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A Kaze Makase Tsukikage Ran short story
by Elsa Bibat

A story set in "A Dance Set to the Music of Time" sequence.

Disclaimer: Kaze Makase Tsukikage Ran is owned by Victor Entertainment. All licenses belong to the proper people. This is used without permission.

This disclaimer also applies to several intellectual properties referred to in the text. Please be guided accordingly.


As I heard the sound of many wooden slippers hitting the gravelly ground, I knew they managed to catch up.

Good thing I sent Myao ahead.

She hates to see me kill.

I stop walking and turn to face the idiots who didn't know they were about to die.

Hopefully, they'd realize the fact that playing with a bokken in a training hall is no match against real experience.

Scowling, my opponents faces show no fear. Which means they're probably stupid enough that sheer numbers alone would make them win. They quickly surround me.

Only ten.

I'm insulted.

Wandering around Japan takes money and being a dojo destroyer, a person that challenges dojo for their shingles, the sign that they are an accredited sword school is one of the few jobs I can find. Other than being a yojimbo or sometimes a hired sword for the local Yakuza clan. Beside those options, I'd rather be a dojo destroyer. But sometimes, people are quite offended that you managed to beat them in a fair fight. And even after paying you good money for their shingle, they sometimes do stupid things.

Like this.

I watch my adversaries as they draw their swords, the raspy sound of metal grating my ears, and assume the middle position, sword in both hands, pommel pointing to the hip and the point aimed at my throat.

The faint click of my katana as the tsuba clears the scabbard, lifted by my thumb pushing up, is the only sound as I give these morons my coldest look.

Pride is not a good enough reason for dying.

And I hate killing.

The loud kiai of the first attacker pierced the air as he slashed at me, his wide step carrying him into my Maai, my Circle of Life.

In that place between life and death, my right hand is a blinding blur as it reaches towards my katana's hilt and I draw. My katana, well cleaned and taken care of, leaves the scabbard soundlessly. The rasping sound of metal against metal comes from the fact that the katana isn't being cleaned constantly, as it should be, after every use.

Iaijutsu. Battou-jutsu. Iaido.

Whatever you call it, when I do it, someone usually dies.

A clean cut, no extra blood, like my Sensei taught me. He drops to the ground like a log. The blood starts to come out only when he hits the ground. It disgusted me to see blood spilled for nothing.

My hand holds the katana aloft, diagonally, the stop-position for an iaijutsu strike. It glints a little in the midday sun, bloodless.

A clean cut.

Silence reigns on the road as my adversaries see their comrade's body bleed. My face feels like it was carved from granite as I give these idiots another look. They should know by now that anyone who enters my Maai, the circle of my reach with the blade, thus called the Circle of Life, will probably die.

Go home. You have paid enough. Go back to waving wooden sticks on a tatami mat. That way you won't die.

The silence is broken by the enraged kiai of two men from behind me.

I turn quickly, Ichite-ryu training kicking in. My katana held in one hand I deftly block an overhead strike from one of them and dodge the other, as my left hand snakes into my gi.

It comes out with my metal sake flask, elbow and wrist giving power to the heavy bottle, its thin red rope handle looped around my fingers. It strikes like a snake, right between the man's eyes, knocking him out. Ichite-ryu developed the strength of my arms to an amazing degree and that has served me well in my travels.

Then two more idiots attack, seeing that I was seemingly locked under the other man's sword. All of them still held their swords with two hands, none of them noticing my one-handed use of my katana could match two of their hands combined.

I move out of the way, letting my opponent's blade slip through where I was. Unluckily, his comrade was doing an overhead strike and the other one was doing a horizontal slash.

Blood spurted from the man's head and torso as he fell gurgling to the ground.

I had leaped away, disgusted at the sight, trying to avoid the drops of red from getting on my immaculate white gi. I felt the warrior's senses alert me to a presence and I shifted my blade and thrust backwards.

The faint "urk" was all I heard from the opponent behind me. I draw my blade quickly and move forward, once again trying to avoid any errant drops of blood. My katana was already stained with the crimson liquid as I focused on the remaining six.

The two idiots who accidentally killed their own comrade were still slack-jawed from the sight of their friend's death. The edges of their hakama were awash with blood and their sword fairly dripped of it.

My sake flask hit one in the face, the force of the blow supplied by a wide swing this time. I hear bone crunch as I shift my blade and use the back of it to take the other one out with a powerful strike to the back of the head.

Four left. I shift my position, dancing over the pools of blood. Can't have my socks stained red.

I slip the sake flask into my gi once again, including my hand. I didn't need it anyway, with my Ichite-ryu training.

Their faces were now unsure, probably finally realizing how stupid this venture was. But I see in their eyes that they won't back down.

Damn stupid macho pride.

