Part I: Separate Ways
The second day started and the expectation was a repeat of the first. Thomas would be getting a remedial education on sword fighting, the townsfolk would try learning courage as much or more as how to thrust a spear. Baths would be had after everyone couldn’t cope with more effort.
Soon that was interrupted. The city guard galloped back from his day trip in search of mercenaries. He had not found any. He had found sickness instead, and he came accompanied by one of the men from the town where it had taken root. By then, many had heard of Alan the monk as a blessed healer and thus they sought him, foreigner or not a healer is a friend when sick. And Alan true to his calling couldn’t even conceive of refusing his help. He soon departed to the next town over, barely holding to the horse’s rider and the horse’s rear as it galloped away.
The less admired and more feared foreigner had his work cut out for him. Pun intended. He may have worked harder on his confidence than his kendo. Could as well, for when holding a sword he started with none of either. With no time for training actual skills, the will to do his best and go for the kill if it came to it was the best the Gentleman Devil or his blind teacher could hope for. Better for him to keep some wisdom, or he would end cornered between a dubious victory and death.
Part II: The Bandits’ Camp
Takekazu-Sama, meanwhile, had plans. The young Bushi was the one eyed man in the country of the blind, and while keeping appearances he must surely have been reveling on it inside. Soon after the foreigner and the songstress returned from their communion with the forest spirits, he proposed to the Devil to seek the bandits’ encampment, hoping to scout their numbers and forces and if possible sabotage their efforts. The Devil was dubious but accepted. The blind flower insisted on accompanying them. For whatever reason, they acceded. In truth the worry was that the two would foolishly get into more trouble than they could handle.
They didn’t find more than they bargained for, but they found better. The encampment wasn’t far from the village, and when they risked approaching it the three found it devoid of bandits. Where they had gone was unclear, but they had left enough there. Takekazu-Sama and the Devil started accounting for all the useful things they could deprive the bandits of: horses, food, weapons, tools… The blind flower, meanwhile, noticed the encampment not completely deserted. The one bandit left behind, no doubt to guard the place, was failing at his job, one snore at a time.
While the blind flower would have never expected mercy from the likes of him, she held herself to a higher standard. She also didn’t want to reveal herself as handy with a blade. The threat of a sharp blade was enough to stop the bandit from trying anything, the blunt end of a walking stick enough to stop the bandit from being able to try anything. He was to be taken prisoner even if Takekazu would rather have had the horses carry other things. The prisoner was unlikely to want to divulge the details of his capture, the townsfolk unlikely to believe him if he did. And the two men were all to easily convinced that there had been no scuffle worth the name. One because he knew of the blind flower’s skills, the other one because he didn’t.
And so they left. They’d be facing the wrong end of their own spears stolen by the raiders, they would have little choice but to charge in town themselves, most or all of their longbows broken beyond repair. Little chance that their morale would sustain with no sake to drink, and empty stomachs would more than hurt their smarts than it would help their fierceness.