“No… Don’t do it! I can still teach–” A kick crushed master Shunkan’s windpipe against the wall, he grasped his throat for air in a panic, clawed it even with a mixture of desperation and pain in his face. He gave up shortly… The sun was setting down. Osamu’s clothes were completely soaked in blood and tattered as if they had seen a thousand battles already. Bodies littered the courtyard of what was once a place of training and serenity for the Stoneweavers. There was blood all over the place, most of it already dried but some still flowing from the stairway. A heavy cough drew Osamu’s attention away from the satisfaction of having sent Shunkan to the other side. Leaned against the first couple of the stairway’s steps, was master Genshin. Osamu had shattered his knees and left him alone while he dealt with the others. Now with the order decimated, Osamu approached his master to finish him off as an act of mercy. Or so he thought in his eyes.
“Osamu… You ungrateful piece of trash…” Genshin coughed hard and had even gasped for air. Osamu couldn’t understand why his master was coughing so bad, but upon noticing his robes going inward in the lower area of the chest, he thought that he had probably struck Genshin there, probably causing a rib to break and pierce one of his lungs. “You and the others brought this on yourselves, master Genshin.” Osamu retorted with a clear hint of pity in his eyes. “This order had more than three hundred years… More than ten generations of men had stepped over these steps… And now…” Genshin coughed again and then looked Osamu right through his soul. “And now you’re going to erase all of that away in your greed for power…” He spat blood, but could not reach his former disciple. “I hope your soul gets lost in the darkness of your own making, never to reincarnate in this world again.” Osamu did not react and retained the seriousness in his face. He looked at the setting sun instead, thinking of his lasts words towards his master. “There is no justice in this world, master Genshin. There are only the people capable of sentencing their own resolutions.” Osamu grabbed his master by his robes and lifted him, thus letting Genshin see the setting sun one last time. “Thank you, master Genshin. Your time in this world has come to an end.” And without any more words, Osamu struck his master in the heart and watched him writhe in pain for just a moment. When his master’s body became static, Osamu gently dropped him on the surface of the courtyard. He glanced over Genshin’s face and then looked around, burning the image of the colleagues he murdered because of his lust for power forever in his memory. The bloodied monk dropped to his knees and roared with anger and frustration until he couldn’t any longer.
By the end of the next day, Osamu had the bodies of all of his colleagues and masters within individual, cylindrical wooden caskets. He did not dare to anger the deities even further and allowed himself no time to rest or to take care of his injuries until the proper rituals were performed. Practically every piece of furniture within the temple was used for the making of these caskets. After igniting several torches to illuminate the courtyard, and burning several patches of incense across it, Osamu set the forty-seven caskets on fire and began the funeral rites. He had seen his masters performing such rituals for more than half a dozen times, this was the least honorable thing he could do to ease his conscience before any doubt.
As soon as the caskets and whoever they contained were nothing but ash, Osamu concluded the ritual and wandered off towards the kitchen in a state of trance. Already the ghosts of his crime haunted him. Images of his colleagues walking up and down the stairways, going about their daily chores. The presence of the masters in the training sessions, lectures, classes and spirituality. Everything came back to haunt Osamu. But he fought them back. These memories would keep him in the past and the young prodigy did not put his life on the line to remain stuck in memories. Now in the kitchen, Osamu searched for anything he could get his hands on. Whatever it was… vegetables, fruit, raw meat, anything and everything he found went straight to his mouth. He chewed voraciously for a while and then succumbed to fatigue in the middle of the room, where he slept untouched for two whole days.
Months went by, and Osamu just arrived at the temple after a journey to the peak of the mountain. He kept wearing the outfit tainted with the blood of his colleagues and masters, as a reminder of what he had done to achieve this new level. He had also taken the primary stone piece of the other Stoneweavers’ necklaces and built a new necklace for himself and four other bands, two for his ankles and two for his wrists.
