Tales of the Sea Bitch (9)
Lady Miyara pointed out that she is sure Takashi did
not kill him, something I'd thought for a while. As she said, he
would not have sent Rika, he would have done it himself.
Lady Miyara opened the door. Takashi was
waiting expectantly at the top of the stairs.
She said, "We are not sure yet who was ultimately
responsible for your father's death. I have one more lead to
follow, and I believe I will have an answer for you very soon."
Takashi said, "Do you know who the assassin is?"
She paused for a long time, and said, "We are not
completely certain, no."
"But you suspect?"
"We have two possibilities. I think we can
clear that matter up very quickly if you will let us on our way."
"What do you intend to do when you find the
She paused again, and says, "It somewhat depends on
who the assassin is, but I suspect that we will need your help in
ferreting out the one responsible behind it."
"When you discover who the assassin is, would you do
me the honor of allowing me to know before you carry out justice?"
I thought he knew the answer. He was asking us
not to kill Rika unless we were sure, and let him know first. (If
it's a samurai, we can't kill him on the spot. If it's lower, we
have the right and possibly duty to carry out the sentence on the spot,
which would be death.)
Lady Miyara agreed, and thanked him for his
assistance. We walked past him and down the stairs.
It was still morning. We walked to the Pine
House to speak with Rika.
I suggest positioning Tony at the back. I said
I'd like to stay near Phoebe because we know Rika can handle a sword,
and if the lady in charge taught Rika, then that's another swordsman.
MIyara says "You doubt I can protect Phoebe?"
I say she might want someone to protect her back
while she's doing it.
Peter suggested stopping by the Inn to pick up some
more muscle, Donku in particular. It's not a bad idea to back up
Tony, who'll have Grieg there too.
Miyara asks me if I want my bow, and I say yes, and
I'd like to change out of these silks.
She says I look almost respectable, but does so with
We stopped at the Inn to pick up bow and change into
my normal clothes, while Tony picked up his shield. Tony picked
up Donku too, the cook carrying a frying pan and a butcher knife in a
Tony took charge of guarding the outside, in the
front with Grieg while Donku covered the back, with Sun also in the
front but hanging back from the front line. Peter came inside
with us ladies.
Miyara knocked at the door. There was no
prompt answer. She tried to open the door, but it was
bolted. Then she started to pound on the door.
After a short while, a large male voice said
"Coming! coming!" That was followed by unbarring the door,
and the bouncer opened it. He said, "We're closed."
"I don't care. I need to speak with Rika right
He said she wasn't here and didn't know where she
Mi demanded to speak with mistress Komiko. She
did not let him shut the door, but went in.
The man shuffled off into the back.
Several minutes pass. "time to secure the
Mi says, "Let's go."
There is only one floor, built much like the hotel
with rooms around a central courtyard. It's smaller than the
hotel in that all the rooms are on the courtyard with the hallway
around the outside.
There is no-one in any of the front rooms, where the
entertainment would be.
Me and Phoebe went left, looking through all the
rooms, while Peter and Mi went right.
We found nothing until the back hall. There
were smaller rooms on both sides of the hallway back there.
((Mi on the back hall found a room with five women,
none of them Rika, none dressed in geisha garb, just normal
clothes. Reading, talking, sitting.
"Where is Rika?" said Mi.
They all look frightened, then one of them stammers
that they don't know.
"Stay here, don't go anywhere," and Mi continues
Second door on the back hallway has an old woman
(Madam Komiko), and she's sitting eating and reading. Bouncer is
there, talking with her.
"Where's Rika?" I said.
"Who are you?" she said.
"We are not open. We are never open for
"I am here at the bidding of the magistrate of
Miyara. She needs to speak with Rika."
"I don't know where Rika is. She went out this
morning, I don't know where she is."
"Is that true?" I asked Phoebe.
Phoebe said., "No."
"Who are you?"
Komiko gives her name, "Proprietess of the Pine
House," and stands up.
I shouted, "Lady Miyara, Komiko is here."
Lady Miyara joined us while Peter checked the rest
of the rooms ((a kitchen, storage rooms)). She stood there
looking imposing and dangerous, and said, "I need Rika now."
