Accounts of Strange Incidents

First Panel

Ceremonies

Cherry blossom viewing


It is spring and the officers of the court view the cherry blossoms and look on as the Karo, Soichiro, instructs Tenka, the young Daimyo, in the ways of life. In attendance, at the insistence of the Karo, are several young geisha.

Someone brings up the need to make preparations for the young Daimyo’s seven-year ceremony and suggests that perhaps it would be a good idea to hold said celebrations in Chisu, the recently conquered province. The court agrees: the peasants there must be made to understand to whom they now owe their loyalty. The Karo approves of the suggestion and leaves the officers to work out the details.

The officers make their way to Chisu, and along the way learn that the peasants there lack for food. They agree to look into the situation. After all, the Tensai have a reputation to uphold: ever are they kind to the peasants of their domain.

Yugiri the Onmyouji reluctantly agrees to inspect the shrine of Chisu even though he declares that he would rather wait for inspiration. He nonetheless makes his way to the shrine accompanied by Takeshi the Hatamoto and his personal guard, and is disappointed to discover that a neglected roadside shrine is all there is. Meanwhile, Takeshi, his memories of the battles of the conquest still fresh, orders his men to ensure that there are no traps in the area, telling them to turn over every stone if they have to, while he patrols a perimeter he had set up.

Overzealous ashigaru


His ashigaru take his orders literally and proceed with all diligence and much enthusiasm.

Before long, Yugiri hears a petulant female voice complaining at him about uncouth ashigaru tearing up the surroundings of the shrine. Recognizing the voice as that of a kami, perhaps that of the kami of the shrine itself, Yugiri tells Takeshi about the overzealousness of his men and soothes the invisible speaker by assuring her that he had brought her a playmate.

The Hatamoto castigates his men for being too literal minded and orders them to make amends. They do so with alacrity and zest by cleaning the area of the shrine until it sparkles. The Onmyouji directs the ashigaru and continues with his tasks, impressing the kami with his hard work and diligence despite his protestations to the contrary. The kami introduces herself as Inari and presents Yugiri with a little fox spirit as a token of esteem and to be his familiar and guide. Yugiri decides to name the little fox Kawa.

Meanwhile Akari the Oniwaban and Kaisei the Takumi hear rumors about a stock of rice hidden away by possible insurgents. Akari goes off to investigate these rumors while Kaisei stays to get a reading on the peasantry and cultivate goodwill with the crowds of curious—and apprehensive—-peasants who have gathered around the officers. He is able to not only to calm the fears of the peasants but is also able to gain their support and admiration as well on behalf of the Tensai Clan.

In the course of her investigations, Akari quietly spreads rumors that paint the Tensai in a positive light, making Kaisei’s work easier. Akari locates the storehouse which is guarded by soldiers formerly of the Su Clan and informs Takeshi. Out of the corner of her eye, she catches sight of a small creature scurrying away from the storehouse. Takeshi immediately goes to the storehouse, causes consternation among the guards, and orders his bodyguards to open the storehouse only to find it empty.

The sergeant who conveyed Akari’s report to Takeshi is dumbfounded while his Hatamoto impatiently demands an explanation. Akari realizes what the creature she caught sight of actually is and tracks it down. It is a tanuki. Meanwhile, Takeshi gives his men permission to literally turn over every stone in search of the missing rice.

A tanuki appears!


Akari haggles with the tanuki to show her where the rice is, certain that the youkai had something to do with its disappearance. The tanuki obliges the Oniwaban, apparently more interested in the game of haggling rather than getting any profit from it. Eventually an agreement is reached and the tanuki makes the rice appear again, much to the consternation of Takeshi’s ashigaru who end up under sacks of it. Takeshi, however, remains unimpressed and orders his men to see to the distribution of the rice. He then turns to the storehouse guards and orders them back to basic training not only to rid them of their bad habits but, more importantly, to make sure that they integrate properly with the rest of the soldiers of the Tensai Clan. When Takeshi announces that he would personally oversee their retraining, his bodyguard give the storehouse guards a look filled with pity and sympathy.

Takeshi decides that Akiteru and Kaisei also need to to train and sees to it that they do, much to their consternation.

During a break in Takeshi’s training, Akari hears a voice in her ear that introduces itself as Lady Kumo. It’s manner is familiar as it addresses Akari as a fellow weaver of webs and informs her that it will follow her progress with great interest. Just as mysteriously, the voice falls silent.

At long last the preparations for the Seventh Year Ceremony are complete and Yugiri and Soichiro prepare to receive Tenka in front of the roadside shrine of Inari. A lengthy procession shows off the young daimyo, escorted by his Hatamoto because the clan Yojimbo was killed in the conquest of Chisu. Inari sees the Daimyo and the Hatamoto and excitedly asks Yugiri if that’s the playmate that he had promised her. The Onmyouji nods cryptically and the kami exclaims how handsome her playmate is, mentioning in passing that the child he is escorting is not so bad looking either. At that moment, a chill ripples up and down Takeshi’s spine.

“Oh! How handsome my playmate is!”


The ceremony proceeds smoothly, but just as it builds up to its climax wherein the rays of the setting sun envelop the young Daimyo, as if to show that Amaterasu has favored the child, a fire breaks out ruining the effect and dispelling the glamour. The Hatamoto, the Oniwaban and the Takumi immediately spring into action, each one doing what each does best. Akari in the guise of Akiteru determined that the fire was set deliberately and sought out the identity of the arsonists, Kaisei draws the crowd’s attention away from the blaze and towards the Daimyo, and Takeshi and his men ensure that everyone at the celebration is safe. Yugiri calls down a blessing upon his fellow officers, granting them immunity from surprise. This proves timely as the fire turns out to be a ruse to lure the officers into an ambush.

Takeshi is attacked first but the blessing allows him to catch the assassin by surprise and overpower him. Unfortunately, the Hatamoto is unable to prevent the assassin from taking his own life.

Akari has better luck because her assailant suddenly finds himself entangled in webbing and is unable to commit suicide. As the Oniwaban subdues her assailant, Lady Kumo’s voice quietly informs her that she now in Lady Kumo’s debt. Ever pragmatic, Akari turns to the task at hand. In desperation, the failed assassin pleads for the life of his daughter and reveals that she is being held hostage at the gambling den of the Su Clan by those who refuse to recognize the authority of the Tensai Clan over Chisu.

Held hostage in a gambling den


end of the First Panel
to the Second Panel

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