Ren had been in Azuchi for a few days, set up in a small apartment above a soba shop. The spring air was scented with newly bloomed flowers. She was out in the market, picking up some groceries when a man bumped into her. She lost her balance, packages tumbling to the ground, he caught her arm, pulling her back up.
“Careful there, Kitten.” A sparkling blue eye twinkled at her. She gave him a warm smile.
“Thank you,” Ren leaned over to get her tumbled groceries, he stopped to help her pick them up.
“Mmm, it looks like you are making a delicious meal.” His smile was a bit contagious. Ren took in the double swords, the mon on his cloak and his eye patch. She knew exactly who he was, it almost felt unfair how much she knew about him. Almost. But that is what the information game was all about.
“I am, but you know I always make too much for one person, would you like to join me for dinner?” She let a warm allure flow into her violet eyes, she batted snowy lashes at him. Ren was aware of how exotic she looked, Japanese…but not. He returned her smile with a wolfish grin. She let a sweet, girlish blush rise to her cheeks.
“As it turns out, I am free today, I would love to accept your invitation.” He nodded to her, “Date Masamune.”
“Tsukimi, I’m new in town, so it’s nice to meet a friendly face.”
“New! Well then,“ He took her packages from her bundling them into one sack and slinging them over his shoulder, “Let’s give you the grand tour.” He held his hand out to her. She slid her small hand into his, smiling coquettishly.
“I would really love that.” Her voice held sweetness, her eyes innocent. She gave him a wink.
After the tour, she brought Masamune back to her small apartment. They made dinner together, and he was beyond fun to cook with. He would feed her tidbits of food, slide in behind her, his lithe, muscular frame pressed to her back while she stirred pots. She traced small touches, a hand on his arm, a finger across the shoulders, seducing him slowly. The evening was full of flirtatious words and heated glances.
Ren took him to her bed that night, he was an exciting lover, adventurous. She made love to him like he was the only man in the world capable of ever pleasing her. She made all the right noises, all the perfect movements, everything that would hook a man and leave him begging for more.
When she closed her eyes, it was auburn hair she saw and smoky grey eyes. It was broad shoulders and that sweet musky scent that drove her to distraction. It was Shingen she made love to in that small apartment, not Masamune. It would always be Shingen.
Two days later, she had a job as a maid in Azuchi castle. Everything else was simplistically easy. No one expected the new maid to be a spy, especially not one sleeping with Masamune. Ren was aware the one-eyed warlord took his pleasures with whoever caught his eye. She worked hard to be his favorite lay.
Masamune was loose-tongued with his pillow talk, he liked his sex rough and usually wanted to chat afterward. Sometimes he just wanted to rest his head in her lap and talk about his day. She sat and listened like a good lover. Collecting all that information and sending it back to Shingen in her reports. She evaluated the other warlords, the rest weren’t worth fucking for information. Ren was careful to steer clear of Mitsuhide, he and she were cut from the same cloth. She recognized what he was the first time their eyes met. The games he would play with her would be risky and likely get her ensnared. Ren kept up her innocent façade and ghosted him with all the skill she possessed.
Nobunaga was a different story, she observed him and realized her body type wasn’t what he typically desired. Ren spent two months stuffing herself with carbs and sweets, rounding out her athletic lines. This weight was going to be hellish to get back off. She let her blond hair grow out until it almost brushed her jawline in an adorable bob. She padded her kimono slightly, making her appear even more curved, her waist smaller. Finally, she caught Nobunaga’s eye. He invited her to the Tenshu for weeks of sleepless nights. The real information gathering now began. He was more challenging. She had to immerse herself in the role she had created. She submitted to him to first earn his trust, and then his love. But when he took her to his bed, it wasn’t the devil king that she let claim her body, her song was never for him. Only the Tiger of Kai had her heart.
The six months had crawled by, every day he missed her a little more. Fall had come by again, painting the landscape in reds and golds. His chest had been giving him issues, and he sipped a medicinal tea to try and clear it. Shingen mused over the last half-year. He had expected her to live in the castle town and report back what she saw and heard, but that is not what happened.
