Posts Tagged ‘don’t mess with ninjas’

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.

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.

Griping About Work While Enjoying Many Weapons

Sunday, April 15th, 2012

After a week or so of my work consisting of nothing but 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. fighting, and the occasional kusarigamaA common ninja weapon: a one-handed scythe/sickle with a length of chain attached to the handle. The chain has either a hook or weight on the end of it.A common ninja weapon: a one-handed scythe/sickle with a length of chain attached to the handle. The chain has either a grappling hook or a weight attached to the end.

The scythe/sickle part alone is a kama, and is a common farming tool. With the chain attached, it’s pretty obviously a weapon, and would be treated as such by any authorities one might encounter.
action, it’s kind of nice to get back to other things. I am now practicing my Kongōshu style in the yard outside my house in Hoshiakari. This is my own offshoot of the Steel Road ryūA school, tradition, or style in martial arts.A school, tradition, or style in martial arts., so of course, it requires 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..

I have not used the sansetsukon in a few months, so of course I am rusty. Still, it is quite refreshing to use my muscles in ways that are different from what I have done for the past few weeks.

Speaking of which: I have done almost nothing with the ninja-tōThe short sword most associated with ninjas. Note that unlike the katana and wakizashi carried by samurai, the ninja-tō was straight rather than curved. It was roughly the length of a wakizashi.

The ninja-tō was also generally of inferior workmanship compared to the more expensive blades available to samurai. Even if a ninja could acquire a katana, it would be too long and unwieldy to carry on most missions; ninja generally relied on smaller weapons like the shuriken and manrikigusari, and on more deniable weapons like the kama.

“Ninja-ken” is another perfectly acceptable name for this weapon; it’s like the difference between saying “ninja blade” and “ninja sword” in English.The short sword most associated with ninjas. Note that unlike the katana and wakizashi carried by samurai, the ninja-tō was straight rather than curved. Also known as a “ninja-ken”. in the past few weeks, despite all the distractions of the Tsuiseki project. Even though I am part of the project, and keep having to be on hand for the purifications of the Bishamonten shrine, I don’t get to do any of the actual fighting — we have Shinju the mercenary do that.

And various warriors and sages in Kansai have recently been giving their opinions about the ninja-tō lately. One warrior claims it is an absolutely horrible weapon, made from inferior steel, lacking the graceful curve of a katana, too short, and without even the stylistic elegance of his beloved nunchaku.

Then there is a ninja who has responded that the way of the ninja is that of getting things done even with inferior tools. It is somewhat amusing to note that he does not attempt to refute the other man’s argument… he simply says it’s irrelevant to ninjas.

Even if the ninja-tō is an inferior weapon, I find it better to know how to use two or three different weapons, and not be restricted to just one all the time. And it’s nice to be able to fight in the forests as well as in cities.

Going After the Naihō Cadre

Monday, April 9th, 2012

Sakito is sick today. This means I don’t have to coordinate every move in Sanigata with him. Instead, I can just go after the Naihō Cadre and try to eradicate them. Or at least whittle down their numbers.

They are quite professional and skilled. There is no way I can take on all of them at once. I will have to use the stealth and guile of a ninja, and attack many of them from hiding, when their comrades are not around.

Wish me luck!

Later: I have discovered a terrible thing about the Naihō. They are not only active in Zaiseikyōiku… they may be found throughout Sanigata. I have found a squadron of them in Ogaribamen, and I overheard them mentioning their comrades in Bumon.

Luckily, I think the same tactics may work on nearly all of them… only the ones in Zaiseikyōiku seem to have chain fighters; these others appear to be 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.-only types. Or so I hope.

I’ll have to try it, after the mandatory Keitai Team meeting. For now, I must return to Castle Noriaibasha.

Later Still: I have been tracking this pair of Naihō warriors for nearly an hour now, since finishing my lunch. I think I understand their tactics. It is almost time to strike! All I need to do is make sure there are none of their comrades within calling distance…

Even Later: The battle was long, hard, and grueling. I am glad I spent so long observing these warriors before attacking them; they were quite skilled. But in the end, my kama abilities were greater than theirs. Yatta!A Japanese word that translates loosely as "I did it!" or "Yay, success!"A Japanese word that translates loosely as "I did it!" or "Yay, success!"

I think I understand their style, and I can now be confident of being able to take on any of the kama-only Naihō fighters and defeat them. It’s the guys 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.)
s that I’ll need to watch out for… but they can wait until tomorrow. Or even Wednesday, because Kento tells me there is still trouble in Masugata.

Even in victory, a ninja’s work is never done.

Do Not Make a Ninja Angry. You Wouldn’t Like Him When He’s Angry.

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

Someone in Clan Hekoayu needs to die. Possibly multiple someones.

For some weeks now, they have been providing us maps outlining the territories we’re supposed to be capturing and subduing. In many places, these maps are extremely detailed. This is no coincidence: It is because we specifically required them to give us very detailed maps. After all, we are the ones who will have to operate in these territories, waging life-or-death battles.

Yesterday, I was in Zaiseikyōiku, following the map I had been given. It claimed that the little alley past the marketplace was an excellent shortcut to the back window of the Iron Monkey inn, one of the more important taverns in town. Being able to sneak in the back could be quite important.

Imagine my surprise and dismay, then, when I went down the alley and found a small building up against the back wall of the inn — completely covering the window. Imagine also that it was nothing compared to my surprise and annoyance at finding that the building housed a group of thugs affiliated with one of the gangs of the town center.

Luckily, they were also startled by appearance. Luckily, I have much practice in quick-draw techniques, and was able to pull out 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. and defend myself before the first one’s attack could strike me. And luckily, I was able to escape unharmed.

Whoever produced this map should not be so lucky.

I spent the rest of the afternoon checking other details. There is a place where the map says the gap between two buildings is eight feet wide. It is actually ten feet. If I had attempted to leap that gap unprepared, I could easily have fallen to the street below, risking broken bones or even death.

I have reported the problem to Amon, Makishi, Kento — and of course, to Sakito, who is the only other actual ninja in the field, and who is hence relying on these maps just as much as I am. I have urged them to escalate matters to the priests and the nobles, and to ensure that someone has harsh words with Hekoayu.

For now, we cannot trust anything in these maps. It seems that at least nine parts out of any ten are correct. In any ten claims that the map makes, only one is incorrect. But which one?

Another Day, Another Target

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

I am back in Zaiseikyōiku, alternating between scouting and actual stalking. There are many enemies here, and Sakito and I must each be diligent in hunting them down. We have made a division: He is taking everyone west of Shiiteki Street, and I will handle the east side of town. It was not easy to decide on Shiiteki Street as the boundary line, but we surveyed the various gangs and 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. and other foes in all parts of the town, and decided that the ones on each side of that border should prove roughly the same amount of difficulty.

The eastern side of town being closest to the docks, it is also where the highest buildings are, and where there is the most chance of rooftop action. I will be meeting with Makishi on Thursday to see if there’s any chance of any rooftop fighting in my future.

In the meantime, there was a rōnin from Heian-kyō who started off in Sakito’s territory. But he just crossed into the east side of town, and now he’s mine. I’m closing in behind him, and 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. is nice and sharp.

An Assignment Full of Blood

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

There is a small city in Sanigata called Ogaribamen, which we must soon take control of as part of the Saitekika campaign. For the past few days, I have been tasked with trying to devise a way for my fellow-ninja, Sakito, and I to collaborate on this task.

Today I have new orders: I am to go there myself. Alone. Once there, I should scout around enough to find all our opposition — then, slay them all! It seems Sakito is busy at the moment, and Kento is confident in my ability to kill our enemies without needing assistance.

Just the sort of assignment I enjoy. The only way it could be any better is if Ogaribamen were a large enough city to make rooftop fighting practical. But, as it stands, there are a fair number of enemies there. Soon, I will have them all identified. And shortly after that — most likely, tomorrow — the carnage will begin.

Added a little later: I have arrived in Ogaribamen, found a good sushi restaurant, and gotten myelf lunch. (One of the most tragic things about winter’s coldness is that it makes it too cold to really enjoy sushi. But now spring is on the rise, and we are having the first, early, warm days!)

Now I am sitting at a table outside the restaurant, calmly eating my sushi… and watching the town’s activity around me. I have spotted a few Ayamari already, as well as members of the Shōgakukin and Taishoku clans, who we often have to battle against. This is the art of hiding in plain sight, scouting the enemy while being unseen.

But now my sushi is done, so I must go.

