"She takes the heads of the undead."

For fans of manga epics, the KILL BILL movies, and old-school adventure stories.

After Oyomi's entire family is slaughtered by Lord Toyogomi, a powerful Vampire Lord, she is brought up in an abandoned temple by a ghostly woman-ninja and taught swordsmanship by the Shakuhachi playing son of the King of Hell. When she is old enough and well-trained enough in the Way of the Sword, she sets out to kill both Lord Toyogomi and his jeering, sadistic hunchback sidekick Shuzo. But first she must cut through the many other sword-wielding Vampires standing in the way of her singleminded quest for bloody vengeance . . .

The Samurai Vampire Scrolls: Scroll 1

(Translated from the Japanese by A. G. Hardy)


13. Misery


Ryuchi wept. He sat on the pine needles, in the moonlight, and hid his face in his arms, his elbows on his knees, and sobbed.

The other students had dashed off in silence, creaking in their leather and bamboo armor. Oyomi looked at the three young men she'd cut down. One was still writhing a little bit, his mouth open, staring at the dark pines and the gliding moon. Then he gasped and relaxed into stillness. He was dead.

With a simple yet majestic movement, she sheathered her sword. It was her father's sword, with the blade forged by Mitsune. It was as sharp now as on the day it left the forge.

She knelt by Ryuchi and put her hands on her knees. She didn't try to touch him. Didn't speak to him. She looked at the pine needled silvered by moonlight.

Finally, Ryuchi stopped sobbing. He lowered his arms. He wiped the tears from his face.

-Please excuse me, he said.

-There is no shame in crying, said Oyomi.

He sniffled and wiped his face again.

-These men were my friends. Now --

He went silent, staring at the corpses.

Oyomi parted her lips. It looked as if she wanted to speak. Then she shut them. Then she parted her lips again, and bowing, said,

-I am the one who should be excused.

Ryuchi looked at her. Kneeling there in the moonlight, with the two swords stuck in her sash, her head gravely lowered, she looked like a real samurai.

-No. They came here to cut you down. You acted correctly, like a real bushi.

Oyomi bowed a bit lower. Ryuchi heard a sound, like two or three quick raindrops splashing onto the pine needles. He looked more closely at Oyomi's ghostly and beautiful face, and was astonished to realize that she was weeping.

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