Every Bit a Dragon‏

Every Bit a Dragon‏

Stephen Maundrell

The whistle of a training sword flying through the air was followed by the loud clack of it impacting against the dummy. Again and again the sounds of echoed through the dojo as the young Dragon diligently rained blows upon his inanimate partner.

‘I always said you’d come to regret your choices,’ came the aging voice of the school’s swordmaster, causing Ryouichi to freeze, before whirling and bowing ‘Sensei.’

‘What was it I said to you, boy?’ The teacher continued.

‘The focus and determination in my Iaijutsu was the best to come out of this school in a generation. But the rest of my form lacked conviction, lacked purpose, and in a real battle I’d see myself cut down,’ Ryouichi answered, his voice flat of emotion, yet firm.

‘And you replied that Dragon don’t fight real battles, and that the rest of your form was irrelevant, you’d never need those skills as a magistrate,’ the sensei added with an indulgent smile. ‘Never to my face, but you’ve never been one to hide your views. So imagine my surprise when it turned out the young student had returned and was practicing his form, almost as if the old fool who’s spent his whole life mastering the sword had been right. What a remarkable circumstance.’

Kitsuki Ryouichi grimaced as the swordmaster continued. ‘Of course, you never did win the Topaz championship you were so sure about. Turns out your year put more value in the melee than the dueling. But I’m sure you still blame the Lion clan for that, rather than yourself for not listening to your sensei. Yet somehow you’ve still managed to end up a magistrate, Kami save us all.’

‘Yes, Sensei,’ the young dragon replied through stony lips. ‘I should have adopted a more well rounded form to my blade. And now I seek to correct that error.’

‘Good, perhaps you’re not so much a fool as I thought,’ the master replied. ‘But even with the single minded determination you notoriously apply, this won’t be something you fix in a single afternoon.’

‘Then I shall return tomorrow as well,’ Ryouichi replied.

‘Yes, I imagine you will. When you actually set your mind to something, you achieve remarkable results. The challenge has always been to get you to do so. And in that, you are every bit a Dragon,’ the teacher barked a short laugh at Ryouichi’s reaction.

‘Surprised, young Dragon? Thought yourself different from the rest of us fools? Yet your greatest vice remains your own inaction, your own unwillingness to change the status quo. It must have been quite the ordeal to bring you back here. But that’s your problem; my problem is I’ve got an upstart student whose form with the blade is practically an embarrassment to my teaching.’

‘I may not be as important as an emerald magistrate, but only one of us gets to beat his problem with a bokken until it goes away,’ the teacher replied with a grin, tossing the former student a fresh training sword. ‘So I can’t be too much of an old fool after all.’