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Tales of the Kunoichi – Chapter nine

* A tale involving the “other” side of Miss Hermit. Feel free to comment *

After taking the “scenic route”, which involve a lot of alleys and more than a few dead ends until Mac realizes that I can not pass through walls, we arrive at the small grave yard in the Academy district. After forcing the gate open against the snow drifts we walk in to find the grave in which Hiro is buried in.

“Must be this one Miss Hermit. The snow has not drifted over the burned area yet. The soil looks to be freshly turned over also.”

“I agree Mac. This must be the one. I guess we will have to wait a bit. Our target is no where in sight at the moment.”

Mac stands us near the grave site, slowly shifting back and forth from one foot to the other. A cold wind blows along the city wall, making our wait no less easy.

“Damn, I forgot what’s it like to be cold. I am figuring I can’t hop on one foot to another to keep warm because I’m a lady right?”

“Very true Mac. Didn’t I put enough skirts on to keep us warm?”

“Well, you did Miss Hermit. But, when that wind blows up underneath it gets a bit frosty in certain areas if you gather my talk.”

“Mac! Such a thing to say! Are you confessing that ladies clothing is not what it is meant to be?”

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“I think so. Dresses sure are pretty but they don’t protect much once the wind gets them turned about!”

“Suffer dear boy. Think what it would be like if there was freezing rain added to this.” I must remember to use this method more often. I simply do not feel anything like the discomfort Mac is going through right now.

“Miss Hermit, here he comes just a bit off the right side.”

“I see him Mac. Just keep your head down and look like you are praying.”

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The ghost drifts slowly and cautiously into the grave yard. It is as Mac described, hidden in robes and one would be unable to know that a Japanese soul is enshrouded within. I am hoping invoking the spirit keeper shrine spell with only the first name of this assassin will be enough to complete the ritual.

“Mac, slowly get us closer and place the spirit shrine on the ground. I do not think that he will know what it is but seeing something oriental coming from a western dressed lady might cause him to flee. Just be a lady and make all your movements slow and gentle.”

“All right Miss Hermit, I’ll be as girly as I can.”

Mac retrieves the shrine from underneath my skirts and slowly kneels down to place it on the bare ground. He keeps us there and pretends to pray again. The ghost moves in a bit closer. I suspect it want to see what offering has just been given.

“Mac, the knife is under the lace of the left cuff and the finger is under the right cuff, can you feel them?”

“Yes Ma’am”

“Now remember, I am right handed so shift my right hand behind my left.”

Mac makes the sign of the Christian cross upon my chest and repositions my hands as I want.

“Nice move Mac. My hands are where I want them.”

“Thank you Miss Hermit. I learnt that while on ship when we did burials at sea.”

“Stand us up Mac. Slowly and do not change the hand position.”

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Mac gets us up from the snow and keeps us still looking down at the grave in order to prevent the ghost from seeing my face. The spirit moves in a bit closer.

“Ready for the switch Mac? Remember you will be protecting me from any take over attempt he may make.”

“Just let him try! I will never surrender you to the likes of him.”

“On three then…One, Two, THREE!”

Mac and I make the switch. I am aware of my body now and feelings come rushing back to me. I slip the knife out the left cuff while grabbing the finger with the left hand. As my left hand pulls out the finger I start the invocation and slice through the glove and into my palm, bringing my blood to gush over the finger of the assassin. The ghost hears the chant and flies towards me, intent on entering my body.

“Not today Boyo!” cries Mac as he wards off the attack.

The wasted attempt gives me the chance to finish the chant and place the finger into the shrine. I then back away more to two blade lengths from the shrine. The ghost follows in an attempt to attack once again but stops at the limit and struggles but comes no closer.

“We have him Mac, well done.”

“Yes Ma’am, he is caught fair enough.”

“Don’t leave Mac. I will need that protection of yours for a bit yet.”

The ghost surges against the limit but with no success. I study him for a bit to see what I can make of him. He makes no attempt to talk, there is only the struggling. There is nothing I can do it seems but to talk to him on the level on the dead. He has not the skills of the Babbage ghosts yet. I settle my frazzled nerves, enter the space of here / not here and make the call to him.

“Who stands trapped, defeated by the Miko of the Temple once again. Who stands restrained by powers that the dead can not defeat. Speak assassin or be named fool by all the Kami for all time.”

“I am he who shall never be defeated. Samurai in death as well as life. I am a sword of the Yakuza.”

Bother, he has the ego of certain Babbage men that I know of. So much for being nice.

“I am the Shini Megami. Ask the gods of Death what your chances are against me.”

The ghost fades from sight for a long moment and then returns and drops to a bow.

“The Kami of the Dead say I have no chance of winning. They also say that a samurai defeated twice like I have been should accept you and I should renounce any connection to the Yakuza. To do otherwise proves my foolishness and shames my family name. Will you accept me, a ronin with no swords and less wisdom?”

 
“I accept your service in the name of Temple and its senior monk. You will serve us equally in the hopes of saving your family’s honor and face.

The ghost lifts its face from the snow.

“How shall I address you, noble one?”

“When you must it shall be as Hermit-san. I have my reasons to claim no higher honorific than that. Do you understand?”

“Wakatta, Hermit-san. What would you have me do right now?”

