It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.

Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.

Thank you.

 

Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.

 

Legend

page: 1
6

log in

join
share:

posted on Apr, 8 2017 @ 07:36 PM
link   
The Legend


Koa first heard the legend in a tattered shanty,
one of many that meandered along the ocean shore-
line that seemed to stretch on forever, broken only
by a handful of short piers.

Normally the locale wouldn’t have drawn him in, but
the sun had sunken to a reddened half disc over the
glittering water, the shadows of the huts stretching
so far as to almost reach the road further inland.

There was life there. People. But no commotion.
It was serene. Picturesque.

After he’d stopped the bus driver, tipped him for
the courtesy, he waited for the exhaust belching
vehicle to depart, then strode down the embankment,
eager to become one with the scene.

Nearly immediately idyllic imaginations were swept
aside by stark reality: The long shadows hid bird
droppings. The pier stank of rotting fish and
moldering nets. Scraps of litter were momentarily
buoyed by each incoming wave then settled down,
only to rise once more as if not sure whether to
stay or go.

Even trash had standards.

And the people... faces of weathered and cracked
leather that glared at him as an intruder. A lone
elderly man sitting cross legged in the dirty sand,
scratching and picking at himself, gave the sole
smile. A supplicatory greeting filled with more
gaps than blackened teeth.

Koa turned to leave; this was why he’d stopped
believing in a Creator, a higher power, years ago.
From a distance the idea gave hope, but close up
it was merely more of what surrounded him now; a
Creator wouldn’t bring such imperfection into being.
Or, embarrassed, the Almighty had fled the mess to
tinker elsewhere.

Burning annoyance made him grit his teeth- He
hadn’t lapsed, Koa told himself, merely come for
confirmation.

A sign on one of the larger shanties had a crudely
painted sign that read: Engrish Spoke Here, along
with the universal pictogram for alcohol- a bottle
with three x’s.

Inside he found four cracked plastic chairs that
likely had a more dignified home on a cruise ship
deck before falling on hard times, as well as most
of a surf board that served as a bar.

An old woman with stringy black and grey hair pok-
ing out under a paddy hat tipped her head up at him
as he sat down and said: “You drink. Dollar.”

As Koa put a rumpled bill down the grinning old man
came in and sat next to him, grin still in place.
Great, Koa sighed, this would be the first time he
drank with someone in a loincloth.

The bottle was presented, complete with carefully
drawn x’s, along with a wide shallow shell, and the
clear drink poured.

He gave it a sniff. Sake? He slid it over to his
new companion, who bowed his head several times then
took it up and downed it in one go. He didn’t grimace
and die; a good thing and bad thing probably.

Once he’d put out another dollar, he took a deep
breath then quaffed the next one himself. Nope.
Not Sake. Rocket fuel maybe.


"You pay," the old man said.

“I have been paying,” Koa replied. They had just
had a fourth and though Koa could hold his drink,
he wasn’t sure that applied to rocket fuel or it’s
close cousin.

“No, you pay,” the old man insisted. His voice
lowered to a whisper, “for legend.”

After getting up and knocking over his chair in
the process, the old one began to unravel his loin-
cloth.

Koa immediately thought of a printed gag t-shirt he’d
seen that had two arrows, one pointing up with the
words- The Man, the other pointing down with- The
Legend.

Koa: “Wait...”

But from the loose garment a piece of metal was
produced, one that Koa recognized immediately.

A katana, the remains at least. Of the five inches
only one inch was blade, the rest the unfinished
length that would be part of the hilt. Having seen
many swords before Koa knew right away this one had
not been mass produced.

“You pay,” the old one demanded.


Koa had paid, and the legend came out in halting
Engrish, not the whole story, but enough. Enough
that Koa felt obliged to invite the old man out
back for further payment, but as he pretended to
drop his wallet and the legend teller bent to re-
trieve it, Koa snapped his neck.

If the story was true he didn’t want anyone follow-
ing in his wake, and if it wasn’t, well... he didn’t
tolerate grifters.

