A new chapter of Samurai NOT
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Samurai NOT 37
The boy couldn’t take it anymore and stopped, placing the hands on his knees, breathing deep.
“Oya? What’s the matter? Are you tired already? Do you wanna take a little break to rest? If you want, please, don’t restrain yourself. When you need to rest, say it.”
Despite the concerned words, the boy felt the rage cursing through as he glared at the girl standing at the back of the dojo. Though her face was worried, her tone was full of mockery as she looked down on him. He could see the mocking smile hidden behind her lips.
His expression only made Inori laugh. Now she couldn’t even keep the fake concerned expression.
That voice was enough to make him ignore the exhaustion and his better judgment. There was only no room for that as he charged swinging the wooden sword towards the young man named Iori before him.
Though he truly looked concerned, it wasn’t enough to stop the boy. Whether he wanted or not, Iori shared the same face as Inori.
As he got closer, the young man didn’t react. I caught him off guard! For a brief moment, the boy thought he would land a hit on his target for the first time.
Before the weapon could reach him, Iori raised his sword and blocked with ease.
Due to the charge and swinging the sword without any stance, the impact was enough to make the boy lose the balance. Focusing on not falling on the ground again, he did his best to keep standing and couldn’t dodge the incoming counter-attack.
The wooden weapon struck on his back and he was down.
“Are you okay?” Iori asked, getting closer. “Maybe it’s too much… You’re still learning…”
“Is that all? You’ve got to be kidding me…” Inori let out a heavy sigh, as she too drew closer to the boy. “Are you really the devil child Ashura? Either father picked up the wrong brat or you desperately needs a little rest…”
She made no effort to hide her mocking expression this time.
Above the exhaustion, he felt something else. His face was red, and it had nothing to do with the training. He wanted to wipe that expression from the girl.
Once again the boy once again ignored his better judgment and stood up, pointing his sword at Iori. Instants later, he was once again on the floor.
It didn’t matter how he tried, he couldn’t hit the eldest son of Yasuhiro, the samurai who brought the boy to his home. All attacks were dodged, blocked or redirected with ease.
By the end of it, his entire body was aching. He was nowhere near close hitting the young man, let alone the old samurai.
“It’s best if we take a break,” Iori said, offering the hand to the boy. “Resting is also an important part.”
“Yeah, unless you want your fall down on every inch of this dojo,” Inori added, her annoying smile once again back. “I think there are a few spots you didn’t fall on the corner, Tadayoshi.”
“Don’t say that… It was a good warm-up, Tadayoshi. You’re getting better.”
Tadayoshi… The word echoed in the boy’s ear as he accepted the hand.
The old samurai who brought him had given the new name. According to him, it meant loyalty, something the boy would have for him in the future.
The latest name still sounded strange even after a few weeks. More than once he had forgotten it was how people called him in his place.
Though it was different, and he never felt like he would have any loyalty for the old man, he didn’t dislike the name. Until, when they were training, the samurai said he had chosen it because Tadayoshi reminded him of a dog he once had as a kid.
Kenshin, the youngest of the three couldn’t help but laugh. Iori tried to suppress, but he too laughed. Even Masa chuckled. But it was Inori, who laughed without any restrains, that was too much for the boy.
Out of anger, Tadayoshi attacked samurai with the wooden sword he when he heard that. Before he realized, he was seeing the endless sky spreading before him and pain on his back. He had been thrown out the door and didn’t even realize until he was on the ground.
Once again, the worse was the annoying laugh that followed everything. Especially the old man and the girl.
They’re too alike, thought Tadayoshi at the time.
Now, as they finished the latest training, he couldn’t help but feel the same.
“Oh, already over?” Yasuhiro said as he entered the dojo.
“Only a little rest, but don’t worry, father. If you pay attention, you can see how the training went. Tadayoshi fell so much I’m sure his face will make a dent on the floor.” Even as she spoke in a polite voice, the mocking was blatant.
The old man’s laugh echoed through the dojo much more than his daughter’s.
Tadayoshi couldn’t say anything back and only clutched his sword harder.
“He’s not ready yet, father. He still a lot of training. But he’s getting stronger each day,” Iori said after he finished laughing.
At least he tried to suppress it, thought Tadayoshi. Though the son of the samurai was only a few years older than Tadayoshi, he was much stronger and acted more like a grown-up than his father.
“I know, I know. He kept attacking me and I grew tired. It’s good for him to see he’s nowhere near ready to take some like me.” Yasuhiro turned to him, running a hand on his beard. His smile resembled his daughter’s too much. “So, Tadayoshi? Do you wanna check how’s the weather today again or will do as I say for once?”
