Tenchu: Shadows of Azuma – 5. Akechi in the Limestone Caverns

“Yes, Sir?”

“Be wary of Shigeru Otawa. He is no simple swordsman; he will not falter in taking a life to get his way. Should you engage him in battle, do not drop your guard and strike to kill.”

Rikimaru nods and makes way out of the room. Alone, Lord Gohda closes his eyes and begins to think.

“A man with deadly ideas has aligned himself with somebody with the same mind set. Whoever this person is, they’re a dangerous enemy. They must be stopped, not only for the welfare of my people, but for the safety of the nation.”

* * * * *

Dark clouds travel across the night sky, blocking most of the moon’s radiant light from shining down on the land. Deep into the thick forest, there’s a small enclosed area formed in the base of a nearby rock formation. The only path that leads to it is a river that goes off a cliff, making a small waterfall that connects to a pool of water. Along the small shore line, torches are placed to help light up some of the area. Right in the middle, there is a large cavern opening that leads into the rock formation, going underground.

His footsteps splashing in the pool as he crosses to the cavern, Rikimaru examines the surrounding area, making sure no other guards are patrolling the entrance; on his way here, Rikimaru took out two ninjas on guarding the area. Sensing no other presence, he rushes across the water, through the shore and stands just outside of the cavern; there are rail tracks along the ground.

“This will be the only way I can escape. The caverns are deep with numerous paths and pitfalls; I’ll need to find the storage, destroy it, and escape as quickly as possible if I want to find the same path out.”

Rikimaru looks at the small pouch he tied around his waist and takes out a small black sphere shaped object; there’s a small string sticking out of the top, “I’ll need to find something to ignite these bombs once I’m inside.”

Placing the bomb back in the pouch, he walks into the cavern, the sound of his feet echoing through as he walks on rocks and pebbles. He goes down a slope and turns a corner, leading into one of many open areas that line the cavern. Throughout the entire cavern, limestone decorates the walls, ground, and roof, creating a natural light. However, cavern is still lit with torches for extra light when needed.

Rikimaru walks to the edge of a landing and notices that the rail tracks break off, but somehow continue on a few feet down. He jumps down and follows the next set of track, taking him through a narrow passage; there are boards and planks of wood to help prevent a cave in along many passages that he passes through. He reaches a corner and peers, seeing an enemy ninja patrolling the passage. When the ninja comes close enough, Rikimaru emerges and strikes.

In one fluid motion, Rikimaru draws his ninjato and attacks the ninja with three rapid slicing motions, all landing along the torso. The final slice cuts the deepest, striking the ninja across the heart and fatally killing him. Weapon sheathed, Rikimaru continues through the passage. When he reaches the end, he comes to a stop, as the passage leads to another open area. He looks around and can see the area breaks off into multiple passages, each one either above or below where he’s standing.

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