Nothing had changed in his absence. After absorbing every bit of knowledge contained in every page, note, and scroll, Osamu was left with no objective to pursue. No challenge to win, and no goal to accomplish. With nothing left to do in the temple, Osamu decided to take a trip to the top of the mountain in homage to the Stoneweavers he had murdered, and perhaps ease the negative karma that he had pushed to himself. Now wandering through the temple, hoping to revive the memories of his routine before slaughtering the monks, Osamu could not feel a single hint of regret in his mind. Even when he looked at his robes, necklace or bands, Osamu only saw the cost that took him to achieve greatness and enlightenment, before his time ran out in the material world.
It was time to depart. The young prodigy decided to leave the Stoneweavers’ secrets where they stood, protected by the stone doors that he tried so much to open before he had attained the strength and skill necessary for that purpose. If more men came by and managed to open the doors, so be it. It would take someone initiated in the Stoneweavers to make any sense of what was written in their texts. For all Osamu knew, he was the only Stoneweaver left, and even if he was not, he would surely welcome the challenge in the future.
When he was descending through the stairway, Osamu noticed that the entrance gates were opened. On the courtyard, he saw a group of five men resting by the stream, sating their thirst and eating. They were armed. Swords and daggers from what Osamu could tell. But then he paid close attention to some wooden devices, with traces of metal on them, strapped to a belt in most of the men’s waists. Osamu had heard of this kind of weapon, although he had never seen one with his own eyes. From what he remembered, they functioned in a similar fashion as a bow and arrow. The only difference was that the projectile fired was much smaller and much faster as well, without the requirement of having to load the weapon with it.
At first, Osamu thought he could just leave the place for these strange men. Upon considering, however, the Stoneweaver did not feel right about letting the temple at the mercy of these strange men. He knew the temple rarely had any visitors. Five guests at once and armed as they were, could be more than a mere coincidence. The monk descended through the stairs, in between the statues that delimited the stairway, his presence unknown for the invaders. They were so relaxed, it didn’t even feel like they were trespassing… And that’s because it seemed like they weren’t. It has been months since the Stoneweavers were wiped out, and Osamu did not have the time to upkeep the entire temple by himself. The place seemed deserted besides the kitchen and a portion of the dormitory where Osamu rested, both places located in tiers above the courtyard.
The Stoneweaver sneaked in between the statues now. He could not trust these armed strangers. Osamu approached, carefully enough not to draw any unwanted attention. They were talking and yet, the Stoneweaver could not hear them clearly. He approached even more, as much as possible without being noticed, he thought. Before him were still two rows of statues, but beyond there was a ledge and then the courtyard itself, with the stream of water following down just a couple of meters nearby. Again he heard words, words different than any others he had heard before. “Foreigners? Here, this deep in our mainland?” Osamu thought to himself, looking troubled. “The order was decimated, there’s a chance of a courier having visited and witnessed only an empty temple, without me noticing his presence.” The Stoneweaver brought a hand to his chin and stroked it for a while. “I doubt our nation is at war. These men are not wearing any uniforms, but the weapons in their possession are indeed too much of a threat.” Osamu took a longer peak at them, counting the weapons in their possession, the traits shared and the ones unique in between these men. He noticed matching tattoos in three of them. They were not in the same place in all of them, but surely it meant something. The rags these men were wearing and the dreadlocks on their head surely raised Osamu’s suspicions, however, since he was raised up-country, the young prodigy had no concept of what a pirate was, neither of the seas from where these hosts of villainy came.
Osamu had made his decision. The land of the rising sun was a nation closed to itself, distrustful of foreigners for many, many years. This distrust was imbued on Japan’s youngest through countless stories of seafarers and fishermen. It was not hard for Osamu to reach this judgment, now he only had to apply it in an efficient manner. The bandits were grouped and relaxed near the water stream, sensibly fifteen meters away from Osamu’s current position. He looked around and grabbed the biggest rock he could find. Then, he studied the environment once more and launched the rock to the other side of the stairway, breaking at least two of the hundreds of statues there. The noise startled the pirates. They grew quiet, looked towards the source of the sound and then to each other. There was a peep here and there, from the birds flying nearby, and the water splashing against the rocks on its way down the mountain. Nothing more. Weapons were drawn, pistols on one hand, swords or daggers on the other. They walked slowly, step by step, towards the other side of the courtyard. “So they are bandits after all. Trespassing in sacred grounds can, and in this case, will be sentenced with death…” Osamu smirked, adrenaline already pumping through his fists as he was already remembering the thrill of having blood on his hands.
