The Tall, Dark Warrior

By C. West

 

The tall, dark warrior ducked behind a tree as the column of mounted archers and spearmen rode listlessly by. It was apparent that they were bored, the occasional Samurai spitting off the side of his horse into the bushes, others scratching themselves absentmindedly in the heat of the noonday sun. The warrior watched the procession intently, counting the men as they moved slowly past.

Eventually the last mounted Samurai rode past, apparently drunk and swaying in his saddle. He pulled the reins sharply and the horse halted on the side of the path. The drunken Samurai fell off his horse with a grunt, and his helmet bounced off into the bushes. He rolled over onto his back. The tall, dark warrior watched curiously as the drunken Samurai staggered to his feet, steadying himself on a nearby tree, and with great difficulty adjusted his armor, and began urinating against the base of the tree. Meanwhile, the procession of horses continued onward around a bend in the path, and out of sight. The tall, dark warrior stepped out of the shadows and onto the path behind the drunken Samurai, and crossed his arms, waiting. The Samurai eventually finished his business, and got down on his ands and knees, and began groping in the bushes for his lost helmet. The tall, dark warrior cleared his throat loudly, and the Samurai spun around, falling on his back.

“Who are you?” He gasped, and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.

“I am the tall, dark warrior, and I am going to kill you.” He said evenly, without moving. The Samurai slowly worked his way backwards, reaching into the bushes. His hand closed on his helmet, and he picked it up, holding it out in front of him with both hands as if to ward off the tall, dark warrior.

“You can’t kill me! I am the fifth in command of the third Ashigaru squad of the tenth division of the flying heron group of purple devils of Ezo, Ichihara Settsu no Kami Kuranosuke, son of Ichihara Karazushibe Saemon no Jou of the Saikiwarahashinakabou clan! Not only was I trained in the black arts of Ninjutsu by lord Heizu of the Iga Ninja clan himself, but I am also a dedicated follower of Bushido!” the drunken Samurai shouted indignantly. With a howl, he hurled his helmet at the tall, dark warrior, who attempted to duck, but wasn’t fast enough. The helmet struck him square in the face, and he staggered backwards. Before he could recover, the drunken Samurai jumped to his feet and lunged, catching the tall, dark warrior with his shoulder, sending them both sprawling in different directions. The tall, dark warrior sighed in annoyance from his place on the path, and sat up.

“This is not going to be a good day”, he said as he rubbed his throbbing nose. The Samurai lay off the path in the bushes, groaning. The tall, dark warrior slowly got to his feet, and cracked his knuckles. The drunken Samurai crawled out of the bushes, and removed a book from his belt.

“Halt!” The Samurai yelled, and opened his book, and began flipping through it quickly, licking his thumb now and then to get a better purchase on the pages. The tall, dark warrior read the calligraphy on the cover, “The Samurai Handbook of Bushido in Twelve Easy Steps”. He sighed again, and kicked the book from the drunken Samurai’s hands, and cleanly removed his head from his neck with a quick slash of his sword. As the Samurai’s liberated head rolled off into the bushes, the tall, dark warrior picked up the Bushido manual, and hurled it into the trees. I must find the fiend who wrote this manual. Nothing will be right with the world until I do. With a tired heart, the tall, dark warrior began a crusade that would last the rest of his life.