He was a little above 5 feet; well-built; now clad in his black robes; a professional requirement when he went out for these night outings. Today he had opted for the needle; a minimalist, he always carried only one of his many tools during any of these outings. The straw shoes with cloth soles made no sound, he was swift yet slow.. even his shadow was hesitant to follow.
Earlier in the week, he was summoned; by one of the many middle men, who sought his help; to that small inn where he spent many a beautiful day enjoying the autumn colors, gazing at the streets of Kyoto. This middle man, an inn owner himself, and master of many businesses in the city, had then kept 75 gold pieces; half the professional fee; wrapped in a black cloth, on the table, and given him a name. Only one question was asked, to which the much respected inn owner answered “the world will be a much better place without HIM”.
Thinking of that, and all the information that he collected, the last three, four days; bribing, eavesdropping at inns and the market; he too felt this Samurai, whose name the middle man had given, was not worth living on this planet. This confirmation was an important part of his job. Many a time he had returned the advance payment when he felt otherwise. And he also knew that, the middle man had approached him, only because, this job required special talents, and he might be the only person capable of doing it. This thought brought a smile of self-satisfaction to his lips.
Only a few; the middle man for one; knew about these night excursions he made. To the world he was another of those pipe makers dwelling in his workshop home in the outskirts of the city. And a good one too he was at it, spending the whole day, moulding the silver pipes; his speciality, which many rich people sought for. He made ordinary pipes too, bamboo pipes, wooden pipes, ceramic pipes, large ones, small ones; he was one of the best at it. But that is not where he put his heart, and he had in these past years, found a different use to his pipe making tools.
Earlier during his childhood, calling him by name the village elder; had said; ” I am sending you on an errand to the hidden village in the mountains.” The errand turned out be more than an errand, and he had stayed back at this hidden village, for more than 10 years, learning the various techniques of the trade; it was here, that he was given the name ‘Tengu’; the black monster, it was here that he became a Ninja.
He walked at a steady pace, the castle of the wealthy samurai his destination. Breaking into would be no picnic for anyone. But for him, he knew he could do it. Earlier he had talked with one of the kitchen maids, and had a mental map of the castle grounds made. He also had planned his moves well in advance, and moreover, had selected this moonless night for his operation.
With steady steps he walked on the walls of the moat, to where the waters were shallow, and a bog had formed. With his special shoe he waded across the moat, and reached the castle walls. Here too he knew where the walls were lower. He used his special iron claws, climbing over was as easy as anything. Now to the samurai’s room.
He knew, from the kitchen maids’ talk; which wife was preferred by the samurai, and where her room was. All he had to do now was to get to the room, finish the job and head back…
The samurai was fast asleep.. Our Ninja made no haste… advanced closer to his prey, took his time making sure that no one was nearby, he took the paper towel that he carried, wet it with the Samurai’s drinking water, pressed it hard on the Samurai’s face. The Samurai opened his eyes, but before, he could register what was happening, Tengu, got his needle, that he had kept ready, holding it between his teeth, into action, One strong poke of the needle in the back of the neck.. and that’s what all it needed….
Tengu, cleaned the needle and walked back… The next days’ rumor was, how the Samurai died in his sleep…..
…. More on Ninja, My visit to the Ninja Museum, and lots more..coming soon……..