Posts Tagged ‘rooftops – a ninja’s home away from home’

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.

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.)

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.

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.

All That We Have to Fear…

Sunday, May 1st, 2011

Sometimes, the enemies you’re most scared of turn out to be those in your own mind. In my mind, I had imagined 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 Hikone would be a terrifyingly dangerous foe, skilled on rooftops and deadly with the 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.
. But I would not let fear keep me from my duty.

I went to Ichimen, hoisted myself up to the rooftops, and started searching for him. Atop the Nanashi-ji Temple, there is a high vantage point. From there, I could see many parts of the city. A little west of the temple — right near the intersection of Shiryō-no-Hako, Kuraberu-no-Hako, and Migaku — there’s a marketplace full of food stands, with an inn on one side. And there he was, buying some yakitori for a snack.

Stealthily, I crept to the roof of the inn. It would be in bad form to attack him in the marketplace, frightening all those civilians. Instead, I threw a kunaiA blade-like implement with a ring at the pommel. In ninja tales and movies, the kunai is often used as a throwing weapon, although the original was a digging tool more akin to a trowel or chisel.
A blade-like implement with a ring on the pommel. In modern ninja tales and movies, the kunai is generally used as a throwing blade.
into the wood of the table he was sitting at, making it easy for him to track the angle back to my position atop the roof. As he looked toward me, I stood up with my kusarigama at the ready, then pointed it at him. A challenge.

He threw his meal aside and came to meet me.

I gave him space to clamber up the side of the inn, waiting 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. in a salute position. If I was to die this day, I had no wish to have my last moments be anything less than honorable.

Shinobianother word for a ninjaanother word for a ninja!” he cried, “You have met your doom!” And he flourished his kusarigama in a threatening manner, then dropped into stance… And I saw that his center was not focused. I sprang to attack, and he deflected me, but not well.

He counter-attacked, and I blocked it easily. And I realized that I was better than him, and he was starting to see it, too.

After that, it was simply a matter of time. He gave a brave account of himself, but in the end, he could not stop me from sinking my kama blade into his chest. As he slumped onto the roof of the inn, I whispered in his ear, “I am sorry, my brother. You fought well.”

In the future, I must remember never to let fear become my master. That way lies destruction.

A Great and Deadly Battle Awaits Me

Friday, April 29th, 2011

I knew I’d have to fight this guy some day. The Sōtō Zen monks have now identified him as a major obstacle to our Path. The day is today.

He is 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. from Hikone, skilled in rooftop fighting, and a master of the Bright Square tactic. I know I should be worried but… honestly, I’m kind of looking forward to the challenge.

This is the late part of the campaign, where all our careful planningthe code we’ve written over the past few monthsthe code we’ve written over the past few months turns to chaosgets put on the QA servers, and the bug reports come flooding backgets put on the QA servers, and the bug reports come flooding back. All military campaigns go this way eventually. And any conflict that you avoided in the beginning eventually becomes inevitable. The toughest foes become the only ones left.

And defeat them you must, or you will never achieve victory.

My 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.
is sharp and my tabiThe split-toed boots commonly worn by ninjasthe split-toed boots commonly worn by ninjas laced up tight. I’m off to the rooftops of Ichimen, to find this enemy who lurks — according to the monks — in the Shiryō-no-Hako district. It may take until Monday before I find him, but when I do… one of us will fall.

Nearly Done in Ichimen

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

After a couple of hectic and bloody days, I’ve gotten things largely squared away in Ichimen. The Keshimasu and Soroemasu gangs are both completely destroyed. The evil merchant who was causing trouble in Migaku and Keishutsu turned out to be an easy target. The Mitsugao gang, with their operations in three different districts, were much more difficult, and the Hikone mercenaries were… well, a single trained warrior can be a much harder opponent than a pack of undisciplined gang rabble.

But I have slain them all. (There’s always the chance the Ayamari will move into the power vacuums I’ve created. But that’s a problem for next week, not today.)

I still have to clear some enemies from Denyūmado. The Shimasu clan, a perpetual bother.

