Individual: All for Glory!

This section is for Pratchett Fan Fiction

Moderators: Findtherma, Lars Gimletscousin

Because this FanFic isn't really Pratchett related, I would be interested to know if it is worth carrying on writing this story. It's just that it takes 3 to 4 hours a week to do so and if people don't like I won't bother finishing it.

Please carry on with the story 'cos it's starting to get interseting
3
50%
Kyu, get yourself a life (a proper one that is) and do something useful instead.
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17%
Is there gonna be any romance?
0
No votes
What am I doing on this thread... where's the bathroom?
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33%
 
Total votes : 6

Individual: All for Glory!

Postby kyuudousha » June 27th, 2005, 12:25 pm

The samurai parried the strike to his chest and continued the motion round, spinning to bring his katana in an arc designed to remove his opponents head. His opponent was fast however and had also anticipated the move. Spinning himself low into a crouch bringing him below the samurais deadly strike, whilst, at the same time bringing the katana in his right hand round at ankle level neatly removing the feet of his opponent. The wakazashi in his left hand followed round and across at knee height removing the bottom half of the Bushi's legs below the knee. Springing back into a defensive classical back stance with double guard, holding the wakazashi before him with the katana above his head, he regarded his opponent. The samurai fell to the floor, landing on the stumps of what was left of his legs. A look of agonising disbelief crossed his face as he fell forward in to the dust of the track, his feet and calves lying by his side in a growing pool of blood. Ignoring the screams coming from the fallen samurai and the gurgling of his fallen comrades he advanced towards the last Bushi standing.

The samurai circled each other in a slow motion, silent, dance of death. Waiting. Looking for an opening, for their opponent to attack and leave an opening for a possible deadly counter. Probing attacks to try to find any weakness to exploit. The double weaponed samurai finally let his katana drop just a fraction. The final Bushi saw this and went in for his killing strike, bringing his katana downward in an arc designed to cleave his opponent in two. The other span as he stepped to the right knocking the katana from it’s arc with his katana and bringing his wakazashi in a slashing motion across the back of his opponent. The Bushi stood there for a few seconds, a look of utter disbelief on his face as his life blood flowed from him, then crumpled face down into the dust of the road.

Miromatu Kouei surveyed the scene. Six samurai dead or dying. He mercifully despatched the three wounded samurai. He then cleaned his swords and knelt on the ground, just off the road, to say his prayer to any god that may be listening:

“I make the heavens and earth my parents
I have no home.
I make awareness my home
I have no life and death.
I make the tides of breathing my life and death
I have no divine power.
I make honesty my divine power
I have no means.
I make adaptability to all circumstances my principles
I have no tactics
I make my mind my friend
I have no enemy
I make carelessness my enemy
I have no armour
I make benevolence and righteousness my armour
I have no castle
I make immovable mind my castle
I have no sword
I make absence of self-interest my sword.”