My Chain Is Still Mighty

Friday, November 18th, 2011

I have spent the past few weeks mostly scouting, lurking in alleyways and reconnoitering territories in Sanigata. On the rare occasions when I’ve found enemies who must be removed, it has been a simple task to slay them with 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..

Aside from those few, occasional instances of combat, I have spent much time in meetings with Clan Hekoayu.

Yesterday, I spent hours doing kama practice, learning the hikichigaido maneuver, trying to understand it — or at least make it work correctly. Having reached the point where I can follow it by rote, I went back to Yokuaru Shitsumon this morning. There is a warrior there who I needed to kill, for the good of my clan.

After much waiting and lurking, I finally spotted him. Quickly, in my mind, I recalled the motions of the hikichigaido attack. As he drew close to me, I sprang from my concealment and attacked with my kama.

He blocked the first strike, but the hikichigaido is a two-part attack. With my left hand brushing across his eyes, I whirled and completed the maneuver… leaving him dead at my feet!

I was slightly surprised that it had worked. I was even more surprised to see two of his allies coming toward me — and one of them pulling a kusarigamaA common ninja weapon: a one-handed scythe/sickle with a length of chain attached to the handle. The chain has either a hook or weight on the end of it.A common ninja weapon: a one-handed scythe/sickle with a length of chain attached to the handle. The chain has either a grappling hook or a weight attached to the end.

The scythe/sickle part alone is a kama, and is a common farming tool. With the chain attached, it’s pretty obviously a weapon, and would be treated as such by any authorities one might encounter.
from his belt!

It has been too long since I got to use my chain skills. I am afraid I may have gone a bit overboard… both of my attackers were on the ground in moments. I made a quick getaway, knowing that Yokuaru Shitsumon is now safe for our forces.

The only way that could have been better is if I’d had an excuse to use the rooftops. Sadly, Yokuaru Shitsumon is one of the small towns of Sanigata; there’s just no point.

A Good Day In Nagoya? How Is This Possible?

Thursday, October 13th, 2011

I arrived in Nagoya earlier today, went through the city gates disguised as a simple farmer, and then headed for the areas Furashi is known to frequent. Slipping my 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.)
from its hiding place under my tunic, I quickly hoisted myself up to the rooftops and started scanning the streets for him.

After about a half-hour of surveillance, I spotted him leaving a tavern. I moved to intercept him, and was able to rendezvous with him easily. He appreciated receiving the message from Raitsu, and had only a brief verbal report for me to carry back, with no hurry needed.

Then, on my way out of the city, I heard the sound of a fray. And a familiar kiaiA shout or yell in martial arts, delivered at the same time as a strike. It helps the martial artist focus their power.A shout or yell in martial arts, delivered at the same time as a strike. It helps the martial artist focus their power.… I darted through an alley, leaped over a wall, and found Ginsaku in fierce combat with another warrior. On his sleeve, I saw the emblem of the historic city of Fujiwara-kyō — not a place known for producing dangerous fighters, but this one was giving Ginsaku serious trouble.

So I stepped in, coordinated with Ginsaku, and we both finished him off.

Astoundingly, I went to Nagoya today, and nothing bad happened! I even got a chance to engage in some combat, when I had thought I’d be simply a courier! Truly, this is a historic day.

I have since returned to the castle, and had a meeting with Riki, one of the Nichiren priests overseeing the Saitekika campaign. But perhaps I can tell about that tomorrow.

Killing Bandits in Iga

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

Clan Noriaibasha has had very little for me to do of late. This is no hardship, but it is rather boring. There is only so much time one can spend practicing 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. in the castle courtyard.

But tonight, I have found a task that needs doing in Iga Province, near to Hoshiakari village.

In a nearby town, a priest of Amaterasu is bedeviled by bandits in the woods near his shrine. Such unrighteous miscreants cannot go unpunished. I creep through the mountain terrain, hidden amongst the trees and bushes, ready to destroy them as soon as I find them.

It is good to help out my own province.

This is the kind of job where the gleam of light off a blade might give me away, so I am using 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., one in each hand. I can stow the jō in my belt when needed, and simply use the bō for reach.

Ahead, I see some light. As I creep closer, I see that they have lit a campfire for the night. This will be too easy. I smile beneath my ninja mask, and prepare to throw a smoke bomb into their fire, the better to disorient them and claim the benefits of surprise…