A Test of Honor

By R.J.Pickle

Budo Gaiden stood on the hill overlooking the palatial expanse of Inaka town. Here he would find honorable adventure to fit his Bushido spirit. He could feel it in the cockles of his heart. As he stepped over the epic wooden bridge and crossed into Inaka town, he came upon a peasant.

“How fair thee, peasant?” he said amiably.

“As wells as couldst be expected, fair Samurai sir.” The peasant stated plainly, and went on his way. A moment later, another peasant lost his footing and staggered into him. The peasant looked up and gasped.

“Gasp! So sorry! So sorry!” the peasant stuttered and bowed.

“Not to fear, peasant,” Gaiden said, “I am not offended.” The peasant bowed again.

“Thank you honorable Samurai.” The peasant stated, and walked away. Suddenly there was commotion to Gaiden’s left. A man was running towards him holding a package. Chasing him was a geisha wearing a striking kimono.

“Desist in thine flight, thieving brute!” she yelled at the fleeing man. Budo Gaiden stepped into the middle of the street. “Halt, footpad, or I shall smite thee down!” The cumbrous robber stopped in his tracks.

“I know thine weakness, honorable Samurai!” the thief yelled, as he came to a stop. Gaiden raised his sword.

“Give back thine ill-gotten gains to the fair maiden, or be smitten by my blade!” Gaiden raised aloft his mighty katana sword, and prepared to strike. Suddenly, the thief spun around, turning his back on Gaiden. Gaiden hesitated and lowered his sword, stunned. Drat, he thought to himself, how could this knave be so intimately familiar with the honorable code of the Samurai…?

“An honorable Samurai cannot strike his enemy in the back!” the thief laughed, while nimbly keeping his back to Gaiden. Gaiden’s mind began to race. How can I defeat this opponent whilst still upholding the rules of Bushido? Gaiden attempted to run around the thief, but to no avail; the thief was easily able to keep his back turned to the honor-bound Samurai. The geisha too began to despair, for she could tell that the Samurai Budo Gaiden was outmatched.

Gaiden continued to leap from side to side in order to get a clear shot at something other than the thief’s back, but he had no luck. The thief moved with the quickness of an agile Japanese mountain monkey. Gaiden began to get angry despite his Zen training. “Halt and face me!” He yelled. The thief stopped and turned to face Gaiden.

“Draw your sword and we shalt duel.” Gaiden stated, and prepared his sword. However, the thief pulled out an arquebus and aimed it at Gaiden. Before Gaiden could blink, the thief masterfully twisted the sword from Gaiden’s fingers, and deftly replaced it with the gun. Gaiden was shocked. He moves like an 8th degree black belt, Gaiden thought, silently stunned. The thief slid Gaiden’s sword into his belt, and began to walk away, laughing. Gaiden looked at the cowardly arquebus in his hands and sighed. As the thief waltzed away, Gaiden could do no more than look, for arquebuses are cowardly and dishonorable weapons unfit for a Samurai. Gaiden dropped the arquebus to the ground sadly. He was beaten. He was unable to maintain his honor in the face of such a difficult foe. The geisha stepped forward.

“Thank you for your effort, noble Samurai… Or should I say, Budo Gaiden?” Gaiden stopped in his tracks – “How do you know my name, maiden?” he asked. The geisha paused sadly and raised a tender hand to his cheek. “Because you are my brother,” She said quietly. “When you left for Samurai school in Edo, father sold me to the Yoshiwara to pay for sake and women. Here I have stayed. I saved my coins every day to buy my freedom… but the foul footpad who has bested you has taken it from me.” The geisha began to cry. How can I maintain my honor? I have been beaten by an honorless knave, and cost my sister her freedom. As he comforted his sister, he struck on an idea. The relief of realizing a way to clear his name and his honor was almost overwhelming. He slowly drew his wakizashi blade from the scabbard at his hip. Kiko Gaiden stepped back, and Budo Gaiden fell to his knees. He drew his Samurai Gi jacket open.

“Oh, Budo.” Kiko said happily through her tears. “You are so honorable. I am so proud”.

“Good bye, my sister.” Budo Gaiden stabbed himself in the abdomen, and in an artful stroke of the blade, drew it across his stomach. What had started out as a day of failure had been turned to a day full of honor with a single stroke of a blade for the Samurai Budo Gaiden. His sister would one day die destitute and alone still a slave to the Yoshiwara, but the image of her honorable brother would sustain her to the end.