KB

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from Chapter Fifty: Old Debts

"Koshin-sensei?" Ujirou said from beside his sensei, knowing that intense gaze.

"Kakita Koshin," snapped a fierce voice from behind the two of them, "Surrender yourself in the Emperor's name!"

The two men turned to be confronted with a sight neither was happy to see. Six gold-clad samurai stood in a half-circle behind them, all bearing katana and jitte, and half with their swords already drawn. Standing in the center of the men was a tall woman warrior, her narrow eyes silently burning beneath the bangs of close-cropped black hair.

"You are captured, criminal!" cried one of the Lion, seizing the initiative and lunging with his sword. Ujirou reached for his katana like lightning, but another warrior moved even more swiftly than the boy.

Like the wind, the female Lion had seized hold of her sheathed katana and struck, the golden saya whipping through the air. There was a resounding smash and a cry as the woman's weapon struck her kinsman squarely in the back of his neck, sending the big samurai crashing to the ground.

She is good, Koshin thought as the man began to crumple. Very good.

As the Lion hit the ground the ronin calmly stepped to one side to avoid him, his hands nowhere near his sword. Ujirou watched as the Lion girl stepped forward still holding her katana easily, then she whirled it neatly and returned it to its proper place.

At closer inspection, the Lion girl was pretty, but too hard to be called a great beauty with her cropped hair and large, narrow nose. Dressed in fine armor and a golden mantle, the girl bowed to Koshin slightly, drawing back to better adjust her sword. "You will forgive Hisho for his…zeal, Koshin-san."

"I would say that he paid the price for it," the wanderer said with a glance at the unconscious bushi, "Who are you?"

"I am Matsu Yoshinoko," she said quite cordially, "and you are under arrest…for the murder of Ikoma Makuto."

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from Chapter Fifty-Three: Students and Masters

"There is an intruder!" Ujirou shouted to the sleeping Tonbo, but even as the words left him, the boy knew that none of them would rise. What he knew of chi told him that the Dragonfly had been murdered, but he did not require that power to see what the moonlight showed of their still-oozing wounds.

He was the last one alive.

"You may call to them again in a moment, child," mocked the heavy voice of the attacker. "You will join them in Jigoku soon."

Ujirou said nothing, taking the moment to adjust and draw his sword. The boy still did not feel comfortable using a second as a weapon, and so he adopted a familiar stance with sword extended from the base of his chest. "I know what you are. You are a ninja…"

The dark figure extended its short staff, the cruel barbs already wet with Tonbo blood. "I am Bukichi," hissed the dark image. "It will be the last name that you ever know."

Taking one breath to say a prayer for the safety of his sensei, Ujirou adjusted his stance again, trying to remember the droning details that Koshin had gone into regarding the rare weapon known as a vajra.

"If I was just a boy I would be dead already," the Daidoji said as calmly and bravely as he could manage, "so come and fight me, Bukichi…Daidoji Ujirou will be the last name for you!"