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Tomoe's Story

Duel at Kitanoji <-- --> The Doors

General Info

First Published: November, 1989 by Fantagraphics Books

Comics Which Contain This Story

USAGI YOJIMBO Color Special #1

This comic also contains Nilson and Hermy, "Lost in a Lost City", Familien Gnuff, "Double Star", and Village of Fear.

Stories in the UY Color Specials

This "book" contains all stories who have been published in the UY Color Specials. Follow these links to the comics:

Characters in This Story

The story begins with our long-eared hero and Tomoe facing each other, bokken drawn, in a grassy clearing by a river. Tomoe attacks with a cry and many blows are exchanged to no avail before Tomoe leaps over Usagi's head to the other side of the river. Usagi follows, and Tomoe strikes as he lands, her weapon halting only inches above Usagi's head. Triumphantly, she asks if he concedes. He agrees, asking if she will do the same as Usagi's bokken is revealed - poised just before Tomoe's throat in a reverse thrust! The two laugh and begin to discuss each other's style as they sit and rest on a log overlooking the rice-fields below. Tomoe begins her tale of how she became personal retainer to Lord Noriyuki...

Tomoe describes a time when her father, Tatsutaro, is Master of the Falling Rain School of Fencing - the official school of the then Lord Mataichi's Geishu Clan. She is young, and believes she will succeed her father ahead of her younger and less skilled brother Tajima. Her father, however, tells her that she can never lead the school - irrespective of who the superior swordsman is. She must instead become a Lady-in-waiting at the Geishu court. Tomoe rushes from the training-hall, tears in her eyes, as her father stands at the entrance, berating himself for teaching her a life she must put behind her.

Tomoe continues to train on her own over the years, until she is taken to Geishu Castle by her father to begin her new vocation. Her father warns her to keep watch over Counselor Odo - rumoured to have associations with Lord Hikiji - but the counselor persuades the Daimyo to have her assigned to the entourage of Lady Etsuko (Lord Mataichi's wife) instead. There she assists Mistress Kazuko, the Head of the Ladies' Wing. Tomoe is unaccustomed to the traditional duties of women, finding focus only in her solitary daily training. Caught by Lady Etsuko and Lady Kazuko, she is rebuked by the latter, who reminds her that "the sword is the soul of a warrior but a woman's soul lies in her mirror". However, Lady Etsuko suggests Tomoe become a guard in the Ladies' Wing, and Kazuko complies.

One night, Counselor Odo slays a guard and allows a group of Neko Ninja in through a secret postern. As they infiltrate the castle, the alarm is raised and Tomoe's group rushes to protect Lady Etsuko and young Noriyuki. They are ambushed by a ninja and Tomoe's comrades are slain, but she kills him with her naginata and takes his ninjato. She fights her way through the wing, reaching Lady Etsuko just in time to defend her. Enraged, Tomoe slays the Neko Ninja, and an amazed and grateful Lady Etsuko appoints her Protector of the Heir on the spot - and she has guarded Noriyuki ever since.

Tomoe ends her tale at the death of Lord Mataichi a few years ago, and tells the curious Usagi of Counselor Odo's fate - his plots were uncovered and he was ordered to commit seppuku. With that story finished, the pair begin another duel...

Duel at Kitanoji <-- --> The Doors

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Last change: 19. May 2003

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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.