Yesterday was a highly productive day for me… which means, I left a half-dozen fresh corpses in Sanigata.

Kento and Sakito have been busy dealing with the kama-wielding thugs of the area, and Kento has asked me to concentrate on the more advanced chain fighters of the Keiten Mokuba army. This operation requires me to do some Living Stone style techniques with the manrikigusari. Since the manrikigusari chain is so flexible, unlike other weapons, that means that the standard Living Stone techniques make very little sense. They must all be adapted to work differently with the chain.

But I figured out how to do that, and then started my surveillance of the Keiten Mokuba. From time to time, I’d spot one of their scouts in one of the cities of Sanigata — and when I engaged them in combat with my new Living Stone techniques, I found them quite easy to slay.

After a day full of spilling my enemies’ blood, I went to the capital for dinner with Akane at a fine restaurant, and all was well.

Today, much as I might want to continue eradicating the Mokuba army, there is a four-hour meeting with Clan Hekoayu this afternoon. And there was a major meeting in the morning. I have little time for field operations or combat today.

But tomorrow, I expect I can make up for it!

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.

There is a small city in Sanigata called Ogaribamen, which we must soon take control of as part of the Saitekika campaign. For the past few days, I have been tasked with trying to devise a way for my fellow-ninja, Sakito, and I to collaborate on this task.

Today I have new orders: I am to go there myself. Alone. Once there, I should scout around enough to find all our opposition — then, slay them all! It seems Sakito is busy at the moment, and Kento is confident in my ability to kill our enemies without needing assistance.

Just the sort of assignment I enjoy. The only way it could be any better is if Ogaribamen were a large enough city to make rooftop fighting practical. But, as it stands, there are a fair number of enemies there. Soon, I will have them all identified. And shortly after that — most likely, tomorrow — the carnage will begin.

Added a little later: I have arrived in Ogaribamen, found a good sushi restaurant, and gotten myelf lunch. (One of the most tragic things about winter’s coldness is that it makes it too cold to really enjoy sushi. But now spring is on the rise, and we are having the first, early, warm days!)

Now I am sitting at a table outside the restaurant, calmly eating my sushi… and watching the town’s activity around me. I have spotted a few Ayamari already, as well as members of the Shōgakukin and Taishoku clans, who we often have to battle against. This is the art of hiding in plain sight, scouting the enemy while being unseen.

But now my sushi is done, so I must go.

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.

A friend has been visiting from Edo for the past few days. Last night, Akane and I had dinner at a fancy restaurant in the capital with him and his childhood friend, a samurai woman named Beniko. During the meal, the conversation turned to the difficulties of recruiting skilled fighters.

Akane said, “Oh, I know! Have her try the Three-and Five Strike,” and so I told Beniko what the requirements are. One of the nice things about it as a warriors’ test is that it doesn’t bother to state what the warrior’s movements, footwork, or other technique should look like. It simply specifies what you must do to the target. This means it will work with any weapon at all — even though I’ve been testing manrikigusari fighters, I could still ask Beniko to perform it with her katana and have the test make sense. So we briefly stepped out into the restaurant’s ornamental garden…

And she performed it beautifully, with hardly any hesitation. There are a couple of aspects of the Three-and-Five Strike that are a bit tricky — the first time you try to do it. But that mistake teaches you how to do it properly, if you have any skill or training at all.

Beniko’s execution, however, was nearly flawless. Each time she was about to make one of the standard mistakes, she spotted the problem ahead of time, and simply worked it into her motions. It was a joy to behold.

Once again, I see that a true warrior can do a Three-and-Five Strike easily, and it is absolutely not too hard to use as a test for Clan Noriaibasha.

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.
Working with the Totemo Akarui-gumi has its good points and its bad ones. I am very nearly a free ninja, able to set whatever hours and working conditions I please... but access to healers is very limited, and sometimes there isn't a lot to do.

But today, I have performed a most skillful feat for the Daiyokaru monks. They wanted to know if it was possible to find a way into the castle of Lord Mainen, who is notorious for his security. A previous Totemo Akarui ninja, who has since left our gumi, once tried and failed.

But now I have crept deep into Mainen's castle. (No, I'm not saying how.) While he was occupied with other matters, I took a single piece of writing-paper from his desk, wrote on it "I am Ichirō of Iga, in Lord Mainen's office"... and then stamped it with Lord Mainen's chop! I have it now in a pocket, as I work my way back out of the castle so I can report to the Daiyokaru.

It is work like this that makes me proud to be a ninja.

And I have a message from Jinsei detailing some work that I can do for a new client, the Sanatsui Clan.
Jinsei and I have come to an agreement: Lord Jun of Clan Higatsuke has the mind of a grasshopper, and his impatience and impetuousness will be the doom of his military campaign. For now, we will take his money, but we are trying to find a way to warn him of the consequences of his current course. We do not know if he will listen, but honor compels us to try.

Also, we will stay alert for signs of impending catastrophe, and we are discussing what sorts of missions we will not undertake in Higatsuke's war. For now, though, there are still things we can achieve.

I spent much of today doing increasingly devious and interesting things with my kama in Ningu town. Soon, there will be some ninja-to work to be done with the forces of Nihiki-no-Sakana, which should be quite entertaining and educational. Nihiki-no-Sakana's current ventures are focused in the bayside province of Izumi, where once I operated with Clan Nettobuku; perhaps I can return there in greater triumph this time.
 
Today, I spent 10 hours carving a trail of death through the cities of Futa Sanjūichi, doing some truly outstanding work with the kusari-gama. Joint locks, throws, some truly inspired tricks with the grappling hook. I left a trail of dead and bleeding bodies in my wake, and baffled many foes with my skill and ingenuity.

Finally, back at Castle Iwinaga, I showed General Wāro some of the special kata I have recently been developing, which I hope the armies of Clan Iwinaga will find useful in my absence. He was quite pleased, and even Araki, who rarely finds merit in anyone's techniques besides his own, said he was impressed with the way I'd integrated the chain and the moves with kama's blade.

Though I wish I could have spent the day with Akane, or helped cheer up my friend Teruaki (who is having a bad time lately), I am at least pleased to have turned in such an impressive finale. I sit writing these words in an Okinawan restaurant, midway from Heian-kyō back to Iga, where Akane will shortly join me for dinner.

(Later, upon arriving home: Ah! It turns out Teruaki will be able to join us for drinks and companionship. He'll arrive shortly, and we'll break out some sake... After today's performance, General Wāro will certainly not quibble if I'm a little late tomorrow.)
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