Samurai Spirits: End of an Era
by Nick Kimbrel
Homepage: The Dojo
Chapter 5 : Colliding Forces
During the troublesome times of warfare and turmoil, a man named Tokugawa Ieyasu struggled to unify the country of Japan. Finally completing this task in 1603 he became Shogun, leading Japan into years of prosperous wealth. All was not good, however, and rumors of warfare once again spread over Japan like lice in the summer. Various daimyo throughout the lands wished to overthrow Ieyasu, stripping him of his title. After only a few years as Shogun Ieyasu transferred his position to his son, Hidetata. The new Shogun had greater problems than the uncooperative daimyo to worry about. He sensed a greater power in the recent weeks that threatened his position. To the public it was nothing more than a stretch of bad weather, but Hidetata knew better. Resting on his knees in one of the small rooms of his castle in Edo, Hidetata pondered the situation while enjoying a small cup of tea.
"You wished to see me master?" Came a voice from behind Hidetata.
Without turning around the Shogun replied, "Yes Jubei, please come inside."
Sliding the door shut behind him, Jubei kneeled down in front of his master. There was an uneasy silence as Hidetata picked up his cup of tea, took a few sips, then once again placed it on the small table that lay between the two men.
"Believe it or not," Said Hidetata, shifting his position, "I called you here this evening to talk about this weather we have been having recently."
"The weather?" Asked Jubei, his face riddled with confusion.
"That is correct. What do you make of it?"
"Well…" Replied Jubei, clearing his throat, "There have been rumors recently that various daimyo are interested in a power source that has been fermenting in the Kamui forest."
"You think this new power source could be having an effect the atmosphere?" Asked Hidetata.
"That seems to be the only logical explanation sir."
"Yes, perhaps you are right…" Hidetata paused as he took a sip of his tea, "I will send a few members of the Iga clan to the Kamui forest to investigate the situation." Jubei nodded. He assumed that the Shogun would want whatever was generating so much power for his own keepsake, and would stop at nothing to get it. He would rather have his master gain possession of this item rather than have it fall into the wrong hands. He decided then that he would ensure the items safe arrival at any cost.
"I have a job for you, Jubei." Said Hidetata, getting to his feet.
Walking towards the left side of the room, Hidetata slid open a door and stepped out onto a small balcony. A cool breeze swept through the tiny room, instantly refreshing both Hidetata and Jubei.
"I have heard of a capable samurai by the name of Tachibana Ukyo. I want you to deliver him a message, expressing our interest in his abilities. I would be delighted to have a young samurai such as himself under my watch. Money is not a factor, give him whatever he wants. He should be residing in the town of Osaka at this time."
"Yes sir." Answered Jubei.
Jubei had heard of this man they call Ukyo. His name was amongst the tongue of the townspeople. He was often described as one of the greatest samurai to walk the earth. Some have gone so far as to say that he was undefeatable. Jubei had his reservations about him, however. From the stories he was told, he concluded that Ukyo was a bit snobbish and far too over-confident in his abilities.
"That is all Jubei." Said Hidetata, looking out over the town of Edo, "Leave for Osaka first thing in the morning."
"Yes sir." Replied Jubei, standing up to take his leave.
Slipping out the door without a sound, Jubei left the Shogun to enjoy the rest of the night in peace.
The Iga ninja clan originated during the turbulent times of feudal Japan. The head of the Iga clan, Hattori Hanzo, found fame alongside Jubei as the most able vassal of the great Tokugawa Ieyasu. Making Ieyasu's affairs their top priority, Hanzo and Jubei fought tirelessly until their master earned the title he so richly deserved. During his service, Hanzo was assigned to lead a group of ninja known as the Iga clan. They performed a multitude of tasks for the soon to be Shogun including gathering intelligence and assassinations. Hanzo was disappointed, to say the least, when Ieyasu decided to hand his title over to his son. He had little respect for the new Shogun. When amongst his fellow ninja, he referred to him as an inexperienced brat profiting from his father's hard work. The recent disappearance of his eldest son, Shinzo, has only added to his frustration. Jubei handled the situation in a more professional manner. He would take orders from the Shogun regardless of who stood behind the title. Both the Shogun and Jubei were blind to the fact that Hanzo despised Hidetata. Inside a small, isolated castle a cloaked man sat in front of a kneeling ninja.
"When will we send out a scouting group father?" Asked the young ninja.
"Have patience Kanzo." Said the man, getting to his feet, "We will wait for orders from the Shogun. That naive fool won't suspect a thing."
A black silhouette passed by a large, pearly moon as a single crow swooped down and gripped its talons around an unsuspecting rodent.
to be continued
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