This article, Cold Nights and Gentle Hands, is the co-property of both Ash9876 and Shen Yi.

"The first of the swords was by all accounts a fine sword, however it is a blood thirsty, evil blade, as it does not discriminate as to who or what it will cut. It may just as well be cutting down butterflies as severing heads. The second was by far the finer of the two, as it does not needlessly cut that which is innocent and undeserving."
—Legends of Masamune and Muramasa

In the country of harmony and discipline, which held the secrets of this world, was currently a visitor — an idea the country could barely fathom. They had suffered much in the hands of those who wished to pillage the country’s secrets, and were perfectly content with themselves. Alas, they were also a country of warriors. In a country of warriors, isolation is nigh-impossible.

The visitor to this country, the Wano Country, was none other than one of the lauded Shichibukai, Salazar. He was here on the behest of his former instructor, Vega la Inigo, who told the young swordsman of one of his own mentors. The man in question was Kozuki Masamune, an almost legendary, albeit elderly Samurai who lived his life as a successor to the Kozuki name and passed on his knowledge to those of the next generation.

It had been a week since the guest had entered Wano Country. He was introduced to its customs, the way people go about their daily life, the sights, and had absorbed it all. But there was no sign of the man the Shichibukai’s teacher recommended even being aware that Salazar wanted tutelage in swordsmanship. Was he at the wrong place?

Of course not. The Samurai were a patient, disciplined people. And every event had a correct time. The night settled. It was a chilling one, with the crescent of the moon barely visible in the sky, surrounded by stars. Underneath it all were three individuals sitting, knees on the ground, in a dojo: Salazar, Kozuki Masamune and a woman.

"Thank you both for coming." Masamune voiced, in a slightly more serious tone than he had adopted in the past week. "Salazar. I have been purposely avoiding teaching you any manner of swordsmanship for this past week for a single purpose. Before I take on any students, I must examine their character. Through exposing you to unknown situations I have managed to discern you to a degree. While I have no problem in taking you as an apprentice now, before I can do so, I must see your current degree of skill. To this end, I have invited the woman here before you." Masamune gestured to the woman opposite Salazar with his palm, "This is Gozen Shizuka. My apprentice of eight years. She will be your opponent today."

Shizuka bowed, "A pleasure to make your acquaintance, Sir Salazar." She had an air of dignity about her that, despite her gesture of humility and her plain clothing, indicated a status that would prove otherwise.

"The second reason for not teaching you any swordsmanship was..." Masamune stood up and retrieved two wooden swords from a casket. "This." He said, pointing to the sword in his left hand, as he placed both swords down in front of Salazar and Shizuka, respectively. "To craft a wooden version of your weapon took some time given that our craftsmen were unfamiliar with its structure. This should possess almost, if not exactly the same texture, shape and feel as the sword you wield when employing your full prowess — the saber. I hope it suffices."

Salazar cocked his head. The girl was very peculiar-that is-she had a different aura than the other citizens of Wano Country. Salazar watched her energy remain solid yet fluid. Almost a statue trapped in time. She's definitely powerful. Salazar thought. "the pleasure is mine, Shizuka-San." He bowed.

He smiled while holding the unique bokken. It filled with warmth and a sense of nostalgia. The texture. Weight. Shape. Perfect. "Now I understand why you're so famous, Masamune-sensei." He stood up and swung his newly crafted weapon. "While I'm grateful for all you've done, I must ask the purpose."

"You are far too used to life and death battles." Masamune stated. "Not all battles must be waged with bloodshed. You are too passionate about conflict that rises your adrenaline that you have lost a sense of internal peace. Sparring is a fundamental portion of swordsmanship. During your training here, I will ingrain that into you once again. Of course, Shizuka is the one who will be sparring with you, not myself."

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