A great way to start the month is with a new chapter of Samurai NOT
The fight against the demon will begin.
Hope you like
Samurai NOT 25
Tadayoshi barely breathed as he stared at the huge beast before him.
That’s not the demon I’m looking for, the swordsman thought, an emptiness spreading inside him.
The next moment, rage filled that emptiness. He clutched the handle of his sword with more strength. Another dead end… Shit…
Despite his rage and disappointment, the swordsman had no time for those feelings.
Even if the demon before him wasn’t the one he wanted to take revenge, it was a threat. One that could kill him if he made the slightest mistake.
The demon seemed overwhelmed by the number of people screaming in the clearing and stood still.
Tadayoshi glanced at his friend and disciple without making anything any sound. Shit, he thought when he saw Ei and Ryuu paralyzed.
“What’s your name, demon?” the swordsman asked in a low voice. He knew it was beyond stupid to make the beast focus its attention on him. But even so, he did in the hope of buying some time for his friend and disciple to hide.
As he expected, the Oni turned when it noticed his presence.
The beast stood where it was, glaring Tadayoshi in the eyes.
The swordsman felt his body growing cold and numb, but even so, he didn’t avert his eyes.
The Oni then looked at the corpses around the human’s feet, its breathing deep and foul. Even from that distance, the swordsman felt the hot breath on his face.
Was it attracted by the smell of blood and the screams…? If so, it’s just a brainless demon… I won’t get any information from it…
Tadayoshi stood completely still. He made no sound as he waited for the Oni to act. He was part of the scene as he gathered all the concentration he had. If it truly were just a mindless beast, with that much brutal strength, he would die if he lost his concentration even for a heartbeat.
The beast raised its head a little and smiled. Or at least it seemed as if it was smiling. With that many teeth, it was hard to tell. But it mattered not. For the next moment, the Oni howled. It was a screech that seemed thrilled with death and blood, and that sent a shiver through the swordsman’s body.
As Tadayoshi’s hand trembled, his sword clanked a little.
Though it was barely audible, that low sound was enough to make the beast charged at him.
It was slow, but each massive step had a monstrous strength, making the dust rise from the ruins of the temple. When the demon was close enough, it halted and swung the heavy kanabo as if swinging twig.
Tadayoshi jumped backward, escaping unscathed for a hairsbreadth. It was enough for him to confirm the power of the weapon and the thing that swung it. If I’m hit once, I’ll die…
The swordsman knew was only one way to survive; to end the fight as quickly as he could. And the only way to achieve that would need all his speed and reflex.
Taking advantage of the beast’s confusion for not hitting anything, Tadayoshi put all his weight on the sword and attacked the exposed elbow with all his strength.
The blade barely broke the red and black skin.
The Oni reacted, swinging the weapon in reflex.
Despite reacting, Tadayoshi realized. His blow made no difference. It was like a prickle of a needle to it.
The swordsman dodged the weapon and ran between the beast’s legs. As he passed it, he slashed at the ankle.
But once again his attack barely scratched the skin.
The beast screamed in rage and went after him.
Despite being much faster, Tadayoshi knew he couldn’t avoid the attacks for too long. If I failed once, I’m dead, he thought, dodging a blow that would have ripped his head off if it landed.
As he avoided the attacks and tried to find a place where his blade could do some damage, he felt something behind his back. Holding his breath, Tadayoshi realized he was trapped against a tree. Shit!
The Oni attacked again, swinging the kanabo sideways.
Without any other option, Tadayoshi threw himself on the ground. As the weapon passed above his head, he felt the tremendous force.
The tree behind him was destroyed with just one blow.
Not ripped from the earth. Destroyed.
As the dust rained on him, Tadayoshi stopped breathing, his hands trembling. Even he could not believe the beast’s strength. Is this the kind of enemies the idiot couple faces? The swordsman shook his head and tightened the grip on the handle of his sword until his fingers became numb and lost its color. With his breathing shallow, he looked up.
Through the dust, he saw the beast wasn’t paying attention to him. It was glaring where the trunk had fallen.
