Archive for June, 2011

The Teitōken Campaign Spirals Downward

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

The bandit from Yoshino is still bedeviling us. He seems to mostly be hiding in the forests lately, outside my realm. Seijun and his team have been far too busy with other matters to even pursue him.

The greatest of those “other matters” is the dire situation in Kurabero-no-Hako. We knew at the outset that we would have to handle a gang there called the Obigurafu. Seijun said his team could take care of them, using a style especially designed for such problems called the Kabachaato-ryūA school, tradition, or style in martial arts.A school, tradition, or style in martial arts.. Unfortunately, it turns out the Obigurafu gang is quite persistent… and the Kabachaato style is simply not flexible enough to handle their tactics.

If we cannot eradicate the Obigurafu, the entire campaign will be a failure.

Of course, even if we can, there are still many other problems. The Mōjin have made a resurgence, and if we do not deal with them, we will be forced to retreat and give up the entire territory — we would otherwise be in violation of the Emperor’s decreethe Americans with Disabilities Act, which specifies that information such as we’re presenting must be available to all, with no outstanding accessibility issuesthe Americans with Disabilities Act, which specifies that information such as we’re presenting must be available to all, with no outstanding accessibility issues. Just as the Obigurafu gang is Seijun’s problem, so the Mōjin are mine.

And still the Ayamari proliferate, and we are falling further and further behind schedule.

I have just received a message from Kento: One of the high nobles will be coming to investigate our progress, and try to determine what can be done.

My suspicion is that the entire campaign will have to be called off… or at least, subjected to a complete restructuring.

The Bandit From Yoshino

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

There is a bandit from Yoshino who has been causing some problems for a while. He’s been a minor enemy until now — now that Haruna, Satonori and I have finally managed to eradicate many of the Ayamari in Ichimen. Now, it is time to deal with this rogue.

Unfortunately, he’s a border-runner, who strikes into the city and then melts back into the forest when I try to pursue. Seijun is assisting me in trying to corral him so we can do him in.

It’s not going well. He is very wily. But we will persevere.

The Frustrations of Saturday and Monday

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

After defeating the Hakkā in the morning, the rest of Saturday was an exercise in frustration. I arrived at Ichimen only to have my chain break almost immediately. I went back to Castle Noriaibasha for a new one… but of course, Satonori wasn’t there to get me into the armory, so I could do nothing.

I looked through the lists of specifically identified enemies and determined a few that could be assigned to Satonori and Haruna. And I did some major work on the revised version of our Bright Square technique, which would be useful on Monday.

That took until sundown. Then I left the castle, wondering if anyone would contact me on Sunday to say, “We can get you into the armory now!”

Sunday passed uneventfully.

Then I went in yesterday morning and showed Kento the new Bright Square techniques, and he passed them on to Seijun. And Satonori got me into the armory, and I picked up fresh weapons and went to Ichimen and slew two fierce enemies before meetings took over my day.

And as I was getting ready to leave, there was an urgent call from Seijun. It seems his team was trying to use the new Bright Square technique, but they were getting carved into sashimithe kind of sushi that is nothing but raw meat, with no rice involvedthe kind of sushi that is nothing but raw meat, with no rice involved by the opposition. They needed help, urgently, and perhaps it was all my fault? I raced to Ichimen to see what was happening…

…and it turned out that only half of Seijun’s troops had been briefed on the new tactics! No wonder they couldn’t coordinate with each other! This was most definitely not a flaw in the kataA sequence of moves in martial arts, performed as a practice exercise to train the fighter’s muscle memory and reflexes in preparation for real combat. May be anywhere from a brief, 15-second movement to a full sequence that takes five minutes or more to complete. Usually solitary, but there are some two-person kata.

You may wish to see some videos of standard karate katas.A sequence of fighting moves used as a practice technique in martial arts. I had devised.

This is one of the things that drives me most insane about working with Clan Noriaibasha. The moment anything goes wrong, urgent messages are sent hither and yon, and everyone must drop everything they’re doing, even if it means abandoning the pursuit of another enemy that we’re just about to kill.

