DISCLAIMER: Paramount owns all things Star Trek. The other characters are my creation. I've been inspired by various Kurosawa movies, notably Yojimbo. No copyright or trademark infringement intended.
A lone warrior strode down the main street of the small town. A chilling wind swept across the deserted street. The warrior stopped outside a small inn and knocked on the door.
"Innkeeper," the warrior shouted. A gray-haired man peeked out a window on the upper floor. He flinched at the sight of the weather-beaten warrior standing at the door. A pair of dark eyes looked up towards him. To his surprise, the warrior was female.
"I need a meal and a bed for the night," the female warrior growled.
"Of course sire," replied the innkeeper. The innkeeper disappeared from the window and opened the door. The warrior steeped inside and took of her sandals. Her clothes were dirty and her hair was in a disarray. However, the two swords she carried in her belt identified her as a samurai. She seemed to have been traveling for a long time.
"Forgive me, but all I have is some cold rice," the innkeeper stuttered.
"Cold rice will do." The warrior sat down beside the fire trying to warm herself. Upon receiving a bowl of rice and a pair of chop-sticks from the innkeeper she quickly began eating.
"Do you have a room for me as well?" the warrior queried.
"Yes. In fact all my rooms are free. Business is lousy at the moment."
"Two powerful families in this town are fighting. The only one making money is the cooper, who makes the coffins. The silk production is down to almost nothing." The innkeeper paused momentarily before shaking his head.
"Now, now, where are my manners? Would you like a to have a bath? You look like you could need it, if you don't mind me saying so."
"I will tell the owner of the bath house." The innkeeper stepped out into the street. Shortly after the warrior had finished her meal the innkeeper returned.
"The bath is ready. It's just across the street."
"Thank you." The warrior put on her sandals and stepped out in the street.
When the warrior entered the bath house the attendant was nowhere in sight. The warrior simply shrugged her shoulders, removed her sandals and stepped into the change room. A shadow in the doorway behind her caught her attention. She drew her katana and spun around.
"What do you want?"
The tall woman standing in the doorway gasped and almost dropped the bundle of cloth she was carrying. She was dressed in a light-blue cotton kimono with a white obi. The most striking feature about her was the fact that she had blond hair and blue eyes, something the warrior had never seen before. The tall woman swallowed a few times before speaking.
"I-I am here to give you a bath..."
"Very well" muttered the warrior in response and put her sword back in the scabbard. She began to undress and put her clothing in a basket offered to her by the tall blonde. Even when she was fully nude she kept her katana within reach. The tall blonde smirked at the level of vigilance shown by her warrior guest.
The tall blonde lead the warrior into the hot, steaming bath room. She gestured the warrior to sit down on a stool beside the large wooden bathtub on the far wall. The warrior sat down with her sword resting across her lap. The blond woman proceeded by pouring a bucket of warm water over the warrior's head from behind. The warrior cried out in surprise and jumped up protecting her sword from the water by holding it out in front of her with both hands. The blonde merely raised her eyebrow at the sight of the furious, naked and dripping wet warrior standing before her.
"I will need to get you wet in order to get you clean. You can put away your sword. I can assure you, I am unarmed." To prove her point the tall woman loosened her obi and opened her kimono, revealing a pair of round white breasts with pink nipples. The female warrior's jaw dropped at the sight before her and she could merely gasp in awe. Shaking her head to collect herself, she dropped her sword on the tiled floor with a clatter and sat back down on the stool.
"You can keep you clothes on," the warrior managed to add.
The blond woman then began to meticulously wash the female warrior's body and hair. The warrior's compact, muscular body carried several scars, silently telling the tale of a samurai doing battle in the service of her master. When finished, the blonde carefully rinsed away the lather from the warrior's body and hair before pointing towards the bathtub.
"I am done now. Would you like me to join you?"
"No. Please leave."
"As you wish."
The warrior slowly stepped into the steaming bath and leaned her head back against the edge. When the tall blonde turned around to leave the warrior noticed part of a tattoo on the shoulder of the tall blonde. It looked like a dragon's claw. The blonde quickly covered herself before the warrior could get a good look, but it seemed she had a huge tattoo adorning her back.
