ninja_coder: (ninja coder writing)
( Nov. 27th, 2008 10:20 am)
Yesterday was a very bad day for ninja coding. Commander Kobushi took me aside for a talk.

It should come as no surprise that I have been having trouble at Clan Nettobuku. I have not been keeping up on my assassinations, and it has taken me much longer to accomplish them than any of the other ninjas here. Clan Nettobuku is dissatisfied with my performance, and I cannot blame them.

The clan needs another Sōtō Zen monk to assist Airi, and so Commander Kobushi says that if I desire, I could don a robe and learn the sutras. Of course, I would not earn as much gold — for each eight gold pieces I am paid now, I would make only five as a monk. But it would be something.

I have spoken with Akane, and we have decided that it is not right for me to try to become a monk. More importantly, it's not right for me to stay there. I have already spent a few afternoons at Castle Nettobuku silently thinking to myself: "I hate it here." If I go back now, it will only be worse — especially as I'll be trying to learn a completely new trade, in a situation where I have already failed. And I wanted to leave Nettobuku anyway, and time spent in their castle is time that I can't spend in Yagyū, meeting with members of other clans.

So, on Monday, I will go back, hand them back my sansetsukon and retrieve my other pair of tabi, and take my leave of Clan Nettobuku. And then I will devote all my time and energy to finding a new clan, as fast as possible.
We had thought that our enemies, the Reki clan, were defeated. Now we discover that a pocket of them still exists, and is building up their strength in Nagoya, the steep-roofed city. I must go to Nagoya today, and slay them.

This is no job for the kama alone; I will need my manrikigusari and the special grappling hooks for dealing with Nagoya's roofs.

And while I'm there, I also need to deal with the petty Ayamari that escaped me yesterday. It will be a long, hard day, full of annoyance. But Akane and I are going to a big party in Iga Province tonight, so I'll be able to relax after all this roof-work.
ninja_coder: (ninja coder writing)
( Oct. 30th, 2008 05:12 pm)
I hate Nagoya. It is filled with uncouth people. Its streets are crooked, squalid and ill-kept. The roofs of its buildings are steep, slippery, and uneven. The city guard are everywhere, and there is never a moment to rest.

After a full day in Nagoya, and after many battles with city guards and Oda's troops and random Ayamari, I am still no closer to slaying my target. I have many leads, most of which were only acquired by laboriously beating the information out of a few members of Nagoya's underworld. But the merchant himself remains beyond my grasp.

It is nearly nightfall. I will try once more, to see if I can find victory before I return to Iga for the weekend. (I am taking tomorrow as a special holiday.)

I hate Nagoya.
I have performed an extremely useful task for Clan Nettobuku, which will make life much easier for all of the clan's ninjas whenever we need to work in Nagoya, the chief city of Oda's lands. After much sneaking and infiltration in the city guard's headquarters and even in the regional lord's castle, I have secured some of the special grappling hooks that can gain a purchase on the city's rooftops. The city guard keeps a very tight grip on these hooks, and the penalty for being caught with them is death by torture.

But with these hooks on our manrikigusari chains, Bunmei, Jimon, Benjirō and I can go anywhere in the city, instead of being restricted to the streets and alleyways — and the city guards' many checkpoints. True, the rooftops themselves are still steep, slippery, and dangerous. But we will persevere.

My reward for bringing these valuable items back to the castle? The Nichiren abbess, Jīya, demanding to know about my plans for wintertime holidays, so she can plan the most auspicious times for company meditations. "I needed to know this yesterday!" she said. Truly, it is good to have one's efforts given the proper importance.

As further improvement of my day, I then attended a meeting in which Jimon taught the rest of the warriors about his new kata, which will be important to our work in the central provinces of Kawachi and Yamato. Of course, Jimon's kata are very pure examples of the Living Stone style. Perhaps I am simply overreacting to a slight overdose of Living Stone (and maybe also to Jimon himself), but his latest kata remind me uncomfortably of the Sturdy Pillar ryū that so annoyed me at Clan Iwinaga.

And, beyond that, Jimon... is not the best instructor. A good instructor can make difficult and complex matters simple and easy to understand. Jimon's presentation is disorganized and cursory, and may actually make simple matters seem more difficult than they truly are. He admits that he will not be writing any instructional scrolls, and that we all will simply have to study the movements on our own.

But no matter. I will study, and I will learn what is good in the Living Stone ryū, and I will not let what is bad in it cause me to reject the entire path.

