There’s a small village in the Nezuko forest on the mainland of Honshu that has an importance out of all relation to its size.
The village only consists of a few dwellings.
A substantial store house because in spite of its small size this is a very wealth village.
It’s often visited by Holy men who always receive a warm welcome, Kami is explaining to Masatani how she cooks the mid day meal for travellers, as her idle husband Oe looks on, slowly sipping his Saki.
Korimi would like to receive the same warm welcome but as he is digging a new latrine for the village he knows that the smell will delay that welcome……a few weeks at least.
Inside one of the houses the local lord Okamoto Ichiro is in deep discussion with Ichi. Ichi often passes as his wife, sometimes his concubine and some time his housekeeper, she is none of these things.
Mate is also preparing food for some of the local workmen, she stands no backchat from these fellows, especially Inori who seems to be waving his weapon rather vigorously in her direction.
The village wealth is based on a shrine to one of the forest gods, the shrine is guarded night and day by well armed men.
As you can see the village is only small but as I explained very wealthy.
If it wasn’t for the armed men guarding the shrine and Inori’s men guarding the entrance to the village you might think it was ripe for a bold man to enter and remove the wealth without too much effort.
But you would be wrong, not having counted on the seriously scary Sorcerer Yoshifumi Susomi who lives in another of the houses with his Geisha friend Chiyo.
You might also be wondering how, if there are only 3 houses where the rest of the inhabitants sleep.
Well you’ve heard of hot bedding in modern day Tokyo, this village is where the concept was devised.
Hirano Nagayasu has heard of the Sorcerer Yoshifumi Susomi, tall tales don’t scare him, but wealth does attract him, so he’s decided to pay the village a visit and see which of the stories is true.
Two guards approach Hirano to see if he is friend or foe.
Kill them Hirano instructs his two most proficient retainers Katsua Takenori and Katagiri Katsumoto.
So that would be foe then!
The fight goes back and forth, well it’s just back for the guards and forth for the retainers. Kazu is pushed back into an obstacle and is cut down unceremoniously by Katagiri but the other guard puts up a spirited fight. Fighting desperately for his life Shoji retreats back and back, parrying each cut and thrust but he’s in dire straits.
The noise from the fight has alerted everyone else in the village, there is confusion amongst the inhabitants. Inori the commander of the village guard sees his men fighting for their lives and wonders how he can avoid joining in.
The two Samurai guarding the shrine believe their duty is to stay at their post come what may, and so don’t move forward.
Okamoto Ichiro and Ichi come out to see what is going on, Hirano rushes forward to attack Okamoto who is obviously a man of wealth and position, someone whom he can engage in combat as an equal. Hidemoto sees Ichi take up a fighting stance and flap her fan in his direction. This confuses Hidemoto, she should run away but shows no sign of doing so.
As Hirano tests Okamoto Ichiro’s defence he realises he is the superior swordsman, however he hasn’t remained alive in these troubled times by being rash. One fatal cut is all it takes for a man to die and he doesn’t intend it to be him, not today.
Ichi appears to be in trouble, she has fallen back before the pick on a stick that Hidemoto is wielding, but she retains her confidence that her training will help her beat the crude fighting style of the man she is facing.
Hirano’s retainers want to help their Lord but know if he perceives they have impugned his honour by implying he needs help, there will be consequences.
Consequences they don’t want to risk.
Swift as a striking snake Hirano slices through Okamoto’s leg and then plunges his katana into his chest. There is some smug satisfaction in knowing he was right. Okamoto’s defence was suspect.
Hidemoto is starting to be worried, his initial success against this frail woman has failed to end the fight and even with the help of Suma she is holding them back. Worse than that, she isn’t even slightly out of breath and he’s panting like a dog on heat.
Having killed the guard, Katagiri has rushed along the street towards the shrine, he hopes to be the first to fight the Samurai there. This will bring him great renown and he hopes reward from his Lord. He’s a rash young man with no caution, this might be his undoing.
