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.

This was originally published at The Tales of the Ninja Coder. You may comment here, if you wish, but Ichirō invites you to comment at his humble blog.

In every town and city in Nippon, in these days of eternal strife, one can find the Mōjin fighters. They are always ready to attack an unwary warrior. Like ninjas, they like to operate in stealth; they will never attack a target who has his wits about him. It is only the unwary who fall prey to their surprises.

But how to be on guard against them? Their tactics are strange, and their ways unknown to most fighters.

There will be a gathering of warriors and strategists soon, to discuss this very question. Many sages, fighting monks, and senseis will be there, ready to teach and explain the techniques they have developed. It is some distance to travel, for the gathering is in Hiroshima, on the shore of the Seto Inland Sea, far west of Kansai.

We cannot send all of the fighters on the Keitai team to this gathering (much though we wish we could!). Kento regrets that he cannot go. But I am one of the warriors who had been honored by being chosen to go and represent Clan Noriaibasha. Along with Satonori, I am instructed to train and learn, and bring back the teachings to Tsukimi’s team.

Along with us two ninjas, the clan is also sending Jun-ichi the scout, who has shown himself to be quite expert at spotting the Mōjin, and his friend Daichi, a monk of the Amidist branch of Buddhism, sworn to serve the needs of the poor and dispossessed.

Thought Jun-ichi and Daichi will be helpful, still Satonori and I are the only warriors attending from Noriaibasha. Being chosen is an honor, and it shows that I am well-regarded.

This was originally published at The Tales of the Ninja Coder. You may comment here, if you wish, but Ichirō invites you to comment at his humble blog.

Today is my last day as a member of the Somei-gumi.

As I mentioned earlier, way back in March, Clan Noriaibasha offered to bring me into the clan as a full member. Such things are never quick or simple with such a large clan as this one, but all the preparations have finally been completed.

The Somei-gumi approves of my departure. Indeed, they are proud of me and wish me their sincere congratulations.

On Monday morning, I will go through the ceremonies and rites that will formally induct me into the clan. Perhaps my long years of clan-hopping and searching for the proper post are finally over? I hardly dare to hope.

This was originally published at The Tales of the Ninja Coder. You may comment here, if you wish, but Ichirō invites you to comment at his humble blog.

Late on Friday afternoon, I was preparing for my presentation on Hakkā attacks when Kento asked to speak with me. Of course, I am always ready for such things; he is my captain. But I was not ready for him to lead me away to one of the private chambers of the castle. What could he want?, I wondered.

He wanted to ask me if I would be interested in becoming a full member of Clan Noriaibasha.

I asked him for more details. Would I spend more time at the castle? Would the clan’s physicians be able to tend to Akane as well as me? What other arrangements would change?

It is likely that I would have to spend more time at the castle, but not much. (This could be changed if only we could find a few competent warriors to pick up the load.) Also, I would have more holiday time. The clan’s physicians would be able to care for Akane, which is a good thing.

I would no longer be in the same chamber with Ginsaku and Fumiaki and Chifumi; I would have my own chamber and locker.

I still must inquire about how much gold I might earn. If Noriaibasha no longer has to pay the upkeep of the Shomei-gumi, they may be able to save money while paying me more.

Regardless, this is a very good thing. I have been thinking of it over the weekend, and I have checked in with my contact at Shomei. I will shortly go to Kento and tell him: Yes.

In the meantime, there are other things afoot, of which I must write soon.

This was originally published at The Tales of the Ninja Coder. You may comment here, if you wish, but Ichirō invites you to comment at his humble blog.
I recently left messages in Yagyū, stating that I am no long a free, independent, unemployed ninja. As a result, I have received a message from General Wāro, who was my commander when I served with the armies of Clan Iwinaga.

When I was turned away from Clan Nettobuku, I sent a message to General Wāro, asking if he would give good reports of my performance at Iwinaga to other clans that might be interested in me. I received no response at that time.

I think that he may have been hurt by my departure from Clan Iwinaga. It is never wise to tell one's current clan when one is seeking to leave and find another one. However, General Wāro was always a perceptive and insightful man, and I suspected that he realized that I was making inquiries in Yagyū.

