Kanshigumi: The Ivory Lotus
A large jovial samurai with humble- and potentially disastrous- beginnings.
Tarochiyo stumbled in through the warehouse doors and shut them, dropping the wooden bolt into place and standing back. The sounds of combat came drifting through from outside. He sighed and turned, feeling much safer than he had a few seconds before. His eyes had not yet adjusted to the darkness in the building, and he stumbled about for a few moments, stubbing his toe on something that gave a dull, metallic thump. Curious, he kneeled to see what it was. Armor. His eyes widened in shock, helping him to make out the figure of the dead samurai on the ground before him.
“You’ve got to be joking.” He mumbled to himself, not quite sure what else to do. He sat back on his heels, considering the body. His eyes came to rest on the back banner that had presumably once belonged to the late samurai, displaying the Crab mon prominently at the top. A thought seemed to occur to him in the darkness. He began rifling through the man’s belongings. He stopped at the first scroll he found and unraveled it, taking it to a slit in the warehouse wall so he could read. After a few moments a grin spread across his face. “Jackpot.” He stripped the body, donned the armor, and waited for the sounds of combat to recede into the distance. He slipped out of the warehouse and headed for the only road he knew out of Oyabashi Mura.
A few hours of travel left him completely lost, though the daylight and privacy of the outdoors had given him ample chance to go over the other scrolls in the samurai’s pack. His new name was Hida Takao, a samurai of the Crab family. There was no evidence to suggest what he had been doing in Oyabashi Mura, but a name and a purpose were good enough for him. Takao noticed rice fields in the distance, and knew that there must be a village nearby.
“Oi! Boy, the sun is hot today, isn’t it?” Takao greeted the first farmer he saw, momentarily forgetting his newfound status.
“O-osamurai-sama?” The peasant stuttered, distraught. Takao stopped for a moment as realization dawned on him.
“What village does this belong to?” Takao’s voiced deepened somewhat, trying to fit himself to the image.
“Kakoichi Mura, osamurai-sama.” The peasant had dropped to his knees at this point, confusion replaced by submission.
“No, get up. I won’t stand for that sort of behavior.” Takao cracked a smile. “Get it? I won’t /stand/ for it?” He laughed a deep, bellowing laugh. The peasant returned to being confused and distressed, but stood slowly. “Good. Now, I’m on my way to Yasuki Yashiki. Would anyone in your village know the way there?”
“Osamurai-sama, t-there’s a band of m-merchants here to collect this s-s-season’s harvest. T-they can lead you t-there.”
“How fortuitous! Take me to ‘em!” The peasant began to make his way down the road, with Takao in tow. After about an hour, the fields gave way to the village proper, all ramshackle rice paper huts and dust.
“All villages look the same, huh.” Takao said, mostly to himself. His peasant guide started to turn and give him another confused look, but decided against it. Off in the distance, a caravan was being loaded with bundles of rice from the warehouse. The peasant stopped and turned to Takao, pointing to the men overseeing the activity.
“Much obliged.” The peasant stood there, dumbfounded as to having received a thank you from such a high-ranking figure. Takao was grinning. “What’s your problem, eh? You look like you’ve seen an oni.” The peasant dropped to the ground and began a long string of apologies. Takao sighed. “Don’t you have work to do? You left yer field.” The peasant leapt to his feet.
“Hai, osamurai-sama!” He scampered back off down the road. Takao adjusted his cuirass and began his approach to the caravan head.
A long, bellowed “Oi!” heralded his approach to the overseers, who turned to face Takao as he sauntered down the dirt road. There was some confused bowing as he made his way over.
“Hida-sama-“ One of the men began to speak as Takao stopped before the group of them.
“Yep, that’s me alright. I hear you guys are headed to Yasuki Yashiki!” The man hesitated, having been interrupted.
“Yes, Hida-sama, that is our destination.”
“Wonderful! Mind if I join you?” There were some looks shared amongst the men. The man addressing Takao looked around at the lot of them, then back again.
“It would be our pleasure, Hida-sama.” The man’s sarcastic tone flew right over Takao’s head, and he gave another thick, hardy laugh.
“Fantastic!” Takao turned, now unsure of what to do. He once again looked over at the caravan being loaded with crates and bundles. “Oi, need any help!” He made his way over to the workers, none of which seemed to care as he hefted two bundles and walked over to the caravan. One of the merchants made his way to the caravan head, looking bemused.
“And who exactly is this?” The leader’s forehead wrinkled somewhat.
“I don’t know, Maku-san. I don’t know.”