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A Time Traveller's Guide To Feudal Japan Chapter 117 - Talent

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'Even if it's scary… Even if you're a better swordsman than me… Even then, I'll beat you!'

With so many people watching, she shut off all the thoughts that urged her to surrender. All those little niggles that warned her of how uncomfortable she was. She freed her mind, and focused on defeating the enemy in front of her.

Agility was her most powerful weapon. She had an athleticism and energy that was rarely seen. And so, she cast away the formal movements and steps that she had practised for so long, and she leapt.

She leapt with her blade poised, instantly closing the gap, and slas.h.i.+ng at him wildly, with ferocity.

He blocked firmly, without flinching. He was far stronger than she, and it became apparent that she would never win a contest of strength. She had to overwhelm him.

But with that pause after her attack, he was already taking advantage, controlling her pole as he had once done before. But this time, she was ready. Instead of letting him cease the initiative like that again, she kicked out, and spun.

Her kick sent him backwards, and her spin brought her blade whipping round, so he was once more on the end of it. With the kick to the stomach, he felt pain, and barely had time to lean backwards and duck the whirling spear that was coming for his head.

'Heh.'

She thought to herself, as she noticed the expression amongst the onlookers change. After that exchange one thing became apparent: they were even.

He was certainly not the weakest amongst the men - that t.i.tle fell to Ii and his crew, who had not had the same training as they - but nor was he the most skilled. He simply had the heart to keep fighting, even when defeat seemed inevitable.

And in this duel, he badly wanted to win. Though it was his master's little sister, he did not go easy on her in the least. He made her deal with the full range of his a.r.s.enal, and gave it his maximum effort.

The naginata that she wielded held the advantage of range, he reasoned. But she had proved that she could still wield it after he closed the gap, demonstrating her skill. Force, he reckoned, would be the edge that he needed to blast through her defences.

He smacked down with his sword, sending her weapon downwards. She had nowhere near the strength required to remain unmoving after receiving a strike of that magnitude. In that instant before she managed to re-erect it, he abandoned his own weapon, and tugged hard on hers, feeling it coming loose from her slippery grip.

She was clearly surprised by his actions, but she still managed to hold onto with one more hand. However, a single pull later, and it was entirely from her grip.

Most duels would be said to be over then and there, but that was not the way they played. A victor could only be determined by death, or in this case, surrender. Though she was unarmed, her chances were not disregarded. It was their way.

And though Akiko was extremely worried, seeing her friend unarmed like that, she held a small amount of hope as Rin had clearly not given up.

It was not the first time a member of the Miura family had to challenge an opponent unarmed, and Morohira watched intently, wondering if his daughter had inherited any of his ferocity.

Kitajo struck out with a solid thrust. She moved her torso slightly to the side, without changing the positioning of her feet, dodging it. Her long hair was slicked back behind her head from the sweat, but her hands were up and ready, and her eyes were focused.

He did not let up. The result of many battles had taught him to never underestimate your opponent. Until he claimed victory, the battle was not over.

Thrust after thrust, she dodged with apparent ease, though the strikes were gradually catching up her. He went high, aiming for her shoulders. It seemed in there lay her weakness. It was the norm for martial artists to have an expert degree of control over certain areas of their body, but it meant that the other areas were weaker, and they had to train hard in order to achieve a similar skill on those parts. And such was the case for her.

In order to block those ferocious strikes, she had to use the her forearms to redirect them, so that they flew past their head.

FLOOM

Another flew past, and the pressured air sent her hair high. He was ruthless in his onslaught, and she seemed to be beginning to tire, and each movement was less sharp than the last.

Antic.i.p.ating the perfect moment, he went for a slash, now that she had been caught up in the rhythm of dodging thrusts. He swung toward her shoulder that had revealed to be her weak point.

She barely registered the change in movement and was caught completely off guard as the strike shot towards her exposed shoulder. A dodge would not work, and a block would crush the bones of her forearms.

Spurred on by instinct, as there was no time for thought, she allowed her body to deal with the threat, and kicked.

Those legs that she was so proud of finally had their chance to s.h.i.+ne, and the kick was swift - frightening so. Leaning back, she sent her leg up, unbending it, before extending it fully.

THWACK

The wooden geta on her feet collided with the downwards moving blade of the naginata polearm, and she stood there as though unfazed, demonstrating an expert level high kick, with the utmost flexibility, as she, without intention, performed the vertical splits perfectly.

What was more impressive still, was her balance. Even after the forceful blade crashed into her foot, she did not stumble, and only demonstrated the most mild displeasure as the aftershock transmitted throughout her body.

Even the men were surprised. They had witnessed the most b.l.o.o.d.y battles, and had spent hundreds of hours duelling one another. They had been privy to the development of numerous sword styles, and movements with the spear. But not once, in all that time, had they ever seen such a feat.

She demonstrated what they all sort to achieve, and she did so perfectly. Their belief, as instilled into them by their master, was that everything was a weapon. Whilst such an impressive movement would not have worked had the blade been real - that did not matter. It demonstrated an incomprehensible talent for survival, and for combat in general. Had the situation been other than it was, her body would have responded differently.

"…This is my defeat."

Kitajo decided. Even if he fought on, and managed to get her to submit, it would now be meaningless in comparison to what he had just witnessed. And so, in hopes of not sullying the scene that they had all just witnessed, he returned her naginata.

It was his first time wielding a weapon like that - as it was certainly different to a spear - so, his own performance could be deemed impressive. But her performance in the last part of the fight outshone his own.

"So she's my daughter eh… I'd had doubts, but I guess it's confirmed now."

Morohira was the first to speak with that intolerably impolite mouth of his.

"Shut up will you?"

Even Rokkaku was not in the mood for jokes.

"Well fought, Miura. The boss would be proud."

Aritada said approvingly, with his arms folded. He had been disgruntled at first - that she had dared to interrupt their practice, even if she was Gengyo's sister. But after that display, she was more than worthy of his respect.

"Quite the fierce thing you've been raising, Morohira."

Sasaki said, patting his friend's shoulder.

"Isn't she?"

"Aye, you are quite similar to your father, little Miura. Both your blades contain the same wildness."

Togas.h.i.+ mused, stroking his beard. After seeing her skill, he briefly wondered why he had not seen her fight sooner. But he stopped his thoughts there. More than anyone, Gengyo would have his reason for doing things.

"I am?"

Rin asked, confused. She didn't think she fought like her father at all. From what she remembered of Morohira's fights, he always came home covered in bruises and bloodied. Though sometimes it was not his own blood.

"I don't know about any of that, Rin… But that was different to how you usually fight. I think 'wild', is probably the right word, as you're usually a little calmer."

Akiko decided, having become caught up with the display, though she was quite adamantly against it at first. She was proud of her friend.

"Ho! I didn't see you there, little lady Akiko. Or should I say daughter-in-law, haha! Welcome to the family."

The two girls shared a look, as Akiko started to turn red, and Rin strode over to where her father stood, and attempted to punch him. But Morohira was far beyond her level, and she didn't stand a chance.

In the end, she ended up being forced on his shoulders, as he carried her around.

"My fierce little Rin is so cute!!! GAHHHHHH!"

He said, doing his best impression of a woman as he jogged around the area with her rooted to his shoulders.

"Ahhhh! AKIKO!!!! HELP!"

She seemed genuinely terrified as Morohira started to pick up speed. He was not exactly the most trustworthy person in the world.

He was an interesting man, it could be said. Though his character was that of a clown, one would still have expected him to lapse into depression following the death of his son. But after a few days of quietness, he was back to his old self. After those couple of days, he wondered why he had been upset at all. His son had made him extremely proud, and died a fierce death, as part of a glorious victory. He had lived a fuller life than anyone could hope to wish, and so, he realized that it was nothing to be depressed over. He merely had to continue to live, and collect many stories, so that when he rejoined him in Takamagahara, he would have lots to share.

And who could have a better opportunity to collect stories than he? He followed under the command of his son, who was one of the most terrifying people he had met, and was destined to cause pandamonium for the whole country.

For the first years of his life, he had been something of a disappointment, but when the circ.u.mstances had presented themselves, he had shone.

"Did you two come all the way down here just to duel us?"

Ii asked, as his stuck a finger up his nose, and chased down a rather stubborn bogey. He had initially wished to make a good impression on Akiko, for she was undoubtedly a beauty, but he had quickly learned that he was the boss's woman, and he had promptly given up. Gengyo was a man that he certainly couldn't compete with.

She did her best not to cringe with disgust, as he admired a rather large bogey on the end of finger.

"Well… I suppose so."

"So you wanna fight too?"

"Shhhhheeee dddoESSSS!"

Rin shouted out, still riding her out of the control horse.

"Ah."

It was then that Akiko realized she had been set up, as the rest of the men looked toward her with curiosity, as though evaluating her as a warrior. She shrunk back slightly. It was rather intimidating.

She had instinctively wanted to refuse, but now that they were here, she realized her own desire to prove herself. They had already inconvenienced the men, and there was no taking that back. And so, it would be best for her - and for everyone - if she took advantage of this situation to test her skill. Rin had fought hard, and it had been difficult, so she wished not to duel Kitajo. Instead, her gaze drifted towards Ii, as he played with that bogey.

"Eh?"

He asked dully, as she stared at him.

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