Shadow of IchizokuA Story by Nicholas Woode-Smith
A shinobi is hired to assassinate the Daimyo of a rival clan within the fictitious nation of the Aranzi Shogunate.
The pink cherry leaf drifted elegantly past the cherry tree. Falling and landing in a small fountain, the impact created calm ripples across the surface of the recently stagnant and calm water. The disfigured image of the moon reflected on the water’s rippling surface, to be blocked by the reflection of a patrolling Tachigari guard. The guard’s stony gaze surveyed the courtyard as he patrolled its perimeter, not allowing any interlopers to harm his ruling Daimyo. At the Tachigari’s side, rested a katana crafted from Zuro wood, a strong substance that, when melted and laminated, created an excellent metal substitute. It could not replace the excellent craftsmanship of a genuine steel blade, however. The moonlight glinted off the shined blade and ricocheted onto the Taitangan that the Tachigari was wielding. The Taitangan was also made of Zuro wood but the metal substitute made little difference when used in firearms.
The sound of loud trudging came from the feet of the patrolling Tachigari " a noisy warrior, but his actions were well meant. This man was loyal to his clan and would give his life to protect it. That is exactly what he would end up doing " a shame he wouldn’t be able to do it to protect his liege. As the Tachigari turned, a shadow readjusted its position on the branches of the cherry tree. A flick, a swish, a thud: the shuriken had found its mark, firmly in the jugular of the Tachigari. The shadow leapt from the tree and landed softly on the cobble tiles. The dark figure surveyed its surroundings and when it knew the coast was clear, dragged the body into a bush. The figure exited the bush; it donned a black suit from head to toe with a small slit for eyes. On its back was a katana, a fine blade made of steel and a veteran of countless assassinations, duels and wars. An array of gadgets and blades could be seen on the figure’s front, ranging from shurikens, smoke bombs, poison, foot traps and throwing knives; on his side rested two sai daggers and a silenced pistol.
The figure was a ninja. Called a shadow of Ichizoku, these fighters and assassins were known to have near inhuman abilities and would hire out their dishonourable skills to anyone in Aran who could provide them with their necessary fee. The ninja’s silent sneaking halted, a flicker could be seen from around the corner of one of the paper-like houses common in Kaminova Province. Three…no Four Tachigari were coming his way. Three wielded the katana while one carried a Taitangan. The ninja sank into the shadows, once again becoming one with his surroundings. The group passed, not noticing the presence of the man they were meant to look out for. As the group turned a corner, the ninja silently drew his sai daggers and snuck behind the Taitanganna who was guarding the rear. He plunged the daggers into the unsuspecting tachigari’s exposed neck. As a katana Tachigari turned, the ninja flipped over the still stumbling corpse of his most recent kill and drew his katana. Landing behind the katana Tachigari, he skewered the fighter through the solar plexus. Before the other katana units could shout, he dispatched both with his shurikens.
He checked his watch and was shocked to see he was running behind schedule by 50 seconds. Rushing towards the daimyo house, not caring about the discovery of the bodies, he fired his silenced pistol at all Tachigari he saw. He leapt up onto the roof of the main building and tore a hole in it with his steel katana. Climbing through the hole, he landed on a rafter which he then proceeded to traverse towards his target. Meditating in the centre of an incense filled room was his target: the Daimyo of the Zerikaza clan. The Daimyo was facing the wall opposite to the ninja’s position on the rafters.
He was wearing his helmet and armour of office. The armour however was ceremonial and would not stop a well placed stab from a katana. The ninja drew his katana, calculated the jump and then leapt, katana facing downward. He landed with a thud and the sound of his blade sliding through the neck of his target. Satisfied, he pulled out the katana to see the head fall off and reveal itself to be a fake. Shocked, he stood there agape until he felt a sharp pain in his back and then stomach. He looked down to his chest to see the tip of a steel blade, and then everything went black.
© 2012 Nicholas Woode-Smith
Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa
AboutI was born and live in Cape Town, South Africa. I mainly write science fiction and fantasy but also delve into dystopia and politics. Politics and philosophy interests me greatly and have a profound i.. more..