The regular reports he received via Sasuke were astonishingly detailed. From weapon supplies to the number of soldiers, down to financial capabilities, she had sent every lick of possible information all carefully encrypted with a code she had left for him.
She kneeled before him now, her hair was longer, and she had gained some weight rounding out her curves, making her appear softer, more feminine. Her violet eyes were trained to the floor, as she reported.
“These reports have been exemplary, excellent job Ren.”
“Thank you, my Lord, unfortunately, it is unlikely I could return. I left under some duress with the excuse that my mother was ill.” Shingen cocked his head curiously.
“May I ask how you got such detailed intelligence?”
“Pillow talk, my Lord, Date Masamune was an exceptionally easy target and well informed. However, if he puts it together that I am your spy, he will likely try to kill me on sight.” Her voice was flat, professional.
Shingen raised an eyebrow, “you became his lover?”
“As I said, my Lord, he was the easiest target to procure inside information once I took a maid position within the keep.” Her eyes didn’t meet his. She refused all of his advances because he was too promiscuous, but then she took an enemy lover during a mission to procure information. He pictured Date with his hands on her ivory skin, a bitter taste crept into his mouth.
“And the information you’ve sent in the last six weeks?” Shingen rested his hand on the scrolls, he had never seen such detailed work, it was literally like peering into the Devil King’s mind.
“Nobunaga’s latest plans for unification detailed by region, my Lord. It is all clearly outlined in my written report.”
“He allowed a maid to sit in on war councils?” Shingen knew the answer, for some reason he needed to twist the knife in his chest and hear her say it.
“No, my Lord.”
Shingen shifted uncomfortably, gesturing for her to elaborate.
“Nobunaga does not sleep well at night and prefers female companionship to pass the time. He enjoyed talking strategy with me over games of Go.
“Were you also his lover?” Shingen frowned, feeling the jealousy burn, something else the devil king had stolen from him. He ran a hand over his face, what was he thinking, she was never his.
“Irrelevant, my Lord. You have the information you requested.” Her eyes focused over his shoulder. No emotion showed.
He lowered his voice, he had never questioned a kunoichi like this, why was he like this? Why couldn’t he stop prodding? Every word scraped against his nerves. “Were you his lover?”
“He was more difficult, my Lord. Nobunaga is a suspicious man, and he prefers his women soft. I will lose the weight and be back in fighting shape in a month.” Ren avoided his question. She had taken two of his enemies to bed yet still refused him.
“Ren did you-“
“Shingen.” Her voice cut. The use of his name without title made him pause. Ren’s eyes were a hot, angry magenta boring into his own. “I did what I had to for the mission you assigned to me. I played a part; it was nothing more. It is inappropriate to grill me for explicit details on how the information was acquired. You have the intel. It is more than adequate for your needs to retake Kai, are you not satisfied?”
He nodded, his cheeks colored slightly at his embarrassing personal slip and her need to correct him.
He cleared his throat. “It’s good to have you back Ren, I missed seeing my most lovely blade.” He changed his tone back to the usual suaveness, his congenial mask sliding into place, hiding the hurt.
“I know you did, My Lord.” She took a deep breath and gave him a sincere smile. “May I be excused, Lord Shingen? I’m rather exhausted.”
“Take a few days off my little bird, congratulations on a job well done.” He smiled, relaxing once more, then a thought crossed his mind.
She paused at the door.
“What was the duress you spoke of? You weren’t injured, were you?”
“Oh, Masamune had become increasingly unhappy that Nobu had “stolen” his favorite new toy. Neither were willing to share and the situation was getting tense, so it was time for me to depart. I misjudged their degree of interest in me.” Her back was to him, she spoke casually, but her body language was rigid.
“I see, would Nobunaga also have you killed if he discovered you were one of my mitsumono?”
Ren’s violet eyes flashed a playful look at him over her shoulder, “Don’t be ridiculous Shingen, he would demand me back.” She passed through the door, silently sliding it closed.
He cradled his head in his hand, six months had not doused the flames that burned in his heart for her. He thought this was lust, that absence would be the cure. That burying himself in other women would be the cure…it was not. She was who he wanted.