1584 c/o Brad Nelson

Musashi's Blade

I’m forty-five inches of cold, uncaring steel, and I love the taste of blood. Well, that’s not exactly the truth. I am forty-five inches long; I am made of steel, sometimes cold, sometimes not—depends on the weather, really—but I don’t particularly care for the taste of blood. In fact, I hate it. And since we’re being completely honest here: I’m also a little squeamish.

“What?” you may ask. “How can the blade of Miyomoto Musashi, arguably the greatest samurai ever to step foot on the field of battle, not like the taste of blood?”

That’s easy for you to say. Have you ever tasted blood? I’m not talking about cutting your finger and holding it in you mouth while you go get a Band-Aid; I’m talking buckets of blood on a daily basis—rivers, lakes, oceans of blood, blood the likes of which even Stoker never imagined. Salty, rusty, iron-flavored blood overwhelming your senses, engulfing your being.

Many people puke or faint at the mere sight of a little blood. Imagine being bathed in its warm, viscous—ugh, just thinking about it makes me feel a little woozy. Blood cools quickly, getting sticky, turning a deep merlot; it’s best to get it off quickly. Not so easy when you’re me. I have to wait until He’s done slaying every crazy, sword-wielding maniac in sight, and by that time, it’s not just blood. There’s bits of flesh, hair, gristle, and bone caked to every inch of—oh God, oh God. Breathe. Breathe. Okay, moving on.

What’s worse is there are things out there even more gruesome than blood. I remember this one time: He was walking through some random bamboo forest, on the road to the capital, when He was attacked by a small, locally-well-known group of brigands. I have seen many men stand—and fall—before Him. That this ragged threesome even dared to approach Him astounds me to this very day. You could see by the look of these three that they were, more than likely, down-on-their-luck ronin who hadn’t seen honest work or a real fight in quite some time.

The first two charged, swords raised above their heads, screaming like banshees, bloodlust in their eyes. The third held back to see how things would play out. It played out exactly as I expected it to: with me flashing in a dance of martial poetry through the midsection of both men. The offal that poured from these two was such that it caused the third brigand to flee without thought of recompense; I think I even heard Him gag, though He would never admit to something like that.

You see? Being the blade of the fabled Kensei, the Sword Saint, isn’t as glamorous as you thought, now is it? Most people assume it’s all glory and honor. They seem to forget that there is a gritty reality behind glorious war—death.