1. Samuai of the San Juan
This blog has been taken over by the Samurai of the San Juan.
They were a demented lot, formed from dust and fire for destruction. Their code of honor a black mark on decency and their bonds of brotherhood unbreakable. They prowled their scorched roads like lions, fierce and fearless. To know a samurai was to recognize death; to be a samurai was to walk with death; to challenge a samurai was death. It could be no other way.
Although division defines them, clan battles clan in a constant struggle for power, unity protects them.
So it was that young Kayl came to power in the most unexpected way.
From the top of the mesa Matsu Youngblood was counting; 30 dust trails on a system of countless twisting dirt-roads all converging on this spot. 30 clans vying for leadership; brutal hicks from the outer edges of the territory, hard-edged city tribes and the survivalist natives of the current Matsu. It was the hicks that worried Youngblood, fierce and effective warriors, greedy and uneducated leaders. Their last leader’s, Matsu Vog, reign had weakened the clans and nearly threw the territory into a civil war. Matsu Youngblood had spent his three years in power repairing the tribes’ ability to unify and defend from the outsiders who had nearly wiped out their outer defenses.
“I’ve worked too hard to have another hick destroy us.” The Matsu was a lean dark-skinned warrior; his hair was tied into two intricate braids parting his hair into two black ropes that ended halfway down his back. In the right braid, raven feathers were tied into the design creating an odd looking armor across half of his head. The left braid had four eagle feathers tied into the back wrapping forward over his head like half a helmet covering his ear. He was focusing on the caravan from the East. Vog’s clan would unite with every other hick clan. Hicks, who generally hate each other, had thrived under Vog and were willing to unite if it meant another three years of gluttony and fear.
“The city clans all agree.” Jer’im, a giant of a man, was general of the elite guard, chosen from the best of each clan by the Matsu. “I will fight with you until Vog and the other barbarians are no longer a threat but then I am returning to my clan.” A Matsu has his pick of warriors for his elite guard, who swear an oath of fealty for three years. Once the great battle starts their oath is considered fulfilled. It was the reason no Matsu had ever had back to back reigns.
A Matsu is chosen every three years through ritual combat. All the clans converge on a battleground chosen by the Matsu with only their non-lethals. During the height of the Samurai the battle was to the death but the rebuilding was too arduous and the territory to weakly defended. Now the battles were fought without body armor and steel was replaced with hard timber. Still, there were many fatalities but without threat, there would be no sport. Scheming was a principle of combat. Clans would plot, unite and betray one another as they desperately struggled to raise one of their own to Matsu. A Matsu always took care of their clan and allies. One on one challenges were generally agreed on prior to the battle and duels were usually respected in combat. How today would play out, no one knew for sure. Betrayals would be common but if the alliances held it would ensure a native or a city clan would take control but no one could guess or even pick a favorite when it came to the final warrior standing.
If there was a theme of this battle it would be, fuck the hicks as badly as possible. The horrors of Matsu Vog were still clear in everyone’s mind. The hicks, who didn’t seem to understand much, understood that Vog made them rich and would possibly cost them a chance at Matsu for a generation. The payoff was more than worth the beating they would take today and for the next 20 years. It’s not as if they would go down without a fight.
The hicks had been beaten badly but they weren’t done. Like cornered dogs, each isolated group of hick warriors lashed out at their attackers culling their numbers taking two warriors for every one lost. The hicks had been planning for this and had organized into squads of highly specialized warriors. Each knew their role; from fodder to champion their duty was clear. Sacrifice.
Matsu Youngblood and his elite guard of 10 sought Vog’s party from the start of combat and were not denied. From the start it was clear Vog had no chance of coming back into power. Youngblood’s war party quickly destroyed the bulk of Vog’s and the reigning Matsu had little trouble cracking his weapon across his predecessor’s jaw ending his campaign. Youngblood was easily among the finest and feared no warrior but something had caught his eye as he rested from the exchange. He had seen a young pair of warriors who he recognized from one of the minor city clans.
“Je’rim,” the Matsu barked, “are they yours?”
Shading his eyes, Je’rim followed Youngblood’s finger across the battlefield. “No, but I recognize them, Kayl and Derik, transplants from the border. They’re with one of the small city clans. They showed up about five years ago and have become very difficult to deal with.”
The first leg of the battle was winding down. The hicks had been thinned to a few individual warriors who had been victorious in duels and were enjoying a brief rest. The alliances were about break and in the undeclared cease-fire plots were becoming clearer. Warriors squared off and clans gathered their members and allies. They had been unified in the destruction of the hicks but this was now a different battle.