12 months earlier

The sun shone upon the training ground. The various Dojo’s facing onto the main square were quiet now. The cherry blossoms surrounding the marked out arena on the packed earth were shedding their petals in a gentle breeze, allowing them to float to earth in an unnatural pink blizzard. Master Shidareyanagi [2] stood, thumbs tucked into his obi, patiently waiting for the young man before him to ask his question. He knew the question was to come, it was only a matter of time.
‘But I don’t understand master…’ started the student.
Aah, here it is thought the master as he interrupted his student.
‘Empty your mind’
‘I did’
‘I can see that you did not.’ Replied the master quietly.
‘I did!’ Said the student in desperation with just a hint of petulance in his tone.
Shihan Shidareyanagi looked fondly at his student with a wry smile on his face. He had known the young man nearly twenty years now. Ever since he managed to save him as a toddler from the fate that befell his parents. It was now time for yet another lesson to begin…
‘Now you call me a liar?’ he said in barely a whisper.
The student swallowed hard and glumly stared back at his tutor. He knew that he was about to learn respect in a painful way.
‘Never Shihan.’
‘Prepare yourself’
The young man resigned himself to the lesson that was about to follow and readied his bokken as he shifted his weight into a ready stance. The movement looked almost casual, languid as he waited for the attack. The master stood silently, eyes closed, for almost thirty seconds. The student looked him waiting what seemed an eternity to him. Just as the student opened his mouth to speak the bokken being held by the master blurred towards the young mans kneecap. As the student brought his own bokken down to block, the master changed the trajectory of the attack upwards until the end of the bokken rested just below the student’s chin. The master opened his eyes as the hapless student looked first at the end of his masters bokken and then at the face of his master.
‘Remember “The superior man, when he stands alone, knows no fear for he is one with all things. The Miromatu are one with all things.”’
With that the master flicked the bokken up catching the young student a crack on the chin. Lesson over, the master spoke.
‘Walk with me a while young Fukashigi’
Now that the lesson was over, the young student spoke less formally.
‘Certainly uncle.’
‘What can you remember of your parents?’
‘Nothing much uncle, other than that they died in an accident when I was very young.’
The old man sighed as he said
‘Then yes my boy, I am a liar.’ A tint of sadness shaded his voice as he recalled his brother and sister-in-law and the necessary lies he had told his nephew to protect him. Even though he knew it was essential to lie to keep the boy safe it flew in the face of everything he had been teaching for the past thirty five years and everything that he himself had been taught. And it hurt deep inside.

‘Sorry uncle?’ replied Fukashigi
‘Have you ever wondered where your name came from?’ said the old man.

The change in subject threw Fukashigi momentarily

‘”Mystery, wonder, miracle” it had always struck me as odd, and at times, yes I have wondered. It is not my place to question the decision of my superiors though uncle.’
‘It is time you learned of the truth my beloved nephew as I fear it is no longer possible to keep you safe.’
‘I don’t understand uncle.’ The young Fukashigi was now starting to worry about his uncle.
‘Many years ago when your mother and father first met they fell deeply in love and were virtually inseparable’ the old mans eyes softened as he thought of happier times; he continued.
‘They were married but a year later. It was such a match made in heaven before all the Gods. A year or two passed and they were being asked about children and when was the mighty Akagashi going to produce an heir? Unfortunately, only a month before, your father had come to me for guidance and solace regarding the fact that he was not able to rise to such an occasion.’

The young man looked perplexed until the implication of what was being said dawned on him. When the old master was satisfied that the full implications of what he was saying had been understood he continued.

‘Your mother was, after all, only human and when she could not be satisfied carnally by her husband, she secretly turned to another. Nobody is sure who, but within six months she was with child so the fact that she did is not in doubt. Your father took the news pragmatically at first as it stopped people asking awkward questions. However, the knowledge that you were not his flesh and blood poisoned him. He became angry, could not focus. Eventually he could bear it no longer. We were all together by the stream at the bottom of the hill from your father’s house when he lost his temper completely during an argument. In a fit of rage he struck your mother down with his sword then turned to you. Luckily, I was there and saved you. It cost us dearly as we never spoke after that. Your father could not live with the shame that he and his wayward wife had brought to the house of Miromatu and committed Seppuku that afternoon. With our family in disgrace and my two dearest friends lost I brought you here, to my dojo, to train and to live as if you were my own.’
‘And here we are now…’ finished Fukashigi.
‘Correct.’
‘I have no honour? No family? No proud history? Am I to bring shame on you also my uncle!’ With that the young man turned and fled.
The older man sat then, suddenly tired, the weariness of the burden he had been carrying for nearly twenty years lifted from his worn out shoulders. He decided the young man needed some time to try to back the shattered ruins of his life into some order and he would overlook the break down in disipline.
‘Remember’ he said in barely a whisper ‘“Family, Tradition, Loyalty, Glory…Miromatu.”’

