Need Latin help. Warning, bad words. :)

I need a Latin translation. Obviously this won’t be exact, but I need an approximation for the following:

Because fuck you is why.

Yes. being a writer is a very strange job, but I just need to get a Latin equivelent to that. It needs to capture the basic attitude of giving somebody the bird when they question why you are doing something. I’d use an internet translator, but I’m looking for the correct attitude more than anything.

The Burning Throne, Episode 45: Diary of a Crab, final entry

This is not the last entry in the Writer Nerd Game Night Serial. There will be one more posted next Friday by Paul Genesse, and then we are done. But this is my last entry. Hida Makoto has reached the end of the line. Next week’s episode is the finale, and will wrap up this story. 

If you have not read these, but you like my books, you should check it out. This weekly serial is based up on the Legend of the Five Rings RPG ran by Dan Wells, and participated in by a bunch of writers. It started out just for fun, as we’d take turns writing up the events of the game in a fictionalized manner, but then it sorta turned into a complete novel. We had a ton of fun writhing them, and I hope you enjoyed them.

I am going to miss Makoto. :) 

Continued from: http://larrycorreia.wordpress.com/2012/09/21/the-burning-throne-episode-44-the-short-sword/

If you would like to read all of these in one place, I’ve been posting them to the Legend of the Five Rings forum: http://www.alderac.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=295&t=94523 

Final Entry

From the journal of General Hida Makoto, husband to Otomo Yuni, and Shogun of the Empire of Rokugan.

It feels as if I haven’t written on this scroll in a decade, when in reality, here in the realm of mortals, it has only been a few days.

Since last I’ve written, I have travelled across seven spirit realms. I have fought all manner of ghost and devil. My companions were heroes from the Realm of Thwarted Destiny, and together we battled our way across the Plains of Hell, through the Realm of Slaughter, and pierced through the Realm of the Hungry Dead. There I saved the life of Otomo Yuni. We were wed in the realm of our blessed ancestors and fought our way home through the Legion of Blood.

Ten years of my mortal life were consumed in ten minutes. It was worth every second.

Yuni safe, I returned to Ningen-Do and killed the man that poisoned my bride. We had confirmed the truth during our travels. Jimen revealed his truth to us deep in the Realm of Dreams. Knowing what we had taken from him, the Emerald Champion challenged me to a duel, but that did not end so well for him. Do not let your desperation overcome sense, and challenge a Crab to a duel while he is still wearing a blessed suit of Kaiu armor, for he will take your best shot, laugh in your face, and then drown you in a koi pond.

It was an ignominious end for an Emerald Champion.

Then we all nearly died at the obsidian hand of a man who I’d thought was my friend.

I had seen firsthand that the War in the Heavens was not going well for Lord Moon. Driven mad, Lord Moon possessed his avatar in the mortal world and attempted to claim this last realm for himself. Little did any of realize that Lord Moon’s chosen vessel had been in our midst all along.

Only a day had passed since my return. After Jimen’s death it was politics as usual as Hoketuhime maneuvered against her remaining rivals. I had saved her daughter, but the idea of the heir of an Imperial family being married to a simple Crab warrior was more than Hoketuhime could stand. But Yuni was as skilled a combatant in the courts as I was on the field of battle, so I passed those hours in Yuni’s company, while her mother plotted how to have me killed with the least amount of embarrassment.

Many of the most important personages in the empire had gathered in the palace to discuss the successor to the throne, when Fosuta Zuko barged in. He had been missing for several days. He named himself Togashi Shichiroji, the one known as the Poisoned Dragon, causing much turmoil among the courtiers. He proclaimed himself the representative of Lord Moon, and that Lord Moon said no puny mortals were worthy of the title of emperor, and with a single touch of his obsidian hand many leaders of the empire were obliterated.

The other imperials fled for their lives as the Seppun guard nobly threw themselves at the maddened Zuko to buy time for their charges to escape.

The entire castle was torn to pieces as every samurai in Toshi Ranbo assembled to fight him. Zuko was consumed by power beyond all comprehension. I was shocked to find out that a man that I had thought of as a friend and companion had actually been a murderous fiend all along. Magatsu and I were easily defeated, our best attacks doing virtually nothing to damage Zuko’s possessed form. Only someone pure of heart could strike the down the Moon.

Kakita Chiyoko was one of such purity, but she hesitated, unable to take a life, and Zuko brutally ended her without mercy. Hundreds died as the Imperial Castle was torn apart. Asako Keiko, Ide Todo’s betrothed, was disintegrated by the Obsidian Hand. Many Paper Lanterns died, including Tsuruchi Machio. Others, like Fubatsu and Katsu, were severely injured.

