The Samurai was upset with himself.
He had spent years training in the Way of the Warrior, refining and strengthening himself ceaselessly, acquiring understanding and skill in the myriad transformations and the non-acquired form of formlessness.
He had mastered inner tranquility and renounced all his attachments; engaged in bloody battles as if they were no more trivial than child’s play. He had severed the eyelashes off mosquitoes, and gorged himself on the blood of his gurus. He had meditated in charnel grounds, piling up pillows of corpses as his meditation seat, inhaling the fetor as though it were nothing at all; nuzzling himself into the flesh of death, as though it were the bosom of his very own mother.
In short, the Samurai thought he knew death. It no longer chased him like a pirate’s black flag – he threw himself into it, like a child into a carefully designed pit of multi-coloured balls. If there was a pit of snakes, he would entangle himself in it; if there was a wild boar, he would wrestle with it; if there was a demon, he would convert it; if there was a delusion, he would obliterate it.
But the Samurai knew nothing of death, nothing at all, nothing whatsoever. He had steeled his senses and brutalized his ego mind until he truly believed there was no foe he would be afraid to face, no battle he would balk at the notion of engaging in. The blood of the world was the medium in which he moved; the skulls of the fallen were his best friends, and the chalices from which he scooped their victorious brains.
But, for now, the samurai felt a terror – a terror he had truly never felt before. Of course he had known fear, he had always known fear – he had known it in more battles than he could count, and more quivering heartbeats than could be enumerated. But that was always a manageable fear – a fear with a purpose – a fear with a very practical intention of fulfillment in mind.
This terror was different. It had no logic – only a throbbing tachycardiac pulse. This was a fear beyond destruction – a fear that even his unity with destruction might have been destroyed.
But that was what he had come to realize. He had merely flirted with destruction up to now. All his tireless training, his indefatigable cultivation of mind, body and spirit – all of that had merely been foreplay preparing for the main course – a rape of his will that threatened to shatter the very last bastions of selfhood he had not even realized still existed.
For the Samurai had met a girl. And the girl was nice. She had beautiful eyes, and a smile, and all those other things nice girls are in the habit of having.
What’s worse is that this girl mattered to the samurai. Her being, her presence, her life-hood – all these energies of her essence intermingled with his own to create a horror of insecurity – the literal chastisement of security. The Samurai had fought in battles without weapons, nude and devoid of armour, clubbing opponents to death, not with a club, but with the sheer ferocity of his willpower.
But this girl had penetrated the cracks in his armour – wormed her way into his body like an intestinal parasite, and forced him to have feelings.
Of course, such feelings had arisen in the past. But they were brief, and light, and frivolous, and no heavier than a monk’s pay-check. This was strong, onerous, burdensome, impossible to lift. It was stronger than him. It was an enemy he could not defeat.
And so he accepted the defeat that had always eluded him. Accepted it into heart, into his mind, into his muscles, and into his bones. He let the defeat wash over him like the smothering mother of the ocean. He let it perfuse his veins, enter his cells, causing mass cell die-off and DNA scrambling. He let the defeat endure in his body, and his face – gone was the ferocity, the colourlessly stern face of death – now he was just a quivering tumour, a jellied milksop, a tear momentarily animated by a human form. He was pure pain, pain that cannot be ameliorated, pain that cannot be denied, pain that cannot be ignored. Pure unacceptable pain that you have no choice but to accept. Pain, pain, pain.
And it felt wonderful! All the accrued tension, all the habitual firmness and indomitability had finally been dominated, and it felt great!
And so the samurai buried his corpses, treasured away his skull cups, took off his armour, assembled his scars, kept defeat as his only possession, and entered into the corpse-strewn battlefield of his lover’s mysterious arms.