A new chapter of Samurai NOT
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Samurai NOT 39
After the food and the warm bath, Tadayoshi could barely keep his eyes open. After Ryuu showed him where he would sleep, in the same room with the priest apprentices, he lied down and fell asleep right away.
He had no idea when, but at some time in the middle of the night, someone one woke him.
In the dim light from the torch outside, Tadayoshi could see Taichi making him a sign to be quiet and to follow him.
“What’s going on?” he asked in a low voice. “Where are we going?”
The boy let out a heavy sigh. “You have zero patience, Tadayoshi. I can see why Yasuhiro-sama has too much trouble with you. If you have enough patience…”
Taichi kept quiet as he looked both sides of the corridor. When he was sure it was clear, he led Tadayoshi to a small room at the back of the main hall. He raced to the cabinet at the back and took blue and white round porcelain bottle.
“You’ll be rewarded,” he said, pulling the lid.
Tadayoshi recognized the scent of sake at once. “What’s that for?”
“To celebrate our new friendship!” Taichi flashed a smile.
Tadayoshi stared at him with an empty expression. He had been offered a few times when he was with the scavengers. The taste wasn’t bad but it made him dizzy and his head throbbing the next day.
However, ever since the night he had killed the violent scavenger group, he had lost all interest in the drink.
As Taichi smiled at him, Tadayoshi raised the hand to get the bottle. Friendship…
He had made friends with the old man’s kids. But it was because they spend a lot of time together. It was different from someone he had just met and had no idea when he would see again after he left the temple.
Taichi picked two sakazuki from the cabinet. Carefully, Tadayoshi filled them both. He had seen a few vassals doing that to Yasuhiro. Then they both raised one and crossed their arms. It was a sign of friendship, according to Iori.
The drink burned his throat. Tadayoshi stifled his cough. The last thing he wanted was for others to find them doing that.
Taichi laughed silently. When he calmed down, he filled Tadayoshi’s sakazuki and drank the rest of his. Every time it was almost empty, he filled it, never letting the red bottom show up.
Tadayoshi had no memory of what happened next.
When he came to himself, it was morning. He tried to open his eyes, but closed right away; the light hurt him. His head was thronging so much it pained him to think.
He remained as he was for a long while, breathing to withstand the headache. When Tadayoshi tried to move again, however, each movement sent a shot of pain through his body.
Even so, he sat down and tried opening his eyes again. The light didn’t hurt him anymore. Instead, everything seemed to spin. There was nothing still enough for him to find out where he was.
Wait… I came… with the old man… to the temple… and then…
As he recalled and avoided puking, a cheerful voice called him.
“You had a lot of fun yesterday, didn’t ya, Tadayoshi?”
Rubbing his eyes, he turned to the voice. As he expected; his master was staring at him with a huge smile.
“I have a slight suspicion you’re not feeling very well due to all that booze you drank. I’m not sure though.” Yasuhiro crossed his arms and rubbed his beard, thinking. Then he nodded. “Since I’m a kind and generous master, I’ll make today’s training light and easy.”
The old man had an eerie smile that made Tadayoshi shiver.
Even so, there was no way he could do anything when Yasuhiro put the hands on his shoulders and pushed him to somewhere.
Slowly the corridors stopped spinning. But the time everything was still, and his eyes were accustomed to the harsh sunlight, Tadayoshi was at the courtyard.
Taichi was there. Though he looked pale, it was nowhere near Tadayoshi. In fact, he seemed more afraid of the head priest, who stood beside the apprentice.
The priest, on the other hand, looked like the opposite of Yasuhiro. While the samurai smiled, the other was livid.
As he walked to Taichi’s side, Tadayoshi noticed the drum. When he glanced at his master’s smile, his bad feeling increased tenfold.
“Why you look like that, boy?” Yasuhiro asked with the same eerie smile, slapping him on the shoulder with more force than necessary. “I told you I’m a kind master. I’m not gonna make you work hard while hungover.”
“Then what I have to do?” he asked in a pained voice.
“All you two have to do is run around the temple.”