Then Ide Todo drew his blade in anger for the first time in his life and drove it through Zuko’s heart, saving the empire and all of our lives.

The Jade and Obsidian Dragons ascended to the station of Lord Moon and Lady Sun. The War in Heaven was over.

The rampage and fall of Lord Moon cost hundreds of lives. Zuko, empowered by the madness of the Dead Moon, killed many who were vital to the empire, including daimyos, generals, the Jade Champion, and the Shogun, before he was struck down by the righteous hand of Ide Todo himself.

Hoketuhime has claimed the throne and declared the Hantei line restored. There are very few of sufficient status still alive in the Imperial City to argue with her.

Ide Todo, knowing in his wisdom that this infighting needed to end once and for all, threw his now considerable reputation behind Hoketuhime. The last hold outs were won over by his pleas for peace. Ide Todo is now the Voice of the Empress. We leave the Empire in his capable hands.

Great shame was brought upon both the Dragon Clan and the Paper Lanterns when it was revealed that Zuko was really Togashi Shichiroji, the Poison Dragon, and bearer of the Obsidian Hand. Though he had joined the Spider, having revealed themselves to be honorless worshippers of Fu Leng, they fled back into the darkness like the cockroaches they are. The Dragon had just lost their leader, Mirumoto Kei, and Togashi Satsu had been killed in the War in Heaven. The Dragon Clan had spawned the Poison Dragon and he had hid in the midst of one of their acclaimed investigators. The other clans were furious at the weakened Dragon, and Ide Todo could sense another war coming as a result.

Kitsuki Tsuze was an investigator of some renown, yet the Empire’s most notorious criminal, a man who had once been his friend, had managed to hide before him in plain sight. The shame was unbearable. However, Kitsuki Tsuze protected the honor of his clan and his order by accepting full responsibility for this failure and asking for permission to commit seppuku.

Tsuze had been an unbeliever in the Celestial Order, and a doubter of the code of bushido, but at the end of his life he’d made the ultimate sacrifice on their behalf. He made the three cuts in the courtyard of the Imperial Palace in the shade of a pale oak. The other clans had no choice but to forget the Dragon Clan’s shame. Tsuze will be remembered for his selfless act.

I must end this scroll. My remaining time is precious. The Dark Oracle of Fire’s army has reentered the Empire and is cutting an unstoppable path of destruction toward the capitol.  Word has come that they are led by the Branded Man, who has become the new Son of Fire, and that he leads an army so vast that it has surely depopulated all of the Yobanjin tribes of their warriors.

Yuni told her mother of my war across hell, so I have been chosen to lead the Paper Lanterns and an Imperial Legion to intercept and slow the Dark Oracle’s advance. Outnumbered a hundred to one, our orders are to survive long enough to give the Clans time to assemble their armies in the heart of the Empire.

I have been appointed to the office of Shogun. An honor that Hoketuhime obviously believes I will not hold for long. She wants to get rid of me as soon as possible so she can find a proper husband for her precocious heir. That is fine, for Yuni and I have both seen glimpses of the future, and I go forth willingly… The spirit realms are strange like that.

Kuni Magatsu, now wielding the Shame Sword Fear, pried from Jimen’s dead hand, accompanies me. If any man has the will to withstand the whispering of such a powerful, yet cursed, nemurani, it is Magatsu, and I know that he will use it to take the Dark Oracle’s head.

We depart for the north at dawn.

Tonight, Magatsu divined our future from the bottom of his empty sake cup. It confirmed what I already knew. The results were clearer than ever before. This will be my final entry upon this scroll. The Dark Oracle wields the power of a god, but Magatsu scoffs at gods. My nemesis, the Branded Man, is at the head of this dark army. We will meet one last time and finish our feud. The other clan armies will not be necessary. This war ends now.

When I began this scroll, I thought that it might only serve as a record of my failure, but instead, I have fulfilled the Fortune’s charge. I was born the son of a dishonored deserter, but I brought glory to the Crab, married the Imperial heir, and will soon lead an Imperial Legion into glorious combat. I have witnessed the fall of gods and the beginning of a new empire. The Paper Lanterns have done the impossible.

I finish this scroll now in order to spend my last few precious hours alone with Yuni.

Farewell.

