The Sword Maker's Seal by Trevor Schmidt by Trevor Schmidt - Read Online

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Emerson Highsmith is not your average 14-year-old. Sure, he goes to school and hangs out with his friends like everyone else, but Emerson is different. Through his eyes, the entire world is a mystery waiting to be solved. Naturally, when he hears that a 14th century Japanese sword is stolen from a Portland, Oregon museum, he is intrigued. Actually, Emerson can't contain himself. As he doggedly pursues the burglar, the suspects multiply and time is running out before the exhibit moves on. Will Emerson discover the thief's identity? Or will one of Japan's national treasures be lost forever?
Published: Salvo Press on
ISBN: 9781627934510
List price: $0.99
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The Sword Maker's Seal - Trevor Schmidt

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Andrew

1

Kyoto, Japan - 1986

Grandpa, tell me the story of Masamune again.

Hatake Okazaki crossed the cozy sitting room to his old armchair, breathing out heavily as he positioned himself in the chair’s divot. He motioned for his grandson to join him on his lap, and to his surprise, the boy of six wasn’t as light as he once was.

I’ll tell you, but you have to promise to go to bed as soon as the story is over or your dad will be angry with me again.

I promise! the boy said quickly.

"Okay. Masamune Okazaki was born during the Kamakura Period, but no one knows when he lived precisely. Nevertheless, he was the greatest swordsmith Japan had ever known, and probably will ever know. His swords were perfect, elegant, true works of art. There were many emperors and shoguns that desired his blades, but he was only one man, and he was stretched thin with requests for his work. Partially to fill his orders and partially to carry on his legacy, he took on just ten students, each perfecting a different aspect of sword making, but none ever achieving the level of perfection their master had attained.

"Masamune created a sword called the Honjo Masamune, which was considered his greatest work. Unfortunately, the sword went missing in 1946 and has never been seen again. Only a few of Masamune’s swords are around today and they are usually family heirlooms or found in museums. When I was a boy I got to see Masamune’s armor in a private family-owned museum in Kyoto. He wore a helmet with a crescent moon that extended into two razor sharp points and red leather mail in the old Samurai tradition.

Now, this is the part of the story few know except our own family members. Masamune created another master sword; the last sword he ever forged. It was created in secret and was said to have certain unexplainable powers hidden within the folds of steel. It was a holy sword. The sword could cut a leaf in midair and the leaf would reform pristinely before landing softly on the ground. The sword is only capable of doing good.

But, it’s a sword, the boy said. Don’t all swords cut through things for real?

Oh yes, most swords are unforgiving in that way. But, Masamune was a priest who, by way of fate, spent his life creating weapons of war. At the end of his life he felt remorse for what he had brought into the world, so he created his last sword.

Well, what’s the point of cutting someone if they will just get back up and keep attacking you? the boy asked.

The grandfather eyed his grandson curiously and said, The sword was not meant to kill. It was meant to end a conflict by destroying the desire to fight.

He looked up at his grandpa in surprise. The boy hadn’t ever thought of war in that way.

I think it’s time I showed you something, Grandpa Okazaki said.

The graying man picked up his grandson and sat him down in the armchair’s divot. He strode toward the fireplace and knelt against the old wood flooring. From his pocket he took a metal object a few inches in length and inserted it into a tiny hole in the floor. The boy heard a click and the wood panel came up to reveal a hidden compartment and a long wooden case concealed deep within the darkness. The old man stood up and brought the case to his grandson.

Go ahead, open it.

The boy flipped the little golden latches and opened the seemingly ordinary case. An elegant katana encased in a dark blue sheath stared back at him. The sheath was engraved with a man and woman in their ceremonial kimonos embracing under a cherry blossom tree. Everything down to the ornate handle looked hand crafted and painstakingly detailed.

Can I take it out? the boy pleaded.

When you’re older. When I pass away this sword will be your responsibility, along with the story of Masamune, our ancestor.

How come dad won’t get it?

Your father has never been interested in the sword and doesn’t believe the stories. Masamune’s sword must be entrusted to someone who will protect it with their life. I know you’ll take good care of it.

You promise I can have it?

I promise.

The old man winked at the boy and put the sword back in its compartment, replacing the wooden panel and locking it with the metal object.

Now then, it’s time for bed.

Ah man! Can’t you just tell me one more story? Did Masamune get into any battles? Did he ever fight Ninjas?

Bed! Remember? You promised the old man said sternly.

That night, the boy lay in the guest bedroom of his grandfather’s house replaying the story of Masamune in his head and thinking of his Grandfather’s promise. When he finally fall asleep, his dreams were filled with never-ending feudal Japanese battles and with the warrior with the crescent moon helmet whose sword cut through steel like butter.

2

Portland, Oregon – 2009

Ezra Thorne sat with his back against the apple tree in his front yard, deciding how to spend the hot summer day. Despite the heat, he wore a long-sleeved shirt and drew the cuffs down over his fingers. His summer was winding down and the fourteen year old was nervously preparing for his first day of high school. Ezra was excited to be finished with middle school and hoped his overbearing parents would finally take him seriously.

Mr. and Mrs. Thorne were both professors at Pacific University a few towns over. His father, Eliot, found it necessary to constantly remind his peers that he was named after the prolific writer T.S. Eliot, making reference to his writings whenever he could. Ezra hadn’t escaped being named after a famous writer, but nonetheless, he liked his name. It was different.

Eliot Thorne was a thin man with equally thin features, sometimes appearing crane-like. He would often forget to eat if he were engrossed in a volume of literature. He would make due with a steaming cup of coffee, which he would hold daintily in his hands, occasionally spilling or leaving a coffee ring in unfortunate places. When Mrs. Thorne confronted him on the subject, he would quote modernist poetry until the accusations stopped. It occurred to Ezra from an early age that there was sadness within his father. He would often write in his office, which was really just a secluded corner of the master bedroom, in the hopes of writing the next great American novel. As far as Ezra could tell, he had been rather unsuccessful thus far.

Mrs. Matilda Thorne on the other hand was commonly known as the strictest teacher in her institution’s history. When a student spoke up in class their answer was wrong. Mrs. Thorne would twist the question ever so slightly to show off her own extensive knowledge of the subject. For Ezra, nothing was more entertaining than sitting at