When I told him of my successful negotiations with Clan Nettobuku, he seemed stunned. I still regret having surprised him like that, for he was a quite excellent commander.

Since I received no response to my messages, I assumed that the General was still upset with me. But I recently received a message that said: "I understand you have found a new clan. I wish you congratulations. You are a skilled warrior."

I do not know what to think of this.

However, I do not have time to worry about it now. I must leave for Edo soon.
There has been much turmoil in my life recently. Some has been good, other parts... not so good.

I shall have to travel to Edo tomorrow, and I will not be back in Iga for nearly a week. When I return, however, I shall have the honor of reporting to Castle Tenya, in Ōtsu. My negotiations with Clan Tenya have been successful, and I will be joining their clan.

This is most happy news for Akane, for I will now be earning gold once again, and so we shall be able to feed ourselves. For me, it is both a triumph and a challenge, for I have (as always) doubts about my skills. Clan Tenya is a very martial clan, composed almost entirely of warriors of one sort or another. Even the clan's lord, a man named Yutaka, is not a noble. Instead, he is a warrior of no small renown, the originator of a very elegant kata sacred to Hachiman, called "Yutaka's Blade".

Clan Tenya, as you may guess, is concerned with ensuring that it has only the best warriors. And I am concerned, because I doubt that I am so highly skilled.

However, their castle is much quieter than Castle Nettobuku was, so I have some hope that I may be able to concentrate enough to perform my duties. The noise and chaos of Nettobuku was a prime reason why I fared so poorly there.

I have gone to Yagyū, the town on the edge of Iga Province where heralds and clan scouts go to recruit new warriors, and taken down the scrolls that describe me as available. In their place, I have placed scrolls noting that I am now busy, and no longer open to meetings with heralds. In the process, I have learned more of Clan Nettobuku's current state.

It seems Clan Nettobuku has not fared well. The clan is coming apart, and has recently been forced to abandon many members in order to conserve its treasury. I am filled with conflict. I wonder: Is any part of their current misfortune due to my actions while I was there? And also, I wonder: If Jimon and Bunmei had listened to my concerns, and adopted more of the techniques I advocated, would their strategy then have been stronger? Or weaker?

I have no answer, and I doubt that I ever will.
On Friday, I received a message from Jinsei. He says that the Totemo Akarui-gumi is not making as much money as it needs to, and they can no longer afford to have me on the staff. There were a a few missions they still needed performed, for the Midori-Jimusho clan...

I have now performed them, with honor, and have nothing left to do for Totemo Akarui.

In the past few days, I have also ensured that the troubles facing my friend Arina have been dealt with. And I have spent some time in the town of Yagyū, where heralds and messengers from the various factions in Nihon's eternal war come to find skilled warriors. There are many small, newly-formed groups that need ninjas and other fighters... but I am beginning to think that my future lies with a larger, more established army.

Even if they are more staid, more conservative and traditional, I think it might be for the best if I no longer had to deal with the instability of the newer groups. Sadly, they seem to be the only ones using the Jōgesen-ryū style, but that's okay. I can

Amon says he will give good report of me to those who may inquire. Still, I find it hard not to feel like I have once again failed.
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.
Last night, after spending a bit of time studying the Jōgesen ryū and improving my knowledge, I went out to enjoy some music and dancing in Ueno, the capital of Iga Province. There, I noted some handbills that said that Clan Iwinaga is looking for a warrior skilled with the weighted-and-hooked chain. It seems they still haven't found a good replacement for me.

Then, at the inn, I met two of the Buddhist priestesses that I once knew in Clan Iwinaga. It seems the clan has had to purge even more members, citing a shortage in its treasury.

Even if still feel very subordinate here at Clan Nettobuku (and I do), I am still in a better place now than I was then. I must remember this.
ninja_coder: (ninja coder writing)
( Oct. 10th, 2008 12:17 pm)
In the past few days, I have taken part in some talks between Jimon and Bunmei concerning our kata styles, and the forms and ryū we use. I have used some of Jimon's new kata in my recent activities, and...

