ADA Ninjaz — The Origin (pt. 7)
948 A.D. — Rural Ninava, Lakontey Province
Mizuki screamed as she fought back, pushing and pulling against the grips of the empire guards restraining her. She tried to reach him with all her might, but her strength was no match for them as they kept her back with little to no effort.
Tsukuyomi, kneeling on the gravel and holding in the pain of the stones digging into his legs, could feel the cold steel of the katana against the back of his neck slowly crawling toward the base of his skull. He looked at Mizuki with love and wanting, but most of all sadness at the thought that this would be the last time he would ever see her in this life.
The samurai stood just a few steps in front of Tsukuyomi, the sun to his back forcing the blacksmith to squint as he looked up. To the right of the samurai stood another guard who was holding the metal octahedron in a bundle of rags. The last guard nearest to Tsukuyomi was holding the blade to his nape. He shuffled his feet as if positioning himself, anxious at the command to strike. The full entourage numbered eight, as per usual. The blacksmith had no chance.
“I’m afraid you don’t deserve any last words,” the samurai flicked his hand in the air.
The guard, who had been impatiently waiting for the command like a dog ready to please his master, lifted his katana high in the air. Tsukuyomi felt everything move in slow motion for those few moments. He could see how a soft band of light flew slowly across the floor away from him, like a spirit. The reflection of the katana being raised. A katana he had most likely made himself for the empire. He thought how funny it was that his own creation could be his end. Mizuki’s scream drowned almost every other sense while he watched as the band of light on the floor stopped for a moment, then quickly flashed towards him.
He closed his eyes…
— — — — — — — —
947 A.D. — Rural Ninava, Lakontey Province
Kamino, eight years old, watched from behind the window as Tsukuyomi hammered away at some red-hot metal atop his anvil, shaping it into what seemed to be a sword, sparks flying like the most beautiful fireworks at every strike. The boy smiled as if this spectacle was being performed just for him. He suddenly felt a tingle in his nose… he sneezed. He watched as the blacksmith’s head began to turn. Kamino ducked under the window sill as fast as he could, fearing being discovered by the blacksmith.
As he peeked back in through the window to look inside, the blacksmith was nowhere to be found. Before he could react, he heard a quick shuffle behind him and was lifted in the air by the clothes on his back, screaming for mercy and a quick death.
Tsukuyomi, not being able to hold a straight face for too long, let his menacing glare break into laughter and put Kamino back down. He squatted to get to eye level with the boy.
“I’ve seen you here before. You like to watch me work, don’t you?”
“I’m sorry sir, if you let me live I’ll never come back again. I promise. I swear!”
Tsukuyomi stood up. He grabbed Kamino’s arm and conducted him into the workshop. Snivelling, his eyes watering, knowing this was probably his end, the little boy did nothing to stop this gigantic beast from dragging him inside. Tsukuyomi lifted the boy and sat him down on a workbench. Kamino knew it, he’d cut him into little pieces and make a bone helmet with his skull. He begged him not to. Tsukuyomi walked away.
Surprised, the boy waited for a moment until he couldn’t hear the blacksmith’s footsteps anymore. He slowly got off the table and began to walk toward the exit, planning to run as fast as he could back to his mom and dad. He reached the cloth flaps of the door and, as he reached to open them, he heard the blacksmith returning. Knowing full well that there was no escape, Kamino let his head drop, walked back to the workbench and sat down where Tsukuyomi had left him, still sniffling and wiping his eyes and nose with the back of his hands.
As Tsukuyomi entered, the boy pleaded, “tell my mommy and my daddy that I love very, very much and that they can give all my toys to Oyani. Except for the rabbit, I don’t want him to have the…” Right in front of his face, Tsukuyomi held a small plate of sweets and pastries that Mizuki had made, along with a mug of warm milk. The boy looked up in awe and relief. Tsukuyomi went back to work as the boy took the treats and began to devour them as if there was no tomorrow.
“I used to be just like you,” Tsukuyomi said as he began to hammer away, “I loved to watch the town’s old blacksmith at work. The sparks, the strength. He saw something inside of him and, somehow, in some way I still don’t understand, he brought that thought, that truth from inside and made something outside of himself that was just… perfect. There’s something about creating that is liberating.”
Tsukuyomi turned to Kamino, who had stuffed his cheeks to the edge of bursting. The boy stopped eating, realizing he hadn’t offered any to the blacksmith. Tsukuyomi chuckled as Kamino stretched out his arms, holding a small pastry for him to take. Tsukuyomi kept hammering and the boy took almost no Time to stuff the whole pastry into his already overflowing gullet.
“I don’t know how to explain it, let alone to someone your age,” Tsukuyomi continued, “I don’t talk with many people. I don’t talk to anyone but my sweet Mizuki to be very honest. But through metal, through what I mold… I feel I’m talking somehow… to someone. I don’t know who, where or when I’m talking to them, but I feel it,” he stopped hammering, “but not with these things,” he looked down at the sword with remorse, “these things don’t talk. They’re made for the exact opposite to be honest. Too many voices have been hushed by these things I’ve created.”