DEPARTURE

The young man was packing his few possessions. With the family ties being a complete mess, tradition no longer important and the dishonesty of his uncle in the lies that he had perpetuated destroying loyalty the only thing left was glory. He decided that he would strike out alone and fight that one battle that would result in a glorious death. A death that would result in poems and songs, recording and retelling the deeds of Miromatu Kouei, would last for eternity and redress the shame brought about by his cheating, lying family heritage. The battle prayer written upon his banner:

“On this day, let me fight with honour and die with the blood of the enemy upon my sword.”

He reviewed his possessions. His katana, wakazashi and his Tanto. His clothing, in the colours of yellow and green, the Dragon Clan. The clan Mon emblazoned on his left side and a darker circle of unfaded material where the family Mon used to be, and a thick woollen blanket. Since the earliest days of the Hantei dynasty, Togashi and his Dragon Clan have been secreted away in the high mountains of Rogukan. Practising their strange meditations in privacy, the Dragon clan are the most misunderstood samurai of the whole empire. Their spellcasters are fluent in the ways of war, and their samurai are familiar with the ways of sorcery. Their distinctive two sward technique and their enlightened poetic ways set them apart from all the other clans of the empire. It seemed pitifully few items to embark on a long journey but then he did not expect to survive long. He had made the decision to travel to the Shadowlands in the far south of Rogukan. There he would do the 'long walk', fighting all and anything that came his way. He would hone his skills as he travelled.

The journey was uneventful and he arrived at Shiro Sano Kakita within the week, a small settlement and the home of the Crane Clan fencing school. The Crane clan are the 'left hand of the Emperor' and provide the art, music and wealth which makes the emperors court shine. Every emperor since the first Hantei has chosen a bride from the Crane clan, and thus, every emperor after the first has called a Crane "mother". Also, every emperor has attended the legendary Crane Kakita fencing school – the most prestigious in the empire, its students are legendary for their prowess and courage. However, the Crane are seen by the other clans as posers and sycophants hiding behind the protection of the emperor. He decided to head towards the school and watch the students practising. The school itself was an impressive place. The buildings whitewashed with various family banners and pennants hanging from the walls. The training ground was incredibly well maintained, as you would expect for such a prestigious a school. There were a number of students practising sword drills and Kouei watched with interest. These were obviously new students, perhaps come down from the mountains to the north, trying to learn the arts of the Bushi and maybe do well enough to be noticed by the instructors and employed by the Crane Clan Daimyo as a samurai. All of them wore grey robes and had their heads shaved. After a couple of minutes a gong sounded and the students that were practising stopped in mid strike, bowed to each other and ran quickly to the sides of the training ground and knelt down, their bokken placed in front of them and their hands on their knees. Within a few moments a procession of older students marched onto the training grounds and lined up in two lines. They wore white robes and also had shaved heads with the exception of the top knot growing from the top of the head. Judging by the length of the hair in their topknots they were obviously in the final stages of their training. The students stood absolutely stock still, their eyes focused straight ahead. The students sat around the outside of the training ground cautiously glanced from side to side and smiled nervously. They were in for a treat. It was duelling time. Within a minute or so a second gong sounded and two elderly gentlemen, dressed in full, white, kimonos walked onto the training ground and stood in front of the two rows students. One had a long white, wispy beard and must have been in his seventies at least. The other was a younger man, maybe in his late forties. Both had their hair bleached white. The older man nodded and the younger stepped forward and barked out a command. The students on the front row turned to face the back row. At a second command the students knelt apart from the first pair. The first pair bowed and stood ready, waiting, hands on handle of bokken. They stared intently at each other, blocking out all distractions. The first minute dragged endlessly by and neither had moved. Two minutes, then a third. The concentration on the students faces and the tension between them was almost palpable. Each waiting to see whose resolve would break first. Beads of sweat glistened on the foreheads of both students. Suddenly one of the students took two steps back and bowed to his opponent. The duel was over without a single strike taking place. They turned to their sensei, bowed then knelt down as the next two students stood, bowed to each other and got into the ready stance. The student that had taken the two steps backwards had his head bowed low whilst his opponent stared straight ahead. Kouei watched on with growing interest.

