The nameless swordsman and the renowned warrior


The Ghost Neighbor
Nagushi Chiyoko
"Seriously Chiyo?" groaned her younger self in the male version and less aggressive. Hiroji had always been enjoying her fights, and she knew this one was kind of feeble. Her opponent was not the best, slow and heavy. She had knocked him out with mere three steps.
"Yes, I am super serious," she chuckled and stroked his head. Six years parted them, which made him a 15-year-old teen with several problems she never had.
Due to her intensive training and traveling she never experienced close friends or school-problems. Unlike Hiroji. He was permitted to attend “the hell”—how he used to title it.

"Hiro, leave your sister for rest," a raspy voice laughed. Her father, a famous mercenary, observed from behind. Like always, no congratulations, nor any approval of what she accomplished. It would have surprised Chiyoko if the old man had…

The sun had fallen before she even began her battle in the tournament. However, the next opponent was Yama Tsubame. Chiyoko was, in fact, not even caught off guard that he made it. She witnessed his fights, every single one since he claimed a victory that marveled the crowd.
His technique was... extraordinary and effective, yet something she hadn't seen before. Admittingly, it was kind of fascinating to watch his matches. Despite herself, she did not admired him for his moves, she rather tried to figure out his steps, and prepare her own strategy for the upcoming fight.
The finals, it was as arousing as her first win. After all those weeks, she was finally able to finish the tournament off. And perhaps even entertain the Lord with some kind of fighting show. However, nothing could have stopped her anymore. She would’ve even fought with a broken arm.

"I will be off tonight. Don't wait for me," she informed them. Her brother responded with a sharp inhale and turned to their old man, “What for rest dad? She is off again and doesn’t even have friends.”
Chiyoko rose her brow. “Just because you are a fool and got yourself in trouble doesn’t mean your matured sister can’t enjoy herself,” she chimed amused. One week ago he was caught stealing, even though he had enough money to pay for it.

“Excuse me,” he gasped and pivoted on his heels, “You? Matured? Yeah, then I guess I am old and white already.”

Chiyoko narrowed her eyes at him. That brat!
“You little rat,” she said and brought her hands up, as her father cut in.
“Enough now children! You,” he gestured at the female, “Go and do what you think is the best and you,” it was Hiroji’s turn, “Will come with me without further discussion.”

“Rest well father,” Chiyoko bowed before drifting away from the arena.
People's eyes strangled her frame. She felt each pair, the feeling of threat was not failing her. Some wished she would waste a word towards them, some were horrified, and other's imagined her head rolling. Being the top theme in the most afternoon meetings of some, or after the fights in the tournaments, had grown to her likings. A female warrior who fought better than anyone, that was what she was.
However, this Tsubame surprised the crowd with his first victory, and it somehow annoyed her that some were convinced he could beat her. She would make sure to wrong them.

As she escaped through the cluster of gawking humans, her own attention caught the barely visible ponytail of blue hair. In the night it faded slightly, but not enough for her trained sight. Especially by a unclouded nightsky and a bit of moonlight.
For a month now they were a thorn in her eye. The blue-haired man who came out of the nothing and hadn't lost once in those lame games. Chiyoko grunted, just as an idea popped up in her mind. Why shouldn’t she make sure he knew that his victory-row ended tomorrow now and tonight?

With a sloppy structure of words and gestures, the female crept after him, observed his armor and any possible companions. As the rumors had it said- a loner. Such a fool, running around like that one day before he would fight against the best of the bests. Was he not afraid or at least a bit excited?

"Ah, Blueberry," she called out, relaxed her muscles. Don’t pick up a fight, Chiyoko warned herself, or else she would be disclaimed of the tournament for breaking one of the scanty rules.
His armor was just that peculiar looking Katana he fought constantly with.

"Why don’t you just drop out before your stroke of luck runs out?"

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Dragons are just bigger swallows.
"...How disappointing..." Tsubame lowered his sword after yet another blowout. Tsubame disarmed the poor soul in a mere two strikes with his nodachi, leaving him as the obvious victor as his opponent had lost balance. Tsubame was displeased... Wasn't there anyone who could bring him some sort of challenge? So far he hasn't lost a single match so far and he now was in the finals of the tournament... He was expecting at least a little more than this.

After the match Tsubame left the arena, to go to the tea shop that he has been spending most of his time with aside from the tourney. He really could go for a cup as so far everything has just been disappointment after disappointment. They are the "elite swordsman" that were so hard to defeat? Tsubame couldn't believe any of that. Surely someone who is considered elite is supposed to be at the very top of their game, right? So why was he able to breeze through the tournament like it was nothing?

It bothered him. And so he was on his way to get tea, but he was stopped in his tracks by someone.

"Hey, Blueberry."

Considering his hair, which was blue to almost purple, he could only assume that it was him that was being called out. And so he turned around, to see a woman roughly the same age as him looking at him. "Blueberry? I suppose my hair is rather blue, yeah... Who are you?" Tsubame looked at the young lady, trying to figure out if he recognized her from anywhere. Everyone else present around him was gasping at her, however, as this of course was none other than Nagushi Chiyoko herself, the famous warrior known for the fact that she was unstoppable in duels.

"Why don't you just drop out before your stroke of luck runs out?"

Tsubame did not appear to be impressed by her shenanigans, remaining calm. "Well, I suppose I could have been lucky with my brackets in the tournament, yes..." He thought deeply. Yeah, that must be it... He might have gotten lucky with his brackets. There was no way that he would be facing the elite if he could blow them out so easily. "Still though, I'm afraid I do not intend to drop out. I'm doing pretty well I suppose, even if I might have gotten lucky. I guess you must be my opponent in the grand final, then?" He inspected the young warrior. She seemed to be the cocky type, but he didn't mind that. After all, winning against those who are cocky is a delight in itself.


