A new chapter of Samurai NOT
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Samurai NOT 40
“I think it’s best to stop here,” Masa announced the end of the training.
The moment he spoke, both Inori and Tadayoshi fell exhausted. The girl was sweating so much little puddles form around her.
Tadayoshi was the same, but he also had trouble to breathe. Today… was… too… hard, the boy thought, ignoring the pain on his legs and arms.
Ever since he had earned the right to have his sword back, Yasuhiro, and Masa, whenever the samurai wasn’t around, had been making them train harder and harder.
Kenshin, who had also been training with them, had given up a long time ago.
The only one who was still standing was Iori. Despite the sweat, his breathing was already back to normal. After he cleaned his face with a cloth handed by a servant, he turned to his father.
“Father, I would like to have a word with you,” he said in a strangely formal tone.
Tadayoshi thought it was odd. He never speaks like this unless in a meeting or something like that.
He wasn’t the only one who thought so. Masa, and even Inori had a puzzled look on their faces.
Only Yasuhiro remained unreadable. All he did was face his the younger samurai.
“There’s no need to be so formal. You can say anything to me, son.”
Iori widened his eyes and looked down, pressing his lips and clutching his fist. He was struggling with the words.
I’ve never seen him like this, Tadayoshi thought. Then he realized how much that surprised him. To him, Iori was a younger version of his master. A strong objective he once day wished to get close enough.
But watch him hesitating is… Even Tadayoshi himself had no idea how that made him feel.
Inori stood by his side, clutching the hem of his clothes so hard her delicate fingers were pale. He wanted to hold her hand but restrained himself.
Iori closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and relaxed his hand. When he opened them again, his eyes were determined as he faced Yasuhiro once again.
“Father, I want your permission to leave the house.”
As his words echoed and died in the training hall, silence followed. The young samurai gulped and blinked a few times.
No one dared to speak. Not even Masa. The ninja, like everyone else, could only watch the father and son.
Despite the tense mood, the old samurai, on the other hand, showed no expression as he crossed his arms. He looked into his son’s eyes, who flinched and averted his gaze.
“F-father…?” Iori stuttered and looked down. His sweat now had nothing to do with the training from moments ago.
“Why do you want my permission? What do you want to see outside?” Yasuhiro finally spoke after a long time in silence.
Iori clenched his fist again. Even so, it still trembled.
He didn’t expect this reaction from his father, Tadayoshi realized. Ever since he came to live here, he had never seen the old man treat his son like this.
Even so, Iori wasn’t the person Tadayoshi was worried about.
By his side, Inori pressed her lips. She was on the verge of tears, and did her best to hold it.
No one but him noticed. Even if it was inappropriate, he placed his hand on top of hers.
“I… I…” Iori finally raised his head. But as he looked into the legendary samurai’s eyes, he lost his.
“Brother. Is your determination that weak?”
Even if it was barely above a whisper, everyone in the dojo heard Inori’s voice.
At once Tadayoshi noticed the girl forced herself to say those words.
After the eyes of everyone moved back to the other twins, Inori trembled. She was crying despite not uttering a sound.
Kenshin was the same. Despite the tears coming down, he was doing his best to keep quiet.
Iori took another deep breath. “I want… to see the world… father… The world beyond these walls…”
Yasuhiro said nothing for a long time.
“Is that it? Is that all you want?” He closed his eyes. “A son of mine wants to be selfish, and yet shows a weak determination. What kind of father would I be if I listened to that request?”
Despite speaking in a normal tone, his words seemed to shake the dojo.
The legendary samurai unfolded his arm and stretched his hand. Almost at the same time, Masa was by his side, handed his sword with both hands while kneeling.
“Show me you want to leave, boy,” he said, drawing his sword.
Even indoors, the metal shone, reflecting the young samurai’s shocked expression.
A real blade…? The old man is gonna fight with a real blade…
Tadayoshi had barely seen that. But in those few times, he was left awestruck at the samurai’s strength. And he wasn’t even fighting for real then…
“Father… are you going to stop me…?”
“If I can do that, it means you’re not ready to leave, son.”
Iori widened his eyes. Then he closed it and lowered his head. As his hand moved to the handle of his sword, his arm trembled. However, when he opened his eyes, he was steady as a rock.
So far, only Inori had dared to break the silence. As Iori drew his sword, the whole training hall became quiet in a different way. No one even seemed to breathe now.
Tadayoshi hadn’t realized, but Inori was clutching his hand so hard it hurt. Even so, he didn’t want her to let go.
