By: Corinne Madden
This article is brought to you by: Mosher’s Jewelers
336 Huron Ave, Port Huron, 48060, Tel: 810-987-2768/ www.moshers.com
The unbearable heat was cutting through me like a knife, the sun tormenting me as I took each swing. The crimson bandanna that rested tightly on my forehead mopped up the sweat that wanted to cascade into my sea green eyes, my midnight hair wrapped tightly in a ponytail by a ruby hair tie, once long but now short thanks to an unsuspecting blade. The bamboo sword that I clutched in my hand felt heavy as I tried to hit my target, moving swiftly through the air, barely tired even though there was some sweat on her brow. Her blood-red hair that was in a high ponytail with two braids crowning around her head swayed in the air, her mocha eyes focused on every dodge, swing, and stab that I try to make, she would swiftly dodge every attack or her bamboo sword would counter it right away. She didn’t seem tired at all, compared to myself who was just about exhausted.
“C’mon Kana,” the red-headed warrior shouted as she slashed the air in front of her hair to the left, the bamboo stinging my cheek as it made contact. My head sharply turned to the right as I was knocked off my feet, my body hitting the ground with a thud. I used my hands to sit up, my sword-less hand reaching for my cheek. I quickly pulled it away after touching my smooth, pale skin, the stinging almost unbearable as I winced, hoping my mentor didn’t see my teeth clenching in pain. “I know you can do better than that, you’re one of our best behind Ryo and I, so keep fighting,” she urged on, holding the sword out in front of her, fire in her eyes as a confident smirk was painted on her face. “Now get up, we’re not done.”
“Ira,” I said, glaring at my rival, “You basically just called me the worst since me, you, and Ryo are the only ones here!” I gritted my teeth as I used every ounce of energy I had left to stand, using the sword as a cane to hold myself steady as I breathed heavily. “If it wasn’t so hot out, you would be done for and you know it!”
“Quit making excuses, Kana! That’s enough out of you!” A rough voice came forth from the side lines. I looked over to my mentor, one of the best in the country at the young age of twenty-one, and stared at him. His beady ebony eyes stared into mine, a scowl on his tanned face as his short, dark indigo hair swayed back and forth in the soft wind, his muscular arms crossed over his broad chest as he sat crisscrossed on the grass, his two swords, [names], lying next to his side. He may look tough most of the time, but he was very loving and caring towards me and Ira, mostly since he found both of us when we younger.
“But Ryo-” I began before he stood up, his six-foot-two figure walking towards me as I shuddered. My eyes went wide as he grabbed the back of my seafoam-colored shirt that had a pink cherry blossom pattern, waiting to be punished as he lifted me off the ground. I was surprised when he put me on my feet, handing me a canteen of water, smirking as I took it.
“You’ll get there,” he said, placing a large hand on top of my head, “It’s hot today, I can understand why you can’t get a hit on Ira. You’re probably exhausted, so why don’t we all rest.”
“Ryo, we’re in the middle of a fight!” Ira shouted as the sweet water from the canteen quenched my thirst, a few drops getting on my shirt, “She still needs to fight, we’re not done! Ryo!”
“I’ll battle you, Ira, pipe down,” Ryo said as he sighed, “Do you want to use bamboo or real swords. Choose wisely, we both know that I can easily beat you with [names].”
“Ha, you know that I’ve gotten stronger as of late,” she laughed as she stood with her body leaning back, her right foot back as her left foot was forward, her toes pointing towards Ryo. Her hands clutched the bamboo hilt tightly, “If you use your swords, I’ll use my daggers, Aneko and Akako, plain and simple. It’s your call, Ryo.”
“Very well then,” Ryo nodded towards her before turning towards me, “Kana, hand me your bamboo sword, I’m going easy on her,” I giggled and ran to grab another sword from the bench that laid next to the practice field, smiling as I ran back to my friends, my smile fading away as I looked towards Ira.
“Ryo, behind you!” I shouted as Ira flew, running as fast as she could, with a scowl on her face and fire in her eyes as she readied her swing, trying to get him in the back. I watched as Ryo turned towards his friend as she swung. In a flash, Ryo used his left hand to release his sword, Hatsu, out of its sheath, slashing the air towards Ira’s sword while his other sword, Kaden, was still nestled in its case, Ira flying back as it slammed into her gut, her bamboo sword falling to the ground, cut in two from its attack from Hatsu.
“Now, Ira, you know better,” Ryo said laughing, sheathing Hatsu as he walked over to her. He stopped in front of her, smiling at his friend of eight years since he found her in an alleyway after a deadly attack on the city she lived in when she was twelve years old, sticking his hand out like he did eight years ago, “You know a sneak attack was foolish from the start.”
“One of these Ryo, I will beat you,” Ira panted, her right hand on top of her stomach as her left hand grabbed Ryo’s, Ryo pulling her to her feet.
“You will someday, but you need more training, as do I,” he said with a stern face, as I walked up to the two of them, the bamboo swords still in my hand.
“But Ryo, there’s no doubt you can be the best swordsman in the world, why not go for it right now? You’ve been training so hard!” I said as I gave him a confused look.
“I’m not ready to reach my goal yet, both of you know that,” he sighed, “I may be skilled with my swords, but there is no way I’m the best, at least not yet.” Ira and I looked at each other with sadden looks on our faces before looking back to our mentor who saved us when we were little kids, “Now, let’s go back into the house, I’ll make us something to eat.”
“Alright, sounds good to me! C’mon Kana, let’s go!” Ira yelled as she began running towards the house. I smiled, looking on at my friend as a strong hand clamped my shoulder.
“How’s your cheek, Kana? Everything okay?” Ryo asked as his eyes started to fill with worry.
“It’s fine, Ryo, thank you for asking though. I might stay out here for a bit, get some extra practice in.”
“Alright,” he nodded, “Do you need help? Would you like to use me as a target?”
“No, no, Ryo,” I laughed, “I should be fine, thank you.”
“Very well,” he said, giving a toothy grin, “I will get you when dinner’s ready.” I smiled as I watched him walk into the house, the golden rays of light from the sunset reflecting off his swords. I smiled as I remembered when we first met, nine years ago on a chilly, autumn day. My village attacked by government soldiers, myself hiding in the woods after my parents and sister were killed, the ten-year-old hiding behind a tree as my village burned to the ground, a strange hand of a twelve-year-old boy with two swords on his waist reaching out to me, a worried look on his face as I took his hand. Ryo and I traveled around until we met Ira a year later, and the rest is history among the three of us.
I unsheathed my katana, Chiko, and got into my fighting form. My right foot firmly forward as I leaned back a little on my left foot, my right arm across my body as my left arm set in an acute angle near the left side of my head, my eyes focused on every attack. The wind blew gently as I swung in an upright diagonal motion, slicing the air in front of me. I put all my might into every swing, like it was meant to represent somebody. Ira, my friend and rival who will always push me to do better; My parents and sister, lost in the raid long ago; Ryo, my mentor who will always help me succeed; and myself, so that I may protect my friends from any harm that tries to come to them.
I will protect them, I will not let them fall.
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