The wonderful YA author Mackenzi Lee runs a regular Twitter feature called #BygoneBaddassBroads. It offers profiles of historical women who were… well… baddass. I came across her when she did a profile on one of my favorite bygone baddass broads, Lady Mochizuki Chiyome. A week or so ago, she profiled Locusta the Poisoner, who ran a school for assassins under the Roman emperor Nero. I joked that someone should write a crossover between the two; she joked back that I should throw in Fredericka “Marm” Mandelbaum, Queen of the Fences in late 19th century New York, who ran Marm Mandelbaum’s School for Gifted Youngsters, training the Gilded Age’s pickpockets, thieves, and master criminals.
We’re excited to tell you that “Silk & Service,” one of David Kudler’s Risuko prequel stories, was chosen for inclusion in That Moment When: An Anthology of Young Adult Fiction. Not only is the book is available now in both print and ebook form, but the ebook is FREE for a limited time!
White Robes, the first of the Kunoichi Companion Tales series of prequel stories to Risuko, is now available to pre-order on Amazon’s Kindle Store!
“White Robes” introduces Lady Mochizuke Chiyome, a recent war widow who is mired in grief. She has become tired of mourning, tired of wearing the white robes that are the traditional Japanese garb of the grieving. On the road, she encounters two young women who open her eyes to a whole new purpose in life — and a new way to end Japan’s century-old civil war.
The day after we butchered the cow, we began a new set of morning lessons. As we cleared up the kitchen, Mai, who never entered the kitchen if she could help it, poked her head through the door and informed us that, for the first time, we would be taught by Mieko-san.
As she withdrew, Kee Sun asked whether Mai had actually walked into the kitchen before delivering her message. When Toumi snarled that no, she hadn’t—making it clear that no one in their right mind would enter Kee Sun’s domain willingly—the cook gave a nod and a grunt, saying, “That’s good. ‘Cause I told her if she ever stepped a foot in here again, I’d cut it off.”
It was always a bit difficult to know whether he was joking or not. To be honest, I was never quite able to work that out.
Nonetheless, I was excited by Mai’s news; I had hoped that we would be able to study with Mieko, not only because she was kind and lovely but because the other women in Chiyome-sama’s service seemed to respect her so. Even the boisterous ones listened quietly when she spoke.
David Kudler, author of Risuko: A Kunoichi Tale, is releasing a series of prequels to his upcoming teen historical novel novel. Available to subscribers, Kunoichi Companion Tales introduce characters and themes from the Seasons of the Sword novels, and are currently available exclusively to Risuko subscribers.
To read the stories, subscribe now:
Kunoichi Companion Tales
“White Robes” introduces Lady Mochizuke Chiyome, a recent war widow who is mired in grief. She has become tired of mourning, tired of wearing the white robes that are the traditional Japanese garb of the grieving. On the road, she encounters two young women who open her eyes to a whole new purpose in life — and a new way to end Japan’s century-old civil war. Continue reading Sign up and read Kunoichi Companion Tales→
Risuko, Emi, and Toumi are put to work serving, and discover that the kunoichi are not the shy, polite shrine maidens they had expected.
We began by fetching a large bag of rice from the storehouse. A pair of rats stared up at us when we entered, but Toumi growled at them while I swooshed the long stick that Kee Sun had given us to shoo them with, and they scattered. The bag was heavier than I was, and it took the three of us to drag it to the kitchen. Toumi muttered the whole way, and I would be lying if I said that Emi and I didn’t join her once or twice.
Kee Sun kept us busy, hanging pots over the fire to steam the rice and soybeans in, lowering a battered metal grate to serve as a grill, fetching more charcoal. As the sunlight began to fade from the room, we lit candles in the kitchen and in the hall. Continue reading Read a new chapter of Risuko: 13 — A Banquet→
Risuko survives another battle, and Lady Chiyome’s party finally arrives at its destination. But why are Lt. Masugu’s troops so uncomfortable?
The battle, if that’s what it was, didn’t last very long.
Quickly, the sound diminished to almost nothing. There was still some shouting, but it was growing more and more distant.
I snuck carefully out of my hiding place and made my way downhill toward where I knew the road must be.
It was not quite the scene of carnage that had met us that morning when we had first met Masugu-san and his soldiers. There were three dead men I assumed were part of the bandit gang. They’d been piled by the side of the road. There was also one dead horse, and one of the lancers was growling in pain as one of his comrades pulled an arrow through his thigh.
Headed further from her family and home, Risuko discovers an unsettling truth.
For three days, we rode quickly, without speaking until the mirror of the sun passed behind the mountains. On the first two days, we passed large groups of soldiers bearing the Takeda four-diamond banner marching toward the battles we had just left behind. By the third day, we might as well have been the only people in all of Worth Province —in all of Japan. We passed no one. Even the villages seemed empty.
Every night, the soldiers would make camp—in dry rice paddies or on the edges of fields. They would start preparing a simple meal, which Emi, Toumi, Aimaru and I would help clean up. The men would start talking to each other, and to the Little Brothers, occasionally. They would speak respectfully to Lady Chiyome occasionally, and even tease Aimaru and us three girls a bit.
Risuko discovers that waking up in a war zone can lead to surprises. (Author David Kudler says, “One of my favorite chapters!”)
A rumble woke us all the next morning. It sounded like a peal of distant thunder. But Mieko and Kuniko were already on their feet before I could sit up and wipe the sleep from my eyes.
“What is it?” I asked Emi, who was rubbing her eyes next to me. “It’s awfully cold for thunder and lightening, isn’t it? And it doesn’t feel like an earthquake….”
Emi shook her head and scowled. We both listened carefully as we pulled on our clothes—mine still slightly damp from the night before, smelling faintly of stale soy sauce and burnt rice.
Another low rumble shook the morning silence. From where I had been sleeping near the kitchen, I could see a grey, thin light leaking beneath the outer kitchen door.
We began to fold away our bedding with a sense of uncertain urgency. I was about to ask again what that rumble might have been, when a new sound broke the silence and explained everything. It was a sharp, high crack. Musket fire. And not very far away, from the sound of it.