Meanwhile, in the outskirts of the small village of Hayato in the Satsuma Province a young fox is returning home from the academy in Kagoshima City. As he breaks from the tree-line on the walking path, his astute nose catches an acrid smell on the wind; something is burning. He looks down on his village from his hillock view. The housetops are in smolders!
The fox, Taniyama Nikkū, drops his books. His leather bound copy of Oyamatsu Ryuken’s Weapons of War: Art & Mechanics falls open into a puddle of mud. But Nikkū is not concerned with his text book, nor that he had paid a samurai’s monthly wage for it. His heart races, and his mind reasons whether his family is okay.
He tries to run down the hill at full stride, but he finds that his knees have no strength from the utter terror brought on by the thought that his family is now but a memory. Soon, with tears flowing like a calligrapher’s inkwell, and legs as weak as yakisoba noodles, the fox tumbles head over heels down the hill. His disasterous somersault is abruptly halted as he hits into what he thinks is a tree. But a tree does not have clawed toes, and clawed hands reaching for you.
Dizzy and confused, seeing stars, Nikkū is helpless to defend himself. The brutish oni grabs the fox by the leg. He raises him up into the air near his face, for it is well known that oni have poor vision.
“Wha’ is it, Idu?” The other oni asks harshly.
“I ’o’nt know, Goi. I’ jus’ ’it me in me leg.” Defends Idu from Goi’s abrasiveness.
“Well, do some’in’ with it quick, either ea’ it or pu’ it in your sack, ’cause the samurai is nearly on our ’eels.” Shouted Goi to his vile companion.
“You always shoutin’ at me, Goi!” Idu yells back. “It was I who said we should run when the samurai quartered Nokodai with two swipes of his sword. ‘Cause of me you’re still alive! Now stop treatin’ me like a yōji (幼児)!”
“Shhh!” Goi cuts him off. “Ya ’ear dat?”
Angrily Idu shoves the dazed Nikkū into his gunny sack. “ON’T ’ELL ME ’U SHUSH!” He then raises the sack to strike the other oni.
Just as he does this a flick of a silvery flash passes through his massive elbow joint. Two or three drops of blood drip to the ground before the oni realizes what has happened. Then, with the weight of the raised bag and fox, the oni’s arm slides off from the angled cut made between his elbow and upper arm. Once freely apart, the upper stump spews forth dark crimson greasy blood. In horror, Idu the oni grabs his open wound now gushing blood with his free solo hand to try and somehow stop the vitreous fluid spilling out. He whips around to see who or what had just severed his arm so effortlessly. But he already knows that the samurai is standing behind him.
As Idu turns fully to meet his attacker, Goi astonishedly sees his companion split transversely from shoulder to hip. Through Idu’s splayed corpse with lightning reflexes, a small cat figure wielding a samurai’s blade leaps ferociously at Goi’s neck. As fast as the samurai is, the oni sees him coming. The beast feints backward rolling with the samurai’s lunge, but not without losing the wirey hairs braided on his chin.
With the samurai’s blade fully extended, and despite being bent back in half, Goi swipes his arms up and forward scissoring the bloodstained blade. Under the strength of the oni’s bone plated forearms the samurai’s blade brakes into three pieces!
To Be Continued…