Through this amorphous era, Gods insist centralizing the Japanese as the only path of reason. Within warfare, the underlying activity of the Iga and Koga folk proved invasive to these aims.
It was the 9th year of Tensho (1581), an infamous year, under the eyes and talons of the "6th Demon King" that opposed Buddha—Nobunaga Oda. This is a story of one of his confidants, who had a wrath or devotion seated in mystery.
It was a prelude to when those regardless of age or sex would be slaughtered.
Iga's Kai Shimoyama did not connect with the Buddha slayer's main army. Instead, he gathered a small entourage to give them a lay of the land before the true engagement in about an hour. He explained that his countrymen can escape through rugged paths and hide among foliage, crevasses and more to engage in guerrilla. He advised to attack them after dusk and freeze them at the main entrances; he sent loyal scouts to remove the bell guards and to prepare campfires to burn wisteria and yew to fan toxic smoke into the residential homes. If the weather becomes bad or if the advancing army was disclosed to the leading Iga, it would prove a disaster. Kai admitted that while his countrymen were smart, they were small in number and combat quality. This had to be a culling. He admitted that, in most cases, it'll end up a chase down of channeled aggression by the Oda samurai.
As they survey, they must prevent suspicion; being covered in military gear was already conspicuous, but it's said that this side path was particularly narrow. They made a promise to silence anyone who came their way, anyone who may have laid eyes on them, even if a child.
On their walks, Kai and his group of four, dressed in light padded armor, came across a simple folk home at a distance. After surveying closer, one youth returned to report to Kai about it.
"There are two in there…uh, they are…" He stammered.
Kai's face was inquisitive; he perceived worry upon the young man's face. The soldier's mouth moved but could not speak out his cumbersome thoughts. So, he only said it in simple terms. "It looks like they are a couple."
Kai glanced over to the house, then back to the soldier. "Convenient then. Do it," he said, nodding his head. He already understood; among his country, these sole farm houses were set up for various reasons. They worked as rest stops for travel, built with wooden flooring and slid doors; also, a tool house to store and retrieve items, especially among the Iga. The Koga shared the same custom. There was one more thing – it was also a fine set up for…interpersonal matters?
"Do we…have to?" Asked the soldier. The answer he was given was composed.
"No one lives." Exuding those words with a frigid scowl that stunned the young trooper, Kai concluded the fate of even a passionate couple.
"They are just making it easier."
"But how? Just go in there?"
"On my command."
The four complied and inched closer to the house, one at the front, one at the back and one each flank. In addition to the sword at their hip, they carried spears.
Close enough, and seeping through the slotted hut windows, they heard voices in pleasure. They slide down their wood jingasa helmets and crouched low beneath the windows to hide their heads; leaning their heads closer, the voices were louder. Using his thumb, Shimoyama pinched and drew the string of his five shaku bow.
One trooper slowly lifted from his toes. His eyes reaching the window, he took in a peek, and the bare couple was locked in kisses.
Shortly after he saw the woman's body erect, that soldier felt the lightning-fast arrow fly past his face, through the wood of the door—followed a gasp was then a horrifying scream. A meter-length arrow, tipped with its three-pronged head, pierced the woman's back and out her chest. That was the signal.
The man beneath her has his scream stifled. He choked on a spearhead that was shoved down his mouth. Gushes of blood spurted as small geysers as more spears burrowed into his upper chest and throat, then through his eyes. The white scleras pop out and bursts like grapes.
Kai slowly strolled in and pulled his arrow, caught in the woman, at an obtuse angle. The arrow's flesh eating fang was so barbed, soldered with lead, it threw a crescent out her upper torso. Eating through flesh with ease, her shoulder was nearly torn off. Fear fixed in her eyes, she bled profusely. As her blood pooled under her and her man, she was much like a tree shredded by a lightning storm, her right side hanging as a broken limb. A victim to Kai's famous heavy hardwood arrows. You were more than quarry if targeted; long and near 10mm in width, they could disable or murder in one hit. By Gods or consistent training could his arms flex back to make them fire straight without drag. Did his fury guide him or did his muscle?
Kai and his armed, padded troop gathered in a private home entirely smelled of blood; in the center of them now laid two couples bare of clothing.
"A terrible end when not aware of your surroundings. I suppose it would've been more preferred if you were just caught and nothing more." Speaking to the couple before him, Kai's voice held apathy for the pain and murder caused. They were all Iga countrymen, but two Iga were left behind as shameful stains of raccoon shit. They were corpses, and they were adversaries. The woman atop her man was shredded in a hanging piece, her eyes wide in fright; the man, limbs spread, was a collapsed heap of war dead, gouged of his eyes, and with a nearly torn face.
"Even I wouldn't want to die upon my very wife in this way." Kai continued his solemn ramble.
"To be murdered while in passion." Kai turned and walked out the house that smelled of blood. The other soldiers followed of course. It was only the beginning, an appetizer for everyone's weapons. How could Oda slaughter everyone and make Buddha weep?
The next person Kai met was an old fisherman in a straw hat. Well-known, he was a simple man who greeted with a smile. He was actually half blind, but he always fished with his eyes closed. Said to have trained his ears, his nerves sharpened and felt tension through his cane fishing rod. He put his trust at the barbs and feathered lure at the end of the line. Thus, he was often nicknamed Tsurijii or "old angler".
With his good eye, this Tsurijii caught Shimoyama strolling his way on the narrow road by a river.
"Ah, Kai-chin!" So, he was oblivious when he saw the grim face of Kai, unsheathing his sword.
"What is wrong?" He heard the steel peeling out. Its pealing voice was rich, different from a standard metal blade. The tip was ordained by a clove pattern and was near black.
"That's a good sound." The old man found no other reason for the mighty of Shimoyama to take out his blade except for one simple purpose. "There are no words from you." The old man's face became solemn, but also ridden with calm and hidden understanding.
"Fisherman, this blade is named Tsuda (津田)," Kai's voice was benign, but cold. "Crafted from the hands of Nagamitsu of the Osafune so I'm told. In full, I named it Tsudakaiou (津田甲斐皇).' It hails from Oda's sincerity, and I'm going to use it. Its first victim was the Ueno seer herself."
Silence. The old man yanked back his fish rod, and the cast spoon lay limp on the riverside.
"Let me ask you something Kai-chin. Is this where your heart lies?"
"When I make a decision, I see it through."
"Old man, do you surrender easily because you lived long?" The question made the grip upon Osafune's handle ever tighter. Kai kept his eyes locked; there was no answer, but what was not relayed verbally was replaced with a common smile by the old man.
"I offer you a silent prayer." That was Shimoyama's farewell. It could be said that his hesitance was from their final conversation. Like an enemy, he put his well trained arms and his confidence into the sword. The sword was pulled above his head and swing down in a left slant. A out-sheath kesa, a high to low swipe without a stray, ended the fisherman's life. The blade smoothed through the elder's feeble neck. His head rolled into the river.
"I must be a demon to finish my task. I will not waver or shed tears." Shimoyama sent his troops ahead to scout the road, while he alone sought for another target. He just happened to pass by the old man, but the one he sought for was a fine prize.