They say that I might have access to the armory today. I pray that I can make progress against the unending tide of bureaucracy.

Unexpected Victory at the Shrine

Monday, June 20th, 2011

I promised Kento I would go to Ichimen on Saturday and battle the Ayamari more. But as I prepared to leave Hoshiakari, a villager came running: “The oniA supernatural creature. Usually translated into English simply as “demon”, but oni combine aspects of demons and ogres. Like Western demons, they have horns on their head and colored skin (generally red or blue). They also have sharp teeth, which may be fangs or tusks. Like ogres, they live in mountains and wilderness places, and are generally depicted as being larger than human scale (generally about 8-12 feet tall). They usually carry long clubs with studded iron on the striking end, and are sometimes dressed in animal-skin loincloths.Often translated as “demon”, but also similar to an ogre: Humanoid, generally 8-12 feet tall, with red or blue skin, horns on its head, fangs or tusks, and a large, iron-shod club. Usually lives in mountains and wilderness. is in the shrine! Again!”

Again? After only one day? And in broad daylight, for once? This was not its usual style. Cursing and moaning, I went to the shrine. Sure enough, there it was, as large as life and as ugly as ever. Its iron-sheathed club flashed toward me, and the battle was joined!

I had only a small jō staffA shorter version of the bō staff, only about 4 feet long. Often used as a walking stick by travellers in the wilderness or mountains, but can be a surprisingly effective weapon in the hands of a skilled warrior.A shorter version of the bō staff, only about 4 feet long. Often used as a walking stick by travellers in the wilderness or mountains, but can be a surprisingly effective weapon in the hands of a skilled warrior., but I was fueled by my rage and frustration. I struck hard and fast, dodging the monster’s blows. One swing left it off-balance, and I dealt it a mighty blow on the side of its head. It fell down dead at my feet, and then its shape blurred and shrank down to the visage of…

…a wizard of the Hakka clan! Those who invade others’ territories by guile and duplicitythis one seems to have gotten in using a password that was part of the enormous Gawker password leak last Decemberthis one seems to have gotten in using a password that was part of the enormous Gawker password leak last December, only to deface and destroy! This is an enemy I was very glad to have killed.

But has the oni always been the Hakka, wearing a mystical disguise? Or is it truly the case the Hakka simply heard about Hoshiakari’s oni problem and decided to exploit it for his own ends?

Regardless, the shrine must be re-purified and reconsecrated. I have plans for that operation, but they will take some time to put into effect. The Teitōken campaign is still absorbing too much of my time and energy.

A Very Busy Friday and a Very Tired Ninja

Saturday, June 18th, 2011

On Thursday, we finally found a way that Satonori can vouch for me with the armory guards so I can have weapons. He and Haruna are now both assisting me in Ichimen. They are both carving a path of blood and death through the kamaTechnically, a kama is simply a farming tool. It’s like a sickle, or a small, one-handed scythe. Since farmers make up a huge segment of feudal Japan’s population, there’s nothing suspicious about carrying one around. And ninjas like to avoid suspicion.

If you take a chain with a weight or hook on its end and attach that to a kama, you’ve got a kusarigama… much more useful as a weapon, but also obviously a ninja weapon, instead of a farming tool.A farming tool, like a sickle or a small, one-handed scythe. Commonly used by ninjas because they arouse no suspicion – farmers are everywhere, after all.-wielding Ayamari, while I take on the rooftop fighters.

On Friday morning, I awoke to news that the shrine of Amaterasu had once again been occupied by an oniA supernatural creature. Usually translated into English simply as “demon”, but oni combine aspects of demons and ogres. Like Western demons, they have horns on their head and colored skin (generally red or blue). They also have sharp teeth, which may be fangs or tusks. Like ogres, they live in mountains and wilderness places, and are generally depicted as being larger than human scale (generally about 8-12 feet tall). They usually carry long clubs with studded iron on the striking end, and are sometimes dressed in animal-skin loincloths.Often translated as “demon”, but also similar to an ogre: Humanoid, generally 8-12 feet tall, with red or blue skin, horns on its head, fangs or tusks, and a large, iron-shod club. Usually lives in mountains and wilderness.. I could do nothing about it; my duties to Clan Noriaibasha required my presence in Ichimen. So off I went, to slay Ayamari — and then to be called into no fewer than five meetings, consuming most of my day.

