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Writing Land of the Setting Sun-A Novella


Onix
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This was written for an English assingment. The assignment was to write a novella of 20-25 pages in a historical setting with no fantasy/sci-fi. I think I accomplised that. This is Part 1 of 5 (the whole thing is 23 pages, which is a little much for one post). Oh, and this is a rough draft. And if you could give it a letter grade, that would be appreciated.

[SIZE=1]Part One: Dawn

The hammer rapped out a sharp staccato beat as it knocked the nail into the wooden side of the pub. The soldier who hammered on the notice walked away, a stack of papers held under one arm, hammer held loosely in hand.

The notice was plain, and went something like, ?All weapons must be destroyed or turned in to Government Officials under severe penalty-Emperor Meiji.?

The patrons inside the pub didn?t seem to notice or care about the Government Decree by the new, young Emperor. The new Emperor, Emperor Meiji, born Mutsuhito, took his name because of his ?Enlightened Rule,? which the name meant. It had been 8 years since the young man took the throne at the tender age of 14, and now he was a powerful man, respected by most.

But not all.

Nobuo Yamamoto, former officer in the Tokugawa army, had lost his world to the boy Emperor. He resented the man, no, the boy, and drunk away his sorrows.

Two men, drunken and foolish, didn?t realize the mistake they made when they approached the ex-Samurai.

?Pardon me,? slurred one. ?But I would like to ask you a favor, Samurai-san,? said the drunk, noticing Nobuo?s armor.

?You see,? said his companion. ?We have run out of money, as times are tough, and we were wondering if you could spare some cash. Can you??

?I?m afraid not,? Nobuo grunted.

?Oh, that?s not nice,? growled the first man, placing his clammy hand on Nobuo?s shoulder. His hand was large and calloused, and the man himself was much larger than Nobuo. Both were. ?You must be well-off, being a Samurai and all,? said the man, grinning wickedly. ?So, hand over some coins.?

?If you like your hand, you will remove it,? snarled Nobuo.

?Did you hear that?? yelled the second. ?The little Samurai thinks he can take me and Jiro, here! Isn?t that a riot??

The assembled pub let out a weak laugh, drowned out by Jiro and his companion?s brays of laughter. Nobuo continued to drink, ignoring them both, feeling his temper rise.

?What?s your name, Samurai-san?? asked Jiro.

?Nobuo,? said the ex-Samurai.

"Nobuo, eh? Wasn?t there another Nobuo, a somewhat legendary one?? asked the second man.

?Yeah!? said Jiro. ?Nobuo, the Demon from Edo! I remember hearing of his ?great exploits!?.?

The two men laughed drunkenly again.

?But this little Samurai can?t be our Demon from Edo, can he?? said Jiro, gripping Nobuo?s shoulder tighter.

?Yes he can,? hissed Nobuo, too softly to be heard.

?What was that?? asked Jiro, leaning in closer.

?I said, yes he can!? snarled Nobuo. He splashed the remnants of his drink in Jiro?s eyes.

While the large drunk stumbled around, temporarily blinded, Nobuo rose. The ex-Samurai wound up his right fist, and slammed it into the drunk?s face. Jiro went down, hard, nose busted open and bleeding.

?Why you?!? started the other man, but Nobuo was ready.

The smaller man elbowed the other in the gut, and slammed him in the chin with his fist. The larger man stumbled back, and fell onto the bar.

?Hey!? barked the manager, running out. ?You stop that now! What do you think this is, a battlefield? You want a fight, go join Saigo in Satsuma!?

?These louts were being a nuisance to the whole pub, honorable Manager,? said Nobuo, bowing his head jerkily. ?I was merely removing an unpleasant element, as it were.?

?Well take it outside!? said the Manager, pointing to the door.

?No need,? said Nobuo, waving it off. ?We are done here.?

Nobuo glared at the drunks, and then turned to walk out of the pub. He grabbed his simple wide-brimmed straw hat and left. Oh, and he grabbed his sword.

?That little Samurai had a sword,? said the conscious drunk, staring in a kind of awe.

?Don?t you know who that was?? asked the Manager, trying to conceal a scowl.

The drunk nodded.

?Said his name was Nobuo.?

?Yeah, Nobuo Yamamoto, the Demon from Edo!?

?What!?? yelled the drunk. ?You cannot be serious!?

?Well I am. Often talks of his exploits when he gets drunk enough.?

Just then, a pair of soldiers walked into the bar.

?Does anyone know anything about the man who just left?? asked one of the soldiers, wrinkling his nose in disgust. He was obviously used to higher-class establishments.

?Yeah, I know a thing or two about him, why?? asked the manager.

?We simply want to have a talk with him,? said the disgusted soldier.

?About what?? asked the manager, staring down the soldiers. He, obviously, had little respect for the government, like Nobuo.

?I can tell you stuff about him,? said Jiro?s friend. He was eager to disclose the details of Nobuo?s life he knew, willing to do anything to get the ex-Samurai back.

?Oh?? asked the soldier.

?Yes. I know his name is Nobuo Yamamoto, and you probably know where such a prestigious soldier lives.?

?Yamamoto, you say?? the soldier asked, rhetorically. He turned to his companion. ?Hirutani, tell the squad to meet at the Yamamoto residence at night-fall. We?re going to have a little chat with our ex-Samurai friend.?

The other, silent soldier nodded sagely.

?Thank you for informing us, citizen,? said the first soldier. He bowed his head jerkily at the drunk.

