Thursday, July 7, 2016

Time for a change...

I woke up this morning and decided it was time for a name change. Shadow Wolf is now Shinobi (its original title). A much shorter, snappier, title that lays out better on the cover.


 SLOWLY but, hopefully, surely, the name change is populating all the outlets. The website is updated, a new print preview copy will soon be on order. Is all right with the world?

Monday, June 20, 2016

It's Pride Month

And so I have had Sex Ray Specs on special for the duration - only 99 cents at all major retailers. It has been a rough month, but, perhaps, some short homoerotic tales will make it a little bit better. Be warned, though, some are sweet, some are sad, and many are dark...



But it is summer, and bite sized fiction is the best thing for filling in those lazy moments.

Amazon     Barnes&Noble    ARe     Smashwords      Kobo      iTunes

Thursday, April 28, 2016

We Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Programming...

Life (well, pollen) has been kicking my ass the last couple weeks. Every time I sit down at the computer to try and write I either hack up a lung or sneeze a quart of goo all over the keyboard...thus the next chapter in Onna Bugeisha has been delayed by plague. But fear not, I feel semi-human today. Well, as long as I don't breathe too deeply, I think I broke a rib coughing last night :( 

To make up for the lack of new chapters I have put my anthology of short fiction, Sex Ray Specs, on sale for just $.99 for a limited time. Not a lot to pay for over 50,000 words and a dozen stories ranging from tender to transgressive. Okay, to be fair, most of them are fairly twisted...I am fairly twisted, so it just makes sense my stories would be as well. 


And, to sweeten the pot, I thought I would post a little unpublished snippet of flash fiction, just because I hate not meeting my chapter posting goals.

MUSE


When the world is quiet and still he comes to me. Tendrils of power drift around him in a graceful, kinetic dance, arcing from his hands to my flesh, burning their way through my synapses, at odds with the frigid bite of his skin. The soft smokey murmur in my ear pins me as certainly as too dark eyes and all thoughts of protest dissipate. He smells of ginger and cloves, sharp, seductive, hypnotic. Glass, stone, metal and bone woven into shaggy locks sing their own melody and I'm drowning under the onslaught, sinking into a place only he can drive me. When the whispers turn dark he dances, twisting and twirling, horns scribing the text into my flesh as the heady tang of copper mingles with spice. Then he smiles, a slight quirk of his lip, the tip of a pink tongue flicking out to taste my fears, my dreams, my essence encoded in my DNA. I would run, I would hide, I would surrender my soul for words of pleasure and pain. The rustle of finished pages, the itch of newly healed flesh, the secret of my success, he follows his own path. As for myself, I live to sleep and dream of my other half, this cruel symbiote without whom I am lost.  

And, of course, the sale links...because what is the point of telling you about a sale without giving you the means to get in on it!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Onna Bugeisha - Chapter Six

Sorry for the delay...real life decided to interfere with my twice a week chapters. So, a bit late, on to Chapter Six. For those who may be just joining us, you can start with Chapter One



