I arrived at the castle yesterday morning, collected my weapons, and went out to Zaiseikyōiku to see how things were progressing. Imagine my dismay when I discovered that Sakito had killed the wrong targets. I gave him very precise instructions, but he apparently did not understand them.

Luckily, the people he killed will not be missed… or at least, their deaths will not be traceable back to Clan Noriaibasha. He has at least that much competence at his ninja skills.

But the people we do need killed are still very much alive. Snarling curses upon Sakito and his ancestors, I set about finding and slaying them…

…only to be visited by Makishi, who asked me to return to the castle for a meeting with Sakito, Kento and him, to discuss our progress in Ogaribamen and Zaiseikyōiku.

I was very good. I did not state, “Sakito is incapable of following simple instructions.” Instead, I simply reported that we still have people to kill, and I am taking care of that today, and I had been doing so before I was pulled back to the castle. After the meeting was done, I spent the rest of the day in Zaiseikyōiku, frantically hunting down and killing enemies.

I have more to kill today. Then tomorrow there is another of those strategy-planning meetings which will occupy the entire afternoon. Before it starts, I have sworn I will have all our opposition in Zaiseikyōiku cleared away.

That is why I am very busy.

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.

Someone in Clan Hekoayu needs to die. Possibly multiple someones.

For some weeks now, they have been providing us maps outlining the territories we’re supposed to be capturing and subduing. In many places, these maps are extremely detailed. This is no coincidence: It is because we specifically required them to give us very detailed maps. After all, we are the ones who will have to operate in these territories, waging life-or-death battles.

Yesterday, I was in Zaiseikyōiku, following the map I had been given. It claimed that the little alley past the marketplace was an excellent shortcut to the back window of the Iron Monkey inn, one of the more important taverns in town. Being able to sneak in the back could be quite important.

Imagine my surprise and dismay, then, when I went down the alley and found a small building up against the back wall of the inn — completely covering the window. Imagine also that it was nothing compared to my surprise and annoyance at finding that the building housed a group of thugs affiliated with one of the gangs of the town center.

Luckily, they were also startled by appearance. Luckily, I have much practice in quick-draw techniques, and was able to pull out my kama and defend myself before the first one’s attack could strike me. And luckily, I was able to escape unharmed.

Whoever produced this map should not be so lucky.

I spent the rest of the afternoon checking other details. There is a place where the map says the gap between two buildings is eight feet wide. It is actually ten feet. If I had attempted to leap that gap unprepared, I could easily have fallen to the street below, risking broken bones or even death.

I have reported the problem to Amon, Makishi, Kento — and of course, to Sakito, who is the only other actual ninja in the field, and who is hence relying on these maps just as much as I am. I have urged them to escalate matters to the priests and the nobles, and to ensure that someone has harsh words with Hekoayu.

For now, we cannot trust anything in these maps. It seems that at least nine parts out of any ten are correct. In any ten claims that the map makes, only one is incorrect. But which one?

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 awoke before dawn today, to have a meeting with the samurai who will be fighting in the forests as part of a small project that I am assigned to. It is called Operation Iraisho. While she fights in the forests, I must handle some scouting in the small village of the same name, and ensure that there will be no opposition — especially not from a group called the Red Star gang (who often wear such an emblem on their kimonos). A nice, simple operation.

So I have been creeping through Iraisho, keeping alert and ready for any trouble. Along the way, Kento came to visit me. He had a few questions about another operation. When I answered them, I also said, “And things are quiet here. No members of Red Star in evidence.”

Red Star?” he asked. “But what about the Black Star gang?”

As you can imagine, I was quite confused. “I… was told to watch for a gang with red stars. Should I be looking for black ones, instead?”

In the end, I left the village, along with Kento, and we are going to talk to Kaimei, the Nichiren priest in charge of this operation. If I kill the wrong people, it will reflect badly on the clan!

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 was supposed to go back to Nagoya today. It’s not happening. (Not that I’m complaining.)

Early this morning, there was a meeting to discuss some of our strategies for dealing with peasants and understanding their needs and desires. I could have skipped it and gone to Nagoya… but it is good for me to stay aware of the clan’s larger operations, not simply the things I’m dealing with on any given day. (Besides, it kept me out of Nagoya for another hour.)

After that meeting, I found that there is a minor problem in Ichimen, the city we took during the Teitōken campaign. This problem will not be difficult to resolve, but it must be done very soon. So I prepared to go to Ichimen…

But then there was another meeting I had to attend, where a pair of our warriors demonstrated some new city-fighting techniques that will enable all our various teams to fight together more efficiently. Truly, these techniques are quite elegant, and it will be intriguing to use them in combat. But it will be some time before we receive actual training; for now, we have simply seen a demonstration.

Now that this meeting is done, I have an hour before I must attend yet another one. We must discuss Clan Hekoayu’s plans for our upcoming battle strategies.

I think I will not be going to Nagoya today. I will be lucky even to make it to Ichimen.

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 promised Kento I would go to Ichimen on Saturday and battle the Ayamari more. But as I prepared to leave Hoshiakari, a villager came running: “The oni is in the shrine! Again!”

Again? After only one day? And in broad daylight, for once? This was not its usual style. Cursing and moaning, I went to the shrine. Sure enough, there it was, as large as life and as ugly as ever. Its iron-sheathed club flashed toward me, and the battle was joined!

I had only a small jō staff, but I was fueled by my rage and frustration. I struck hard and fast, dodging the monster’s blows. One swing left it off-balance, and I dealt it a mighty blow on the side of its head. It fell down dead at my feet, and then its shape blurred and shrank down to the visage of…

…a wizard of the Hakka clan! Those who invade others’ territories by guile and duplicity, only to deface and destroy! This is an enemy I was very glad to have killed.

But has the oni always been the Hakka, wearing a mystical disguise? Or is it truly the case the Hakka simply heard about Hoshiakari’s oni problem and decided to exploit it for his own ends?

Regardless, the shrine must be re-purified and reconsecrated. I have plans for that operation, but they will take some time to put into effect. The Teitōken campaign is still absorbing too much of my time and energy.

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.

The Teitōken campaign is in a shambles.

For all of its history, the Teitōken campaign has been part of the greater, overarching Futa Jūichi-yon schedule. In order for us to meet that schedule, all enemies in Ichimen and the surrounding forests and wilderness had to be neutralized by June 20th.

On Thursday, as it became clear that this was never going to happen, the nobles made a decision: The entire campaign was shifted to the Mitsu Jūichi-rei schedule. This would give us another full month to get everything complete…

…but things are never that easy. In addition to all the foes we’ve been worrying about, there has been a resurgence of the Mōjin resistance movement. We can no longer ignore them.

To make matters worse, the Tendai priesthood is insisting that we capture the suburb of Koyōshi, on the outskirts of the Keishutsu district. Kento is quite upset at this news; he asks, “Where were they during all the strategy meetings? We showed them the maps, we asked them if there was any other territory we might need. They said nothing! Why do they think they can suddenly ask for new conquests now?!”

I agree with him completely, but there is no arguing with them.

Finally, because I am now a full member of Clan Noriaibasha, I must have entirely new weapons with the clan crest on the pommels and scabbards and so forth. I am sure it doesn’t matter to my enemies if the manrikigusari I strangle them with has a tassel in the Noriaibasha clan colors just behind the grappling hook or not, but it does change the weapon’s balance and slows me down.

That’s not even counting the fact that I spent almost all of Friday waiting around for the quartermaster to issue me weapons, and the weaponsmith to sharpen and polish them for use.

Finally, Seijun still has the idea that we will somehow vanquish the previously-identified Ayamari by the old June 20 deadline. Seijun is deluded. I will have to explain this to him on Monday.

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.

We are about to have some very major problems in Ichimen. Jōichi and I have just had a meeting with one of our scouts, who says that the Mōjin army is moving into the area. I will have to eradicate them from Ichibanyōshi and from Keishutsu. According to our scout, a man named Jun-ichirō, the Mōjin are already infesting Keishutstu, and will be very difficult to dislodge.

By the time we succeed in that, they may well have occupied Kuraberu-no-Hako.

In the meantime, our objectives in Ichibanyōshi continually change. Every time I think we have cleared all opposition, the nobles change their minds and decide that yet another group of people need to die. Seijun, the samurai, is getting worried about the schedule; he has the rest of the army’s movements to think of.

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.

By the end of Monday, I had done well in the Keishutsu region of Ichimen. As per the plan, I had wiped out the gang who meet in a hideout on Kochira Street. So I moved on to Ichibanyōshi and started scouting out the situation there.

This morning, I had a talk with Jōichi, and mentioned the gang on Kochira Street. “No, it should be Sochira Street,” he said. What? I looked at the campaign strategy, and there was bit of a smudge of ink over the first character in that word. And it seems there are both a Kochira Street and a Sochira Street in Keishutsu.

I must go back and find an entirely different gang to hunt down and kill.

Usually, I like this kind of thing. But in this case, we’re already behind schedule, and I feel like: “Didn’t I already kill these guys? Why do I have to kill them a second time?”

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.

Back in July, I met with one of the nobles and one of the fighters of Clan Ōkiten, who are based in Kamishichiken. This clan operates in the same areas as Clan Iwinaga, so my knowledge would be useful… and they also need ninjas with Pagoda Bearer skill.

But they are very busy and hectic, like a small upstart group, and I am not sure I would thrive there.

Today, I suddenly received a message from their herald. It is not simply a request for another appointment or negotiation; they want to actually offer me a position with the clan. I could use my ninja-tō, not the strangely curved wakizashi that Noriaibasha would require. I would roam the back streets and alleys of the pleasant Kamishichiken district, and never have to travel to Izumi Province…

But I do not think I would thrive. And negotiations with Noriaibasha are so close to being completely concluded.

I have told Ōkiten no.

And, almost like a blessing from Buddha, a few minutes later I received a message from Megumi, the herald of the Shomei-gumi: I can report to Castle Noriaibasha tomorrow to begin my service there.

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.

Even while Akane’s mother has been visiting, I have continued to meet with heralds and clans. And it seems my perseverance may have paid off! I have spoken with various fighters and other clan members of Clan Noriaibasha, and they have sent a message via their herald to offer me membership in the clan. However…

As one of the largest of the clans of Izumi Province, their security is paramount. They must have their agents investigate my background, and ensure that I am not a mole or other deep-cover enemy.

Of course, researching the background of a ninja from Iga is often an activity fraught with some peril, so this may take a bit of time. It is still conceivable that something might go wrong, but I pray to Kwannon that everything will turn out successfully.

In the meantime, I have gone to an interview with Clan Zajutsukura — yes, the ones who were once the on-again- off-again allies of Clan Tenya. They asked me to show them some sansetsukon kata, and I performed them well enough. (My recent practice seems to have been helpful.) Then they posed me some problems involving broad strategies and Shima-style net-fighting. Where they had only contemplated two ways of attacking the problem, I came up with a third strategy that combined the strengths of both. They were very impressed.

But sadly, they are a small, upstart group, with few warriors and no Zen monks, using ever-shifting tactics to try to pursue multiple campaign strategies at the same time. And their castle is full of the usual games and amusements, but has no privacy or places to concentrate. If I joined them, I would get to use the ninja-tō; and the Jōgesen style… but I know that I would not thrive. It would be a repeat of my experiences at Clans Nettobuku and Tenya.

Instead, I will pin my hopes on Noriaibasha. If I join them, it will be like my time at Clan Iwinaga: I will use the kama and manrikigusari, and specialize in city fighting. Occasionally, I will have to use the wakizashi, and there will be no occasion for me to use the sansetsukon or ninja-tō. I will have to deal with samurai, and work alongside them, and I won’t get to do forest fighting.

But there will be nobles who have experience leading, and Zen monks and Nichiren priests to guide us in the ways of righteousness and harmony. There will be enough treasury to keep the armies well stocked, and the clan will not be finding its way uncertainly, constantly stumbling and trying new things like an upstart group.

I have high hopes.

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 have just spoken with a man from a clan called Supurānku, who have need of fighters. They are growing quickly; already they are large enough to meet my size requirements easily. But they are still a young clan, and they retain the mentality of one. According to the captain I spoke with, the clan “strives to retain the culture of a small, young, and eager clan.”

This is exactly what I do not need. I told him of my misgivings, and this is a great step for me. Normally, when a clan’s representative tells me that they like my skills and they want to move forward with negotiations, I do not know how to say, “I am honored, but I must respectfully decline, for your clan’s Way and mine are not in alignment.” But I am learning, and I told the captain that I was doubtful.

It only makes me angry then, to have this politeness and professionalism returned by the sudden arrival of one of their heralds, who tried to convince me that I should continue negotiations with Supurānku, and that I will never find an army that gives me what I need. He proved entirely unable to notice my polite statements that we had nothing further to discuss, and I spent far longer talking to him — and listening to his unwanted pep talk — than he deserved.

So even as I am learning to say, professionally, “Your clan is not for me”, it seems I must work harder on learning to say, professionally, “You are irritating me and wasting both our time. You will go away, now.”

When the captain left, my impression of Clan Supurānku was simply that it was a nice enough clan, but not for me. Now, my impression is one of distaste and, honestly, anger. But I have no time for rage; I must put on my tabi and prepare to journey into Yagyū, to meet with a man from Clan Kaiketsusaku, who may perhaps be more reasonable.

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.
ninja_coder: (Default)
( Jun. 2nd, 2009 01:01 pm)
Just received a message from my favorite herald, saying his gumi has no news of anyone who needs Pagoda Bearer or Jōgesen-ryū fighters right now. The armies of Clan Seikoku, who had previously expressed some interest, are having treasury problems and cannot add any new warriors now.

Not that this is at all unusual. This winter has been a bleak one. All Nippon feels it.

The situation in Yagyū, of course, is little better. There are small, upstart gumis that cannot afford to pay anything beyond promises of future glory — when and if they even manage to conquer anything.

I continue working on some of my own kata, which I can show off in the squares and marketplaces of Yagyū, and perhaps gain attention for my skills.
ninja_coder: (ninja coder writing)
( Mar. 6th, 2009 11:23 am)
The Totemo Akarui-gumi's association with Clan Higatsuke is about to come its end. It seems Jinsei has presented Lord Jun with the first bill for our services, and Lord Jun is unhappy.

However, we may be able to recover payment from him anyway. I have been engaged in some long-running projects on his behalf. As a result, I am the only one who knows the flaws in the daimyō Tomodachi-no-Tasu's security. His security is quite substantial, and would be nearly impossible for any of Higatsuke's members to penetrate on their own. Also, I have made connections in the house of Lord Sutōpurei, and can kill him with ease.

And we have other leverage, if we need it. We hope it does not come to that.

In the meantime, the Clan Kuruma-no-Danshaku is starting an ambitious campaign, and needs us to clear a variety of enemies. And our old friends, the Daiyokaru Temple, still have their own needs.

It will be good to leave the town of Ningu behind... even if I was looking forward to the manrikigusari battle that awaited me today. And it will be quite good to be free of Lord Jun's frantic and ill-disciplined ways.

And finally, Jinsei has tracked down my own payment. The merchant house accidentally sent it to the home of one of Jinsei's other associates, a man who has been connected with our gumi in the past. This man will bring it to Jinsei, and I will have it tomorrow.

All is well, or will be soon.
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.
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.


ninja_coder: (Default)


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