Four of them. A single continuous movement would take them all out.

But that would mean using the sharp blade of the katana.

No, can't do that.

Not that I couldn't but I'd have to wash this gi if I had blood spilled on it.

The decision on what attack to use on them was interrupted by their simultaneous kiai, as they charge me to attack.

I dodge the first one. Then the next. I was relieved that I had left the bloodied part of the path after these dodges and I roll under the horizontal strike of my third opponent, coming up his guard, katana, pommel first, striking his jaw.

I bound over his crumpling body to deliver another pommel strike to his ally behind him, this time to the forehead, following it up with a good kick to the groin.

I then turned to face my last two opponents. They were charging already.

I block another overhead strike, striking it aside with a sparrow cut, shifted my katana and countered with the flat of the blade to the man's arm, hearing the bone crack as he screeched in pain. A good punch with the hilt of my katana and he is unconscious.

I leap aside as my final adversary lashes out with a vertical slash.

I slowly back up from my opponent, going into Ichite-ryu's central kamae: legs relaxed, right hand relaxed by the side, holding the katana vertically straight.

My eyes hold my opponent's eyes as he goes into the middle position once again. The point of the katana is aimed perfectly for my throat.

I smile. And a sudden wind blows, making the rice stalks in the paddies on the sides of the road sway. I feel my long ponytail sway a little, along with the tattered edges of my still pure-blue hakama and the sleeves of my immaculate white gi.

I see it in his eyes. He flexes his muscles, and at the moment his mouth opens to shout his kiai, I strike.

A heartbeat later, I am a few steps behind him, katana held aloft once again, the back of the blade foremost.

I hear the soft sounds of a body crumpling to the ground as I pull a white towel from with my gi. Wiping away the blood on my katana I look upwards.

Ten men, either dead or unconscious and the midday sun had not even moved an inch.

I look back and I am disgusted at the sight.

Faintly moaning men and silent bodies litter the path, the red of the blood serving as macabre backdrop to the scene of violence.

I hate blood. I sheath my katana back into its scabbard.

I agree with Myao. Nothing's as disgusting a sight as blood on the road.

 


Glossary:

Kiai: onomatopoeic sound used when doing a sword strike, to supposedly focus your ki into the strike. You would notice that Ran is always silent when she strikes as all the other master swordsmen and women on KMTR.

Kamae: position or stance.

Sparrow cut: an arcing cut, more properly called the sparrow-on-the-wing cut since it was supposedly practiced by killing sparrows in flight. Usually used to make a strike for the neck. (Picked this up from Musashi. ^_^)

Ichite-ryu: literally, one-hand school. The best name for Ran's school since she always uses one hand, with the other hand free to do quite a few dirty tricks if against multiple opponents. Though she rarely does that nowadays. It is to be noted that the traditional use of the katana requires two hands, making Ran's school a heretic style. But hey, this is the Sengoku-jidai who cares. ^_^

Tsuba: the guard on the hilt of a katana.

Maai: The Circle of Life. This is a swordsman's reach, within it you're either dead or you've killed the swordsman.

Iaijutsu; Battou-jutsu; Iaido: The various names for the quick-draw technique of draw, slash, and return the katana to the sheath. But it is more popularly attributed to speed draw and strike than the sheathing, probably because of RK. One of Ran's more incredible feats, if I remember correctly, is the one-hand battou-jutsu, one hand drawing the blade from the scabbard without the other hand supporting the scabbard, a true surprise strike since a battou-jutsu stance requires two hands to do: one hand holding the scabbard while the other draws, making it noticeable in advance. And she's one fast battou-jutsu, starting with her drawing hand relaxed on the other side of her body. ^_^


Author's notes: Once again, a Kaze Makase Tsukikage Ran fic has rampaged out of my mind. The show is a jidai-geki of the chanbara tradition and a jidai-geki always has the magnificent sword battles, usually one man/woman against at least twenty supposedly well-trained samurai. KMTR itself has almost no blood, since if you noticed above, Ran doesn't like blood and she rationalizes it away by saying it's a pain to clean a bloodstained gi. And she almost always uses the back of her blade, but if faced with five or more opponents or a ninja or another sword master, she has no compunction on using the business end of her sword. And Myao has rarely seen her "elder sister" kill, probably Ran's way of keeping the kid as innocent as possible. The next time I write one of these, I'll probably write about Myao the Catfighter (that's my translation of Nekotekken, with my Nihongo ^_^)

And finally in a week or two Victor Entertainment is to release the series on video. I'm going to preorder the damn thing, even if it's the last thing I do, damn it!

And thanks to the guys who helped me with the sword technique stuff, though this fic is a more of bonus use for the stuff you gave me, especially Morgan Hudson, who's kendo basics are the basis for this.

La Chevalier du Claire de Lune
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