It would have to be quick, Osamu thought. Once two of the bandits were far enough, the monk would run towards the pirate behind their formation. There were trees on the courtyard, and he would use them to his advantage. Now that two of the bandits were closer to the source of the noise, Osamu took his wooden sandals off and sprinted with an eagerness that he had not experienced for months. The poor pirate did not see or hear anything. His vision suddenly shifted upside down. Before he could even realize it, the poor bastard fell, his eyes already lifeless when he reached the ground. The thud on the floor alerted the rest of them. Soon, words that Osamu never listened were spoken. When they panicked, Osamu had made his way towards the other end of the courtyard, half of it while above the branches of the trees. The pair near the statues was about to run to the middle of temple grounds when Osamu buried his knee in between the ribs of one of the pirates. He swung his sword before falling, coughing so painfully that he couldn’t save any air to quench his frustration. The monk was not caught unaware. He dodged the sword’s cold blade and was already on his way to the next target. The other pirate had turned and pointed his gun towards the coming monk in a panic. “Muda da!” Osamu shouted with vigor, he sidestepped at the last moment. The weapon fired and the projectile scratched Osamu’s right cheek. He raised his leg and unleashed a deadly kick against the bandit’s throat, crushing his windpipe and knocking him backward. The others witnessed the physical prowess of their adversary and recklessly unleashed the lead in their firearms. It seemed that one of the projectiles had pierced the monk, but even if it did, he managed to run away from sight without any loss of speed. “Stop hiding ye slant-eyed cunt!” One of the bandits angrily pronounced. The other hurried to reload his firearm, but evidently scared while doing so. They joined back to back, looking around for any sign of their assailant. “Come down… Monkey, monkey, monkey… I’ll cut ye nice and fast.” The breeze accelerated a little, agitating the branches and leaves for just a moment before calming down again. A brief, sinister laughter came afterward. Osamu appeared from above, knocking down of one of the bandits and successfully entangled his arms around his adversary, one going around the chest and another above the shoulder, joining hands together. The bandit felt his feet levitating and his world went upside down in an instant. With a suplex from this oversized opponent, this sea criminal had his skull crushed inwards and with it, a flow of blood outwards. Some air came out from the freshly killed bandit’s mouth, almost as if indicating that his soul was leaving the host’s body. “Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!” The remaining pirate shouted. Watching his comrade’s skull being crushed sent the remaining pirate into a state of frenzy. He approached Osamu, who stood up right away, and swung his sword wildly, and recklessly. “Stay still, monkey! Stay fecking still, damn you!” The Stoneweaver was being rash, avoiding each and every attack right at the last moment, frustrating his opponent in doing so, with a diabolical smile on his face. “Omae wa mou…” Osamu struck the pirate’s wrist. It felt like it was nothing, but the pirate lost all sense of strength in his hand, thus losing the grip on his sword. The monk grabbed him by the neck and lifted him from the ground with an arm alone, the grip intensifying with each passing second. “… shindeiru!” Osamu’s fingers tightened and the pirate’s neck snapped. He dropped the pirate’s dead body without any consideration and stepped back a little.
“These men… They were weak.” The monk felt the breeze caressing his face devoid of any sweat. “Something strange is happening in this country. I must see it for myself.” Now looking at the broken bodies of his enemies, Osamu felt that he could not let them rot in this sacred place. This was where he had ascended against all odds. He wouldn’t want to add yet another burden to his heavy karma. As such, Osamu gathered some of the remaining wood still found within the temple and built a pyre in the middle of the courtyard. Then, he moved the corpses to it and lit them on fire after performing a short ceremony in honor of the dead, just as tradition demanded. Now free of anything binding him to the temple and the mountain where it stood, Osamu let the pyre burn and closed the doors of what was once the home of the Stoneweavers. Now with a long way down before him, the Stoneweaver left his past behind and gladly embraced the uncertain future to come.