Seventy miles away the wedding caravan was preparing to leave and Satsuma Mariyoko was making his final preparations. He had not previously been entrusted with anything like this and the thought of failing his Daimyo in carrying out his orders was not in the equation. He did have reservations about the Scorpion Clan escort that he was to meet at Castle Beiden, the frontier castle between the Crane and Scorpion territories. He did not trust them at all. You never really new where you stood with the Scorpion Clan. If there were secrets to be known, a Scorpion somewhere knows them. They are the masters of double dealing and subterfuge. Over the thousand years of Hantei reign, the Scorpion have proven to be valuable allies – and deadly enemies – to every clan. Theirs is the clan of spies and information-peddlers. Once you strike a deal with a Scorpion you can never clear yourself of the debt. If you earn the enmity of one Scorpion, you earn the enmity of the whole treacherous lot. The princess Timoko was travelling to her wedding in the Scorpion Clan territory in time for the Cherry Blossom festival. The wedding was a gesture of peace between the two great clans as their had been border disputes between the Crane, Scorpion and Lion Clans of late. This was to try to prevent these minor, isolated skirmishes from escalating into all out war. He had been chosen by his Daimyo to escort the princess as her personal bodyguard along with twelve samurai and his trusted jimbo Harimoto. Harimoto was a seasoned veteran and was playing out his last few months of service to his Daimyo. He didn't mind acting as sergeant to Satsuma as he was a likeable chap. His youthfulness would no doubt lead him into all sorts of trouble he thought with a wry smile. It brought back memories of when he himself was young. The princess was led to her carriage, basically a box with two long poles either side for four men to lift and carry, by her servants. Satsuma then took his position one side of her carriage and Harimoto took the other. The twelve samurai then took up their positions around the carraige whilst the baggage mules and retinue of servants took the rear. With a nod to Harimoto the procession left Shiro Daidoji, Son of Crane Castle to begin its journey to Castle Beiden where it was to pick up the Scorpion clan samurai escort.

Back in Shiro Sano Kakita the shugenja rode in and surveyed the scene. The word 'shugenja' has many meanings in Rogukan: holy man, prophet, sorcerer, priest. The most powerful shugenja in the empire undoubtedly come from the Phoenix clan. No other clan has a more fundamental knowledge of the old religion of Rogukan and the "new way" of Shinsei. Theirs is the only great clan to be dominated by shugenja instead of Bushi, and this sometimes causes the other, more warlike clans to look down on them. After all, days spent in contemplative meditation and reading ancient texts are days unspent learning the finer points of sword play and battle. However, the magical powers of the Phoenix clan can be a terrible force on the battlefield, as more than one clan has discovered. Akihito had decided on his travels that he had really ought to learn to defend himself better with his bo. The last two encounters had tired him considerably from the use of his magics and he feared that a third encounter may prove his last. He had decided to approach the fencing school there to see if he could learn some more parrying techniques. However, when he arrived there appeared to be only a handful of students training. Mildly surprised he approached the sensei that was running the class.
'Excuse me sensei san, may I take a moment of your time?'
The sensei turned to the shugenja, looked him up and down and, turned back to his class.
'Carry on!' he shouted to the class then turned again to Akihito 'And what can I do for you sir?'
'I would be most grateful if I could learn some parrying techniques against swords with my bo staff sensei san, but it appears you have not so many students training at the moment'
'Pah! You can blame the mad Dragon warrior for that!' replied the sensei.
'Pray tell, sensei san'
'The damned insolent fool turned up yesterday, watched the senior students duelling for a few minutes, then challenged the entire school to a duel! Including me and Master Kakita himself.'
'He challenged the entire school?' asked Akihito incredulously.
'Damn right he did. He wanted to work his way up through the students as a warm up before he got to me and the master! He beat them all as well. The only person he didn't beat was the master, I'm ashamed to say. I have thirty two students in the infirmary at the moment. Four with concussion, twelve with fingers broken so badly it will be weeks before they can hold a bokken again. He also broke the arm of one of my students with a beautiful disarming technique.'
'He is good with a sword then?' asked Akihito.
'He was good with both of them. At the same time.' Replied the sensei wistfully.
'Do you know where I might find this warrior?'
'Well, you could look for a trail of bodies and talk to the person standing at the end of it, that would be him. You won't miss him, he's a giant of a man, over six feet tall I'd say. He was heading south.'
'Thank you sensei san, I will heed your most noteworthy advice'
And with that Akihito bowed, turned and carried on with his journey, southwards.

