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One Eyed Swordsman

Since then, students of Yagyu-ryu and Zinkage-ryu engaged in duels on and off for many years with Yagyu-ryu usually winning. Sadaki Matemon died in the fourth year of Kanei (1627) and the person who succeeded his place as the best swordsman was Yagyu Juliet, son of Yagyu Munenori. When he was a child, Juliet lost his left eye while sparring with his father. His natural ability was unmatched, however, and at the age of 20 he had already mastered all the advanced techniques of Yagyuryu with the exception of the Moon Shadow Technique. The Challenge In the spring of 1631 a letter was received at Yagyu-ryu headquarters. It read: "I, Bakuya Daikyu, son of Lord Bakuya, student of Matsuda Oribe Nosuke and now head of Zinkageryu, wish to challenge the best swordsman of Yagyu-ryu to a duel in order to settle the account between the two schools. I am going to be at the Clear Water Temple outside Edo (Tokyo) at midnight, March 15, the eighth year of Kamer (1631)." After reading the letter, Yagyu Hubei returned it to his father and asked, "What kind of information do' we have on this Bakuya Daikyu?" "He is from Nara. Whenever he has an important fight, it always takes place at the time of the full moon. Rumor says that be uses the Moon Shadow Technique. He came to Edo about 10 days ago and has been seen practicing at the temple for the past several nights." "Hmmmmmm that makes things difficult," Jubei said slowly. "First, he probably knows about the strong and weak points of our style. Second, he has been practicing at The temple and must be familiar with the terrain by now. Third, although the Moon Shadow Technique is recorded in our tora-maki (secret scroll), I have not studied it since I do not have six fingers on each hand. Nor did I ask Sadaki Matemon about it when he was still alive. "Therefore I know next to nothing about this technique. Bakuya Daikyu is well prepared for this fight and I am not. My chances of winning are very small unless I can gain some understanding of this technique before the duel." Munenori's eyes narrowed. "Do you mean to send somebody to attack Bakya while you watch from the side?" "Yes," Hubei replied, "but the attacker must press him hard in order to bring out Bakuya's best techniques. There is much danger involved in doing this." Three men came forward. "We wish to volunteer for the task." Munenori looked at the first man and said, "But Sohachiro, you are already 50 years old." "Yes, I have lived a full life," he calmly answered. "And what of 'you two?" Munenori asked the other men. "We do not have any close relatives who would grieve over us. We wish to try this man Daikyu." "All right, then," Munenori said slowly. "This is already the thirteenth; you three will go with Jubei this evening. May Fudo (god of fire) watch over you." As the three men walked out, students appeared at both sides of the hallway and bowed deeply in respect and admiration for what the men were about to do. Three Against One It was midnight at Clear Water Temple when the three men appeared in the courtyard and surrounded Bakuya Daikyu who was practicing. Daikyu stood still and looked at each of the strangers. Then he spoke to Sohachiro, "We have met before." "Where?" Sohachiro asked him. "It was 30 years ago outside Matsuda Oribe Nosuke's Zinkage-ryu Dojo at Nara. Do you remember the boy who stood there and watched?" "You are that boy?" said Sohachiro with surprise. "Yes, and I watched Sadaki Matemon very carefully that night. No one noticed that I also have six fingers on each hand." Daikyu spoke slowly and confidently. "Since then, I have been practicing the Moon Shadow Technique every day. With the help of our secret scrolls, I have finally perfected this technique. In Nara nobody could stand up to my sword. "Do you remember that it was on the date of March 15 that Yagyu-ryu defeated Zinkage-ryu. Now, 30 years later, I have chosen March 15 as the date to defeat Yagyu-ryu." Sohachiro listened to all this and then replied, "In China there is a saying, 'When cutting grass, make sure you destroy the roots as ell, or else when the Spring wind blows, the grass will start growing again.' Now, I fully realize the meaning of that saying." Sohachiro drew his sword. "What is the meaning of this? There are still two days until the duel," Daikyu demanded. "We are here to test your ability. If you cannot handle us, how can you face our best man?" Daikyu, stepped back and raised his specially made sword in front of his forehead. The highly polished blade reflected the moonlight like a mirror. "Tronggg." The sudden snap of Daikyu's hand guard broke the silence of the night. "Trongg." Sohachiro saw a flash in front of his eyes. He blocked upward automatically. His blade caught nothing but thin air and he felt a sharp pain in his abdomen. He looked down and saw a long cut in his midsection. Blood and intestine spilled out. "Ahhhh..." Sohachiro fell dead, face