Learning the secret of perfect defense, Tomo begins her career—here!
She saves lovers Meg and Cho.
She reforms two night-grim thieves.
She establishes the standard special effects LIGHT and I’M IN UR FIGHT, BLOCKING UR ATTACKS!
A fearless warrior, her actions shake the status quo.
Defending the oppressed she defies order!
Now the fiery power of terribly offensive shogun Daiimon seeks her end!
[LEGEND OF PERFECTLY DEFENSIVE SAMURAI]
“Gods of kung fu,” whispers Tomo. “Is this what it is to involve oneself in the world?”
She stands in impasse in the forest—confronting
SHRIEKING OFFENDED MONKEY!
“I’m sorry,” she pleads.
Tomo’s heart is like rice-husk armor—it’s just too delicate! And the monkey’s heart—it’s harder than stale bread!
“I meant no offense!”
And tears run from her eyes and she leaps for the branches and she flees, blindly, sniffling, pursued by shrieking offended monkey, and filled in her heart with an overpowering awareness of the transience of all things; o Merciful Buddha, shelter us from suffering.
AN EVIL FEELING!
She skids to a halt. She snaps up her head. She looks up and to the east.
Hope gulps down the sorrow in her heart like a dog that hasn’t eaten in too long.
The sky is full of light and evil Chi.
LEISURELY VACATION CITY TURULL is burning.
Fire and ashes fall on Turull from above. Great pillars of red and white spear down.
It is as if the stars have tired of the world and turned their weapons here.
It is beautiful.
It is terrible.
It is amazing.
Tomo trembles and shivers like a race horse waiting for the gun.
She wants to block it so very, very much.
With the back of her hand, she wipes her eyes.
She scans the trees.
She charts a path for jumping—but—
AN ADDITIONAL, ONLY TANGENTIALLY RELATED EVIL FEELING!
Right behind her!
Time slows. She turns. The sword scrapes on her sheath. She has to steady it with her free hand.
This new attack is the sword of the terribly offensive shogun, Daiimon.
It blasts into her like falling, like confusion, like not knowing where one stands.
Inside and outside, she’s in turmoil!
She does not even have time to say it:
I’M IN UR FI—
[LEGEND OF PERFECTLY DEFENSIVE SAMURAI]
Tomo staggers backwards. Her sword arm is burning inside and out.
Her lips have gone dry. Her heart is struggling with great difficulty to beat.
The aura of Daiimon snaps at her leg like the fangs of a great beast. His sword is a single point of light in an infinite darkness of kung fu. He is strong. He is so TERRIBLY strong.
A scissoring, like the world were twisting around itself.
They draw apart, panting.
Tomo’s lungs burn.
Joy stutters up inside her but he shatters it with twelve biting words.
“You are here, fighting me. So you are not there, blocking that.“
Turull is burning.
It tears her heart.
Turull is burning, and she cannot be in that fight and she cannot be blocking those attacks.
She is adrift, her moorings sundered.
Her mind whirls.
He moves, and
Somewhere Daiimon fights Tomo. Somewhere a monkey, perhaps overestimating its own importance, throws a peach pit from behind. Somewhere the world is all in motion and her heart aches fierce.
But Tomo is not there.
Tomo is in a flashback.
“I will teach you the secret of defensive kung fu,” says STATIONARY DEFENSIVE SAMURAI, KON.
Kon looks at the distant mountains.
He says, “Through all things in the world, Tomo, a breath flows. We are united in this breath. It is the One-Spirit.”
Tomo thinks on this.
“Is it for blocking?”
“Each of us has our own vision of the One-Spirit,” he says. “For you—”
“For you, it is the ‘breath of blocking u’.”
“Show me!” she demands.
And he strikes, lightning-quick, and his fingers on her forehead open the gateways of her mind.
She sees it.
The stone of his temple breathes blue vapors. Kon is livid with red breath. And the grass in the cobblestones breathes greenly; and the distant mountains wreathe themselves with purple gas; and even the sun—
Tomo breathes with it.
She breathes with it, and shares its One-Spirit, and knows in that moment that she will never have sunburn again.
“I cannot leave you in this state for long,” says Kon.
His words come to her from far away. They hang in the air, like shapes behind a watered glass.
It tempts her.
She knows that she could live the breath of blocking words and she would never hear this thing, which she wishes that he would not say.
“You will need laborious training,” Kon says, “to master this. Hours of work in all manner of abnormal training positions, and difficult exercises of great mystic import which I will have to make up on the spot.”
It is so tempting.
One movement— one block— and nothing will ever touch her again.
If he tells her otherwise, she does not need to hear.
If the world says otherwise, she does not need to hear.
The spiraling aquamarine coils of rationality breathe and she may easily be one with that great breath, and blocking it.
She breathes. She starts to say:
I’M IN UR FIGHT…
But there is something else.
It it hoving into view. It is giving its shape to the borders of her world.
Insight strikes her like one of those horrible gasp-inducing blows to the stomach, and so beautiful it is that she does not choose to block.
“I see it,” she says.
It is everywhere. It underlies everything. It is the bones of the world.
It is the Great and Humble Road.
LIGHT; LIGHT; LIGHT
She moves on instinct and Chi. There is no other way. No human mind could track the blizzard of their swords’ exchange. No human eye discerns such subtle movements. The fight between Tomo and Daiimon is the “bamboo forest,” where the swords seem great and long and numerous and their sound is hollow ‘thok, thok’ and they sway gently in the wind.
She follows the twisting, winding path of the breath of blocking u.
Her sword spins and dances and it drags her in its wake.
Then she is laughing.
She takes a great deep breath like on the morning of the world and she crows like a child’s laugh and she says, “I love u, I love u, I love u,” as the swords twine and play, and Daiimon is falling back and his face drains of blood and—
The sword of the terribly offensive shogun flies from his hand and cleaves through a rock into the earth.
He slips to one knee.
He says, gasping greatly, “How?”
“Eh?” she says.
“Turull burns; but how did you forget?”
And lightly she laughs and she holds her hand to him and she says, “It’s all right.”
“Eh?” he returns.
“I am Tomo. I am the PERFECTLY DEFENSIVE SAMURAI. It is not important,” she says, and now the wind blows around her. “It is not important to block big attacks. It is not important to block important attacks. It is good to block fire and rain and the power of the stars. But it is not important. This. This right here.”
She touches her heart. She touches his hand.
“This is important. This being in ur fight. This blocking ur attacks. To live where u are and when u are and to breathe the breath of blocking u.”
“No,” says Daiimon.
He shoves the ground and slides back twenty yards.
“No,” he says.
“In the now,” she explains.
He screams, “NO!” a final time and runs away; for staring into the abyss of the truth of her, the terribly offensive shogun has gone mad.
Next time on Legend of Perfectly Defensive Samurai:
THE BREATH OF TERRIBLE FIRE