The Crane Game
Asahina Katsu in Dragon Wars
Story as told by a Daidoji Hirotsu
In early 1169, the Dragon and Crane clans are engaged in heavy battle. I will tell you of one of the strangest battle scenes I have ever witnessed. The Crane were attempting to retain the land as the Dragon set forth with a brutal wave of attacks aimed to unearth them. As the Crane – we were divided into squadrons to defend various areas of land. There were sections of rather flat land in which in many instances we could see other squadrons, but it was difficult to run in enough time to assist. The side to the right of me was being beaten badly – very badly. The Dragon were starting to overpower them, but their squadron’s leader planned to fight to the last person – which is what they did. I was tasked with others to run over to assist this potential break in our line. As the squadron leader and a few other warriors went down, a pretty Asahina girl leaned over to heal the squadron leader, but it was too late. He died under her touch. I was later told that as he died he didn’t recognize her as an Asahina and believed she was a fast running backup. He barked an order at her with his last breath, take my family’s blessed Katana and use it to challenge that warrior.
What I saw was an Asahina girl fail at healing her squadron leader and pull his katana from his hand and stand facing the warrior. She offered a duel for passage through this cut of land. If she won, the Dragon clan would respect this land as Crane claimed. The Dragon laughed at this and honestly out of respect for her honor – as they had heard the command as well, sent forth one of their heavy fighting warriors to finish her off.
We reached the ground to defend at this point, but the deal had been struck. So we stood to witness the duel. Once this piece of land was given up, it would take mere minutes for the Dragons to get behind us and flank us. So we figured the battle was over.
The Asahina girl took two hits – which didn’t kill her amazingly and blocked one. She clearly had had SOME training. Then as only a beginner would, she feigned a forward strike to the center of the body, and hit towards the left hip. Out of sheer luck or perhaps the blessing of the kami present in that sword, the warrior had taken some serious damage already in this area and fell to the ground in excruciating pain – dying a few moments later.
We cheered as we ran back to our lines. The battle was still yet to be determined and that Asahina girl had defended her ground – we needed to defend ours.
I will remember for the rest of my life that Asahina who lost her pacifist teachings for Crane honor and glory.