The Ghost Neighbor
Nagushi Chiyoko
"Still though, I'm afraid I do not intend to drop out. I'm doing pretty well I suppose, even if I might have gotten lucky. I guess you must be my opponent in the grand final, then?"

She puffed the air out of her lungs. Apparently, he didn't know who she was, yet a tiny flare in his eyes earlier told something different. No introduction was of use, she figured. Chiyoko sucked on her teeth, blending the humans around her out.

"Ugh, you are a stubborn fool," she hissed before gesturing to his sword, "Let's see if that thing can even help you."

It had stalled him, that Chiyoko had seen in his combats. Slender and swift moves were her preference, anyway. That way she should land at least a couple of hits. Of course, he would be the first real opponent in those tiring tournament. Who was she to grant him such detail, though?

Chiyoko crossed her arms before her chest, jerking her chin at her upcoming competitor. "Isn't it obvious that I will be the one you fight against tomorrow? Tell me, who else would ever approach you?"

Some women, actually. However, he didn't need to be informed about that either. They were only being desperate, and a good, mysterious fighter was the perfect served meal. Just like some did with her too. Yet no one dared to address her, which she supposed was good. None could have ever reached her standards, her likings, nor could have stand her for more than three days. Some said she only needed to change herself, yet she would have never done it. A selfish, reckless woman, who was independent and never had needed help in the past years. That was who Chiyoko was as well.


Dragons are just bigger swallows.
It appeared that his remarks kind of annoyed the female warrior, to the point that she called him a stubborn fool. He didn't care, though. He just continued to remain calm. It was obvious to him that she only was here to mock him, to make him feel pressured and have his performance dropped. Such schemes wouldn't work against him, though.

"Well, nobody would approach me. I don't know anyone here, nor does anyone know me. But that means anyone can approach me as well. Whether that be a fan, someone who already hates me and wants me to lose, or indeed my opponent, if you want to get all technical about who would approach me. What of it, though?"
He gave her a patient smile as he closed his eyes.

"I suppose you are the kind of person who would pressure others so their performance drops, yes? That's pretty dirty, you know... Don't you want your opponents to be at their very best? So that you truly can say that you defeated them? Those who do anything in order to win are quite lame, at least in my opinion." He opened his eyes again to see her reaction. Tsubame himself didn't mind a little bit of banter. Taking everything so seriously would just end up with you getting annoyed at everything, which he was not looking for. He only was here to challenge himself against others, not necessarily to win.

"As for my sword... Did you never see a nodachi before? I've heard that they're quite outdated in this day and age, but that doesn't mean they're outright useless, you know? This sword is pretty old too, but still. It still is the sword that allowed me to win those battles." He looked at his nodachi. It's been through a lot, but it still did its task, which was the most important part.


The Ghost Neighbor
"I suppose you are the kind of person who would pressure others so their performance drops, yes? That's pretty dirty, you know... Don't you want your opponents to be at their very best? So that you truly can say that you defeated them? Those who do anything in order to win are quite lame, at least in my opinion."

What a bastard. Her brows furrowed on an instant second. He accused her to do that with every opponent? No, she didn’t needed to. Chiyoko was well known for her cruelty and hence only brave fools challenged her.

“You fucking-,” the female inhaled. Staying as calm as he did was impossible, but she hadn’t been needing to go all out on her nerved either. Chiyoko set her charmingly smile on her lips, and slightly leaned back. “Oh Yama,” she chimed, “Yama Tsubame, what makes you think that I need words to defeat my opponents?I win in a fair way, always.”

If he really believed that was her trick, fine. He would see how serious she could get, and how lethal she actually was behind those dirty tricks.

“~never see a nodachi before?” He ripped her out of her thoughts. “I've heard that they're quite outdated in this day and age, but that doesn't mean they're outright useless, you know? This sword is pretty old too, but still. It still is the sword that allowed me to win those battles."

Nodachi? She had heard that before, hadn’t she? Hiroji had once mentioned it from his books, that’s where she heard it. And there stood a man before her who still wielded such aged thing. If it weren’t for her pride, she would have been impressed.

“Old? That is not even close to it,” Chiyoko chuckled, “My weapons will end you and your nodachi, just you wait.”


Dragons are just bigger swallows.
Tsubame decided to respond to her question with yet another smug reaction. "Hmm... Perhaps the fact that you're trying to mock me? Why else would you try to?" He found her attempts at trying to contain herself amusing. If nothing else, she at least was nothing like the other swordsmen he faced. They were all dull and soulless, as if they had no personality. Almost like they were zombies. Oh well, this might prove to be an entertaining match now.

A week has passed since then.


Ah... Yes, it finally was his turn. The nameless warrior's name, which had never ever been cried out before, was now shouted by one of the generals, as his service for the country was required. A war was currently going on and the feudal lord needed any manpower it could get to protect itself. He wasn't exactly thrilled to join the battle for multiple reasons. One of them being that he didn't want to lend his sword to another. The only reason he wanted to fight was because he wanted to challenge himself, to see if there was anyone worthy to fight him. However, denying the feudal lord means death, and he couldn't back out and say he couldn't fight because the feudal lord himself has seen him in action, so he had no choice but to participate. And so, he walked up towards the general... But who was this Yama Tsubame we have been talking about anyway?

Yama Tsubame was nothing more than a nameless swordsman. Being born and raised in a small village in a family of farmers in the current Fukui Prefecture, he already started studying the blade at the mere age of nine years old, with his father, Yama Ryūji, as his teacher. His father used to be a soldier himself, though he retired to start a farm with his wife, Yama Kinboshi. Of course, an actual blade would be far too heavy for a child his age, and so he practiced swings with a wooden stick first.

