Yoshioka Hayato sank to the ground, eyes wide. His sword clattered along with him, while Takenaka Chihiro instinctively wiped the Unmei no Fuguhiki to keep the blood from staining the blade or the handle.

“Curse you for making me do this,” said Takenaka. “To protect myself, I am willing to fight. But I abhor killing and yours is a senseless death, now. If we had just sat down to tea and sweets, like I had suggested, you would be alive and we would be solving this dispute as men do.”

Yoshioka took a few moments to bleed out, but there was nothing that anyone could do for him; the Unmei no Fuguhiki, sharp enough to make fugu sashimi and strong enough to cross blades with any katana, had done its work well. Takenaka’s practiced hands had turned the motion of gutting and preparing a fine cut of food into one of effective murder, as he had far too often in the past for his own liking.

Nakamoto Hona appeared not long after, but Takenaka was shocked by the change in her affect. She stood upright, projected confidence, and even jabbed Yoshioka several times with a small dagger that had been disguised as a fan to ensure that he was dead.

“You do not need to worry about him anymore, Nakamoto-sama,” Takenaka said. “As you predicted, he attacked recklessly and I was forced to defend myself. I must report this to the daikan.”

“Oh, that stuffy old magistrate won’t care. You acted in self-defense, and I will back you up as will anyone who was privy to the confrontation. And most importantly, Yoshioka is dead. Just as I planned.”

Takenaka looked up. “Planned?” he said.

“Think about it, cook,” said Nakamoto. “You, a wanderer, known by reputation but not personally. He, a known hothead and local ne’er-do-well. Now he is dead, and his new wife is both free to remarry with all of his assets coming to her.”

Standing, Takenaka regarded Nakamoto like a stone. “There never was any abuse,” he said flatly. “He was not starving you.”

“No one will blame you, and the daikan will see you on your way. My sob story has made it so no one has come out poorly.”

“No one but Yoshioka,” said Takenaka, sadly, looking down at the body.

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