At least one of these meetings was useful, though: We went through all of the assassination orders and target descriptions supplied by the Sōtō Zen monks, and were able to identify many cases where two different orders described the same target. “The man in the green kimono? He’s the same as the kama fighter with a slight limp in his left leg.” “Ah, then we will combine these orders.” When we were done, the number of enemies had dropped from 35 to under 30.

But one of the worst problems is still the rooftop fighters. Before I left the castle on Friday evening, Kento presided over a meeting with me, Haruna and Satonori. We agreed that we would divide up the enemies yet to be fought, and that I would spend my weekend in Ichimen clearing off the rooftops.

Then I left, and did not go home. I went directly to the shrine of Amaterasu, where I drove off the oni. I arrived home late at night, and Akane poured me a vase of sake and put me to bed. The next morning, I knew I would simply have to arise and go back to Ichimen.

When I have time, I must tell the tale of this morning… and then the tale of this afternoon.

My Dream Foretold Woe, And So It Has Come To Pass

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

On Sunday night, I had a dream. The nobles had decreed that we might no longer kill our enemies in the field. Instead, we had to drag them to Castle Noriaibasha and execute them there. Of course, this would be completely impossible, and would bring all our efforts to a halt. But one cannot explain such things to nobles who have their minds set on doing something idiotic. Especially in a dream, where logic is in short supply.

I woke up on Monday morning with this dream fresh in my mind, fearful that it was a bad omen for the week.

It is beginning to seem that my fears were correct. Yesterday, I got news of a disaster in Nagoya, just as I was racing to the capital to meet Akane to deal with some of our business with the minor bureaucracy of the Emperor’s court. I had no time to deal with the problem… and when I was done at court and went to Nagoya, I could find no trace of it! All that panic, for nothing.

And there were reports of multiple Ayamari in Shiryō-no-Hako, but the samurai teams were engaged in pitched battle at the gates to that district, so I could not even get inside it at all.

Still, yesterday was more productive than today. Today, I arrived at the Castle to find that there had been a mix-upproblems with my LAN account and ID, too intricate to describe here, but related to my recent transition from contractor to FTEproblems with my LAN account and ID, too intricate to describe here, but related to my recent transition from contractor to FTE in the papers giving orders to let me into the armory. The new gate guard denied me entrance, and so I had no weapons with which to do my job. (Yes, of course ninjas know how to get past guards and gates. But using such skills against one’s own employer is a very bad idea.) I was able to attend one planning meeting, but aside from that, I achieved absolutely nothing of any consequence in my entire day. And, due to the ineptitude of the quartermaster’s departmentcertain IT and HR policies are making it very difficult to fix this situationcertain IT and HR policies are making it very difficult to fix this situation, there is no assurance that I will be able to accomplish anything tomorrow. Even the best ninja can do little with no kamaTechnically, a kama is simply a farming tool. It’s like a sickle, or a small, one-handed scythe. Since farmers make up a huge segment of feudal Japan’s population, there’s nothing suspicious about carrying one around. And ninjas like to avoid suspicion.

If you take a chain with a weight or hook on its end and attach that to a kama, you’ve got a kusarigama… much more useful as a weapon, but also obviously a ninja weapon, instead of a farming tool.A farming tool, like a sickle or a small, one-handed scythe. Commonly used by ninjas because they arouse no suspicion – farmers are everywhere, after all. or manrikigusariA chain weapon with weights at both ends, which can be used for striking or entangling.A ninja weapon consisting of a length of chain with stuff at one or both ends. Generally has weights at both ends, but occasionally one weight will be replaced by a hook. The weapon can be used for entangling (by wrapping a weight around an enemy’s limb) or for a direct strike with one of the weights. It can also be used to entangle an enemy’s weapon with one end, then strike the enemy’s body with the weight on the other end. They hate that.

