Meti's Sword Manual is a short text. Written by the vagrant swordfighter Meti, the text's date of creation is unknown.
Interpretation and themes
One of the core themes in Meti's Sword Manual is that mastery of the sword is an exercise in futility. Meti suggests that despite popular belief, killing one's opponent and living a peaceful life are exactly the same, and so one should commit to them equally. However, she also notes that swordsmanship has limited usefulness, and that people would be better off pursuing pragmatism than by following a life of combat.
- Glory to the Divine Corpse, o breaker of infinities.
- I am Meti, of no house but myself. In my 108th year I am surrounded by fools. My compatriots cling obsessively to their destiny, and my only apprentice is an idiot speck of a girl with more talent for eating than skill with the blade. Therefore I have decided to die drowning in the boiling gore of my enemies, of which there are many.
- My master was the greatest lord general to the king Au Vam, Ryo-ten-Ryam, who first coaxed me into learning the ways of turning men into ghosts. As his interest quickly turned to the wholly uninteresting and most useless parts of my body, I returned the favor and relieved him of his.
- It is my personal opinion the straight sword is best if you can obtain one, but I also favor the sabre. The spear, stave, or club are peasant's weapons of which I am wholly unfamiliar and so will not speak on them.
- Upon meeting me, you might find that my appearance is quite dreadful and unkempt. I have been spat upon by priest, king, and merchant alike. I have no retainers, and possess nothing except a straight sword six hand spans (five and a half kret) long (this is the proper length). This is because I am Royalty and the undisputed master of the principal art of Cutting. I will fight naked with ten-thousand men.
- From the age of thirteen I practiced every day with the straight sword. I followed a strict vegetarian regimen, and harsh training of barefoot sprints (five) between cities, squats and breathing exercises (two bells), and sword drills and resistance training (three bells).
- By the age of sixteen, my body was a steel edifice. I was so often mistaken for a man I began to wear my hair long with no pins and unbind my breasts. I could break stone with my hands with no effort, I could sprint between the Yellow City and the Lunar dominions in a day or less and barely strain my breath. My mastery of the sword complete, I enlisted in the Middle Army's third legion, where I was widely respected as a swordswoman of incredible power.
- When it came time to face my first real opponent, the Colossus of Pardos, in my youthful pride and immense skill, I brought all my training and mastery to bear. Scarcely half a day passed before my sword was shattered into thirty pieces, my right leg was almost torn from its socket, and my honed body was broken pathetically in a hundred and forty places. I defeated him by gouging his brains out through his breathing valves. My thumbs, in this case, proved far more useful.
- At that moment, with my thumbs in his brains, I had a revelation. I had trained far too broadly. Existence and the act of combat are absolutely no different, and the essence of both, the purity of both, is a singular action, which is Cutting Down Your Opponent. You must resolve to train this action. You must become this action. Truly, there is very little else that will serve you as well in this entire cursed world.
- I hope that by reading this manual, you will be thoroughly encouraged to become a farmer.
Mastering the Sword
- YISUN's glory is great, and you may know this by two paths, the sanctioned words, and the sanctioned action.
- The sanctioned words are YS ATN VARAMA PRESH. The meaning of these words is YISUN and their attainment is Royalty.
- The sanctioned action is to Cut.
- To Cut means division by the blade of Want, that parer of potentials that excises infinities.
- To train with the sword, first master sweeping. When you have mastered sweeping, you must master the way of drawing water. Once you have learned how to draw water, you must split wood. Once you have split wood, you must learn the arts of finding the fine herbs in the forest, the arts of writing, the arts of paper making, and poetry writing. You must become familiar with the awl and the pen in equal measure. When you have mastered all these things you must master building a house. Once your house is built, you have no further need for a sword, since it is an ugly piece of metal and its adherents idiots.
The 18 Precepts
- Consider: there is no such thing as a sword.
