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The Chrysanthemum Pass

Bats, the Cat and the Rabbit <-- --> Lightning strikes twice

General Info
 

First Published: August, 1996 by Dark Horse Comics

Comics Which Contain This Story
 

USAGI YOJIMBO Volume 3, Number 5

USAGI YOJIMBO Book Ten: Brink of Life and Death
(Pages 153-174)

Characters in This Story
 
Synopsis
 

A rabbit reports to the councilors of Lord Miyagi that there is a plot to kill their Lord. The hired killers: Koroshi - the assassins' guild, and they almost never fail. Lord Miyagi is to be assassinated on his way to the meeting of the area lords, which he must attend, for not only may their clan suffer a loss of honor, but their clan holds the decisive vote against a trade agreement that could benefit Lord Hikiji. The rabbit also reveals that the Tarako clan hired the Koroshi.

Usagi is walking through the town, whe he runs into a bunch of thugs who block his way and demand a toll to pass. Usagi attempts to resolve it peacefully, but when they get violent, he is forced to show his prowess in combat. Moments later, they're all on the ground (Usagi can really hit!) and as soon as they're able to get up they make tracks and run for their lives.

A stranger approaches Usagi, asking of him if he is the Miyamoto Usagi, who has in the past assisted Lord Noriyuki and the Geishu clan. Usagi, of course, says he is, and the stranger introduces himself as Icho, a travelling medicine dealer with a unique way of doing business.

Usagi walks with Icho for a while, and Icho inquires as to why Usagi is heading towards the Crysanthemum pass. Usagi answers that he's heard that it's quite beautiful at this season, and Icho politely leaves Usagi, because he has a few errands.

Later, Icho is walking up a mountain path singing a folk song about feeding pigeons. (If anybody can translate this for me and e-mail it to me, I'd be eternally grateful. Click here for the lyrics.) He runs into a wayside stand and decides to stop for some tea.

Coincidentally, Usagi has been dogging it and has stoped at the same place for a cup. Usagi insists in traveling with Icho, and he agrees, althought not without some hesitancy. They continue up the path, and Icho takes Usagi to the viewpoint of the Crsanthemum pass. Icho steps behind Usagi, and puts his hand out. Usagi turns his head and demands someone to identify themself. Icho, is confused, until a "hunter" steps from the bush and apologizes for the intrusion. Usagi and Icho walk back down the path.

Eizo (the "hunter") looks down into the pass and notices Lord Miyagi's procession.. Right on time... He calls out to seemingly no one, when suddenly a familiar claw appears from the ground. The Mogura ninja!

Usagi and Icho are just arriving at the Crysanthemum Inn, which is two Ri from the pass. [1 Ri=3.9 Kilometers] Usagi and Icho check in at the Inn, and Usagi eats dinner.

Icho decides to take a walk before turning in. Singing his favorite song, Icho is taken unawares by Eizo, who taunts him on his surprise. Icho takes him to task and checks up on the plan. Eizo replies that everything is going as planned, but inquires about Usagi.

Icho tells him about Usagi, and describes how he's sure that he knows nothing about the plot to kill Lord Miyagi. Eizo suggests a possible solution, namely kill him, and Icho said he tried, when he tried to push him off the cliff, when Eizo showed up and messed it all up. Icho leaves, but as he goes, he repeats that when the Koroshi accept a job, they always complete it. Eizo, on the other hand, has his own sentiments about Icho.

When Icho returns to their room, he finds Usagi asleep, and decides to rid himself of this ronin who could royally mess up the assassination. Icho grabs his walking stick, and pulls the two ends apart, revealing a nice sharp blade, making a small "click".

Usagi's hand rushes to his sword and draws it before Icho can even react. Usagi apologizes for having drawn his weapon, with the comment that he's not used to having a room-mate. Icho, of course, is stunned. Usagi's dairokkan <sixth sense> is too sharp to be killed in his sleep. Icho laments this, but decides the rabbit will die with Lord Miyagi tomorrow, at any rate.

The next morning, Usagi and Icho continue on towards the pass, Icho singing his favorite song. They reach the summit of the pass, and rest a minute before continuing. The procession catches up with them, and they decide to wait for them to pass. No sense running in front of a procession.

They bow down for the passing Lord, while the Palanquin guard complains at the carriers to keep it steady, otherwise Lord Miyagi'll get sick. Suddenly, a gigantic rockslide comes down on the procession! The Lord's palanquin is cut off from the rest of the guards!

Suddenly, the ground shakes as the Mogura ninja attack. Usagi gets into the fray, and helps the palanquin guard, who was pinned under his horse in the middle of combat. Suddenly, arrows come down by the dozen, killing the palanquin guards, except for the one that was on the horse and a few others.

The arrows pierce the palanquin, and a body slumps forth out of the door. The gards are in shock, because Lord Miyagi is dead. Eizo, on the cliff, is triumphant. He almost single-handedly killed Lord Miyagi, with the help of the Mogura. He escapes, and the Mogura dig their way out.

Usagi cannot understand why the palanquin guard does not chase after Eizo. A samurai's duty is to avenge his Lord, after all. The guard is identified as Lord Miyagi himself. Usagi is totally stunned by this revelation. He walks over to the palanquin and finds a dummy, pierced by a half- dozen arrows.

Lord Miyagi is rather happy that his counter-plan was a success, because now the assassin will report the news of his "death" and he'll be able to continue to the provincial capital uninterrupted. Icho, on the side, is not quite so pleased. He cannot fail the Koroshi. Eizo bungled the whole thing, but the job must be completed. Icho sacrifices his life for the honor of the assassins' guild. Usagi stops Icho before he can kill Miyagi, and before he dies, Icho curses Usagi as he falls.

 
 
Bats, the Cat and the Rabbit <-- --> Lightning strikes twice


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Usagi Yojimbo, including all prominent characters featured in the stories and the distinctive likenesses thereof are trademarks of Stan Sakai and Usagi Studios. Usagi Yojimbo is a registered trademark of Stan Sakai. Names, characters, places, and incidents featured in this publication either are the product of the authors imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons (living or dead), events, institutions, or locales, without satiric content, is coincidental.