?My pleasure, Soldier-san,? said the drunk, grinning his crooked grin. ?Just tell your boss that if he needs help, call on your old friend Keiji.?

?I?ll do that,? the soldier said dryly.

The two soldiers turned and left. They had a mission to accomplish. Perhaps they would receive special honors from the Emperor. At least they would meet Nobuo Yamamoto, the Demon from Edo, which was honor enough in itself.

Especially if they were the ones to kill him.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

EDIT: Here's Part Two as well

Part Two: Noon

?My husband, you must refrain from getting in bar fights,? said Akiko Yamamoto.

She was a still-youthful woman, being very beautiful in her prime. She was the daughter of a well-off merchant, and had been arranged to marry Nobuo since birth. The great Samurai had been lucky that she turned out so beautiful.

?I did not intend to start a fight, Akiko-sama,? said Nobuo, taking a long drink from his glass of water. It would help clear his head. ?Two drunkards wouldn?t leave me in peace, so I had to teach them to respect their betters.?

?What kind of example does this set for our precious Hideki?? she asked, staring at him, very concerned.

She had been wearing that expression, worry and concern, almost constantly since the Emperor had taken the throne and abolished the Samurai class. When the Tokugawa Shogunate fell, so did Nobuo?s hopes and dreams. All he lived for now was his family and a good drink. Unfortunately, he sometimes spent more time with the latter than the former.

?I know, I know,? said Nobuo, sighing. ?I am trying to avoid getting in these brawls, but I lose my temper far more easily now that I do not have the battlefield to unleash my anger upon. These are hard stressful times.?

?I know, my love, I know,? said Akiko.

There was silence in the Yamamoto household for a time, save the sound of Nobuo sipping his water, until the ex-Samurai spoke up again.

He cleared his throat first. ?Akiko-sama, I have been thinking. Perhaps?perhaps I should go to the Satsuma province in the south, and join Saigo in the revolution.?

?Go all the way to Satsuma?? Akiko asked, her dark eyes pained.

?I could take you and Hideki with me,? said Nobuo, softly. For all his gruff exterior and violent temper, he was a loving husband and father.

?But?it is so far to the south?we would have to leave everything behind??

?I know, but it could be for the best,? Nobuo said, seeing the problems in his idea.

?Perhaps,? she sighed.

They sat in silence again. It was the uncomfortable, dense silence only brought on by disagreement.

The silence was all-consuming, until a harsh voice rang out in the street. Nobuo looked up, and saw that the only illumination came from a lantern.

?Nobuo Yamamoto, you are charged with possession of an illegal sword! Hand it over at once, or face force!?

Nobuo rose and moved to the door. He slid open the screen and stepped onto the stone walkway that led from the front entrance, through Akiko?s well-kept garden, and to the street.

Standing in the street were several soldiers, each holding rifles, aimed at the house.

?Good. Now hand over your sword, and no one shall be injured,? said one soldier. He was thin, wiry, a poor build for a warrior, yet he was a high-ranking officer because he could use a rifle.

It sickened Nobuo.

?Emperor Meiji is undeserving of my respect, so why should I follow his law?? asked Nobuo.

Akiko rushed out, and was shocked by the row of gunmen.

Suddenly, a gun let fly.

Akiko crumpled to the ground, blood staining her kimono a dark red. She had been shot fatally, the bullet piercing her stomach.

?Akiko!? bellowed Nobuo.

The ex-Samurai turned away from his dying wife, and faced the line of gunmen, eyes blazing in fury.

?Father, what was that??? said a small voice.

Nobuo turned to see his young son, Hideki, walking towards the doorway.

?Hideki, stay back!?

?What is it Fa?? Hideki?s words trailed off when he caught sight of his mother, lying dead on the ground. ?Mother!?

The young boy ran to her side.

?An accomplice!? yelled a soldier.

?Stop!? said another voice.

But it was all too late. The soldier fired, and Hideki?s small frame was thrown back by the force.

?Bastards!? roared Nobuo.

The Former ?Demon from Edo? drew his ancient, family katana, stained with the blood of so many warriors, and charged. He vaguely felt a bullet graze his shoulder, to overwhelmed with blood-lust to notice any pain.

Nobuo rapidly closed in on the line of soldiers. He cut down the first soldier as soon as he was in range, carving a deep gash in the man?s chest. He reached over during the swing, gripping the barrel of a rifle, and yanked it free of its owner?s hands. He used the butt of the gun as a club, bashing it into the head of the former owner.

He dropped the rifle and gripped the hilt of his katana again. One soldier had turned and was about to fire when Nobuo removed the man?s head from his body. He reversed the sword so the tip pointed behind him, and drove the blade into another soldier?s gut.

The other three soldiers knew what was coming for them, and ran.

?Get back here you cowards!? bellowed the enraged soldier.

Strands of hair had fallen in front of his eyes, and he brushed them aside. He stood there for a moment, panting. He could?ve run after the soldiers, but not for long. He was old, and drinking had weakened his body.

He ran a hand through his tousled hair, and let out a long breath through his clenched teeth.

If they will not come to me, I will come to them. I must make the government pay for what it has done to me. I must kill the fool Emperor.

[/SIZE]

Let me know if it would be worth it to post the next parts. I warn you, the violence does increase quite rapidly, and people with weak stomachs are adivsed to not read parts 3 and 4 especially.

-ULX
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