A day later as he was following the path towards Castle Beiden he came across a clearing in the woods. He could see there had been a very recent battle as the blood spattered around was still red. Just off the road to the right knelt a lone samurai in meditation. As he approached the samurai looked up and regarded the mounted man. Akihito stopped his horse a respectful distance away, out of sword range, and surveyed the scene once more.
'I take it your dispute has been settled then?' asked Akihito
The samurai looked at the bodies again and turned back to look at Akihito
'Yes, I think so.' Said Kouei
'You appear to have left your mark at the Shiro Sano Kakita school of fencing.'
'What does not kill a man makes him stronger, no?' Kouei smiled and replied
'There are certainly a few that may wish they were dead at the moment.'
Again, Kouei smiled and then stood up. Akihito could see that he was definitely over six feet, probably about six feet two inches.
'Are you travelling alone?' asked Kouei
'At the moment yes, and you?'
'Yes. Going south if you would like some company.' Replied Kouei
'That would be pleasant I think.' Looking around he added 'I shall wait until you get your horse?'
'No, I don't have one.'
'Then I shall walk also' said Akihito and dismounted. He made no outward sign that he was worried or nervous about the martial prowess of the tall, double sworded warrior.
'I think that the remainder of the journey to Castle Beiden will be most uneventful'
'Hmm' replied Kouei 'And what do you do then?'
'I am a teacher.' Replied Akihito
'Ah, I see…'
And the remainder of the journey to Castle Beiden, was indeed, uneventful.

CASTLE BEIDEN

Castle Beiden was indeed more of a fortress. In times of war, it would take an army that outnumbered the defenders at least four to one to stand any chance of storming it. The safest way to tackle this problem would be to lay siege to it and wait the defenders out. That in itself though could prove costly as the longer it held, the more time the defenders had for reinforcements to arrive. The two scorpion samurai approached the castle, the one trailing behind the other. The one trailing was carrying and inordinate amount of equipment and packages whilst the leading one carried virtually nothing. They made their way in through the gates, nodding at the guards as they did so. There were a number of Lion clan samurai there that watched the two Scorpion warriors with looks verging on hostility. The two Scorpion samurai ignored them and made their way to the Silver Lotus ryokyu to make preparations for the princesses arrival. Once they were complete the leader of the two made his way back down to the gate to await her arrival.

Akihito and Kouei made their way through the gates a few moments later. Akihito spoke with the guard on the gate to ask where we may find a reputable resting house and was given directions to the Silver Lotus. After a brief thank you and the promise of a sake shared later he turned to Kouei.
'I have been meaning to ask you something Kouei.'
'Yes?'
'Would you be prepared to teach me some forms of defense with the bo against swords?'
'And why would I want to do that?' asked Kouei
'Well, it would appear to me that you may need medical attention at sometime. Especially with your subtle method of settling disputes.'
Kouei smiled at this and looked at Akihito with one raised eyebrow.
'Okay, come with me. But first there is something I must do.'
They made there way to the barracks. The training ground here was not as well kept as the one at the fencing school. It was a far more practical affair. Kouei approached a samurai who was busy cleaning his katana. Akihito waited patiently by the side of the training square.
'Who is your best swordsman?' asked Kouie.
The samurai looked up then turned and whistled to a group of samurai who were talking.
'Mutasishi Didoji! This man wants a word with you.'
The warrior broke off his conversation and approached the pair. His friends stopped there conversation and watched with bemused interest.
'I challenge you to a spar' stated Kouei.
'Ken or Bokken?' replied Mutasishi. He appeared to be entirely unfazed by the fact that his challenger was nearly a foot taller than him. He was obviously supremely confidant in his abilities as he had just asked as th whether they would spar with Katanas or wooden bokken.
'Are you well liked here?' asked Kouei.
'I think so.'
'Then bokken it is.'
Kouei retired to remove his light armour and swords as the man he had challenged was not armoured. They selected their weapons and advanced to the centre of the training square. By this time a small crowd of bored soldiers were now gathering around the edges. This sort of thing often gave a relief to the boredom of a border castle.