“For now, please reside within the shrine until I call you. Oh yes, what is your full name?”

“Nakamura Hiro, Hermit-san.”

“You are dismissed Nakamura-san.”

“Hai Hermit-san!”

The ghost fades from sight and I collect the shrine and replace it under my skirts. Or there a purpose I can give this spirit? I can think of nothing.

“Mac?”

“Yes Miss Hermit?”

“How about we head to the Gangplank and have a drink or two. I think we earned it. Please switch and you can get some more practice.”

We switch and Mac takes control of my body once again. We head off to the Gangplank and make rather good time. Mac is getting better at walking like a lady and he hits my head against a wall only once as we make our way there. Happily no one is there which makes things every so much better.

Mac you will find some money in my purse. Just do not spend it all.”

Mac finds the purse, then locates a bottle of something he claims is wonderful to drink and also finds a green glass. At least he won’t be chugging the bottle.

“So what is next Miss Hermit? Will you question this Hiro about why he was sent to try to kill you?”

“Oh yes Mac. We shall have a nice long talk about that. I really must get answer to a long list of questions. I may have to write home if the answers are what I think they are.”

“What sort of answers would that be If I might be asking?”

Mac refills the glass again and drapes me over the bar in a most unladylike like fashion. However, no one is here to question me so there is no harm to it.

“Ones that would harm the Temple and those within it.”

“Yeah, I would hate them also.”

“Mac, what are you making me drink?”

“Hmmm, a rather nice brandy. It goes down smooth as a still sea and then kicks your butt.”

“Thought so. Let’s head home shall we? Don’t forget to leave some money under the bottle to pay for the drinks. How many did you have?”

“Oh three, I think. I can handle myself just fine.”

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“When you were alive I am sure you could but you are with me now and I normally do not drink that much. Let’s go home, please?”

Mac figures the cost and adds a bit more, places it under the bottle and we head out…straight into the door. Someone forgot he is not a ghost…again. We head out along the back ways towards my flat, discussing if Mac makes a nice lady. I am getting a bit concerned. He is weaving back and forth as we walk and I am pretty sure it is not because he does not know how to handle my body. Curse, he’s drunk. I knew it. That strong brew he was drinking was too much for my body. If we can just get home. Then it happens. We bump into someone who I do not know at all. She is a rather handsome young lady and, as in the grand tradition of all drunk sailors, Mac starts up a conversation with her.

“Good evening Miss. Welcome to the City-State of New Babbage.  My name is Ma..Miss Hermit”

“Good evening Miss Hermit. Thank you. I am Miss Katerina Pulsa”

“You are on the STEAM Hunt Miss Pulsa?”

“Not that I know of. If I remember correctly I might have picked up a gear for it on the ship in the harbor.”

“Ah, then you are a visitor rather than one the hunters who so frequently forget to dress properly.”

“Ah I’m sorry. How mis-dressed am I Miss Hermit?”

“Mac…”

“You, my dear, are dressed most stylishly for our sooty city.”

“Oh, thank you Miss Hermit. You are dressed nicely as well.”

“I was, mmm….visiting a friend in one of the graveyards. I normally do not dress this way all the time.”

“MAC !!!”

“I see. Sorry to hear about your friend.”

“Not as bad as he felt about it”….Mac places a hand over my mouth as if something slipped out by accident. Miss Pulsa shifts slightly…

”What do you mean? That is, If you don’t mind me asking.”

“By all the Kami Mac, you’re drunk! Switch now while we have a chance to get away!”

Mac hiccups and makes the switch. I see a somewhat confused and a bit scared lady through my own eyes.

“I must move along to another appointment. I certainly hope you visit us more often. A fresh face such as yours would be welcome.”

“Thank you Miss Hermit. I look forward to seeing you again in the future. I hope your appointment goes well.”

“I think it will. Thank you and good day Miss Pulsa.”

I firmly take control of my body and walk back to the flat in Wheatstone. I managed not to fall but not by much. Once we reach home, I place the spirit shrine on the table and call to Tasha to bring the first aid supplies to me. That cut on my hand hurts. Mac slips out of me as I break the connection I maintained.

“I am really sorry Miss Hermit. I din’t know that stuff was going to affect me that badly.”

“No you would not have thought of it. I weigh half of what you did when alive. Of course you would have felt it quicker and harder using my body. Didn’t this happen when you controlled Miss Hienrichs?”

“Well yes but I drank a lot less with her.”

“And she hardly drinks at all. Mac I know tonight was very difficult for you which is why I treated you at the bar but next time drink half as much please.”

“Yes Miss Hermit. Is Hiro all right in there?”

 
“I would think so. You know the feeling when you were in one. It is no different for him.”

Tasha comes down with the supplies and places them on the table. I pull off the right glove and then the left. The wound on the left hand is deep and still bleeding. I cut harder than I thought back at the grave yard. With Tasha tsk’ing and making comments on the cost of fine ladies gloves this season, I battle dress the cut and apply ointment. Looks like I will be going to see Miss Bookworm to get it dressed properly. I do owe her an update anyway on how Nakamura-san is doing. I wonder if I should bring the spirit shrine with me. After all he owes a debt of thanks to her. Might as well do it in person…

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