In the Winter of 1637, a rebellion of Roman Catholics, peasantry, and ronin began over a combination of high taxes, corruption, and religious persecution. By Spring of the next year, the powerful Tokugawa Shogunate had crushed the rebellion, beheaded its leader, and brutally retaliated against the local populace - especially the Roman Catholics who they viewed as foreign agents in a rabidly xenophobic and closed society. A prohibition forbidding Japanese citizens from practicing Christianity was strictly enforced and anyone found guilty of its practice was severely punished per order of the Shogun. In the years to come, thousands were martyred for their faith. During the rebellion, Yamada Kotsu, a local ronin, was paramount in the initial success in the rebellion. His punishment was ultimately heavier than that of experiencing his own death and left him saddled with responsibility beyond that of all his years prior and on a road to revenge against those responsible for his pain. "Tea," A man in his thirties sat slouched at the table of the shop he entered. Outside the banner read Noodles! Dumplings! Sake! Tea! The owner, an old man, with very bushy eyebrows and few hairs on his head, nodded, "Tea," He confirmed the order and went to the back, reappearing shortly with steaming green liquid in a cup with a maple leaf painted onto its side. As the customer took the cup and drank, the old man seemed to linger expectantly until the younger man acknowledged the situation, produced a coin, and placed it into the hands of his server, "Thank you," Still the old man lingered and for a moment there was an awkwardness between the two. The younger man followed the older's eyes to the sword resting at his side, "It isn't often we get a swordsman. Are you are ronin? You carry yourself like a warrior, but..." The server shifted uncomfortably. The swordsman's eyes studied his face, or perhaps his own eyes. Had he been offended? The man had a calm aura about him, but his presence commanded respect, it expressed a particular danger. Like a large bull who was keen on minding his own business, but whose horns were very large and capable of great violence and power, "I mean to say that you dress humbly," The swordsman merely blinked in response and continued to sip his tea. The old man laughed awkwardly, feeling his hairs raise on the back of his neck. Yes, indeed this man was capable of great violence. Still he carried on, perhaps too nervous to hold his tongue or perhaps too old, as is with the elderly, "So many thugs and drifters come around these days, but most of them are loud and belligerent. They order round after round of sake and dumplings and threaten violence when we ask them to pay. It is very bad for business. Since my..." There was a sadness now in the old man's eyes and he cleared his throat, "Since my wife died, it has been all I could do to keep this place open. We never made a lot, but now I fear I will have to move elsewhere. With the new governor was installed, criminal activity and official activity have really become one. He let's them abuse the peasants like me so long he gets a cut," "This new governor," The swordsman placed his cup on the table, the last bits of liquid came to a rest at the bottom of the off-white ceramic container, "His name is Nurumasi, of the Uesugi clan, isn't that correct?" The shop owner nodded, "Yes, he is a war hero or so they say. He was responsible for assisting putting down a foreigner-incited rebellion about two years ago," "Four years ago," The customer corrected, "It was four years ago," He rose and the shop owner only noticed now the grizzly scar that stretched nearly the entirety of the swordsman's throat, "Thank you for your kindness and hospitality," He walked towards the curtains the noren, a fabric hung in the entryway that made for easy coming and going. He stopped just before the doorway, "Say, do you know where Ikitsuki is?" The look of bewilderment answered this question. Just as he was about to exit, a group of five men came barging in, bumping him hard, knocking him to the ground and one of his geta slipped off. "Oi! Watch where you're going, pig crap!" Shouted one with a top-knot. They all wore swords and, even though they bore the local symbol of authority, they were obviously just thugs. "Yeah, we'll test our swords on you!" Another one shouted with a nose that had obviously been broken severely in the past. The knocked down man apologized quietly but did not react further. As he reached for his geta, a sword came down and sliced the wooden footwear in two. "You know, I don't think I've seen you before," The third and youngest one said. He was cleaner than other four and wore finer clothing, "You know, my uncle doesn't like no-accounts coming here, especially carrying swords. Even fake ones like yours," He stood, flanked