I am not good at meditation but there is something calming in practicing with my kama. I think there is something to my lessons with Kiminori, because I can feel myself becoming more aware of the full sweep of my arms and how my feet slide across the gravel of the yard. Of course, I can also feel sweat pouring down the back of my neck and chilling in the cool morning. It tightens my neck and I feel my face twisting into a grimace.
There is no hint now of the blood that covered the kama yesterday. A gaggle of bandits thought they’d be clever. They sent a herald ahead of them to make like they were a bunch of nobles, forcing everyone on the street to kneel so that they would not witness their getaway. Bad luck for them – Mantis have never been the most respectful and I’m not even a good example of my kinsmen. Our patrol knelt but I’d be damned if I take my eyes off the road for anyone…well, maybe the Emperor.
They came on at a pretty good clip, stolen horses loaded with their take. How many people lying in the dirt were working themselves to death while these guzu try and make their living by stealing it from someone. How many times am I going to run across this? If it’s not idiots trying to rob Hayai Kame, it’s barely civilized nezumi lying in wait on the road to the city, or baka samurai attacking members of the Imperial Court.
So here we go again.
I order my patrol up and we let the bandits know that they’re not getting away without coming through us. Taifuu and Katagi let fly with arrows and it’s on. I barge in with a shout that sends the prostrate peasants scattering to the four winds. The fight is close-in and bloody, but these battles never last long. There’s a part of me that’s thankful for that – my patrol is all coming home today. But there’s a part of me that just wants to go on, to just lose myself in the madness.
One of my favorite kata from my training days is called “Strike of the Cliff’s Edge.” Some think it has to do with the cliffs of the islands but I’m not so sure. I think we like life on the cliff’s edge, both literally and figuratively. Having sent my challenge off to Satoshi-sama, I feel like something inside has slipped its leash a little bit and I’m straining at the ties that hold me. That abazure Haruko has been sitting smugly for months, having literally gotten away with murder. But it wasn’t enough, was it? She had to rub my nose in it, push my buttons, and spread lies about me. Now she’s going to find out what those bandits on the road discovered. I might be from peasant stock and might be a thug in a samurai’s kimono, but I am a child of the storm and one should never pick a fight with a storm.
One hundred repetitions. My arms are on fire but I feel more… alive than I have in months.
A storm’s coming.