“Master Kumo is one of the last practitioners of the Memai-Senpu School of martial arts,” said Neppu. “He travels from village to village, teaching those who are willing to learn in exchange for food and drink, but he has found few followers other than me.”

“You’ll have to forgive me, child, but my Japanese is still inelegant,” said Alves. “Can you explain what this Mama-Senhor style of combat is?”

“Oh, of course!” Neppu jumped up and began spinning around with his arms flapping, similar to what children on the Lisbon docks used to do when playacting as seagulls. “You spin around rapidly, until you are dizzy, and then you last out in every direction against your foes! Your movements are random,but through inner discipline you can strike at enemy weak points while your dizzy movements protect you from harm!”

“And this…Master Kumo…is the only fighter in the village at the moment?” Alves said through clenched teeth.

“Yes sir. All the others have been withdrawn by order of the daimyo in order to fight against the Izawa Clan. Unless you wish to make the journey to Nagasaki on foot and unarmed, he is your best hope.”

Alves swore an elaborate oath to the Holy Mother of God and all the saints under his breath.

“I don’t understand your southern barbarian words!” Neppu said, still reeling a bit from his spinning. “Did you say that you would be delighted to meet Master Kumo to enlist his aid in your dangerous travels?”

“Yes, son,” Alves said with a forced smile. “That’s exactly what I said. Take me to him.”

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