Taichi yawned and rubbed his eyes, which made the head priest even angrier. “How many times?”
“As many as you can. And I’ll encourage you two.” The old man pulled a piece of wood with the rounded tip from the insides of his clothes. Still with the smile, he hit the drum with all his force.
Tadayoshi covered his ears right away. It made no difference. He still felt as if his head was exploding, the noise echoing inside him, making him even sicker.
“Run, boys, run!” Yasuhiro shouted, hitting the drum again.
Despite the nausea, he obeyed his master, trying to get away from the source of the sound.
Taichi was ahead of him and disappeared around the corner of the temple. When Tadayoshi turned, however, he saw the other boy leaning against the wall, puking.
Tadayoshi couldn’t help and did the same.
They panted and cleaned their mouths, the drum echoed again.
“You two better not have stopped around the corner to take a rest. I can make you two run all day if I have to,” the old man shouted.
Taichi and Tadayoshi exchanged looks.
“He means it,” the boy said in a voice of someone who knew that wasn’t an empty threat.
Groaning, they forced themselves to move.
After several laps—Tadayoshi had lost count after two—, drums whenever they were closer, and a few times puking, neither could take another step.
Tadayoshi never felt so awful in his life. As he lay on the ground, a shadow loomed over him.
“I think it’s enough. Hope you learned your lesson,” his master said before walking away.
The priests and the apprentices had finished their morning chores and prayers and it was time for the morning meal. Neither Tadayoshi nor Taichi felt any hunger. All yesterday’s food and drinks were scattered around the courtyard.
Instead of the meal, the head priest ordered the boys to clean their mess. After that, he made take over most of the apprentices’ chores all by themselves.
By the time they finished, Tadayoshi was feeling exhausted, but his mind was much better than when he woke. Only then his body craved for food after a whole day without it. However, since there were still a few hours since dinner, Taichi convinced him to sneak into the kitchen to get some food. Though most of the food was still raw, what they got as good enough.
After satisfying their hunger, Taichi invited Tadayoshi to train.
“You want to hit Yasuhiro-sama to get your sword back, right?” Taichi handed him a bokken while he got a staff for himself. “That’s pretty much impossible, especially considering how you much scream when you plan to attack.”
“What do you mean?”
Taichi looked at him for a while. Then he nodded. “I see, I see. You never realized … and Yasuhiro-sama probably never told you because he was waiting for you to notice it yourself.”
“What are you talking about?”
Instead of talking, Taichi took a fighting stance. Tadayoshi did the same.
It was the same as yesterday. No matter how much he tried, he couldn’t hit the older boy.
“Your problem is that you move too much and whenever you’re gonna attack, you raise your shoulders or move your elbow more than necessary. Not only it’s a waste of movement, it indicates where you’re aiming. It is easy to defend or deflect when you know where the attack is going.”
Tadayoshi stopped for a moment. I never noticed that…
Taichi wasn’t the first one to say something like that. Iori once said something about his attacks being too predictable and easy to dodge. He wasn’t so specific… When I asked, the old man told him to shut up…
“What can I do?”
“No need to worry, my friend. Even if it’s something your body does without you noticing, it can be changed. With a lot of time and training.”
Tadayoshi clutched his wooden sword. It was a weapon, in a way. In the hands of his master, he knew the old man could fight even foes armed with metal blades. Even so, it wasn’t his sword.
“I want my sword… I want it as soon as I can.”
Tadayoshi himself had no idea why. Before, his sword was his life. He needed a weapon at his hand, at his side, to survive.
Now he was under the care of his master. Ever since that day, he had never suffered any danger, nor was in a situation that required a real blade. Even so, he still wanted his sword. Though he had trouble putting on words, it was the same as being naked without it.
Taichi stared at him without any expression.
“If you want it that much, you’ll have to train hard to rid your body of that telling or yours. It might take weeks, made months,” he said slowly. Then he flashed a confident smile and offered his hand to Tadayoshi. “If you can’t wait until then, maybe you can use it in your favor. Yasuhiro-sama will notice the change, but the surprise might be enough for you to hit him once.”
Though the boy had no idea what his friend was thinking, he couldn’t help but smile as he took the hand.
After a couple days of intense training, as the priest and the apprentices did their morning chores before the morning meal, Tadayoshi stood before Yasuhiro.
“What?” the old samurai asked in a somewhat curious voice.
Tadayoshi he sat on his legs, placed both hands on the floor and lowered his head.
“I would like to challenge you for the right to use my sword, master,” he said in the most polite tone he could muster at the time. Glad Hikari taught me this.
Even Yasuhiro was taken aback. He stared at his disciple as if he was seeing him for the first time.
“H-hey, Tadayoshi, are you serious? Could you repeat? Maybe I’m getting so old I’m hearing things.”
The boy didn’t feel angry by the jest; he already expected his master would say something like that.
“I would like to challenge you for my sword, master,” he said in the same respectful tone, bowing his head once again.
Yasuhiro stared at him in his belief.
“There’s something suspicious… This is the first time that you ask me… So far you’ve tried to get me off guard. Of course you never came close because of how amazing I am. Still, for you to finally ask me for a fair fight, even though you know you have no chance… You’ve become a real swordsman, Tadayoshi, though a baby one. As your master, I’m happy for your growth.”
He blew cleaned the corner of his mouth, as if moved by the request.
Tadayoshi saw him trying to hide the smile.
The old samurai led his disciple to the same courtyard Tadayoshi had fought against Taichi.
The apprentices, the priest, and the head priest had finished their morning chores and prayers. Instead of having the morning meal right away, they gathered in the courtyard to see what was happening.
There’s no reason to be so interested in this fight. The outcome is obvious. Despite that, Tadayoshi wasn’t bothered by the onlookers sniggering at him. He himself knew it was impossible to defeat his master.
However, it never crossed his mind to defeat the legendary samurai.
He glanced at Taichi, who flashed the confident smile and nodded.
With a deep breath, he forced his mind to go all through what he and his friends had trained.
Try to force Yasuhiro-sama to take the defense. But don’t make too obvious moves. A strong samurai like him will realize in an instant. Instead, move exactly like you do every time.
Tadayoshi raised the wooden sword in the same way as he had done countless times.
The samurai only crossed his arms, waiting with his usual smug. It was plain on his face; he didn’t have to draw his sword. Never had to against Tadayoshi.
With a shout, the disciple charged.
As soon as Tadayoshi was close enough, the old man shifted the center of his weight to the left, getting ready to dodge the blow.
Tadayoshi didn’t change his attack, moving as he always had. At the last moment, he threw his arms to the side, changing the direction of the sword, aiming at his master’s side.
After Taichi had pointed out, Tadayoshi could tell how obvious he announced his moves. It’s like I’m screaming where I’m aiming my attack.
With a snigger, the samurai prepared to take a step back.
When his sword was almost reaching his master, Tadayoshi quickly took the right hand from the handle. His arm continued in the same way.
It was little. But that was enough to increase the reach and the speed of his sword at the cost of strength.
The samurai noticed at once. However, since he had already forced his muscles to move backwards, with the sword’s longer reach, it was too fast for him to dodge in the usual way.
Though it was nothing for him, Yasuhiro was forced to lift one of the scabbards on his waist, blocking the blow.
Everyone in the courtyard looked as if expecting something amazing. There was nothing of that sort.
It was only one of the strongest samurai in the country blocking a weapon that wouldn’t cause any harm to him.
Even so, Yasuhiro looked at his disciple with a rare face of pride.
“Not bad, Tadayoshi. Not bad at all,” he said, nodding. “You could never force me to touch my sword. I think it was really worth bringing you here.”
He untied the third blade at his waist and offered to his disciple.
Tadayoshi bowed and accepted with both hands. His arms moved down a little when he felt the familiar and missed the weight of the metal blade.
He had trouble containing his smile. When he turned to Taichi and saw the joy expression on his friend’s face, Tadayoshi couldn’t help but smile too.
Thanks for reading.
Hope you enjoyed SN
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