Dai Sho Shou
Even the most skilled application of cosmetics left Jun shaking his head in disgust. His wounds had healed, but one side of his face still drooped like melted wax. There was no way he could go on stage looking like this. He'd end up cast as a crone or a demon. His hand shook with repressed rage as he penned a note to the theater explaining his extended absence. Even more disturbing, there had been no word from Hiroshi. His lover had abandoned him to his fate.
Jun knelt before his small shrine, clapped his hands three times, then bowed his head in heartfelt prayer. “Amaterasu, most beautiful of goddesses, you have abandoned me to a life of rejection and ugliness. Tsukiyomi you have turned your back on me, separating me from my beloved. Susanoo, I pray you heed my request. Give me revenge on those who have hurt and abandoned me. Where once I wielded beauty, now let me summon your powers of chaos and destruction.” He lit a single stick of incense as an offering, then turned away to plot the downfall of the house of Murakami.
* * *
Tomorrow stretched into a week, then into two, and Kenshin still found reasons to delay his trip to the pleasure district. His training with Hiroshi had settled into a comfortable pattern. Evenings in his formerly staid household now echoed with laughter, and early morning training now commenced well after sunrise. The nights, however, were no less torturous. His apprentice was a young man, with a young man's desires. Night after night he resolved to find himself a mistress before he snapped and spoiled the budding friendship he had grown to cherish. But each dawn he found an excuse not to visit the teahouses.
During his morning meditation Kenshin pondered the reasons for his hesitation. In part, it was fear he would be unable to perform with a woman. He had never felt the attraction to the opposite sex other men did. Even his master, who had so loving introduced him to the world of sexual pleasure, had a wife and a concubine as well. But the intricacies of the female mind were a puzzle he couldn't decode. If he were honest with himself, he also feared he would enjoy it. Far too many warriors squandered their time and money with the ladies of the willow world. And then there was Hiroshi. It was becoming more and more difficult for Kenshin to hide his attraction to the younger man. The last thing he wanted was to shortcut any chance of a relationship because he was too impatient to wait until his feelings were returned.
* * *
The folded envelope seemed innocuous. The seal of the royal family, much less so. Kenshin turned it over and over, trying to weigh the consequences opening it would surely entail. Finally he broke the seal and unfolded the delicate paper, pausing to appreciate the intricate calligraphy before concentrating on the message itself.
Hiroshi found him staring off into space, a sheet of paper clenched in his fist. “Yakushi-san, are you alright?”
Blank eyes turned in his direction, and his master managed a single strangled word. “Omai.”
"I refuse. My father might have been able to force me to come here, but he cannot force me into a marriage.”
"Not you, me.” It was clear the very thought horrified the samurai. “I knew this would lead to ruin.”
In all honesty it didn't seem like such a tragedy to the youth. After all, his master was a grown man with no family to push him into an alliance. He was free to decline in a way Hiroshi was not. “So say no, if it bothers you so much. I am sure she doesn't want to marry you either.” He pried the letter out of tense fingers, smoothing the page before scanning its contents.
"See? It is the emperor's sister. I cannot refuse.” Kenshin's whole body drooped. “I have to at least meet with her, and I don't know if I will be able to refuse after that. This is all your father's fault.”
"Most everything awful is,” Hiroshi agreed.
"Glad to know you hate me so much.”
"I didn't mean it that way.”
"You made it clear from the moment you arrived you wanted nothing to do with me. Your father's plan to pair us up was a mistake. I wish I had never agreed, then I would still be content being alone. Now I long for things I cannot have, and need to consider a match I never wanted.”
"You long for me?” The whispered query forced Kenshin to turn and face his student. The surprise on his face lit something deep in his soul, a feeling he fought to suppress before it undid him completely.
