I arrived in Nagoya earlier today, went through the city gates disguised as a simple farmer, and then headed for the areas Furashi is known to frequent. Slipping my manrikigusari from its hiding place under my tunic, I quickly hoisted myself up to the rooftops and started scanning the streets for him.

After about a half-hour of surveillance, I spotted him leaving a tavern. I moved to intercept him, and was able to rendezvous with him easily. He appreciated receiving the message from Raitsu, and had only a brief verbal report for me to carry back, with no hurry needed.

Then, on my way out of the city, I heard the sound of a fray. And a familiar kiai… I darted through an alley, leaped over a wall, and found Ginsaku in fierce combat with another warrior. On his sleeve, I saw the emblem of the historic city of Fujiwara-kyō — not a place known for producing dangerous fighters, but this one was giving Ginsaku serious trouble.

So I stepped in, coordinated with Ginsaku, and we both finished him off.

Astoundingly, I went to Nagoya today, and nothing bad happened! I even got a chance to engage in some combat, when I had thought I’d be simply a courier! Truly, this is a historic day.

I have since returned to the castle, and had a meeting with Riki, one of the Nichiren priests overseeing the Saitekika campaign. But perhaps I can tell about that tomorrow.

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.

Today promises to be very busy. In the afternoon, Seijun and I must meet with some representatives from Clan Seija, our allies who are assisting with some operations outside of Ichimen. I know they have encountered difficulties; I don’t know if we will go out to try to slay the enemies at once, or merely plan.

Also, we have determined that the rōnin from Mikawa Province has obtained some enemy battle plans. By lunch time tomorrow, I must kill him and deliver those plans to Seijun and Rajan, so they can effectively counter the enemy’s strategies. But the rōnin from Mikawa will be no easy opponent. He is skilled on rooftops, and a powerful fighter with the manrikigusari.

In the meantime, I also have a nest of Mōjin fighters to deal with… but they could wait until Friday, if necessary. (I think it will be necessary. Even a ninja can only handle so many foes at once.)

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.

On Thursday, we finally found a way that Satonori can vouch for me with the armory guards so I can have weapons. He and Haruna are now both assisting me in Ichimen. They are both carving a path of blood and death through the kama-wielding Ayamari, while I take on the rooftop fighters.

On Friday morning, I awoke to news that the shrine of Amaterasu had once again been occupied by an oni. I could do nothing about it; my duties to Clan Noriaibasha required my presence in Ichimen. So off I went, to slay Ayamari — and then to be called into no fewer than five meetings, consuming most of my day.

At least one of these meetings was useful, though: We went through all of the assassination orders and target descriptions supplied by the Sōtō Zen monks, and were able to identify many cases where two different orders described the same target. “The man in the green kimono? He’s the same as the kama fighter with a slight limp in his left leg.” “Ah, then we will combine these orders.” When we were done, the number of enemies had dropped from 35 to under 30.

But one of the worst problems is still the rooftop fighters. Before I left the castle on Friday evening, Kento presided over a meeting with me, Haruna and Satonori. We agreed that we would divide up the enemies yet to be fought, and that I would spend my weekend in Ichimen clearing off the rooftops.

Then I left, and did not go home. I went directly to the shrine of Amaterasu, where I drove off the oni. I arrived home late at night, and Akane poured me a vase of sake and put me to bed. The next morning, I knew I would simply have to arise and go back to Ichimen.

When I have time, I must tell the tale of this morning… and then the tale of this afternoon.

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.

On Thursday afternoon, I was busy in Ichimen when I received an urgent message from one of the Nichiren priests. He and Haruna and some of the others had come across a problem in the ongoing Kanezukai campaign. I had fought in the early stages of that campaign, back in the fall. They needed my help with an enemy lurking in ancient, cramped Fujiwara-kyō. The time I had to spend on that was time I couldn’t spend in Ichimen on the Teitōken campaign.

That may be part of why I got to the castle on Friday morning to find a message from Seijun, asking: “There are still a great many Ayamari in the city walls of Ichimen. Are you having trouble? Do you require aid?”

This is not the first time he or Kento has asked me if I needed assistance with this phase of the campaign. But this time, I found that even more of them had flooded into the city since I left on Thursday night. I finally gave in and said yes, please send another ninja to help.