Soon it became apparent that his raw talent with a sword was astounding. Three years after he started training he could already wield a wooden sword quicker than many people could. After thinking that he is ready, his father gave him his old sword that he used to wield when he was a soldier, which now still is Tsubame's preferred weapon. Though the blade had seen many a battle, thanks to great maintenance by his father it still was in top notch condition. This blade was a nodachi. Nodachis were recognizable because they were longer than the normal and more popular katana. The blades of nodachis were somewhere around 36 inches long, while a katana is usually around 24 to 29 inches long. However, thanks to their length, they also were heavier, which made them difficult to wield and draw quickly in a battle. Because of their inconvenience to wield, nodachis were quite rare in this age and were now mostly used as offerings to the deities, with katanas and various spears replacing them for tactical reasons. But such inconveniences did not stop Tsubame from attempting to wield it, and quickly he became quite successful at it.

At the age of sixteen he left his parents to live as a hermit in the mountains, to fully dedicate to his sword training. He felt like a change in environment would help. Living alone, with nobody to disturb and all the time in the world, he saw that as optimal to master the art. Once he was there, he trained every day. He did nothing aside from eating, drinking, sleeping and meditating. At least thirteen hours a day was spent by him swinging his trusty metal stick, usually it was even more. There were many who claimed that they dedicated their life towards the sword, but nobody was as dedicated as this pure warrior. His speed, his precision, his reflexes, his technique, his raw skill... all of them were top-notch. Any ordinary man would call him inhuman, but his dedication made it all possible. He was able to cut a swallow down mid-flight. That is not an easy feat... Those small little birds are surprisingly swift little things.

Now, seven years later, he decided that he wanted to look for a challenge. Though he has trained and trained every day, he realized that only training wouldn't be enough to improve. So he headed to the capital, Kyoto, looking for swordsmen and women alike to test his skills. He soon found out about a tournament, which would take place about three months after he arrived at the capital. A large number of well-known swordfighters were participating, so he wanted to participate too. Unfortunately, to enter you needed to pay a fee, and he did not have any money to speak of. So, he applied to work at a farm where he could use the farming skills he learned from his family, to earn enough money to pay the fee. He managed to scramble enough money and he paid the fee a day before the deadline where one is allowed to apply.

As a nameless swordsman, nobody ever heard of him and many people called him foolish for participating in a tournament of this size. After all, swordsmen known all over the land were participating, who all were very capable in their own right. But that was exactly what he was looking for. He wanted a challenge. So... He was quite disappointed when he realized that he could take care of those so-called "swordsmen" in mere seconds. Every fight was one-sided, with Tsubame being the victor in all of them. His speed, precision, reflexes, technique, skill... All of them caught his opponents off-guard. Of course, once the feudal lord heard of this, he had no choice but to take a look at his fights, which Tsubame did not realize. And so, he continued to fight these one-sided battles. He won all of them. All of them, but one... And that one fight was the other reason he was not thrilled to join this battle...


Ah, there it was... The name of the opponent that actually did give him a run for his money... Nagushi Chiyoko. A female warrior renown all throughout the land for her skills. Quite the opposite of Tsubame, whose name was not even known until this tournament. Of course, as this was a big tournament, she would be there too. As Tsubame had secluded himself from society, he did not know of her fame initially, but considering the crowd's cheering he knew that she really was supposed to be a big deal.

And so, they started their battle... One that truly was for the ages. She actually did have the right to call herself a swordmaster. While his other opponents were lackluster, she actually did have skills that rival his. In fact... They fought as equals the entire time. This was a welcome surprise to him. Finally, an opponent that was on his level... Finally he could really challenge himself. They fought and fought and neither of them gave in. The audience was given the fight of a lifetime. Anyone who was present would have it burned to their memory for eternity. It was quite like a story from a fairy tale... A renowned warrior versus an unknown swordsman...

But unfortunately, a fight has to end. And the way it ended was not the way he wanted it to. Though the fight was amazing and the crowd obviously wanted more, the tournament organizer had to stop the fight because it was taking too long. A victor had to be declared, and so, the judges had to decide... And they decided that Chiyoko was the victor. Tsubame was furious, thinking that they only chose her as the victor because of her renown compared to his. He was quite upset and left the tournament grounds, not even taking his prize money from being the runner-up in the tournament. Not before declaring a rematch with her, though. He told her that they would meet here in a week, where they would face off one more time to truly decide a victor.

However, that was cut short because of something else... Which was the war. About three days after the tournament, the feudal lord sent some of his elite samurai to look for him. The samurai found him and told him to go to the palace in four days. Considering it was the elite of the samurai of the feudal lord, his gut feeling told him that he needed to participate in the war... Which indeed turned out to be true. Now we are here, one week after the tournament happened... Not only is he forced to fight in a war he didn't want to participate in, he was in the same team as that same swordswoman who now was his bitter rival. But he could not turn back now...
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The Ghost Neighbor
Nagushi Chiyoko

One day after their little meeting on the streets, their fight had come. The long awaited combat between the two sword masters. Never before was her adrenaline pumping like that day. Chiyoko never admitted that some slight hints of caution crept in her veins. Before she never met a person like Yama Tsubame— not the slightest hint of reaction to her mocking. Not the casualties, at least. Rather he acted all cold and calm. How would he fight? That what she saw was never even a inch close to his bests. All in all, she only witnessed some lousy practices.
Before the combat was released, and within the imposition of chaos, her brother wished her all the luck he had left. Chiyoko knew she needed it.

Barely after the watcher gave his go, two individuals met with their razor sharp weapons. Of course, she had the most voices roped on her back. But some cheered for Yama Tsubame as well. The echos of their clanging steel thrilled Chiyoko’s ears ever since. None even wasted a thought about giving up, screwing up the victory. And so, the clock ran. It hadn’t distracted the public, not at all. Their energy stayed the same until the two fighters were broken apart.