"How could I not?”
Hiroshi struggled to respond, but the words caught in his throat. And then the moment had passed and Kenshin was gone. Leaving him with nothing but the ill-fated missive as proof the encounter ever happened.
* * *
Jun pushed aside the mass of shredded garments until he uncovered his stored kimono, carefully wrapped in soft silk and nestled in cedarwood boxes. He sent up a small prayer of thanks, losing them would have been a blow he couldn't recover from. After much contemplation, he decided on his third best kimono, sorting through obi until he found a pairing appropriate for the season. Even in this, precision was key.
Having avoided it for as long as possible, he began to pick through the rest of the broken and scattered treasures, carefully packing up a few ornaments and a surprisingly intact box of face powder. Everything else would remain here, in this place of broken dreams. Once he left, he would not be returning.
The boxes and bags were transferred to a waiting cart, a veil carefully positioned to hide the mark of his failure, and Jun shut the door on his past.
Afternoons in the pleasure district are lazy, leisurely affairs. In this closed world of women the highlight of the day is gossiping the long hours away in the baths. From the outside the willow world appears to slumber behind its walls, recovering from the revelries of the night before. In reality, this is the most cherished part of the day, when hopes and dreams are laid bare and all eventualities are possible. The arrival of a curtained palanquin during these hours was unexpected enough to set all tongues wagging. When that palanquin stopped outside a teahouse known for unconventional sexual practices, curiosity overcame all rivalries. Women who normally passed without so much as a nod of acknowledgment put their heads together and whispered ever more outlandish theories. The only thing the pillow girls could agree on was no one recognized the heavily veiled woman who slipped from its curtained privacy into the teahouse. Her wealth was obvious, hair impeccably coifed and clad in a kimono worth more than all of them combined. Why such a person would visit that particular house was debated in ever rising voices. The most obvious answer, a husband with habits no decent woman could stomach, was almost immediately discarded. Such a refined creature would no more discuss such things than she would run naked through the streets. Most wives negotiated their husband's liasons through scrolls and servants, even the most mundane. The lack of subterfuge had all the women on edge. Something darker was obviously at work.
Inside the shadowed confines of the teahouse Jun proceeded to plead his case. Using all the skill he had acquired in his time onstage, he struck just the right balance between misery and vengeance, hoping to sway the proprietor to his side.
"He swore we were eternal lovers. And then he abandoned me.” A delicate handkerchief disappeared behind the veils to dab at watery eyes. “Now I am spoiled for any other.”
"Why come to me? There are many houses that would love to have a lady of your refinement. My customers have base appetites. Your delicate sensibilities will enflame them to greater outrages just to see your reaction.”
"I have no choice,” Jun's voice dropped to a breathy whisper. “I cannot allow another to penetrate my jade gate, and I have no wish to risk becoming enamored of any man. But, I am now without resources, and that means I must compromise. I will accept being used in the way men pleasure each other. Would you have customers interested in such things?”
"I have customers interested in all manner of perversion. I am sure I can keep you busy enough to forget your heartbreak. I assume you would prefer separate quarters?”
"It would be more comfortable for all of us, I'm sure. Still, beggars can't be choosers. I will take whatever you are willing to give me.”
The proprietress carefully packed a long iron pipe with tobacco, applying a coal to the bowl and puffing out clouds of sour smoke. “One of my girls recently left us to marry. Her lover kept her in luxury during her time here. Her house is empty now, I'll have the servants clean it in preparation for your arrival.” 

