I'm so so bad. I have once again updated 'Chasing after dreams' instead of the long-promised 'Epilogue'. I'm sorry my readers I truly am. I'm in a bit of a dip with the ending of the newest chapter right now and I didn't yet have the time to seat myself at the computer and force myself to write no matter what. I promise it will come soon, I really do. You have all been so patient with me and I promise you it will be rewarded.
In the meantime here is the new chapter of CAD. Only a couple of chapters left and it will be over!
Disclaimer: All the characters that were named by Oda Eiichiro are his. All the characters I created are mine. It's as easy as that.
Chapter 5 CAD
Rei didn't stop even once on his way to the dojo and stormed inside almost running into Koshiro.
"Sensei! What was hit?" "The look-out tower but that's not important now. Quickly hide in the shed with the other children." "What?! No way! I'm going to fight with the rest of the villagers. Those pirates will not raid this town!" "Oh no you won't. Calm down and listen to me Rei."
Koshiro had grabbed the boy by his shoulders to hold him still.
"Did you see that flag? Those aren't your ordinary pillaging pirates. These are the Ruff pirates led by Ringo 'The Ruff'. They're infamous for abducting promising children and recruiting them. If someone fights back, they take someone of their family as a prisoner to force them. Fighting against them will not help. They will instead overwhelm you with their numbers and you can't raise a sword against a child. I heard some of them are just five years old and if they turn out to be useless they are sold in slavery."
Rei paled a bit at that last piece of information, but composed himself quickly.
"I can't just hide and do nothing, sensei! I'm not a coward! Let me get my swords!" But Koshiro wouldn't yield. "Your swords are being looked after. You must hide. Now!"
Displaying a strength rarely seen in the master swordsman, Koshiro pushed the still protesting Rei towards the shed. "I'm seventeen for heaven's sake! I'm not a child!"
Suddenly the door burst open when another cannonball fell on the courtyard, leaving a giant hole in the grass and knocking the both of them off their feet.
"Plunder and pillage, you guys! Take everything of value!", they heard over the commotion outside. There were children everywhere, all Ruff pirates and Rei saw lots of sword students engaging in fights with them.
The butcher was knocking them down by heaps and his wife and daughters were taking the unconscious children inside to nurse them back to health and provide protection. The fishermen were making due with their fishing nets and Rei heard someone yelling that the marines from the next town were alerted. An adult pirate was dueling with an ex-marine who sometimes visited the dojo for demonstrations and another pirate was yelling at the children again to pillage and plunder. Rei was certain that in other parts of the town similar scenes were taking place and damned be his family name if he wasn't taking part in it.
Ignoring the protests of Koshiro he took one of the swords on the wall and ran outside. He was immediately attacked but he deftly blocked. He then spun around and slammed his attacker in the wall with the back of his blade. It was just a child after all, younger than him by some years. He was good, but still had much to learn.
Stepping away from the kid, he was already confronted by another one. This one was at least sixteen and looked a bit sturdier than the other but still was smaller than him. The kid started off with a feint, but it was quickly intercepted by Rei. Slash after slash were then launched by the kid, but Rei kept blocking them. But although he had been taught the Isshin way of the sword, he wasn't as proficient with one sword as he was with his own family's way of two swords.
It is a bit weird considering he lived at the Isshin dojo with the master and thus had the duty of passing on the art. To be honest he didn't even know his family's name. Koshiro only told him that his family's way was called 'The Way of Two'. Whenever Rei would ask for more, Koshiro would just smile and tell him that he would find out on his own.
Koshiro insisted Rei would learn both styles but still set the tone with 'The Way of Two'. When Rei had learned everything Koshiro had known, he started to read the scrolls left behind by his father. He still wasn't a full master, but with each practice he got closer.
'If only I had my swords right now. This would've been much quicker.' He mused after sheathing his temporary sword. Behind him his opponent crumpled on the ground from the iai-attack he had just suffered. Again Rei had administered it with the blunt side of the blade but the force alone was still enough to have caused some broken ribs.
Mumbling an apology, he ran again, searching for the pirate captain Ringo, who had forced these children to fight. It wasn't long before he reached the townsquare and found him standing in the middle of it.
Ringo 'The Ruff' was a very gruff-looking man with large beefy arms and legs. Je was leaning on a very heavy-looking bat and a nasty grin on his face with lots of rotten teeth and one or two missing. His brown captaincoat was full of stains and his bald head was covered with a surprisingly clean captainhat. His chin on the other hand was covered with a frazzled dirty blond beard of several days old.
He was talking with some of his crewmembers behind him who were surveying the loyalness of their young 'charges'.
A sensible person would now first set up an ambush or something similar and additionally ask for help from a villager. He would also maybe listen in on the conversation the pirates had because they were standing next to a bush and find out their plans before doing anything. There are lots of things a sensible person could or would do.
