Masamune tightened her ponytail and regarded herself in the mirror. Today was her sixteenth birthday and it was the Crystallian tradition that she would receive her first Crystal Sword, the signature weapon in Crystallia. Masamune took a deep breath, turned and walked out of her room. Like everyone else, Masamune was excited to finally receive a Crystal Sword. Unlike everyone else, Masamune strived to become a teacher of Crystal Sword-fighting. She did not wish to go straight into fighting and become reckless like a lot of people did. As she walked down the streets she was stopped.
Masamune turned at the sound of her mother's voice. She wore a kind smile and was clutching onto something.
"Masamune," she whispered "Happy Birthday."
She held out the item in her hands. Masamune looked down on it curiously. It was a pendant of two dragons coiling around each other. It was made out of bronze.
"What is this?" Masamune asked as she took it.
"It's…a present given to you as a baby," her mother answered, folding her hands together.
Masamune looked at it curiously before unclasping the clasps and put it around her neck.
"Your father before he went off to the military."
Masamune bowed her head gravely. She didn't even know her father that well, only stories from her mother gave her the image of him.
"It was one day before you were born," her mother spoke softly and looking down "You look so much like him."
Masamune nodded then turned.
"I better go…"
"Oh, of course, you'll be late!"
Masamune looked at her mother and smiled.
"Thank you, mother."
Her mother smiled wider and Masamune turned to run off to the dojo.
Masamune slowed her pace as the dojo came into her sights. She smiled until she spotted who was lingering outside the entrance. Dune, Tyson and Merrick. The three local street thugs. Masamune didn't know what their problem was with her. Or any of the other young people in the Sapphire Clan for that matter, they always seem to segregate her from them. Masamune took a deep breath and calmly walked towards the entrance, ignoring the three boys.
Masamune slid open the door and kicked her shoes off.
"Yo, Masamune, today's a very special day, right?"
Masamune ignored them until a Crystal Sword came out in front of her, stopping her abruptly. She stared ahead, keeping as calm as possible.
"Now we have your undivided attention."
The tip of Dune's Crystal Sword came under her chin. The small sapphire in the hilt gleamed in the sun, reflecting the light in her right eye. She closed it as the boys surrounded her.
"So, could you tell us why today's such a special day?"
Masamune remained relaxed and calm as possible. Her left eye sought through the dark dojo and she spotted that Sensei Haruhiko was inside, meditating.
"Hey, Masamune, it's rude to ignore people when they're talking to you."
Masamune suddenly grabbed Dune's Crystal Sword by the blade. She gently guided it away from her chin and turned to Dune.
"It's my sixteenth birthday today," she replied before stepping into the dojo and sliding the door shut.
She turned to Sensei Haruhiko and spotted a cushion beside him. Taking the initiative she carefully walked across the dojo and sat herself cross-legged on top of it. She closed her eyes, getting into the meditation pose and calmly reflected different thoughts in her mind.
Masamune remained in her position when nothing happened.
"Look upon the altar."
Masamune's eyes twitched before they opened. They peered through the darkness and she spotted a deep blue glint of light coming from the altar. Her breath stilled.
"This is your reward for your hard work and determination in your training. It is now yours."
Masamune hesitated before getting up and proceeded to the altar. She gently grasped the handle and lifted the Crystal Sword that lay across the stone surface. She took a few practice swings then ran her hand along the blade.
"Perhaps Dune would like a duel with you?"
Masamune turned to Sensei Haruhiko who was now awake from his meditation and standing up.
"Of course. It's time to put your training to the test."
He walked across to the door and slid it open, letting the eavesdropping boys fall. There were groans in pain and Dune's Crystal Sword was unceremoniously dropped, sliding across the polished wood and stopped by Masamune's feet. Masamune and Sensei Haruhiko shared a frown of disapproval. A Crystal Sword shouldn't be treated so carelessly like that. Masamune bent down to pick it up and handed it over to Dune.
"You're my first opponent, I take it," she said.
Dune looked at her before scrambling up and taking his Crystal Sword back. They walked to opposite sides of the dojo, Crystal Swords out and in their stances, ready to fight. Merrick, Tyson and Sensei Haruhiko shifted to in front of the stone altar. Masamune's eyes narrowed in concentration as she recalled the rules of Crystal Sword-fighting.
The aim is to smash your enemy's blade.
You only may call the Gemstone Beast in your Crystal Sword once.