and surrounded in formation by his older and larger cohorts. The man ignored them, picking up the two halves of his shoe and examining them expressionless. The third man's face contorted in indignation, "You know! I'm talking to you, you know!?" The young thug's eye twitched and his grip on the handle of his sword tightened, "You know, I'm Uesagi Nobu, nephew of the governor, Uesagi Nurumasi! I'll execute you here and now, you kn-", The loud-mouth could feel the tip of the man's sword against his Adam's apple. The geta hit the floor. When had he pulled it? His hand had moved from before his face, to his side, drawn it past the men, and placed the sword... Nobu swallowed and as his throat retracted, the sword hug his flesh closer, "J-just go. Get out of h-here before I h-have you arrested and executed," At no point had the swordman's expression changed. His eyes were by all account emotionless. He could have been daydreaming it looked like. But they were sharp. A hawk that could see even the slightest movement from way up. Nobu began to tremble. The other four gangsters could only watch in terror as their boss' nephew stood in an even more helpless situation. There was another tense moment, everyone seemed to tremble. Nobu, his bodyguards, and the shop owner. But not the swordsman. The next moment, the sound of sword entering sheath. Wordlessly, the man picked up his sliced geta and exited. "There's something not right about that man," Said the broken nosed thug. The other thugs all nodded in agreement. Nobu rubbed his throat where the sword had been. Outside, the swordsman leaned against the wall of the shop, gazing off into the sky. A single, lonely cloud crawled across the otherwise blue sky. Cicadas sang. "Ue... Sag... I..." The swordsman spoke softly and then gritted his teeth, a brief expression of anger washed over his whiskered face. Then it was gone. He closed his eyes and breathed in the Summer air, "Father, forgive me for I have sinned..." Voices came from inside. First softly, and then more loudly. "What do you mean out of dumplings!? Useless old man! I guess I am going to see how sharp this sword is today! Hold him down. Piece of horse dung, I'm sending you to your wife," The man sighed and ducked back into the shop, still wearing his one geta. Two thugs were holding the old man down over a table, two stood off to the side, and the Uesagi boy had his sword above his head. There were streams of tears down the old man's face and one of his eyes had been given a good whack as it appeared to have just started swelling. "Let him go," "You should've left when you had the chance, pig crap," The man with the top-knot sneered, "Leave it to me, Master Uesagi," He drew his sword and rolled his neck and shoulders, popping them, "Get ready to die screaming, worm," The top-knot's sword was jagged and stained, certainly from blood from previous usage. He walked forward menacingly, "I'm going to cut off your arms," He stepped, "Then your legs," Another step, "And then I'm going to cut open your belly, take your guts, and string you up by your co-" There was a flash of the blade and visceral spray that covered the the floor in front of top-knot. He gurgled and looked about himself, shaking, the view of his own steaming organs on the dirt floor incited him to begin a scream. Another flash and his scream was cut short. His head landed atop his stomach and a spray from the cross section hit the roof. The headless body collapsed onto the pile into one great, bloody heap. "Kill him!" Screamed Uesagi, his voice cracking. He looked down at the corpse and stumbled away, running out the back. The remaining three men all drew their swords and yelled with violent intent. The two on the flanks groaned and collapsed almost in the same instant, and broken nose look at them both, bleeding from their mouths and cut throats, "How?" He looked forward at where the dust was just beginning to settle from where swordsman had been, "Where?", He gasped and grabbed at his chest, six inches of steel slowly pulled back through him. Broken nose looked over his shoulder at the swordsman, "Behind me? But..." The thug's eyes rolled up and his body fell to the floor. The swordsman flicked his weapon to get the excess gore off and resheathed it, "Are you okay," He asked unnervingly flatly without looking at the old man whose eye was almost completely swollen shut. The old man could only manage a whispered and shaking, "Y-y-yes," "I apologize for the mess," The swordsman looked back to where the youngest man had run off and then headed that direction at a walk. "Swordsman!" The old man called, "Wh-what is... What is your name?" The man stopped in his tracks. "My name is... They call me Moses. Kiristhitan Moses," The old man's good eye grew even wider and he gave no response. The swordsman left out the back.