That was six months ago, and as he followed the
story’s trail he found others to fill in the gaps,
killed them as well, until the last, who only under
extreme duress, revealed a location.

____________________________________________

Trepidation washed over Koa as he pushed aside the
last leafy clutch of branches and spied his long
sought quarry. His target was barechested, wear-
ing only thread bare loose pants that stopped just
short of his thick calves. A hammer went up and
down as the man worked a piece of metal, continued
to toil as Koa approached.

They kept company in silence, broken only by the
rhythmic clang of metal on metal.

This was the one, Koa thought as he bit at a lip.
Muradassa. Master swordsmith. He bore a lifetime’s
worth of scars and marks from his chosen craft,
along with veiny forearms that came naturally from
such work.

Koa shucked his shoulder bag and retrieved a bottle
from within, then presented it: “Sake.”

Muradassa let the hammer fall one more time, then
nodded. “Sake.”


There had been a tense moment, when Koa thought
the old man would say no to his request, to make the
perfect blade for him. In fact, the old timer had
laughed uproariously, and nodded his head while
responding in surprisingly good, broken English:
“No thing perfect. No thing.”

So they sat and drank the sake. Muradassa treated
the drink with reverence, his every move made with
deliberate grace, whether he was pouring the sake
or simply setting his mug down. A nagging cough
was the only thing that marred the elder’s bearing.
Koa studied him with great interest. There were
plenty of men that claimed to be masters of some-
thing, but few of them actually were.

This one was the genuine article. He hadn’t said
yes, but more importantly, he didn’t say no.


Muradassa let him hang around while he went about
his daily routine, or maybe he was too polite to
ask him to leave. Either way, it wasn’t long before
Koa tired of watching the master at the anvil, the
forge, or merely sitting on the ground with a blade
and polishing stone.

The craft was tedious, repetitious, and quite frankly,
beyond him. Of some interest was the long shack where
various tools of the trade could be found.

Koa perused the assortment- raw metal lumps of had
to be steel, long rectangular blanks forged from
the lumps, and stacks of blades in various stages
of completion. Of the tools there were only three
he recognized- the hammer, the tongs, and the sharp-
ening stones. Or maybe they were polishing stones.
He wasn’t sure.


“What are these?” Koa asked after he’d spotted
several blades hung up high on the rough planked
wall. None of them were finished, indeed most of
them were broken or warped. At the far end was a
blank and one of the raw lumps.

...continued in next post...
edit on 8-4-2017 by shlaw because: corrections




posted on Apr, 8 2017 @ 07:40 PM
link   
Muradassa pointed at the lump. “In beginning, form-
less.” His finger moved to the blank. “Then fire
and shape.” He walked along the display, examining
each crude blade in turn, and after a long pause,
stated, “Then the creator learns.”

Koa didn’t question further. Something in the way
Muradassa had said ‘the creator’ had annoyed him.
Koa avoided him for the rest of the day.


“Come.” Muradassa said, tipping his head to the
furnace.

Was this it? Koa flicked away his cigarette and
followed. The master took one of the straight blades,
still rough and unfinished, smeared mud along the
flat length opposite the cutting edge then stuck it
in the furnace.

Muradassa: “Cigarette.”

Koa tossed a half pack of Marlboros. The old man
was always puffing at a long pipe, but Koa had seen
him eyeing the red and white package whenever he
brought it out. A first puff made the master grim-
ace, and an instant later break into a violent
coughing fit. The smoke was thrown down and crushed
under a heel, with Muradassa fixing on him with a
dirty glare.

So much for flavor country, Koa thought.

They sat there for a bit, with pipe and smokes,
until the old one stood up and drew the work piece
out of the furnace and stepped over to a trough of
water.

Tempering? Koa wondered. Quenching? He scratched
at the overgrown stubble on his chin. Hard to say,
but he was pretty sure this step was for final hard-
ening, and that being the case, there was about to
be a major faux pas- Muradassa had forgotten to curve
the blade. Maybe he’d coughed his brains out, Koa
decided.