I must admit, I have never really integrated Living Stone ryū techniques into my repertoire as fully as I should. They make it easy to improve a sequence of strikes, to adapt to changing situations. But in my early learning, I rarely had to deal with such changes. It was always too easy for me to get by in my self-taught Journey of a Thousand Steps style.

Now, when I can see at the very outset that something will fit well into Living Stone, I willingly use those techniques... but otherwise, I go down the wrong path, and later have to adapt things. It is not efficient.

And the insistence of the mounted samurai that everything should always be done in Living Stone style, even the smallest actions (that often make a very poor fit for it) has not helped matters any. The insistence on using Living Stone and Heavenly Patterns for everything is foolishness. But just because some fools have spoken of it does not make the entire school folly. My tendency to avoid it when I should embrace it more easily is folly.

Beyond that, I need to let go of my desire to focus on the small details of the movements and strikes. I need to look more at the larger patterns of kata, or even of the flow of combat between many warriors in a full battle. I have spent long enough looking at trees, and twigs; I must focus more on groves and on forests.

Truly, knowledge is ever-unfolding; there is no mastery, for the greatest master is still but a student. I must always continue my studies.
ninja_coder: (Default)
( Sep. 5th, 2008 02:29 pm)
It is no news to those of us in Clan Nettobuku that Bunmei is very busy lately, trying to move from his current home in a faraway village to a place nearer to the castle.

When I first joined Clan Nettobuku, Bunmei was the lead ninja among the city fighters. Recently, Jimon joined us as a third ninja.

Commander Kobushi just informed me that, since Bunmei is so busy, he has had to step down as lead ninja, and Jimon has taken his place. Apparently Jimon has prior experience leading teams.

It has probably not helped that I have been somewhat gruff and unapproachable while working, and I have not been shy about pointing out problems. I point them out so that we might fix them, but I am afraid this has been perceived as not very leader-like.

I am displeased, with myself as well as with the clan.
Today, I was at Castle Nettobuku for nine hours. Seven of those hours, I spent in meetings to discuss the successes and failures of our most recent campaign, and to plan the upcoming campaign.

One other hour, I spent simply reading scrolls of possible battle plans.

Last night, when I realized that I had to return to the castle this morning, I started drowning my worries in sake. Today, when I got home, I immediately started drowning my accumulated stress in shōchū.

I think I am growing weary of Clan Nettobuku.

I became a ninja to creep across rooftops and kill people, not to spend all my time in meetings. But I left Clan Iwinaga and joined Clan Nettobuku in order to rise in rank and duties.

I am not unaware of the conflicts between these things.
ninja_coder: (Default)
( Aug. 18th, 2008 10:32 am)
I have been extremely busy lately, battling on behalf of Clan Nettobuku. As directed by the Nichiren Buddhist priestesses, we have been carrying out a variety of operations in Izumi, and I've gained a little knowledge of the area. I've also been working with the Mūtou grappling hook, and have achieved some basic proficiency in the Jōgesen style. (At the same time, while I'm using the manrikigusari every day and learning a lot about the sansetsukon, I can tell that I'm getting pretty rusty with the ninja-to and bo staff.)

Certain of the cities in Izumi are now firmly "my territory" — in Toranzu, for example, I know the streets, alleyways, and rooftops quite well. And I've been working in the forests a bit, too, which is good. I don't like to be too firmly restricted to the cities, and any good ninja should be at home in the woods.

But I have been working so hard, I've had no time or energy for other pursuits. There is much shugendō to be done in Hoshiakari after the recent events there, and I have been too tired to do it. I come home every day from Castle Nettobuku, and sometimes Akane pours me some sake. Occasionally, I'm so stressed and exhausted, I have a few glasses of shōchū.

We have just added a new ninja, Jimon, who will be working with me and Bunmei. He started on Friday last week, and I helped him access the armory and get some weapons sharpened. We also have a new Nichren abbess, named Jīya, who has been pressing for more organization and righteousness in our actions.

I should really add these people to the list of people in Clan Nettobuku. (And I should also note there that Chiyoko is no longer with us.) Plus I should make a few updates to the pages that describe the various ninja terms. When I have time.


ninja_coder: (Default)


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