It was her who was titled as winner, and she was so glad. Either her technique convinced them or her fire in the veins— it couldn’t be her reputation. Sooner or later the folk would’ve clued themselves on Yama Tsubame’s heels and forgot about Chiyoko and her family. Being popular was quite an act— one night you were the first people noted in a crowd, and the second just an ordinary civilian.

Yet he was convinced otherwise. And for the first time, she saw his calm facials pounding with sheer hatred and agony. He lost, so what? Tsubame even went without the prices! A fool. A stubborn, and green fool with a blueberry head.
She, on the other hand, took the money, gave some to her kins, the house, and lastly herself.

Apparently the great Lord decided to finally expose the true meaning of those games. A war erupted in their territory, and he looked for men and women to fight for him. He mentioned he had taken her in either way, due to her background and rumors.
Without hesitation, she accepted. Not wasting a day, Chiyoko arrived at the Camp. She would fight in the name of her land! How superior that had been! Finally her skills became useful to protect her home and friends. That it was treason to refuse to obligate the Lord was not a fact that mattered as she enlisted. Unlike for some scared pups she met already. Rather the fact she could be a part of something big and participate in combats that would safe her family—exciting! She wasn’t a street- and slum fighter anymore, but a soldier. And with any respect, the best of the bests probably.

This morning they had called for all of the newcomers. Lining up, she noted the same blueberry that wanted a revenge this week. Oh great, of course he would let this bastard join, Chiyoko thought before focusing on the instructions. The soldiers were being divided into squads.
Each one was listed. Until the seventh came up.

Oh well, fine. Then he came first. She didn’t care. She probably was in the other squad, anywa~

And finally, her name fell! She was in Squad seven! Proudly, she straightened her shoulders and figure in all. Chiyoko was a part of this, and it was not a damned dream. Hiroji could have proudly told his friends now, that his big sister fought for their lands now! And her father could have been proud! With the money she made in her duties, it was easy to pay for everything they needed. Finally … finally she could’ve given her family all the needs they had.

She~ Was in one squad with Yama Tsubame.
Her shoulders fell, just, fell. Sloppy and as if no blood ran though them. Chiyoko’s face ashed, as a slight groan left her mouth. Of course! She was too lucky not for getting into the same squad as Blueberry. She couldn’t crush him anymore, squeeze the statement of her being the best out of his lungs…However, in training situations she would make sure to his partner, only to rub salt in his little cuts.

Chiyoko would do everything so this hige, arrogance in person man would snap and those authorities would realize their mistake and give her an appointment with the lord. She would get into another squad, until then it was her entertainment to mess with little Blueberry. Ah, how long he could have endured her? Two days?

The instructor then mentioned, “Each squad has one tent. Find it, and wait for further demands.”

One tent, and another female had yet to be seen in her squad. Fine, she was alone there, how bad could it have gotten? In fact, she noted some women. Perhaps she shall ask the great lord to transfer her to one of the squads with a female in their rows.
With chattering, the bloodfresh soldiers followed the orders, and so did Chiyoko. The tent was not hard to find. Neither her comrades with whom she had to share it with. None dared a second glance at her, which probably came from her visible gloom.

This Tsubame had to destroy everything, right? First her clean victory, then military. Alone that gave her a right to casually slap him…

“I take the back of the tent,” she declared to the already attending squad, “Rule one: My word counts. If I say get out, you get out.”
By all those people … she wouldn’t just casually change her clothes like that.

“Rule two: Do not wake me if you’d like to live.”


Dragons are just bigger swallows.
"..." Just from looking at her, he could tell that Chiyoko was just as excited to be in the same squad as him as he was. He could already tell that this was going to be a very, very tiresome adventure for him... He already did not want to be there, as he did not wish to serve someone, nor did he want to participate in a war in general.

Truth be told, he was... hesitant. He wasn't very fond murder, especially not in the name of someone else. He saw killing as something only those who are evil do, unless the murder would actually end the suffering of those who are innocent and good. So joining the battlefield would go against his own philosophy, as he surely would need to kill others. He would try to kill as few enemy soldiers as possible, but one day it would be inevitable if he kept fighting.

Oh well, regardless, he could not turn back now. He looked for the tent of his squad, so that he could take it easy before he had to be present. He could feel the gazes of the other soldiers on him. At the moment, he was something like an urban myth because of his underdog story at the tournament. The nameless swordsman who casually beat some of the most renown sword masters in the country, as if it was nothing, and to then have a tie with the actual best warrior of all time... Nobody saw this coming. Tsubame ignored all of the attention though. He was not there to be revered, he was only there to improve his skills. Which kind of made his anger hypocritical... But such a loss was in his poor taste.

When he entered the tent, a few other soldiers were there too... Including Chiyoko. He did not say a word when he saw her, instead opting to already take one of the beds for himself. He ignored her speech about rules. He was not interested in playing any of her games and he wouldn't obey her as if he was some kind of lap dog for her to own. He just laid down and stared at the ceiling of the tent, patiently waiting for time to pass.


The Ghost Neighbor
“~ and by the love of my clothes, I will not hesitate to rip your throats out if any of you believes he can puffs out his toxic air inside this tent!”

Since a while now Chiyoko had rattered the rules down and up. The last but not least was a rule for farting. Absolutely not. She got out of a household with two men, shared her ten with a few more. Her nose needed some fine rest. And she made sure they kept that, as she continued with a calm voice, “When someone has any complains, he shall come towards me and see if he can keeps his tongue.”

They knew what she had been capable of. Yet again, when one dared to approach her with ill intentions Chiyoko would draw her sword without missing a beat.
Just as they nodded, the tent’s wings announced a late-arriver. No one else than Yama Tsubame. Oh right, she would share that tent with him. It was almost too much crap to be a truth— apparently it wasn’t. A sheer terror, sleeping underneath a “roof” with someone who probably saw her as his enemy number one. Her pleasing sleep was to be said farewell … She would slumber, but not deeply fall asleep and by the first sun raises she would go and do some alone-training. Chiyoko would have to do a lot to avoid her teammate.

