Osamu Pt. I – Orient in Turmoil

For centuries, the Buddhist monks secluded themselves in remote places like mountains or islands across the Japanese territory, raising temples for the praise of their own religion and superstition.

In these sanctuaries, males could follow the path of the monk, thus becoming acquainted with the traditions, beliefs and spiritual practices based on the original teachings of Buddha, the man who awakened his true nature and shared such phenomenon with others. Besides interpreting his philosophies, the monks also had extreme mental and physical discipline, which they trained every day through martial arts.

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In a mountainous area close to Nagasaki, there was a sacred temple, home to a sect of monks who taught and learned the teachings of enlightenment to any who could endure their routine. The Stoneweavers were known as proficient sculptors with and without proper tools. Their skill as barehand fighters was famous in the eastern part of Japan and they already participated in countless conflicts, previous to the unification of the realm. Since they self-sustained themselves, the temple rarely had any visits besides new monks willing to join their ranks. The last one to enter the sect joined over a year ago, and as such, the Stoneweavers remained unaware of the pirates’ raids across the shores and continued with their harsh routine in seclusion from the World.

Over the last days, the temple had been somewhat agitated. Osamu, a prominent disciple with an incredible genius and talent for combat, continued to press his masters to join them in the council. At this very moment, Osamu confronted his masters once more inside the shrine of the temple, which was not only the main place for praying and meditation but also the place where the four masters gathered to organize every function to be performed by their order.

“Again with this issue Osamu?!” One of the robed men, sat before a rectangular table, pronounced. “We can’t debate this every week! This is ridiculous.” The fattest of them protested, clearly annoyed by Osamu’s insistence. On the table, there were a number of scrolls, probably related to the management of the temple itself. The thinnest and oldest of the masters took one of the scrolls and with it, he pointed to Osamu who stood before the masters. “The rules are clear, Osamu. To be ordained a master of the Stoneweavers, you must practice our way for at least ten years besides completing the challenges that you have already passed. That was how master Jakuren became master, that was how Master Shunkan became master, that was how master Kenkai became master and that was how I, Genshin, became a master as well, and that was how all the other masters before us were raised to that same rank.” All the masters nodded in unison.

Osamu had knelt before mentioning his plea and had even placed his forehead on the surface. In Japanese culture, this is as far as one can go to ask a favor of someone. His frustration was growing. It was not the first time that he had asked for advanced training, allowed only for the ones who reach the position of master. In reality, Osamu had already surpassed his colleagues within the order. Once at a sparring session he single-handedly outmatched master Shunkan, the fattest and laziest of the masters, but a master still. Osamu strongly believed that he was being held back by tradition alone, and he was not about to wait eight more years starving for knowledge that he could very well have at this moment.

The youngest of the masters, and actual leader of the Stoneweavers, stood up and walked a couple of steps towards Osamu. Kenkai was the only Stoneweaver bigger and stronger than Osamu and as such, posed as the ultimate goal for Osamu to surpass. The master’s presence was intimidating, to say the least. His steps were heavy and they carried a tone of aggression that made Osamu shiver, but instead of fearing his master, he respected him instead. The Stoneweavers studied the path of enlightenment but they would not hold back in taking another one’s life. As they nourished life around the temple, so too they could take it away if they deemed necessary. Kenkai was the true embodiment of such neutrality and even though Osamu respected him, he would not let himself be caught within a certain distance of his master while on such position. Luckily for Osamu, master Kenkai stopped within a safe distance and the disciple remained unmoved.

“Osamu. Your ambition is commendable, even by Stoneweaver standards. Your insistence, on the other hand, is not. Just like the statues that we sculpt on the temple grounds take a long time to achieve a state of near perfection, so too must a disciple sculpt himself to reach the next level. You have talent and you have ambition. Now you must learn discipline and patience.”

Osamu looked up to his master, and Kenkai retrieved a small stone of the size of his fist from under his sleeve. Now with it in his right hand, Kenkai crushed the stone with his fingers, leaving a pile of dust to float down over his disciple. It was not an insult for Osamu to withstand the dust itself. But to him, what made him really angry, was the inability in performing the same act that master Kenkai had done. That was the lesson that Kenkai had just taught him. “Now, leave. We have matters to discuss.” Without a word, but not without glaring at master Kenkai and the others, Osamu turned around and left the room by pushing the two huge stone doors that gave entrance to the room all by himself, which was also one of the required feats to be a master of the Stoneweavers.

Once the doors were shut, Kenkai turned around and looked at his seniors. “This young man will certainly be a problem in the future.” Master Shunkan announced his distaste towards Osamu while retrieving some dry fruit from within a sleeve of his robes. “Just like this young disciple must be patient to become a master, so too must we be patient to see what he will do in the meantime.” Retorted master Genshin, his frail voice eluding what a stranger could assume to be a weak and fragile man. “I’ll keep a closer eye on him. If he tries anything, he’ll become one with the statues.” For a moment, Kenkai flooded the room with his menacing aura. Only Shunkan felt threatened by it, and although the other masters supported it well, they rather opted not to feel it at all. “Now that this inconvenience is dealt with, let us proceed with the weekly schedule. I still have things to do after this.” And with these words, master Kenkai walked towards the table and sat with the other masters for the following couple of hours.

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The young prodigy left the wooden building in a hurry. His steps were obvious to anyone in the vicinity, as he dashed down the stairway emanating a murderous aura. Although the Stoneweavers had quite a few numbers, Osamu did not get acquainted with anyone in particular. There were groups here and there, and the young prodigy did not mingle in any of them. He performed his duties with extreme discipline and meditated or trained with what little time he had left each day. While the sun fell on the horizon, Osamu made his way to an area on the temple grounds where the monks sculpted statues out of huge boulders of stone. With his feet radiating his anger, the monk moved towards a stone twice of his size. The fury in Osamu’s eyes was evident and when he remembered what he had been through earlier on, rage poured through like an avalanche. A flurry of punches hit the boulder in front of him, blood splattered little by little from his fists. There was no comparison, however, to the amount of dust and bits of stone that crumbled from the main piece. His breathing grew faster until he could no longer maintain his attack. Now panting, the hulking figure calmed down and joined his hand palms together. He breathed deeply, in and out for a couple of times. Then, Osamu assumed a stance and released a punch each time he exhaled. Slowly, the stone began to earn the shape of a human.

There was no fatigue in Osamu’s mind. This was how he meditated. Punch after punch, the blood continued to drip through his fists while he cogitated his next course of action. Time passed by and the stone in front of Osamu had earned the shape of a flawed statue. The monk then changed his method and began polishing it by changing the way of his strikes. They were delivered with more precision and less strength. As the night went by, Osamu stumbled upon the answer that he was looking for. He became so tense upon achieving that realization, that he could not stop what he was doing. His resolution became absolute and he would only stop until his work was done. At the break of dawn, the statue could easily be mistaken for master Kenkai himself. Taller and bulkier than Osamu, the statue reminded the young monk of master Kenkai’s grandeur. Although imposing, Osamu was not at all afraid or intimidated by the master’s figure. “What do the teachings say about weeds which are in the way of other flowers’ growth?” The head of master Kenkai’s statue fell to the ground. Osamu had swung his arm through its neck and the head was severed as easily as a knife would gut a fish. With a glare, Osamu faced the statue’s head on the ground. “One must die so that the other one can grow.”

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