Archive for July, 2011

The Reconsecration of the Shrine, and the Last Days of the Teitōken Campaign

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

Akane and I have successfully reconsecrated the shrine of Inari. We have even strung a new shimenawaA consecrated rope used to wrap and delimit holy ground in Shintoism. Usually hung with holy paper streamers.

As usual, Wikipedia has more information, including some pictures.A consecrated rope used to wrap and delimit holy ground in Shintoism. around the premises.

Happily, we were done in time to visit the wonderful local restaurant, which makes some of the best okonomiyakiSomething like a cross between a pancake, an omelet, and a pizza. Flat, fried batter with meat and vegetables mixed in, and sauces on top.Something like a cross between a pancake, an omelet, and a pizza. Flat, fried batter with meat and vegetables mixed in, and sauces on top. in all of Kansai. It was quite delicious!

The following day — yesterday — I went back to Castle Noriaibasha. Nobody seems to have noticed my absence the previous afternoon, or if they did, they didn’t mind. Over the past two days, the Teitōken campaign has been slowly and painfully winding down. Every time I think things are done, they find one more pocket of resistance. These are rarely in the city; Seijun’s team has been quite busy rousting out foes in the forest. But occasionally, a message of great and terrible urgency tells me to proceed to Ichimen and find such-and-so target.

Tonight should be the end of this. We are already a day past deadline. I have spent part of the day reading the scrolls and maps pertaining to the upcoming Shiemesu Raisei campaign; that should occupy much more of my time tomorrow.

For now, I have an appointment to meet an old friend in the capital for a sushi dinner.

Almost Ready to Reconsecrate the Shrine

Monday, July 25th, 2011

I have begun making preparations to re-consecrate the shrine of Inari in Hoshiakari. It will be a difficult task, for I am not truly a priest. But as one who was once a yamabushiThe yamabushi were (and still are) a group of mystical ascetics who live high in the mountains, practicing a nature-based spiritual path called Shugendō. In the world of the ninja coder, they’re invaluable to any clan that aims to conquer more than a tiny territory, because their knowledge of the trails and mountain passes is critical for moving troops and supplies from place to place. The word “yamabushi” is both singular and plural; it can mean the group or a single mountain man.Mystical mountain warriors who know the trails and passes in the mountains, and can help clans move troops and supplies around. The word “yamabushi” is both singular and plural; it can mean the group or a single mountain man., I have some understanding of mystical matters… and then there are the skills of a ninja, which involve some techniques that touch upon the spirit world.

Most important, Akane will be assisting me. Her help is always invaluable.

I will leave Ichimen earlier than usual tomorrow, so that the reconsecration can be done at sundown. The entire shrine will have to be cleansed, purified, fumigated with holy incense, and consecrated anew.

And I am bringing both a bō staffA fighting staff, generally about six feet long. Similar to the European quarterstaff. Often carried by mountain men and travellers as well as dedicated warriors.A fighting staff, generally about six feet long. Similar to the European quarterstaff. Often carried by mountain men and travellers as well as dedicated warriors. and a jō stickA 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., to be prepared for any type of yōkaiAny supernatural creature. Includes ghosts, demons, monsters, shapeshifters, spirits, possessed objects, and so on.Any supernatural creature. Includes ghosts, demons, monsters, shapeshifters, spirits, possessed objects, and so on. that might try to thwart this last ceremony. I may not use metal weapons in the shrine, but I have been practicing my jō moves, and I feel confident that I will be able to do whatever becomes necessary.

Afterward, Akane and I hope to refresh ourselves with a celebratory meal at a restaurant near the shrine. It is very tasty, but we hardly ever get to go there, being too busy with the shrine itself.

In All Things, There Is Unending Change… But Not Always For the Better

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

As always, everything is in flux. Kento tells me that the training sessions to begin the Shiemesu Raisei campaign have been postponed by a week. This means that my schedule for next week is completely unknown. (But perhaps this means I will finally have some time to re-consecrate the temple of Inari in Hoshiakari — I have been laying some plans in that regard, and this may be the opportunity I need!)