(You have to see Kimoko's point, suddenly these
elves burst in and shout at her.)
Ko stands up firmly and says Rika went out this
morning and doesn't know where she is, but she will be back in time for
I looked over at Phoebe.
Phoebe nodded, "This time that was the truth."
(Of course I assume something it was something in the phrasing that
made the first one an evasion.)
Mi told her not to let anyone else here to leave for
the day. If Rika shows, she is to keep her here and not let her
leave. Mi said she would leave one of her people here to come and
get her when Rika gets here.
Me said, "Might I suggest Tony and Grieg."
This was one thing where Grieg's power would be ideal.
Mi called for us to meet at the front door.
She told us all that Rika was not here, but was due to return
tonight. Tony and Grieg she orders to stay here and not let
anyone leave to warn her, and to fetch her as soon as Rika turns up and
keep Rika here.
A 10 year old. boy walks up and asks if we are
looking for RIka. He says he knows where she is.
Mi says to take her there.
Tony and Grieg are to stay here, with Donku to cover
The boy lead us to a part of town we'd never been
I was watching for trouble, of course, and expecting
it. As we rounded a corner at a jog, I suddenly realized it went
into a dead end, but with doorways all along here. I looked
immediately for the guys across the street waiting to close it up, and
there they are playing dice and definitely not paying attention to us.
I said, "It's a trap." I'm sorely tempted to
take down the child with the bow.
"Bring them on," I said with a smile. "Shall I
take down the kid?"
Miyara told me not to let him get away. I took
that to mean plug him if we're attacked.
It was about 40 yards down this dead end street.
When we were half way down, the boy turned around
and said she was at "That house," the one at the end. He
continued to jog straight ahead.
The men had got up from their dice game and were
walking down the street a long way behind us.
We continued to chase the boy as he went towards
We reached the door, and still no-one had made any
The boy stopped and was just waiting.
The men up the alley were about ten yards down the
street. I put my bow away as Lady Miyara knocked loudly on the
Doors all down the street started to open, but not
this one. In each of the doors was a fighter, armed and
armored. There was no insignia. They were ronin.
The boy was looking a bit worried.
The door was barred as Lady Miyara found when she
tried to open it. She kicked the door open.
Immediately into the light stepped another armed and
honored man, who said, "What do you want with Rika?"
"I need to speak with her," said Mi.
"She's not available. Why do you need to speak
"Make her available."
"Rika is well liked around here. You will not
get any help in attacking her."
"I have no intention of attacking her. I
simply want to speak with her."
"It is none of your concern."
I am really starting to like our boss.
"I'm afraid I am forced to make it my concern."
Mi opened her mouth to speak, but before she could
do so his blade leapt from his scabbard. She drew her katana and
wakizashi, while I whipped out my rapier.
She dodged his blow expertly.
I covered her back. "Come on, you dogs, show
us what you've got! I got a rapier here says you got nothing!"
Peter and Phoebe were somewhat safely between us.
None of them are close enough to me yet. I
beckoned them with my rapier, shouting, "Bring it on! Davy Jones
take the last one!"
Behind me, the swordsprincess slashed into her
attacker. He collapsed. Lady Miyara stepped into the room,
told us to follow her in and bar the door.
Reluctantly I blew them a raspberry and closed the
door behind me. The boy had run away down some tiny gap between
As we went in, they charged.
"Guard the door," said Miyara, like I needed
telling. I took up position eagerly, "Come on, who's going to be
First was someone who caught me while I was
shouting, a perfect blow that I had no chance to defend. That
hurt, hurt a lot.
((Miyara checks the man on the floor, who is not
dead. He is now.))
Phoebe shouted to me to duck. I made sure I
did so in my move, but it compromised my attack which only struck
((Phoebe mind blasted him with a fatigue attack))
((Miyara covered what was now our backs, inside the
I failed to parry the next blow, was struck and went
((Miyara stepped forward, pulled me out of the way,
and covered the door.
Peter ran over to me, while Phoebe was there already.
Miyara struck, slicing home hard.))