Steam billowed as the hot metal went in with a hiss.
Once out and wiped down, Muradassa held it out.

With an indrawn hiss of his own, Koa gaped. The
blade had gone in straight and come out curved.

“A mystery,” Muradassa said, “Even for creator.”
He turned it flat, edgewise to show the slightest
of deviations, a bend, near the center.

“No thing perfect,” he said then turned and waved
a hand at the other imperfect weapons on the wall.
“Over and over. Never done.”


There was simply too much to know. Koa had observed
the master for six weeks and still hadn’t learned
anything that would allow him to make a blade himself,
and the old man showed no sign he would craft one for
him.

But there were two things he learned that prevented
him from simply leaving- Muradassa’s condition, his
cough was getting worse, and that though the elder
seemed to select a piece to be worked on at random,
at the end of every day he went back to the same one-
one that was nearly complete as far as Koa could tell.

_____________________________________________

Days passed, weeks, during which specks of blood
appeared at Muradassa’s lips when he spoke or
coughed. Cancer of some kind, Koa decided. Death
was going to pay a visit before too long, and it
looked as if Koa was going to be the beneficiary.

Later, sitting at the fire, the master coughed up
an especially large gob of dark blood into his hand
and wiped it onto his leg, not paying any attention
to it. Koa pointed at the smear, and said, “Wither-
ing. Medicine not fix. Two months. Dead.”

It was a guess. For all he knew, Muradassa could
keel over tomorrow, his life's work undone. Or the
master could linger on for years.

Muradassa looked at the smear on his leg for a bit,
then retreated to the house, to his room. He didn’t
show the next day, or the one after that. But when
he did, he went straight to the blade he worked on
at the end of every day, and for the next two weeks,
didn’t touch anything else.


They were at the fire again, late in the evening,
the creatures of the surrounding forest silent, as
if waiting for the great reveal themselves.

The old man had taken to wearing a cloth around
his neck, and used it to wipe away the blood when-
ever he coughed. At his feet was the much worked
on sword. As the flames danced in the blades glossy
finish, he spoke:

“Metal. Brittle under stress. Must be folded,
shaped into useful form. Over and over. Who can
know how much. No perfect thing. Just closer
and closer. Fate not in blade’s hands. Only
creator’s.” He tapped his own chest at the last
statement. “Over and over. Never done. Only
closer. Just like legend.”

Koa sat up, his gaze drawn to the fiery reflection.
The legend he’d come all this way for: the story of
a sword smith, a prodigy, picking up a hammer in
his youth and spending the rest of his life working
on a single blade. In the end, he didn’t manage to
create perfection either, but it didn’t matter. The
sword had a keen edge, keen enough to separate right
from wrong, it was said. The rest of it had the
strength to endure the hardest blow, but was flexible
enough to give way when needed.

“Yes, the legend of the sword,” Koa eagerly. “So
this is just as good as that was?”

Muradassa’s eyes dropped to his creation for a time,
and when he looked up, Koa thought there was just a
touch of sadness in them. “Legend not about sword.
Legend about soul. Never done. Over and over.”

____________________________________________

A week later, Koa stood on a beach, not the beach,
the first that had set him on the trail, yet one
that felt strangely similar.

As the water lapped at his boots, he held his prize
out, lips pursed. The master had died the day after
the reveal.

Not by Koa’s hand, he wasn’t that dirty, and even
though he knew Muradassa had sensed it, the elder
hadn’t said anything.

A maxim Koa often used came to mind: We are just as
we are made.

His arm dipped until the weapon’s tip touched the
sand, and then he let it slip from his grip and
began to walk away. He couldn’t use it- the old
man’s last words overrode his own:

“Over and over. Never done.”