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Onna Bugeisha - Chapter Five

It is Tuesday already - that means it is time for a new chapter! In case you are just joining us, here is the link to Chapter One...for the rest of you, Chapter Five awaits.


Interlude
In his home under the ocean, Susanoo capered with glee. After centuries of searching the key to regaining his father's favor had finally appeared. In response to his mood the seas foamed, monstrous waves toppling fishing fleets and washing away villages. The people crowded into the shrines, praying to Amaterasu to calm her brother's ire and protect them.
The sun goddess stretched languidly. She was torn between her desire to save her people, and her aversion to spending time in Susanoo's presence. Duty won out and she reluctantly made her way to his underwater home to plead her case.
"Brother, calm yourself. You threaten to destroy all that our father created.”
"Like I care about those puny islands or the pitiful worms who inhabit them. My grand plan will soon take effect, then the people's hearts will turn to me and you will be forgotten.
"Unlikely. Beauty will always triumph over brutality.” Amaterasu turned her back on her sibling and ascended to her rightful place in the heavens.


Dai Go Shou
Dawn spread fingers of fire across the heavens, ribbons of rosy light painting abstract patterns on the shoji and rousing Hiroshi from a restless sleep.
"Time for morning kata.” Kenshin's too cheery greeting rattled the bones of his apprentice's skull.
"It's barely dawn. Why do we have to start so early?” Hiroshi groaned, pulling the covers over his face and snuggling deeper into the futon.
"The day is most productive when it starts with exercise.” Kenshin yanked the covers off his slumbering apprentice, prodding him off the futon with his foot. “We rise at this time every day, I'm sure in time you will get used to it.”
"I seriously doubt that.” Hiroshi scrubbed a hand across his eyes, squinting up at the mirthful face of his master. “You are getting far too much enjoyment out of this.”
"What do you usually do in the morning?”
"I sleep through the morning, like any civilized person.” The curt reply was a sharp contrast to the whirlwind hair and pillow creases marring otherwise perfect cheekbones. “Couldn't we skip morning practice and start after lunch?”
"And then you'll want to wait until evening. You've spent enough years dawdling in bed, time to actually do something.” A strong hand latched onto Hiroshi's rumpled yukata and heaved him to his feet. “Your father expects me to turn you into a warrior. Get dressed and meet me in the dojo. The sooner we start, the sooner you get breakfast.”
The strappy ties on his hakama were a puzzle he couldn't decode in his half asleep state. Forty minutes passed before Hiroshi entered the dojo, hair roughly scraped back into a bushy tail, hakama tied in an impatient knot barely restraining his crumpled yukata. The sight of his new master peacefully meditating, hair and garments perfectly arranged, was enough to drive him to despair.
"I see you finally made it.” Dark eyes opened to study his reluctant student. “Tomorrow I will expect you to join me for meditation. Clarity of mind is crucial for productive training.”
"Clarity of mind assumes I am actually awake,” Hiroshi quipped. “I'm not sure that is possible so early in the morning.”
Kenshin's laugh was open and unexpected. “Let's get started.” He selected a bokken from the weapons rack. “Show me what you know.” He handed the wooden sword to his student, ignoring the electric tingle that rushed through him when their fingers brushed.
Hiroshi wobbled through the first of the simple kata he remembered, conscious of the poor showing he was making. As much as he disliked the warrior arts he wanted to make a good impression on the man who was giving up so much to train him. His attention was focused on Kenshin's reaction, further distracting him from what he should have been doing.
"Just stop,” Kenshin snapped. “Obviously we need to start at the beginning.” He snatched the bokken from lax fingers. “Lesson number one, how to properly hold a sword. Like this, see, all the work is done by these fingers, the others are just a guide.”
