[video=youtube;zsXPXMLmr6w]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zsXPXMLmr6w&feature=related[/video] ______________________________ A cold night, a full moon over Iwaku. Red leaves scattered upon the breeze, carried by a whistling wind. As if tired of their transient flight, they gently fell upon the cobbled steps of a temple. Becoming crimson upon crimson. Breaking the silence, a sharp whistling cut through the air. *CLANG* The flash of steel upon steel. Two blades met abruptly in the darkness. ...to be separated just as quickly. The figure of a young man stood against a dark sky, a faint purple outline illuminated by the moonlight. His clothes bereft of any family's crest : a masterless samurai. He wore a simple kimono of vertical, thin black lines upon dark purple silk. His eyes, hidden by shadow, betrayed no emotion. His black hair was long and unkempt, his growing beard also lacking in grooming. If he paid more attention to such things, he could have been a handsome young man, beloved by all. ... But his path was not one of beauty or glamor. Before him, corpses of swordsmen and monks alike littered the ground. Becoming a field of red spider lilies. In his hand, he grasped the cause of their death. His naked, silver blade glimmered with the crimson of spilled blood. "Jaakushiedo!" (邪悪死穢土 - Devil-death-'this impure world') Opposite him, his opponent screamed his name. Facing Jaakushiedo is a warrior bearing the insignia of the Amano house on his white haori. (Vest worn on the kimono) An older man, his clean-shaven face flushed red, distorted in a rictus of righteous anger. He wore a simple but elegant sky-blue kimono, with a gray hakama. Like the conservative Amano household, his hair was tied in a traditional top-knot. The very image of a proud samurai whose sword hungered for vengeance. Strewn upon the temple grounds were the bodies of his comrades and servants. They had been enjoying the hospitality of the head monk, after traveling so far. ... Only to be killed by this ronin as they slept. Among the remains, he caught sight of the now-headless monk. "Avenge them!" every fiber of his being cried out. Otherwise, this man could not abide this unpunished crime. It would be a black stain upon his, Amano Joumaru's (天野情丸), honor. "Demon! For what reason do you cause this unforgivable evil?" Joumaru shouted. "Does one need a reason to murder, courier*?" Jaakushiedo answered. *(the word used here is 'shisha' - 使者 - messenger) "I am more than just a messenger, you beast! I am Joumaru of the Amano house, master of Amano swordfighting! Like our namesake, we dedicate our lives to punish monsters like you!" "... To me, corpses* are all the same." A sullen reply. *(the word used here is 'shisha' - 死者 - the dead) Amano Joumaru gave in to his fury and held his sword high, preparing to strike. "I thought I would claim your head as a trophy, as proof of justice!" Then held his blade over his right shoulder. "But now, I will cut you to such small pieces, that no one will ever recognize your remains," The Amano clansman cried out. His opponent, Jaakushiedo, slowly sheathed his sword. "Once, I would have wanted nothing more..." The ronin said, melancholy apparent in his voice. "Iaido!?" Joumaru exclaimed. Instead, Jaakushiedo sluggishly bent forward, and bowed, as if grovelling before his opponent. "... But I want to show you something first, 'Amano'." Jaakushiedo then said coldly, without even lifting his gaze. "Such insolence!" Joumaru cried out, hardly containing his anger. What kind of sword-wielding warrior would take the stance of a beggar, of such lowly scum! No, this man is nothing but a mere murderer; garbage that just happened to hold a blade. He would show this filth true swordplay. One fueled by a divine will. One with a righteous purpose. But, before he could act, he was struck by a thought. How did such a man kill his entire cohort with such sluggish and grovelling movements? Joumaru glanced at his opponent, and realized the deception of his almost prone position. Jaakushiedo held his scabbard tightly with his left hand, and held the grip of his sword firmly with his right. He was correct all along; without a doubt, his opponent utilized the draw cut. (Iai) That would explain why the wounds left on his victims were single, large cuts. But his movement and stance, why is it so deadly? It was deception. Iaido in itself is a deceptive technique - where a seemingly vulnerable warrior ends his opponent in a single stroke. The traditional style is, visually, a static state before the cut, because it requires a state of focus from the practitioner. That sluggish movement must be a side-effect of the trance-like focus needed for the killing blow. The ability to constantly move is an asset on the battlefield, even if it is the bare minimum. That grovelling posture is probably his way of hiding his hands, hiding where the blow is going to come from. But now that he had some postulations, Joumaru was already visualizing the cuts Jaakushiedo could make from such a position. It was too