- Your stance must be wide. You must not be spare with the fluidity of your wrists or shoulders. You must have grip on the handle that is loose and unstrained. I heard it said you must be tender with your sword grip, as though with a lover. This is patently false. A sword is not your lover. It is a hideous tool for separating men from their vital fluids.
- Going onwards, you must adjust hands as needed, do not keep the blade close to your body, keep your breathing steady. This is the life cut. You must watch your footwork. Your feet must be controlled whether planted on fire, air, water, or earth in equal measure.
- Breathing is very important! Is the violent breath of life in you not hot? Exhale! Exult!
- You must strive for attachment-non-attachment when cutting. Your cut must be sticky and resolute. A weak, listless cut is a despicable thing. But you must also not cling to your action, or its result. Clinging is the great error of men. A man who strikes without thought of his action can cut God. KSBD 5-100.
- To cut properly, you must continually self-annihilate when cutting. Your hand must become a hand that is cutting, your body a body that is cutting, your mind, a mind that is cutting. You must instantaneously destroy your fake pre-present self. It is a useless hanger on.
- A brain is useful only up until the point when you are faced with your enemy. Then it is useless. The only truly useful thing in this cursed world is will. You must suffuse your worthless body with its terrible heat. You must be so hot that even if your enemy should strike your head off, you shall continue to decapitate ten more men. Your boiling blood must spring forth from your neck and mutilate the survivors!
- You must never make 'multiple' cuts. Each must be singular in its beauty, no matter how many precede it. You must make your enemies weep with admiration, and likewise should your head be shorn off by such an object of beauty, you must do your best to shed tears of respect.
- When decapitating an enemy, it is severe impoliteness to use more than one blow.
- A man who finds pleasure in the result of cutting is the most hateful, crawling creature there is. A man who finds pleasure in the act of cutting is an artisan.
- Man always strives to cut man. Therefore he who draws his sword the fastest is the survivor. To pre-empt this, you must live, eat, and shit as a person who has their sword drawn. It doesn't matter whether your blade, in actuality, is always out of its sheathe, though you will look like an idiot if it is.
- Consider: The undefeated swordsman must be exceptionally poor.
- The weak swordsman reserves his sword strokes. He clings excessively to his blade. His footwork is unsteady. His grip is too hard and he is afraid to crack the earth with his step. He has a shallow and wandering gaze, his tongue is sluggish and pale. He refuses to exhale the hot breath of the Flame Immortal.
- The weak swordsman clings to victory. He thinks of his life, his obligations, the outcome of the battle, his hatred for his opponent, his training, his pride in his mastery. By doing so, he is an imperfect vessel for the terrible fires of Will. He will surely crack. He will not laugh uproariously if he is cleft in two by his opponent’s blade. When his sword is shattered, his hands will be too reserved to tear his enemies’ flesh.
- The weak swordsman strikes his enemy down and thinks his task done. He relishes in victory. He casts away his sword and returns to his lover. Little does he know his single cut will encircle the world five times and strike him down fifty-fold.
- The weak swordsman clings to his instrument. It is better you have a sword, but death must lie under your fingernails, if need be. Learn death with your elbows, death with your knees, and death with your thumbs and fingertips. It is said death with the tongue is useful, but I find words too soft an instrument to smash a man’s skull.
- In manners of terrain, you must learn to cut yourself from it. You must cut even your footprints from it, if need be. Have complete awareness of each crawling thing and each precious flower, each blade of sweet grass and each clod of bitter earth, each beating heart and each being that thrums with love, hope, and admiration. Only then are you qualified to be their annihilator.
- Excess heat and excess coldness are undesirable. Learn to read the weather.
- It is said the greatest warrior-kings may sublime violence and forget all they learn about the sword. This is true. But the only true path to kingship lies through regicide.
- Moreover, only the worst kind of idiot strives to be king.
- My extreme hope is that some measure of wisdom will penetrate the thick skull of my apprentice. If not, may reading this manual demonstrate your powerful disinterest in it, and may its true value die with me.
- Reach heaven by violence.