He handed the weapon back and watched critically as his apprentice tried to duplicate what he had been shown. “Better, but more space between your hands. It's a lever, you get more power that way.” Calloused fingers wrapped around Hiroshi's pampered digits, sparking another frisson at the contact.
The next few hours passed in a blur. When Kenshin finally called a halt the bokken needed to be pried out of his student's hands. “I think I'll be doing that cut in my sleep,” Hiroshi grumbled.
"Just make sure you soak your hands after we eat. I wouldn't want you to be unable to practice tomorrow.”
"Are we done for today?” The hopeful look directed in Kenshin's direction had him feeling momentarily guilty.
"We're done for this morning. Let's get something to eat and then we'll work on hand to hand skills for awhile.”
"How many of hours do you practice each day?”
"That depends on my duties. Eight to ten hours when I'm home, less if we're in the field.”
"Just kill me now,” Hiroshi declared. “There's no way I'll survive the week.”
* * *
The daimyo stared at the captain of his guard in disbelief. “Yes, Hiroshi's assignation was unseemly. That does not give you leave to assault his whore. The issue was settled, but now...well, now I'm waiting for the backlash. If this turns messy it is on your head.”
"But if you'd seen him. All painted up like a geisha and proud of it. Vanity like that is understandable in a woman, in a man it's an insult.”
"At least tell me you didn't kill him.” The daimyo's hand clenched on the hilt of his katana. The urge to punish this man for undermining his plan was nearly overwhelming. Several deep calming breaths passed while he waited for an answer.
"He was breathing when we left. Do you honestly expect me to go check on the creature?”
"Check on him. Get him to a healer if need be. Hiroshi will fly to his defense if he finds out and then all my efforts to separate them will be for naught. If you need further incentive keep in mind I just apprenticed my son to Yakushi-san. I imagine he would react strongly to anyone hurting his charge.”
"How did you trick Kenshin into taking your brat under his wing? He's turned down a dozen apprentices that I know of.”
"It was a lifetime favor. Why do you think I'm so determined it works out? Now go find that actor and make sure he'll keep his mouth shut. And not by killing him.” The daimyo turned and strode out of the hall, leaving his guard to figure out how to undo the damage.
* * *
By the time night fell Hiroshi was more exhausted than he thought possible. The afternoon passed in a blur, 'falling training' mostly consisted of Kenshin throwing him into things at high speed. His bruises were bruised. All he could think of was a long soak followed by sleeping for a week.
When he failed to appear for dinner Kenshin went looking. The last thing he needed was his apprentice escaping from his home on the first day. When he went to check the bathhouse he found his wayward pupil sound asleep in the furo, head barely above the water line. His fingers hovered above black clouds and half a flower intricately inked on an exposed shoulder. Of all the secrets his student held, this was one he never expected. “Oi, wake up, time for dinner.”
Hiroshi woke in a world of pain. The hot water did little to relieve the ache of muscles pushed far beyond their usual bounds. “Huh, what?”
"I would not have expected you to have a tattoo. Such a rebellious student I've managed to end up with. Sakura at dawn, and done by an irezumi master.”
"It's permanent, of course I went to a master.” Kenshin's gentle teasing picked at his student's last thread of patience. “Is nothing in my life private anymore?”
"Not from me.”
The smug smile on his master's face pushed the normally reserved Hiroshi over the edge. “You have got to be kidding me. As if being relegated to this mausoleum isn't enough, now you're spying and prying for my father as well?”
"My questions are my own,” Kenshin retorted. “And what I find is for me as well. You flatter yourself. A boy like you isn't worthy of such a grand plot. Now get out and dress, our dinner is getting cold.” He reached out to give Hiroshi a hand, only to have his arm slapped away.
"I'm perfectly capable of getting out of a tub on my own. Now turn around, I don't need you ogling me.”
