[originally done for school]

Hanran is a mischevious samurai whose attitude gets her into sticky situations. After killing Arai Tachio, son of a wealthy and powerful samurai, will she be able to get herself out intact?

The early morning drizzle was creating a fine mist, but the atmosphere was oddly cool and dry. I walked along the mountain road, one hand resting on the hilt of my katana.

I was on the run from a skirmish near a tea house. Apparently someone out there wanted to kill me, so I was ambushed as I was entering the tea garden. In a matter of minutes I'd gotten my sword, sliced the assassin in half, and fled the scene.

I know, not too honorable, was it? Look, I'm not the most trustworthy samurai you ever came across. If anything, I should have stayed a thief. Then again, when you're a samurai you can get away with far more. Besides, when my father died and passed his katana and wakizashi on to me, what else could I do? Give it to someone else in the family? No way! Besides, I had been training before any of my siblings, as I was the oldest. I was the best choice. End of story.

I rounded a corner in the path and stopped abruptly. At the top of the hill, overlooking a large gulley in the mountainside, was a small roadside restaurant. I broke into a run, my geta sandals making sharp chink-sounds as they hit the pebbles of the path. Perhaps I could find out why I was wanted dead.

Ducking under the norin hanging over the doorway, I entered the restaurant. It was around six by seven tatami mats, not including the kitchen. There were a few other samurai around my age­–eighteen or older–and a few ordinary farmers. Apart from some young women a couple years older than me (all were dressed alike, with probably a thousand silk undegarments and plucked eyebrows and blackened teeth. Me, I can't be bothered with such things), I was the only girl. I spared the women only a single glance before I strode right up to a table with four other samurai chowing down on tempura and a couple other dishes like tatsutagi. Healthy eaters, these people.

"Don't mind if I sit here, boys? Thanks," I said loudly, and sat down between two nineteen-year-old boys. Twins, both with jet-black hair tied back into ponytails with black ribbon and, strangely enough, blue eyes.

"Who d'you think you are?" snapped Twin On The Left.

"Yeah, who gave you permission to sit here?" sneered Twin On The Right, clicking his hashi in my face. I snatched up the chopsticks swiftly and speared a dumpling on each.

"Hey, did you try this? I bet it tastes great," I said, smiling widely, and promptly stuffed the dumplings into each Twin's face. "Hey, that was really good, huh? Maybe you'd like another? Or perhaps you could shut up?" I handed the hashi back to a very bewildered Twin On The Right, and picked up my own. Their mouths full with food, neither Twin spoke, just stared and fumed. I grinned at them companionably and went to pick up a sushi roll with my chopsticks.

Someone else got to the sushi first. With a dagger. The tip of the blade bit into the wood in front of the piece of sushi-in-question, and the owner, a burly twenty-year-old man with a permanent snarl, sneered at me in a sort of ugly way.

"Oh, have we got anger issues?" I asked politely, covering up my fear. The man curled his lip, and went to take the sushi roll. I took one of my hashi, twirled it on my fingertip, and speared the back of the guy's hand. He got all stiff, stared at his hand, and fell backwards onto the tatami mats, howling.

"My hand! My hand!" he wailed. The fourth samurai, a thin and tall eighteen-year-old boy with one finger missing off his right hand, threw his companion a bored glance, and went back to drinking his saké. The Twins, having finally swallowed the dumplings I'd gagged them with, jumped to their feet and went to help the howling man to his feet.

"Oh, could you get my other hashi, too? I rather hate eating with just one," I told them, as I picked up the sushi roll with my index and middle fingers. The Twins glared at me, and Twin Who Was Once The On The Left tossed me the broken chopstick, its tip glistening with blood. It clattered to the table, and then fell to the floor, as my expertise with catching things was next to zilch.

I dove under the table to grab the chopstick and popped back up immediately, cleaning it off on my sleeve. "Wow, thanks. I should have told you I catch like a mentally challenged monkey," I said, sarcastically.

"You don't like it, you don't make it happen," Twin Who Until Recently Had Been On The Left growled. Twin Who Used To Be On The Right kicked the fourth boy, the one drinking saké, in the knee.

"Get up, Agemaki! We're going to teach this bitch a little lesson."

Mr. Saké Man muttered, put a stopper in the saké flask, and then hit Twin Who Had Been On The Right upside the head with it. Twin Who Had Been On The Right yelped, and dove behind Twin Who Had Been On The Left. I popped a dumpling into my mouth and leaned both elbows on the table, watching.

Apparently they had forgotten about their wounded friend, who was clutching his hand and staring murderously at me from across the table. I stared pointedly past his left ear and watched the Twins and Agemaki kick up a storm behind him.

Then, without warning, Chopstick Hand vaulted over the table on his unwounded appendage and went to kick me in the face. I tumbled backwards onto the tatami mats, katana swinging out of its sheath in a clean arc in front of me.

Chopstick Hand yanked his foot back immediately, rolling off the table and landing with a thud on his side, before somersaulting to a crouching position. He was scowling. Like, really scowling. I mean it was Real Samurai Scowling. The type you see on scrolls.

So, yeah, I was scared. Scrambling to my feet, I gripped my katana with both hands and went into a low fighting crouch. Chopstick Hand lunged, and I jumped to the side. His foot came swinging out again, and this time it caught me square in the face. I reeled backwards, crashed into a post, and rolled away quickly as Chopstick Hand's other foot slammed into the post where I had been seconds before. I could feel my nose about to fall off, and I was almost sure one of my front teeth was loose, or even chipped.

I scrambled to my feet, one hand clutching my face, and dashed onto a table, kicking the food and plates onto the floor. Chopstick Hand snarled and whipped out his katana angrily. The blade whistled through the air and I barely managed to jump out of the way, landing on the next table top.

But good grief, my nose was hurting so bad I was almost seeing spots. Through my pain I caught a glimpse of the Twins and Agemaki standing quite still and staring at the fight playing out in front of them.

That's around when we all heard a loud bang and the thud of feet against the ground. I was so startled I fell backwards off the table. Chopstick Hand halted midswing. The Twins and Agemaki and the rest of the people in the bar turned around fast, some of them with their mouths hanging open in surprise.

The bang came again. Then someone stepped inside the resturaunt, upside-down 'cause I was looking up at them from the floor. I silently thanked as many kami as I could think of that the table I had fallen off of did not have any food on it, otherwise I would have landed on a loverly array of fish, hashi, and soup bowls.

The newcomer was a man, maybe in his late forties, square-jawed and angry, and with only one ear. By the looks of his clothes, he was a samurai. A very rich and experienced samurai.

Glowering, the newcomer strode forward, followed by three hulking sidekicks, until his geta sandals were about a foot away from my head. He stood silently. In fact, the whole room had gone quiet.

I craned my head so I could meet his eyes.

"Can I help you?" I asked innocently, "…On second thought, I'm in the middle of a fight right now, so could you just…"

"No. I am here to finish the job my assassin failed to do. Now get up and brace yourself for the afterlife!" the newcomer hissed. I blinked.

"You sent that guy? What for? And who the heck are you?" I spluttered, bewildered. The other samurai whipped out his katana. His hulking buddies cast glares around the room, hands on the hilts of their swords.

"I am Arai Fumiaki, and I have come to kill you!" he bellowed. Just then, he was interrupted by a loud and very angry voice.

"Hey, now, hold up a minuet!" growled Chopstick Hand, scrambling around the table to come face to face with the other samurai, Arai Fumiaki. "I still have a bone to pick with this rude little upstart, so clear off! You can come back later!" he wagged a finger in Yari Eboshi's face, and tapped the tip of his katana on the ground impatiently.

The new samurai's face turned purple. "I can't postpone this! That 'rude little upstart' must be punished for what she did, and the punishment will be dealt by me only!"

"Yeah, well I have some punishment to deal out as well!" Chopstick Hand shouted. He swung his blade first at Arai, and then at me. I ducked under the attack and rolled out of the way. Arai ducked as well, and kicked out Chopstick Hand's feet from under him. Whirling, he brought his katana slicing in my direction, and I jumped to the side hastily, the tip of the sword succeeding in drawing a line of blood down my forearm.