The war in heaven

devils and gods wage battle

destroying our world

 

The throne lies vacant,

an empire in chaos burns

lanterns light the way

 

Called by the Fortunes,

Sincerity is my name

My story is done

#

To be continued next week with our final entry written by Paul Genesse. http://larrycorreia.wordpress.com/2012/10/05/the-burning-throne-episode-46-the-end/

Get killed by Agent Franks for prostate cancer

Check this out.  http://www.ma-rooned.com/2012/09/ktkc-prize-spotlight-mhi-mega-package.html

I’ve known Jay Grazio on the internet, but met him for the first time on tour while in Boston. He is doing Kilted To Kick Cancer. Check it out. There is a raffle, and tickets are $10 each. One of the prizes is a Monster Hunter prize pack. It has all of my books autographed, an autographed Legion poster, and best of all, a redshirting.

The redshirting means that I will use your name and basic description (as much as I can) and use you as a character in Monster Hunter Nemesis. And since Franks kills a LOT of people in Nemesis, you will probably be one of them. Though stranger things have happened, and my previous charity redshirts have wound up in all sorts of weird places and some have turned into pretty big supporting characters.

This is a raffle, so it is like gambling. So you may lose, and somebody else will get redshirted, but hey, either way you get to give to a good cause and help fight prostate cancer!

The next chance to get redshirted will be during the MHI Employee Handbook and Role Playing Game Kickstarter we are running in October.

Netanyahu and America’s idiot media

http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/lookout/netanyahu-red-line-cartoon-twitter-202454562.html

Read that link. Seriously, read it. This was a headline article on the AP news feed on Yahoo. This thing pissed me off. Warning, there will be bad words.

Done? So Netanyahu goes before the UN a few days after Ahmadinejad talks of vaporizing Israel, and tries to warn the world that a nuclear Iran is unacceptable, and to plead for sanity. Everybody with a functioning brain knows that a couple days after Iran gets a nuke, Tel Aviv is a smoking hole and Israel as a nation is destroyed. Unless of course, you are one of those willfully ignorant wishful thinking types who denies that will happen, because you somehow think Iran is a totally reasonable nation despite all indicators to the contrary, and Ahmadinejad is only joking about that whole starting the apocalypse thing.

When Israel retaliates with nukes, millions will die. Gas will be $30 a gallon, and hilarity will ensue when the world discovers that it can no longer afford to grow or ship food. Since there is only like three days worth of food in any given American city, I’m sure you elite urban hipster douchebags will be Tweeting all sorts of great lines, right before you get eaten.

See, this is funny stuff. Dead Jews are fucking hilarious. Yahoo said so.

So it makes perfect sense that the title of this article is: Netanyahu’s ‘red line’ mocked on Twitter…

Because, you know, when a desperate world leader is pleading for sanity the best thing to do* is make fun of his graphic design skills.  *If you are an asshole.

“Okay, it’s official,” The Atlantic’s Jeffery Goldberg wrote “Netanyahu has no idea what he’s doing. He has just turned a serious issue into a joke.”

Yeah… Netanyahu, who was an Sayeret Matkal special forces team commander, who has led men in combat and been shot, who is now leading a country that is less than a year away from nuclear destruction by a bunch of fanatics, wherein all of his friends and family will be brutally murdered, has “turned this serious issue into a joke” because idiots on Twitter don’t like his drawing of a bomb.

Personally, I would think Barack Obama going on the View rather than having face to face meetings with these world leaders would be a bit more of a joke, but hey, whatever. I’m not brilliant enough to get quoted on Yahoo.

Goldberg continued: “Netanyahu’s bomb cartoon is the Middle East equivalent of Clint Eastwood’s chair.”

Wait… So are you saying it was simple and effective? Well I guess both of those were incidents of take no bullshit old guys making elitist academic pricks who write for liberal rags like the Atlantic look like douchebags? Help me out here, Jeff.

Apparently Netanyahu took a chart-making course from Paul Ryan,” the comedian Rob Delaney tweeted.

Ha! That’s a good one. Screw stupid charts and spreadsheets! I’d much rather base my economic policies on unicorn farts and magic wishing wells like Obama has. Accountants are lame! Finance isn’t a green job! Boo! Sure, Social Security and Medicare are functionally doomed and the economy has committed ritual seppuku, and our healthcare law is one of the worst pieces of nonsensical garbage ever passed, but one of the people talking about it LIKES CHARTS. HA HA HA! LOOK AT THE MATH NERD.

“I didn’t realize nuclear bombs looked like the bombs from Super Mario,” Buzzfeed’s Andrew Kaczynski quipped.