But Rei was as fiery and hotheaded as the color of his hair and although he was very intelligent and collected at other times, when the fire gets to his head…
"Omae!" Forgetting he wasn't as strong with one sword as he was with two and completely consumed in his sense of justice to protect his village, he charged full-on with the sharp edge of his sword.
Which was stopped by the bat now lifted in the air. Rei stopped his assault and jumped backwards.
"Got sum power wit 'im, dis one." Ringo said to the man on his right. "Sure seems that way, cap." The man guwaffed. Long greasy hair streaked from his head covering his face, but Rei got a feeling from him like he was a wild animal.
Ringo grinned and yelled to Rei: "Ya din't tink I could stop tha, did ya?" You could see he relished in the feeling of a terrified opponent who was caught off guard, but Rei wasn't going to give him that satisfaction.
"On the contrary, I had expected at least some resistance from a pirate with a bounty of B20.000.000 on his head. You would have disappointed me otherwise."
That earned him a barking laugh from Ringo. "Well lookie 'ere, Rogue! He's got a bit of a brain too!" Starting his onslaught again, Rei yelled out, insulted: "I've got more than a bit of that!"
A flurry of slashes came down on the pirate's head, but it never reached. A longsword cleanly cut through all of them and when the dust settled down, Rei saw that it was Ringo's second subordinate who in one fluid motion had positioned himself between the youngster and his captain. Rei hadn't taken any notice of him until then.
"Allow me, capitain. I wish to see for myself what skills this youngling has." "E's all yours, Leloup." Ringo accepted and stepped aside to lean against a tree.
Furious Rei set off once more to Ringo, but was again interrupted by Leloup. "Your opponent is I, Leloup, the first mate of the Ruff pirates, youngling." "I have no interest in fighting an underling!. Fight with me Ringo!"
Rei was forced back, away from Ringo and would have fallen if he hadn't jumped away from the assailant. Slashing the air at his sides, Leloup slowly advanced on our young swordsman.
"Our capitain doesn't wish to engage himself with you." Feeling the intimidation and suppressed blood thirst from his opponent, Rei knew he walked on thin ice, but he couldn't stop the words from coming out of his mouth.
"Well then he's a bloody coward, ain't he!"
The ice broke.
Rei immediately put up his guard, right on time, because Leloup came raging at him. A heated battle ensued. Both swords clashed multiple times and neither side was willing to yield.
But Leloup's keen eye noticed the slight instability in Rei's fighting style.
A word of explanation is needed here. Rei, you see, had made the biggest mistake a swordsman can make. As you know Koshiro had taught Rei the Isshin single sword style until Rei mastered it to a degree before giving him the scrolls of the 'The Way of Two' and teaching him a few moves he knew. And Rei, intent on unlocking his family's secret, concentrated mostly on that instead of broadening his horizon. He still practiced the Isshin style, but neglected it in favor of 'The Way of Two'.
A swordstyle must always grow with the swordsman and vice versa otherwise the art will stay static instead of an art.
Leloup saw that Rei hadn't made the Isshin style his own and took advantage of it. When the swords clashed together, he let go for a brief moment. Just enough to bring the young man out of balance. Rei recovered quickly but as he turned to his opponent again, Leloup's sword switched hands so quick that Rei didn't have the chance to fix his stance and received a slash in his gut.
The sword clattered out of his hand, out of his reach and wheezing he reached over to his stomach... but he felt no blood. It hurt a lot, yes, but there was no blood. Leloup had struck with the blunt side of the sword!
"Capitain said not to harm you…yet." Leloup sneered at the teenager who made great effort to stand up again. Just as he wanted to rise, Leloups sword was at his neck, threatening to slash his throat if he made an attempt to stand. "Ya'll have to wait for permission, boy." The other pirate, Rogue, cackled.
"Well Leloup?" Ringo demanded. "He shows much promise and will definitely be an asset to us, capitain."
Ringo smirked and asked Rei. "How big is ya family, boy?"
Sensing where this was going, but prepared to not give in, Rei yelled at him. "I'm not a boy, my name's is Rei! I'm an orphan and I will never join you!"
But Ringo didn't seem turned out because of that. "Gahaha! Great, hadn't had an orphan with sum spirit in 'im for a long time!"
A flash of red, that was all Rei saw. A loud bang was all he heard. And before he knew it, Leloup was flying in the air and landed some fifteen meters away from his captain and Rei. Before any of it could sink in with both parties, they heard a girl's voice ringing over the plaza.
"Didn't you hear him? He won't join you!"
It came from a tree nearby him. Rei looked up at it and nearly fell from surprise.
"Anne?! What are you doing here?!"
Ta-dah! And I close the chapter on this cliffy.
Reviews are welcome! I love to hear what you thought about my writing, good or bad. :D