There are two things that the reader needs to know at this point. Firstly, there are three ways that you can fight with swords: You can fight purely defensively and make no attack, you can attack normally whilst paying attention to your defence or you can go all out attack and have no defence at all. The latter is the most risky of the three options. Especially if you don't despatch your opponent with the first strikes. Secondly, because of the nature of his training, Kouei had developed 'battle reflexes'. This meant that even if his opponent is quicker than him at moving and reacting, Kouei has the ability to read his opponent so well that he can steal the initiative in battle. It was this second trait which gave him the biggest advantage…

The samurai was indeed quicker than Kouei had expected, however, he saw the move coming, side-stepped so quickly that his opponent had no time to check his movement. At the same time he brought his bokken upwards, underneath his opponents elbow and brought his other bokken down so quickly and with such force that it smashed his opponents bokken it two. He continued round and kicked the samurai to the back of the knees which then brought him crashing to lay face down in the dust. The entire exchange had taken less than a second. The gathered crowd went quite as they looked at the two samurai. Kouei proffered the fallen samurai a helping hand top get up. They bowed, then looked at each other.
'Thank you' said Kouei 'If perhaps you are wishing a drink then I shall be at the Silver Lotus this evening.'
'My pleasure, I think, and I certainly will see you later'
Again the bow, and Kouei turned to walk away.
Akihito had moved forward and picked up the two halves of the broken bokken, he gave it a look of puzzled amusement and gave it back to Mutasishi. It was now back in one piece. Akihito bowed and turned to follow Kouei. Mutasishi looked down at the now, magically fixed bokken then back to Akihito who was walking away shook his head and turned to walk back to his friends. He felt that this was not a particularly good day.
'I never asked what exactly did you teach did I?' asked Kouei in a conspiratal whisper as they walked from the barracks.
'No you never.' Replied Akihito with a smug grin.

Meanwhile the princess and her entourage had arrived at Castle Beiden. Satsuma looked around to see a solitary Scorpion samurai stood to attention. Satsuma approached and stood a respectful distance from the Scorpion samurai and bowed.
'Satsuma Mariyoko with the princess Tomoku!'
The Scorpion bowed back a nonchalant bow and said
'Excellent! If you would like to come this way.'
They turned a walked to back to the Silver Lotus with the entourage, in the charge of Harimoto, following.
When they arrived at the Silver Lotus the princess was shown to her room. Satsuma and Harimoto followed her in. Satsuma looked around then looked at Harimoto and nodded. Harimoto turned to the samurai escort and barked out his orders.
'You two, outside the door. You two, outside and under that window. You two, outside and patrolling. The rest of you get some rest, we're on four hour staggered watches!'
The samurai nodded and then ran off to fulfil their designated tasks. Satsuma looked at Harimoto and said.
'Well my old friend, we've made it this far without incident.'
Harimoto nodded 'Do you want a drink'
'Okay, half an hour to rest and eat then I want to supervise the watches myself for the first half.'
Harimoto nodded and they both went downstairs to the tables to await some service.
:lol: Cuius testiculous habes, habeas cardia et cerebellum
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kyuudousha
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