Man! That’s a good one! You know what else is absolutely hilarious? Dead Jews! Piles of them around a smoking radioactive crater! That’s a real knee slapper! Thanks Buzzfeed! You’re the source of all my geopolitical strategic think tank needs.

“Netanyahu has reduced nuclear war diplomacy to cartoons and markers,” Sam Stein tweeted.

Yeah. Because the man who has been asking for America to help, and been totally ignored, snubbed, and even mocked by this administration is such a tool. You know, whoever the fuck Sam Stein is supposed to be, maybe Netanyahu had just gotten so desperate dealing with a bunch of spoiled children that he decided to try to communicate with them that way. Hence the crayons. Obviously it didn’t work, because our State Department is still a bunch of liberal pussies, who spent three weeks trying to blame a blatantly obvious terrorist attack on a Youtube clip.

Many Twitter users questioned the wisdom of bringing clip art to the U.N., while some referenced a Roadrunner comparison.

“Excuse me, Prime Minister Netanyahu?” Rex Huppke wrote. “Wile E. Coyote called. He wants his bomb back.”

“From what I can tell,” ‏ @AGFlores tweeted, “Iran is seeking 1950′s cartoon bombs made by Acme.”

“Internets: Quick!” Jodi Williams wrote on Twitter. “We need a photo mashup of the StringRay photobomb and #Netanyahu’s bomb chart.”

Which begs the question, would Rex Huppke, AG Flores, Jodi Williams, and Rocketboy69 know what a nuclear weapon actually looked like anyway? Gonna go out on a limb and say no, especially since the Iranian one is probably going to go across the border in the back of a truck, and will look a lot more like a septic tank than Fat Man or Little Boy.

Ooooooh, because that is so much more evocative…

Hang on, guys… Let me check to see if Netanyahu gives a flying fuck what you idiots who can’t think through anything deeper than a Facebook meme think about him trying to keep his people from being slaughtered by fanatics… No. Apparently not.

Thanks Yahoo AP news feed. I really needed to know what a bunch of dipshit ignoramuses thought about serious issues of life or death. Don’t worry, when I’m sure the UN is done screwing over Israel, and they’ve had to go it alone in order to defend themselves, and they bomb the crap out of Iran, you’ll run funny Tweets about our totally ineffectual castrati foreign policy.

I won’t hold my breath on that.

Planet Baen, the Game.

Want to play video games and win free books?

http://www.planetbaen.com/

My publisher has created a game you can play online. As you play you win free ebooks. I just found out that October is Correia month. :)

So there is going to be a bunch of MHI and Grimnoir themed stuff on Planet Baen in October. Check it out. Win free books. Have fun.

A friend of mine wrote the screenplay for this movie

Just came out on DVD.  Michael Brent Collings wrote the screenplay for this.

http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?lt1=_blank&bc1=000000&IS2=1&bg1=FFFFFF&fc1=000000&lc1=0000FF&t=monshuntnati-20&o=1&p=8&l=as4&m=amazon&f=ifr&ref=ss_til&asins=B008E70EG6

Mega Book Tour 2012 has ended. Fun with Photos Time!

The tour is over. I am happy to be home. I had a great time, and met tons of awesome people. Here are some pictures from my trip.  (EDIT:  I posted a ton more pictures here, but for some reason the vast majority aren’t showing up on WordPress.  Go over to my Facebook page to see a bunch more:  http://www.facebook.com/#!/larry.correia/photos )

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Imaginary Democrats for Obama

For those of you that are looking at the polls and getting worried, don’t.  http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Journalism/2012/09/26/BREAKING-Democrat-Voters-Turnout-Advantage-Over-Republicans-Will-Break-All-Time-Records?utm_source=e_breitbart_com&utm_medium=email&utm_content=Breitbart+News+Roundup%2C+September+26%2C+2012&utm_campaign=20120926_m113563284_Breitbart+News+Roundup%2C+September+26%2C+2012&utm_term=More

They want you to despair, because all Barack needs to squeek out of the margin of error is the greatest turn out of democrats in any election in history.

The Burning Throne, Episode 44: The Short Sword

There are only 3 more entries left in this Writer Nerd Game Night serial. This is the final post by Steve Diamond. Steve runs Elitist Book Reviews http://elitistbookreviews.blogspot.com/ 

So our story is almost over. There is one more Makoto entry and a final one from Magatsu, and then we are done. If you want to read all of these in one place, I have been posting them on the Legend of the Five Rings forum into one thread. http://www.alderac.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=295&t=94523 

Continued from: http://larrycorreia.wordpress.com/2012/09/14/the-burning-throne-episode-43-the-ignominious-end-of-bayushi-jimen/ 

The Short Sword

What is a wakizashi? Why do I carry one? Is it just the short blade a samurai carries? Is there more to it than just the blade used by a samurai to take his own life? Through my life—long by the standards of many samurai—I’ve never used it.

