The rain swept hills roared with the cries of thunder, crashing through the air with a crack. With each crack time seemed to stand still as they exchanged blows; the heavy clanging of steel almost matching each strike of lightning; swift and deadly when placed right with a good clean hit. The rain pelted their armor and bodies, making a mist of tinier droplets around them. Another crack rang out at their side as they seemed to slow to a dead stop almost. Their blades moved in slow motion; the water seemed to endlessly toil in the air. As they swept towards each other with a strike, the water droplets smashed into the blades fine edge, a curving water trail following behind. It was an elegant and beautiful dance of their souls, the Samurai brandishing the sky with their swords cry. Time resumed again as the rain came down hard as ever, pelting them as the crossed by unscathed once more; neither willing to falter. They dared not weaken for one slip in fear their armor would brandish a wet crimson red paint of flesh. Doji spun with a graceful end; his brother stumbling along the blood and mud of the war beaten path they lead. They both panted heavily; theirs breaths condensing in the night air, misty and white breaths of dead men, this they both knew. His brother Shiro’s blade quivering, the strain and tension in his arms evident to his brother’s focused eyes. He stepped back lowering his blade to his side, grip still knotted around it.
“Shiro… Will you not surrender at the sacrifice of your honor instead of your life? Your forces in shambles and your men routed; you must surrender.” Doji spoke in a calm voice, a light tone. Doji’s blade dripped and pooled water into another hoof printing in the earth. The final cavalry had ridden through here not to long ago, rifles ending their cries and silencing the battlefield. The war drums echoed deep through the sky; a heavy cry for retreat from his enemy’s camp. Shiro simply turned his head on its side, listening to the drums howl through the night, his eyes never once leaving his younger brothers. Doji could see his wound clear now; the bullet hole in his left shoulder, just under his shoulder blade, affecting his fighting and his duration. Rain dripped from both men’s muzzles, their clothes and armor drenched to their chest. Shiro stared sharp at his brother, then behind him, the rifle unit’s paws ready to dig fangs and claws into him should his brother loose the leash’s. He grunted softly in the afternoon sky, silent sounds not heard upon his brother’s ears, the pain becoming a high burden.
“No… It would be an elegant death… to die at your hands… “He said with a slight pant before taking a deep breath to calm himself. His brother knew the feeling. They had always shared the same close bond him and Shiro. Doji went silent. The sounds of restless and unaware soldiers at his back, confused dogs tied down form the raise of his hand. Their gun flints were smoldering under their straw hats trying to stay dry along with their powder. Doji stood quiet as he focused himself, his eyes squinting closed slowly, tired. He could see the rain slowing down around him briefly as he closed off the rest of the world. Everything went silent as they focused hard, their own worlds flying from their minds all around them. Their shiver’s stopped, their bodies resting, the numbing cold rain giving new feeling. Doji could feel his clothes lighten on him, his muscles loosening under them. He felt lighter. His sword rested in his left hand, gripping loosely at the guard, the water cupping in his hand. His hair softened, his body drying in his own mind. Light and free… This was the final strike… They stood for nearly a minute in the beating rain, concentrating… The battle playing in each others mind’s as they began to recall all of their previous moves and their old techniques, each trying to find a usable counter. Neither seemed to finish on end, before their hairs both stood on end as they opened their eyes with a snap, moving. They could feel it…
A sudden lightning bolt cracked down into the earth behind them, giving fright to many soldiers. Both samurai had felt the sudden wave of energy in the air, their hairs stand on end in the anticipation of their starting mark. The erupting thunder bang was so close, it didn’t take a split second for them to hear the bang while they had just started moving, many soldiers thinking they moved just as it had come, lightning fast reflexes. The beautiful flash seemed to last in both their eye’s and along their blades, glimmering steel like forged lightning bolts as they cracked swords across each other as the wild bolt ended. They meant to kill each other, not even uttering a grunt, or cry as they passed by, the glimmering blades eyed for movements, reading each others moves as they knew so well. Each foot landed at the same time, spinning in a dervish to keep up. Doji’s leg carried along the ground for a sweep to force Shiro from his roots and uproot the mountain. He had caught on long before, knowing his brother well as he jumped into the air with the tiniest of hops, just dodging the sliding steeled leg. Doji simply rolled his shoulders and torso to the left, his swinging leg gaining ground behind him. Shiro read the play as he swiped to parry his attack, a horizontal slash down at him. Before Doji’s head even reached the angle to see Shiro, his blade had shadowed out form the speeded arms, digging up through the mud hidden, slamming into his brothers parry. A single glint of sparks and ringing steel shot between them. The blow knocked Shiro’s sword up slightly, but he held it enough to force himself back, narrowly missing the blade.