When the chain has one end attached to a kama, it’s known as a kusari-gama. (Kusari means “chain”; when it’s the second item in a compound word, it becomes -gusari. Similarly, kama becomes -gama in compounds.)
.

In my dream, I could accomplish nothing because of the decisions of some of my clan-mates. In reality… I can accomplish nothing. And it is because of some of my clan-mates’ decisions, even if not the nobles.

Everything Falls Apart

Saturday, June 11th, 2011

The Teitōken campaign is in a shambles.

For all of its history, the Teitōken campaign has been part of the greater, overarching Futa Jūichi-yon schedule. In order for us to meet that schedule, all enemies in Ichimen and the surrounding forests and wilderness had to be neutralized by June 20th.

On Thursday, as it became clear that this was never going to happen, the nobles made a decision: The entire campaign was shifted to the Mitsu Jūichi-rei schedule. This would give us another full month to get everything complete…

…but things are never that easy. In addition to all the foes we’ve been worrying about, there has been a resurgence of the Mōjin resistance movement. We can no longer ignore them.

To make matters worse, the Tendai priesthood is insisting that we capture the suburb of Koyōshi, on the outskirts of the Keishutsu district. Kento is quite upset at this news; he asks, “Where were they during all the strategy meetings? We showed them the maps, we asked them if there was any other territory we might need. They said nothing! Why do they think they can suddenly ask for new conquests now?!”

I agree with him completely, but there is no arguing with them.

Finally, because I am now a full member of Clan Noriaibasha, I must have entirely newI can’t use my previous login any more. I have to switch to a new employee ID and a new user login on my work computer.I can’t use my previous login any more. I have to switch to a new employee ID and a new user login on my work computer. weapons with the clan crest on the pommels and scabbards and so forth. I am sure it doesn’t matter to my enemies if the manrikigusariA chain weapon with weights at both ends, which can be used for striking or entangling.A ninja weapon consisting of a length of chain with stuff at one or both ends. Generally has weights at both ends, but occasionally one weight will be replaced by a hook. The weapon can be used for entangling (by wrapping a weight around an enemy’s limb) or for a direct strike with one of the weights. It can also be used to entangle an enemy’s weapon with one end, then strike the enemy’s body with the weight on the other end. They hate that.

When the chain has one end attached to a kama, it’s known as a kusari-gama. (Kusari means “chain”; when it’s the second item in a compound word, it becomes -gusari. Similarly, kama becomes -gama in compounds.)
I strangle them with has a tassel in the Noriaibasha clan colors just behind the grappling hook or not, but it does change the weapon’s balance and slows me downThis means I have to set up and reconfigure a huge number of things to customize the new login the way I had the old one working.This means I have to set up and reconfigure a huge number of things to customize the new login the way I had the old one working..

That’s not even counting the fact that I spent almost all of Friday waiting aroundAlso, my new login doesn’t have administrative privs, and I’ve been given a new email account that none of my co-workers know about yet… and loads of stuff is still sitting in the old inbox. It’s kind of a nightmare, and I’ll be talking to IT support on Monday.Also, my new login doesn’t have administrative privs, and I’ve been given a new email account that none of my co-workers know about yet… and loads of stuff is still sitting in the OLD inbox. It’s kind of a nightmare, and I’ll be talking to IT support on Monday. for the quartermaster to issue me weapons, and the weaponsmith to sharpen and polish them for use.

Finally, Seijun still has the idea that we will somehow vanquish the previously-identified AyamariDespite our having pushed the entire release deadline back by a month, he seems to think we’re still going to fix all the bugs that had been identified before the date was changed, as if we could have met that deadline. We were going to have a hard time meeting that deadline in the first place, but moving the code to a new branch (which was required as part of the deadline-shift) cost us at least a day.Despite our having pushed the entire release deadline back by a month, he seems to think we’re still going to fix all the bugs that had been identified before the date was changed, as if we could have met that deadline. We were going to have a hard time meeting that deadline in the first place, but moving the code to a new branch (which was required as part of the deadline-shift) cost us at least a day. by the old June 20 deadline. Seijun is deluded. I will have to explain this to him on Monday.

