Extract from : Young Samurai
Prologue - Masamoto Tenno
Kyoto, Japan, August 1609
The boy snapped awake.
He seized his sword.
Hardly daring to breathe, Tenno sensed someone else was in the room. As his eyes grew accustomed to the dark, he searched for signs of movement. But he could see nothing, only shadows within shadows, the moonlight seeping ghostlike through the lucent paper walls. Perhaps he had been wrong...His samurai training, though, warned him otherwise.
Tenno listened intently for the slightest sound, any indication there might be an intruder. But he heard nothing unusual. The cherry blossom trees in the garden made a faint rustle like the sound of silk as a light breeze passed through. There was the familiar trickle of water as it flowed from the small fountain into the fishpond, and nearby a cricket made its persistent nightly chirp. The rest of the house lay silent.
He was overreacting...It was just some bad kami spirit disturbing his dreams, he reasoned.
This past month the whole Masamoto household had been on edge with the rumour of war.
There was talk of a rebellion and Tenno's father had been called into service to help quell any potential uprising. The peace Japan had enjoyed for the past twelve years was suddenly under threat and the people were afraid they would be plunged back into war. No wonder he was so on edge.
Tenno lowered his guard and settled back to sleep on his futon. As he did so, the night cricket chirped a little louder and the boy's hand tightened round the hilt of his sword. His father had once said, 'A samurai should always obey his instints', and his instincts told him something was wrong.
He rose from his bed to investigate.
Suddenly a silver star spun out of the darkness.
Tenno threw himself out of the way but was a second too late.
The shuriken sliced through his cheek before burying itself deep into the futon where his head had just been. As he continued to roll, he felt a rush of hot blood stream down his face. Then he heard a second shuriken thud into the tatami-matted floor, and in one fluid movement he sprang to his feet, bringing his sword up to protect himself.
Dressed head-to-toe in black, a figure drifted ghost-like out of the shadows.
Ninja! The Japanese assassin of the night.