“Again!!” Doji cried out in a gasping breath as his blade curved to the side an inch and around with a twist of his wrist; the dragon’s tail cracking back down to break him. Doji Kouki, The Thunder Dragon; His name would become legend one day. Shiro quickly twisted his blade in a raindrop as his blade angled upwards sideways in a skilled parry, both hands gripping it now for the fear of his little brother’s blinding force in speed again. Doji’s blade crashed into his brothers, the thunder sparking lightly along his blade as it slid down its side, parried off to the side barely. Doji’s strike managed to stop his brother’s blades advance, keeping it at just a parry instead of a killing blow. He had nearly landed a perfect parry on him; a single action in which he could deflect his blade, leaving him wide, and deliver a killing or wounding blow in one. He had merely skimmed his blade to the side, just slicing into his brother’s side arm, the classic wooden style tiles splintering and cracking as his blade ripped through them. He was still left lightly vulnerable now, his blade down in the ground on Doji’s right. Shiro took his chance, not enough time for a blade strike but enough to maybe land a tackle or smash to break his guard. Doji watched silently, his body still in its downward swinging motion as Shiro charged towards him close range, raising his elbow a hair to nail Doji clean in the jaw. Doji merely scoffed as he continued his downward motion, tucking his chest to his legs as the buckled, giving in on purpose and rolling into the earth’s dirty tears. He rolled shortly on his brothers left side, rolling onto his right shoulder, kicking his legs awkwardly to the side as it sent him tumbling shortly, dodging right behind his brother.
“Not this time!?!” Shiro’s voice cried out, watching his brother roll, unable to keep up with the smaller, but more versatile and maneuverable body he had. He quickly cancelled his elbow strike, pivoting on his right leg, using his other to kick off the muck of land he could find and spin himself to try and keep up. His eyes moved faster than him, his hands spinning the blade to a more comfortable position, taking a diagonal upward swipe at him. Doji grimaced at the sight as he gained footing crouched low on the ground, his blade still perched on his left side, both hands gripping it tight. He simply decided to give up his footing for now and save his life as he spun quickly onto his right side, dragging his blade very close to his body for more speed to block. Doji took the blunt of the massive wind up blow from Shiro, being knocked back sprawling with a yelp as he landed on his back, letting his face soak in thick mud, his sense’s going dead for a second as he rolled off his shoulders, back onto the ground squatting again with a gasp, opening his eyes squinting. Shiro was already on his tail, the blade above his head, winding up as it started to swing down. Doji simply grunted his face covered in mud and water, his long brown hair soaked along his face and against his back and armor in curling waves. He simply allowed himself to lie back down, a small hop forward at his brother as he raised his own blade horizontal over him, covering him from the blow with both hands. He landed the tiny hop forward in the mud, landing softly with a splash of disgrace as he drew a leg up towards his chest quickly with a yank before his brother could spot it. At the same time his blade was just landing his hit, he kicked his leg out into Shiro’s lower leg, making him waver and crouch forward, his leg kicked out from under him. His blade still held a lot of power, even when weakened without his balance. He raised his won blade, dropping the end and raising the hilt of his sword into his brother’s gut as it lurched forward. He did it with such a speed that his lack of power was compensated with enough force to make him cough out his air, stripped of his real power.
“Move away!” He demanded, his voice gasping and panting himself as he lurched the hilt in with a small grunt and pressed his brother to the side, sending him stumbling to keep his ground, a hand across his stomach as he struggled to breathe in the thick January rains. Doji quickly gained his ground, panting and brown in mud, his armor soaked in it and his white hakama tainted of earths wet kiss. He slowly panted a few times before calming himself, the adrenaline in him gauging and pumping full force now as he raised his blade to his side, a unique double grip style that kept the blade pointed forward for piercing and sharp jagged slashes. He charged at his brother, counting the steps as he lunged forward into a jump at his brothers back.
