Disclaimer: I do not own the characters from The Last Samurai, even though I wish I

did. I only own Mizuki and Kaemon, and the ideas of this story.

Chapter One

Mizuki watched as the men in the village practiced their swordsmanship. She longed to be down with them, to fight with the passion of a samurai. But if she ever touched a sword, her guardian would beat her. She shuddered at the thought. He would take a bamboo staff and beat the marks into her back, so that all would know that she was a disgrace to the family. She turned back to the hut of her foster father and her. It was time to prepare dinner. As she turned and her kimono fluttered in the air, a young boy about her age of thirteen looked up at her back and stared with wonder. He watched the hill, until his father called him back to practice.

A year later, Mizuki had found an abandoned katana by the forest. She held it with great reverence. Always she had prayed for a sword to help her practice her technique and to enable her to become a great samurai. She practiced with her rusty old katana day after day for months. She had cleared an area of her field to practice as the sun set. As she improved and became stronger, she neglected her work at her home.

Her guardian, Kaemon soon found out about her practice. When the sun rose and the warriors of the village went to the field to practice, Kaemon was already there. In one hand, he held a bamboo staff; in the other he held something else. Held by one bruised arm, Mizuki hung limply. Kaemon's face was sour and angry. He threw her down onto the field. She fell with at thud; no sound escaped her lips. She was silent and doomed.

Katsumoto called out to Kaemon. "What has she done to deserve this?"

Kaemon gripped the staff with a rigid fist and yelled back at him. "She has practiced with a katana! The honored weapon of a samurai! She is a disgrace! I want nothing to do with a female that will not make a good wife! She is not a welcome female. I will teach her a lesson that she will never forget. She will learn to be disgraced in the face of the samurai."

Katsumoto nodded his permission.

"No!" The sound of a young boy rang through the field. The small figure ran to the group of men in the middle of the field. "No. Please do not hurt her! She is only a girl!" As he tried to push his way to her, Katsumoto stopped him with a hand.

"No, my son. She must be punished for her actions."

"Father…." The protest died off into a breath.

Then the beating began. Mizuki lay on the field as Kaemon beat her till her back ran blood. She whimpered and sobbed out pleas to stop, but they were ignored by all. The only tear shed for her was from a boy named Nobutada.