CHAPTER 15 : Part 2 – Shogun

CHAPTER 15 : Part 2 – Shogun

All the swords of his men sang out of their scabbards. At his order one of the bandits stationed himself behind Blackthorne, his sword raised and readied, and again the leader harangued the opposition.

  Nothing happened for a moment, then Blackthorne saw the man in the palanquin get down and he instantly recognized him. It was Kasigi Yabu. Yabu shouted back at the bandit leader but this man shook his sword furiously, ordering them out of the way. His tirade stopped with finality. Then Yabu gave a curt order, and charged with a screaming battle cry, limping slightly, sword high, his men rushing with him, Grays not far behind.

  Blackthorne dropped to escape the sword blow that would have cut him in half, but the blow was ill-timed and the bandit leader turned and fled into the undergrowth, his men following.

  The Browns and the Grays were quickly alongside Blackthorne, who scrambled to his feet. Some of the samurai charged after the bandits into the bushes, others ran up the track, and the rest scattered protectively. Yabu stopped at the edge of the brush, shouted orders imperiously, then came back slowly, his limp more pronounced.

  “So desu, Anjin-san,” he said, panting from his exertion.

  “So desu, Kasigi Yabu-san,” Blackthorne replied, using the same phrase which meant something like “well” or “oh really” or “is that the truth.” He pointed in the direction that the bandits had run away. “Domo.” He bowed politely, equal to equal, and said another blessing for Friar Domingo. “Gomen nasai, nihon go ga hanase-masen”—I’m sorry, I can’t speak Japanese.

  “Hai,” Yabu said, not a little impressed, and added something that Blackthorne did not understand.

  “Tsuyaku ga imasu ka?” Blackthorne asked. Do you have an interpreter?

  “Iyé, Anjin-san. Gomen nasai.”

  Blackthorne felt a little easier. Now he could communicate directly. His vocabulary was sparse, but it was a beginning.

  Eeeee, I wish I did have an interpreter, Yabu was thinking fervently. By the Lord Buddha!

  I’d like to know what happened when you met Toranaga, Anjin-san, what questions he asked and what you answered, what you told him about the village and guns and cargo and ship and galley and about Rodrigu. I’d like to know everything that was said, and how it was said, and where you’ve been and why you’re here. Then I’d have an idea of what was in Toranaga’s mind, the way he’s thinking. Then I could plan what I’m going to tell him today. As it is now, I’m helpless.

  Why did Toranaga see you immediately when we arrived, and not me? Why no word or orders from him since we docked until today, other than the obligatory, polite greeting and “I look forward with pleasure to seeing you shortly”? Why has he sent for me today? Why has our meeting been postponed twice? Was it because of something you said? Or Hiro-matsu? Or is it just a normal delay caused by all his other worries?

  Oh, yes, Toranaga, you’ve got almost insurmountable problems. Ishido’s influence is spreading like fire. And do you know about Lord Onoshi’s treachery yet? Do you know that Ishido has offered me Ikawa Jikkyu’s head and province if I secretly join him now?

  Why did you pick today to send for me? Which good kami put me here to save the Anjin-san’s life, only to taunt me because I can’t talk directly to him, or even through someone else, to find the key to your secret lock? Why did you put him into prison for execution? Why did Ishido want him out of prison? Why did the bandits try to capture him for ransom? Ransom from whom? And why is the Anjin-san still alive? That bandit should have easily cut him in half.

  Yabu noticed the deeply etched lines that had not been in Blackthorne’s face the first time he had seen him. He looks starved, thought Yabu. He’s like a wild dog. But not one of the pack, the leader of the pack, neh?

  Oh yes, Pilot, I’d give a thousand koku for a trustworthy interpreter right now.

  I’m going to be your master. You’re going to build my ships and train my men. I have to manipulate Toranaga somehow. If I can’t, it doesn’t matter. In my next life I’ll be better prepared.

  “Good dog!” Yabu said aloud to Blackthorne and smiled slightly. “All you need is a firm hand, a few bones, and a few whippings. First I’ll deliver you to Lord Toranaga—after you’ve been bathed. You stink, Lord Pilot!”

  Blackthorne did not understand the words, but he sensed friendliness in them and saw Yabu’s smile. He smiled back. “Wakarimasen”—I don’t understand.

  “Hai, Anjin-san.”

  The daimyo turned away and glanced after the bandits. He cupped his hands around his mouth and shouted. Instantly all the Browns returned to him. The chief samurai of the Grays was standing in the center of the track and he too called off the chase. None of the bandits were brought back.

  When this captain of the Grays came up to Yabu there was much argument and pointing to the city and to the castle, and obvious disagreement between them.

  At length Yabu overrode him, his hand on his sword, and motioned Blackthorne to get into the palanquin.

  “Iyé,” the captain said.

  The two men were beginning to square up to one another and the Grays and the Browns shifted nervously.

  “Anjin-san desu shunjin Toranaga-sama …”

  Blackthorne caught a word here, another there. Watakushi meant “I,” hitachi added meant “we,” shunjin meant “prisoner.” And then he remembered what Rodrigues had said, so he shook his head and interrupted sharply. “Shunjin, iyé! Watakushi wa Anjin-san!”

  Both men stared at him.

  Blackthorne broke the silence and added in halting Japanese, knowing the words to be ungrammatical and childishly spoken, but hoping they would be understood, “I friend. Not prisoner. Understand please. Friend. So sorry, friend want bath. Bath, understand? Tired. Hungry. Bath.” He pointed to the castle donjon. “Go there! Now, please. Lord Toranaga one, Lord Ishido two. Go now.”

  And with added imperiousness on the last “ima” he got awkwardly into the palanquin and lay down on the cushions, his feet sticking far out.

  Then Yabu laughed, and everyone joined in.

  “Ah so, Anjin-sama!” Yabu said with a mocking bow.

  “Iyé, Yabu-sama. Anjin-san.” Blackthorne corrected him contentedly. Yes, you bastard. I know a thing or two now. But I haven’t forgotten about you. And soon I’ll be walking on your grave.

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