A Foul Ending to My Week

Saturday, June 4th, 2011

On Thursday afternoon, I was busy in Ichimen when I received an urgent message from one of the Nichiren priests. He and Haruna and some of the others had come across a problem in the ongoing Kanezukai campaign. I had fought in the early stages of that campaign, back in the fall. They needed my help with an enemy lurking in ancient, cramped Fujiwara-kyō. The time I had to spend on that was time I couldn’t spend in Ichimen on the Teitōken campaign.

That may be part of why I got to the castle on Friday morning to find a message from Seijun, asking: “There are still a great many Ayamari in the city walls of Ichimen. Are you having trouble? Do you require aid?”

This is not the first time he or Kento has asked me if I needed assistance with this phase of the campaign. But this time, I found that even more of them had flooded into the city since I left on Thursday night. I finally gave in and said yes, please send another ninja to help.

After a while, Kento showed up with Satonori, and instructed me to give Satonori a quick orientation in the streets and alleys of Ichimen. The rooftops are somewhat more complex terrain, so he will be handling the kamaTechnically, a kama is simply a farming tool. It’s like a sickle, or a small, one-handed scythe. Since farmers make up a huge segment of feudal Japan’s population, there’s nothing suspicious about carrying one around. And ninjas like to avoid suspicion.

If you take a chain with a weight or hook on its end and attach that to a kama, you’ve got a kusarigama… much more useful as a weapon, but also obviously a ninja weapon, instead of a farming tool.A farming tool, like a sickle or a small, one-handed scythe. Commonly used by ninjas because they arouse no suspicion – farmers are everywhere, after all. work on the ground while I deal with the remaining chain-wielding enemies. If the situation is still dire on Monday, Kento will see if Haruna can assist us, too.

Did that resolve matters? It turns out — no, it did not.

As I was battling on the rooftops of Ichimen, a message came from Hoshiakari: The shrine of Amaterasu was under attack, yet again, by the usual oniA supernatural creature. Usually translated into English simply as “demon”, but oni combine aspects of demons and ogres. Like Western demons, they have horns on their head and colored skin (generally red or blue). They also have sharp teeth, which may be fangs or tusks. Like ogres, they live in mountains and wilderness places, and are generally depicted as being larger than human scale (generally about 8-12 feet tall). They usually carry long clubs with studded iron on the striking end, and are sometimes dressed in animal-skin loincloths.Often translated as “demon”, but also similar to an ogre: Humanoid, generally 8-12 feet tall, with red or blue skin, horns on its head, fangs or tusks, and a large, iron-shod club. Usually lives in mountains and wilderness.. Yes, in broad daylight. The creature is becoming bolder!

There was nothing I could do while busy fighting on Clan Noriaibasha’s behalf. The news simply weighed on my mind until sundown, when I left to go home. Akane and I went to the shrine in the dead of the night, surprising the monster with the suddenness and fury of our attack in the rainstorm that was going on.

As usual, the oni escaped at the last moment. I must find a way to purify the shrine once and for all!

In the meantime, this week has been long and difficult, and I am a very tired ninja.

Meetings I Want to Go To

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

Now that I am a full member of Clan Noriaibasha, I am allowed to attend the special meetings that happen twice every week. On Tuesday and Thursday mornings, we city fighters of the Keitai Team meet with the Nichiren priests, the artists and carpenters and the tea masters. We discuss matters of philosophy and artistry and strategy and battle, and how all these things are interrelated, and how they affect our Way and our relations with the peasants in the areas we control.

These meetings are — with occasional exceptions — restricted to full clan-members only. Kento allowed me to attend one early in my tenure here, and it was most enlightening.

Now, I can attend whenever I want… except that I am so busy trying to rid Ichimen of Ayamari, there is no time for me to spend in meetings that aren’t directly related to the Teitōken campaign!

On that score… there are 32 Ayamari that we must kill by the end of the day tomorrow. And fully half of them are ones that I must slay, by myself. I will be quite busy.