Runrunrunrun… twig, twig, fallen trunk, twig… get across the stream, from rock to rock, from rock to rock… trees toppled down by a storm, obstacle. No time for a detour, chop through the half-rotten trees with the sword… Loss of speed, insignificant, run faster, faster…
The Ginger lightning called Shun dashed through the forests of the eastern parts of the Continent. Some kitsune-scouts preferred stealth, sliding into the shadows, a silent entrance upon the enemies’ lands. Shun, however, was an adept of speed. He worshipped it, just as Inari and Amaterasu were worshipped by the monks in their temples. He reveled in it, lived by it. Even the body of the fox was ideally suited for sprinting through forests. As to the huge sword, almost a nodachi, which suited more a warrior-infantryman, rather than a scout… What can you say, Shun loved speed, but did not like obstacles. And that was the purpose that the monstrous two-handed sword served.
Edge of the forest. Open space. A patrol, three men. Run past? Wait? Long detour, waste of time. Sword to the side. Jump on the men, strike the first in the neck. Flesh has no chance against speed and inertia. Turn. The blade on the tail slashes the second patrolman’s face. Temporarily disabled. Jump from the third. Take off. Another strike of the sword. Finish off the man with the sliced face. Continue running…
Shun’s task was clear and simple: to sail from the Sunrise Islands to the Continent, gather intel and mark the presence of gaijin bases. Princess Fumiko, who had recently ascended as the head of the Scarlet forest clan, personally emphasized the importance of the mission. The scout was required to locate the bases as quickly as possible, there was no point in disguise – the foreigners were moving on the Islands anyway. And wherever the phrase “As soon as possible” was heard, Shun always appeared.
First camp. Low ring-fence, probably for animals, not enemies. Few watchmen. Hoping for patrols, do not expect an attack. No point in killing, would lower pace. Jump over ring-fence. Run through camp, memorize everything on the way. Jump over ring-fence. Hide in nearby grove.
Scrolls and writing tools hung on Shun’s belt. His drawing speed didn’t lag far behind. He sketchily drew the locations of the bases on the paper, the amount of people, and the weapons in each one. It was easier with the first camp, no one expected him there. The remaining ones however received warnings and were on alert. But the signal, which was relayed through smoke, could only notify of an attack, but could not relay that the attacker was a very fast kitsune with a very big sword. Shun dashed from base to base, raced through battle where it was necessary, making blood sacrifices to his speed. It wasn’t that he enjoyed killing, but he enjoyed the loss of pace even less.
Last Camp. Tenth today. Heightened patrols. Archers ready on the walls. Waiting for him. Even easier that way. Run past patrols. Slow, stupid. Arrows not a problem, neither are the archers. Sword breaks bows, hands, ribs, spines. Can see all the base from the wall, no point in heading down. Run along the rooftop, memorize the location of the tents. Jump off. Disappear.
At night, Shun untied the boat hidden amidst the cliffs and rowed away from the Continent towards the Sunrise Islands. He had gathered more than enough intel on the bases of the gaijin and it was time to present his report to Fumiko.