Without taking his eyes off his father, Iori raised his blade in the same way he had all his life.
The two samurai stared at each other without moving.
“What’s the young master thinking?”
“I don’t know… Even if he got stronger, he knows he has no chance of winning against Yasuhiro-sama…”
The whispering circled through the hall.
Inori clutched his hand harder.
Even though it was true, Tadayoshi shared the feelings. He wanted his friend to win, but he knew it was impossible.
Yasuhiro wasn’t known throughout the country for nothing. He was strong. Too strong. Even among the adults, apart from Masa, no one was able to touch the old man.
Even before Tadayoshi lived with the scavengers and the bandits, he had heard stories about the legendary samurai.
So far, Iori could, at his best days, tire Yasuhiro. It was nowhere near close enough to make him earn the right to leave the house.
Iori knows that better than anyone… To me, he strong, and yet… But he’s been training harder the last months… So hard even Masa had to acknowledge…
Maybe that’s enough…
After so long, they still hadn’t moved.
Yasuhiro showed no expression. He wasn’t looking at his son, but at an enemy he respected.
Iori, on the other hand, showed fear. His face was pale, his breathing irregular, and the sweat ran down his brow. His eyelids trembled, but he refused to blink. He couldn’t afford to take his eyes off his father. Not even for a moment.
Even so, Iori couldn’t keep his eyes opened forever. And then he blinked once.
In that instant, Yasuhiro took the initiative.
Despite his age, the old samurai covered the distance between them in mere moments. His sword was a blur as he swung at his son.
Out of reflex, Iori managed to block the attack. Even so, he was pushed back by the impact.
A…amazing… It was all Tadayoshi could think. How can they move so fast…? There’s no way I could ever fight that…
It wasn’t just the speed though. Each of Yasuhiro’s blows carried an enormous strength behind.
As he watched, even in his mind, the boy couldn’t imagine himself winning against his master. His heart thumped louder, a sensation of emptiness growing inside him. He was just playing with me when he let me hit him back then… I knew that from the beginning, but to think the difference would be so huge…
Despite being awestruck, Tadayoshi couldn’t help but smile. The old man is an immense wall… One that I have to overcome one day…
Even if Yasuhiro wasn’t fighting to kill, his strikes could make anyone give up.
But not Iori.
Despite the difference in strength and skill, the young samurai kept his defense up, if barely. Even if it took all he had, he didn’t leave any opening for his father to take advantage.
As the fight went on, however, the difference in experience showed up.
The legendary samurai didn’t help buck as his son became more exhausted.
But the young samurai was too familiar with his father’s habit and managed to defend all the attacks.
“I know he’s been training harder, but when did the young master become so strong…?”
“Can’t believe he’s fighting on equal grounds with Yasuhiro-sama…”
The whispers came back as they finally awake from the trance caused by the dance of sword and sparks.
“Fools,” Inori whispered.
Tadayoshi felt the girl’s anger and anguish in her low voice She’s right.
Perhaps only Masa and they had realized.
Yasuhiro was fighting seriously, but only in terms of ability. Every blow was accurate and forced everything Iori had to defend. However, if he was fighting to kill, it would be already over.
Ah… so that’s why the old man is doing that… Tadayoshi realized what his master’s purpose was.
“Tell me, son. What you want?” Yasuhiro asked as he pushed Iori back with his sword. Although there were drops of sweat on his forehead, he didn’t look the least bit of tired.
The young samurai, on the other hand, could barely breathe. “I… I told you, father… I want to know… the world… Father… just like you did…”
Yasuhiro’s face darkened. “That’s not what your sword says!”
He swung his sword faster. The sound and sparks of the metal on metal were bigger.
Iori almost knelt under such strength.
He’s using more force …
“Tell me what you really want, son!” He swung harder.
Iori placed the left hand on the back of the blade and defended. It cost his balance.
“I want to find out who I am!” the young samurai shouted pushing his father back.
Yasuhiro stopped his sword in the middle of an attack.
Iori looked into his father’s eyes and swung his sword with all his strength. “That’s what I want, Father… I don’t want to live in your shadow anymore… I don’t want to be just the son of Yasuhiro!”
As the blades met, the sparks flew.
Iori’s sword broke, the tip flying and hitting the wood floor.
The young samurai lowered his eyes and what was left of his sword.
The old man sheathed his weapon and closed his eyes.
The hall grew dead quiet again as everyone waited in silence.
“That’s what your sword was screaming, son,” he said in a fatherly voice. He let a small laugh and supported as Iori collapsed from exhaustion.
