Punish the Evil Merchant

The clan had had no choice but to take the job, the flood had wiped out any hope of a harvest. Oda Haruki had been sent out to the world that he might punish an evil merchant, Echigoya. The clan was being paid by a group of women from a village close by the network of caves they called home. He knew that the old man had taken too much from the villagers, but he did not know the details, and did not wish to know. All that he knew was encompassed in farming and silence.

Haruki crouched under the merchant's window, contemplating his plan. He had chosen a good night for bad work. It was raining hard, and he had not seen anyone nor been seen. The catch on the merchant's window had snapped off easily. The merchant was drinking and gambling with his cronies, his braying laugh audible even through the pounding rain. Echigoya was winning. All that he had to do now was wait for the evil man and his companions to drink themselves to stupefaction on rice wine and stumble to their beds.

Haruki heard the sharp voice of dissent from below his feet and knew the game was finished for the night. He listened as the merchant made his way to his room and prepared for sleep, and waited until he heard the stertorous breath of alcoholic slumber from inside. Haruki readied himself for his attack, emptying his mind. He slipped open the window and lifted himself through. After a scan of the room, he drew his sword and took two quick steps to Echigoya's bedside and set it on the floor. He shook his scabbard out into his hand, retrieving the cord. Then Oda Haruki garroted Echigoya and vanished into the night, leaving the corpse of the evil merchant as it was, one hand reaching for his neck and the other for his gold.