I woke with Phoebe sitting exhausted beside
me. I grinned at her broadly, patted her, and sprung up to join
"Haha! Takes more than that to take down the
Sea Bitch!" Quietly to Phoebe, "Thanks, love."
Miyara strikes again, wounding him heavily. He
limped back while the others stepped back.
The stabbed one moves to the rear and passed out,
while the others formed a half circle about five yards from the door.
This is a one-room building, and there's no-one
alive but us here now. The scurvy knaves outside haven't
moved. It's either a retreat or an attempt to draw us out.
"So, now that's settled, where's Rika?"
They do not react.
Lady Miyara said, "I only want to speak with Rika."
They looked at each other, some decision was made,
and they all began a guarded retreat in a circle looking at us.
They stepped over the unconscious comrade.
I sheath my rapier, loudly and obviously.
Miyara joined me and put her weapons away too.
When they reached far enough to outrun us, they
turned and ran.
There was no sign of Rika. There was no sign
of the boy.
I turned back to check on Phoebe. I asked if
she was ok, and she nodded.
Lady Miyara did not look satisfied. I was
exhilarated, eager for more.
She said that we wouldn't find Rika now, she
wouldn't be back.
I quickly searched the room and the now headless
body. The man was armed and armored, but with no other personal
effects and no identification. The building was someone's home,
obviously it had been occupied as by someone poor.
I said, "OK, those guys were samurai, right?"
"They are ronin."
"What's that, aside from something you don't tell
"No, it's not a secret. Samurai who don't
belong anywhere. They have usually behaved dishonorably and cast
out of their families or clans."
I didn't comment on how exactly that describes me,
but I laughed anyway.
"So what now?"
Phoebe somewhat reluctantly asked for ten
minutes. Miyara nodded her approval. I had thought of it,
but couldn't think of anything she might get that would be worth the
discomfort. Phoebe sat down, and I sat down right next to her,
her rope to anchor her here.
((Phoebe tries to look back past the battle.
Aside from the fight and death, there aren't any emotionally
significant events in this place for the last ten days.))
Phoebe came back to our side, and said that she
didn't think anything important had happened here.
I asked Miyara, "Could this band of ronin be hired
by someone, or do ronin not get hired?"
She told me they could be hired by anybody.
"Um. No. That won't help."
"Are you sure?" Mi.
"The dead person wouldn't tell the truth to us
anyway and it would be very painful."
"I've never tried to reach anyone this recently
"And it would be painful?"
"I don't know. I would only be wandering the
spirit world. I don't know whether he has made his way there
yet. What do you want me to ask? Who hired him?
"Well, all we really want to know is who ordered the
death of Tsume Retsu. Rika can go free if we get that, right?"
I looked at Miyara, who nodded. "The ronin is
unlikely to know who ordered the hit, but he might know where Rika is."
"Well, it's a chance. If he can tell us what
we want to know, if he can give us that so we don't need Rika, he's
Miyara muttered that now the ronin is dead, his
contract would be over. Death does that to contracts.
I was definitely looking at Miyara in a whole new
light after this escapade. I had no problem following her now.
Miyara guarded the door while Phoebe did her stuff.
Nothing answered Phoebe's call. She found no
spirits here. I tell her it was worth a try. She says he is
a lost soul.
This street is of one-room hovels, five of which
disgorged armed men. There are more hovels here than ronin who
We walked back up the street, Lady Miyara hoisting
the unconscious man to her shoulder and carrying him. We brought
the weapons too, so they didn't fall into unworthy hands no
doubt. She looks to me to open the doors all the way down the
The armed men came out of rooms which looked lived
in. Further up the street there were people in them, peasants who
just live there. I asked each one whether they'd seen Rika.
No-one knew who Rika was, and Phoebe's spirits told me that was the
Peter asked if anyone knew that boy. No-one
knew that either, and that too was true.
Well, we had someone to question. I mentioned
that we should probably leave people at the Pine House just in case.
Miyara wondered where to question the man.
I started to suggest Tsume Takashi, let him hear
directly, but stopped and acknowledged that Miyara probably did not
We returned to the Pine House.