All the Mōjin have been driven from Ichimen. However, every time we think the Ayamari are gone, more show up. I suspect there is some sort of secret Ayamari lair somewhere, with a hidden tunnel that allows the sneak in from outside the city. A pack of them surprised me during my battle with the rōninA masterless samurai, effectively an independent sword-for-hire. A samurai could become a rōnin if his lord died, or if his lord became displeased with him and effectively fired him. During the Sengoku Jidai, things were very loose, and some samurai voluntarily left their lords and went in search of other opportunities, becoming rōnin temporarily until they could find new lords. Some peasants even declared themselves to be samurai, and then went in search of lords to take them in — for them, being a rōnin was a step in their personal advancement plans.

The word rōnin literally means “wave-man”: the image is of a man who wanders endlessly, without direction, like a wave on the ocean. At the end of Pulp Fiction, when Jules Winnfield says his plan is to “walk the earth… like Caine from Kung Fu”, he’s effectively saying he’s going to become a modern rōnin after leaving Marsellus Wallace’s service.A masterless samurai; a wandering warrior whose sword was for hire. from Mikawa yesterday afternoon. By the time I had dispatched them, the rōnin was gone.

I had already wounded him sorely. He may have died of his wounds later on, or he may have decided to leave the area entirely. Or he may come back to bedevil us next week. There is no way of knowing.

It may be just as well. This morning, it seems the younger brother of the bandit from Yoshino, who I slew over two weeks ago, has arrived to seek vengeance. Fortunately, he does not seem such a skilled fighter as his elder brother — but the Yoshino tactics allow him to fade back into the forest, and I cannot pursue without help fromI need a back-end guy with access to patch a file on the server, so I can see the results rendered as an HTML email. I don’t have the requisite access. They don’t have the requisite HTML/CSS skills.I need a back-end guy with access to patch a file on the server, so I can see the results rendered as an HTML email. I don’t have the requisite access. They don’t have the requisite HTML/CSS skills. Seijun or his team.

Needless to say, they are all too busy right now. If only one of them would become available for assistance, I could finish off this last foe.

The Campaign Draws Near to Its End

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

Only a week ago, it seemed this campaign would never end. But we seem to have run out of Ayamari. The group that seemed such an unstoppable tide before have now been exterminated. Haruna and Satonori have been detached from the Teitōken unit and sent to other fronts in the war.

Over the past few days, I have whittled down the Mōjin fighters, and they now seem to be gone, too. A pair of Sōtō Zen monks and the scout, Jun-ichirō, will verify that tomorrow morning. Even the bandit from Yoshino is gone. The Nichiren and Tendai priests are ready to proclaim this realm pacified and integrate it into our territories and power structure.

All that remains is to kill the rōninA masterless samurai, effectively an independent sword-for-hire. A samurai could become a rōnin if his lord died, or if his lord became displeased with him and effectively fired him. During the Sengoku Jidai, things were very loose, and some samurai voluntarily left their lords and went in search of other opportunities, becoming rōnin temporarily until they could find new lords. Some peasants even declared themselves to be samurai, and then went in search of lords to take them in — for them, being a rōnin was a step in their personal advancement plans.

The word rōnin literally means “wave-man”: the image is of a man who wanders endlessly, without direction, like a wave on the ocean. At the end of Pulp Fiction, when Jules Winnfield says his plan is to “walk the earth… like Caine from Kung Fu”, he’s effectively saying he’s going to become a modern rōnin after leaving Marsellus Wallace’s service.A masterless samurai; a wandering warrior whose sword was for hire. from Mikawa. My last battle with him was inconclusive. He escaped into Ichimen, and is lurking… somewhere.

I have until Friday to find him. That will be my last day on the Teitōken Campaign; starting on Monday, I will be assigned to a new campaign called Shiemesu Raisei. I know very little of what this campaign will entail, as yet. I know that it will be another long one, like Teitōken has been (and unlike, say, Kanezukai was). It seems it will involve widely-spread operations ranging throughout Yamato Province, and maybe also in Ōmi and perhaps Settsu. Beyond that? The campaign’s specifics are still somewhat mysterious to me.

I understand that the first week will involve hours and hours of training in one of the halls of Castle Noriaibasha. I have my suspicions that the training will be tedious, and by the end of it, I will be itching to get outside, clamber across a roof, and kill a half-dozen people.

A Busy Day Ahead of Me

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

Today promises to be very busy. In the afternoon, Seijun and I must meet with some representatives from Clan Seija, our allies who are assisting with some operations outside of Ichimen. I know they have encountered difficulties; I don’t know if we will go out to try to slay the enemies at once, or merely plan.

Also, we have determined that the rōninA masterless samurai, effectively an independent sword-for-hire. A samurai could become a rōnin if his lord died, or if his lord became displeased with him and effectively fired him. During the Sengoku Jidai, things were very loose, and some samurai voluntarily left their lords and went in search of other opportunities, becoming rōnin temporarily until they could find new lords. Some peasants even declared themselves to be samurai, and then went in search of lords to take them in — for them, being a rōnin was a step in their personal advancement plans.

The word rōnin literally means “wave-man”: the image is of a man who wanders endlessly, without direction, like a wave on the ocean. At the end of Pulp Fiction, when Jules Winnfield says his plan is to “walk the earth… like Caine from Kung Fu”, he’s effectively saying he’s going to become a modern rōnin after leaving Marsellus Wallace’s service.A masterless samurai; a wandering warrior whose sword was for hire. from Mikawa Province has obtained some enemy battle plans. By lunch time tomorrow, I must kill him and deliver those plans to Seijun and Rajan, so they can effectively counter the enemy’s strategies. But the rōnin from Mikawa will be no easy opponent. He is skilled on rooftops, and a powerful fighter with 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.)
.

In the meantime, I also have a nest of Mōjin fighters to deal with… but they could wait until Friday, if necessary. (I think it will be necessary. Even a ninja can only handle so many foes at once.)

Thoughts on Tokugawa’s Kabō Campaign

Monday, July 11th, 2011

Recently, Clan Tokugawa opened a new front in its war: A direct attack on the Kao-no-Hon gumi“group”Japanese for “group”; can refer to anything from a “five-person group” (a common work-unit in Japanese corporations) up to an entire branch of the Yakuza such as the Yamaguchi-gumi.. This is not the first time they’ve tried to invade Hikone; there was their Būn attack last year, and their Nami initiative. But Būn was a disharmonious and ill-considered plan that aroused even the Emperorthe US government, specifically the Federal Trade Commission, who hit them with some heavy penaltiesthe US government, specifically the Federal Trade Commission, who hit them with some heavy penalties — see http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2011/03/google.shtm’s displeasure, and Nami more of a curiosity than anything else. I’m sure Lord Satōyama, who rules the Kao-no-Hon, was laughing at both of those failures.

I do not think he is laughing now. The new Kabō Campaign promises to cause major trouble for the Kao-no-Hon gumi. Practically everyone in Kansai is talking about it; at least everyone who cares about the eternal war.

I am wondering… should I join this fray? I already ensure that these messages of mine are sent to Yumehaba; perhaps there might be some way to also send dispatches to the front lines of this new battle in Hikone? But I fear there is no way I could include the explanatory text that is so useful to so many people. Without those explanations, I think most people would be too confused by the life of a ninja.

Still No Improvement in the Teitōken Campaign

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

I still have no access to the armory.

The bandit from Yoshino is still around. I must find some time to coordinate with Seijun so that we can finish him off. And then there’s a rōninA masterless samurai, effectively an independent sword-for-hire. A samurai could become a rōnin if his lord died, or if his lord became displeased with him and effectively fired him. During the Sengoku Jidai, things were very loose, and some samurai voluntarily left their lords and went in search of other opportunities, becoming rōnin temporarily until they could find new lords. Some peasants even declared themselves to be samurai, and then went in search of lords to take them in — for them, being a rōnin was a step in their personal advancement plans.

The word rōnin literally means “wave-man”: the image is of a man who wanders endlessly, without direction, like a wave on the ocean. At the end of Pulp Fiction, when Jules Winnfield says his plan is to “walk the earth… like Caine from Kung Fu”, he’s effectively saying he’s going to become a modern rōnin after leaving Marsellus Wallace’s service.A masterless samurai; a wandering warrior whose sword was for hire. who’s just arrived from Mikawa province, who is skilled in rooftop fighting. Originally, I was supposed to ensure that was dead by tomorrow afternoon.

But I can’t do that just yet, because the nobles have determined that we must stage an orderly withdrawal from the district of Minichato, adjacent to Keishutsu. An orderly withdrawal is not the same thing as “just running away” — it means we must destroy certain caches of supplies and weapons so they cannot be used by our enemies when they take the territory. And it also means operating in hostile territory, where we may frequently have to fight off enemies while we take care of retreating.

And this takes priority over all else. The bandit from Yoshino and the rōnin from Mikawa will just have to wait. (Which means that soon I’ll be asked why those two are still alive, and I’ll have to explain that the retreat from Minichato is a higher priority.)