End
edit on 8-4-2017 by shlaw because: corrections



posted on Apr, 8 2017 @ 07:56 PM
link   
a reply to: shlaw

We'll done. Knowledgable about an ancient craft. Not just from Japan, either.



posted on Apr, 8 2017 @ 08:40 PM
link   
Very Nice



posted on Apr, 9 2017 @ 03:44 PM
link   
Well done!



posted on Apr, 9 2017 @ 07:54 PM
link   
Was a really good read



posted on Apr, 10 2017 @ 04:55 PM
link   

originally posted by: intrptr
a reply to: shlaw

We'll done. Knowledgable about an ancient craft. Not just from Japan, either.




Thank you!

I think I remember either that video or one similar from a
while back. I am no expert by any means so I am glad I didn't
leave any glaring holes in that aspect of the story for those
more knowledgeable to nitpick at. (One of the reasons I stuck
with Koa's limited viewpoint)

Thanks again for the read and comment - it means a lot to me.
Cheers!




posted on Apr, 10 2017 @ 04:56 PM
link   

originally posted by: Neith
Very Nice


Thank you!
Much appreciated.




posted on Apr, 10 2017 @ 05:01 PM
link   
a reply to: shlaw


I am no expert by any means so I am glad I didn't
leave any glaring holes in that aspect of the story for those
more knowledgeable to nitpick at. (One of the reasons I stuck
with Koa's limited viewpoint)

No problem, I thought you nailed it. If you get a chance watch the viking sword program, dude actually fashions a sword in similar fashion, not a Japanese type but as complex a process , giving one good understanding the expertise went into their fabrication.

Thanks for your story, I don't usually read those, but yours 'caught me'.
edit on 10-4-2017 by intrptr because: additional



posted on Apr, 10 2017 @ 05:07 PM
link   

originally posted by: Night Star
Well done!


Thank you, Night Star!
Very appreciated.

I saw your entry for this month's contest-
nicely written with a flair for creating an
engaging atmosphere.

Though I never knew Masqua, I'm sure he'd be flattered
by your literary addition to his pic.

Cheers!




posted on Apr, 10 2017 @ 05:08 PM
link   

originally posted by: DarkvsLight29
Was a really good read


Thank you for the read and taking the time
to post- really means a lot to me.




posted on Apr, 10 2017 @ 05:10 PM
link   
a reply to: intrptr

I did indeed watch it again about an hour ago.
Fascinating to say the least.

Cheers!




posted on Apr, 10 2017 @ 05:56 PM
link   

originally posted by: shlaw
a reply to: intrptr

I did indeed watch it again about an hour ago.
Fascinating to say the least.

Cheers!


Ha ha, me too, just now...


The comment section below the video is entertaining too.



posted on Apr, 10 2017 @ 06:48 PM
link   
a reply to: shlaw

The smelting, forging, shaping, quenching, polishing and sharpening of a blade is for those patient and attentive to detail, only masters can produce such steel creations. Too bad they are for killing...

the Japanese version:



posted on Apr, 11 2017 @ 11:40 AM
link   

originally posted by: intrptr
a reply to: shlaw

The smelting, forging, shaping, quenching, polishing and sharpening of a blade is for those patient and attentive to detail, only masters can produce such steel creations. Too bad they are for killing...

the Japanese version:


Good video.

The comments in the other video say the viking sword was
crafted by dwarves using dragonfire. Guess that dude's
sword wasn't an authentic recreation as advertised.




posted on Apr, 11 2017 @ 03:17 PM
link   
a reply to: shlaw


The comments in the other video say the viking sword was
crafted by dwarves using dragonfire. Guess that dude's
sword wasn't an authentic recreation as advertised.

Neither does Hollywood get it right although I dearly love the tales they tell.

Opening to Conan has them pouring a 'mold sword'... tilt. (but goes on to elaborate father / son, passing down the "riddle of steel")--


The Lord of the Rings shows "pouring molds" too.

Another called Dragon Slayer, "Old man, have you ever forged a weapon?

All three were great books, and good movies, imo, but hardly captured the reality we both know so well.




top topics



 
6

log in

join