Chapter 15: Uji no Tatakai (Battle of Uji) - Chapter 15

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Historical Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 164
Comments: 1

“Katsuro!”  Called Omi.  “Perhaps it might be best if we were better dressed when we present ourselves to Lord Otani.  We have passed several tailor shops.”

Katsuro halted and turned to face the group.  “I have been thinking about that since we entered this town.  You are right, Omi.  We should look a bit better than we do now.  We will stop at the next shop we see.”

The group strode down the middle of the path, looking to right and left as they passed residences, teahouses, and the like.  Reaching a cross street, Katsuro turned left arbitrarily and immediately spied a small shop on the right.  He chopped his hand outwards towards it.  “There!”

The appearance of nine samurai at the entrance to his shop unnerved the owner for a moment as he feared the worst.  Lately, bands of Lord Otani’s troops had taken to the streets as if they owned them which, in point of fact, they very nearly did.  But, his well-trained eyes roved over their manner of dress and he concluded that they had traveled a distance and were newly arrived in Otsu.

He bowed deeply.  “Welcome!  Welcome, esteemed warriors.  How may I be of assistance?”  He held his bow.

“We require clothing suitable for an audience with Lord Otani,” growled Katsuro.  “Simple overclothing will suffice for the time being but perhaps, if we are satisfied, we will return for more.  What have you in stock?”

The shopkeeper rubbed his hands together as the quickly thought through his inventory.  “Do you have any color preferences, Sir?”

“We are loyal to Prince Mochihito and thus a deep shade of blue with touches of gold or yellow will be required.”

“I have such.  Please be seated and I will return immediately with samples.  A pot of tea will be provided.”

After a bit of conversation, Katsuro sent the Yamato brothers and their friend Satochi on their way, stating that they would find employment easily here in town.  They nodded and after bowing their farewells, left the shop.  The six then sank to the tatami mat; adjusting their swords in a manner to keep them at the ready should that be necessary.

A short period later, a servant crept out from between the curtains and knelt to push a tray with a steaming pot and six delicate cups on it.  They waited until the tray was in front of them and then Katsuro waved the man away, preferring to pour his own tea.  Lining the cups up, he did just that and each man reached for their own drink and sipped the hot brew.

“Tailor!”  Shouted Ijimi.  “What is taking so long?  We do not have all day to wait.”

“Coming!  Coming, Sir.”  Called the tailor from the back room.

In moments he reappeared holding several bolts of cloth in one arm with the tail of each throws over his shoulders.  “Forgive the quality, Sirs, but it is the finest I have in stock at the moment.  Had you arrived next week I...”

Katsuro held up his hand.  “Yes.  Yes.  Leave them here on the mat and let us deliberate.”

The shopkeeper set the bolts down, bowed, and then fled to the back room without saying another word.

Shinji fingered one of the samples.  “This feels very nice to me.  I like the shades of purple here in the dim light.  I suspect it will turn a lighter shade in the sun.”

Iwao touched several of the samples himself.  He’d never seen such a smooth and soft texture before.  He held his tongue in hopes that the others would not notice his nervousness.  All this deference to him and his friends was still new to him.

Yosh!  I appears we made a good choice of shops, nei?”  Ventured Goro, who grimaced as he hefted one bolt of plum colored cloth.

“You need to have that wound seen to, my friend,” said Iwao.  He shifted into his as yet untested command voice and called to the shopkeeper.  “Tailor!  Is there a medical man hereabouts?”

Hai, Sir.  Two doors down and across the street.  Shall I have him fetched?”

“No need.  We will visit there next.”

“As you wish, Sir.”  Said the tailor, materializing again on his knees.  “Will any of this suffice, Sir?”

“This, this, and the plum cloth.”  Said Katsuro.  “Can overcloaks be created by sundown?”

“S-sundown, my lord?”  Said the tailor, swallowing quickly but recovering.  “Certainly.  Certainly.  My staff can begin immediately.”

“Then do so.  We require such cloaks for the six of us.  Two of blue and gold, three of green and blue with red trim, and one of the plum for our injured friend.”

The man bowed to the floor.  “It shall be done.”

“Now,” said Katsuro rising to his feet and motion the others up.  “We will see to Goro’s wound.  We will be back at sundown.”

They left the shop and, gathering up the other three samurai they all crossed to the herbalist shop across the road.  After spending a bit of time, the physician determined that there was no danger from the wound and that applying clean cloth to it will hasten its healing.  He gave Goro a small pot of evil-smelling black paste.

Goro wrinkled his nose at it.  “Waugh!  This smells formidable.  What do I do with it?”

“Apply to the wound each time you re-dress it.  I recommend it heartily.”

“Perhaps, but you do not have to smell it.”  Grumbled Goro, slipping the pot under his tunic.

The group found a small inn and ate a good meal while waiting for sundown.  Sitting around the low communal table, they each took a turn at adding chapters to a tale begun by Katsuro.  Soon, all of them were leaning back with tears in their eyes as they recounted more and more comical adventures of their mythical swordsman who, by now, could walk on water, slay ten men with one blow of his mighty sword, and carry fully-grown horses across raging streams of icy cold water.  The sake they consumed aided the storytelling, no doubt.

The sun dropped down behind the house across the street and Katsuro called a halt to the festivities.  Slightly unsteady on their feet, they paid the innkeeper for their food and drink and stepped into the cooling air outside the inn.  Standing still for a moment, each of them took deep, cleansing breaths to clear out the cobwebs in their brains.  Suitably recovered, they crossed the street and headed for the tailor shop.

They were not disappointed in what they found there.  The tailor had done himself proud and had laid the six cloaks out on the mat for inspection.  Katsuro gave a quick smile as a response and picked up his cloak, swirling it over his head and wrapping it around his body.

“Well done, tailor.  Well done!  These will do nicely.”

The others lifted their own cloaks and tried them on.  They were all roughly the same size, but as it happened each of the samurai were roughly the same size themselves.  In any case, cloaks were to cover everything except weapons.

“Now we look much finer than following the earthquake, nei?”  Said Ijimi, smoothing the sleeves of his blue cloak down his arms.

“I agree,” said Iwao.  “Even Goro’s bandage is very well hidden.  If I did now know he was injured, it would not show.”

Katsuro produced his pouch and reached inside for payment vouchers.  The tailor’s eyes widened at the chop of Prince Mochihito at the bottom of the chits and bowed deeply.  “I am honored to provide service for such distinguished samurai as yourselves.  If I may be of further service, please return.”

With a nod, Katsuro and his men left the shop and formed up on the road outside.  In some semblance of a formation, they proceeded in step up the road towards the castle that loomed on the hillside ahead of them.  The road was just now showing torches that had been lit to provide light for Lord Otani’s pickets.

 


Submitted: December 01, 2014

© Copyright 2021 B Douglas Slack. All rights reserved.

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Mr Watson

I have some old pictures in some of my tattoo books of samurai in their finery, the colours and patterns are amazing.

Wed, December 3rd, 2014 5:54pm

Author
Reply

The colors and patterns always meant something, too. Feudal colors were important as identifiers when in battle. Thanks for reading.

Wed, December 3rd, 2014 10:20am

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