He will not break.

The hammer slices the air in a complicated kata, though not as precisely as he would like. He supposes he must be getting tired. His arms throb, the rain blurs his vision, and the stench of fish and something green rises from the churned mud. His ashigaru had to be carried off the field hours ago. He dimly remembers the Mirumoto speaking to him when the thunder started, but after a while he went away again.

It is now dark, and he knows he is a fool, and that he has given them one more thing to whisper about. But he cannot stop until there is nothing left but the ache in his muscles and the emptiness in his mind. Until he is sure the nightmares will not come. For he has no hammer big enough to lay them to rest.

He is afraid. A Crab, afraid! He imagines how the Scorpion would mock him if he — if she —the image of her framed in the doorway pierces him once again, and for an instant he is frozen, the kata forgotten. He is a fool, he is worse than a fool, and he has brought this on himself.

He grips the hammer tightly, and with a hoarse shout, he begins again.

He is a Crab. He will not break.

But he senses that one day, he may shatter.


L5R : Jade Winds ednoria