Accounts of Strange Incidents

Twenty-Eighth Panel

Words

A samurai of the Nohebi


As Yugiri and Murasaki make their way out of the town, they find their way into the countryside blocked by three samurai of the Nohebi. Even though the two disguised Tensai officers conspicuously make a show of making way for these men, and avoiding eye contact by staring at the road, the samurai do not move along. It seems that they have taken an interest in the couple, in particular, in Murasaki.

Murasaki tightens her grip on the bundle of sticks where she has hidden her swords just the men command Yugiri to go on his way and leave her with them. One of the men glances at her and addresses her as if she were his wife, commanding her to lay down her bundle. She feels the hot blood of rage rush to her face as she glances at the Onmyouji to warn him that there will be blood, but Yugiri has his eyes fixed firmly on the feet of the samurai and he uncharacteristically gestures in no uncertain terms for her to stay her hand. Then he speaks.

At first the manner of speech of the Onmyouji is casual and rough in the manner of all peasants, but as he continues to apologize for inconveniencing men of such high station, the words he uses and the sentences he casts start to take on the traits of lofty speech and until, eventually, Yugiri speaks eloquently in the idiom of the capital, Kyoto.

A fourth set of feet come into the field of vision of the Onmyouji, and he hears a commanding voice name the three samurai as fools, angry that they do not recognize a scholar of the capital when they hear one.

“He is a scholar from the capital!”


The fourth samurai, obviously a person of some authority, commands Murasaki and Yugiri to be on their way and leave the lands of the Nohebi, but not before telling the Onmyouji that he had better remind the Emperor that he has loyal subjects in the Nohebi Clan. Yugiri, as usual, gives no indication that he heard, but he does note the fourth samurai tell the other three that no one shall speak of this encounter ever again.

Back at Do-i, Takeshi, calls upon Yamamoto for an audience and is readily granted one. The Hatamoto warns the kami of the plans of the Nohebi to blow up the mountain which causes the kami much amusement. Nevertheless, Yamamoto agrees to help out with the preparations against an attack. Not long after, Takeshi receives a reply from Akari.

Over the course of several days, perhaps a week, Akari had been visiting the main encampment of the Nohebi army as Megumi in the guise of a Maiko of the nearby geisha house. The watch had grown accustomed to her coming and going and entertaining the men. At least the men respect her being a maiko and do not lay hands on her. She watches the men train and she assesses their prowess. She learns that a plan to blow up the mountain had failed and the clan Onmyouji had been tasked to come up with an alternative plan.

Megumi entertains the troops


She overhears the Hatamoto rage over the plan which is to have the men charge up the mountain. She is unaware that the man who sent Yugiri and Murasaki on their way was the Hatamoto of the Nohebi himself. She tries to delay the charge in many little ways. There are many inexplicable accidents and misfortunes in the camp, the worst of which was the armor of a captain catching fire. Akari recognizes the captain as the one who had tried to accost her in her guise as Kyoya, and who turns out to be the son of the Hatamoto. When she questions Goro he just smiles and says nothing.

The day of the charge arrives and there is nothing Megumi can do any more to delay it without putting herself at risk. The Lady Kumo offers a suggestion that leads Akari to discovering that the Head Geisha of the house that took her in has feelings for the Hatamoto of the Nohebi. A few suggestions here and there and the Head Geisha and the Hatamoto meet in a tryst that causes him to miss the planned charge, and to allow Akari to escape for home with valuable documents.

The charge up the mountain is a disaster for the Nohebi with many lives and horses lost, and many hostages taken, among them, the son of the Hatamoto whom Takeshi personally takes charge of.

When the officers of the Tensai convene at the clan house, Takeshi presents his hostage to them. Soichiro surprises everyone by telling the hostage that the Nohebi will never reclaim the land of the Tensai, and by telling the other officers to prepare for war. The Winter Court is coming up and the Karo expects the war to start there. When the Karo leaves, and the hostage is taken away, the officers outline their plans. There is talk about sabotage, assassinations, murders, and the fomenting of uprisings. Kaisei tells the others what had transpired with Iwao.

“The plan was to charge up the mountain.”


End of the Twenty-Eighth Panel
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