The Field of Red Flowers
Ren's Records 4
9. My father used to say that “It isn’t what you are capable of that defines you, but what you do and what you stand for.”
We remained in the onsen for an other day, to allow Yamamoto to recover properly. Morning broke the day after, and we were about to set out. Satsuko was nowhere to be seen for the moment, and I had not seen her since we woke the morning before. I’m fairly certain she had been sleeping inside the temple, I assume the place would help heal her much quicker. The others in our party set out, on Ryuji’s command, but I remained to wait for Satsuko. It was not long before she arrived. She wondered why I waited for her. The question gave me cause for concern. For me it seemed a natural thing, specially considering the risk of an Ookami being after her. But seeing as she asked, she did not view it this way. As I attempted to explain my position, I fear I insulted her somehow. Does she deem me wanting to protect her as a claim to me being stronger than her? Does she believe I might to take something away from her? I wouldn’t know… Either way, she challenged me, and ultimately even attacked me. I am still weakened, but even if I wasn’t, I would not fight her. I simply avoided her attacks, and attempted to speak to her. We went out separate ways, Satsuko through the forrest, and myself on the road. I caught up with the group, and explained my blunder to lord Takeda. I say blunder, but I dare any mortal to attempt to understand the ways of spirits without making a mistake or two.
After sometime of traversing, mostly walking as the day was a warm one and many of us preferred walking over riding in such weather, we reached the foot of a mountain. Well, the beginning of a noticeable inclination, at least. It was marked by a torii gate, as well as a spirit shrine. The shrine was well taken care of, which is a surprise so far away from any civilization. Presumably some hunter who wishes to appease the local spirits, I suppose. Either way, I thought little of it at the time. Though, it would come to matter later on. Up ahead there would be a hill, with an outpost and it was decided that I would go through the forrest, and scout out the camp while the others went down the road, and charged right on. I figured I would have to be quick, and moving through the forrest quickly is not forte, at least not if I am to be stealthy, as well. Therefor, I sat down… Gather what Chi that I had, and powered up my running speed. I will not lie, there was a part who was worried about this… This is not an ability I had often used, therefor in my current condition I didn’t know how I would react to it, but it appeared to not be an issue at all. I wasn’t able to attain the speed and nimble movements as usually could, but no matter.
After getting about half way, I started considering asking Satsuko for assistance ones I arrive. But, I hesitated because of our previous encounter. Either way, when I arrived I made a quick headcount, adding a hypothetical number due to the number of sleeping positions, as I wasn’t able to see everyone. I was able to over hear a conversation that gave me a great deal of information, most specifically the existence of an other Takeda. Her name was mentioned while speaking of the things that might happen to her during the mountain day festival. I remained on the ground for a bit of time before getting up in the trees, overlooking the watch tower. There were three people up there. I listened to them, but most of what I could tell was that they weren’t fully happy with the current system, and that it was most likely only the guy downstairs who was an actual bandit among them. Either way, I sat down on the branch, and waited.
I waited until I saw lord Takeda charging. The ‘guards’ in the tower attempted to light the signal fire, but I scouted that out earlier, and threw a kunai to prevent the lighting. After that I elected to stop an arrow from Abe… I appeared in front of the guards, and caught the arrow. Abe shot again, so I defended and lit my sword up, and waved it to message Abe that the tower was clear. One of the guards nearly fell down, but I caught him. I went down to lord Takeda, and conveyed what information was needed. We executed the bandit, after getting what information we could from him. And Satsuko pointed to one of the guards from the tower, and she got her hunt also. Either way, the dead was cleaned up and I remained up in the tower. Abe was up there with me, we spoke for a bit before he left to get food with Ryoichi. I asked Abe to get Sakura to come with me, as she was ready for the next level of training. Building physique and skill with the blade is always important for a samurai, but there is one thing that is even more important… I asked her two questions that every warrior must ask him or herself sooner or later… Why one fights, and what the weight of ones blade is. I can imagine that people ask this question in as many different ways, as there are answers for it. Even so, they are important. Specially since we have so many different, yet experienced, warriors in the group, I figured that speaking to them and asking what their answers were might give her some insight as well. She said she may have already have an idea for it.
