James' Tour of the Clans
Or
Why Everyone's Crazy but Me

By Bayushi Mirumoto Akodo James

Chapter II: Sword-dulling 101

"WE"RE GOING TO WAR!!!!!"

As you can likely imagine, this was not what I wanted to hear.

Or at least you WOULD imagine if you had any idea what I was talking about. Allow me to elaborate:

After several more long, arduous weeks of wandering, I found myself in the domain of the Lion. Nice place, overall… a land of wide, rolling plains, shady glens, and hair that stands higher and prouder than the highest mountain.

Upon arriving at the first keep I came to, I made my pitch:

"Hi… I'm a deposed Scorpion… er, Dragon, looking for a new clan. Would you be my friends?"

Quick as a flash, I was led inside, slapped into some ill-fitting armor, handed a spear, and brought to a column of waiting soldiers, where I was promptly placed in position #85206 (a position I'm told that was once held by… some great warrior or another. To be honest I have a bit of trouble keeping all of them straight). A few moments later, after the aforementioned cry ran through the massive force, we were off and marching to parts unknown.

TIME LAPSE!!!! HORAAAAAY!!!!

After a march that was far longer, hotter, and sweatier than I would have liked, I found myself on what I guessed were the front lines, facing down a line of spearmen. All was silent except a bitter wind that whipped across the battlefield, and the pounding hearts of the men who were about to vie for the right to survive (ooooh…. Dramatic!).

I gripped my own spear a bit more tightly and wished I were somewhere that was not here.

Seconds passed as if they were hours. Or maybe they were hours, and I just didn't realize it. Or perhaps the devilry of the mind had bewitched me with some sort of battlefield euphoria…. Or maybe I have simply wandered into some form of metaphor Hell and need to continue with my tale.

I turned gingerly to the soldier next to me: I had come to have a special sort of kinship with him over the last several hundred miles of marching, as the back of his head had been about all the scenery I had been able to take in. Of particular note was a small ding on the edge of his helmet, about a quarter of an inch from the back of his neck. I called it Dingie. He (the soldier, not the ding) was staring at the enemy line with a gaze that would pierce folded steel, gritting his teeth and growling softly like an agitated dog. I believe he may have been drooling slightly, as well. He didn't exactly look like the conversational type, especially in his current state. But I decided it couldn't hurt to give it a shot.

"Psst… hey! Why are we just staring at them," I whispered.

He didn't bother to look my way, opting to continue his staring match with whomever it was he was directing his rage at.

"We're waiting for the order."

I gulped. "The order?"

"Yeah," he growled. "When we get the order, we charge."

"CHARGE?!?!" I replied. "Are you off your gourd?!?! Those are Daidoji Spearmen!!! You'll be poked to…. Hey, where you going?… Guys?…. Hey, guys?"

Unfortunately for me, I had lost my audience several moments earlier. As if they were a single entity, the entire Lion line leapt at the sound of my voice and…. Well, charged. The din of the roaring Lion troops was deafening as they rushed forward.

I stared for a few moments, watching Dingie fade into the rising dust.

"I guess I just answered my next question on my own," I muttered. "Who would've thought the command was something as simple as `charge`?"

Tossing off my armor, I left the battlefield behind. As it turned out, I had no real desire to end my own life that day.

To be Continued…