And tomorrow, I will use the special Nagoya hook to track down and slay a merchant in Nagoya, a man who it turns out is aiding both our Ātosugijei and Reki enemies. I will keep my skills sharp, and when the new year comes, I will find a better clan.
I spent part of my weekend practicing more kata with the ninja-ken, only to discover that there may soon be a massive upheaval in the ranks of the ninjas. The news is traveling far and wide that the weaponsmiths have made decisions that will make it awkward to use the new batch of ninja-ken. Even the yamabushi have heard about it, and are looking at us with some mixture of sympathy and pity.

But there are still a great many clans that rely on ninjas. Not just ninjas, but ninjas who use the Pagoda Bearer school of ninja-ken fighting. Awkward or not, I'd best make sure I'm still skilled with it.

In the meantime, I have also paid another visit to Ōtsu, and am quickly getting acquainted with the new order of things there, under Lord Mitsuhiro. The local underworld is thriving, and there are many contacts and "people of interest" that I should befriend. The rooftops are still as inviting as ever for a ninja. And, while it doesn't actually affect my work in any important way, it's nice to see that there are a few new okonomiyaki stands where I can grab a bite to eat between assignments.

Back at work for Clan Nettobuku now, I have some difficult enemies to deal with in Hikone — it seems some real opposition is developing in the Ātosugijei district... and once I deal with them, Bunmei is busy with quite a few Ayamari, and could use an assist...
ninja_coder: (Default)
( Oct. 9th, 2008 12:13 pm)
Things are improving for me at Castle Nettobuku — but now there is trouble in Hoshiakari, my home village. (As the sages say, "In the landscape of spring, there is neither better nor worse. The flowering branches grow naturally, some long, some short." However, I am not a sage. I am a ninja.)

I have been uneasy in my heart, thinking that Jimon and Bunmei consider my skills inferior. I had supposed that their constant correction of my kata meant that I could not correct theirs. But Jimon accepted some correction from me yesterday, and said that I am good at adjusting stances for greater clarity and balance. Truly, all my worries have been in my own mind, not in the world around me.

But when I arrived in Hoshiakari, and attempted to do some minor purifications of the shrine to Bishamonten, catastrophe struck. An oni attacked the shrine by surprise, and the entire thing will have to be cleaned and re-consecrated. My yamabushi skills were rusty, and while I temporarily drove the demon off, I am fairly sure he will return tonight.

I had hopes of visiting the Tavern of the Scenic Overlook in downtown Kyōto today after leaving the castle, to drink shōchū with my friend Rei. But I will have to hurry home to Hoshiakari and try to reconsecrate the shrine, instead.
ninja_coder: (Default)
( Oct. 1st, 2008 03:24 pm)
After observing our clan applicant's basic kata and stances (and his difficulty with more difficult techniques), I set out on the road back to Nagoya, the tightly-guarded city. (You may recall that I have three targets there who must be slain.) I was unsurprised to discover that all three were gathered together, in a narrow, cramped section of the city where it's hard to swing a chain effectively.

I managed to take one down with my kama by surprise, but then the others scattered... and called reinforcements, who arrived almost immediately. These were not the usual city guard, but other, more personal allies. I should have known these three would have friends.

Given their numbers and range, I had to do some very clever work with my manrikigusari and grappling hook. In particular, the Mūtou hook was useful in catching and strangling one target, who wore the emblem of the Meisabokkusu mercenaries and was about to escape. (We've had some trouble with the Meisabokkusu before...)

I was able to remove two of them (and a few of their companions), but one still eludes me. Now I must chase him across the hostile rooftops of Nagoya. I hope my chain's links are strong enough...
I have been doing acceptable, if not inspired, work with my kusari-gama lately. But now comes a painful challenge: I have been assigned to assassinate three individuals of the Bāgu clan (one of our arch-enemies). These three targets are all in Nagoya, the stronghold of Oda.

General Oda Nobunaga rules Nagoya and the surrounding province with an iron fist. The populace there are downtrodden and terrified, and guards patrol everywhere. It is an unfortunate place for a ninja to have to go.

But I will go anyway, and do my best. I knew when I became a ninja that working in Nagoya would be necessary sometimes.

Edited to Add: Immediately upon entering Nagoya, I was set upon by the city guard. I have already had to do some truly impressive work using both the manrikigusari and the Jōgesen three-sectional staff techniques... and I haven't even gotten a line on any of my targets yet! Truly, Nagoya is a difficult city for a ninja.
ninja_coder: (Default)
( Sep. 26th, 2008 08:50 pm)
I was wounded today after dealing with an unexpected sneak attack last night — I slew the intruder, of course, but not before taking a nasty cut.

Despite my wounds, I persevered today, and worked hard to improve my skills, as I have vowed to do. Today, I performed my first successful Living Stone school kata using the Mūtou grappling hook.

