I have a shameful confession to make. It is an explanation for why I have been so quiet.
Last week, as I was preparing to leave Hoshiakari and go to Castle Noriaibasha, there was a knock at the door. “Who can that be?” I wondered, and opened it… to find a short, plump traveler in a straw hat.
“Pardon me, good sir,” he said, “would you happen to have any sake you can spare?”
“Is it not early in the morning for drinking?” I asked.
“Perhaps you may be right. Then might I trouble you for some tea?” he continued, insistently.
I felt wary, but… I would not wish to begrudge a traveler such simple comforts. “Wait here, and I will bring you a cup,” I said. I turned away to the kitchen. When I looked back, the traveler was in my living room! Bouncing a small golden ball!
“You should not be inside my house!” I told him. “I asked you to wait outside. It is a pleasant morning.”
“But I am inside,” he cried. “You let me in!” He laughed, and his face melted into the wide-eyed, short-snouted, furry face of a— then he bolted past me, out the door, and ran away, quick as a whirlwind.
A tanuki! I knew I was in trouble now. Carefully, I checked around the house to see if anything was missing.
I quickly found the problem: Mywas covered with rust. In fact, it was completely turned into rust, as if it had forged from pure rust in the first place! And my … its blade was bent into a knot! And every one of my ’s links had been turned into a loop of noodle. The Jeikyū grappling hook had been turned into an artful bouquet of flowers.
As for my… in that case, the tanuki left the metal fittings alone, but the wood was transformed into . As was my , which was thankfully outside in the yard at the time.
I had no time to weep over my now-weaponless state. I had to go to Castle Noriaibasha and perform my daily duties there. Since the clan supplies the weapons I must use on their behalf, I was able to do my work. But for the past few days, I have come home every evening and been very occupied with trying to restore my own weapons.
I have had to cut and whittle new kama handles. I have had to visit the blacksmith’s shop to have him forge me new blades, and new chains, and a new grappling hook. My new bō is now ready, and the blacksmith will have my sansetsukon done tomorrow.
I will be much more wary of tanuki in the future.