THE SAMURAI VAMPIRE SCROLLS

"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)

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15. A Crow

 

She woke in the early afternoon, in the dimness of the cave. The fire had gone out but the strong smell of woodsmoke persisted.

A little light reached her from the narrow passageway. She sat up, thirsty.

She could hear birds singing. She picked up her sword and put it into her obi. She slipped her feet into the straw sandals and went outside.

It was a beautiful, glowing day. She could see the mountains and the plain beyond Kyoto and the expanse of Lake Biwa.

Ryuchi had told her about a spring nearby. She walked down the path, under the wind-singing pines, and found it, half choked with dead leaves.

She cupped the water in her hands to drink.

Then she shook the last cold drops from her fingers and looked up at the sky, white clouds surging in it.

Alive. It should be wonderful. Why choose a path of revenge?

Maybe it was time to go back to Ogami mountain. To rejoin Lady Shiomata and the smiling Miju, and to hear Kasagiri playing his Shakuhachi in the deep night, seemingly at once very near and very far off in the wilderness.

Oyomi looked at her hands. They bore calluses from holding the wooden sword. She'd done little else for years but train.

For what? To kill some angry boys who'd had no chance against her skills, none at all. Pathetic!

We come and go, she thought, but the universe survives.

How strange that is. Where had she even read it? In a Chinese book? The Universe? The Universe was nothing but what you are right now. She felt sure of it. That idea made her laugh.

A crow let out a harsh raw raw raw in the pine directly overhead. Oyomi stood up and looked at it, high in the branches, fluffing its glossy black feathers.

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