And even if the sansetsukon kata Jimon and Bunmei have developed is difficult and intricate, I have begun to understand it. I will improve, and become an even better ninja, whether wounded or not.
I could try to describe this in ninja-speak, or I can just dump it in modern terms. Either way, I'll just use the established ninja names.

A week or so ago, Jimon was placed in charge of the front-end (urban-fighting) ninjas. Jimon is fairly new at my workplace. Like Bunmei and I, he's a pretty damn smart guy.

In fact, a large chunk of my distress comes from the fact that both Bunmei and Jimon are really smart guys. Either (or both) of them may honestly be smarter than me. They certainly have a hell of a lot of knowledge about Ruby, and Rails, and they're really well-versed in all kinds of cool-ass programming techniques.

Honestly, the two of them move pretty fast, and I'm really having trouble keeping up. I feel "old and busted", and like a tired, old dinosaur that's getting edged out by the newer, quicker creatures.

It doesn't help that Jimon is pretty good at pointing out when he thinks something has been done in a less-than-optimal way... but not nearly so prone to compliment something when it's done well. (Or maybe it's just that he actually thinks my stuff sucks. It would help if there were anything I'd done lately that I could point to and say, "I'm actually proud of that. I did a good job on that, and I know it.")

Half the time, I'm not sure what he's talking about, and I feel like I'm too stupid to understand. The other half of the time, I think he's just a really lousy communicator.

Regardless, I've decided that the best thing I can do is improve my own game. To the utmost. There's no sense in asking him, "Hey, do you just think I completely suck? Or are you great at slamming on stuff, but incapable of giving praise?" Nobody's ever going to respond well to that kind of thing. Instead, I should simply work to "lengthen my line", as Joe Hyams learned from Ed Parker. Improve my own skills, work on doing the best job that I can possibly do — and don't give a damn what anyone else is doing, or how well they're doing it, or even what they think of me.

That last bit is going to be the hardest part. I've always been a little too concerned with other people's opinions of me. But if I work hard enough on improving myself, maybe I can at least shut those doubts up for a little while.
I've gotten some good intelligence about the Meisabokkusu's whereabouts and movements, and have made a large dent in the Ayamari's numbers. (Indeed, I had at least one occasion when I checked my list of targets to see who was next and found that I'd already killed that guy earlier, because he'd gotten in my way while I was taking out a completely different Ayamari.)

But now, I have many of the Ayamari of Torānzu on my list. And when I stopped by our weapons cache in Torānzu, I found that the weapons there are unusable. The sansetsukon's middle segment is badly splintered, and the manrikigusari has a broken link.

I don't know who the baka was that returned these things to our weapons store when they were in such poor condition. I have alerted Jīya to the situation, and hopefully she'll track down the culprit.

In the meantime, I was here early. I may as well leave early. I can't get anything done in Torānzu at the moment.
Last night, I arrived home to find Henshukoku under attack by gaki, bedeviling my love, Akane. Though she fought valiantly to keep them from being able to harm any of the other people of Hoshiakari, she could not actually drive them off.

Luckily, I remember some of the ways of shugendō, and was able to send them flying far from our village. Still, it was a long and tiring battle, and the spiritual combat and chanting of shugendō doesn't make my blood hot like ninjutsu fighting does.

This morning, I hear yamabushis' horns blowing, far off in the wilderness. And when I investigate, I find that there is great unrest among the temples of Tenjin, and anyone who has any relations with Tenjin (that is, practically everyone in Nippon) must perform some purification and burn some incense to cleanse their shrine.

Since I am as close as Hoshiakari has to a priest, I must perform more of a yamabushi's duties, as soon as I have a chance. It's a good thing Clan Nettobuku gives me the opportunity to creep across rooftops a lot. (Speaking of which, I need to quit writing this stuff and get on the road to Fujiwara-kyō.)
ninja_coder: (Default)
( Jul. 21st, 2008 02:59 pm)
I am spending all my time running back and forth between Heian-kyō, the ancient capital, and Nara, where some of our contacts dwell. Bearing these messages in and out of the cities is an important job, requiring a ninja's stealth.

Tomo just found me on the road, and let me know that there is unrest in Heian-kyō. "One of our contacts there has been slain," he says. "Strangled, apparently by a chain weapon. We will have to track down the perpetrator."

This will probably involve a whole lot of rooftop work. Normally, I like working on the rooftops... but have I mentioned how the architecture of Heian-kyō involves a lot of really sharply sloped roofs, and some very shiny and highly-polished tile? It's slippery stuff.

This is going to suck.


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