Read Story: SEASON 1 EPISODE 548
In the blink of an eye, more than a dozen slashes were exchanged between the two. Akane Koyama stumbled five steps backward, and although her face showed no fear, Chiyo was getting more worried as each second ticked by. Immediately, she looked around, hunting for the likes of anyone that could offer some help. Unfortunately, most bystanders were unarmed civilians, and even if they were willing to lend a hand, there was nothing much they could really do. In the end, her gaze fell on Zhang Heng, the ronin.
However, Zhang Heng had no intention to get involved in this matter.
He could envision that in about ten moves, Yamada was bound to lose the battle. Unable to attack for some time now, he had become more and more frustrated. Perhaps he felt it embarrassing to lose to a woman. Those who specialized in quick melee attacks knew how taboo it was to get anxious and impatient during a battle. His form was beginning to show signs of deterioration. To explain in gaming terms, although his APM (action per minute) was improving, his EAPM (effective action per minute) fell simultaneously.
Zhang Heng would not want to be nosy at a time like this. Hence, he decided that he would ignore Chiyo for now. He stood there and turned his attention to Matsuo and Takahashi.
Although Akane Koyama and Yamada’s swordsmanship were not as good as his, there was still something to be learned from their battle. The Japanese katana-fighting skill was founded relatively late. The Tang Dao also inspired the Tachi, but they were both crafted differently. A Tachi would be made using a high-temperature carbon removal technique, where the blacksmith would carburize it at the end of the forging process. Japan had always lacked high-quality coal; hence the Tachi could only be smelted at low temperatures.
On the other hand, the Tang Dao forging technique was lost, causing the sabers that were forged during the Song and Ming Dynasties to drop drastically in quality. Usually, a Tang Dao was a thicker and heavier weapon, while the Tachi was lighter and thinner.
Speaking of sword-fighting skills, scholars in the Spring and Autumn Warring States Period were required to study martial arts. Among the Ancient Six Arts were riding and shooting. As they traveled through the country, words didn’t always bide well, and when that didn’t work, the fist was typically the other method to resolve the problem. Confucian scholars were forced to abandon some of their principles for the emperor’s convenience in ruling the country. The quintessence of Ancient Six Arts was changed as well, where it was later translated as something along the lines of “a gentleman would use his tongue to deal with his problems instead of the fist.” Back to the Japanese side, the prevalence of warrior culture upheld the samurai as part of the ruling class. During that time, many were very willing to spend their time honing their katana-fighting skills, and before the Haito Edict, numerous dojos dotted the land, and Japanese katana-manship schools flourished as well.
These Japanese katana-manship schools each had signature teachings. These were all very new things to Zhang Heng, and whether learning from them would yield anything valuable was still unknown. That said, Zhang Heng yearned to visit all these schools.
Scarlet once said that the quest was generated according to the characteristics of the player.
Zhang Heng entered the quest, Bakumatsu Kyoto, for a reason. When he saw Yamada and Akane Koyama fighting each other, he felt he learned something, and although it was only a small gain, it was valuable enough since he hadn’t improved in a long time. Masters of all disciplines gathered in Kyoto, and it gave him an excellent opportunity to learn from them.
When Zhang Heng was thinking about where to start, the battle between Yamada and Koyama Akane had already ended. Koyama Akane took advantage of Yamada’s rush, attacking him. When Yamada could not retrieve his katana after going for Koyoma Akane, she sprouted from her defensive position and used her katana to slash Yamada’s hand. The latter was in such intense pain that he had to let go of his Tachi.
Koyama Akane did not continue attacking him. “You are defeated,” she proclaimed.
“What nonsense are you talking about? How could I be defeated!” Yamada became furious. Although he had dropped his Tachi, he still had a wakizashi at his waist. Except for those practicing the dual-wield technique, the samurai of the Edo period would only use their wakizashi after they lost their primary weapon.
Yamada prepared himself to draw his wakizashi to fight Koyama Akane. After he lost the, he looked like a disgrace to his kind. He always thought his opponent was nowhere nearly as good as him, not to mention how he engaged in battle after getting drunk. At least, that was how he felt after losing. This battle was all about the honor of the Choshu Domain’s samurai, and he had to win by hook or crook.
Koyama Akane put away the wooden katana. She shook her head, lamenting, “I don’t want to fight anymore. I fought you to save others. If you really want to fight me, go to the dojo, and I will be there waiting for you.” After a short pause, she added, “And now you have a weapon. I only have a wooden katana, which is exceptionally unfair.” Yamada’s rage overwhelmed him that he almost fainted. He was amazed by the fact that she had the kahunas to mention impartiality. If not for his drunken haze, he would have won the battle.
Yamada only felt a flow of heat rushing to his head, and he almost had a cerebral hemorrhage. Both of his nostrils were breathing out hot air. A few seconds later, someone grabbed his arm. It was Matsuo and Takahashi. After seeing Yamada dropped his weapon, they finally dared to move forward to talk him out of it.
“My friend is drunk today. This battle doesn’t count. We will head to your dojo and challenge you another day,” shouted Matsuo. And the three of them subsequently left before patrollers could arrive.
Koyama Akane did not stop them from leaving. She then bent down and picked up the tuna that dropped on the ground earlier. After that, she walked to Chiyo and her friends and asked, “Are you all right?”. The two little girls shook their heads. After thanking Koyama Akane, they bent down and picked up the grilled eel skewers that had fallen to the ground. Both children of fishermen and artisans, they learned how to save money from young and were no strangers to thrift. Although the skewers couldn’t be sold anymore since they had fallen to the ground, they could still be eaten after a bit of washing.
Zhang Heng sensed Koyama Akane glaring at him. She then touched her pocket, took out about fifteen cents, and handed it to the two girls.
“I went out in a hurry today. This is all I have today, but it should be enough to make up for your loss.”
Chiyo and her companions did not take the money. The only reason they were still breathing right now was thanks to Koyama Akane. In fact, they were thinking about ways they could repay her. To them, it would be inappropriate if they took her money.
Koyama Akane then gave Zhang Heng another death-stare. She could be heard muttering under her breath.
“They almost died because of you! You didn’t even help them, and now you are not going to give them some money to make up for their losses?”
Koyama Akane didn’t have to speak any louder than that, but Zhang Heng heard what she said, albeit not too clearly. When he finally realized what she was talking about, Koyama Akane was already leaving after giving the two girls pats on their heads.
Zhang Heng was dumbfounded.
This wasn’t the last time the two would cross paths with each other, though. In fact, not long after that, they would meet yet again.