Images of a tall tattooed woman haunted the mind of the warrior as she left the bath house. "Who was she? Why did she have tattoos?" She decided to try and ask the innkeeper about the mysterious woman.
"The bath-woman?" Goro, the innkeeper, nearly dropped the teapot when his guest brought up the unexpected subject that evening.
"Yes," the warrior said, sipping her tea. "What do you know about her?"
"Not much I'm afraid. Only rumors really."
"What kind of rumors?" The warrior had an expectant look on her face.
"Ehh, about her tattoos for example. Rumor has it that she was only six years old when her father sold her as a slave to pay off his gambling debts. Those tattoos are a permanent remainder of her past. No one have dared to ask for details."
"How did she end up working in the bath house? Is she still a slave?" The warrior spat out the last word.
"No. She showed up out of nowhere a few months ago. Most people avoided her like a plague. The bath house owner reluctantly hired her when he learned she could massage. Our last masseur had been killed in a bar fight." Sadness filled Goro's voice.
"Who would kill a harmless masseur?"
"That's the tragedy of it. It was an accident. His taste for sake was his downfall. Poor fool. He didn't even see the club that cracked his skull." Goro allowed himself to sob silently. He had known the gentle masseur his entire life.
"He was blind?"
"Yes, since childhood." A tear ran down the old man's cheek. The warrior drank the rest of her tea in silence before going upstairs to the room she had chosen and went to sleep.
Next morning at breakfast the warrior decided to ask the innkeeper of the reasons behind the fighting between the two families. Goro told her one family weaved silk and the other ran a brewery, so there was no apparent competition between them. The reason turned out to to be romantic attraction. Apparently the eldest son in each family both had fallen head over heels in love with the same woman and ended up killing each other in a duel. Now both families blamed the other for the death of their eldest son. Things had escalated and now both families were far down the path of vengeance. They had even started to hire mercenaries to do the fighting for them.
A small crowd had gathered outside the small inn. Someone shouted a question.
"Goro, who is your mysterious guest who arrived yesterday?" There was no response. Suddenly the door opened and the warrior woman stepped out into the street.
"Who wants to know?" she snarled in response. A giant of a man stepped out of the crowd. His face was rough and his nose looked like it had been broken several times. He was dressed in a simple jacket and pants made from cotton. He wielded a tetsubo in his right hand.
"I do. I am Sakuro, son of Daisuke. My employer, Fumikura, wants to meet the warrior who arrived yesterday and offer him employment. I now see it would be a waste of time. Who would hire a woman?" He spat on the ground after speaking.
"Is that so? It would seem you need a lesson in manners. My katana would consider it an insult to touch your miserable flesh, so I guess I will have to beat some sense into you." Without further ado the female warrior yanked a walking staff from a surprised on-looker and spun the staff in the air a few times.
"Adequately balanced," she muttered. Sakuro growled something inaudible and stepped towards the irritating woman. The crowd made a wide circle around them, buzzing with excitement.
Sakuro swung his weapon high above his head with both hands and launched forward. He let out a battle cry. He badly wanted to crack this woman's skull. To everyone's surprise, the warrior woman simply side-stepped away from his mighty attack and responded with a swift blow to her attacker's wrists. The entire crowd gasped at the loud crack of bones breaking and the tetsubo fell from Sakuro's hands. He let out a small yelp in pain and surprise and dropped to his knees, clutching his broken wrists against his chest. The following blow struck the top of his head and knocked him out cold. The crowd stared in fear at Sakuro's unconscious body laying face down in the street. Blood seeped from a cut in his head. He obviously picked the wrong fight this morning. The warrior woman threw the blood-stained walking staff back to its owner before addressing the crowd.
"My name is Bushika Taimatsu and if someone is interested in hiring me the can come and ask me themselves. If this miserable excuse for a human being is supposed to be a hired warrior I even suggest it." Bushika then stepped back inside the inn as two men dragged away the unconscious Sakuro.
Later that day a servant came to the inn and politely requested Bushika to come with him to the silk producers, the Oribe family. She followed him to a large house at the edge of town surrounded by large mulberry fields. Bushika entered the main hall. The head of the family, Toshiro Oribe, was sitting in a strange position when Bushika entered. He offered her to sit. He spoke with a broken voice.
