Accounts of Strange Incidents

Twenty-Fourth Panel

Missions

Inari in Autumn


Takeshi goes to the rice fields and finds Inari there blessing the fields just before the harvest. She approaches him quickly, happy to see him and he tells her of the need of the court for a secluded spot where noisy experiments can be held in secret. Though a bit disappointed that she was not the main reason for the Hatamoto’s visit, she nonetheless agrees to help. She brightens considerably when Takeshi tells her that he will owe her a deep personal debt for her help and that he would grant her whatever she wants. Perhaps she could let him know if she finds anything by the next week? The kami promises to let him know within five days.

After picking up some light provisions and a few necessities, Yugiri and Murasaki head off and soon find themselves in Do-i, the village that the officers had established not too long ago. It is doing better and the use of natural resources are much more visible: there is an orchard, a vegetable garden, and a smithy. Some women from Ranzan have even taken husbands and settled down here. When the Onmyouji asked if there have been any visitors recently, Odan, the village headman, reports that the only visitor to Do-i since the visit of the officers was a traveling shaman who was collecting the “odds and ends of life”.

Yugiri warns Odan that the Nohebi have been selling women into slavery and buying firearms with the profit, and that Do-i should be wary of any stranger who should visit. As the Onmyouji talks to the headman, the women of the village surround Murasaki and give her gifts as tokens of their esteem and admiration.

“Our only visitor recently was a traveling shaman.”


When Odan and the other men of the village learn of the plan of the Onmyouji and the Kaishaku to enter the lands of the Nohebi, the villagers do their best to dissuade the pair from going through with the plan, but do not impede them. Yugiri writes a letter to the Hatamoto and asks the villagers to make sure that Takeshi receives it. The letter is written as if came from the gods; apparently, Yamamoto has not stopped talking about Takeshi ever since their meeting.

Akari has found the network of the slavers and been able to decipher their modus operandi. It is a long con with the slavers operating gambling dens that entice poor peasants—usually those with prepubescent daughters—to gamble themselves into debt with the hopes of winning big. When the gamblers start losing money, they are encouraged to keep on playing by being offered loans ‘on easy terms’. When the debts reach a certain point, the gamblers are cheated with loaded dice. Now deep in debt, the gamblers are threatened by the slavers until the gamblers agree to sell their daughters to the slavers. Rumor has it that the girls disappear into Portuguese ships never to be seen again. The network of gambling dens has spread to several neighboring clans.

On her way back from her investigations, the Oniwaban in the guise of Kyoya realizes that she is being tailed. She gets cornered in an alleyway by two thugs but is able to fight her way out, stabbing one and grabbing documents from him in the process. Later, Kaisei uses these same documents as proof in his reply to the Nohebi. The response that the Nohebi sends makes the Oniwaban and the Takumi suspect that the clan is in cahoots with the Portuguese.

Portuguese Traders


End of the Twenty-Fourth Panel
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