YOUR TRAINING IS
sheathed my sword as I approached the entrance to
the temple. It had been a long day of fighting
and general unpleasantness, and in times like
these, a refreshing chat with the Master and a
cup of herbal tea could do, as my aunt used to
say, a world of good.
I dismounted my horse and led her into the
stables, I noticed something very unusual. The
straw on the ground was disturbed, but I knew
that Hiroshi the stable boy changed it at four
every afternoon. Secondly, the front door of the
temple was ajar. I knew for a fact that it was
always kept locked and closed at this time of
day, because of the common threat of marauders.
Thirdly, now I was coming to notice things like
this, I noticed that most of the temple staff
were lying around the front courtyard, dead and
missing several protrusions.
was my first thought. My second, slightly more
coherent thought was "Marauders". I
pulled the main entrance door open and dashed
through the temple, ignoring the scenes of
devastation on all sides. I emerged into the
daylight at the base of Master Li's mountain and
began to ascend the roughly carved stairs. I had
unconsciously drawn my faithful katana Betsy, but
I knew it was too late. The marauders were long
gone, the fires long burned out. I could only
hope that my master had been able to fight them
I rounded the final bend and trooped up the
remaining steps, I caught sight of Master Li. He
was lying awkwardly on his prayer mat at the top,
a spear protruding cheekily from his stomach.
Even from several yards away I could plainly tell
that he was still breathing, if rather faintly. I
jogged up to his prone form, and helped him into
a sitting position.
one," he gasped, a trickle of blood emerging
from the corner of his mouth. "I do not have
I guess not," I said. "Who did this?
shook his head with difficulty. "No,"
he hissed. "I forgot to pay the newsagent
for the week's papers."
cursed myself for not being here sooner. "Is
there anything I can do, master?"
grabbed the front of my bloodstained armour. The
light was fading from his eyes. "Young one,
your training is complete," he said.
"Avenge ... my ... death ..."
head slumped into my chest.
head rose again.
training is complete," he repeated tetchily.
"Avenge my death."
training is complete?"
shifted slightly, as my sitting position was
proving uncomfortable. "So ... I'm a samurai
hesitated, then nodded. "Yep," he said.
"Fully paid up samurai."
frowned. "You said it would take me fifteen
years to learn the way of the samurai."
... you're an impressively fast learner," he
only been here six weeks, master."
a prodigy, really -"
yesterday in the sparring range you said it would
take me at least a decade to learn how to hit a
barn door while holding the handle."
gods are with you," said Master Li, before
coughing theatrically. "The spirits of your
ancestors are with you, and bring you strength.
You are ready to avenge your master's
haven't even taught me how to use nunchucks
it's not hard. You hold one end and spin it
around until your opponent looks impressed, then
hit him with the other end. It's not rocket
science. Now go avenge my death, already."
stood, and allowed his head to hit the rocky
floor with an audible BOP. I reached into my
inside pocket and produced a glossy brochure.
"Now look," I said. "I'm not happy
with this. Your leaflet said, and I quote,
'Master Li will teach you all the nuances of
samurai training over a fifteen year scholarship.
Be an unstoppable warrior! Learn to focus your
chi! Impress girls!'"
Li's eyes rolled painfully. I continued.
paid three hundred thousand yen for a fifteen
year course!" I protested. "Now a bunch
of marauders turn up and stick their little
swords in you and suddenly my training's complete
just at a time when you need someone to avenge
your death? How convenient!"
Li pulled himself wobbily to his feet. There was
a very weary look in his eyes. "You want the
just want what I paid for," I whined.
he replied, beginning his descent down the
mountain. "First thing you can do is warm up
some wet towels. Call the physician over from
followed him happily. "Right you are,
pull this bloody spear out."
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