Young Samurai: The Ring of Wind

Young Samurai: The Ring of Wind by Chris Bradford

Book: Young Samurai: The Ring of Wind by Chris Bradford Read Free Book Online
Authors: Chris Bradford
sea. Waves churned at the bottom and offered no prospect of survival. Then a head bobbed to the surface. The man swam for the shore, but another wave rolled in and he disappeared once more.
    Jack spied a rock-strewn animal track leading to a ledge at the cliff base. Without a thought for his own safety, or the fact that he’d reveal his identity, he scrambled down in a wild attempt to save the drowning man. Jack was almost halfway when he burst back to the surface. But yet another wave engulfed him. Breathless, Jack bounded over the last few steps and hurried to the water’s edge. He searched the turbulent sea for any sign of the man. But the churning white mass offered little hope.
    A huge wave rolled in and broke against the cliff. Jack jumped back to avoid getting dragged in himself. As it retreated, he was stunned to see an elderly man sitting casually upon the ledge, wringing the salt water from his beard.
    ‘Are you hurt?’ asked Jack, offering a hand to help him up.
    The man stood on his own. ‘Why should I be?’
    ‘How could anyone survive in there?’ said Jack, pointing to the deadly confusion of rocks and white water.
    ‘It’s easy,’ replied the man, his slate-grey eyes taking in Jack but showing no concern for his foreign appearance. ‘I follow the way of the water and do nothing to oppose it – its nature becomes my nature.’
    The man started up the track, pausing briefly as an invitation for Jack to follow. Jack was surprised by the nimbleness and speed with which the old man scaled the steep face.
    ‘The fall alone should have killed you,’ Jack insisted, unable to believe the man was unharmed.
    Reaching the top, the elderly man picked up a bird’s feather and held it before Jack’s nose.
    ‘Watch this,’ he instructed, and let it go. The sea breeze caught the feather and it fluttered across the bay, floating towards the beach. ‘You see, the feather doesn’t resist. It simply goes where the wind blows.’
    Jack immediately understood. The old man was talking about the Ring of Wind. The Grandmaster had used the exact same words. This element of the Five Rings embodied the spirit of
ninjutsu
– evasion, open-mindedness, the ability to respond to any situation, be ready for any attack as it occurs.
To go where the wind blows
.
    The man pointed to a tree beside the temple, the bough broken and the trunk split. ‘That oak tried to resist the wind. Strong as it is, the tree lost the fight.’ He looked Jack directly in the eye. ‘Bear this in mind, young samurai, for when an old enemy returns anew.’
    A shiver ran down Jack’s spine, as if someone had walked across his grave.
How could this old man know such things?
    He was about to ask when he heard a shout from behind.
    ‘Jack!’ cried Miyuki, waving frantically from the courtyard. ‘The boat’s leaving without us!’

11
     
Wind Demons
     
    They raced along the beach, shouting for the captain to stop. But the ship had raised its sail and the crew were casting off. Either the captain didn’t hear them, or he chose not to.
    Their feet pounded on to the wooden pier. Miyuki was the fastest, flying down its length and leaping catlike to land upon the ship’s deck. A crewmember stumbled back in shock.
    Still the boat pulled away.
    Jack and Saburo tossed the canvas bag with all their might and Miyuki caught it. Springing mid-step, Jack flew through the air to land deftly on the gunwale. He dropped on to the deck before turning to help the others. Saburo, his cheeks red and wheezing like a pair of bellows, began to flag. With each step, the gap between the pier and the boat grew ever wider.
    ‘Jump
now
!’ shouted Jack.
    Ditching his pilgrim’s staff, Saburo threw himself across the water. Arms extended, he crashed painfully into the guardrail and clung on for dear life. Jack and Miyuki dragged him on-board. Only Yori remained. Lagging behind because of his smaller stride, he was still halfway along the pier. Yet the boat was almost at

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