Accounts of Strange Incidents

Twenty-Sixth Panel

Infiltrators

The leader of the prisoners was willing to bargain.


Takeshi proceeds to interrogate his prisoners but discovers that they all had their tongues cut out. The leader, however, communicates by writing and is willing to trade information for his life and those of his men and for sanctuary from the Nohebi who had sent them. The Hatamoto agrees to this and is able to extract from the prisoners that they were sent out to scout out the mountain.

As the prisoners give details, Takeshi quickly realizes that all of this adds up to a plan to blow up the mountain. The prisoners are impressed into admiring the Hatamoto. Learning that the prisoners were expected back in a week, Takeshi decides that the prisoner be kept on the mountain and leaves Odan, the headman of Do-i to see to their resettlement. The Hatamoto sends a messenger pigeon to Akari.

Akari has gone into Nohebi territory with Goro in tow. She sets up base at a lowly geisha house and sends out the tanuki to seek out and sabotage the black power stores of the Nohebi. She waits for the return of her friend but time passes and he does not show up. Concerned, she goes out to search for him only to find him wounded and hiding by the roadside. It seems that there are youkai helping the Nohebi in the same way that there are those on the side of the Tensai. Goro claims that it was snake youkai that got him but they could not prevent him from fulfilling his mission: the black powder of the Nohebi has been ruined and they will have to spend a lot to replace what they had lost.

“They have snake youkai working with them!”


As the Oniwaban starts to take her wounded friend away, a haughty voice calls her attention. A young samurai, obviously high-ranking by the looks of the his garb, wants her to service him. Akari immediately adopts the guise of Kyoya and tries to suggest that the young samurai might find more suitable partners at the geisha house where she had come from and which was just down the road.

The samurai refuses to listen and makes a grab for her only to stumble as Kyoya nimbly and demurely dances just out of his reach while all the while cradling Goro to her bosom. He tries a second time, and then a third, this time falling flat on his face in the mud, much to the amusement of the tanuki. The samurai turns the air blue with curses as he tries to rise and gather the shreds of dignity about him. Kyoya takes this opportunity to beat a hasty retreat with the samurai vowing to hunt her down and make her pay for his humiliation. Goro replies to the threats with a raspberry and a silent vow of his own to get to the samurai first.

Back at Ranzan, the capital of the Tensai, the frantic search for the child Daimyo continues. Kaisei’s panicked search takes him to the less frequently-visited areas of the clan house, specifically, the sickroom of Misako, Raijin’s widow. The Takumi is one of the few people who visit her regularly, and she is glad to see him. He wearily asks her if she had happened to see Tenka, too exhausted by this time to be embarrassed at the thought of having misplaced the clan’s Daimyo. She teases him for a bit before telling him that Tenka had been hiding in her room all this time, and had been keeping her company.

The Lady Misako


End of the Twenty-Sixth Panel
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