Accounts of Strange Incidents

Twenty-Third Panel

Merchants

“Will the Ashigaru of the Tensai be keeping up with the times?”


At the meeting with the merchants, Kaisei discusses the matter of firearms starting to appear in the land. The elderly merchant who had sent him the blunderbuss, and who is known to everyone in Ranzan as ‘Uncle Ochi’, appears to have taken on the role of spokesman for the ones present. He brings up the rumors that he and the other merchants have heard about the other clans starting to equip their ashigaru with blunderbusses and voices the concern that all the merchants feel. Ochi then turns to the Hatamoto and asks him gravely if the ashigaru of the Tensai would be moving with the times.

The Takumi speaks for himself and the Hatamoto and informs the merchants that the ashigaru of the Tensai will indeed be moving with the times, starting with the Suzaku, the Hatamoto’s personal unit. Seeing the eyes of the merchants light up, Kaisei makes it clear that sale of firearms are to be made exclusively to ashigaru through their commanding officers. As he says this, the Takumi gestures to Takeshi. No sales are to be made either to the peasants or to the nobles.

The merchants try to haggle with Kaisei about relaxing the conditions when Yugiri, who has been keeping to himself this entire time, addresses Takeshi in a voice loud enough to be heard over the negotiations that perhaps the Hatamoto should take a stand and declare how ineffectual such weapons are against him.

Yugiri and Takeshi


Akiteru tells the merchants how the Portuguese use the money the merchants pay them to fund the selling of Japanese girls into slavery. The merchants are appalled at this and declare that they will not do business with the Portuguese ever again. Takuma enters the room, having been summoned by the Oniwaban. After examining the blunderbuss that Ochi sent Kaisei, the swordsmith declares that he can copy the firearms, releasing the Tensai from dependence upon the Portuguese.

The black powder is another matter however and the officers will have to search for an apothecary who can prepare it. They also need a secure place where Takuma can conduct his experiments in secret. Given that these tend to be noisy and smoky, finding such a place may be challenging. A lot of bickering ensues and the meeting concludes.

The officers part ways, each to handle their respective parts of the problem at hand: Yugiri declares that he will go into the lands of the Nohebi and asks Murasaki to accompany him as his bodyguard. The Onmyouji asks Akiteru to inform Soichiro of this decision since the two of them will be leaving immediately. The Oniwaban agrees. On his part, Akiteru will follow the trail of the slavers as Kyoya. Takeshi will seek out Inari and ask her to help him find a place where Takuma can conduct his experiments in secret, while Kaisei remains in his office and answers the complaint of the Nohebi. He will also look for a safe place where Takuma can set up his workshop where he will start manufacturing firearms.

Takuma in his workshop


End of the Twenty-Third Panel
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to the Twenty-Fourth Panel

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