This wakizashi was my father’s before me, and he gifted it to me the night he passed into the spirit realms. As he pushed it into my hands, he told me that he had never had cause to use it, and that he hoped I never would either. He also said that his father before him had never used it. My ancestors have been men of peace. I’ve done my best to live my life as honorably as possible. Would my father be proud of me?

I pulled half of the blade’s length from its sheath and looked at the gleaming steel. There was no doubt in my mind that this was a weapon made for killing. But I don’t kill. I never have. I never will.

So what is the point of a blade that I will never use?

I’ve never been one to anger quickly. Patience has been one of my strong points. I will admit, however, that my patience wears thin of late.

I slid the steel back into its case and placed the wakizashi reverently on the mat where I knelt, then began changing robes. The one I’d been wearing was covered in the blood of some creature Makoto had killed in the spirit realms, but had left nameless. My large friend is old now. The consequences of traveling the spirit realms are vast, but Makoto said only that the benefits far outweighed a few years lost.

And I got to drown that bastard Jimen in a koi pond, Makoto had said. It really doesnt get much better than that.

There was a scratching at the door to my apartment.

“Enter,” I said.

A servant marked as belonging to the Otomo family slid the door aside and bowed her head to touch the ground. In her arms she held a bound bundle of silk. “The great Otomo Hoketuhime sends this as a gift, and requests you wear it to dinner this evening.”

“Thank you” I said. “Please leave me.”

“It is an honor to serve one of your station,” she said, then left.

What was that about? I wondered. Servants were normally polite, but that was…odd.

I unfolded the bundle of cloth. A kimono. The nicest kimono I had ever held. And it was in imperial colors. No mon decorated it, but the intent was clear.

What have I gotten myself into? I slipped the wakizashi through the sash of the kimono. The blade and its sheath looked drab and cheap against the material of the garb I had been gifted.

But the wakizashi was a comforting weight at my side. An honorable weight.

Maybe that was its purpose.

#

“Those robes become you, Todo-san,” Asako Keiko said.

I had to keep my voice low, after all, the most powerful people in the Empire were all attending this dinner. It was best if they did not hear me. “Their coloring would look better on you, I am sure,” I replied with a smile.

“Perhaps later we can test that theory.”

I raised my eyebrows at that. My dinner companion was beautiful. To me, one of the most beautiful women I had ever seen. I had been smitten by her since we had first met in Phoenix Lands, just before this war began. Had it really been that long already? In all of the turmoil the Empire had faced, I had managed to find the woman I was sure the Fortunes had set aside for me. On the few occasions where I was able to hear my ancestors, even they approved.

“When this is over,” I said, “and the Empire has time to breathe, I want you and I to wed.”

The smile she gave me made my heart ache in the most wonderful way.

At the head of the table sat Otomo Hoketuhime in a robe that looked terribly similar to mine. I took in the rest of the guests and saw their eyes shifting from her garb to mine. The message, without her saying a word, was clear: he is mine.

Her daughter was absent, still being attended to by a host of shugenja and monks. I half expected Makoto to be absent and at Yuni’s side, but he was at Hoketuhime’s right with Magatsu on Makoto’s other side. It seemed they were in positions of honor for their deeds. Hoketuhime was making a statement to the assembled courtiers and nobility, the Order of the Paper Lanterns were her allies. With her greatest rival Jimen dead, it was a bold but calculated stroke on her part.

I had founded the Paper Lanterns to serve the Empire in its time of need. I had worried, questioned, and struggled, trying to unite a group of misfits, ronin, and outcasts, and yet the Fortunes had smiled upon us. I had never realized just how important the Paper Lanterns would become… How important I—as their leader—would become. It was a staggering honor.

The meal was half over when noise from outside the room reached my ears.

Shouting.

Screaming.

Dying.

The sliding door to the room crashed open, and with it three Seppun Guard. Makoto was already moving towards the threat—whatever it was—and Magatsu was chanting. The other Seppun in the room rushed to the entrance, followed by many of the noble’s personal guard.

Then Fosuta Zuko stepped into the room.

But he wasn’t Zuko anymore.

