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Authors: David Kudler

Tags: #Young Adult, Middle Grade, historical adventure, Japanese Civil War, historical fiction, coming of age, kunoichi, teen fiction


BOOK: Risuko
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Seasons of the Sword



A Kunoichi Tale


David Kudler


Stillpoint Digital Press

Mill Valley, California, USA

Copyright © 2016 by David Kudler

Published on Smashwords

All right reserved. This book may not be reproduced in whole or in part, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, or other—without written permission from the publisher, except by a reviewer, who may quote brief passages in a review. For more information, contact the publisher at

[email protected]

Cover design by
James T. Egan of Bookfly Design

Publisher's Cataloging-in-Publication Data

provided by Five Rainbows Services

Kudler, David.

Risuko : a Kunoichi tale / David Kudler.

pages cm. - (Seasons of the sword, bk. 1)

ISBN: 978-1-938808-32-6 (hardcover)

ISBN: 978-1-938808-34-0 (pbk.)

ISBN: 978-1-938808-33-3 (e-book)

1. Japan—History—Period of civil wars, 1480–1603—Fiction. 2. Ninja—Fiction. 3. Conspiracies—Fiction. 4. Determination (Personality trait)—Fiction. 5. Young adult fiction. I. Title.



LCCN: 2015918899

First edition, June 2016

Version 1.0.0 (Smashwords)

For Sashako and Juju





NOTE: In Japan, as in most of East Asia, a person's family name goes before the given name. In the following story, for example, Kano Murasaki is a girl named Murasaki from the Kano family.


y name is Kano Murasaki, but everyone calls me

I am from Serenity Province, though I was not born there.

My nation has been at war for a hundred years, Serenity is under attack and the Kano family is in disgrace, but some people think that I can bring victory. That I can be
a very special kind of woman.

All I want to do is climb.

My name is Kano Murasaki, but everyone calls me Squirrel.


The Left
Hand Path

Serenity Province, Land of the Rising Sun, The Month of Leaves in the First Year of the Rule of Genki

(Totomi, Japan, late autumn, 1570

pying on the lord of the province from the old pine was a bad idea. Risky. Stupid. That's why I didn't see what was coming. I knew it was a bad idea, but something about being there, high up in that pine, made me feel free.

And, of course, I was always fascinated by what happened in the castle. Can you blame me?

I watched where Lord Imagawa stood in his castle with a samurai, pointing at a piece of paper. Paper covered with splashes of color. Green, mostly. Blue and red shapes marking the edges.

It was a hundred paces away or more. I must have been squinting hard, trying to make out what they were pointing at. That's the only way to explain how I didn't notice the palanquin until it had almost reached my tree.

Below, two hulking men carried the shiny black box by the heavy bar between them. The thing scuttled like a beetle through the slanting morning shadows that darkened the woods. It was coming from the direction of the village.

Seeing it startled me—made my chest tight and my hands colder even than they already were.

I scooted to the top of the pine, hands chilled and sticky.

Half-way up the pine tree though I was, I had the urge to stomp on the dark, gleaming thing. Only nobles traveled by palanquin. And when had nobles ever done my family any favors?

I sensed danger in the steady, silent approach. Had they seen me spying on the castle?

“Risuko!” My sister called up to me. I could not even see the top of her head.

The black box crept closer, into the clearing below me. Then the palanquin stopped.

I scrambled to hide myself. The cold sap smelled sharp and raw as I pressed my nose to the bark. I gave a bird whistle—a warbler call, the one that I'd told Usako I'd use if she needed to hide.

I had actually been looking for birds' eggs, though it was the wrong season for it. Hunger and the desire to do something, as well as my own pleasure in climbing, had driven me up the tree. Mother had not fed us that morning. Once the weather turned cold, she could not always provide us with even a small bowl of rice a day. Also, the castle had been bustling like an ants' nest that's been prodded with a stick, and I had been curious....

Someone below me began talking. An old woman, I thought, her voice high and birdlike, though, again, I couldn't make out the words. Usako—my sister—stepped forward into view. I could see her head bowed, like a frightened rabbit. The old woman spoke again. After a pause, Usako-
face, open and small, turned toward my hiding place. She pointed up at me.

,” the old woman said, “come down now.”

BOOK: Risuko
9Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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