Accounts of Strange Incidents

Third Panel

Ghosts

Yugiri goes wandering


It is suddenly Summer and the officers of the court assess what has been accomplished in the last season and what needs to be done in the current one. Soichiro, the Karo, points out that the clan has neither a Yojimbo for Tenka nor a Kaishaku for the clan. He also observes that the clan swords of both the Tensai and the Su have not been recovered after the conquest of Chisu. This prompts Yugiri to share that he has heard of a wandering swordsman bearing two swords, one of which fits the description of the Clan Sword of the Tensai.

Takeshi wonders aloud if the wandering swordsman had earned the right to those swords by prowess or had simply looted them off of the corpses of their wielders. Soichiro decides that there is only one way to find out: confront the swordsman. If one of the swords indeed turns out to be the clan sword of the Tensai, Soichiro wants it back. And if the other sword happens to be that of the Su, even better. As the Karo gets up, he charges Kaisei with the task of recruiting a replacement Kaishaku and Yojimbo, adding that it would be good if the Yojimbo developed a close bond with the Daimyo.

The wanderer with two swords


Akari and Takeshi choose to go after the wandering swordsman while Kaisei stays behind to figure out how to replace the fallen Kaishaku and Yojimbo. Yugiri, on his part, chooses to help the other officers by going wandering and seeing where the kami and unmei choose to bring him.

The Onmyouji finds himself led to a site that he senses is sacred and which he then realizes is the same spot that Raijin visited just before launching his attack on Chisu. Alerted by Kawa’s growls, Yugiri focuses his attention on the site and discerns a familiar shape: that of his late Daimyo. Raijin, now a ghost, seems surprised that Yugiri can see him and strides up in his usual brazen manner to the discomfited Onmyouji.

The shade of the late Daimyo seems desperate as he asks Yugiri for news about Tenka and is frustrated by the usual cryptic riddling of the Onmyouji. What is clear, however, is that Raijin is chained to the spot and is unable to depart. When Yugiri points this out, the late Daimyo retorts that the Onmyouji is in the same boat as he, except that the Onmyouji has a longer tether. The exchange ends with Raijin extracting a promise from Yugiri to serve Tenka to the best of his ability and, in return, offering whatever help he can give as a spirit. As the Onmyouji departs, the late Daimyo expressed relief that his fears had not come to pass and that Tenka had reliable allies.

Raijin’s ghost


Meanwhile, Akari, accompanied by Takeshi and his bodyguard, follow a trail of rumors that describe a swordsman bearing two swords and it doesn’t take them long to to catch up to the wanderer. Akari decides to go ahead of Takeshi and his men to ascertain the character of the wanderer and find out how he came to possess the swords. As she catches up to thewanderer, she hears him whistling a popular tune. Though the wanderer reacts in a friendly enough manner to Akari’s greeting and questions, he appears to be reluctant to talk about the swords he carries and seems to be overly possessive of them.

The Oniwaban decides to change tack and talks about the possibility of employment, which the wanderer seems receptive to, provided the circumstances are to his liking. When Akari inquires which circumstances he means, the wanderer counts off his conditions: a comfortable living situation, the freedom to enjoy fine, beautiful days such as this, and the company of people he can hold in esteem.

Akari pounces on this and says that her employer can easily meet such conditions provided that he can, in turn, meet the conditions and requirements of her employer. The wanderer confidently declares that he can meet any requirement put to him and the Oniwaban proposes that he demonstrate his prowess on her colleague. She continues that this will, in turn, demonstrate the quality of the people who serve her employer. To her relief, the wanderer agrees and she tells him of the troop resting nearby. He rests his hand on the swords at his hips and asks her to lead him to them, unfazed by the prospect of being outnumbered.

