Friday, July 1, 2016


Bobby Derie

The wind shook the cherry blossoms on a moonless night. Even this late, the daimyo's house was not still. A babe cried and was put to breast. Soldiers diced quietly on their watch. An old servant, long past his prime, died silently in the toilet from heartstop.

Jono, had been carefully retrieving the weapons and gear he had cached in the lavatory earlier when the old man had come in for a piss. Carefully but quickly, he undid the greyhaired corpe's pants and set him in a squatting position over the open latrine. With any luck, no-one would find him until the morning.

The servant's latrine sat back-to-back with that of the daimyo and his family; rich or poor, all the same shit flowed into the same trench. A thin screen, set high in the connecting wall, provided ventilation. With acrobatic ease, Jono carefully climbed the wall and removed the screen, which he had loosened earlier, and squeezed through the gap, taking care to replace it from the other side.

The discreet passage placed him in the same suite as the daimyo's quarters with his family - and tonight, Jono knew, the daimyo's wife and children were on their way to Edo. Fewer complications and witnesses to the job - for tonight, the daimyo would die.

After waiting for his eyes to adjust to the darkness, Jono stalked, softly as a cat, into the next chamber. The sound of soft breathing greeted him as he picked out the outlines of furniture, the shape of the guards cast against the paper walls from the lantern. He moved towards the sound of breathing, keeping always to the darkest shadows.

As he knelt next to the bed, the occupant suddenly moved. A warm, soft hand grasped the back of Jono's neck, a warm tongue sought his mouth. Thoughts of the daimyo's imminent demise suddenly vanished against a much more immediate concern.

Which was why, a few minutes later, a lantern flashed into the room, and the daimyo's favorite mistress screamed and held her hand in front of her eyes at the sudden light. The daimyo stood at the entrance of the room, flanked by two guards. Jono, his pants around his knees and still rather engaged with the mistress, felt his heart pound a bit quicker as it flashed off the polished steel of drawn swords.

"Shinobi!" the daimyo cried, as he caught sight of Jono's gear. The ninja grinned.

The tiny throwing-axe swirled through the air and caught the daimyo in the face, splitting his forehead and half of his nose. As the wounded man collapsed, one of the guards reached to catch him; the other surged forwards.

In a smooth motion, Jono moved into a half-crouch while drawing the two small hand-axes he kept holstered at the small of his back. The mistress, still screaming and seated in his lap, began to go cry as the armed swordsman moved towards them, but hadn't yet had the thought to push herself off.

The swordsman, for his part, hesitated before delivering a stroke at the bare-breasted woman. It was opening enough for Jono, who surged forward, hooking the guard's left knee with one axe while the other was raised to fend off the katana. Jono pulled forward, and the guard went down on his back, where he was granted a brief glimpse of the still-entwined ninja and concubine before Jono's axe slashed across his neck.

The other guard issued a cry; the daimyo was slumped against the door, blood pouring between his hands as he held them to his wounded face. Jono heard more feet coming, the vibrations pounding through the floor, and the second guard rushed forwards.

With a tremendous grunt, Jono suddenly stood up, flexing his thighs, which launched the undressed courtesan in an ungainly arc to crash into the guard, the both of them falling backwards in a tumble. Jono wasted no time in securing his trousers, but stepped forwards and pinned the guard's sword-hand to the floor, then brought his axe down. The guard screamed and blood spurted across the floor; the concubine screamed louder at the arterial spray.

Sighing in post-coital release, he thought the crimson really set off the lovely paleness of her skin.

Kneeling over the daimyo, the still half-undressed ninja dropped the axe in his left hand and grabbed the noble's topknot. It was not an ideal situation, especially given the fact that the daimyo was struggling, so Jono did not feel too bad that it took three chops for the daimyo to stop wiggling, neck reduced to a red ruin but still connected by bits of artery and integument, and a fourth before the head finally came free.

The daimyo's mistress was reduced to a sobbing mess in the room, trying desperately to cover herself as she shied away from the corpses. Jono blew her a kiss. A moment later, the paper wall collapsed as a dozen guards burst in. The half-naked man tossed something hard at the ground in front of them; fire and smoke suddenly assailed them, though to their credit the guards were only taken aback for a moment, and then charged forwards, swords swinging at the smoke...and finding nothing.

The wind shook the cherry blossoms on a moonless night. The house shook as every torch and lamp was lit; guards tearing the house apart, the whole compound on alert and searching for the murder. In the latrine pit, Jono stared philosophically at the bare backside of the aged servant - who still had not been found; it would be at least a few more minutes before the guards got to this room. Jono squatted knee-deep in filth, trying to breathe as little as possible, an axe at the ready. If luck was with him, none of the guards would think to check the pit.


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