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( Jun. 13th, 2012 10:45 am)

After two days of observing his castle and watching the comings and goings of his guards, I think I have spotted a weakness in Lord Eizō’s defenses. If I can slip inside, I may or may not be able to kill Lord Eizō himself, but I can certainly sow enough discord and confusion amongst his troops to ensure that they cause us no trouble until it is far too late.

But there is that inconveniently-timed meeting with Clan Hekoayu this afternoon — every Wednesday afternoon, for four full hours. (Truthfully, there is never a “convenient” time for a meeting that long.)

If I were on time, instead of “on Ginsaku time”, I might be able to make a useful incursion into Eizō’s castle. I must get better about that.

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.

This morning, I talked to Kento and told him that I have been idle. He found an assignment for me: “You already know our operative in Hikone, Raitsu. He commands one of our advance scouts, a man named Furashi. Go to Hikone and find Raitsu, and take whatever scrolls or orders he has for Furashi to wherever Furashi is.”

These sorts of open-ended tasks can sometimes take quite a while, so I packed up my traveling gear and sped off to Hikone. It’s been a little while since I’ve had to contact Raitsu, so I spent some time on the rooftops, scouting around for him. Not in the Merchants’ Quarter. Not in the town square. Not by the river bank. Finally, I had to use my fallback contact method: At the Inn of the Green Cricket, I ordered three cups of genmaicha. When they arrived, I drank one, and mentioned to the innkeeper: “You know, I was born in the Year of the Rat.” He nodded, but said nothing, as I finished the first cup and walked away, leaving the other two untouched.

Two minutes later, he met me by the woodpile behind the inn, where I whispered to him the address where I’d be waiting for Raitsu. He whispered back, “Three-thirty”, the earliest time Raitsu would possibly be there. I do not know how the message then traveled from the innkeeper to Raitsu — Raitsu has his own network in Hikone, and all I know of it is that the innkeeper is a member of it.

But at three-thirty, I was atop the roof I had specified. Nearly an hour later, Raitsu arrived. “Sorry I took so long,” he said. “There is much I had to say to Furashi, and it took some time to write it all out.”

“These things happen,” I admitted.

“Furashi is currently under deep cover in Nagoya,” Raitsu told me. I let no sign of my inward groan show on my face, for a ninja must cultivate calm — and an indomitable spirit that shrinks from nothing. “Here are the orders for him,” he handed me a sealed envelope. “And here are some instructions for you on how you might find him,” he added, giving me a simple sheet of hastily-scribbled notes.

I nodded and thanked him, and am now on the outskirts of Nagoya. I will find Furashi and deliver his orders. My own orders are to also see if he needs any further messages delivered back to Raitsu or Kento.

Later Addition: Now that I am within the city walls, I see from Raitsu’s instructions on how to find Furashi that it will take at least an hour or two of searching, both in alleyways and on rooftops. This will have to wait for tomorrow. I shall slip back out and go home to Iga now…

…but tomorrow, I shall surely find Furashi and deliver his message.

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 knew I’d have to fight this guy some day. The Sōtō Zen monks have now identified him as a major obstacle to our Path. The day is today.

He is a rōnin from Hikone, skilled in rooftop fighting, and a master of the Bright Square tactic. I know I should be worried but… honestly, I’m kind of looking forward to the challenge.

This is the late part of the campaign, where all our careful planning turns to chaos. All military campaigns go this way eventually. And any conflict that you avoided in the beginning eventually becomes inevitable. The toughest foes become the only ones left.

And defeat them you must, or you will never achieve victory.

My kusarigama is sharp and my tabi laced up tight. I’m off to the rooftops of Ichimen, to find this enemy who lurks — according to the monks — in the Shiryō-no-Hako district. It may take until Monday before I find him, but when I do… one of us will fall.

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.
It's never a good thing when your clan's Sōtō Zen monk walks into the castle in the morning, and as he passes by you doing your kata in the courtyard, he says, "I have many parables to tell you." This is Zen monk-speak for: "Your recent actions have not been in accord with the Way. You are off your center, and you will have much work to do to in order to regain the clarity and harmony of your path."

This is not a surprise to me. I knew, as I was performing some of my recent tasks, that my ki was blocked by being in a rush. But there was not time to fix it, and I knew that it would have to be made right later.

Soon I will have to sit zazen with Binya and meditate on these parables. But not yet. Right now, there is still work to be done in Fujiwara-kyō.
Inspired by a thread in my previous post: This is a general retelling of a Zen Buddhist story from ancient China. (I think it might even predate Zen, but the flavor is very Zen anyway.) I'm going to mess up a few of the details, because I don't have the text close at hand, but the exact names of the mountain and the two monks are really not the point anyway. The basic idea still comes through.

Once, on a holy mountain in the wilderness, there lived Monk A, who was so holy that the birds would bring him gifts of flowers every day. Monk B came to visit him, and they spent some time walking among the forested mountain pathways, talking of Weighty and Holy Matters. During one of these walks, a bear roared in the forest nearby, and Monk B jumped, startled. "I see it is still with you," said Monk A, referring to the instinctual fear of death.

Later, when they returned to Monk A's camp site, Monk B took a moment to surreptitiously write the Holy Name of Buddha on a stool where Monk A was accustomed to sit. When Monk A returned, he was about to sit down... when he saw what was written on the place where he was about to plant his bottom, and stopped, startled. "I see it is still with you, too," observed Monk B.

At that moment, Monk A was fully enlightened. And the birds never brought him any more flowers.

I got this one from Alan Watts' The Way of Zen, but I suspect its real source is much older. (Duh.)

Heh. It's interesting to look through my tags list and see which ones apply in odd ways. Okay, I think this is now tagged appropriately.


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