He knew the old man was right. Even so, he couldn’t help but feel the anger coursing through him again. Yasuhiro, and Inori, had been making fun of him from the moment he got here. Even so, he knew he had to endure. It didn’t matter how much annoying it was, if he wanted to get stronger, he had to train as told.
Without answering, Tadayoshi moved back to the middle of the dojo and raised the wooden sword before him, making sure to keep his hands apart. That position was the only thing he had managed to learn so far
“Hm…” The old man seemed surprised by the chance of attitude.
With a satisfied expression, Iori walked to Tadayoshi, fixing the boy’s posture. Then he moved a few paces away, standing in the same posture.
“Come, Tadayoshi,” he said, looking the boy in the eyes. At that moment, he had changed. He didn’t care about anything else. All that mattered was the sword, was the training.
Gripping the handle of the wooden sword, the boy charged…
After a long training, which felt more like a one-sided beating, Tadayoshi fell on the floor. He had never felt so exhausted, never felt his arms so heavy. The wooden sword felt as if made of the heaviest metal in the world.
Even so, there was a smile forcing itself on his lips. He wasn’t close to hitting Iori, but he had made the older boy sweat. Even Inori had nothing to mock.
When one of the servants opened the door of the dojo and announced the meal was ready, Tadayoshi recovered his strength and followed. His hunger was enough to overcome any pain and exhaustion.
As they settled on the main hall on their respective places, the boy’s stomach growled. However, even with the delicious food calling for him with its wonderful smell, he held back. After a lot of mocking from the old man, Tadayoshi learned he had to wait for the Lord of the house, Yasuhiro, to eat first. Only then he could eat. He wasn’t the only one though. His children, his wife, and even Masa, waited for him.
As usual, the old man seemed to take his time on purpose. He moved slowly, as if he was much older and frail than he looked. There was nothing of the samurai from that day he picked Tadayoshi.
Why did he do that, anyway…?
It wasn’t the first time the boy had asked himself that. At the beginning, the boy thought it would be like with the bandits. But he knew there was little someone like him could offer to the samurai. He also knew there was little Yasuhiro could gain with taking him in.
However, little by little, he realized the samurai didn’t want anything from him. He simply had taken an interest in the boy known as the demon child Ashura.
And he wasn’t the only one. Yasuhiro’s three children, the oldest Iori, his twin sister, Inori, and the youngest, Kenshin, and they all seemed to like Tadayoshi.
The three siblings were different from each other. Kenshin was even younger than Tadayoshi, but he tried to act like he was more mature. Every day he tried to sneak inside the dojo to train with everyone, but his father said it was too early for him to train with a wooden sword. The boy didn’t like and threw a tantrum, thinking his tears would make his father change his mind like it worked on his mother.
While Kenshin was gentile, shy, childish, and somewhat spoiled, the twins were talented and didn’t hold back on their words.
Judging by appearance, Iori seemed only a couple years older than Tadayoshi. However, he was a bit taller and much, much stronger than him and enjoyed improving every day. Even the nobles that came to visit or ask favors from Yasuhiro respected him and had high expectations from him.
Inori also had talent with weapons, though she preferred the naginata instead of a sword. Her true talent, however, lied on her mind. She was so good at games Tadayoshi hadn’t seen her defeat her father once. Even the samurai and the nobles relied on her strategies.
Overall, the only thing the boy had to complain was how long the old man took to start eating.
After his belly was full and a warm bath already readied for them, all Tadayoshi wanted was to rest. After saying the proper words, which he had been forced to learn, he went to his bedroom. It was a tiny room in the mansion located near the dojo. Even so, he liked it too much. Once he entered, he realized the fire was too weak and was no wood for the fire.
For a moment he considered sleeping without a fire. He was too tired to cut firewood at his hour. But when he touched his bed, he gave up the idea right away.
Dragging his body while hugging himself for some warm, Tadayoshi headed to the pile of already cut logs. Oh, yeah… it’s already cut… He couldn’t help but enjoy almost as much as the meals. It was one of the perks of being under a noble’s care; all the chores were already done for him.
I just don’t know what I did to deserve this, he thought, and it wasn’t the first time.
“It’s not good to have him here…” Tadayoshi heard as he headed back to his room. “That kid is the Demon child Ashura… He killed Heavens know how many in that fire… It’s not normal…”
“I think the same… There’s something creepy with that kid. Something in his eyes… But Yasuhiro-sama has always been strange. There’s nothing that boy can do to hurt him, but I’m worried about Yasuhiro-sama’s reputation.”
Tadayoshi stopped and moved back to the shadows, waiting until the guards patrolling left the corridor. Only then he returned to his room. It wasn’t the first time he had overheard that kind of comment. Sometimes people said right to his face.