"Welcome. Forgive me for not coming in person but I am indisposed at the moment." Bushika noted his splintered leg, the reason for his indisposition and strange seating position. He offered her a cup of sake. Bushika sat down and placed her katana on the tatami beside her. She accepted the cup with a small bow.
Toshiro offered her 20 gold pieces a month for being a bodyguard for him and his family. He told her he feared that the Fumikura family might change their tactics and try to assassinate him or someone close to him. Bushika said she would consider his offer and give an answer the following day. She thanked him for his hospitality and left.
That evening Bushika went to the bath house again, hoping to see the beautiful blonde. The bandai in the entrance simply nodded and gestured her to enter.
"My assistant will be with you shortly," he muttered. Bushika stepped into the change room. The beautiful blonde appeared from the bath room. Her white patterned yukata was soaked through and had several stains of blood on it.
"Have somebody hurt you?" Bushika growled.
"No sire," replied the tall blonde. "The blood isn't mine. It belongs to a big brute who reportedly was given a lesson in manners this morning. I treated his injuries earlier today. Please excuse me while I change my clothing." The blonde disappeared through the doorway. Bushika allowed herself to smile slightly at the blonde's report of the incident that morning. This time she left her weapons in the change room.
"What is you name?" asked Bushika while the blonde soaped Bushika's body. Now the blonde had changed into her light-blue yukata with the white obi that matched her eyes so nicely.
"Shichininko," answered the blonde. "Most people doesn't bother to ask."
"Seven? How did you get a name like that?" Bushika could hide her surprised smile.
"It's a long story..."
"I would like to hear it."
"Another time perhaps. May I ask your name?"
"A fitting name for a female warrior. I have to express my gratitude for the lesson you gave Sakuro this morning." Bushika saw a slight smirk on the blonde's face.
"He wasn't nice to me. He wanted more than a massage once. I refused and he beat me." The sadness was evident in Shichininko's voice.
"If I'd known I would have made him regret it." Bushika growled. She clenched her soapy fists.
"You would defend me?" Shichininko raised a questioning eyebrow.
"Yes! With my life. A samurai should protect the innocent." Bushika's voice was sharp with determination. Shichininko smiled slightly at this then picked up a bucket and rinsed the lather off Bushika's body. As Bushika stepped into the bath she stole a glance at the beautiful blonde pouring water on the tiled floor to rinse away the soap.
"You can join me if you like. You look like you could need a break..." Bushika offered.
"Thank you, but no." Shichininko declined. "My naked body is offensive..." Bushika just shook her head.
"Who the hell told you that?"
"The bandai. He suggested I keep my yukata on at all times."
"He is an old fool. In the bath! Now!" Bushika barked out the words like it was an order but the whole idea upset her greatly. This was the most beautiful woman she had ever seen, and someone dared to call that woman's body offensive.
Shichininko sighed but complied. She untied her obi and slid the yukata off her shoulders. Bushika gasped and feared drowning in the bathtub at the sight before her. A huge dragon spreading its claws adorned Shichininko's entire back. Two red eyes stared at Bushika from between the shoulder blades and the dragon's front claws griped the alabaster shoulders. The tail of the dragon wrapped around the narrow waist and a star-shaped tattoo was placed just above the shapely buttocks.
Shichininko neatly folded her clothing and placed them on a stool. She then turned around and walked towards the bathtub. Bushika didn't even breathe. Those creamy breasts she had been dreaming about since yesterday bounced slightly at each sway of the shapely hips. A small triangle of curly blond hair adorned the mound between Shichininko's legs. Bushika drew a short sharp breath as Shichininko slid into the bath on the opposite side. It took all her concentration to try and look elsewhere than to stare at the beautiful body getting into the bathtub.
Shichininko seemed totally unaware of the effect her naked body had on her companion in the bath. She sighed loudly and relaxed in the warm water.
"Thank you sire. You are very kind." Bushika shook her head to clear the very un-warrior-like thoughts in her head.
"I think you can call me Bushika from now on. There is no need for polite language with someone you share a bath with."
"As you wish Bushika."
A few minutes later Shichinko got out of the bath.
"I have work to do. Thank you again." She quickly stepped out of the bath, put her yukata back on and left the room. Bushika noticed a kanji character in the middle of the star-shaped tattoo on Shichininko's back. Its meaning was unknown to the samurai. "Could it be the symbol of her former masters?" Bushika wondered as she got out of the bath and got dressed.