Who casually walked inside, claimed a bed and stared at the ceiling. Ah, the exotic mystery with sword and armor— her ass. Who did he thought he was? Some kind of unordinary human? Just because she couldn’t beat him…

Chiyoko gritted her teeth before pivoting on her heels and following Tsubame. A grin roped the ends of her lip, her split lip thanks to the fight a few days ago. A split lip because of him. Just like the other several scratched and bruises she carried within since one week.

“Ah, look who we got here,” she chimed and jerked her chin at the laying person, “Blueberry decided to come too late to my lecture. Is it your handwork? That you are in my squad?”

Chiyoko didn’t let him space to put his response into her speech as her hand flicked her white hair over her shoulder and she leaned backwards. “Anyway,” she clicked with her tongue and glared at him,
“Don’t expect me to be all glad about this situation. Dare to make trouble, Blueberry, and see where it gets you.”


Dragons are just bigger swallows.
Of course, the moment he laid down, none other than Chiyoko decided to approach him. Tsubame just closed his eyes, preparing for yet another lecture from her. Ah, the oh so famous warrior that was literally unbeatable— his ass. Who did she think she was? Some kind of superhuman who can just do as she says? Just because nobody has ever beaten her... Well, he was having none of it. She was human, just like the rest of them. So long as she did not have any respect for others, he would have none for her either.

"You're awfully impatient, you know? You won't even let me answer your question, you just straight up jump to threats." There it was again, that patient, almost taunting smile of his. "Do you really think that I would willingly put myself into the same squad as you? If it was up to me I wouldn't even be here, let alone sharing a squad with the last person I'd want to be with." He sighed. What was her deal? Her body language was basically screaming arrogance... He just wanted to be left alone.

"Hmm? Where would it get me? Do feel free to tell me. It's not like you would actually do anything... You'd only disgrace yourself." He stood up, his smile now gone. In fact he was scowling at her, getting real close with his head to hers. "Listen up. I am not interested in any of the shenanigans you're pulling. I don't care who you are or how famous you are, you disgust me with your behaviour. Don't expect me to feel intimidated by your little speeches, because I won't be. I don't want to be here, but I have to, and so I'm gonna do things the way I want to. Now get off your high horse and shut up."

After he was done with his little rant, the soldiers were called to gather back at the site. And so, he distanced himself again from the female warrior, showing that he is done with this conversation. He slowly walked out of the tent. He did not care if she was upset with how he talked to her, to him it's what she deserved.


The Ghost Neighbor
Impatient! Pft, she was everything but that. Chiyoko simply didn’t expect nor awaited an answer, that was all. Was he that foolish to even notice that?

"Hmm? Where would it get me? Do feel free to tell me. It's not like you would actually do anything... You'd only disgrace yourself."

Disgrac— that bastard! Fine, fine! He fought well, however even his oh-so-high-ross made mistakes, too!
“Ah gee,” she hissed and dared to even step closer, one hand rested on the pommel of her sword, “The only one who would disgrace himself is you! This time no one can keep me from beating that smile out of your fa~”

"Listen up.”
Shit- His smile vanished, and one moment to the other his face came hers lethally close. Her cheekbones flinched as his breath stroke her, while her grip tightened. Rip him to pieces!
“Would you fucking mi~”

“I am not interested in any of the shenanigans you're pulling. I don't care who you are or how famous you are, you disgust me with your behaviour. Don't expect me to feel intimidated by your little speeches, because I won't be. I don't want to be here, but I have to, and so I'm gonna do things the way I want to.”

Her brow rose, as a grin knocked her lips further. “Oh? Did I~”

“Now get off your high horse and shut up."

With it he shoved her to the side as someone shouted for the soldiers to gather. If he interrupted her one more time she would— what would she do? He was right at some certain point. It would take some time and energy for her to actually teach him a lesson through fighting. Oh well, how one sided he thought of her. Did he believe that was all she could do? Swinging with swords and savor the popularity?
One does not dealt with her, one survived her on many, many levels.

“You piece of shit,” she growled after him before he left the tent. That called revenge. Who did this arrogant bastard thought he was?!
Just as a broad smile snaked on her lips. Slowly, Chiyoko followed the gathering cluster with only one thing in her mind. Revenge.
He wanted a fight? He could get it. But perhaps she wouldn’t have needed her astonishing shenanigans.

“But look at that,” Chiyoko hummed underneath her breath as her sight fixated on the blueberry head, “You finally showed your true face, Yama Tsubame.”

She had managed him to go a bit mad, and for the fact that he penetrated into her personal space, she wanted an apology.
With her new plan forming, Chiyoko wandered to her tentmates and placed herself beside the bastard.

“Oh, my deepest sorrow dear,” she chimed amused,
“My behaviors had always been complicated. However, does that mean you can just get that close to a female?!”


Dragons are just bigger swallows.
Soon after he had left the tent and gathered on the military site, she already was standing next to him. Suddenly she played the gender card, but it did not really seem to have any effect on him. "Yes, I don't see why not. Whether you're a woman or a man makes no difference to me. I'm not gonna lick your boots just because you're a woman or have a loud mouth, you know." That smile had returned yet again. After that, he was silent, waiting for their general to appear to give the group instructions.

And soon, he appeared. He stood in front of the group, together with two other samurai, presumably his own companions. "Greetings, squad 7. My name is Yotei Hachiman. I will be the general who leads you in this war." The soldiers all bowed towards him. After Tsubame saw that the other soldiers did, he bowed too. He wasn't all too familiar with etiquette in military.