"You think an awful lot of yourself. Why sakura? I would have pegged you for a dragon or perhaps yokai. Something more obviously manly, in any event.”
"It was Jun's suggestion,” Hiroshi admitted. “He thought it suited my personality.”
"Indeed.” Kenshin stepped behind his student, tracing the pattern with calloused fingers. “It is beautiful. New life from the darkness. I approve.”
"Thank you, I guess. Not that I need your approval.”
"Sit.” Kenshin pushed his student down onto the bathing stool, then knelt in front of him. “I want you to be able to walk tomorrow.” Strong fingers began kneading tired feet, pushing into tender arches until they relaxed. “Next time tell me when I'm pushing you too hard.”
"I did. You laughed at me.”
"My apologies, I forget not everyone works themselves as hard as I do.” Knotted calves gradually eased under the insistent pressure, and Hiroshi groaned, curling into the painful bliss. “After we eat I'll give you some lineament for your hands. It will toughen the skin so it doesn't tear. For now we will alternate days, swordsmanship one day, hand to hand the next. Just until you get used to the routine.”
"I'll try harder, I promise.”
"You did very well for your first day. I just set my expectations too high. We will find a balance, I'm sure.” Kenshin stood and hoisted him to his feet. “Better? Do you think you can walk to the table?”
"I'll manage. Give me a few minutes to dress and I'll join you.”
Over dinner they spoke of inconsequential things. Their mutual disdain for the pageantry of rule had them giggling into their cups at Hiroshi's uncanny mimicry of some of the daimyo's advisors. For the first time Kenshin thought that, perhaps, this arrangement might work out and he let go of some of his lingering resentment over the change in his routine.
* * *
Hiroshi was exhausted, yet sleep eluded him. All his plans of sleeping for a week fled the moment he stretched out on the futon. Instead of wandering in the land of dreams his mind kept flashing pictures of his new mentor. His cock lay hot and heavy against his thigh, stirring to life at the thought of the corded muscles of Kenshin's back. Yet again he couldn't help but wonder if his new master's ass was as impressively sculpted. So he's attractive. Lots of men are. Jun is devoted to me. I owe him my fidelity.
Despite his internal monologue, the nagging thoughts of Kenshin unguarded, eyes dark with lust and twinkling with amusement, niggled at his control. Hiroshi's cock twitched against his thigh, filling with blood against his wishes. He wrapped his hand around his straining erection, a squeeze and a single stroke from balls to tip had him arching off the futon with a passionate sigh. Another slow stroke further inflamed his passion. The thought of his new master overhearing him masturbating evoked a strange mixture of lust and embarrassment, and he bit his lip in an effort to stifle any further suspicious noises.
His eyes fluttered shut, his cock swelling as he pictured Jun sprawled naked on tangled sheets. Despite his intentions, the man he pictured grew taller and heavier, sleekly feminine features growing more rugged the closer he came to orgasm.
* * *
Kenshin listened to the sound of his apprentice pleasuring himself, oblivious to the fact that paper walls did nothing to keep his actions private. The steady strokes and occasional low moan only served to remind him just how long it had been since he'd sought release with another. Hiroshi had made his displeasure with such an arrangement between them crystal clear. As unappealing as the prospect was, perhaps the time had come to seek out a temporary assignation. His friends had spoken highly of the local pleasure district. Anything would be preferable to spending his nights listening to the sound of masturbation.
He tried to remember the last time he had even thought about sex, let alone touched himself. In the first few years after his master's death it had been a common practice. But as time passed he found his thoughts turning in that direction less and less. As best he could recall, it had been at least a year, possibly more.
So it's settled, he decided. Tomorrow I will go and see if the willow world holds anyone of interest to me.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Onna Bugeisha - Chapter Four