After a while, Kento showed up with Satonori, and instructed me to give Satonori a quick orientation in the streets and alleys of Ichimen. The rooftops are somewhat more complex terrain, so he will be handling the kama work on the ground while I deal with the remaining chain-wielding enemies. If the situation is still dire on Monday, Kento will see if Haruna can assist us, too.

Did that resolve matters? It turns out — no, it did not.

As I was battling on the rooftops of Ichimen, a message came from Hoshiakari: The shrine of Amaterasu was under attack, yet again, by the usual oni. Yes, in broad daylight. The creature is becoming bolder!

There was nothing I could do while busy fighting on Clan Noriaibasha’s behalf. The news simply weighed on my mind until sundown, when I left to go home. Akane and I went to the shrine in the dead of the night, surprising the monster with the suddenness and fury of our attack in the rainstorm that was going on.

As usual, the oni escaped at the last moment. I must find a way to purify the shrine once and for all!

In the meantime, this week has been long and difficult, and I am a very tired ninja.

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.

Sometimes, the enemies you’re most scared of turn out to be those in your own mind. In my mind, I had imagined that the rōnin from Hikone would be a terrifyingly dangerous foe, skilled on rooftops and deadly with the kusarigama. But I would not let fear keep me from my duty.

I went to Ichimen, hoisted myself up to the rooftops, and started searching for him. Atop the Nanashi-ji Temple, there is a high vantage point. From there, I could see many parts of the city. A little west of the temple — right near the intersection of Shiryō-no-Hako, Kuraberu-no-Hako, and Migaku — there’s a marketplace full of food stands, with an inn on one side. And there he was, buying some yakitori for a snack.

Stealthily, I crept to the roof of the inn. It would be in bad form to attack him in the marketplace, frightening all those civilians. Instead, I threw a kunai into the wood of the table he was sitting at, making it easy for him to track the angle back to my position atop the roof. As he looked toward me, I stood up with my kusarigama at the ready, then pointed it at him. A challenge.

He threw his meal aside and came to meet me.

I gave him space to clamber up the side of the inn, waiting with my kama in a salute position. If I was to die this day, I had no wish to have my last moments be anything less than honorable.

Shinobi!” he cried, “You have met your doom!” And he flourished his kusarigama in a threatening manner, then dropped into stance… And I saw that his center was not focused. I sprang to attack, and he deflected me, but not well.

He counter-attacked, and I blocked it easily. And I realized that I was better than him, and he was starting to see it, too.

After that, it was simply a matter of time. He gave a brave account of himself, but in the end, he could not stop me from sinking my kama blade into his chest. As he slumped onto the roof of the inn, I whispered in his ear, “I am sorry, my brother. You fought well.”

In the future, I must remember never to let fear become my master. That way lies destruction.

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.

After a couple of hectic and bloody days, I’ve gotten things largely squared away in Ichimen. The Keshimasu and Soroemasu gangs are both completely destroyed. The evil merchant who was causing trouble in Migaku and Keishutsu turned out to be an easy target. The Mitsugao gang, with their operations in three different districts, were much more difficult, and the Hikone mercenaries were… well, a single trained warrior can be a much harder opponent than a pack of undisciplined gang rabble.

But I have slain them all. (There’s always the chance the Ayamari will move into the power vacuums I’ve created. But that’s a problem for next week, not today.)

I still have to clear some enemies from Denyūmado. The Shimasu clan, a perpetual bother.

For now, I am sitting on the roof of an inn in central Denyūmado, eating a tasty sushi lunch and scanning the streets below me. Seeing the movements of the people, looking for the Shimasu clan crest…

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’m going to have to use a Bright Square kata to handle the Mitsugao gang. Clan Noriaibasha has a standard Bright Square tactic for use in urban fighting… but it was only intended for use against small groups, of no more than 5 opponents.

The Mitsugao gang has at least 15 members, maybe 20 or so.

I will have to improvise. I will have to extend the clan’s standard technique, and make it much more powerful. Sadly, I doubt my improvements will become part of the clan’s regular ryū; really, we should not have ever tried to use Bright Square in this situation at all. And we should not do so again. (If we ever do try it again, we should do it my way, but really, we should tell the nobles: “No. We may only use Bright Square under certain specific conditions, and these are not on the list!”)

I am still quite busy with handling Seijun’s team’s sudden crises. This is the part of a combined operation where we must all work together, in perfect coordination, to achieve victory. I just wish I could coordinate with Seijun’s team as well as I once did with Teruyoshi, back when we both fought with the Yaneura-gumi.