At dinner that evening, Bushika contemplated if she should ask Goro about the meaning of the kanji character tattooed on Shichininko's back. She decided not to, since he would probably ask how she managed to get such a good look at it.
Several cups of sake couldn't erase the images in Bushika's head. She kept seeing a beautiful woman walking towards her wearing only tattoos. She finally fell into an uneasy sleep.
Shichininko woke up from an uneasy sleep. Her experiences from the past couple of days was like nothing she had ever experienced before. She was beginning to fall in love with Bushika, the samurai, the only one who treated her as a person rather than some tattooed freak. She only hoped this wouldn't interfere with her mission. It was still dark outside and the bandai wasn't expecting her until sometime during the afternoon, so she decided to pay Bushika a little visit. She got dressed in her mission outfit: A dark grey hooded jacket, black pants and black boots with felt soles. She covered her face with a black scarf and put a short sword in her belt.
She made a quick exit via the window of the small house she lived in on the outskirts of town. A short reconnaissance revealed that Bushika was in the east corner room on the upper floor of the small inn. That meant the room could be easily accessed via the roof.
Shichininko swiftly climbed up on the roof of the building. Using a grappling hook, she roped down to the open window of the east corner room and peeked inside. In the dark room she could see Bushika sleeping on a futon with an empty sake bottle laying beside her.
"Shichininko, my tattooed beauty," the sleeping samurai whispered.
Shichininko nearly lost her grip in surprise. "She is dreaming about me," she thought. She hastily climbed back up on the roof and disappeared into the night.
Next morning Bushika nurtured an evil headache as Osato Fumikura, the head of the brewery family, appeared and asked to speak to her. Goro opened and Bushika offered Osato to sit beside her by the fire and have some noodles. He sat down with a grim look on his face and declined to have any food.
"You are Bushika Taimatsu?"
"I am. What do you want?" Bushika took a mouthful of noodles.
"My people tell me the Oribe family will pay you 20 gold pieces a month to act as their bodyguard. Is this true?"
"It might be. Why?"
"I am offering you 50 gold pieces a month to work for me instead. Your skills could prove useful, especially since you maimed one of my best fighters."
"One of your best eh? Then you are in trouble. I will consider your request. You will have my answer before nightfall."
Osato nodded, got up and left. Some moments later a servant from the Oribe family came and requested a response regarding her becoming a bodyguard.
"I will take the job. However, I refuse to take your money. I only ask that you pay for food and board at this inn along with baths and massages at the bath house for the duration of my visit."
"As you wish sire. I will relay your message." The servant bowed deeply and left.
Later, walking down the main street, Bushika saw the tall blonde come walking down the street with three men walking around her shouting insults at her.
"Going to the bath house are we? Rumor has it Sakuro fucked you so hard last night you passed out. You kept begging for more. How can you keep saying you only provide massage. Come on, How much do you charge?"
"Leave her alone," barked Bushika as she approached the three men.
"Stay out of this samurai," grumbled one of them. "This is none of your business."
"But it is!" Bushika snapped. "She was with me last night, and I can assure you Sakuro was not present. I hurt him so bad he can't even hold his own dick to pee! Do you wish to join him in his present condition? If not, look for love somewhere else." The three men looked at each other before making a quick exit.
"Thank you, but I'm unharmed. I'm used to being called a whore..."
"You shouldn't be used to being called names. I told you I would protect you. A samurai never lies."
"I have to get to work. Can I expect you at the bath house this evening?"
"Yes Shichininko. This time I would like a massage as well," Bushika added with a small smile.
Shichininko nodded slightly and hurried down the street. Bushika made her way to the Fumikura brewery.
"I want to see Osato Fumikura," she sneered to the two men standing guard outside. They opened the door without protest and let her in.
Osato Fumikura choked on his sake when he heard the answer from Bushika.
"I might consider to work for you, but my minimum price is 100 gold pieces per month. That is my final offer."
"But rumor has it you've already accepted Oribe's offer of 20 gold pieces to work for him!"
"I haven't taken his money."
"I have to think about this. You will have my answer in a few days."