I had first known him as a ronin, a strangely quiet, horribly disfigured, but supremely competent warrior. Zuko had been my servant since the days when we’d first fought against the Red Sun pirates. After he’d demonstrated his courage in battle, the tiny Spider clan had accepted his fealty, but he had continued serving with the Paper Lanterns, and I had even chosen him to be our first gunso. I’d relieved him of that duty after his mysterious disappearance in the north, but after his return he had been part of the small band that had journeyed to the All Mother. I thought that I knew him.

It wasn’t until that terrible moment, until I saw Zuko standing in the doorway of the Imperial dining room, wreathed in black fire that I understood the mistake that I had made. After so much time, so much war together… how could I have been so stupid?

The nearest Seppun to my scarred traveling companion vanished in a swirl of dust. The warriors froze, suddenly aware that they were not facing a mortal foe. Zuko had struck with supernatural speed. His kimono had been torn open and the faded tattoos of a Togashi burned black through his scars. I noticed his hand for the first time… Obsidian. Zuko was the bearer of the Obsidian Hand! I’d always assumed he’d worn gloves to hide his burn scars… How long had we had this cursed thing in our midst?

“What is the meaning of this?” Hoketuhime demanded, seemingly unfazed by her disintegrated solider. “Who are you?”

“I am Fosuta Zuko. Before that I was Togashi Shichiroji.”

From the far end of the table, Kitsuki Tsuze gasped. His disfigurement had even fooled our noble investigator. Makoto was confused, and shouting for the man he still considered his friend to stand down.

“The Poison Dragon!” the Phoenix clan champion shouted.

“You understand so little. I am the chosen avatar of Lord Moon,” Zuko boomed, his voice too big for his body. “No mortal shall take the throne. He has found you…unworthy.”

While the rest of us hesitated, Magatsu did not. The first boulder, laced with glittering, summoned jade smashed into Zuko’s face with an impact that flung those other samurai closest to the traitor away.

Lord Moon’s Avatar laughed, picked up the boulder in one hand and hurled it back. Screams of terror turned into screams of pain as the giant rock—a chunk of one of the room’s many pillars—crushed those samurai too slow to move.

All this time, the thought came unbidden into my mind. All this time that murderer has been under our noses. He had used us, lied to us, and murdered his foes all while hiding in my shadow.

Five Seppun surrounded the Avatar. There was no waiting. No delay. They all struck at once, like they had been trained. Unity can defeat most enemies…or so their training said. Instead the Moon’s Avatar seemed to bend around their strikes, flowing like moonlight across shadows. He struck out, quicker than the eye could follow, and his black hand disintegrated those brave samurai. He picked up the one still alive, holding him by the neck, and squeezed.

A wet snap was heard over the pandemonium, and the Seppun in the Avatar’s grip fell lifeless to the floor.

The hand! It was pulsing with black energy as waves of force crashed outward. That was why he had disappeared all of those months ago. He had gone in search of the obsidian hand. More charging samurai were disintegrated as Zuko roared. How could you fight a foe wielding the hand of a god?

Then Makoto was there. His tetsubo was a blur. My breath caught. I’d never witnessed such speed in a swing before. He truly had gained much in the Spirit Realms. Had the blow landed, I had no doubt that out former ally would have exploded into a shower of bone and meat.

But Zuko caught the tetsubo with the Obsidian Hand, then backhanded Makoto. The big man sailed across the room and through the wood framing of the paper walls. I could barely see through the hole, and Makoto struggled to rise, then fell again.

Zuko suddenly stood before me. Chiyoko seemed to slide between us, katana ready. She was one of the finest duelists in the Empire, and for whatever reason Zuko hadn’t noticed her. She raised her katana to strike him down…

…then hesitated.

I had never seen her kill. It was the briefest of moments, but it was enough for the Moon’s Avatar. He reached forward, absorbing Chiyoko’s swing on the Obsidian Hand, then grabbed her by the face. The Hand seemed to pulse, then my yojimbo crumbed into dust before my eyes.

“Zuko, you must stop this madness,” I whispered.

He looked at me with his one eye. Whatever humanity had been there before had been washed away in an obsidian wave. “Even you can’t thwart a god, Todo.”

He reached for me next.

I was yanked backwards and sent sprawling. I could see Zuko’s black fingers grasping at me as I was pulled away. I rolled and slid until I hit a table on the far side of the room. When I looked, Asako Keiko stood where I had been a moment before. She’d pulled me out of harm’s way.

The Poison Dragon shoved my betrothed aside with his Obsidian Hand.