Inori ran to his side, crying. “Idiot.”
Tadayoshi remained where he was, even though he wanted to be by his friend’s side. Amazing… He couldn’t help but tremble in excitement. I had no idea a true swordfight could be so… so… beautiful…
I’ve been treating the sword like a weapon. Something to kill. But it’s much more than that… It… It has a soul… The soul of a samurai… And Iori, just like the old man, can become one with his sword… Ittou Isshin…
The whole house was quiet for the rest of the day. Even the guards remained in silence. No one dared to speak above a whisper.
Tadayoshi remained in his room all afternoon. He couldn’t help but relive the fight over and over, hoping he could learn something, however small, with it.
As the night came, Tadayoshi felt hungry. He left his room and headed to the hall, fearing what dinner would be like. But as he got closer, he heard noises. A lot of noises.
He never imagined, however, when he opened the door, he would find Yasuhiro and Masa were drinking alongside Iori, toasting almost every time they filled the sakazuki. The nobles, the soldiers, and the servants celebrated together as equals.
Even Hikari’s face was red and with an expression of sadness and joy as she drank elegantly.
“My son will see the world and make his name!” Yasuhiro shouted, raising the sakazuki once again. Everyone shouted in joy. “Masa, bring that!”
Even with the drinks he had, the ninja moved at the same speed. A moment later, he was back with a long wooden case.
Yasuhiro opened and handed the sword to Iori. “Normally you receive a helmet when you become a man. But I’m not into those stupid formalities. And a sword would help you more than a stupid and uncool helmet.”
Iori got the sword with both hands. “W-when did you prepare this, father?”
“Some time ago. Whenever we trained, I could tell there was something holding you back. And since you’re just like me, I knew you’d want to see the world one day!”
The young samurai cried and everyone laughed and drank more.
Even Tadayoshi couldn’t help but smile as he ate. He stayed away from alcohol.
Only two people did not seem to share the joy inside the hall.
Inori, who ate her meal in an isolated corner, and Kenshin.
The boy refused to eat, though his mother hugged him and whispered something from time to time. When his stomach begged for food, however, he picked up the bowls and ate as the tears fell.
Tadayoshi knew what the younger master was feeling. He felt a void when he thought of his friend leaving, but on the other hand, he knew it was his wish. For how long Iori wanted to leave? He always wanted to find his own path… Now he can
What about me?
No matter how much he thought, he had no idea.
The celebration went on all night. The food and the drink kept coming.
When the appropriate amount of time had passed, Inori withdrew silently. Only Tadayoshi noticed and went after her.
“Inori… sama,” he called the girl. When she stopped and turned to him, he did not know what to say.
Without a word, she grabbed his hand and led him to the courtyard farthest away from the main hall. There, they couldn’t hear the shouts anymore.
Inori took off her shoes and sat on the porch, her feet rustling against the top grass.
Tadayoshi did the same, sitting by her side in silence. Somehow, he believed that was enough for her now.
After a long time, she raised her head and looked at the full moon.
“I’m not angry,” she finally spoke
“No. I’m sad, yes, but my brother wanted to leave for a long while now. Maybe he did not notice, but I did.”
“I could tell he had disappeared as a person, as a samurai.”
Inori grew quiet again.
As Tadayoshi looked at her, he felt his heart thumping faster.
When they were younger, Inori and Iori looked too alike. But now they had grown and the difference between them only grew.
While Iori became taller and stronger, Inori became more beautiful than any girl or woman Tadayoshi had ever seen.
When he realized what he was thinking, he stared at the sky, which had no cloud to block the moon’s splendor. Inori is more beautiful…
“Everything brother did and accomplished was brushed off… All because he is the son of the legendary samurai…” She widened her eyes and turned to him. “Don’t think I’m speaking ill of brother. I know he loves father, and he’s very proud to be his son. But he wants to… no, he needs to know who he is. If he’s only one of the children of Horou Yasuhiro, or if he’s is a true samurai. All by himself.”
Tadayoshi had no idea how to answer. All he did was keep his silence.
Inori leaned her head against his shoulder and cried.
“Stay the night with me Tadayoshi. I need you,” she whispered, holding his hand again, but now gently.
“No… I’m just Inori… don’t call me that… Not you… Please…”
Though awkwardly, the boy wrapped his arms around her and said nothing else.
The next morning, with more shouts and tears, everyone watched Iori leave.
Thanks for reading.
Hope you enjoyed SN
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