"Don't wait too long. My patience is limited." With those words Bushika left Osato and his brewery. She made her way back towards the inn and the bath house. She just wanted to collect her thoughts, have a bath and a massage, perhaps hearing the story behind the beautiful woman's mysterious tattoos. Bushika was interrupted in her thoughts by a voice behind her.
"I told you to mind you own business samurai. Now you will pay for interrupting. Get her!"
Bushika spun around to see two men charge her with raised weapons. They each wielded a tetsubo, Sakuro's weapon of choice. It was the three men who had harassed Shichininko earlier. The one who had spoken to her stayed behind, keeping his distance. The two others seemed determined to beat her into a bloody pulp. Bushika ducked the first blow towards her and drew her katana, simultaneously slashing her first opponent's belly open from left to right.
The second made the mistake of crying out before swinging at her, alerting her of his attack. She side-stepped his attack to the right and defeated her second opponent with a mighty diagonal cut to the left side of his neck, severing his jugular vein. He was dead before he hit the ground. Turning to face the third man she could only see the back of him as he ran for his life.
"Run, you worthless maggot," Bushika muttered as she shook the blood off her katana by swinging it in a big circle before returning it to it's place in the scabbard.
When she returned to the inn Goro couldn't help to flinch at the sight of Bushika's blood-stained clothing. She saw his reaction and tried to calm him.
"I was attacked on my way back here. Don't worry. They didn't touch me. Tell the cooper he has work to do. I sent them both to hell." Goro simply nodded and headed for the door. Bushika stopped him.
"I want to have a bath and a massage. Tell the bandai I'm coming after you've told the cooper to make two more coffins."
"Yes sire," answered Goro and stepped out the door.
Bushika staggered into the bath house. The entrance was empty. The innkeeper had however told her the bath should be ready, so she kicked off her sandals and marched into the change room. Slowly she began remove her blood-stained clothing. The two men she just killed were probably just scum hired by the Fumikura family. Still, something about it worried her. Bushika tensed as she felt two arms encircle her waist from behind. She was about to jab her elbow into the solar plexus of her mysterious attacker until she heard a soft voice whisper in her ear.
"I have been waiting..."
Bushika turned around and looked into the round blue eyes of Shichininko. Shichininko looked her usual stunning self in her sky-blue yukata with the white obi. The tall blonde couldn't hide the fear in her eyes when she saw the blood on Bushika's clothing. Instinctively she began feeling with her hands under Bushika's clothing, searching for injuries.
"I am fine. The blood belongs to two opponents. Just get it off me, please..."
Bushika could help leaning into the touch as warm hands brushed over her chest and shoulders, removing the last of her clothing. Her actions didn't go unnoticed by Shichininko, who raised a small smile at the way the warrior woman reacted to her touch.
"Bath first," she ordered and led the naked warrior into the bath room and gestured Bushika to sit down on the stool beside the bathtub.
Shichininko washed off her hands, filled a bucket with warm water and poured it over Bushika's head. She poured another bucketful of water over Bushika's body before starting to wash Bushika's body and hair. When the warrior was clean she rinsed off the lather and was just about to leave when Bushika raised her hand.
"What is it?" Shichininko raised a questioning eyebrow.
"Take off your clothes."
"Forgive me, Bushika, but I can't join you in the bath this time. I have to prepare for your massage." Shichininko pointed towards a doorway next to the change room. Bushika grumbled and stepped into the bath. Shichininko disappeared into the other room.
Bushika relaxed in the hot water and let her mind drift. She realized she was beginning to fall for this mysterious woman. Sure, she had sought comfort in the arms of the young women of her master's court before, preferring women over men. Her feelings for Shichininko was different. Was this love? Her behavior had been tolerated due to her background and reputation as a warrior. She had been raised as a warrior since the age of six and couldn't conform to the traditional role of a woman. Furthermore, it was not uncommon for male samurai to seek comfort in other men. The sound of Shichininko's voice pulled her back into reality.
"I have prepared for your massage," Shichininko reported, standing tall in the doorway. dressed in her usual sky-blue yukata with a white obi. As Bushika got out of the bath and walked over the tiled floor towards Shichininko she could have sworn there was something different in the blonde's eyes, something almost predatory.
