I've written and posted this short story a few years back, and somehow it's been in my head recently. I once toyed with the idea of doing a graphic story for it so I'm gonna cull images from the WWW to see if I can create a new feel to it. Hopefully I can find the time and inspiration to continue the story. I must also find my way back to painting. It's been really trying to find the right balance but I guess that what's life has to teach me at this stage.

Here's the story:
- Samurai -
© paul koh. All rights reserved.

Autumn. Red leaves fell.
                                                                                          Joseph's Art

Winds of dawn cut across her face with a pain that cut even deeper, but she remained impassive, untouchable behind the mask. Still she watched the fallen leaves float on the shimmering lake against the rays of morning light; still the serene bliss of autumn’s dawn mocked her, that this tranquillity would never be hers…

A cool breeze cut a rectangle in the air as her enemies braced themselves for the confrontation. She hardened her heart, curbed her own emotions and her longing to be away from this place. She remembered a famous haiku poet and the words she must not forget –

Shi-zu-ka-sa ya

Such stillness -
The cries of the cicadas
Sink into the rocks

                                                 Old Samurai by Jeff Simpson

Silence before the taste of blood was for the young warrior a physical presence, a black velvet blanket flowing deep into her consciousness. In its darkness, she closed her eyes. She could hear her own breathing, and in a moment felt the depth and rhythm of her adversaries, their tension coming out in waves.She imagined them to be samurais, all seven of them with their traditional hakama, the esteemed divided skirt of the archer and warrior. Only the samurais were allowed to use sword and bow and arrow and yet they were afraid - afraid of her…

                                                                 From the Last Samurai


Arrows pulled and notched against the curves of long bows. Their heads were made of barbless mild steel, honed to a needlepoint for precise penetration. Released by a kyujutsu master, the arrow would pierce right through an adult human being, from breast to backbone. The long bows arched as the samurais stretched the bowstring back to touch their lips. They sighted the masked warrior along the shafts, and one after the other in rapid succession, the arrows flew from their bows.

She heard the sharp buzzing, the sound of a quickening within her own heart, and the terrifying rapidity of arrows shredding through the velvet blanket of her consciousness. Against her own volition, she felt nothing but the pattern of red autumn leaves falling and drifting on the quiet lake. Without will, her body gave in to the spirit of the katana, the long sword bestowed upon her by her legacy. Without will, her body moved down, her blade flashed out of its sheath and slashed against the thrust of the invading arrows. The blade, smooth like an extension of her, glinted with anticipation the taste of blood that was forthcoming.

Red autumn leaves drifted and the beauty of nature remained unaffected, unlike her. She stood up in her warrior’s stance, her armour of gold and red wanting battle just as her blade did the taste of blood. Only her mask hid something, something remotely human.

The sounds of swords released from her enemies’ sheaths only served to fuel the tumultuous emotions that were already raging inside her. She reminded herself once more of her own hatred and in so doing, felt their fear rather than their courage. “Bushido,” she thought, “the way of the samurai, the way of the honourable… the way of the mask!” and she paused, a tear dislodged itself behind the ghastly mask...

“YAAAAHHHH…” The first one came charging, his reflection appeared in the corner of her eye. She stood motionless, her sight fixed on the face of her enemy. He charged with his sword riding the autumn’s wind, his face a contorted expression of strained ferocity. This was pathetic, she thought for she saw fear in his eyes, and fear she would not tolerate from a samurai.

 Her katana speared deeply into the right chest, slid across smoothly to the other side, and into the belly of another behind her. She could taste the corrupting sensation of power as her blade entered and withdrew from living flesh, now dead at her hands. “[Gerrshi, krushi…]” she made the sound as she walked towards the other five, “[this … is the sound when my blade enters your flesh. Ikershiii…]”

The leader of the Kamashita clan, humiliated by her taunts, lashed out in retaliation. “Pride of the great samurai?” She taunted again as she raised her katana to fend off his first blow and sidestepping his opponent, pierced the shorter blade, her wakizashi, into the fleshy part of his sword hand.

She saw the samurai’s face screwed up in agony; his teeth drew back from his lips in a terrible grimace and his long sword cluttered uselessly at her feet. The samurai found himself on his knees, his head jerked up, and the wakizashi touched his neck. “Without will, my body gives in to the spirit of the blade,” and the shorter blade inched into his flesh and slid across mercilessly.

                                                                 By Mike Mitchell

The remaining four watched with stupefaction as their leader dropped without his head. She felt their hearts pounding and their legs struggling to move away from her – away from this demon of death. “Enough!” the face behind the mask screamed in silence. She knelt down and her blades returned swiftly to her side. She had become tired, and she no longer wished to kill or live like this any more. “Red autumn leaves – you fall and you leave,” she cried out, “Red autumn leaves – take me with you, away from this accursed playground.”

“Let it end,” she pushed the seppuku sword deep into the left side of her abdomen and methodically pulled it across to her right side. I saw the water in the lake broke as her memories flashed outwards, like ripples made by a stone thrown into the still lake. And like ripples fading and merging into the lake, I saw her eyes fluttered and closed, her body bending over. And through the faint light from the hibachi, I saw red leaves fall on the shimmering lake but this time I saw red and white koi carrying Auntie Mari with them.

* * *
I was squatting beside the pond and watching the koi again when Auntie Mari appeared with my clothes, now dry and clean, and a Tupperware container of homemade sushi. It was still drizzling but I was in a hurry to feed her Kohaku. Auntie Mari knelt down in front of me, hugged me and kissed me on both cheeks. I returned her affection.

                                                                  By Joseph's Art

“Auntie, why did you pretend with the seppuku sword?”
“It’s time to let go of the past.”

“Because you are here. You make me see things differently with your eyes.”
“Then my name is Jiro Kiyoshi, and you are my sister.”
“Yes Jiro, you are my samurai and my brother.”

                                                             By Ladislav Hubert

“Will you tell me more warrior stories?”
“Yes, but now take this sushi to your mama before the rain starts again.”
“Can I come again tomorrow?”
“If your mama allows…”


We live more than once

                                                                 By Alexander Maskaev

No comments: