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.