Archive for June, 2012

Breaking My Long Silence

Saturday, June 30th, 2012

I am not dead. I assure you of this.

I have been quite busy. The word for this summer is 「結婚式」、 or “kekkonshiki”, which is Japanese for “marriage ceremony”. Last year, I asked Akane if she would marry me, and she was delighted to say yes. The ceremony itself will be later this summer, and we are both consumed with preparations. Relatives will be arriving from all over Nippon, and many of our friends from here in Iga Province will be attending as well. It will be an occasion of much joy, but it also requires much planning and effort.

Aside from this, the Saitekika campaign proceeds apace. Every day, I must meet with the Nichiren priests and sometimes even the Tendai priests, to ensure that our path is Righteous and Harmonious. When there is time between those meetings, I must go to the cities we are trying to capture, and find our enemies and slay them.

And finally, I have resumed progress on my own Kongōshu style. After a day of battling Noriaibasha’s enemies with the chain and 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., it’s nice to come home and get out the sansetsukonA three-sectional staff. Looks vaguely like a nunchaku with an extra section. Famously used as an intimidation technique by one of the bad guys in Raiders of the Lost Ark, who smiled evilly and then folded it up into a coat-hanger.

Three-sectional staff; weapon that looks like a nunchaku with three sticks instead of two. and keep up my skills in the Steel Road ryūA school, tradition, or style in martial arts.A school, tradition, or style in martial arts..

But all of this leaves me very little time to write these tales. I regret that this is not likely to change soon. Some time ago, I wrote that I would be updating more frequently. I must now change that; I should not promise that which I cannot deliver.

There may occasionally be short messages. And these tales will not cease altogether. But I do not know how often I will be able to write them.

This Mission is Ready to Go

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

By some miracle the four-hour meeting has been moved to tomorrow, and replaced by a mere one-hour meeting. I am completing my observations of Lord Eizō’s defenses, just to be sure I can achieve my goals later on. Then I will go back to Castle Noriaibasha for the short meeting…

…and after that, when I return here, Lord Eizō will not know what has hit him!

Added 5:10 p.m.: One of those days when everything takes far too long. First I attend the meeting, only an hour long… but then I must write up a scroll for some of the priests, describing how they should handle certain combat situations if a warrior isn’t around. Then I start getting ready to go, and notice my 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. handle is developing a nasty crack in the wood. And my tabiThe split-toed boots commonly worn by ninjasthe split-toed boots commonly worn by ninjas soles are worn smooth — very bad for footing in the middle of a mission!

Because of this and that, I am only now — finally! — arriving in the field. I have little time to make my incursion into Lord Eizō’s castle. but I must; tomorrow i sutterly dominated by meetings, and Kento told me on Monday that he wants me to have Lord Eizō taken care of before the end of the week.

How quickly can I possibly do this? Especially without making a mess of it and getting myself killed?

Let’s find out.

Running Late

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

After two days of observing his castle and watching the comings and goings of his guards, I think I have spotted a weakness in Lord Eizō’s defenses. If I can slip inside, I may or may not be able to kill Lord Eizō himself, but I can certainly sow enough discord and confusion amongst his troops to ensure that they cause us no trouble until it is far too late.

But there is that inconveniently-timed meeting with Clan Hekoayu this afternoon — every Wednesday afternoon, for four full hours. (Truthfully, there is never a “convenient” time for a meeting that long.)

If I were on time, instead of “on Ginsaku time”, I might be able to make a useful incursion into Eizō’s castle. I must get better about that.

An Important and Dangerous Mission

Monday, June 11th, 2012

Skillful reconnaissance has discovered a new enemy: The sponsors of the Keiten Mokuba army. They are backed by a powerful consortium of merchants and nobles called the Dōga-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.. They are well stocked with chain fighters, including a dangerous group headed by the notorious daimyōA feudal warlord; the leader of a clan and/or army with a significant area of land under its control. Usually also has aims to expand his holdings; many daimyō are trying to become rulers of whole regions, or even of all of Japan. Pronounced “dime-yo”.A feudal warlord; the leader of a clan and/or army with a significant area of land under its control. Usually also has aims to expand his holdings; many daimyō are trying to become rulers of whole regions, or even of all of Japan., Eizō.

As Clan Noriaibasha’s pre-eminent chain fighter, I have been chosen to eliminate this threat. I am honored, and only slightly daunted.

It will be my task to slip through Eizō’s defenses, penetrate his castle, and assure his demise. If I can also discover any of his correspondence with the rest of the Dōga-gumi, so much the better, for I must launch an offensive against that gumi as soon as Eizō falls — while his troops are in the greatest disarray.

I have already started scouting Lord Eizō’s security. It seems he has some sharp-eyed archers as part of his guard staff. I must be quite careful — if I am spotted, there is no hope. If I am well prepared, I can pluck one arrow from the air as it speeds toward me, but two at once would surely leave me quite dead.

How to Advance Without Meaning To

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

A few days ago, I was talking to Akane about the difference between various clans I have been a member of. She claimed that my life had never been so good at any clan before this; I noted that it was nearly as good at Clan Iwinaga, but I had left because it seemed I had no opportunity to advance my career there. Here at Noriaibasha, I said, I still have no real chance to become a leader or captain, but I no longer care; I am content to be a rank-and-file fighter without needing to seek advancement.

“But,” she said, “if you wanted to advance at Clan Noriaibasha, I have no doubt you could.” I agreed this might be true, but it was irrelevant.

Today there was a lunchtime feast, to rally all the troops and others who have been part of the Shiemesu Raisei and Saitekika campaigns. Various nobles and priestesses of the prestigious Tendai order spoke about how we are making great progress. While chatting with Amon, Kento and Makishi, Amon introduced me to one of the Tendai priestesses.

“This is Ichirō, one of our ninjas,” he said. “Ichirō fights in the cities, and he is very skilled. Even when Kento thinks an enemy would be too difficult to kill, Ichirō often speaks up and says, ‘Actually… I know a way I can eliminate that person.'” I tried not to blush, and thanked him for his very kind words.

Later, one of the ikebana masters under Kento’s command, a man named Torai, came to see me. He had a question, one which he said he would normally ask Kento. “But I have looked, and he seems not to be here in the castle right now. So I thought I would ask you, since you are Kento’s right-hand man.”

I simply answered Torai’s question at the time, and did not express the astonishment I felt in my heart. Right-hand man? Kento has said nothing of this… but as I look at the missions he sends me on, and compare them to other missions and duties that Sakito and Satonori are assigned, I begin to see that I am highly valued on Kento’s team.

It seems Akane was quite right. She is wise.