A close up of Ichi, her fan is edged with sharpened steel blades. Centuries later a Birmingham gang called the Peaky Blinders would steal her ideas.
In the background the Sorcerer Yoshifumi Susomi has also emerged from a small house close to the shrine. He chants a spell of summoning. The chant reaches a crescendo, light flashes all around him and a pale green spectre appears above his head. He has summoned a Wraith.
Everyone reacts to the Wraith.
It turns out it’s not as scary as I thought it would be.
Kami shouts to her child playing in the street to get inside the house, and together they go into the building, followed very closely by Masatani. He reasons that a religious man shouldn’t get involved in street fighting, it is far beneath his dignity, besides that Wraith is a bit worrying.
Most of the characters involved in the story just take it in their stride. I’m a little disappointed by this response, I had great hopes of the figure.
Yoshifumi Susomi is exhausted by the summoning and can’t find the energy to direct it to attack anyone.
Hirano wanted to engage the Sorcerer in combat but he too is exhausted from his combat with Okamoto and can’t jog fast enough. He could have tried to run but that’s beneath his dignity.
Katagiri as I’ve said, is young and foolish, so he charges straight into combat with the Sorcerer. Yoshifumi fights back but the summoning has exhausted him and very quickly Katagiri’s steel finds an opening in his soft flesh and he falls beneath the blade of the proficient swordsman. As soon as the last breath leaves his body his summoning disappears back into the void and the whole raison d’etre for the game is gone.
Finally one of the guards from the shrine charges forward and attacks Hirano, the other one still maintains his vigil.
Seeing his paymaster killed and hearing the Wraith’s demonic scream as his Summoner is cut down, Inori decides he might as well find other employment and he and the last remaining gate guard leave the area.
After a combat that has taken forever to resolve, Shoje is finally cut down. Korimi the latrine cutter looks on in dismay but wisely decides not to intervene.
I think there might be some problem with my understanding of the laws of probability because although I’m trying to get some ebb and flow in a sword fight this one went on for about 6 turns with 2 rounds per turn, At one point Katsua was rolling 11 dice against Shoje’s 2 and still he refused to be defeated.
There’s a time when honour becomes secondary to survival and Hirano realizes that Kobiyashi the guard is a very proficient swordsman but he has the added advantage of wearing full armour. He is happy to allow his two retainers to assist him in defeating this opponent.
Meanwhile Ichi has finally got into her stride and is forcing her opponents to retreat before her ferocious attacks.
The small child in the street seems to have been forgotten in the excitement of the contact.
Kobiyashi is slowly loosing ground to the combined attacks of 3 opponents and his armour is taking quite a beating from their attacks. Hirano shouts above the din of combat and offers Kobiyashi quarter but he disdainfully refuses.
Try as she might Ichi can’t seem to land a killing blow and she is getting tired fighting two opponents.
The other guard Shida Takeshi decides that he should support Kobiyashi and he runs forward….slowly, but is met by Tada Zumi and Katsun Takenori. Katsun has run all the way from the village entrance after finally despatching the guard there. Together they make short work of Shida.
Yet again Hirano offers Kobiyashi quarter and this time with the odds so against him, he accepts.
He knows this will not enhance his reputation and employment with a new lord might be had to find, he contemplates his future mournfully.
Ichi might have been tiring but with a flurry of blows she finally cuts down her two opponents and as Katsua runs towards her she decides discretion is always the better part of valour and quickly runs away.
With her lipstick slightly smeared she makes her way out of the village, the only question now is; how will she get her revenge?
Well the other question is; will Hirano find the treasure in the shrine?
And I suppose a final question is; will he escape with the treasure if he finds it and if Ichi doesn’t get her revenge?
I guess there is the question of; who is Ichi?
You might have some other questions as well but these should keep me busy planning my next game.
Which of course will be something completely different.