Chapter Ninety-Two: Master Eire

“Captain on deck!”

James ascended to the wheel.  Slowly, stiff from overwork, servos grinding and popping.  He slowly took the helm for Irian.

“You have the helm, Captain.  What are your orders?”

“All hands prepare for war!  Make ready for landfall!  We go to a source of power enough to fight the Harvest toe to toe.  A red night!  A sword night!  Take from them everything!  Give them nothing for it!”

A cheer rose from the deck.  The crew hooted cheered and crowed.  They all, to the last, wanted a chance to exact revenge.

“Raise our standard!  Show those sails, sailor!  Cover those cannons!  Let them see the colors!”  James turned to Irian.  “Make ready yourself.  What you will face you’ve never seen the like of.  Give your wife a kiss for me.  Tell her Ilya wants her for targeting.”

“Yes, Captain!”

A hush drew over the deck.  The crowd split, as if pushed.  At the opposite end of the deck stood four figures-Ouray, Musashi, Elanor and Namid.  A small bundle in Elanor’s arms squirmed.

Ouray and Musashi stepped forward.

“We report for duty, Captain.”

Ouray carried a recurve bow, its white wood shot through with the telltale crystals of natural aether.  His black mail was completely silent as he walked-rubberized rings, which would not reflect light or make sound.  His arrows were of carbon, the tips the same black glass Irian’s sword was made from once.  Each head was scribed to shatter on impact.  His long black hair was bound behind him.  Even his footsteps were silenced-he was hunting for men this night, and he would not be denied his quarry.  He supported Elanor, her wounds bandaged, her child for the moment becalmed.  Her back was ramrod-straight, though it obviously pained her.  She was still dressed in the clothes of the infirmary, but her face was defiant.

Musashi presented a stark contrast to Ouray’s somber attire.  His habako and kimono were shrugged off his right shoulder and hung to the deck.  His chest was leathery with scars.  His hakama nearly obscured his geta, but they made no sound as he walked.  Even the saya thrust through his obi did not click as he walked.  He wore no armor, but his clothing from head to toe was white as fresh snow.  His long white hair was bound with a white strip of cloth.  Only his black laquered geta and the blades that he carried broke up the expanse of white.  He was attired in mourning for the fallen of the ship.  He supported Namid, still experiencing dizziness from the force of the attack.  Dried blood still crusted her nose and ears.  She clutched her stomach with one hand and supported herself on Musashi with the other.

“We report for duty, Captain.”

“Elanor, Namid, take positions in targeting.  Elanor, headset for comm.”

The women took up their positions with help from the masters.  After seating them, the two old men stood before James, barely able to contain their mirth.

“Care to let me in on the joke?”

“Two old men dressed up like kids, out on another adventure.  Nothing more.”

“At least one of you is older than me, and I’m betting both.  You two will do as you will, and we’ll all be amazed when you come dragging back in looking for something to eat, right?”

The two men simply laughed, then nodded.  For all the dichotomy in their looks, it was clear the two were old friends, their bond forged in the crucible of eternal war, closer than brothers.  “We do as we see fit.  You’re not old enough to tell us what to do.  However, we agree with you.”

“Irian, go get properly dressed, and turn out your pockets.  We know you’re hiding something.”

Irian hit the deck in a bow before his teacher.  “Kensei Musashi, you are too valuable to the Yagyu to fight!  Let me go in your place-you hold the entire history of the Yagyu-ryu!”

“You speak more truth than you know, Irian.  These blades predate even the Harvest.  But yet, we must all fight.  Master yourself, then, and let’s go.  Master Eire, I should say-or Caledfwch, should I say?”

“If Master Eire I be, Master of the Blessed Isles, then so should you be Master Asia-the undefeated Sword Saint of the East.”

“Undefeated of the East, huh.  Get up, Irian.  We have to get ready.”

“Master, look.”  Irian pointed toward the shoreline, the target they were aiming for.
Musashi knew what his student had to say.

“Look, the East is burning red!”

“Get ready, Irian.  Ilya, bring my pistols.”

Published in: on October 1, 2012 at 12:42 am  Leave a Comment  

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