You cannot touch your opponent with your Crystal Sword.
Nodding to herself once, Masamune narrowed her eyes towards Dune. Dune just grinned back, getting into the right starting position.
"Begin!" announced Sensei Haruhiko.
Masamune and Dune charged at each, their blades clashing against one another. Masamune felt her Crystal Sword vibrate violently in her hands as power, surged by the sapphire in the hilt, flowed from the Crystal Sword to her hands. Dune's Crystal Sword vibrated from the vibrations her Crystal Sword gave off as they pushed at each other for a moment. They separated and almost immediately came together again. Masamune's Crystal Sword seemed to be screaming because of how violently it vibrated. It looked like it would shatter at any moment. Dune jumped back and stuck his Crystal Sword upwards towards the ceiling.
"Kiba, awake!" he bellowed as electricity crackled along the blade and shot upwards.
The energy struck the ceiling and a howl was heard. Masamune braced herself for an attack. Her eyes widened in surprise as a wolf jumped at her from where the energy had struck and pawed at her Crystal Sword. It growled, baring its teeth at her. Masamune narrowed her eyes and shoved the wolf off. It landed in front of its owner who jumped over, Crystal Sword above his head, ready to smash her blade. Masamune immediately turned into another defensive position and their blades clashed once more. Masamune staggered at the power of the blades clashing, using both hands on the hilt to support Dune's weight. She narrowed her eyes then widened them as she heard a crack. Was she loosing? No, her blade was still intact. Her eyes slowly trailed to the handle where a crack had made its appearance. It started to travel up the sword until it smashed into several pieces. Masamune withdrew her hands in shock, rubbing her sword-wielding hand, her left hand, tenderly. Dune looked confused as he looked at the pieces of white crystal and the small sapphire at his feet.
"Did I win?" he asked to himself as his wolf disappeared.
"No, it is a tie."
They all looked towards Sensei Haruhiko who came over and picked up the sapphire.
"Masamune," he addressed.
Masamune automatically stood straight and tall. Sensei Haruhiko let out a short laugh of amusement.
"Relax, child, it is your birthday today."
Masamune faltered in her stance then slumped into a more comfortable position.
"Yes, sir?" she tried again.
"You are too strong to wield the Sapphire Sword," explained Sensei Haruhiko "That is the reason your Crystal Sword has been completely smashed."
Masamune blinked in confusion.
Sensei Haruhiko barked out another sharp laugh, scaring both her and the boys.
"Don't look so serious about it, these things happen," he said with a smile.
Masamune sighed, looking down.
"Sorry, I was just looking forward to this day…"
Sensei Haruhiko chortled.
"It doesn't matter," he said waving a hand dismissively "You'll only have to move up one rank, like I said, not everyone has their Crystal Sword chosen immediately."
Masamune sighed, sagging her shoulders with a nod.
"Yes, sensei," she said with a bow.
Sensei Haruhiko then slapped her back, laughing loudly.
"If only every student I've had were as polite and respectful as you," he said as Masamune stumbled from the sudden slap.
Masamune stood up straight and looked at Dune.
"Looks like today really is a special day," she said "I've found out I'm too strong to wield the Sapphire Sword."
Dune's eye twitched at her emotionless tone, Tyson and Merrick joining his sides.
"You know," said Merrick as he touched the sapphire on his Crystal Sword softly "one of the scariest things about you is that you say a lot of things emotionlessly."
They nodded. Even Sensei Haruhiko nodded ever so slightly. Masamune felt her eyebrow twitch.
"I hadn't noticed."
"Anyway, Masamune," said Sensei Haruhiko as he guided Masamune outside the dojo "You'd better go and tell your mother the good news."
Masamune nodded as she slipped on her shoes and bowed her head.
"Thank you, sensei," she automatically said.
There was an awkward pause and Masamune tilted her head up. Sensei Haruhiko was looking down on her like…well, like a grandfather would to his young grandchild.
"Oh, Masamune, you've grown so much," he said softly "I can remember it like it was yesterday, when you were just four years old…"
"That's quite enough, sensei!" Masamune quickly said.
"Oh, ho, ho, ho!" laughed Sensei Haruhiko "I'm not your sensei anymore, Masamune."
Masamune cracked a smile.
"If you insist, old man."
Masamune turned and sprinted off as Sensei Haruhiko barked at her for calling him old.