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BW: The Path of Swords

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With a final high pitched clash of steel brushing aside steel, followed by the hollow sound of steel eating its way into flesh it was over. With a sigh Mihawk wiped his blade clean on the dead man’s coat and sheathed it. Yoru might be the mightiest weapon in the world, although Mihawk doubted that, as he was a firm believer of the old proverb that the man makes the warrior, not the weapon, but even as powerful a blade as Yoru would rust and ruin, if exposed to too much blood. Too much blood – Light, but the now dead man lying still in a pool of his own blood had been good. He claimed to have been the best swordsman in the North Blue and Mihawk believed him. A pity to kill the young fool like that, Mihawk thought idly, as he made his way back to the town where he was staying, but the path to the top, the path to the position he himself held, is paved with swords and flanked by rivers of blood.

Are there any innkeepers in this world that aren’t fat? Shiryuu wondered and chuckled to himself softly, as he watched the fat man in a white apron grovel and bow his way to him, a tray with a cigar and a whiskey in one hand. Annoyed, Shiryuu tapped his Nodachi, idly leaning against the wall, on the ground. The innkeeper gave a start and after handing him the tray almost ran out of the room, but not without bowing every second step. It was his fate to be a maggot, writhing under those better than him, Shiryuu thought. He of course was one of the latter and today he would prove it. Lighting his cigar and inhaling deeply he wondered about his fate, his fate that two years ago made him join the Blackbeard Pirates, his fate that today, would make him the world’s greatest swordsman. Lighting another cigar he kicked open the swinging doors of the inn and sat down on the porch chair. He’d be victorious. It was his fate after all.

Sir! The Seaman Recruit that served as his secretary shouted breathlessly. “I have urgent news!” Putting down his newspaper Sakazuki studied the young man angrily. What is it? He growled, the tone of his voice making it very clear that he was not happy at being disturbed. “Sir! Shiryuu of the Rain and the Shichibukai Dracule Mihawk are about to clash!” Urgent news indeed, Sakazuki thought as he gave orders to his secretary, whether or not it was good or bad news remained to be seen.

He shivered as he hung up the Den Den Mushi. How he loathed being the mayor of this godforsaken town in the New World. HIS town, he thought angrily, would be destroyed today and innocent people would die if he didn’t start evacuating the people while there was still time. Bloody pirates, he thought, why did it have to be HIS town they start trouble in?

Trailing a small cloud of dust behind him, Mihawk eyed every dust colored house he passed suspiciously. There was not a single soul in sight. Usually not a good sign. He almost gave a start as a dog started barking somewhere on the far side of the town. Where were all the people? It wasn’t Siesta time yet or anything of the like if he remembered correctly. He was still trying to puzzle things out when he reached the central square. A dripping sound, like the sound of a distant rain was the only warning he had. With a grunt Mihawk spun, drawing his blade barely in time to deflect the blow directly at him. A small line of wet dirt pointed directly to the porch of the saloon, where a large figure stood in the shade. “I apologize for startling you” Shiryuu said, stepping out of the shadows. His Nodachi sheathed and held carelessly by the red and white sheath. “Do you have no honour, Shiryuu of the Rain? Aiming at my back like this?” Mihawks tone was almost conversational, but his eyes shown in an icy, raging fury. “We both know this blow would have never touched you, Hawkeyes”, chuckling Shiryuu lit another cigar. “Enough with the pleasantries, Hawkeyes. I’ve come to take your head, for it is my fate to be the strongest swordsman in the world!”

“Fate, like luck is irrelevant or evens an outright lie, Shiryuu. Only skill decides the victor, only strength decides which of us will live to see another day” Behind him, the church bell started ringing loudly. Not taking his eyes of Mihawk, he wasn’t sure if he could, those yellow eyes were so piercing, Shiryuu calmly walked to the other side of the square, almost every sound drowned by the deep rumbling of the church bell. On the eleventh chime, Mihawk closed his eyes and breathed in deeply.

On the twelfth chime, everything seemed to happen at once. Mihawk shooting the world’s strongest slash at Shiryuu, immediately rushing after it, not expecting the attack to land. On the other side Shiryuu calmly dodged the flaring bar of green light, which split what had once been a barbershop behind him cleanly in two, and rushed towards the man behind those staring yellow eyes, Nodachi unsheathed in a second and preparing to claim, what fate said was rightfully his. With a loud clash of steel on steel they met in the middle of the square, the twelfth chime not quite done, and they began to dance of blades.

Attacking, parrying, counterattacking, laying traps, executing ripostes and with footwork to make Muhammad Ali jealous, they flowed across the square, one missed step, meaning certain death, one heartbeat to slow in a defense meant stabs through the heart, but they didn’t manage to touch one another. Their long blades in between them seemed like a wall of bricks so impenetrable. Wayward slashes flew all around them, obliterating the town around them and they flowed across rubble where moments earlier the inn had stood, the dust almost ruining their vision, and inciting them to sneeze or cough, which would have meant certain defeat.

Shiryuu grunted from the effort, to keep that massive black blade away from him. The fight couldn’t have been going on for more than a couple of minutes but it felt like hours to him. By now he had several minor wounds, but then again, so had Mihawk. Shiryuu knew he couldn’t lose. It was his fate to become the world’s strongest. He just didn’t see how to beat Mihawk yet. With a grunt he jumped backward and landed on what had been the upper part of the church bell, before a slash from one of them, cut it clean down the middle as if it had been butter.

He was not going to be put on the defensive. He was Shiryuu of the Rain. He was going to make it rain. With those eyes that seemed to be staring into his very soul fixed on him, Shiryuu started slashing at the sky, seemingly at nowhere. Mihawk stared at him wonderingly. What was he up to?

Again, only the sound of distant rain warned Mihawk, and a raindrop hit him on the nose, his hat discarded at some point in the fight. “Odd, it was a clear day” he thought before it hit him. Jumping to the side he barely avoided the blow that would have killed him, raining from the sky, like the world’s deadliest hailstorm. All the blows that he let Shiryuu send into the sky rained down on him and all he could do was jump to avoid them.

Mihawk let himself smile, as he dodged the blows that Shiryuu kept sending skyward. He had to admit that Shiryuu was good. But he was a fool who didn’t realize the sacrifices you had to make to be the best. When victory had to be won at all cost, you had to pay a price. Snarling wordlessly, Dracule Mihawk lunged himself towards his opponent, taking the raining blow that was intended for his head in his leg, and several other blows during his short jump. It didn’t matter. His blade connected. Then there was silence.

“But Smoker-san…” – “I said no Tashigi, so leave it. You couldn’t handle a sword that size even if you tried.” Sulking, Tashigi stomped off. She knew Smoker was right, the Nodachi they had looted from the corpse of Shiryuu was indeed massive, but she so do hated to be reminded about it. “The blade doesn’t matter.” Tashigi gave a start and turned around, finding herself face to face with a heavily bandaged Dracule Mihawk. “It’s how you use it. Do you walk the Path of Swords Captain Tashigi? Because if you do, we’ll meet again someday.” With that, he turned around leaving her staring as he slowly limped his way to the harbor, where she could see his coffin shaped boat waiting already.


First prediction ever wut wut!