"Relax, I have locked the door and sent the bandai home..." Shichininko said with a wicked smile. Bushika wasn't sure what to make of that sentence as she stepped through the doorway into a small room dominated by a large wooden bench, covered in white cotton sheets.
"Lie down please," ordered Shichininko. "Face down." Bushika complied but raised her hand in protest when Shichininko wanted to cover her with a sheet.
"No. I want to feel your hands against me. I enjoy you touch."
"As you wish Bushika."
Shichininko climbed up on the bench, kneeled beside Bushika and began her treatment. When Shichininko straddled the small of Bushika's back to apply more pressure to the spine Bushika growled and clawed into the sheets. She felt the heat of other woman's sex press against the small of her back. This was more than she could handle. "Control yourself" thought Bushika and bit down on her lip as Shichininko continued to rub her back and shoulders.
Shichininko wasn't immune herself to the effect she had on the warm body underneath her. She could feel strong muscles ripple under her touch as she massaged those muscular shoulders, honed on the fields of battle. Shichininko repositioned herself and began to massage Bushika's firm buttocks. Bushika let out a moan of pleasure as long fingers stoked over her butt and thighs.
When Shichininko climbed off the bench and told Bushika she was fininshed Bushika rolled over on her back and cried out.
"No! I want to see you. I want to touch you. Let me massage you." With those words Bushika sat up and grabbed the collar of Shichininko's yukata. Before Shichininko could react Bushika pulled the robe off the blonde woman's shoulders, exposing a pair of creamy white breasts and trapped Shichininko's arms at her sides. Shichininko merely nodded and freed herself of her clothing by untying her obi and letting her clothing fall to the floor.
Shichininko climbed up the bench and lied down on her stomach with her hands resting under her cheek. Bushika swallowed hard and looked down in awe at the beauty lying before her. The large dragon tattooed on Shichininko's back appeared alive and moved its head with each breath of the tall blonde.
"By the gods, you are beautiful," Bushika whispered. Shichininko raised her head slightly and smiled.
"You wanted to give me a massage?" The question barely hid the yearning in Shichininko's voice. Bushika began to tentatively massage the woman laying before her. The massage was more of a caress but the small moans coming from the blonde's full lips encouraged Bushika to continue her ministrations. Tracing the outline of the star-shaped tattoo situated above those shapely buttocks with the tip of her finger Bushika steeled herself to ask the questions burning in her mind.
"Who gave you this tattoo? What does it mean?"
"I cannot tell you!" Shichininko snapped.
"I cannot tell anyone! You wouldn't understand." Shichininko jumped to her feet and bolted out the door. Bushika quickly regained her composure and dove after the fleeing blonde, barely slowing to pick up her katana in the change room. Bushika heard the entrance door click open and rushed towards the sound.
Catching a glimpse of alabaster skin wrapped in dark cloth diving through the open door, Bushika rushed into the street, franticly looking around her. The blonde was nowhere in sight. She had just disappeared into thin air!
"SHICHININKO!" Bushika howled at the top of her lungs. There was no response except her own voice echoing across the street. Bushika stared back at the poor farmer looking at her until she realized her predicament. She was standing stark naked in the middle of the main street carrying nothing but her katana.
"Find something else to stare at if value your eyesight!" Bushika growled and stepped back into the bath house.
Bushika washed of her dirty feet and decided find a replacement for her own blood-soiled clothing. Without thinking about it, she picked up Shichininko's clothing laying in the massage room and put them on. Dressed in an oversized sky-blue yukata with a white obi, Bushika picked up her swords, put on her sandals and left the bath house.
Goro paused over his cooking as Bushika stormed into the inn.
"What in the world happened to you sire?" he asked, seeing the warrior-woman's agitated state and unusual clothing.
"You don't want to know!" Bushika snapped. "Bring up every single bottle of sake you can find to my room. I intend to forget what just happened or drown trying!" Goro just nodded and went to fetch the sake. He decided not to protest. Whatever it was, she had it bad.
Bushika marched straight up to her room without touching her dinner and slumped down on her futon. Goro arrived with eight bottles of sake and Bushika gestured to him to put them down and leave. She then began the task of emptying them.
Bushika was awaken by Goro at high noon with a terrible hangover. She had finished all bottles but one and had passed out piss drunk. He excused himself, fearing for his life, but pointed out that Toshiro Oribe, the head of the Oribe family, had limped over himself and desperately wanted to speak to her. Bushika shook her head in a vain effort to clear it, got dressed and went down to meet her visitor.
"Forgive me for dragging you out of bed sire," Toshiro greeted her with a somewhat stiff bow.
"Well, I'm here! What is it?"
"I wish to inform you that the silk merchant will arrive tomorrow and I request that you protect him personally during his visit."
"Is he in danger?"
"I fear so. I would be out of business if he got harmed. No one would buy my silk afterwards."
"I understand. I will come and meet him tomorrow. Now leave me in peace." Toshiro bowed in gratitude and left. Bushika glanced thorough the door as Toshiro left. A woman walking towards the bath house caught her attention. It was Shichininko!
Bushika rushed into the street. She called out to Shichininko outside the bath house.
"Wait!" Shichininko turned towards the voice. She nodded silently as Bushika approached her.
"Yes sire?" Shichininko responded, overly formal. Bushika simply frowned at the term.
"You know my name. Why did you run out on me? Are the memories too painful?"
"No..." Shichininko looked into the ground, avoiding Bushika's eyes.
"What is it then? Please tell me."
"You cannot change how things are. You cannot protect me from myself Bushika."
"I don't believe you..."
"That is your choice."
"Will I at least see you in the bath house this evening?"
"No. The bandai is ill so the bath house will be closed until he gets well. I will pick up some clothing I left yesterday and close the bath house."
"Your sky-blue yukata?"
"Yes. Do you have it?" Shichininko raised her trademark eyebrow. Bushika found herself blushing.
"I do have it. I needed a replacement for my own blood-stained clothing..."
"I see. I'm glad you didn't run around the town naked. You could have ended up with a cold like the bandai." Shichininko smiled, almost unnoticable.
"Damn gossip," Bushika muttered. "Listen, I have to pay a visit the Oribe family. Can you come visit me at the inn this evening, since you don't have to work?"
"Won't people ask questions?"
"I will beat them into silence if I have to. Please come."
"I will be there. Now I have close up here and see if the bandai needs anything." Shichininko stepped inside and Bushika walked back to the inn to have something to eat. She didn't care that people around her whispered and pointed towards her.
That evening Shichininko was laying on her futon with tears running down her cheeks. "Why me?" she whispered. She crushed a small parchment in her hand. The message was simple, provided you could decipher it.
"Your mission is to kill the silk merchant and all who happen to witness his death."
She had been given her mission. She would have to carry it out or die trying. Failure was not an option. How would she tell Bushika? Bushika had been hired to protect the silk merchant, that she knew, so completing her mission meant killing the woman she loved. If she refused the others would hunt her down and kill her. What would she do? Making a decision, she put on the clothing that represented what she hated the most right now. The black outfit of a shinobi. She made a quick exit via the window and merged into the darkness.
Bushika stared into the fire. She had been waiting what seemed like an eternity but the tall blonde hadn't come. Even Goro had excused himself and gone to bed. Was she lying? Had something happened to her? Bushika's head was spinning with questions as she brought yet another sake bottle up to her room, her only companion for bed these days.
Throwing herself on her futon she buried her face in the sky-blue yukata splayed out on the bed, still carrying the scent of the beautiful blonde. Suddenly she discovered a dark figure sitting in the window. Bushika's blood froze in horror.
"Shinobi!" Bushika cried and jumped to her feet, drawing her katana. The assassin jumped into her room and drew his sword. Bushika had seen these horrible assassins once before when she was a small child. She had been visiting a castle with her parents and the castle had been attacked by shinobi. In her nightmares, she could still hear the cries of the people being murdered by the men in from the shadows.
She stepped forward and slashed out in a long horizontal arc, wanting to split this honor-less creep in half. A sharp clang confirmed that the assassin had blocked her attack, but a counter attack didn't follow. The assasin simply remained standing in a defensive position. Bushika collected herself to prepare another attack as the assassin spoke.
"Wait. It's me!" Bushika hesitated momentarily. The voice was female, and somehow it sounded familiar. The assassin tucked away her weapon and lifted her hands to remove her mask. Bushika gasped in surprise and lowered her katana as golden tresses cascaded down over black shoulders as they were freed from the dark cloth holding them in place.
"S-Shichininko? How? Why?"
"This is what I am. You asked me what my star-shaped tattoo meant, and this is the answer..." Shichininko's voice cracked and tears welled up in her eyes.
"You have come to kill me?" Bushika whispered.
"No. I have come to say goodbye. I wish for you to remember me and pray for me, because I won't return from this mission alive."
"How can you be so sure of that?"
"Because this mission is one I cannot complete. Only death can release my from my task. Now, kiss me. I want to make love to you at least once before I die..."
Bushika put her katana back in its scabbard and threw it aside. She walked up to the dark figure standing in her room and pulled it into a warm embrace. Bushika raised her head and placed a hungry kiss on Shichininko's red lips.
Shichininko answered with a deep moan and deepened the kiss, tightening the embrace. Bushika felt a warm tongue slide into her mouth and explore it thoroughly for what seemed to be an eternity, dancing with her own tongue. Bushika felt her lungs burn from lack of oxygen and she reluctantly broke the kiss, gasping for air like a fish out of water. Shichininko merely inhaled slowly and whispered.
"Breath control my love, breath control."
Shichininko proceeded to place butterfly kisses along Bushika's jaw and neck. Bushika moaned with pleasure and tugged on the black clothing of her lover. Shichininko gave her some assistance by undoing her black obi and letting her ninja-to clatter to the floor. Bushika pulled the black, hodded jacket off Shichininko's shoulders and let it fall to the floor, revealing two white breasts with pink nipples. Bushika began to lightly caress Shichiniko's breasts with her fingertips. Shichininko inhailed abruptly and stuttered with a husky voice.
"N-no Bushika-chan. Allow me..." Shichininko parted Bushika's arms and pulled off the kimono of the warrior's body. Leaning in, she licked Bushika's earlobe before whispering.
"My given name is Aniko."
Shichininko then began kissing her way down Bushika's neck and chest. Arriving at a pair of firm breasts, she took most of one breast in her mouth and began circling the nipple with the tip of her tongue and mimicking the actions with her fingers on the other breast. Bushika growled with pleasure from Shichininko's treatment and she felt her nipples harden and her knees beginning to give way.
Sensing her lover's trouble to remain standing, Shichininko stopped her caresses briefly and guided her lover down on the futon. When Bushika was laying on her back Shichininko began licking and caressing her lovers flat stomach, causing Bushika to squirm under her touch. Continuing down, Shichininko twirled her fingers through the black silken locks situated between Bushika's muscular thighs.
Shichininko then repositioned herself and parted Bushika's legs and paused to gaze on her lover's wet and swollen sex. Exhaling a long warm breath towards Bushika's center Shichininko brought her own lips down to taste her lover for the first time. Flicking her tongue over her lovers velvety folds, Shichininko hummed her approval before pushing her tongue deep into her lover.
Bushika moaned loudly and raised her hips into the touch, her body begging for release. Feeling her lover nip and tease her sensitive nub Bushika finally came, screaming her lover's name.
Shichininko smiled slightly and snugged up to her panting lover. Feeling her new lover's warm body press against her, Bushika finally collected herself and turned to took into the liquid blue eyes of Shichininko. Bushika's voice was a whisper.
"I love you Aniko. No matter what you are. I would to tear down the gates of hell to be with you."
"I love you too Bushika. But the life of a shinobi is short and brutal, like a summer flower in the first autumn frost." A single tear rolled down an alabaster cheek.
"At least let me return you love..." Bushika whispered. Their lips met in a long slow kiss. Bushika pulled of Shichininko's boots and pants and they made love for several hours until they both fell asleep in each others arms.
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Warrior woman Bushika Taimatsu (Warrior-woman Torch)
Tall blonde Shichininko (Person number seven)
Innkeeper Goro (Fifth son)
Brewery family Fumikura (Holders of wealth)
Silk weaving family Oribe (Weavers)
-chan A suffix denoting endearment.
katana Long-sword, a samurai's weapon.
ninja-to A short sword used exclusively by shinobi.
bandai Bath house owner.
futon A mattress.
obi Wide belt used with a kimono.
sake Rice wine.
shinobi Assassin (ninja).
yukata Light cotton kimono. Summer or bath wear.