The Ronin versus the Ninja

The Ronin versus the Ninja

A Story by Kuandio

This is an excerpt from a chapter in my main wip, Sakura no Yugen



           If Kenjin was to win Princess Soranoyume more time, he couldn't continue this straight path. Before facing them head on, he must lead them on a final chase, to stretch their numbers.

            Just as Kenjin careened north-northeast, a flurry of throwing stars tore the foliage like devilish hail, cracking and splintering bamboo stalks. Out the corner of his eye, he espied the onyx form sifting effortlessly over the terrain. The one with the sickle. He's the most dangerous of the pack. Kenjin deflected a razor disc with his iron-studded grieve, the move rendering the leather badly damaged. No time to inspect it; he could only hope the flesh hadn't been cut, lest the ikiryo venom enter his bloodstream.

            Gods, quicken me, a last time. With rekindled determination, Kenjin carved a chaotic path through the bamboo groves; a crazed elk running from a pride of tigers. When at last he relented to a walk, his breathing was labored, but no one could be heard giving pursuit. He checked the bracer and noted with relief that the shuriken had not breached the forearm.

            Seems I lost the dogs. Or maybe that cur exhausted his supply of throwing stars and is preparing to sneak up on me? Perhaps an ambush on all sides, neh?

            There was no way of knowing, so Kenjin took the reprieve to regain his breath, a measure of calm, and to open the spectrum of his senses. No - he concluded - there wasn't anyone nearby, not even a bird; nothing save the delicate chiming from an infinity of leaves. What did the Black Hand's silence signify? Kenjin felt like wailing aloud. Blazes! Did they know? What if they're going after her instead? He reached for his quiver, but came up empty; all the arrows spent. Damn it a hundred times. The last thing I needed. No matter, he had his katana. Make for the stream. Cut them off at the base of the cliffs. Go!

            Traversing the quietude of the woods, by and by Kenjin came to an expansive, sunlit meadow. The grasses spread over a bowshot from the base of the grey-white cliffs beneath Mount Raiju. No one to be seen. In the lee of the rock-bound heights, at the meadow's border, a stream sparkled in the noon sun.

            Kenin walked across the billowing meadow. He stopped at the stream's shores. The waters were wide, yet shallow; the surrounding terrain open and level. With the stream and the towering escarpments at his back, he need only face their attack from one front. Choice ground upon which to make his stand. Kenjin took a deep breath. Last sun, last sky, last breezes, and the music of water - all so beautiful. Amaterasu Omikami, when my body perishes, I beseech you, please, guide my soul through the fields unto the horizon of Nirvana.

            A cold breeze stirred. Kenjin unsheathed the doragon-suchiru blade and stared across the meadows to the forests. The polished, forge-folded steel in his hand rippled as it drank the sunlight.

            From the dark between spears of bamboo, a shadow emerged, ink black under the clear day, except for the glinting kusarigama chain over his shoulder. With purpose edged by caution, the satsujin assassin strode across the meadow towards Kenjin, uncoiling the polished length of chain until holding it in both gloved hands, the razor, three-bladed sickle hanging loosely. Kenjin noted, that in addition, strapped to the assassin's back was the hilt of a formidable straight-edged blade.

            Perhaps he's used his cache of throwing stars? Or does he wish to answer the challenge? Maybe even these vile reptiles have a sense of honor, when it came to accepting a duel.

            The servant of the Black hand had traversed over half the meadow. Kenjin gripped the magnolia elk-skin wrapped hilt of his sword and assumed a forward high stance.

            "My name is Kenjin Tsubara, son of Mayumi Tsubara, from the Sora-yama ..."

            Silent as the exhaling breeze, the ninja entered into a run. No preamble? So be it. The kusarigama sickle swung in easy, wheeling arcs, faster and faster. Kenjin held his ground, unflinching. The thousand-layered steel of his sword shimmered.

            The chain snapped forth like a hellish serpent. Kenjin pivoted and avoided the clawed-blades. With powerful twists, the ninja manipulated the chain in crescents and cracking whips, forcing Kenjin to sidestep, duck, and veer. The shadow launched the vicious sickle over his shoulder in scorpion attack, then let it swing part way around his body before spearing it forth anew.

            The weapon's reach is too long. The chain went for Kenjin's legs but he sprung high. I need to get closer. Nonetheless, stride by stride, he was backed into the stream, the waters churning above his ankles

            Kenjin balanced atop one of the stones protruding above surface. He crouched and the sickle wrapped around the katana. With a grating rasp of metal, Kenjin heaved at the chain. Both warriors grunted in even contest. Kenjin feigned weakness, then swung his sword in an abrupt curve and turned his shoulder with a violent wrenching motion that tore the kurasigama sickle from the assassin's grasp. The limp chain fell upon the pebbled shores, a lifeless snake.

            With a soft ring of metal the ninja freed his long killing-sword from its scabbard. Blades flashed in arcs as they matched blows midstream. The waters sloshed with the shifting of their stances. Parrying, thrusting, guarding with the hilt, the blades scraped together until the two were so close Kenjin could see the cold amethyst fire in his adversary's eyes, inches away. They separated several meters, raising their katanas while readjusting postures, gauging one another in the way of two powerful cats.

            Kenjin had become so focused that nothing existed beyond this nemesis. He integrated the minutia of his surroundings, the wary subtlety of the ninja's movement. Kenjin adopted a low posture, blade pointed diagonally at the ground, inviting an attack. 

            The assassin surged. Kenjin leapt from one elevated stone to another, switching stances to a high-level grip. He deflected the slashing strikes before he saw the fleeting opening and brought the dragon-steel down with both arms, riving deep into his foe's neck and torso, nigh separating the sword-arm entirely. Blood gushed and geysered.

             The ninja staggered back, observing the catastrophic wound with blinking eyes. Staring incredulously at Kenjin, the he mumbled something choked with accusation, "You, ... ronin, ... How? ... This ... not end ..."

            The straight-edged sword fell from the shadow's hand, clattering on the stream's stones. In a drunken effort to return to the fields, the ninja teetered three steps before collapsing face first into the waters.

            Save for the murmur of the stream, silence reigned. The hewn body clouded the waters red.

            With a sharp flick of his wrist, Kenjin sprayed the dripping blood off his katana and across the stones. He was tired, and wanted to rest here by the stream. When he looked up however, materializing from the periphery of bamboo were three satsujin assassins. Then from the other edge two more. And stepping free of the opposite fringe were yet another three.

            All of them had come, it seemed. Thirteen in total. Looks like more than you thought.

            Kenjin stood knee deep in the water, stolidly watching as they fanned out across the meadow. They stowed their bows away, instead brandishing an array of hand-to-hand weapons: crescent kama-scythes, another sickle, chained maces, a twin pair of trident sais, one with a halberd, and more than enough ninjato blades to cut their way through the wilderness from here to the sea.

            Kenjin took up a center-level stance, katana wielded vertical at shoulder height. He tried not to think of her, yet it was impossible. If only things could have been different. I will find you, in another life, Princess Soranoyume. The ninja were advancing. Kenjin gazed down the narrow width of his sword, the world divided down the middle by steel, and waited to meet his fate.



© 2017 Kuandio

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Congratulations! You're character development and ability to draw an epic narrative won you my contest.

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Added on August 9, 2017
Last Updated on August 9, 2017
Tags: asian, japanese, ancient, ninja, samurai, mythology, romance, horror, tragedy, spiritual, action, adventure, epic




* Note: I've been blocking chapters of Sakura no Yugen. The first are still viewable, but if you want to read more, send me a message and I will temporarily republish them for you I started drawin.. more..

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