Mitsurugi: Samurai

Chapter I

By Charlie Kirby

The sun rose from its rest and reached its face above the elderly forest beyond the field. The wheat of the field swayed to the sweet music of the gentle breeze passing over the town that morning. The wheat was ripe, ready to be picked. Yet it was not.

The family sat was inside, all doing something to keep their minds busy from the matter at hand. Heishiro was at his sister's bedside, watching her pale face lose even more color. His mother sat in another room potting. The father had left early that morning, secretly, into the forest. He began digging a hole.

His mother walked into the room, wiping clay from her hands. "Heishiro, I need you to go to town today and get some tea and rice. Oh, and be sure to talk to Master Shonto, he was supposed to have a letter for me. I'll stay with your sister." As he stood and began to leave out the door, he could hear his sisters faint voice.

"Don't cry, Mother, I'll be fine."

In town, the streets were busy as usual. The street merchants proclaiming to have the best of everything and a number of potters selling their items. Heishiro bypassed them all until he arrived at the rice stall. He bought a couple pounds of rice and waited for the seller to prepare it.

While he waited, he listened to usual gossip and talk of the men at the tea leaf store. "I hear they'll be coming back through again."

"Who?"

"The bandits, you old geezer!"

'They've already come through three times this month! How can they come again? No one can be that greedy."

"They can so, it seems. I don't know how the farmers will make it through if they keep stealing their crops."

"Master Shonto can stop them can't he?"

"Master Shonto is too old, and no one will train under him. Everyone in this village is too concerned with money to learn the way of the samurai."

"Shame, shame. I would if I was a bit younger."

"As would I,"

"And I,"

"Hey, boy! You want this or not?" Heishiro turned to the rice seller and took his bag.

"Thank you, sir."

"Yeah, yeah. Just try to get a soy crop in before they raid the town again." Heishiro didn't respond, just gave a weak smile and continued on down the street.

Next was Master Shonto's house. It was ways up, outside the main market area. He hated and loved going up there. By the time he would reach his house, his feet would be so sore he could barely stand, but once inside Master Shonto had thousands of stories to tell. Tales of long gone warriors and samurais, heroes who defied the gods, and other ancient stories.

Once he arrived, Master Shonto didn't let him in but gave him a sealed letter.

"Here, give this to your parents right away. I shall tell you stories another day." Heishiro nodded and began a run back home.

"He has a cure! The medicine man in Okinawa has a cure!" His mother exclaimed as she broke the seal and opened the letter. She almost jumped out of her chair, but only stood and walked over to her husband.

"Yes, my wife, but who will go to obtain it? I cannot, for we must attend tea at the Noku's and I have to reap in this new harvest.

They both went outside and began talking while Heishiro went to his sister's room. He only peeked in, not wanting to disturb her. The young girl coughed, coughed, and coughed more. He half expected a lung to come out of her mouth.

"Heishiro! Please come here," his mother called to him. He did as he was told and stood before both his parents.

"Son, we need you to travel up to Okinawa to retrieve your sister's medicine. You will take Manku, our fastest horse. You must come back as fast as you can. Your sisters days are coming close to an end."



He set out that morning. A horse, a bag, a boy, and a family's last bit of money. He had to return with the medicine quickly, otherwise…

The road was rough all the way to Okinawa. The horse was tired along with Heishiro his self. But he made it to Okinawa and retrieved the medicine and was on his way back until evil interrupted his course.

As he galloped home, four thieves on horseback blocked the road in the forest. Their faces were hidden under mask and their swords were long and sharp. Heishiro stopped his horse.

"Boy, we will not harm, just give us what you have."

"But I've nothing."

"You think me a fool? I see you upon a horse as we speak."

"You cannot take my horse, I must take this medicine to my sister for she is ill and about to die."

"She'll die soon enough, may as well be now. Now get off."

Heishiro gripped the mane of his horse, his mind made. The horse rushed forward leaning down then jumping over the thieves' heads. The heroic horse landed then fell. The seeming leader had quickly pulled out his sword and sliced the horses leg as it above his head.

"Foolish boy…"

Heishiro rolled away from the horse, hearing a snap from inside his chest. He rose but only to stumble and fall again. He looked to his victors.

"Now the horse is worth nothing to us. And we cannot let you get away and tell everyone how you foiled us. Now you must die. I truly am sorry." Then Heishiro ran into the forest and the thieves followed on horseback.

"Where is he?"

"Running you idiot! Hurry and give chase!"

He had jumped into a bush as the thieves passed by. He then returned to the road and began to run, clenching his chest.

As he ran through town, the people all watched as he ran. Limping, one hand over his stomach the other grasping a small thin pot. No one looked him in the eye, they all hung their heads. Some women even shed a tear.

Heishiro stumbled into his house and looked up to see only his mother sitting and crying. He pushed himself up also and ran into his sister's room. Her bed was empty. He didn't have to ask where father was, he already knew. He dropped the pot on the floor, letting it shatter on the ground around his feet as he fell and slept.