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)
( Mar. 21st, 2011 03:05 pm)

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of lying in wait for someone. Especially when you think you’ve got their moves figured out, and you think you can take them… but you’re not quite sure.

I’m at the gate between Ichibanyōshi and Keishutsu. I came in across the rooftops, having seen the Hikone mercenary step away to a nearby noodle restaurant for his lunch. My kusarigama is ready; my Jeikyū hook is sharp.

I’m lurking in the upper curve of the gate when he gets back. My vantage point is beautiful. I can watch as he prepares to shake down another traveler for gold…

Then I drop on him.

The chain goes around his neck; the hook entangles his already-drawn sword, and I yank, hard. Follow up with a roundhouse kick, to be sure. The mercenary’s would-be victim is stunned, motionless. I put one finger to my lips, just in front of my mask, and softly say, “Shhh.”

I quickly untangle my chain from the mercenary’s body. With my tanto, I cut off his insignia patch, then also cut his purse away from his belt and take it with me. Hooking my chain back into the top of the gate, I start climbing out of sight. Just before vanishing, I tell the terrified onlooker: “You can scream for the city guard now.”

While they’re distracted, I’ll be heading for Shiryō-no-Hako to take out the Mitsugao gang. Soon, they’ll wonder just how many ninjas they’re dealing with.

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 stopped by Castle Noriaibasha very briefly. In the chamber that I share with the others, I said hello to Fumiaki and Chifumi. (Ginsaku, as usual, had not arrived yet.) Chifumi will soon be leaving us to join one of the clans of Settsu Province, headquartered in Naniwa. Today, her replacement has just arrived from the monastery, and Chifumi is training her.

I made my polite greetings, then took my manrikigusari from its locker and departed for Ichimen. I have much to accomplish there before tomorrow is done.

In one week, we shall have two more warriors in the Keitai Team to assist me and Ginsaku. Two of the fighters I have recently tested were able to perform the Three-and-Five Strike, and have accepted positions with our clan. Haruna is a somewhat junior kunoichi. She is shy and deferential, but she has good warrior skills. With some training, I think she will be quite deadly. Then there is Denkurō, who is more skilled and experienced. He knows how to use the Jeikyū grappling hook, and has experience in city fighting and rooftop combat.

In the meantime, I have now arrived at Ichimen, and I’m ready for a little rooftop combat of my own. The Machigaeru gang are running scared, but not yet vanquished. And there are still those Hikone mercenaries to deal with.

There were storms and rain over the weekend, and I hope the roofs will not be too slippery. May Amaterasu shine Her sun on me today! I will need luck to assist my skill, for I have so very much to do.

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.

Okay, targets identified. There are the Machigaeru gang, who roam throughout Ichimen. The Mitsugao, who are active in Migaku and the twin districts of Kurabero-no-Hako and Shiryō-no-Hako.

A team of mercenaries from Hikone have split up and started demanding tolls at all the gates that lead from one district of the city to another. There is one at the great gate between Ichibanyōshi and Keishutsu; another bars the way from Keishutsu to the trio of districts held by the Mitsugao.

The Keshimasu and Soroemasu gangs are battling over Keishutsu; I will end their conflict by annihilating both gangs. And there’s an evil merchant who’s fomenting some kind of conflict between Migaku and Keishutsu. I don’t know what he’s getting out of it, and I don’t care. He’s one of my targets; therefore, he is not long for this world.

Finally, there’s the local Shimasu clan in Denyūmado. They’re small-time, but they’ll have to go, too. All resistance must be pacified.

Even as I’ve been scouting, I’ve already had to take down a few folks who got in my way. The Chitai gang, in Ichibanyōshi, are no longer an issue; neither are the Kōza. For that matter, the Machigaeru may be ready to retreat from here (though I’m sure they’ll just crop up again in some other city).

Let’s see how fast I can do this. The streets of Ichimen are about to run very red. The body count will make Kuwabatake Sanjūrō envious.

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 lately been studying Living Stone kata using the manrikigusari. Very few chain-fighters even realize that you can use it in a Living Stone style. The more advanced warriors among us know that it’s possible, but I myself haven’t bothered to do so. Well, except back when I was at Clan Nettobuku, where Jimon and Bunmei insisted on doing everything in the Living Stone ryū… but that was when we were using the Mūtou grappling hook, which made it much easier.