One... He thought within his own head, time starting to slow down again. This would be his final blow. He was going to kill his brother finally and take the land form his oppression. He used to look up to this man he once called brother with pride. The dog had let his pride and lost lead him astray though, following scents but only on a wild goose chase. The rain slowed more…
Two… He said silently in his own mind. The rain drooled down the sky, his eyes squinted. His body was smashing against the drops, each one shattering slowly against him like hundreds of little crystal fragments shattering on his armor. He drew his blade up slowly, very fast in actual speed. His focusing abilities were phenomenal. On his second step, his blade was already curving in the air above him, arching round to swipe back down at him. So slow now… His brother gained his footing stopping as he glanced back at him… Doji hoped off his right foot. Time seemed to freeze between them both as he stared back at his brother’s face; the side angle hardly anything as he was stunned.
Is he smiling..? Was Doji’s last thought in that moment as the blade had already started crashing down towards him... The blade gleamed as another far off distant lightning strike added light to it. He could see some metal between them flash into his eyes. It was only a few seconds before he realized what had happened. His blade missed and dug deep and sharp into his brothers left shoulder before they were both gagging against each other… The shining silver of metal between them wasn’t his won blade, but his brothers, ripping through his own stomach in a ritual suicide as it pierced into Doji’s chest as well, arched up through his body. Both blades stayed into each other shaking as they quivered in pain. Shiro was still glancing back halfway smiling, a sad look in his eyes... They stayed dead silent in the beating rain as he watched his brother’s eyes, searching for reason.
“Good job Bro’… You win…” He said in a soft, heartfelt tone as he just squinted his eyes shut happily, smiling, a small dribble of blood leaking out his lips and being washed away just as quick. Doji froze silent before leaning his head against his brothers back shoulder. He knew what this was; this was his surrender and gift to him. He was already wounded and bleeding, a loosing battle to begin with. He gave himself up to his brother and kept his honor as well. He could hear the cries of his men as some of them hurried towards him, the dull distant roar of paws down the mud trenched plain.
“Thank you….” He said, tears mixed with rain crying down into the pool of blood they shed. The blade had barely nicked him, just piercing through his armor and the tip digging in an inch or two. It was no where’s near a fatal wound. He let go of his blade, watching as his brothers face grimace as it slid from his bleeding, gapping shoulder. He wrapped his arms tight around him, pulling the bleed against him a little deeper as his brother kept his smile still, holding onto his blade close. Doji felt Shiro’s blade rip out from his won chest as he grunted, watching it fall to the side into the mud. It seemed to hand forever, leaving distant murmuring silver shadows as it feel, blurry eyes giving way tricks. He gripped him tighter, holding him up now as his brother used to do for him so many times before.
“I’ll shine… Just you watch…” He said to his brother silently, letting him know that hew as going to fix everything and make it all better and right again. He was going to make this land a beautiful one. They stood there silently, time starting to go back to what it was, the adrenaline wearing off, the rain pelting at his back. His brother slowly started to sag forward, going limp against his arms as he tried to take him back to the earth as well. He stood there silently just holding him as another brilliant bolt of lightening struck off in the distance. He counted it in his head, the tears streaming down his face with rain.
One… Two…. He went silent as he heard a loud thunder crack, the sky exploding in the dragon’s roar, gods tempered in spirits; the storm was leaving. He started to slowly drop forward holding his brother, not wanting to let go. He never thought that at his young age of seventeen he would be killing his brother taking over his land. He never thought he would become a great samurai to make a legend of or best full grown men with his style and speed. He never thought he would have to bury his twenty-seven year old brother in a battlefield of mud and blood with a hole from his own blade in his chest… War was nothing more than a lost theory that had broken away from its cause… He felt his soldier’s hands grip around him, watching as they tossed their rifles and blades to the side to stop the dragon’s descent. He felt their hands wrap around and embrace him as he watched his brother fall to the ground, his body splashing softly in the mud, his face down in the earth drowning dead. Doji frolicked violently against the hands as he gained his own ground again, his armor slowly seeping red. It was ok, the numbing sensation of the cold rain was coming back; he was a warrior trained not to feel but fight. He dropped to his knees, starring at his brothers limbered body, soaking up the mud. His soldiers curled around him protectively. It didn’t matter, without the master the dogs had no reason to strike; it was over. Doji slowly reached down, a hand stroking the wound in his brothers back. The baka never did where back armor…
‘Remember Doji, never leave you back open to your opponent for strike. A skilled samurai will never loose his focus or turn his back...’ the words echoed in his head, his brother’s voice clear even through the thick muddy water. How he wished now that he could have seen him smile more like that again. It had been so long since he saw his brother smile happily. He wasn’t even sure if he was actually happy or just smiling to throw him off. His eye’s drifted to far off memories of when he was a kid, how his brother would play with him, using the training sticks and bop him on the head….
“Y-Young Lord? Are you alright?” A voice suddenly broke through the lightening rain; breaking more through to his conscious than the rain. His mind suddenly urged him to move, not to falter and to show his strength among his men. If he was going to take on the burdens of the land, he had to have the confidence of his people. He sighed lightly as he reached for his blade in the mud, gripping the hilt tight. He was going to stand up when he saw his brother’s blade as well, reaching for it and gripping it tight in his fist. He stood slowly and silently.
“Fetch me his sheath and tie’s... “He ordered as he stared the blade over. It was still in very fine condition. It was hardly even scratched or dented from his own attacks on it, gleaming wet silver stone forged into man’s weapon. It took a great force to tumble a mountain, let a lone more to make it break apart its weapon made from his won soul. They were Samurai; their blades were considered the soul. One of his men quickly began to untie the ropes and ties around his brother, carefully undoing his sheath, the bright red wood casing. He took it, glancing over his brother’s blade once more before sheathing it and tying it onto his won side. His brother would never leave his side again and always help him in a battle; he would help him make this a better nation. He glanced around at his soldiers, these great warriors who would help him to make a better land. He was younger than most of them and yet they were willing to call him Young Lord. He scoffed lightly at the thought before he smiled happily, the tears on his face hidden in the teary skies that hide lies. He began to laugh joyously; this was not a triumphant laugh, or a Joyous laugh, but a child’s laugh. He was laughing because he still could, because his brother was still able to treat him like the kid he was.
“Young Lord Kouki,” Another silent voice came out, more comforting now than concerned, worried for his wellbeing, “Are you alright my Lord..?” Kouki calmed down, his laughing stopping as he stared into the sky smiling, another distant thunder crack broke; he had missed watching one. He watched as the cloud’s moved and curled in the storms wind, much like the dragons scales as it flew through the sky. He glanced at the soldier smiling, nodding slowly.
“Yes, I am. My brother’s sacrifice will not go in vane… Those of you who followed me, who are so willing to lie down your lives and take up your swords for me… I thank you for trusting in me and following me. I will try to be better for you; the best! I will create a new Japan!!!” He spoke in a lighter voice than he had times before, his soul finally cleansed of the hate and resentment in his soul. He smiled happily at them all as they rose up in arms and cheers, ushering in the new Japan. He beamed happily amongst his men as he stumbled lightly to the side before two of them gripped him underneath the arm’s, wrapping his over their shoulder’s and lifting his small body up slowly. He was tired, very, very tired form his long and painful battle. He held on tight as his head hung low panting finally, the exhaustion setting in and the pain coming in as the rain lightened still. The skies were dark, and the storm was settling, a calming drizzle now refreshing them all. Victory cries and drums rolled through the hills as the brothers and enemies and friends of the same nation began surrendering and joining in arms. Such a silly war sibling rivalry could cause for a cause they both sought with different intentions. Doji slowly closed his eyes, tired form his war, the young lord tuckered out as just the one soldier picked him up, carrying him back to the main camp for the medic’s tent.
“Hhhhhhmmm… Doji Kouki… The Thunder Dragon… Aspiring conqueror of Japan and leader of men… I’ll have to keep a watchful eye on you.” A voice in the hills said, deep and raspy. A dark clad figure, a rouge looking man holding a strange sword in one hand and a scroll in the other. His eyes affixed on the scene, his hood dripping lightly, his lips arched in a darkening twisted smile. The dead tree he stood beside seemed to almost twist its branch’s out towards him. He just chuckled to himself, deep and monstrous as he vanished back into the forest from which he came.