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.

Yes, there are Ayamari all over Ichimen. This makes me very grumpy. But, oh Sōtō Zen monks of Clan Noriaibasha: Just because there are Ayamari all over, that does not mean that everyone you see is an Ayamari!

Please stop telling me that people are Ayamari, then letting me discover that they are actually peace-loving peasants who just happen to look vaguely similar to Ayamari fighters that I killed last week. It wastes my time.

And I have very little time to waste, right now. Because there are Ayamari all over the city. That much is true.

(I am starting to wonder if some enemy wizard or demon has cast a spell that is misleading our monks in their meditations. Or perhaps Sachiko and her team back at Clan Iwinaga have spoiled me?)

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.
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.
Today, General Wāro and the Ōmi Team took me out to a local steak house for a farewell lunch. Sachiko and her Sōtō Zen monks came, as well, and we all enjoyed fine food and each others' company. I found that the restaurant even has fine shōchū of a type that I've been enjoying lately, so I had a glass.

Since my impressive display last Sunday, Araki has been treating me with new respect. He keeps asking me about chain and grappling-hook techniques, and takes my advice on matters of urban strategy and tactics. Still, this is not enough of a change to keep me; Clan Iwinaga is too focused on samurai, mounted combat, and fighting on open plains.

But they do know how to treat their people, and it was quite enjoyable, sitting there eating finely prepared fugu and drinking daiginjyo shōchū for lunch (and watching Araki have a bit too much sake, so that he was amusingly sloppy with a few of his kata when we returned to the castle!).

Tomorrow, we have a clan-wide meeting to discuss our achievements over the past three months. Then, we have an enkai before I leave forever, and return to Iga for Arisa's and her husband Benjiro's party.


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