He didn’t care what others thought of him. As long as he remembered, he never had. Whether he liked it or not, what he had done would follow him for the rest of his life. However, part of him felt bad for the old man whom he was forced to call master now. Though Tadayoshi had no idea who the samurai truly was, he seemed important and the boy didn’t want to cause any trouble for him. Not after he and his family gave me so much…
Tadayoshi knew the old man himself didn’t care about such trivial things. Though he had nothing to compare but what he had heard from the scavengers and the bandits, the samurai was the weirdest noble the boy had ever heard of.
There’s nothing I can do about that, he said to himself as he fed the fire and got under the blankets.
The next morning, as usual, they trained, or rather, Tadayoshi swung his sword at Yasuhiro while the samurai dodge and laugh, sometimes making a few comments about how the boy could improve. However, soon the old man stopped smiling.
“It’s amazing. For someone as simple as you, you’re overthinking,” Yasuhiro said, half annoyed, half amused. “When we are here, we must focus on training and nothing else. There’s no way of telling when even the little things can be useful, because we don’t know when all of this could change.”
Tadayoshi froze. The samurai was right. His life had been like that. After he got used to the scavenger sand the bandits, everything changed in an instant.
It was only a one word answer, but the samurai seemed satisfied.
“Good, good. But now I’m curious. What kind of trouble could be making that little brains of yours overthink?”
As he looked at his master, Tadayoshi had no idea how to explain. He had never cared about what others said about himself, so he had never given much thought. As he struggled to put in words, the samurai let out a heavy sigh.
“I’m just gonna take a guess then. Maybe you overheard people saying it was bad for my reputation to have you around or something stupid like that.”
The boy widened his eyes. Can he read my mind? It wasn’t the first time that had crossed his mind.
“Guess I’m right. Then let me say this; you’re stupider than I imagined. Clean your ears and pay attention, Tadayoshi, because I’m only gonna say this once. You’re my disciple” he said, looking the boy in the eyes. “And the disciple of the amazing Horou Yasuhiro shouldn’t waste a single thought worrying about such unimportant things like reputation.”
Hearing that put a smile on the boy. Casting aside the memories of the two unknown guards, he clutched his sword with both hands and raised towards his master as the old man had shown him.
Satisfied with the results of his words, the samurai nodded.
When Tadayoshi charged, however, the next moment he was seeing the ceiling and then face the floor again.
“You’re lasting a few instants longer. Not bad. Maybe one day you’ll last enough for me to sweat,” the old man said, running a hand on his beard, his laugh echoing as he left the dojo.
Despite the pain running through his body, Tadayoshi felt satisfied. It was the closest thing from a compliment he had gotten from the old man.
When he recovered, he trained with Iori and the others.
The next day, he was up even before the sun and raced to the dojo. By the time everyone arrived, Tadayoshi’s arms were tired from swinging the sword so much. He was going to hit Yasuhiro one day and get his sword back. And each swing brought him closer.
“Not bad. It’s much less sloppy than yesterday,” the old man said.
“He’s getting closer to fulfilling that promise,” Iori said.
The old man let out a loud snort. “As if.”
Tadayoshi glanced at the wall, where the weapons were. His sword, the real metal blade, was set on the highest rack, outside of his reach.
Yasuhiro noticed the boy’s eyes and flashed his juvenile smile. “You want it back? You gotta hit me. That was the deal, remember?”
The boy said nothing, staying in the same place.
The old man waited, but when after several moments, Tadayoshi showed no sign of fighting. Almost disappointed, he turned around to leave.
At that moment, Tadayoshi charged as fast and silently as he could.
As usual, it made no difference. Even without looking, Yasuhiro moved to the side and stretched the leg, making the boy trip and hit the wall. With a crackling laugh, he left. “Get that boy ready, Iori.”
“It doesn’t hurt?” Hikari asked in a gentle voice as she treated Tadayoshi’s wound. He shook his head. “You’re a brave boy.”
She flashed a huge smile and rubbed a cloth covered with a yellowish paste on his arm.
The wound stung at once. Even Tadayoshi had a high tolerance for pain, that was too much and he wanted to cry. But he held the tears with all he had.
The last thing he needed was to cry. Especially in from of Inori. She didn’t need any more reason to make fun of him.
But, as usual, she noticed, and her mocking smile was back at once.
“You’re a crybaby, Tadayoshi. I thought people call you devil’s child because you scared people, not for crying a lot.”
Tadayoshi had nothing to say back and lowered his head.
He didn’t like when people made fun of him, but he also didn’t dislike when the girl talked to him.
Life with them was fun.
Thanks for reading.
Hope you enjoyed SN
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