For now, I am sitting on the roof of an inn in central Denyūmado, eating a tasty sushi lunch and scanning the streets below me. Seeing the movements of the people, looking for the Shimasu clan crest…

Devising a New Tactic

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

I’m going to have to use a Bright Square 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. to handle the Mitsugao gang. Clan Noriaibasha has a standard Bright Square tactic for use in urban fighting… but it was only intended for use against small groups, of no more than 5 opponents.

The Mitsugao gang has at least 15 members, maybe 20 or so.

I will have to improvise. I will have to extend the clan’s standard technique, and make it much more powerful. Sadly, I doubt my improvements will become part of the clan’s regular ryūA school, tradition, or style in martial arts.A school, tradition, or style in martial arts.; really, we should not have ever tried to use Bright Square in this situation at all. And we should not do so again. (If we ever do try it again, we should do it my way, but really, we should tell the nobles: “No. We may only use Bright Square under certain specific conditions, and these are not on the list!”)

I am still quite busy with handling Seijun’s team’s sudden crises. This is the part of a combined operationan AJAXified web appan AJAXified web app where we must all work together, in perfect coordination, to achieve victoryensure that my client-side code and their server-side code all integrate properlyensure that my client-side code and their server-side code all integrate properly. I just wish I could coordinate with Seijun’s team as well as I once did with Teruyoshi, back when we both fought with the Yaneuragumi“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..

Death From Above!

Monday, March 21st, 2011

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of lying in wait for someone. Especially when you think you’ve got their moves figured out, and you think you can take them… but you’re not quite sure.

I’m at the gate between Ichibanyōshi and Keishutsu. I came in across the rooftops, having seen the Hikone mercenary step away to a nearby noodle restaurant for his lunch. My 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.
is ready; my Jeikyū hook is sharp.

I’m lurking in the upper curve of the gate when he gets back. My vantage point is beautiful. I can watch as he prepares to shake down another traveler for gold…

Then I drop on him.

The chain goes around his neck; the hook entangles his already-drawn sword, and I yank, hard. Follow up with a roundhouse kick, to be sure. The mercenary’s would-be victim is stunned, motionless. I put one finger to my lips, just in front of my mask, and softly say, “Shhh.”

I quickly untangle my chain from the mercenary’s body. With my tantoA dagger or utility knife, made in the same style and gracefully curved shape as the samurai’s katana and wakizashi pair.A gracefully curved dagger or hand-knife, in the same style as the samurai’s katana and wakizashi., I cut off his insignia patch, then also cut his purse away from his belt and take it with me. Hooking my chain back into the top of the gate, I start climbing out of sight. Just before vanishing, I tell the terrified onlooker: “You can scream for the city guard now.”

While they’re distracted, I’ll be heading for Shiryō-no-Hako to take out the Mitsugao gang. Soon, they’ll wonder just how many ninjas they’re dealing with.

Ready to Attack My Week

Monday, March 21st, 2011

This morning, I stopped by Castle Noriaibasha very briefly. In the chamber that I share with the others, I said hello to Fumiaki and Chifumi. (Ginsaku, as usual, had not arrived yet.) Chifumi will soon be leaving us to join one of the clans of Settsu Province, headquartered in Naniwa. Today, her replacement has just arrived from the monastery, and Chifumi is training her.

I made my polite greetings, then took 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 locker and departed for Ichimen. I have much to accomplish there before tomorrow is done.

In one week, we shall have two more warriors in the Keitai Team to assist me and Ginsaku. Two of the fighters I have recently tested were able to perform the Three-and-Five Strike, and have accepted positions with our clan. Haruna is a somewhat junior kunoichiA term for a female ninja.A term for a female ninja.. She is shy and deferential, but she has good warrior skills. With some training, I think she will be quite deadly. Then there is Denkurō, who is more skilled and experienced. He knows how to use the Jeikyū grappling hook, and has experience in city fighting and rooftop combat.

In the meantime, I have now arrived at Ichimen, and I’m ready for a little rooftop combat of my own. The Machigaeru gang are running scared, but not yet vanquished. And there are still those Hikone mercenaries to deal with.

There were storms and rain over the weekend, and I hope the roofs will not be too slippery. May AmaterasuOne of the greatest Shinto deities, and specifically the Goddess of the Sun.One of the greatest Shinto deities, and specifically the Goddess of the Sun. shine Her sun on me today! I will need luck to assist my skill, for I have so very much to do.