Now that I have settled in at Clan Noriaibasha, I should describe some of the other clan members. I cannot describe them all, for Noriaibasha is a mighty clan of thousands, but here are the ones I work with most often:
My captain is Kento, a ninja who is climbing in rank, and may be on his way to becoming a higher-level officer. I report to him on a regular basis. He assigns me duties, and I carry them out.
I and Kento and everyone under him report to Tsukimi, a Nichiren priestess of pleasant demeanor. She is in command of a platoon called the Keitai Team, which is theoretically assigned to activities in Kusatsu and its immediate environs — but in practice, we members of Kento’s squad perform operations all over Kansai.
There are a great many rooms, halls, and dōjōs within Castle Noriaibasha, and each clan member is assigned to one or another. This gives us a place to keep our uniforms, weapons, and whatever other tools we need to carry out our duties. (Just as we ninjas need a place to store our black outfits, masks, and shuriken, the priests must have a place for their robes and incense.)
I am assigned to a chamber with four others. (Like me, the others are assigned to Noriaibasha by other clans.) Nearest me is Ginsaku, another ninja with urban fighting skills who started at Noriaibasha one week after me. There are also Fumiaki, a priest of the Shoshū Buddhist order, and Chifumi, who is a junior priestess of the Tendai sect. Finally, another Shoshū priest named Jōichi is assigned to our chamber, but is often away at his devotions, or conferring with abbots and nobles.
Two other warriors on the Keitai Team are Akinori, a seasoned samurai who is skilled with both long and short swords, and Riki, an enthusiastic and likable young fighter who is generally assigned to Kusatsu.
There are a great many other priests and priestesses who guide various campaigns, and my assignments keep me constantly moving among them. This month, I am most busy with the Kanezukai campaign, which is headed by a woman named Risako. As I have already written, she and I have similar ideas about Harmony and the treatment of peasants, and we already have a strong working relationship.
Finally, I must mention Taka, the servant woman who works with the clan’s supplies and organization division. It is a mistake to think that servants are of no consequence.
Without her, who would clean my soiled ninja uniforms after a hard day’s fighting? Who would supply the tea that do many of us drink in such quantity? (Truly, I have noted that Clan Noriaibasha has quite excellent tea supplies.) And when we need to send messages, who would bring paper, brush-pens, and inkwells?
The “lowly” positions are ones without which any organization would collapse in days, just as the peasants include the garners who produce the food that feeds everyone in Nihon — even the Emperor himself. The list of Noriaibasha’s people would be incomplete without mentioning Taka.