Having vanquished the highwaymen, we continued again on our journey. Shortly after resuming our travel, we passed a samurai on the road, but he showed little interest in us, and after stepping aside to let us pass continued quickly on his way. Further up the road, we came upon an injured peasant. His cart had collapsed on him and he was pinned underneath, badly injured. No one was stopping to help, as one would expect, but Matsumoto approached the peasant right away to check on his condition. I asked Shinji to help lift the cart off the poor man, and together he and Matsumoto managed to push the cart off the road. I was then able to heal the worst of the man’s wounds, and fashion for him a splint and crutches.
When the peasant awoke, he informed us that he lived only a short way down the road. Hearing this Matsumoto ran off to fetch them, and before they took him home the peasant offered Jiho 20 sp in gratitude, which Jiho graciously accepted. Shinji helped the family carry the supplies back from the cart to their home and then we set out down the road once more.
We journeyed onto the imperial high road and traveled uneventfully. From here we turned southward onto the Funai coastal road. Three days later we were greeted by the sight of smoke. When we turned the bend, we found a village being put to the sword by Samurai in black lacquer armor. The armor in fact, was a match for that worn by the arrogant Samurai that we had met on the road by the shrine. Unfortunately, Jiho drew the notice of the soldiers and arrow fire forced us into the woods. I took a rather bad arrow wound, but I was able to heal myself.
We made camp in the woods at Jiho’s suggestion and the next day we saw a hundred of the armored Samurai marching down the coastal road. After some discussion, we decided it was best to continue down the road, and managed to travel for some time without incident.
One night while I was on watch, I noticed floating flames over the water off the edge of the road. After a period of time trying to figure out what they were, I was unable determine the source of the lights. Thus, I roused the camp, and after some time Matsumoto climbed down the short cliff to investigate. Once at the bottom Matsumoto was able to determine that the lights were just bottled fires on fishing ships. On the way back up, Matsumoto twisted his ankle, but with the aid of some rope was able to make it to the top quite easily. We then returned to sleep feeling a little embarrassed, but also relieved.
Soon we entered a small village. There we were able to ask about the carnage we had witnessed further back along the road. We were told that the village we had seen being burned was known as Asadan. It was part of the domain of Lord Yojin Toshi, who had ordered it raised to the ground when it attempted to defect to a Kigai family.
After a brief discussion in town we set out for the Tokachi River bridge. Much to our dismay we found that the bridge was swamped with workers, attempting to replace large missing sections. There we met Iwaharo Kenzo, a samurai in charge of the repairs, who told us that the bridge appeared to have been damaged by a tree swept down the river, and that we would not be proceeding that way.
With the bridge closed, we traveled back to the nearby village to search for anyone who might know another route south. On our way back into town, we saw a disheveled samurai stumble out of a brothel followed by woman in a torn kimono. The samurai struck her down with his hand and shortly after an older woman came running out of the building yelling at him. In rage, he turned and cut her down. Without hesitation, Jiho pulled and let fly an arrow, swiftly ending the drunken samurai’s life before he could dishonor himself further.
We returned to the tool salesmen, Shisu, who we had earlier asked about the soldiers on the road, and inquired into an alternate route. He tried to dissuade us from the idea, but seeing our persistence he reluctantly agreed to lead us through the mountain route if we would cover some of his expenses. We agreed and I told Shinji to take care of the money.
The next day, we began our trip through the mountains. Shisu was constantly nervous, and eventually confided in Jiho that the people of Funai hold a belief that the mountains are haunted by the spirits of those who died their during the last revolution.
Along the mountain path, we arrived at a monastery. There we met a man named Sanada Kojiroh, who told us that he had been a samurai, but following his master’s death he had set out in search of enlightenment. He immediately recognized Matsumoto as a trained fighter and requested to spar with him. Matsumoto managed to skillfully play down his ability and continued to claim himself a simple herbalist. Apparently convinced enough, Kojiroh requested to battle Shinji. I attempted to decline, but did manage to due so tactfully, and so I acquiesced.
Kojiroh skillfully crafted a wooden sword from a tree branch and he and Shinji joined combat. After a few quick moves it was over, and Shinji was victorious. Shinji proudly rejoined the group and Kojiroh, after a short comment, returned to his meditation.
A short walk further down the path, we met the monks. Outside the monastery we met Brother Kihuya who informed us that we had arrived at Tamiya Monastery. He offered us housing, and seeing as the hour was getting a bit late, we gratefully accepted. When Brother Kihuya learned that we were headed for Jinsho he told us that the abbot of the monastery was a former samurai of Jinsho and that he would be very interested in meeting us. Inside we were led up to Abbot Motei. After a brief introduction he sent the Brother Kihuya, to tend to Shinji and Matsumoto, while invited Jiho and I to sit down to tea with him.
Brother Otoh brought us tea, and Abbot Motei began to converse with us. In veiled language he inquired into our purpose. It was clear that he knew much more of Jiho and I than would be expected, and he seemed to be quite aware of my diplomatic mission. His words suggested that he did not necessarily approve of visitors who would lead Funai back into other regions’ conflicts, but Jiho and I seemingly convinced him that we merited his aid and not his opposition. He offered to send word ahead to Jinsho through his connections so that we would be aided and expected.
We slept in the upper floor of the monastery, and the next morning awakened to find the abbot gone. Brothers Otoh and Kihuya explained that he had departed the monastery, but also that he had left behind a gift for Jiho. They presented to him a cloth which contained 6 magical arrows.
Now that we have rested, we are preparing leave again along the mountain roads.
- From the papers of Matsue Takiyo