I say with a smile that I'll watch out for the
boy. You know, for five, ten years.
We went directly into the Pine House when we got
there. We told Tony about the ambush and that Rika wasn't at the
end of it, but we had someone to question. No-one had arrived
here or left, said Tony.
Tony rearranged his watch, now more interested in
who might be approaching rather than leaving. He asked Grieg to
pass along the information to Donku about what happened to us.
Miyara told Tony that if he thought of something to
ask, he could come in and join us.
Miyara took the man into one of the empty
rooms. She said, "I'll need Peter and Phoebe with me at least,
and I assume you'd like to be there, Mehli?"
Miyara asked Phoebe to heal the man enough to make
Phoebe and Peter huddle over the body, cooperating
to work on the man, Peter's Shalia spirit no doubt restoring the
strength Arati took out of Phoebe. I kind of tuned out their
conversation, just relaxing for a while after all the excitement and
exercise. I did wonder if somewhere out there, there was a rumor
spreading that you can't kill elves, you kill them but they spring
right back up.
The man regained consciousness. He was now
awake, surrounded, and unarmed. Miyara stood over him looking
threatening as Phoebe quickly stepped back.
Slowly he rolled over to his belly. Had to be
some crazy Nipponese thing.
Miyara told him to sit up.
He got onto his knees, turned to face her, and bowed
over his knees.
Miyara asked him if he knew where Rika was.
"No," he said.
"Phoebe, is he telling the truth?"
"Why are you guarding her?"
"I am not."
"Who do you currently work for?"
"I am not working for anyone."
Phoebe continued to monitor his truthfulness.
"What then were you doing?"
"Ito requested that we help him deal with you."
"Who is Ito?"
"Ito was the man you spoke with in the house."
"Who was Ito working for?"
"I don't know."
That was not really the truth. Phoebe said,
"He knows more than that."
"Tell me what you do know."
"Ito was well liked arund here. He helped out
a lot. He was a good man and a good leader. I don't believe
he was working for anyone."
That was the truth.
I laughed, wondering if we just killed the leader of
the downtrodden oppressed people.
Miyara said, "Why do you think he set himself up
against us? We have offered no harm to anyone."
"He didn't tell me."
"Tell me what you know about Rika."
I laughed again. "It 's a peasant
revolt. It's a peasant revolt."
Kimiko opened the door and shouted "What are you
doing in my house?"
I said, "Not killing you, which would be our right."
"Renting a room," said Miyara coldly. "Now,
"She is a geisha in the Pine House. She is
rumored to be seeing Takashi. She is friends with Ito."
I looked over to MIyara to see if she would let me
ask something. She gestured to me to wait, and asked if he knew
He said he'd met her.
I asked, "Who trained her in the sword?"
He looked up at that with genuine surprise, and then
astonishment. We didn't need Phoebe to know that was genuine.
"Who killed Tsume Retsu?"
"I heard it was witches."
"I didn't ask you what you heard."
"That's all I know."
"Do you know anyone who was plotting against Tsume
"No." He leapt up and ran towards the
window. I leapt to hit him with my rapier while Miyara went to
tackle him, which she did. UNfortunately as the two smashed into
the window, I stuck Miyara.
"Wait," said Miyara to him, "I'm going to let you
go. I just want you to know that I intend Rika no harm at all, I
just want to talk to her. Feel free to tell that to anyone else
or her directly." She gets up.
He looked to see if we really mean it, then walked
out the door. Miyara accompanied him to make sure Tony and the
others let him out.
"A cask of sake says this was a peasant's revolt and
not high-class politics."
Miyara laughed, "I knew you had another theory in
After some thinkling and talking it occured to us to
ask people around the town who this Ito person was. He was a
ronin about 45, 50, who hung around town and they didn't really
know why. He did odd jobs for people, everything from helping
with houses to taking care of bandits.
Eventuallly we found out that he was friends with
Rika and spent a lot of time with her. THe madam hated that,
because he wasn't right for Rika, especially when she was much better
off getting set up with Takashi.
Finally, we went to look for Rika at Ito's house,
and that's where she was.