So I have been studying, and yesterday I spoke to Ginsaku about it. A good thing I did, because he said he has been studying a scroll by a sage from Clan Yamazaru. Yamazaru was once the mightiest of the clans to come from the city of Ōtsu, in Ōmi Province, until they were eclipsed by Clan Tokugawa and its superior strategies. But Yamazaru is still a force to be reckoned with, and more importantly, they still have the esteemed Kurokkufōdo-sensei among their ranks. Kurokkufōdo-sensei was among the first to recognize that the lowly chain, despised by most fighters, could be a truly effective weapon; the mere fact that Ginsaku’s scroll is by one of Kurokkufōdo-sensei’s colleagues makes it worth taking seriously.

And so I am studying it, and learning. But soon I must rejoin Seijun and his samurai team in Ichimen; while they work in the streets, I must clear off the rooftops. With my chain. It’s just the sort of work I love.

In the meantime, I have a message from my contact among the Shomei-gumi this morning. He wants to know what is wrong with the warriors they have sent, and how they can be improved. I have told him, quite honestly, that knowledge of the kama is not enough. We need fighters who know how to use the manrikigusari, even if it has no grappling hook. We need warriors who understand the very basics of footwork, of attack and defense — the fundamentals of fighting. Far too many “fighters” know only one or two attacks by rote, and perhaps one block, and no dodges. And when they have exhausted those few moves, they have nothing left, no adaptability.

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 streets of Sakai are nearly empty today, as many people are at home for a holiday, commemorating the lives of great emperors of the past. But Clan Noriaibasha is ambitious, and our personnel are hard at work in the field and in our castle headquarters.

Seijun and his team are now active in Ichibanyōshi and Keishutsu, the first two districts of Ichimen that I secured for them. They should be moving on into Shiryō-no-Hako, Kurabero-no-Hako, and Migaku soon. I’m sure that other problems will crop up eventually, but for now, the ground and the streets in those districts are the samurai team’s problem for now.

We all know I’ll have some rooftop work to do before things are finished. I look forward to it.

In the meantime, I’m starting to scout out the Denyūmado district. I’d forgotten about that one, because it’s so small. It should be fairly easy to handle any street-level problems there… but our initial reconnaissance suggests there may be some gangs who know their way around rooftops.

I ache to show them my Jeikyū grappling-hook skills.

The campaign’s strategic plans are nearly done (now that the campaign is well under way!), and so I have hopes that there will be fewer meetings in my future soon. But I need to have at least one or two meetings with Rajan to discuss what sorts of signals we’ll be sending each other to coordinate our operations.

Also, there are two new warriors this week, who need to be evaluated to see if their skills are sufficient to join our clan. There will always be distractions from fieldwork and combat.

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 Monday, Nayumi told me that there had been an incursion of mercenaries into Ichibanyōshi. They apparently hail from Hikone, and are adept at rooftop fighting techniques. She needed me to clear them out, so she and her samurai team could be secure in their operations there.

Of course, there is little time for me to battle mercenaries when I am required in meetings to plan our campaign strategies. But I told her I could neutralize these mercenaries by lunchtime on Wednesday.

That’s today. And an hour before lunch, I finally vanquished the last of the Hikone mercenaries, and sent word to Nayumi that the Ichibanyōshi district is safe for samurai again.

Now it’s time for me to go find some yakisoba. (And, thankfully, this afternoon is clear of meetings too, so I can tackle our enemies in Kurabero-no-Hako. They are numerous, and I have to slay them all by the end of the week.)

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)
( Jul. 9th, 2009 03:32 pm)
For many years now, starting with my time with Clan Iwinaga, I have been largely cast in the role of a city fighter, working on rooftops with my chain and grappling hook. When employed by clans and armies, it's always been other people who fight in the mountains or the forests. Alternatively, there are times when I work on my own projects, and fight with the ninja-to wherever I can. When I was with the Totemo Akarui-gumi, I mostly fought alone; even if I knew Amon was battling other foes somewhere else, I couldn't actually see him doing so.

Over the past two days with the Yaneura-gumi, however, I have been working alongside a man named Teruyoshi. While I've been doing Pagoda Bearer style work with my ninja-to, he has been leaping from rooftop to rooftop, whirling his manrikigusari and grappling hook about. It's quite an interesting change.

Of course, the fact that I also know grappling-hook styles has made me that much more effective in supporting his efforts. We've been working well together. It is refreshing and pleasant.


ninja_coder: (Default)


RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Powered by Dreamwidth Studios

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags