Besides herself, the ninja were the only ones with the skill who could accompany her on this mission.
As Sakuraichi and his forces staged skirmish hit and run attacks on the enemy to distract him, Haku the White Feather and all that remained of the daimyō’s ninjas secreted themselves into the back alleys of Yukai City.
They had to be quiet. Stealthy.
The enemy has many spies, she thought. Indeed, the enemy was utilizing ninja, as were they, except they had access to far greater numbers. When it came to ninja, the more one had, the better his understanding of the enemy.
Haku had no doubts about the difficulties they would face getting out of the city. Maintaining it as a clandestine affair was highly unlikely, which meant they would have to fight their way out.
It may be impossible.
And yet she was scouting for a way out that perhaps the enemy had overlooked.
They kept low inside various structures; dwellings, inns, great manors. Now they were inside an exchange building after cutting their way in through a wall. There were guards inside, as ever there was in an exchange building, but Haku and the ninja maintained their stealth, skirting past armed guards patrolling the inner corridors, until they came to a window covered in washi paper and framed in a bamboo latticework. It was facing a lonely back street.
“Clear?” Haku asked of the five ninja that accompanied her.
Never speaking unless absolutely required, the black-clad ninja simply nodded his head.
“Then we go.”
The White Feather hadn’t even needed to unsheathe her katana in this building full of patrolling guards, not a one of them any less than a veteran in some past battle, surely.
One of the ninja cut a hole through the washi paper with his short blade wakizashi, allowing the two behind him to exit without impediment. Haku followed, landing smoothly in the street below.
She glanced about as two of her ninja worked to remove a covering in the middle of the street that lead down to the city sewers.
The White Feather, ever spotless, didn’t think twice before following her stealthy companions into the muck below. Once down, one of the ninja lit a small torch he had stowed away inside a satchel at his side.
To either side of the river of filth was a stone path to keep from submerging in the diseased flow.
They walked on, their steps hurried. There was little sound except for the patter of their footsteps on the stones among the flowing of the foul waters.
If they kept on down this thoroughfare they would find themselves outside the city walls after a few hours.
It would be easy to get lost down here with this many passageways, she thought.
Fortunately the sewers of Yukai City, though sprawling, were easy to navigate because they followed the same paths as the streets overhead. All one needed was a detailed map of the city, which she had tucked away under her katana.
She wrinkled her nose at the foul lingering stench as they passed under rays of midday sunlight that peaked through the perforated holes in the sewer covers. The smells would have been much fouler if it weren’t for the regular upkeep of sewer maintenance—magic users who had the ability to dispel the odors.
“When we find our way outside the city walls,” Haku said, “scout the forest ahead.”
The ninja she had spoken to nodded. “Hai.”
“We can’t afford to walk into an ambush. You and you,” she indicated two of the other ninja. They responded to her commands as easily as though she were the daimyō. “Scout ahead. If you find anything suspicious, report back immediately.”
The two ninja nodded and set off, running into the darkness.
If I can get this message to the armies we’re saved.
She stopped in her tracks as she came to a turnoff, a grotesque pink tale sliding from view behind the wall. She heard the rat squeak and scurry away. A chill ran up her back.
“Daijoubu?” one of the remaining ninja asked her. He regarded the area where she had been watching.
“Everything is fine,” she assured the stealthy warrior. She wasn’t about to make an admission that the scurrying disease-ridden creatures scared her to death. “Let us continue.”
They call me one of the Legends and I’m afraid of rats…
The ninja nodded, ever stoic. They continued down the sewer corridors toward the edge of the city.
"I’m a businessman. My family has a seat in the Dwarven Merchants Guild. Merchants buy and sell goods. Businessmen buy and sell stores. In my spare time, I manage a spy network. And occasionally, I write books."--Varric Tethras
Wakiagaru is complete.
The Reconnoiters is complete.
More stories on the way.
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