down. Daikyu took two steps forward and moved away from the attacks delivered by the other two men. He turned around slowly with a cruel smile on his face. The men hesitated. Daikyu took a step forward, snapped his wrist and reflected the moonlight to the face of the man at his left. Then he leaped to the right and attacked. The victim, taken by surprise, tried to move back, but was cut into two sections before he could lift his feet. Daikyu spun around, blocked the thrust of the first man and delivered a lightning-fast counter. The unfortunate student of Yagyu-ryu was dead before he could utter a cry. His head was split in two. "Ha, ha, hand." Daikyu took out a piece of rice paper and cleaned his sword carefully. Before leaving, he called out, "Students of Yagyu-ryu are useless!" From out of the shadows came Yagyu Jubei who had watched everything. He looked at the three lifeless bodies on the ground with sadness and murmured to himself, "He has a 'one strike technique!' Flying Swallows On, the night of the fourteenth everyone was asleep in the Yagyu-ryu Dojo except Jubei. He was standing in the courtyard, sword in hand, trying to figure out a way of fighting Daikyu the next day. As he stood in the moonlight, Jubei thought to himself, "The speed of the Moon Shadow Technique is so fast that it will be very hard to defend against it. Daikyu has been practicing and perfecting his skill for 'or 30 years now and he is almost invincible. When the bright light from the reflected moon on the sword hits my eye, I won't be able to stop from blinking. A moment of impaired vision means death. "If only the light source could be removed ... but this is beyond human power. If I covered my one eye against the light with my hand, I would be blind. For two nights I have been thinking of this, trying to find some way but. . ." A jumble of thoughts passed through Jubei's mind. He was getting tired now. Slowly, he sat down on the ground and then stretched out. Eventually, he tell asleep in the courtyard. In the morning the bright fight of the rising sun bit Jubei's face and awakened him. He heard the angry chirping of birds and looked around. In the corner of the courtyard there was a swallow's nest. The two birds bad also been awakened by the strong sunlight and they were voicing their disapproval. As soon as they left the nest, they rolled their bodies and flew away in the opposite direction of the sun. Jubei sat up and watched the birds disappear into the distance. The One - Eyed Swordsman Long before midnight on the fifteenth day of March, a crowd had gathered at the Clear Water Temple. Some of the people had come from Nara, others from Edo. Exactly at midnight a swordsman walked into the courtyard. "Look! Bakuya Daikyu!" cried the people from Nara as they pointed him out. Then, from the other side of the courtyard, another swordsman walked out. A swordsman with only one eye. "It is Jubei!" cheered the people of Edo. The two swordsmen stopped in front of each other. Daikyu bowed slightly and announced, "I am Bakuya Daikyu of Zinkage-ryu." Hubei returned the courtesy and said, "I am Yagyu Mitsu-yoshi Hubei of Yagyu-ryu." He then drew his sword and held it in a reversed grip. His right hand was pressed against the hand guard and his left palm was against the pommel. He then raised the sword slowly in front of his body, blade upward and pointing away from him. This was the famous Pence Musoken (Heaven-Earth Dream Sword) posture of Yagyu-ryu. On the other side Daikyu raised his sword horizontally in front of his forehead and assumed the posture for the Moon Shadow Technique. Hubei stepped forward. Daikyu stepped back and snapped his wrist. "Tronggg." A bright light was reflected toward Jubei's right eye. Jubei raised his arms very quickly and blocked the beam with his sleeves. When Daikyu saw what Jubei had done, a cruel smile appeared on his face. "Tronggg, tronggg, tronggg." He snapped his sword in quick succession - each one faster than the other. Jubei brought his sleeves up again. At the same time Daikyu stepped forward and delivered a horizontal slash to Jubei's abdomen. The blade came like lightning. Suddenly, Jubei shot his body straight up into the air and flew over Daikyu's head like a swallow. In mid-air Jubei brought his sword down. He landed on the ground three steps behind Daikyu. There was blood dripping - from his sword. Hesitantly, Daikyu slowly turned around and faced Jubei. There was a deep cut in his forehead and his face was covered with blood. I "What ... what was that technique ... ?" asked Daikyu in a weak 'and trembling voice as he supported his sagging body with his sword. "I have named it the Hien Muso Ken (Incomparable Flying Swallow Sword), answered Jubei. "Argh. .." Daikyu tried to say something but the blood choked his throat. He lost his grip on his sword and fell heavily to the ground. Jubei looked at the fallen body and then turned his mind to the swallow's nest in the corner of his courtyard. By:Paul W.L. Kwan