In this world there are six TERRIBLE TECHNIQUES of martial arts.
They are beyond ordinary people.
Ordinary people are divided against themselves. They are constantly acting against the motivations that drive them.
A martial artist cannot afford such things.
This is STATIONARY DEFENSIVE SAMURAI—
Kon lives in a white temple on the far side of a cliff. He chose the location of his temple poorly. Erosion ate away the ground. Now his temple hangs over the sea.
It does not fall.
He is a stationary defensive samurai.
Kon wears a white kimono with a pattern of blue flowers. Now and then a student searches him out. Most he discards immediately as unworthy.
Tomo has the potential, he thinks, to be a perfectly defensive samurai.
They’re sparring in his temple. He kicks two lit braziers into the air and punches them into her. She reflects them off the edge of her sword. It’s pretty good.
He fills his lungs with the stationary Chi of the temple.
He turns blue.
Then, with a great effort, he does an internal-external conversion and blows a great gout of raw power at her.
She sights the “secret center” of the wind.
She lifts her sword.
There is a riot of waveforms and a great fluttering of tapestries. Then Kon gestures with his hand.
All goes still.
“You are good,” he says.
“O?” Tomo says. She looks pleased.
“You cannot master one of the TERRIBLE TECHNIQUES,” says Kon, “if you act against the motivations that drive you. So you must tell me, Tomo—what drives you?”
Tomo does not have to think.
The secret of her existence spills forth as a shaken bottle, once opened, will bulge with its weight of heavy foam.
I’M IN UR FIGHT
BLOCKING UR ATTACKS.
“Huh,” says Kon.
He’s been prepping to explain to her the kinds of situations where an enemy might twist that motivation against her.
And hoping to let her down slowly if it were something like, say, “sex up the mentor.”
But instead he just stands there and feels the subtle hand of destiny, and he says, “That’s pretty good.”
[LEGEND OF PERFECTLY DEFENSIVE SAMURAI]
It is far away.
These are TYPICAL WUXIA LOVERS—
Atop a hill at night, under the falling blossoms, Meg and Cho fight.
For a moment, Meg has the advantage. She lifts her sword. She says a silent prayer in her heart:
Gods of kung fu save him; may I die instead.
The gods of kung fu are kind.
There are too many cherry blossoms in the air. They foul her vision. The blow does not strike true. Cho twists and catches it in his side and not his heart.
Meg dances back, quickly, but not quickly enough.
Cho is on his feet. Cho is surging forward. He is as inevitable as the stone wall that divides their families. He is as powerful as the sea.
He says a silent prayer in his heart:
Gods of kung fu save her; may I die instead.
But he knows it cannot be.
They will die together, in the final clash.
That is the way of things for TYPICAL WUXIA LOVERS.
And indeed, he can see it.
She is using the hidden palm iron blossom sake sword. He can see it before his eyes like a long white slash.
He breathes: Ah.
He resigns himself to fate.
I’M IN UR FIGHT,
BLOCKING UR ATTACKS
There is a flare of light.
Between them stands Tomo. She is blocking Cho’s sword with her sword and the hidden palm iron blossom sake sword with the palm of her free hand.
A flower petal lands, awkwardly, at the very top of her head.
“What?” says Cho, startled.
“I am Tomo,” she says, clippedly. “I am the PERFECTLY DEFENSIVE SAMURAI.”
“How dare you?” he says.
And Meg is already swirling around, moving to cut off Tomo’s head with her razor-edge sleeve—but
And Meg stumbles back.
Cho takes the viper step. It’s the kung fu step a viper would take, if a viper knew kung fu
and had legs
and for a moment he imagined that he’d succeeded; that his sword had sunk into her side; but
And he realizes in that light something that he did not realize before.
Tomo’s face is burning with absolute joy.
The sword falls from his hand.
Behind Tomo, Meg is falling to her knees.
Meg says, “Is this what it is to live with true dedication?”
He wants to say something flowery like that but he can’t even think past the sudden awareness of the beauty of it.
It is perfect, the movements of Tomo in the darkness; the joy of her face; the way that she is in their fight, blocking their attacks. It is transfiguring. It is transformative.
Tomo stands there for a while.
She says, “No more attacks?”
“Are you a goddess?” asks Meg. “Are you here to remind us that we can find hope and happiness, if we just learn to see one another and open ourselves to risk?”
Generosity moves in her. She says, “Okay.”
Then, since the fight is over, she does the departure step and she is gone.
Next time on Legend of Perfectly Defensive Samurai— SHADOW OF TERRIBLY OFFENSIVE SHOGUN