She was nothing but dust before she hit the ground.

“Keiko!” I reached for her, but my fingers passed uselessly through the falling ash.

More boulders—some from Magatsu, some from the other shugenja—were ripped from pillars and the floor and were pounding Lord Moon’s Avatar relentlessly, but all to no effect. The Imperial Palace was being torn apart around us.

Pure jade energy erupted from Magatsu’s hands and engulfed Zuko. The green flames danced around the Avatar’s body, then snaked down to his hand. Zuko held it up before his face, expression curious. “For one so blessed by the kami,” he said, voice clear even above the screams and shouts, “you are incredibly weak.”

Zuko leapt forward, stabbing obsidian fingers at Magatsu’s throat.

The Crab shugenja’s bodyguard, Tamori Fubatsu, stepped in front of him with swords raised. He deflected the Obsidian Hand with his katana and wakizashi, black sparks exploding from the impact as the metal and stone scraped together. The sparks became a dozen flying black shadow spiders with tiny yellow eyes. They landed on Fubatsu’s face and he screamed as they bit him repeatedly. Fubatsu began to convulse as he was overcome with poison.

Ikoma Katsu, the Lion bard and historian of the Paper Lanterns, appeared and shouted, “No, Zuko! You are not this man! You are our friend. Please remember!”

“You are a fool and every word you have written or spoken are without meaning.” The Avatar of Lord Moon casually swatted aside the helpless Fubatsu, and the spinning man hit Ikoma Katsu and Kuni Magatsu who both crashed against one of the few pillars that remained standing. The spiders swarmed all over Katsu, and the Lion thrashed and kicked as they bit him.

Arrows flew from the hole where Makoto still lay, struggling to even get to his knees. Tsuruchi Machio stood over our stunned gunso, shooting as many arrows as possible. They should have found their mark, every single one of them. Machio, brash though he may have been, was one of the best shots I had ever seen, probably one of the best archers in the whole Empire.

None of the arrows pierced flesh. Their flights seemed to bend around Lord Moon’s avatar.

Zuko snatched an arrow out of mid air and hurled it back at its source. The arrow caught Machio square in the throat.

The mad man froze. “Machio…” It just a moment of coherence flashing through the mask. Of course, it had been because he was trying to save the life of Tsuruchi Machio that Togashi Shichiroji had first murdered a man… Shichiroji had sacrificed his honor, become a criminal and a fugitive, and hidden as the ronin Zuko, all to save a reckless youth from a pointless duel… He seemed stricken as he looked at the still form of Tsuruchi Machio, but then the moment passed, and Lord Moon was back in control and then the shogun and his retainers were consumed in black fire.

Makoto had crawled over to Machio, but it didn’t matter. I could already tell Machio was dead, a look of shock frozen on his face.

All my friends are dying, I thought. The Empire will die with them.

I was walking before I was conscious of having made any decision.

Samurai were dying all around me. Nobles, champions, heroes, generals, it didn’t matter. Even the Jade Champion’s magical fire was turned back against him and that great shugenja was burned to a crisp. With a touch here, and a touch there, Zuko turned the last line of defenders of Hoketuhime into dust.

“For all your honor,” Lord Moon’s Avatar said, “you samurai are remarkably focused on yourselves. You fight for status. You fight for glory. You are not worthy of leading the world. You, Hoketuhime, are not pure enough.”

I edged closer.

He motioned to the dead and dying around the room. “All of these men and women? They are nothing. You surround yourself with those who could not even touch one such as I. How did you expect to rule with such impurity around you? None of them had the soul strong enough to even touch a god.”

He’d forgotten all about me, and now I stood directly behind him.

“It is time for all this to end,” Zuko said.

My wakizashi took him between the shoulder-blades. I pushed until the handle was flush against his back. Blood, bright and red to my eyes, began to drain slowly from the wound.

Zuko tried to turn, tried to lift that awful Obsidian Hand. Makoto had taught me everything I knew about weapons and fighting. Once he had said, “Ide Todo-sama, should you ever need to kill anyone, remember this: all men die equally when stabbed through their heart.”

It seems his lessons had taken root.

The black fire disappeared. He seemed to shrink. I caught Zuko’s body as he slumped down, and gently guided him to the floor. The crazed look on his scared face had been replaced with…gratitude.

Lord Moon’s essence was gone, and all that remained was a broken man, a man who had put friendship above bushido and paid the ultimate price. “Thank you,” he said. “I can do no more harm to this world.”

