The Way of The Warrior

This scene of the shipwreck occurring was cut from the final edit of book 1 to tighten up the opening scenes.

Ch 3 – ‘Man the Pumps!’ extract (unedited)

The Alexandria rose and fell over the churning waves, skirting reefs as it ran headlong for the dark mass of land in the distance. From his vantage point on the Quarterdeck, Jack could see the razor sharp rocks that cut through the ocean. They corralled the ship on either side.His father tried to navigate through the maze of vicious outcrops and the Alexandria groaned and creaked with every tack, her rigging stressed to breaking point.

‘HARD’O’PORT!’ screamed his father and he threw his weight onto the wheel along with the Third Mate. The rudder bit into the churning sea. The deck heeled sickeningly. The ship swung the other way… but too late. It ricocheted off the reef and a thundering shudder ran through the entire length, its hull howling as though in pain.

It was too much for the Alexandria to bear. A forepeak halyard snapped and the weakened foremast cracked, crumpled and fell away. The ship lurched dangerously under the drag of the foremast and ploughed inextricably towards another outcrop of rock.

The crew were jolted off their feet as she collided with the reef. Jack careered across the deck, landing heavily by the rail and winding himself. The Captain fell nearby, a large gash bloodying his forehead where he’d hit the floor. The Third Mate was thrown forwards and his jaw struck the binnacle knocking him out cold. Jack’s father was somehow the only one to keep his footing. He leapt forward to stop the wheel spinning out of control, but without the Third Mate’s immense bulk he was fighting a losing battle.

John cursed the wheel, his muscles knotted against the strain. ‘Turn, by the love of God, turn!’

But with the ship taking on water and the foremast dragging behind them, the rudder was sluggish to respond. They struck the reef a third time and the Alexandria shrieked a death cry.

‘Cut the foremast rigging!’ ordered the Captain, scrambling to his feet.

The men on deck fell upon the ropes with axes. They hacked the mast free, but still the ship was sinking.

‘Man the pumps!’ cried the Captain.

Jack saw several men race beneath the deck.

‘You too Jack,’ he bawled above the noise of the storm. ‘All hands!’

In the bilges beneath the ship’s main hold, the stagnant foul water was already up to Jack’s waist. The stench was nauseating, making his eyes sting, and in the hellish blackness Jack caught glimpses of rats already swimming for their lives. He joined the other men pumping out the incoming ocean like devils possessed.

The ship’s keel scraped over the spine of yet another reef and there was a wailing, tormented splintering of wood. Jack could see the oak timbers buckle under the blow, but somehow they held.

Yet the waters still rose.

Jack’s arms began to burn with the immense effort of working the wooden pump, the water level now up past his chest. He desperately fought to control his panic - he was going to die in the bilges of the Alexandria. He could already picture the crabs crawling over his bloated body and picking at his cold lifeless eyes. The fetid water lapped at his chin and he choked as it rushed down his throat…

Ch 29 – ‘Sensei Kyuzo’

This additional training scene was cut from page 196 to tighten up the chapter, but reveals a few of the additional techniques Sensei Kyuzo punished Jack with…

‘As you can see, nikkyo is a straightforward but effective counterattack technique. You can disable your attacker and give yourself time to draw your sword,’ he told the class, then looked down at the prostrate Jack and, narrowing his eyes, said ‘Return to your place.’

Jack began to raise himself, but suddenly he was twisting backwards. Pain commanding his body to offer no resistance, his face was pressed hard against the floor of the dojo.

‘That was ikkyo,’ Sensei Kyuzo said nonchalantly. ‘Notice how I controlled him by lifting his elbow and driving it into his face to force him to the floor. Now my enemy is at my mercy.’

Mercifully, though, he let Jack up.

‘The easiest way to control your enemy, though, is to join their attack and redirect their energy away from you,’ he continued, before instructing Jack on his next attack. ‘Now grab both my wrists.’

Jack, massaging his aching wrist, resigned himself to his fate. He went to take hold of Sensei’s wrists preparing himself for another painful lock. But it didn’t come. Instead he was flipped around and sent tumbling to the floor. He lay there, nursing a battered shoulder.

‘My favourite of the throws, tenchinage, heaven and earth throw,’ said Sensei Kyuzo, ignoring Jack’s suffering. ‘I have two more techniques to show you today, then I will repeat the first one, nikkyo, slowly for your benefit.’

Sensei Kyuzo demonstrated the remaining techniques on Jack, flinging him around like a puppet. By the time he had finished the demonstration, Jack was exhausted, sweat pouring from his brow, his body battered and bruised.

The Way of the Sword

This toilet scene didn’t make it past the first draft of the second book for obvious reasons! However, I like the comparison between Japan and England, so I might use it in future…

‘Toilet scene’

Jack dashed down the deserted corridor to the main entrance of the Shishi-no-ma. At the door, he slipped on his zōri sandals and hurried round to the toilets at the back of the hall, where he swapped his zōri for a pair of toilet slippers. This was another custom he had found bizarre. The constant taking on-and-off of shoes as one entered and left a building.

Then he thought of the muck and permanent dirt that covered the floors of every house and public building in England. Japan’s custom, he realized, was so much more sensible by comparison.

As he squatted over the toilet, Jack recalled the stench of living in London. He hadn’t minded the strong smell of pitch that lingered in the air around the shipbuilders in Wapping. And he must have got used to the dunghills and middens, piled high with household and human waste. Even the noxious smell of the boiling vats of urine, used in making alum, was bearable in winter, but his nose would never forget the putrid fumes of the tanneries where skins were softened in a solution of animal brains and dog dung to make leather.

Here in Japan, all excrement was collected and used as night soil, fertilizer, on the paddy fields. The streets were kept meticulously clean and samurai bathed daily. As a result, there was little offensive smell in Kyoto at all.

For that, Jack was very glad.

The Way of the Dragon

I never wrote this scene between Jack and Akiko, but it was an idea in my notes…

‘A Test of Love’

Behind Kyomizudera's main hall stands Jishu-Jinja, a shrine dedicated to the deity of love - Okuninushi-no-mikoto - an ancient god of love and good marriages, whose messenger is a rabbit. In front of this shrine are two rocks – ‘blind stones’ - placed several meters apart from each other. To test a person’s love for another, they must walk in a straight line between the two ‘blind stones’, with their eyes closed and intoning their partner’s name. If they arrive at the other stone without wandering, it is said to bestow luck and blessing on their relationship.

© Chris Bradford 2021