Straighten your back! Lift up your chin! Don’t slouch there in the corner, like a discarded bag of rice. Where is the proud man that I once knew? What has made him retreat in this lonesome corner, huddled up into a scared little ball?
Forget not that your name is still Shinzo Katana, warrior of Kyoto, scourge of the dark shoguns. Must I remind you of your legacy, of the victories you booked against vast ronin armies, of the statues people raised in your honour, of the flowers thrown at your feet, whose scent still fills these streets?
The man in the corner, his knees pulled up, his back arched in disillusionment, did not look up. He had heard these words before. He was fully aware of his fall from grace and the effort it would take to rise once more. But he had consigned himself to his state of depression. He no longer had the energy to fight.
You are down, but you are not out. Rise again, Shinzo. Leave this pit of despair you have dug for yourself. Soar back into society and into the hearts of the people. Fulfil your destiny. Be a warrior.
Shinzo shook his head. His decision had been made.
I cannot tolerate this. Your demeanour trickles down to me. And I don’t want to die. I want to live. I want to walk in a proud posture. I want to hold my chin up high. I want to break free from the shackles you impose on me.
“Go then,” Shinzo said. “I set you free.”
Farewell, my warrior. I’ll miss you. And I wish you well.
The dark blot at his feet detached itself, leaving Shinzo Katana – ironically, and for lack of a better phrase – a shadow of his former self.