It was not long before people started getting to bed. I was up in the tower, and I could hear Sakura training in the distance. There was something else odd… It was too quiet. While training with the Akatsuki, my master often spoke of the limitations of sticking too hard to the teachings of stealth… In that if you are too quiet, if you are too foreign to the area, you can be noticed due to the stillness you bring around you. The oddities in the forrest reminded me of this, for the forrest was disturbed… Not in a way that causes sound, but in a way that removes sound. I hoped into the trees, and disappeared. I went to Sakura, and told her to go and wake Abe, and inform him of the situation. I continued my search for who or what was around. I spotted a pack of wolfhounds. Five of them towards the north. I remember a tactic that the Akatsuki sometimes use to have a few scare the victims to run in the other way where an ambush lies and waits. Because of this, I went to the opposite side of the camp, and found a lone wolfhound. I took it out without a sound. I cut off a claw, and made 5 marks in it, and tossed it to Abe to let him know what we are dealing with. He had already started stringing his bow. I went back to the north, and waited for the action to start.
I positioned myself above them, and as they started moving I landed on the leading one. I wanted to demoralize the wolfhounds, but it appears I mostly made them angrier. They charged me, and began tearing at me. I was able to keep them at bay first, but thanks to my weakened state I got tired very quickly. The second round they tore at me, and I was barely able to stay alive. Before they were able to go for me again Abe shot a dog dead, lady Asai charged in in front of me, with Sakura alongside her. I placed myself behind them and readied my defenses. The dogs came at Asai and Sakura, but I burst in and batted the dogs aside. Asai performed her famous kiai, and made the dogs confused. I went in and applied my Akatsuki poison to the dogs, as well. Right after the dogs charged at me and tore me apart.
I thought I was dead, but I saw something… Chi flowing, very strongly… But not within me, but rather towards me. Before my eyes opened, I could tell what had happened… Sakura’s Chi awoke upon seeing me fall. She struck the dogs down. And upon awakening, she forced out what Chi she left of her from myself. With the Chi returned it appears my survival instinct kicked in, and I was able to heal myself. She turned to me, and answered the questions I gave her earlier. I was barely awake, and don’t recall her exact words… But I remember answering with a smile. I lost conscience after that.
I woke up later being bandaged up. I saw Ryuji, he had won against the bigger wolf. Much of the the evening is a blur to me. But I do recall Ryoichi telling me about Abe’s feelings for me… I am not certain what I feel about this. Anyway, we left early the next morning. We left the horses, and the servants. Kiyo was very displeased about this, as I recall… I was speaking to lady Asai, and she ended up yelling at Kiyo. I don’t know what I felt about it. When Kiyo had left, I told lady Asai off… Not for telling Kiyo off, but for calling her a whore. Lady Asai was a bit put off by this, but she appeared to understand and respect my position.
My clothes were shattered, and Sakura was drenched in blood… So the coming travel would be tough for us. Yamamoto was carried by Ryuji, of course. After a while Sakura collapsed. I picked her up, and helped her walk for the rest of the day. Until we arrived at the spring. My tired mind wasn’t very attentive, I was about to strip Sakura, and toss her into the spring… But the others correctly stopped me, as we needed the water to drink. But after a bit, the guys left as we wonen needed the cleaning more due to Sakura. Me and Megumi took turns cleaning each others hair as well. When we rejoined the men, and we discussed the plans for the coming attack. We came to the conclusion that I would disguise myself, and gather information. It wasn’t too much later that we went to sleep.
The next day we set out, without Sakura and Yamamoto. As Sakura had a strong fever running, and Yamamoto was to stay behind and care for her. As much as my feelings were in turmoil over this, I buried them and we set out. And eventually we reached the summit, I got ready and left the camp. Abe had volunteered to keep watch, and stay at a sniper position. I felt reassured, as I know how he feels about me I feel confident that he will cover me. It became as such that Satsuko would come with me for further protection. I had a heart to heart with Satsuko regarding our misunderstanding. We also spoke about the fact that neither of us understand human interaction. Even so, I was able to enter the village with no trouble. I was disguised as a herb gatherer, and my cover was that I would deliver herbs for the festival. The actual leader wasn’t in the village, but I was directed to his second in command. The guards outside his house, seemed impressed by my physique. They even recommended me to become one of them. At first I wasn’t sure what I thought about this. But it seemed as if maybe I could be the guard of the young Takeda Lady, which would indeed help…