Sorry today's installment is a bit late - I have been on the run since before my eyes were actually open this morning. Still, better late than never (and it is still Friday). So, without further ado, on to chapter four.



Dai Yon Shou
"This will be your quarters.” Kenshin slid the fusama aside to reveal a large room, floored with fresh tatami, with several zabuton arranged around a low table. The butsudon held a simple vase with a willow branch. Shoji panels on the far wall had been opened onto the central courtyard, highlighting the view of an elaborate koi pond and single weeping sakura tree. It was everything Hiroshi admired; simple, restful, and decorated with exquisite taste. “Get settled in. We will talk more over the evening meal. If you need anything my housekeeper is at your service.”
Hiroshi nodded. “Would you mind if I looked around a bit?”
"This is your home now. If you have need of me I will be in the dojo.”
The fusama had no sooner shut than it slid open, servants delivering several elaborately lacquered chests filled with all the belongings from both his father's house and Jun's simple rooms. The message was clear, his old life was over.
He ignored the remains of his past, choosing to explore his new prison. The house was set in the traditional square pattern. The front wing contained public rooms, pristine tatami and the sparse but elegant decoration hinted that these were rarely used. His room and the room of his new master were in the right hand wing. To the left he found the kitchen and servants quarters. The inner walls all slid open to reveal the courtyard, the outer walls opened onto an encircling hallway whose outer walls also opened onto an engawa. In the summer all the doors could be opened to allow cross breezes, keeping it cool and comfortable even when the weather turned sultry.
Across the back stretched a massive training hall. Racks of weaponry and highly polished floors made it clear this room was well-used. Hiroshi watched as his new master went through a series of elaborate kata, each movement crisply precise, his gaze turned inward. His eyes lingered on Kenshin, tracing broad shoulders down a muscular back to a narrow waist. He couldn't help but wonder if the ass hidden inside baggy hakama was as well-developed as the rest of the man. Hiroshi shook his head to clear it of such thoughts, trying to hit on the man in charge of his life was probably the quickest way to guarantee he'd never again be free.
Kenshin finished the last of his kata, bowing to the shrine at the end of the room before turning to address his new pupil. “Are you getting settled in alright?”
"As well as can be expected on such short notice. Once my father decides on something there isn't much time to wrap your mind around it. In his world delay is a weakness.”
"It was as unexpected for me as it was for you,” Kenshin admitted. “I will try to make the transition as painless as possible.”
"So what, exactly, will we be doing?” Hiroshi knew he should have paid more attention to his father's lectures. The martial arts had always struck him as vulgar. When talk turned to battle he usually retreated into his own mind. Now he found himself at a disadvantage.
"How much training have you had?”
"The minimum I could get away with.” The admission wasn't easy. A man of his age and position should be competent in all the disciplines, yet Hiroshi could barely wield a blade. “I can ride well enough, and I've mastered some basic sword kata. Beyond that I'm hopeless.”
"I hardly imagine you're hopeless. Uninterested, perhaps.” Kenshin turned sharp eyes on his new apprentice. Hiroshi certainly had the physique to be a superior warrior, not terribly tall, but nicely proportioned and well-muscled. In hand to hand combat he would have a decided advantage. “Tomorrow morning we will start training in earnest. First we should talk about expectations, yours and mine.”
"I expect to be miserable.”
"I sincerely hope not. Your father expects me to train you, but I have no intention of being a tyrant about it. We will assess your strengths and work on those areas. At your age anything else would require too much backtracking.”
Hiroshi slumped against a support pillar, relief rushing through him. “Thank kami. I was afraid I would punished for my lack of skill.”
"That would be counterproductive. Neither children or adults learn well from punishment.” Kenshin rubbed the back of his neck, unsure how to open up the more personal part of the discussion. “What do you know of masters and their apprentices?”
"Not much. Most of the apprentices I've seen have been boys. I've never heard of anyone taking a student of my age.”
"That's true. Usually by the time a boy reaches adulthood he goes off on his own, although master and apprentice generally remain close. In your case, however, your father believes this arrangement will be beneficial to both of us.”
"Well, I can certainly see the benefit to him.” Hiroshi tried, and failed, to mask the bitterness washing through him. “And I guess it will be of benefit to me, assuming, that is, I ever find myself in a battle. I have to admit I am more likely to run in the opposite direction. What I don't see is any benefit to you. An unwanted intruder who will take up most of your time and energy isn't something most people would wish for.”
Kenshin took a deep breath to steady himself. “There is another aspect to our relationship. One which your father considered before asking me to undertake your training. Have you heard of wakashudo?”
"Old men taking advantage of boys.” The disdain Hiroshi felt toward such a thing was obvious.
"Masters and apprentices sharing love,” Kenshin corrected him. “I had such a relationship with my master and I assure you, I was never taken advantage of. I loved him and he loved me.”
"I am neither a child or a woman. I will not be used in such a fashion.”
"So you prefer to give? I know about your dalliance. Sex with a man is no mystery to you.”
"I am a man, of course I prefer the dominant position.” Hiroshi straightened, preparing to defend himself from being forcibly taken. “So, you see, we are at an impasse.”
"I will not pressure you into anything,” Kenshin assured him. “Although your father hoped that I could turn you away from your lover.”
"My beloved is beautiful and graceful, a talented performer in and out of bed. I can only hope he will forgive me for abandoning him without even a goodbye.”
"Some things are beyond our control. Surely your lover can understand that. If not, perhaps he is not worthy of your devotion.”
"It is I who am not worthy.” Hiroshi dropped his head, stress was muddling his thoughts at the moment he could least afford it. “I am resigned to this apprenticeship. In time, perhaps, we will become friends. I could certainly use one.”
"That is all anyone could ask for.” Kenshin stepped forward and clasped forearms with his new student. “Enough talk. I, for one, could use a good soak. I will be in the furo if you care to join me.”
* * *
Jun woke in an unfamiliar room with a stranger leaning over him. Panic surged and he struggled to push himself away from the threat.
"Don't.” A hand pushed down on his chest, keeping him in place. The image in front of him resolved into a wizened old woman. “I have done what I can, but you are still hurt. Stay as still as you can so you don't undo all my work.”
"Thank you for your kindness, but I will be fine on my own,” Jun insisted.
"You were near death. Relax and let yourself recover. No one will bother you here.” She lifted a small bowl to his lips. “Drink, it will help with the pain.”
He downed the contents, questions bursting in his brain. “Who are you? Where am I?”
"My name is Aoi. I'm a healer. Your neighbor saw the soldiers leaving your house and went to check on you. It is good he brought you here, without treatment you would surely have died.” She turned away and ladled broth into a bowl. “I had almost given up hope. It has been several days, and this is the first time you have been conscious.”
"I owe you a debt I cannot repay.” He sunk back into the futon and shut his eyes, feigning sleep while he contemplated his new turn of circumstance.



Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Onna Bugeisha - Chapter Three

And now - on to chapter three...


Interlude
Amaterasu and Tsukiyomi soon fell into a comfortable relationship. For several hours every morning and evening they lingered together, exchanging ideas about how they could best improve the lives of the creatures living on their islands. Susanoo refused to join in their discussions, preferring to work his wiles on individuals and reveling in the chaos they introduced into his siblings' plan. Inside, however, he hankered for their acceptance. This conflict drove him to ever greater heights in an attempt to garner their father's undivided attention. He spent his days looking for the lynch-pin, the one human who could throw the entire nation into turmoil. Once he had his pawn, then he could make his move.


Dai San Shou
Jun was pulled from his misery by the sound of footsteps on the engawa. “You came back.” He ran out into the hall to greet his lover, only to find the entry filled with soldiers. “How dare you break into a lady's home,” he hissed. “Leave at once.”
"We are here to collect Murakami-san's belongings. Step aside or we will have to restrain you,” the leader of the group explained.
Soldiers filled the space, pawing through chests to create a messy pile of male clothing. “Stop that.” Jun threw himself against the nearest samurai in an attempt to snatch back the garments clenched in an armored fist.
"You would be smart not to fight us,” the leader of the squad insisted. “We would prefer not to restrain you.”
"Take your hands off Hiroshi's things. He'll punish you for this insolence.”
"Murakami-san will not be returning.” The commander's grip on Jun tightened. “His father will no longer tolerate this assignation. Hiroshi is being sent to live with Yakushi-sama. It is past time for him to be trained in the way of budo. Do yourself a favor and forget you ever met, for it is certain you will never meet again.”
"Hiroshi would never abandon me,” Jun sobbed. “We are eternal lovers. We swore never to be parted.”
"That is not a promise he was free to make to a woman like you. The daimyo's heir needs a match worthy of his family name. No street whore, no matter how lovely, could ever hope to win his hand.”
"I am no whore.” Jun rose to his full height, glaring imperiously at the men surrounding him.
"You aren't a woman, either,” the guard realized. “Hey, this girl is a man.” The atmosphere in the room turned dark. The samurai amused themselves by shoving Jun back and forth between them, stripping off layers with each pass. Finally he was naked except for remnant face paint smeared across his cheek and a single kanzashi caught in the tangle of his hair.
"You'll pay for this.” Jun found himself pressed onto the tatami, rough hands leaving bruises on soft flesh. His protests faded under the onslaught, all his energy focused on weathering the storm.
One by one the soldiers took their turn, filling Jun's mouth or ass. He gagged as semen blocked his throat, thrashing and coughing. His lips were turning blue when he finally vomited up the contents of his stomach on the man currently using him. The punch to the head that followed rendered him unconscious, not that his abusers cared.
When the last of them had taken his pleasure they gathered Hiroshi's things and left. The battered man on the tatami would never again be thought beautiful. And deep in his ocean lair, Susanoo smiled.
* * *
Mai added water to the inkstick, swirling the mixture with her brush until the consistency was perfect. She eyed the blank page with trepidation. This was her one chance to convince Kenshin to meet, a mistake could leave her relegated to the women's quarters in the Shogun's palace. I'd rather be dead. She made a mental note to visit the herbalist, surely there was no harm in being prepared for the worst.
She shook her head to clear it, shutting her eyes and picturing the future she wanted. Then she lifted the brush and began to write. Defying all logic, she decided to eschew the flowery phrases and subtle innuendo so favored by the court. Instead, she spoke from the heart, going into detail about her dreams. She hoped Kenshin would read between the lines and realize the plan meant freedom for both of them.
She folded the letter carefully, melting wax to seal it with her chop. The last thing she needed was one of her brother's councilors opening her plea. Mai delivered the sealed message to her attendant, asking that it be delivered immediately. Then she went to the shrine to light incense and pray.
"Amaterasu, grant me this boon. Turn Yakushi-san's heart in my direction. As your daughter I ask this blessing. In return, I will devote my life to honoring you and becoming the warrior you need me to be.”
* * *
Hiroshi glared sullenly through the window of the carriage, ignoring the scenery in favor of plotting revenge on his father. He was pulled from his introspection when they turned off the road down a drive lined with old pines. He distantly noted the serenity of his surroundings, carefully manicured plantings highlighting swirls of sand. Craggy rocks punctuated the scene, mountains writ small, their texture emphasizing the whole.
The door to the carriage opened, his guard eying him warily. “Are you coming, or do I need to carry you?”
"Don't be ridiculous.” Hiroshi stepped onto the path, unconsciously straightening his garments. If he had to be here it was best to make a positive impression. Good behavior would be the quickest path to regaining some freedom. Thoughts of Jun's disappointed face when he failed to reappear tore at his heart. He quickly pushed them aside, no point in dwelling on what he couldn't change.
"Welcome to my home.” Kenshin bowed politely, deep enough to acknowledge Hiroshi's family ties, but shallow enough to make it clear who was in charge.
"My apologies for intruding.” A deeper bow, held a fraction longer, acknowledged the status quo. “I hope my father hasn't caused you too much trouble.”
"I am honored to be tasked with training Murakami-sama's only son.” The cryptic response gave no indication of the samurai's true feelings. “Was your journey pleasant?”
"As much as any unexpected travel could be. My father sprang this on me without warning. I can only hope his lackeys collected all my possessions.”
"Anything missing can be sent for,” Kenshin assured him. “You will be here for the forseeable future, I want your stay to be a comfortable one.”