"Alright, I'll just get to the point, since there is not much time. You will go on a mission tomorrow. Today we will dedicate to practice, which will also function as an evaluation for us to see in which division we will put you." The general looked around, at the soldiers. His body language showed that he was a no-nonsense, straight to the point kind of person, much like how he got straight to the point regarding his announcement.

"You soldiers have all been chosen because of your talent with the sword. We have no doubts about your ability to fight, the only thing that can hold you back here is yourself. As you are all talented swordsmen in your own right, I'm sure many of you wish to fight on the frontlines. However, defending our base is just as, if not more important. So do not get upset if you get put in defense, for your duty is just as honorable as any other."

"As it is already rather late, the training will be quite simple. You soldiers will form pairs, and duel. Make sure to keep your distance from other pairs. My colleagues and I shall inspect you and review your abilities. Tomorrow you will hear the results of which division you are in. Is that clear?" The soldiers all shouted out "Sir, yes sir!" in unison.

Tsubame was not looking forward to this. Yes, this was a duel and it might serve as a great way to test his abilities even further, but he did not know anyone here and he wasn't particularly fond of building new bonds... The soldiers all appeared to be a little intimidated by him, too. They had probably seen him at the tournament. There only was one person who he knew and who wouldn't be intimidated by him...


The Ghost Neighbor
"Yes, I don't see why not. Whether you're a woman or a man makes no difference to me. I'm not gonna lick your boots just because you're a woman or have a loud mouth, you know."

What a— boot liking? When did she ever mentioned … That crazy bastard had a completely wronged image of her! No one licked her boots, no one. They were too expensive for that.

“You bas~”

"Greetings, squad 7. My name is Yotei Hachiman. I will be the general who leads you in this war."

They started! Immediately Chiyoko bowed along with the other soldiers. Of course, Mister Blueberry and know-it-all had a slight hesitation. He knew nothing, did he?

Yotei Hachiman. She had heard that name quite a lot. A general in the middle of his career, it was said he was one of the six best. In fact, she wanted to see that.
He was known for his blunt responses and demanding. No silly tragic speech beforehand, just the facts and orders. Chiyoko began to enjoy it slightly more due to Yotei being the General of them. He kept introducing their duties, and their next operation. Practice. The man kept his right, the only one who could’ve stopped her was herself… or that bewildering blueberry head.

"As it is already rather late, the training will be quite simple. You soldiers will form pairs, and duel.”

Ah, a duel. Of course. Yet… why? Why exactly woupd they waste her time like that? None of those men would have dared to even point a stick at her. Perhaps he would duel with her himself? Chiyoko doubted that option. Who else…

“Make sure to keep your distance from other pairs. My colleagues and I shall inspect you and review your abilities.”
Who was not too terrified of her? Anyone with good sense had known or watched her fights. The tournament was simply just an opportunity to show off some new tricks. So who…

“Tomorrow you will hear the results of which division you are in. Is that clear?"

She harmonied with the echoing “Sir, yes sir!” out of reflexes. Chiyoko was certainly not even listing. Rather she looked through the rows and debated on whether to go easy on the blondie on the right or just question the General if he has any duel partner in her league.

Until a horrifying idea shuddered her mind. There was one who— yep, … nope. That was worse than chopping wood and letting her brother cook. It was even worse than losing her favorite kimono!

Hopefully he did not thought the same … yet she had to make sure, declare her dissatisfaction and disagreement before anything happened that was absolutely not astonishing. He swore her revenge, and that was a chance. Yep, nope. Chiyoko risked a lot, but not to waste her time with a useless duel.
With it, she pivoted on her heels and bored her glare in his side. At least she had broke that calm si— focus!

“Forget it Blueberry! Don’t even think about it,” she snarled through gritted teeth, Rather I’d fight a tree! Or better! Kiss it! But no, fuck off.” The female whirled her fingers to distant trees before crossing her arms and leaning into her frame. She grinned, “That will never happen. We don’t want your teeth to be smashed out of that naughty mouth of yours, do we?”
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Dragons are just bigger swallows.
He sighed deeply... He could already tell where this was going. And it appeared that he was not the only one who knew.

“Forget it Blueberry! Don’t even think about it! “Rather I’d fight a tree! Or better! Kiss it! But no, fuck off. That will never happen. We don’t want your teeth to be smashed out of that naughty mouth of yours, do we?”

Tsubame rolled his eyes, looking around to see if there was literally anyone else than her that was willing to be his duel partner. Unfortunately, though... That did not appear to be the case. Either the soldiers he was looking at already had a partner, or they slowly walked backwards when they realized he was looking at them, as everyone from their squad knew about him and his abilities.

In one last desperate attempt to not train with her, he approached the general of the squad. "Yotei-sama, I have a question. Is it possible if I just do practice swings by myself? I can't seem to find a partner." He hoped badly that this would work, though he highly doubted it. Fooling a general is not that easy to do, of course.

And indeed, his plans proved fruitless. "You can duel with Nagushi Chiyoko. She does not have a partner, and you're probably the only one that can take her head-on. Now move, we do not have all day to assess your abilities. Even if we know you're splendid, we have only seen them once." Tsubame sighed... It couldn't be helped. There was no other option.

"Alright... I don't think anyone is happy with this, but we're dueling partners now. Now draw your sword, I want this to be over quickly." As he wielded a nodachi, his sword had no sheath, and as such he already was ready. He slowly approached Chiyoko, sword in his hand. He probably wouldn't go all-out, though... This was just mere training, after all.


The Ghost Neighbor
The fact of him simply turning to the other soldiers made her furrow her brows. Gladly, he didn’t wanted to either!
However, Tsubame suddenly reached out for the General. Chiyoko grunted. He was not really going to ask for him as a duel partner, was he? If so, she would rip that man into many pieces.

But no, he returned?

“Aw? Did you got reje~”

"Alright... I don't think anyone is happy with this, but we're dueling partners now,” Tsubame stated. Her blood boiled. So he did asked the General to be his partner? Really?! Had he no sense of how a team functioned!

“No! We~” Again he interrupted her. Chiyoko scoffed, no one ever dared to do that! And yet there they were. Tsubame grasped onto his nodachi then. Immediately her hands rested on her own katanas.

“Now draw your sword, I want this to be over quickly."

Chiyoko’s smile was nothing but a flash of white as the fine sound of a drawn katana filled her ears. The female bent her knees, and pinned her opponent with her eyes. He was not just some opponent, she knew and reminded herself.

“Cut my sentence again and I cut your tongue,” Chiyoko snickered with a jerked brow. “You are right, Blueberry,”. she began before going a bit in circles. “Let’s get this over with.”

With her sentence, her sword rigted her air and pressured towards you are almost were convinced you wouldn’t do it.
This was only training, another teat. She had to work hard, but fine!


Dragons are just bigger swallows.
"Yeah, I got rejected to train alone. What of it?" He saw her draw her sword, and got ready to face her. Even if he wasn't going to go all out, he should still be wary. Who knew how seriously she was going to take this? If he wasn't careful she would actually cut his tongue, just like what she said. He was not sure if she was the kind of person who would actually not go back on her words.

Even if he was holding back on his blows, it was still apparent that he still was far above the average soldiers there. His strikes were very fast, faster than any of the other soldiers there. If anyone was glancing at him, they would not be able to guess that he was holding back at all.

And so their small little duel was quickly drawing attention from the other soldiers, to the point that most of them stopped their own practice to observe both of their skills. They started whispering amongst themselves, obviously impressed by this little practice duel they were having. "Whoa... They truly are on a whole different level compared to us..." They truly were in awe with the two of them.

The general, however, was not pleased with them slacking off on their training, and so he quickly called them to order. "Come on, focus!!! The only ones allowed to observe are me and my colleagues. Get back to training now!" His voice was loud when he raised it, and so they quickly were intimidated. They quickly resumed their training afterwards. In the mean time, the general continued observing. "Hmm..." The general too was impressed by the two of them.


The Ghost Neighbor
"Yeah, I got rejected to train alone. What of it?"
“What of it?! Now I am stuck with you!”

The man readied himself, a natural response to her gesture and own drawn sword. Something debated inside of her— would he step that far and perhaps try to kill her, or would he just take this as a normal practice?

Oh fuck it…

Apparently, he did not intended to murder her on accident. His blows, however, were precise and rapid as well. Were they that fast back then too?
Chiyoko clicked her tongue, and stepped aside as another blow of his aimed for her. With her own sword she kindly swung his nodachi back and away from her.

Panting, she got back in her steady-posture. She heard the whispers, and then the shout. Yet her whole attention laid upon Yama Tsubame. It was training. None of them tried to slid the throat of the opposite partner, how fortunate.
Chiyoko knew she couldn’t have pushed to her limits this day. Her limps ached, and her wrist knacked weirdly. She probably twisted it a while ago, back at the tournament fights. It wasn’t too bad, anyway.

Tsubame sprinted forward once again. The female kept her pace and danced around him. Her eyes could keep up with his movements this day, she wasn’t able to at the tournament.

“Oi blueberry! Got slower?”


Their swords met and she used the short period to offer him a grin. “Looks like the general is finally convinced of my skills…” They parted once again. She noted her superior and his men had laid an eye on both of them. No wonder… this practice duel was a chaos of jumps and clirrings.
He showed no sign of exhaustion, nor anything else. Did it mean he held his blows and strength back? Chiyoko was certain that he loved to see her head roll… especially after his little burst out. Just… who or what was he? Honestly, she never saw him too! In all those years, not a single appearance of a blue haired bastard.

Her eyes widened as a sharp weapon rushed toward her. His nodachi almost hit her due to her break if attention.
Barely she dodged it. “Oi! I am not a punchbag you fool! Be fucking careful!”
First he held her a wasted speech, now he tried to actually murder her? Perhaps he deserved his tongue to be ripped out…


Dragons are just bigger swallows.
Tsubame shook his head when she barely dodged his swing, which he deliberately missed because he knew that if she did not react in time he would hurt her, which he did not want. "Come on, don't overreact so much. That strike would have missed if you did not dodge. If you think I'm trying to murder you you're wrong." He sighed as he continued attacking her.

As Tsubame was holding back all this time, he was not even breaking a sweat. He was honestly surprised to see her panting like that... Was she weaker than he initially thought? Or was something off... He inspected her body to see if there was anything that could hinder her performance. And soon, he saw it... Her limbs, and her wrists... They looked like they were in pain. So she was injured? And despite that, she could still talk so grand of herself... Well, to be fair, even if she was injured, she still fought miles better than the other swordsmen he faced, so she still had the right to. But now that he knew that she was injured, he held back even more. Even if she was unbearable and he couldn't stand her at all, that does not mean that he should try to take advantage of that. He was not the kind of person to hurt someone just because he disliked them.

What was she thinking, anyway? He couldn't figure out why she had a tendency to raise her voice all the time. It's like she deliberately wanted to antagonize herself from the others. He himself was a lone wolf, so he understood wanting to be alone, but his take on staying alone was simply by not interacting with others at all. So why was she so unbearably blunt and vile? He couldn't figure it out.

The dueling continued for about an hour, until the sun started to set. "Alright, sheath your swords and gather up!" The general called out to them. As Tsubame did not have a koshirae (Japanese variant of a scabbard) for his nodachi, he simply just lowered his sword. After the duel was over, he turned around and waited for the word of the general once again.

"Alright, even though we did not have much time, we got a pretty good look at your abilities. My colleagues and I shall discuss our reports and from there, we will decide which division you will be in. You are to go to your tent now and get some good rest. Tomorrow is your first mission already and we want you to be in optimal condition. That is all for today. Dismissed!" The soldiers all bowed, and then walked to their respective tent. Tsubame did the same.


The Ghost Neighbor
"Come on, don't overreact so much. That strike would have missed if you did not dodge. If you think I'm trying to murder you you're wrong."
Chiyoko scoffed. “Not wanting to murder me? Oh please, I am convinced otherwise.”
He struck again, and she held him off. If it weren’t for her damn injuries he would be already mumbling his pleads to be released. Damn it! She could have bitten herself!

And his strikes became even less aggressive. Was he… Had someone noted her agony? It couldn’t be! Or perhaps it had been only Tsubame, since he was more of a challenge for her. Others wouldn’t even had the chance to reconsider her sudden weakness, as long as some could say that was what it is. She would’ve knocked the others out with ease!

Don’t let it happen again. You’ve come so far! Show it to them, them all!
Chiyoko bit her inner cheek. It was only a twisted or broken wrist! It wasn’t that much of a bummer, nor hindering. “Is that all you got?” Bluff, bluffing to let them stay in the believing that her and this blueberry were somewhat on a same level, to convince them that she was everything but weak. No one would ever called her that again, tell her off, ruin her dreams and try to fit her into a role she never belonged in.

Gritting her teeth she hauled for another strike, a strike with her full strength. Chiyoko released whatever power she had stored and was ready to slush that sword~ until the General called it a day.
As he ripped her back to reality, she noticed the falling sun. Had they… fought that long? Now that she was back… damn, her wrist and limps pounded wilder than a storm. She had to do something soon.

The General gathered them all once again. "Alright, even though we did not have much time, we got a pretty good look at your abilities. My colleagues and I shall discuss our reports and from there, we will decide which division you will be in. You are to go to your tent now and get some good rest. Tomorrow is your first mission already and we want you to be in optimal condition. That is all for today. Dismissed!"

Chiyoko pivoted on her heels and was the first to leave the group in a rather rapid pace. Her hand, as soon as her back faced the others, clinched onto her other wrist. Scoffing and silently violating the inner wound with words hadn’t helped her either.
And to all the shit added: A mission. A damned mission. Perhaps she was lucky and they kept her as a safe-card back in the place. Chiyoko would have greeted that option with wide arms. Until she figured what the hell had gone wrong with her limp and wrist, she needed time.

Her performance had been the worst! The worst out of them all! Ashaming, considering who watched. He was probably one of those who had always criticized her decisions. She couldn’t be a swordsmaster, they said. Give up, they said. And yet there she was, famous and feared. The attitude had been more of a wall for herself. That made her wonder, as she rushed into the tent and yelled at all to stay the hell outside, who she was deep beyond those stone walls. The girl she left once she took the courses in swordfighting? Or something completely else?

Sighing, she just yanked her swords to the end of her bed and let herself flop onto it. Squeezing her eyes, she tried to numb the pain.


Dragons are just bigger swallows.
Tsubame did not appear to be affected by her bluff, as he still continued to hold back for her sake. He did not care if she wanted him to go tougher on him, he did not want to worsen her injury. Considering that, though she still was impressive, she was not in optimal form, he could still take her hits. How did she injure herself anyway? Did that happen during their fight in the tournament?

Once they arrived in their tent he noticed that Chiyoko already had entered. He decided it was best not to talk to her. He did not want to come over as cocky, and most likely she would not want his concern either. She would just try to shove him away in her embarrassment, he thought. And so, he just laid down on his bed, once again staring at the sky.

But now that he had to hold back for her sake, he didn't feel like he had properly practiced... Not practicing properly left a poor taste in his mouth, so he would need to find another time to. Probably sometime before they would leave for their mission... So around sunrise. That would be his best moment to get some proper practice in.

And so, he decided to sleep immediately after he arrived at the tent, not changing his clothes. But then again— He had no change anyway. The clothes he currently had were his only ones. He fell asleep pretty quickly too, so he was guaranteed to have properly rested.

And so, he woke up just a little bit before sunrise. He stood up, hoping to not wake up anyone. He could still hear Chiyoko's really soft groans from her pain... He hoped that she was not awake yet. She would definitely give him an earful if he woke her up, and he was not looking for that so early in the morning.

He sneaked out of the tent, entering a forest nearby to start off with a few practice swings. Nothing too extreme or flashy... That part still was yet to come. Just some basic swings for now, a few downward ones and a few upward ones. Also practicing his stances a little.

But now the flashy part was to come. He was about to do his signature move.

There was a bird standing on the ground, which was his target. The bird was just having a peaceful morning. Usually, the birds he cut down would be used for food, though he was not sure if he would be able to roast it before they were to leave. He kind of felt bad for the little critter, but it couldn't be helped. Without a target, this technique would just be a waste of time.

If there was anyone that would observe him right now, they would say that what he did was impossible. It was almost as if he struck three times in one swing. The blows all were so fast that the human eye could not keep up, no matter how good one's vision was. One diagonal downward strike, and two upward diagonal strike... If one would watch in slow-motion, they would actually see that the three strikes were done separately. But what they would see now was three Tsubames, swinging all at the same time, leaving the bird with no escape as the strikes were done in a way that the bird had no options to fly away. No, not even that... They would barely be able to see the three Tsubames at all. They would only see Tsubame, and then two insanely quick afterimages next to him. You blink and you miss it.

He then picked up the now cut-down bird and apologized to it. "I am sorry... I promise that your death was not for waste, even if I need to carry you with me until evening to roast you." The apology may seem a little half-hearted as he was the one who cut it down on his own volition, but he was genuine. He would not cut down a living creature without purpose.
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