The light left his eye, and he was gone.

#

“Do you know why you are here, Ide Todo?” Hoketuhime asked. She sounded tired. More tired than anyone should ever sound.

“No,” I replied simply.

“I have been told by every faction present in the city—not to mention a few outside the city—that they will support my claim to the throne.”

“Then I will be your humble servant, and a servant to the Empire,” I said quietly.

My hands were still stained red with Zuko’s blood and the grey ash that had once been Asako Keiko. There had been no time to change. No time to wash.

No time to mourn.

My right hand still held the hilt of my wakizashi, which was again sheathed. It felt heavy.

“You will serve the Empire,” she agreed. “You will serve as my Voice.”

“Me?”

“You.”

“Why?”

“Do you want me to compliment you?” she asked in resignation. “Tell you how you not only saved my daughter, but my life? How you have accomplished every single task given you, no matter how impossible?

“No,” she continued. “No, I will not do that. I simply don’t care what you have done. I care about what you will do. How much good do you think you can do for the Empire, Ide Todo?”

“Much.”

“How much good do you think you can do as the Voice of the Empress?”

“More.”

“The other factions will only accept me as Empress if you are my Voice,” she said, suddenly deflating. For a brief moment, I saw her only as a woman who had nearly lost her daughter and her own life in a single day. “Accept, Ide Todo. Accept so we can start again.”

I would like to think that the decision was hard, but it wasn’t. She was right. I could do more good as the Voice of the Empress. I could temper the Empress’…temper. “I accept,” I said, no hesitation in my voice.

“Good,” she said. “You will have to do one more thing.”

“As you command.”

She smiled at that, almost with sadness. In a way, this would be her first command—unofficially—as Empress to the Emerald Empire. “I cannot have the Clans thinking of you as a Unicorn. No favoritism. You will marry into the Miya family.”

“There will be no love there,” I said. I struggled to keep the tears from my eyes. I saw Asako Keiko turning into dust again before my eyes. She’d died to save me.

“Love is weakness, my Voice,” she said with humorless smile. “You and I…” she hesitated. “You and I are not allowed to have weaknesses.”

#

What is a wakizashi? Why do I carry one? Is it just the short blade a samurai carries? Is there more to it than just the blade used by a samurai to take his own life? Through my life—long by the standards of many samurai—I’ve used it only once.

I drew the blade again and took a clean cloth and blessed water to it. This was how I cleaned it. How I honored my family.

The wakizashi was my father’s before me, and his father’s before him. He never wanted me to use it, but I could swear I heard him in my mind telling me that I had done well. Was my father proud of me?

I think so.

I inspected the blade. Every trace of blood was gone. It was clean. Like nothing had ever happened.

But I knew that wasn’t the case.

I have only killed once, and once was almost more than I could bear. I never will again.

So what is the point of a blade that I will never use?

The wakizashi—the short sword—to me, is a blade that represents what we should all be as samurai. It is the blade that waits patiently while its bigger companion is used. It is the blade that gives a samurai comfort in knowing that he is never weaponless. It is a blade that, despite its small size, is something every samurai aspires to carry.

A katana is nothing without a wakizashi.

Those weapons are symbols of who we, samurai, are.

Are we pure enough to live up to that challenge?

The short sword? The wakizashi? Maybe, just maybe, it should remind us of what we should truly be.

I changed my robes and slid the sheathed wakizashi through the sash again. The weapon didn’t seem so drab anymore.

It was part of me.

It felt comfortable again.

Honorable.

Pure.

#

To be continued next week with the final journal entry of Hida Makoto. http://larrycorreia.wordpress.com/2012/09/28/the-burning-throne-episode-45-diary-of-a-crab-final-entry/ 

Last chance for personalized & signed copies of MHL

Personalized signed copies make really good Christmas gifts. I’m just saying… You can knock out all of your hard to shop for relatives in one fell swoop today.

I am signing at Uncle Hugos tomorrow. Since they do a lot of mail order, if you want any of my books signed and personalized, order them soon. Hugos allows for people to ask for specific things on their mail orders, and I’ll be there signing all of them.

http://www.unclehugo.com/prod/ah-correia-larry.php

Book tour is almost over. 3 weeks on the road. Holy moly. All I’ve got left is Uncle Hugos and then a bookseller’s conference in Denver, and then I am done. I’ve had a lot of fun, but I am getting a little brain damaged. :)  On Denver, they’re having me just come in, do the conference, and go back out, so it doesn’t look like there are any signings scheduled.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 8,484 other followers