Tsukuyomi sat down on a stool close to the anvil, “I feel like I’m wasting my time somehow. I know it’s my place in society to do what I do. I chose it. But I feel like I am not the master of my own words. Of my own thoughts and how they affect the world around me. Do you ever feel that?”
Kamino just stared, chewing slowly and gulped down what he could manage as he kept chewing. He slowly shook his head from side to side.
“Right…” Tsukuyomi stood up and walked over to a shelf, “Anway, I guess I feel like I’ve always just wanted to create something that truly came from deep inside me. That’s all. To bring something beautiful to the world. The gods know we even tried to do something like that with Mizuki, my wife,” he paused, “someday you’ll understand.”
Tsukuyomi opened one of the cabinets and took out a small metal statue of a rabbit. He then handed it to Kamino.
“Here, I call her Mizu. Maybe through her name and through my work, someday she’ll talk to you and show you who she really is. And maybe now you can share the other rabbit with Oyani, right? .”
The boy grabbed the small rabbit statue with his sticky little fingers, nodded, and said, “thank you,” through a mouthful of food, little pieces falling out as he spoke.
— — — — — — — —
948 A.D. — Rural Ninava, Lakontey Province
The band of light, even though quick, seemed to take an eternity to reach him across the ground. Tsuku closed his eyes…
The katana hit the ground next to him, shooting gravel into the air. The samurai and all his guards began to laugh as Tsukuyomi’s fury boiled under his skin. He kept as calm an exterior as he could, knowing full well that Mizuki and the life she was carrying were more important than verbal retribution.
“Kajiya, I would say I’m disappointed, but disappointment would mean I was actually hoping for something else from you. Which I don’t. You’re Ninavian. What else could I expect?”
The samurai took a few steps toward the blacksmith, “Listen to me… LOOK AATTTT MEEEEE!” The samurai shouted at the top of his lungs. Tsukuyomi tilted his head up, squinting from the bright sun that shone right behind the samurai’s head.
“Kajiya, the only, and I mean ONLY reason you’re still alive is because of your skill and the lack of it in Ninava,” he continued in a manner that seemed more mocking than anything else, “I’m sure a replacement will come some day, hopefully from that little monster your wife is gestating… yes, I have heard about that…. eighth try, surprised you Ninavians just don’t give up when it comes to spreading like cockroaches. Anyway, when that day comes I’ll be very glad to cut your throat myself, BUT, we do want to keep getting your fine weapons and armor for our growing empire for now, so I’ll let you live. I guess my older years have made me soft to be perfectly honest.”
The samurai squatted in front of Tsukuyomi and spoke loud enough only for him to hear, “I hope you understand this is just who we are. You are the insect, I am the foot. As long as you do your insect duties I am not forced to bring the foot down. That’s how we will all live in peace, which is all I really want. Also understand, however, that I do enjoy my job, and I do enjoy using my foot… just not when unnecessary.”
Mizuki weeped as she tried to wrestle away from the guards, now so exhausted from her struggle that it only took one guard to keep her back . The samurai flicked his hand and the guard let her go. The sudden release made her trip face first onto the ground, scrapping her face on the gravel. Tsukuyomi moved forward as if to get up, but he felt the edge of the katana at his throat in an instant. Mizuki, unperturbed with her bleeding face or the pain that stung her, ran over to Tsukuyomi and held him.
“I have one very special request before I leave,” said the samurai, “Who else, aside from you and the miner’s family, knows about this piece of metal…. Speak up.”
“No one my lord,” the blacksmith said, holding back his anger.
“Good. The katana I had specially commissioned from you; I want you to use this metal to make it.”
Tsukuyomi, worried, began, “But I don’t even know if it’s possible to…”
“QUIET! You will do as I say or the foot will fall. How long will it take your illiterate little mind to understand that? It’s very simple. Say yes. Come on, you can do it. Say yeeeees.”
“MY LORD!” the samurai slapped him across the face, then turned to his guard and said, “I swear a dog is easier to train, I’ve said it before and I will say it again,” he turned back to Tsukuyomi, “You failed your last delivery, and I forgave you with all the kindness our empire would allow. You stole from the empire and I let you live. Fail me a third time and I’ll wipe you, your wife, your unborn child and your whole family and its estate from all annals of history. You have three weeks. For all of it. My sword and the army supplies.”
“My lord, that’s impossible.”
“Part of me hopes so, Kajiya,” the samurai smiled.
He flicked his hand again. The guard holding the rags with the blue metal set it all down on the ground in front of the kneeling couple. The rest of the guards began to form two lines next to the samurai as he walked away.
“Oh, one more thing,” the whole progression stopped abruptly, “My men found this too,” The samurai took out the piece of paper that Mizuki had made so many years ago. That one that held all the baby names on it. “I saw you circled this name. I like it. I want you to call my katana this. Seems fitting for that beautiful blue metal” He dropped the paper in front of Tsukuyomi and Mizuki. They both began to weep in each other’s arms as the samurai and his entourage walked away from the estate.