Swinging my own sword up, I nicked Arai's hand before I had to scramble out of the way again. Chopstick Hand yanked his sword out of the wood where I had been seconds before, and smacked his foot into Eboshi's face as he did.

I somersaulted away from Arai as he fell backwards, and got to my feet, tripping in the process. Arai was on his back, katana lying where he had dropped it, a foot away from his hand.

Chopstick Hand was holding his own katana over Arai's throat. I elbowed him out of the way. "Move, thickhead. This is my fight."

"Just kill me," Arai gritted out, "I am disgraced by being beaten by two dishonorable amateurs. If I had the time, I would perform seppuku, but I can't."

I grinned. "First tell me why you sent that assassin after me."

"You killed my eldest son. And then when I had challenged you, you ran away like the coward you are and took my ear with you!" Arai's face screwed up in anger. I tapped my forehead.

"Oh, yeah. Arai Tachio-san. I remember him, he put up a fight before I actually got around to slitting his throat. Well, I really don't remember cutting off your ear, sorry. I have a patchy memory at best." I grinned again. "Well, any last words before I get to have your head as a keepsake? No? Well, it was nice fighting you." With a swing of my blade, Arai Fumiaki's head dropped to the floor.

Just then the three burly men sprang forward with shouts of outrage, swords out and pointed at me and Chopstick Hand. I jumped back and ended up walking into a table. Chopstick Hand retreated until his back was against a post. The three hulking samurai closed in, and then I dove to the floor, crashed into one of the samurai, nearly succeeding in knocking him over. I landed shoulder first on the ground and banged my head on a table leg. Before I was sliced in half, I skidded to the side and ducked. As I did I caught sight of the Twins kicking out the wooden slats covering a window on the far wall. Agemaki was motioning to Chopstick Hand frantically;

"Come on. Let's go!" he was saying urgently. Chopstick Hand obliged and was through the cleared window before you could say 'samurai'. The Twins followed suit, as quickly as possible. There was my chance!

"They're leaving! Don't let them!" shouted a samurai. No, really? I thought sarcastically, dashing toward the broken window. I dodged a throwing knife that whizzed past my ear, and dove through the opening.

The wind and mist whipped past as I fell from the window, which was right over the cliff on which the tavern was built. Thankfully I landed hard on a grassy ledge protruding a ways out from the rocky wall.

Agemaki, the Twins and Chopstick Hand were already scrambling up the precarious sheep trail that wound from the ledge up to the road. I sheathed my katana and hurried after them, wondering why I was so idiotic and/or suicidal to do so.

I certainly didn't want to be caught back there by those samurai, and traveling alone wasn't really safe anymore now that those three would probably be out for my blood.

"Hey…hey, can I come?" I called to the four ronin, scrambling up the slope behind them.

Chopstick Hand cast a glowering glance in my direction. "I'm warning you, punk. One step outta line, and you're no better than a trapped rabbit."

"Oh, don't be so down," I snapped, but at the same time rather relieved.

"Shut up, Upstart." hissed Agemaki, grabbing my neck and tightening his hold severely.

"Gek…" I choked, nearly sucumbing to a retching fit. The twins loomed over me.

"You're a pretty damn good fighter," grinned Twin Who Had Been On The Right.

"Ronin ought to stick together," Twin Who Had Been On The Left nodded. I bit Agemaki's fingers and freed myself from the choking grip.

"Well," I growled, rubbing my neck. "If you don't mind, this ronin will be sticking with you." I glared at them one by one, hand on the hilt of my katana, challening them.

"We better go then, " stated Agemaki impatiently, crossing his arms and looking back the way we'd come. Just then a shout came from the broken window. One of the big samurai men was looking at us in fury, his large head barely fitting through the opening.

The five of us exchanged glances, came to a split-second agreement and took to the hills.

I'm not sure if I want to keep this the way it is or make it into a multichapter fic. read and tell me please?

Oh yeah....and thanks for reading! it's my first fic, did you like it?