Ito lived in a hovel outside town, near a shrine,
off the path from it. Smaller if anything than the place we
killed him in. When we arrived, Rika was sitting by the
fire. It was a small poor building, but well kept and
clean. There was a shrine to either Ito's or perhaps Rika's
parents in the back corner.
Rika was boiling water for tea and fish when we
opened the door and looked in. She said hello and offered us tea
and fish. She was not dressed as a geisha, but as a peasant.
Miyara thanked her, and knelt on the wooden
floor. Phoebe went in with her, and I followed Phoebe.
Rika went through the tea ceremony. She was
very good at it. She served us each tea, as well as
herself. Miyara in particular watched her carefully to make sure
she couldn't drug us without drugging herself.
When the tea was served, she offered us fish.
Again Miyara accepted, again watching her. But Miyara was clear
that there would be no business until this was over.
When it was over, Rika looked at Miyara and asked,
"Are you going to kill me here?"
"No, I am not."
Rika said nothing.
Miyara said, "Will you tell me why you killed him?"
"Yes." She paused for dramatic effect.
"This is my confession. Two decades ago Tsume restu defeated my
father in a battle and seized our castle as his own."
father and brothers died, wifes killed themselves to avoid
catpure. Most samurai seppuku'd, only she and her brothers
survived. BRos killed by retsu, she was sold into slavery and to
komiko it hte pine house. But not all of his sam died. A
few became ronin, among them a yuong sam call Ito. Watvched at
distance, when she was old enough cisited him. Taught her of
heritage, family, it'[s destruction by TR, taught her the sword, toook
care of her. She met TT eight months ago. He fell in love
with her, sent gifts and tokens, signs of affection, she encouraged but
never felt them. Prepared for revenge. Night of murder went
ot servants gate where a fuard bribed to let her in as often.
Drugged TT's sake, while he slept snuck over hte wall into TR's
room. Woke him up, told him who she was, her true identity, and
stabbed him. He died immediately.
Not that I'll say it, but that sounded pretty darned
honorbale. Actually I do say it. "That sounds pretty darned
Miyara said, "What are your intentions now?"
Rika said, "Ito and I have plans to leave here and
get as far away as we can."
"So you intend to live out your life as ronin?"
"Yes, well no. At least initially."
"I'm afraid Ito is dead."
Rika sighed. She was obvisouly extremely
saddened by that.
"Knowing that, are your plans diffrerent or the
"Good luck," said Miyara.
Miyara gave her Ito's swords. She then bid her
farewell, and we left.
It was getting dark. Even so, it was time to
talk to Takashi. We walked to Castle Kyotei.
We were welcomed at the gate, and told we were
expected. We were handed off from guard to guard through the
courtyards, then walked through some rooms. The escort told the
non-samurai -- Donku and Sun -- to wait there while the rest of us were
shown int a room where TT was painting.
He continued painting, but told us to be at our
ease. He offered us sake.
We accepted, and made ourselves comfortable.
TT looked at Miyara expectantly.
Lady Miyara said, "I have an interesting fable to
tell you." As a story, she told Rika's confession. It's a
good story, told well.
"And what happened to the heroine?"
She rode off into the sunset, slipped quietly into
the night never to be seen again, etc etc.
TT does not seem to be surprised.
(The only question remaining now was did he know all
He too tells a story. It's aout a young man
who did not get along with his father and fell in love with a
geisha. It had got so bad between him and his fathr, his fatehr
was going to send him away to scholl to get him away from the
geisha. He was then faced with the dificult decision whether to
disobey or not. He woke up the next mornign to discover that his
father was dead and he didn't have to decide, but it was his lover that
had killed his father. Despite not havingt to make the choice, he
still lost his love.
He asked Miyara if she'd be willing to carry a
letter to her father.
Of course she would.
The letter is not sealed, handed to her rolled shut
but not sealed shut.
She does not read it, but her father eventually
tells her that it is a heartfelt thanks and glowing praise of Miyara's
handling of the question of who killed his father.
We returned to Shira Miyara, and uneventful but
land-based trip. More walking.