low. Considering the length of his sword - he could only hit the lower torso or the legs with a horizontal cut. That is most likely the kind of damage he would go for, attacking from so low an angle - and it would most likely hit anyway. Not many people are used to fighting an opponent who's almost crawling. However, if Joumaru jumped and struck quickly, he could deliver a death blow without receiving a cut from his opponent. The strike from above happened to be his specialty, being a student of the Amanokenryu. (Amano Sword School) He visualizes the attack in his head. He would charge the ronin, then suddenly jump before even entering the maximum horizontal range of his sword. Jaakushiedo would try to cut him, but his attack would miss, because of the sudden jump. Then, rather then slash, Joumaru would thrust his blade downwards, which would hit his target much faster than a swing. The fact that he's almost prone makes him a bigger target. Jaakushiedo would have no time to react, having missed. A deception to answer a deception. It was so simple. 「空のような、我が道は、日のようにはっきりしている」 (Sora no youna, wagamichi wa, hi no you ni hakkiri shiteiru) "Like the sky, our way is clear as day." The Amano mantra echoes in his head, and all doubt is cast aside. Amanokenryu reigns supreme above the other schools for this very reason. Victory is the obvious outcome. A smirk slowly formed on Joumaru's lips. The ronin before him still maintained the same posture, inching towards him like an insect. The Amano samurai would give him no chance. He dashed forward with a shout. His sword, held over his right shoulder. Jaakushiedo tightly gripped his blade in response, and it made an audible click. Joumaru heard it. He jumped as high as he could, and was now sailing towards Jaakushiedo. "Amanokenryu waza!" (Amano sword school technique!) His shadow soon covered Jaakushiedo. "Tenshi!"* *(Normally 'Angel', but written as 天歯 "Heaven Teeth") Joumaru flipped the sword above his head and brought it down. But a cold sweat overcame him in that split second. His opponent had been perfectly still the entire time. It was only then that the Jaakushiedo swung. His entire body spun out of the way, almost rolling upon the ground, avoiding the incoming blade by mere inches. He swung his entire arm's length fully upward, his blade creating a wide, deadly arc. By spinning in that specific manner, he had actually increased his upward cutting range, his attack's axis and radius slightly bent upward. Joumaru, who was not expecting a counter attack of that nature, was also falling downward, contributing to the damage. "Ten shi."* *('Angel' again, but written with 天死 - heavenly death/ death of heaven) A perfect maneuver culminating in a single lethal stroke. The blade cut deep into Joumaru's stomach, going ever deeper as he fell downward. In that split second, an image of the headless monk flashed in his mind. Jaakushiedo was perfectly capable of hitting such a high angle. But to utterly counteract that technique was too perfect! He knew where Joumaru's blade would be. The perfect time to maximize the damage of his cut. He knew the specifics of a technique which is rarely used. That is impossible, unless... ... Unless he knew Amanokenryu. *THUD* Jaakushiedo was now standing over the dying samurai who was clutching his open belly wound. No longer blue, his kimono had become an evening sky. "Y-you... are an Amano... I can tell..." Joumaru breathed hard, trying to talk despite the loss of air. The ronin was taken aback by this. "What is ... your name, murderer?" he wheezed. Jaakushiedo sheathed his sword, taking a more traditional Iaido stance. "I do not belong to your wretched glory-seeking line... I am Nobody (Nōbadi*)," Jaakushiedo answers. (*He uses the kanji 能化血 bodhisatva-blood) The ronin then performs his killing blow. A thousand lights, a thousand wounds. "Mangekyogiri." (Kaleidoscope cut) Joumaru remembers his liege, the current Amano daimyo. Amano Juuzo (天野十三)* *Amano 13th A man with many sons. But there was one... One whose swordplay cut like a hundred stars shining. 「 月光は落ち 」 「 散乱葉の上に 」 「 光輪を作」 Gekkō wa ochi (The light of moon falls) Sanran ha no ue ni (upon the scattering leaves) Kōrin o saku (making a halo) Joumaru uttered his death's poem and passed. Nobadi turned away from the scene, his blade soaked crimson. "He knew me," he declared to no one in particular. "Probably much more than my own father did." The Kanrisha war looms ahead, and great armies have begun to march to meet each other on the field of battle. He wiped his blade with the sleeve of a dead samurai, then sheathed it without a second thought. 剣は単に死の武器 ken wa tan'ni shi no buki The sword is nothing but a tool of death. 故人は単に肉と血 Kojin wa tan'ni niku to chi The dead are nothing but meat and blood. 「邪悪死穢土」の道にあり "jaakushiedo" no michi ni ari Such is the way of "Jaakushiedo". Jaakushiedo left the grisly scene, walking towards the town below. 邪悪死穢土。。。 確かに、天から降臨堕天使。 (jaakushiedo... tashika ni, ten kara kourin datenshi.) "Jaakushiedo... Indeed, a fallen angel descending from heaven."