What was mercifully averted


The Oniwaban introduces the Hatamoto to the wanderer as an esteemed colleague and Takeshi pointedly asks if the wanderer knows how to use the swords he wears. When the wanderer nods, Takeshi calls for bokken from his men and demands that the wanderer prove that he does. The wanderer asks for a second bokken saying that he always fights dual blade style and Takeshi acquiesces. Akari hears a voice at her elbow betting against the Hatamoto: it is her friend the tanuki. She smiles and bets on her childhood friend, Takeshi. The stakes: everything she has paid the tanuki to date.

The duel is fast and fierce and in the course of it the wanderer is revealed to be female. While this causes Takeshi to raise his eyebrows, it does not catch him off guard, allowing him to defeat the wanderer, much to the disgust of the tanuki who pays up and slinks off. Takeshi concedes that the wanderer is indeed extremely skilled and is entitled to keep the blades she wears, even though one of them is the clan sword of the Tensai. But when Takeshi states that only the Kaishaku of the clan may keep the sword, the wanderer tenses up and asks the Hatamoto what he plans to do about it, to which the Hatamoto replies nonchalantly that he plans to offer her the post. The wanderer accepts and introduces herself as Murasaki.

The swordswoman Murasaki


The journey home is without incident save for when Yugiri catches up with the party and nearly uncovers Akari’s secret, much to her annoyance.

Back at court, Kaisei has decided to observe Tenka to better understand what sort of person would be fitting to be the Daimyo’s bodyguard. Despite the mystery surrounding him—seven years ago, Raijin suddenly presented Tenka as his heir and would brook no questions—the young Daimyo appears to be a normal child, interested in the things that interest boys his age. The Takumi watches as his Daimyo plays cat’s cradle with the Maiko and notes that one particular girl has taken on the role of ringleader.

Unlike the other clans, the Tensai have taken it upon themselves to provide their peasants with some sort of education, and thanks to the insistence of the Karo, this has taken the form of training Maiko. Because of this, the women of Taishou have developed a reputation of being both wise and wily. The ringleader appears to be wiser and wilier than her peers and seems to have captured the admiration of the young boy. The Takumi asks Setsuna the girl’s name and finds out that she is Natsumi and is one the foundlings that the Head Geisha has taken in.

Kaisei’s musings are interrupted by his Daimyo’s wanting to play cat’s cradle with him and the Takumi, naturally, obliges. As the Daimyo excitedly shows off what he has learned from Natsumi, Kaisei asks the boy his opinion of the girl. The boy positively gushes with praise and when the Kaisei asks who protects whom, the boy shyly admits that more often than not it is Natsumi that protects him than the other way around. After a while, the Daimyo takes his leave expressing his disappointment that his Takumi, though good at cat’s cradle, is nowhere as good as Natsumi is.

A game of cat’s cradle


Kaisei decides to speak to the girl and is pleased to find her agreeable and pleasant. He also discovers that she, in fact, is a kitsune, and he asks her what her intentions toward the daimyo are. The girl guilelessly expresses affection for the boy, saying that she would like to watch over him. When asked why she chose to become a Maiko, she confesses that it was the opportunity to learn new things that attracted her: the reputation of the women of Teishou was starting to spread.

The Takumi decides that he had found his Daimyo’s Yojimbo and offers the girl the post. She asks what this entails and accepts after Kaisei outlines her duties, saying that protecting Tenka comes easily to her. In addition, the Takumi offers to formally adopt her to place her under his protection and Natsumi also accepts this.

The officers gather and assess the situation of the clan. The posts of Kaishaku and Yojimbo have been filled, though the Yojimbo is actually still in training. The clan sword had been recovered as well as that of the Su Clan. The rumors that the agents of the officers have gathered point to a third party that had driven the Su Clan to attack the Tensai and what is worrying is that many gambling dens have been reported to be appearing in neighboring provinces raising concerns that the tragedy that befell the Su would happen to other clans. Closer to home, Akari’s agents heard rumors that one of the nobles of the clan is working with the resistance of Chisu but no names have come up.

The geisha school of the Tensai


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