It probably thought it was me, Tadayoshi realized. It’s so powerful it can’t tell the difference between a human and a trunk. With a deep breath, he squatted without making a sound and stabbed the Oni in the stomach using all the strength he had.
A prickle of deep red blood ran down the blade, but the tip of the sword had barely pieced. Though it was softer than the arms and the leg, his attack barely broke beyond the skin again. Shit! My attacks are useless!
The beast screamed, more out of rage than pain. It turned its head to his stomach, where the blade still was. Then it saw Tadayoshi on the other side of the sword. The Oni twisted its mouth in what looked like a terrifying smile, raised the kanabo and brought it down with all its force.
Tadayoshi pulled his sword and rolled away in time, but the impact left a hole where he was instants ago.
Shit, the swordsman thought, cleaning the cold sweat running down his brow.
As the beast attacked, it left many openings, which he took. But it was the same as nothing; none of his attacks had any effect.
But each time the Oni swung its weapon, tree fells and the ground gained new holes. And the worst was, every time the kanabo struck against the earth, the pebbles and rocks hit Tadayoshi every time.
Fuck! Fuck! I need to do something now, or I’m gonna die, he thought, ignoring the pain all over his body.
The demon swung its weapon again, but this time Tadayoshi didn’t retreat.
Gritting his teeth, he jumped diagonally. He managed to avoid the attack from the kanabo directly, but not the flying rocks. With his cheek bleeding, the swordsman placed his weapon against the beast’s arm and slid the blade up, slicing a piece of flesh. It’s like slicing old leather!
The Oni’s screams echoing through the mountain was like a beautiful song to Tadayoshi’s ears. For the first time, he had caused a real damage to the demon. Even if I can’t cut the muscles, I can slice its flesh…
With a wild smile, the swordsman knew how he could win.
Ryouchukei… death by thousand cuts… Tadayoshi let out a weak chuckle. I can’t believe I’m considering slicing that thing a thousand times. The idea wasn’t encouraging at all, but he now at least had a chance to survive.
Yes… if that’s the only way, I’ll do it… I’m not gonna die here… I can’t die yet…
The beast swung the kanabo again.
Tadayoshi was already expecting and move forward. As he avoided the blow, he entered the oni’s territory. In the same way he sliced the demon’s arm, he sliced the leg.
A scream loud enough to make Tadayoshi’s ears hurt and his body tremble echoed through the forest again.
Despite the pain, the swordsman wanted to hear more. Before the demon could react, he raised his sword and sliced a piece of the chest under the neck. Three, he thought, panting a little. Only 997 to go…
Tadayoshi dived under the Oni’s arm, slicing a piece of the demon’s flesh before the kanabo reached him. Without wasting time, he turned around and advanced the moment he saw the opportunity, slicing again and again.
Soon the swordsman and his blade were covered in blood, the pieces of sliced flesh spread across the clearing.
Two hundred… and fifty… one… Tadayoshi had barely reached a quarter, but he was already panting too much. Sweat ran down his face, blood ran down his back and legs, his clothes red, his hair hard with the dry liquid, his sword heavy for his arms.
The Oni dark red blood ran down all over its body, but his strength had not waver at all.
It doesn’t look like I’m slicing him to death…
Tadayoshi spat the beast’s blood in his mouth. Death by a thousand cuts seems easy when the enemy can’t move…
But the worst was what he realized during the fight. The beast had a level of intelligence. In the beginning, Tadayoshi sliced the flesh without much trouble. But when he reached around 150, he started to get tired, and the beast to evade. It wasn’t enough to escape his speed, but it was enough to make the swordsman work harder for each slice.
The result was visible; the slices were smaller and took much longer. I need to change strategy now or I’ll die before reaching 500!
The Oni raised the kanabo and brought it down with all its strength.
Tadayoshi jumped and rolled to the side. He avoided the blow but when the weapon blew the ground, the dust rose, and a rock flew towards his face, hitting his right eye.
His vision reddened, the pain immense. But Tadayoshi ignored. He had to. His reaction was already slower due to his exhaustion. If he took his hands from the handle to clean his face, he could die.
With a swing from its arm, the beast cleared the dust. When its enraged eyes found Tadayoshi, it ran towards the human it was trying to kill.
Tadayoshi dived out of the way, but he rolled into a tree. The wounds all over his body screamed with pain. Shit! The aching in his eye became so bad it made him lose track of his surroundings.
It took only a heartbeat for him to recover, but that was too late.
The blow was coming towards him and the swordsman could only think of one thing to save his life; jump to the opposite side and put some distance and trees between him and the kanabo. But as he tried to get away from the weapon’s reach, again he found his path blocked.
He felt his body growing numb when he realized the destroyed trees were in his way.
Tadayoshi moved back, putting some trees between him and the weapon. At the same time, he placed his sword on his side to prevent a direct blow out of reflex and braced himself for the impact.
The kanabo smashed four trees as if nothing and struck the swordsman.
Tadayoshi felt his body explode in pain as he was sent through the wall of trunks and flew to the temple.
Thanks to the building he was still standing, because he couldn’t do it on his own.
Every part of his body throbbed in pain. Tadayoshi could feel broken bones, a piece of wood puncturing his shoulder, his left arm was numb and his only working eye saw double. His mouth was full of blood and just breathing pained him.
But… I’m still… alive… if barely…
Thanks to his reflex and his weapon, he still breathed. But it had cost his sword, his master’s last memento. The swordsman could feel some pieces of the blade in his ribs.
With great effort, Tadayoshi raised his head. He saw two demons looking for him where the weapon had smashed.
No… it’s only one…
The swordsman knew he had to move, that he had to get out of there before the beast located him. But his body refused to listen to him. Just breathing was hard enough.
Come on, Tadayoshi… Move… You can’t die yet. The old man’s probably laughing from the other side… You talked big, vowing you’d get revenge on him and all, and now you’re gonna die because of a little demon like this?
The beast finally found him, and this time it showed a true smile. It was beyond grotesque.
As that massive monster ran towards him, Tadayoshi took a deep breath, getting ready to avoid more than one attack. But his body still didn’t respond.
Move… move damn it…
But it made no difference. He couldn’t even lift his arms.
Shit… Tadayoshi lowered his head and closed his good eye. So this is how the man without a name, with loyalty will die? Fighting a nameless demon?
He took another deep breath, trying to find any strength to move, or at least swing his broken blade one last time.
With a bitter smile, he waited for his life to end.
But as time passed, the final blow never came. Instead of death, Tadayoshi felt a warm and foul breath on his face and risked opening his eye.
There was a pair of red globes staring back at him.
The beast had halted instead of running over him. It lowered its head until it was almost at Tadayoshi’s level, checking if its prey was still alive, the thick and dark red blood running down his body mixed with sweat and dirt.
Probably checking what kind of human could give him so much trouble, the swordsman thought, his mind on the edge of losing its consciousness.
The beast grabbed him with the free hand.
That massive hand sent shots of pain throughout his already numbed body. Shit… just killing me it’s not enough? It’s gonna taunt me in the end?
The rage took over him. Before he realized, Tadayoshi found strength to raise the remains of his sword.
The demon tilted its head a little, intrigued by that action.
With a wild smile, the swordsman slashed the demon’s eyes.
The scream was deafening. The beast dropped Tadayoshi and the kanabo, bringing both hands to its face. It ran from one side of the clearing to the other, smashing anything in its way.
Tadayoshi fell on his legs, hitting his knees on the ground. But he bit his lips to stop his scream of pain and took the opportunity to drag himself as far as he could.
I have to get away… to survive… another day… That thought gave him enough strength to move.
But each step had its toll. Halfway to the forest, the pain became so much his legs refused to move anymore. He tried to pull himself with the free hand, but the arm felt too heavy.
With his breathing shallow and painful, Tadayoshi rested against a pile of destroyed trunks and observed the Oni in the distance, waiting until it turned its attention back at him.
But the demon never looked at him.
Tadayoshi couldn’t help but smile when he saw the massive beast on its knees with both hands on the face, screaming and trying to stop the blood. He might have lost the fight, and if he escaped with his life, it would be a luck he didn’t deserve. Even so, there was something satisfying in knowing he had caused a serious damage on something so monstrous.
Is that how that idiot couple feel?
With another deafening howl, the Oni stood up and turned its head to every side. Breathing fast, it turned towards the swordsman.
Tadaoyshi froze, but the beast didn’t charge towards him.
Wait… It’s blind…? Then he realized. It’s not breathing fast… it’s trying to find me through the smell!
It was the bit of luck he needed to survive. But even so, he lacked the strength to run away. Shit… I can’t do anything on this state…
The demon began running amok, spreading the wreckage as it destroyed more trees with just its body. But it always kept within the clearing.
If not for the smell of blood and flesh from the beast itself spread around and over him, Tadayoshi knew he would have been found by now. He also knew he had to do something before it eventually found him.
Still holding the remains of his sword, he looked for something to throw. He had his wooden sword on the waist, but with his arm in that state, it would be near impossible to draw, let alone throw it far enough.
His trembling hand went inside his clothes drenched with blood and found what he needed; his knife. With deep breaths that sent shots of pain throughout his body, he gathered the bit of his strength he had left. Then he threw the small blade as far as he could.
The weapon flew almost slowly to Tadayoshi, the metal resounding when it fell on the ground. It was low, almost inaudible, but it was enough to get the beast’s attention.
The demon ran towards the sound, the clearing shaking with each step.
Tadayoshi hoped the demon would go past the knife. But to his horror, it stopped inches from the weapon and smashed its fist on the ground with all its strength.
It has a sense of distance… even blind…? Shit… Did its other senses enhance after it lost the vision? It’s more human than I thought…
Shit… If I make any sound, it’ll find where I am right away.
Tadayoshi placed his hand on his other weapon. He had to draw and throw the wooden sword as far as he could. It was the only thing he could use to make a sound and get the beast’s attention again.
But his arm was too numb to do much. Breathing slowly, the swordsman pressed the wooden sword against the tree and pushed it down until it was out of his sash. But as soon as he closed his fingers around the handle, Tadayoshi knew he could never raise it in that state. The wooden sword felt more like it was made of iron.
As he desperately looked for something to throw, a strange movement on the corner of his vision caught his attention. There was something else moving on the clearing beside the demon.
Tadayoshi tried to focus on it, but he was still seeing double. He closed the eye and cleaned the sweat, blood, and dirt with the back of his hand, still holding the remains of his sword with the other.
At first, he could only saw blurs. Whatever moved was simply a shadow indistinguishable from the trees. After forcing his vision more, the swordsman finally saw what the blurs were.
Ryuu swung both arms, desperate to get his attention without making any sound and attract the demon.
Tadayoshi narrowed his eye and little by little the outlines became clearer.
His disciple carried many rocks on her arms and indicated something to him with her head. With some effort, he turned his eye to where Ei was looking, his vision going past and ignoring the mad beast.
There was nothing besides the fight’s wreckage.
What… are… they… thinking…? He looked back.
Ei took one of the rocks in her arms and threw with all the strength where she pointed. The pebble hit one of the destroyed trunks with a dry and hollow sound.
The beast covered the distance to the rock in few strides. But before it could smash the ground, Ei threw another rock in the other direction. The Oni halted and stood still for a heartbeat before jumping towards the other pebble. When her disciple threw another, it turned the head in confusion, letting out another deafening roar.
Thank you… Under the barely hearable sounds of the rocks and the sounds of the beast’s massive steps, Tadayoshi understood. His disciple and his friend were giving him time to run away. Thank you!
Recovering some of his energy and part of his strength, the swordsman took a deep breath and forced his body to move.
Each step made all his wounds throb painfully, but the sounds of the rocks renewed his strength. How long has it been since there were people willing to risk their lives for me, the man without a name? He took another step, and another. And for them, I will live! He said to himself, dragging his body with the help of the fallen trees.
What was left of the temple went down with a crash. The beast had given up finding him, and now was just destroying the remains of the clearing.
Even with Ei and Ryuu throwing rocks, it simply ignored the pebbles, picking up the trunks and tossing it around to every side.
Tadayoshi was almost hit by one of the flying trunks. If he hadn’t stopped and bent over to catch his breath, he would be dead now. But now it looks like my destiny isn’t to die there, he thought, smiling weakly.
Thanks to the demon’s mad destruction, an opening had appeared before the swordsman; an almost invisible path by the still standing trees.
I’m gonna live… I’m gonna live! Eiko and Ryuu gave me this chance… I won’t waste it! Tadayoshi repeated in his mind, gaining strength from the words.
Even if the people in the future call him a coward, it wasn’t the time to be a hero. It never was to him. He wasn’t like his master. Tadayoshi had a goal and it wasn’t his time. Not yet. Even though it would be hard, he would live until he could fulfill his vengeance.
I need treatment right away… In his current state, just getting as far as he could from the demon would be difficult enough. If I can get away, Ei can save me, he thought. It had been like that for the past year. After the fights, if he had any wounds, even just a scratch or any other insignificant cut, his disciple would treat him despite his complaints.
Tadayoshi knew the reason behind her insistence. Despite her daily complaints about him as a master, she was afraid to be separated from him, to be alone again. The swordsman knew they could keep like that for a few years, but not forever. And so, little by little, he laid the ground for her future, saying he had already taught her everything he knew. Even so, he was grateful to have her by his side.
Knowing she would be there for him made him feel better. Yes, she… and Ryuu… will make me new again… But even if when they do, we’re still stuck on this weird mountain… But it’s better than to die facing all that insane rage from that wild demon.
We can go to that village… there’s a chance they’re involved with the Oni… they do worship it… But even if they’re not involved, the demon might go there chasing us… If they’re involved, then it’ll be their destiny. If not, there’s nothing I can do to change it…
Tadayoshi wasn’t a hero. He never was and never planned to be one. Despite admiring his master, he never wanted to be like the samurai. I won’t sacrifice my life for strangers… We need to get out of this damn mountain… yes, yes, Ryuu has a map. He can take us out of here… yes… he can…
His body became heavier and heavier. Soon he was dragging himself a little less. His exhausted soul lost strength with each heartbeat. He wanted to close his eyes, to rest. No, he needed to rest.
Tripping on a root, Tadayoshi almost hit his head on a trunk. With his breathing short, rapid and painful, he used his still working arm to rest the back against a tree, his member throbbing due to the piece of wood lodged in his shoulder.
He looked back. The swordsman hadn’t realized, but even with his slow pace, he had put some distance between him and the Oni.
The trees here were so close it was hard to see what happened at the clearing. Now he could barely hear the destruction, all the sounds swallowed by the forest. Forcing his vision, Tadayoshi saw something that made him stop breathing.
The beast still carried with its rampage, but what made his heart sink were Ryuu and Ei.
Too close… they need to get away… now…
For a moment, Tadayoshi thought they were cornered by the Oni when it got close while they threw the rocks for him. But that wasn’t it. Even from this distance, the swordsman recognized the expression on his disciple’s face.
It wasn’t that they were waiting to for a chance to move; they couldn’t. Ei and Ryuu were frozen by terror, and the Oni was getting closer and closer. If it continued with its rampage, it would soon reach them.
Ei and Ryuu tremble so much they dropped the pebbles in their hands almost at the same time.
The oni halted and turned its head in the direction of the sound.
No… no… no!
Tadayoshi felt his mind going numb.
“Hey… you shitty demon…”
The swordsman had no idea what he was doing. Despite that, the moment he spoke, he knew he had failed.
He meant to scream, to get the demon’s attention. But barely a whisper left his lips, and he had no strength for more than that.
Even so, the beast heard him.
The Oni’s face twisted in what looked like a smile that announced death. The next moment, it charged towards him, trampling everything in its path.
Every fiber of his body screamed for him to run. Tadayoshi wanted to, but he was aware that, in that state, there was no way he could move out of the way in time.
The demon seemed more like a true beast now, running on its hands and legs, its face twisting more and more, the open mouth showing every sharp tooth.
Despite his death coming at full speed towards him, everything seemed to move slowly for the swordsman.
If every fight was like this, it’d be so easy, he thought with a weak chuckle.
Using the little time he had, Tadayoshi considered his options. Even if he used all the strength he had left to get out of the way, the beast would find him. If not, he would be caught if it started destroying everything in that area. And even if he could drag himself out of the way, there were no pebbles to masks the sounds of his steps this time.
What can I do…?
Face an enemy like that without a plan, or at least a sword, was beyond stupid. But I’ve been doing stupid things all my life…
Without realizing, Tadayoshi smiled as he thought about the three of the scars on his abdomen. It too was a fruit of his stupidity.
His body throbbed with each shallow breath he took, but he didn’t stop. He had to gather any strength he had left.
Then, with great effort, the swordsman managed to raise the remains of his sword.
The hand, the arm, and the shoulder throbbed and trembled, but he didn’t lower the broken blade.
I’m a mess. A swordsman who can barely lift his sword, he chuckled with his pathetic state, feeling the pain. But even so, he kept his sword where it was. He wouldn’t lower for anything. No matter how much his muscles screamed.
Because he was betting his life in the tip of the broken sword.
As the beast got closer and closer, Tadayoshi tried screaming like his enemy, but his voice refused to work.
The sword trembled even more. It wasn’t just the effort; he wasn’t just betting his life, but the lives of those precious to him.
Some live, some die in the way of the sword, his master’s voice echoed in his head.
It was one of the first things I taught Ei…
Ryuu was an exorcist who risked his life fighting beings that weren’t from this world.
Ei betted her life every time she drew her sword.
If I don’t try everything to survive, I can’t face my disciple and my friend again.
Tadayoshi took a deep breath. His body stopped trembling and the pain went away; he was too focus to feel any pain.
All the swordsman could see was his broken sword and the demon running towards him. Even the trees around him became blurred. There was only him and his enemy.
“Come!” he managed to scream.
Time seemed to stretch even more.
Tadayoshi noticed everything. The Oni crushing the ground and the wood with each step, its body dragging everything on the way and finally getting on the same path as Tadayoshi.
The face covered with blood and sweat seemed more demonic than ever now. Even blind, the beast stared in his direction, almost as if it knew where its prey was.
The wreckage and the trees on the way slowed it down, but the Oni still kept coming.
Tadayoshi adjusted the tip of his broken blade, aiming for the tiny target that might save his life.
The demon was almost on him, along with the trees it dragged. With a shriek, the beast jumped, making the forest shake.
With a scream on his own, Tadayoshi placed all his strength on the broken blade.
Just as the Oni ran him over, the swordsman felt the sword entering its mouth.
As Tadayoshi flew backward with the monstrous impact, for the first time he felt his blade piercing the demon, going all the way through to the back of the head.
His plan had worked.
The demon’s body trembled and then finally it stopped moving.
But the momentum was too big, even with the trees and trunks that prevented it from moving freely.
With the fall, Tadayoshi hit his head, almost losing his consciousness.
Even so, he didn’t let go of his sword, his fingers tight around the handle. Tadayoshi stopped feeling pain altogether, each part of his body numb. Guess this is better than feeling that pain all the time…
He was vaguely aware of the situation. If not for the trees and trunks on both his sides, Tadayoshi would have been crushed by the beast’s body.
Even now, the Oni growled, its breathing becoming slower and slower until it stopped completely.
The swordsman had won but had no strength left to move.
I’m sorry, master. It looks like I won’t be able to repay everything you did to me.
With that last thought, Tadayoshi’s consciousness faded.
Thanks for reading.
Hope you enjoyed the chapter