"I need you to protect my son." Those were not the words the former Lord Endo Shusaku was expecting to hear out of Lord Tokugawa's mouth.

"Your youngest? I don't think Oda would appreciate a ninja in his home," Shusaku replied.

"Not that son and it is Lord Oda where you're going," Tokugawa said.

"What are you talking about?" As far as Shusaku knew Lord Takugawa had only two sons. The eldest was dead because of an assassination attempt on Oda gone wrong and the other had gone with his mother to stay at Oda's home.

"I have another son hidden," Tokugawa replied. That was new. Probably a younger child given to barren parents to assure the continuation of the Tokugawa line.

"A younger one?"

"No, Taro is older," Tokugawa said. "You will find him in Shirahama."

"But that's in Oda's lands. Isn't that risky?" Shusaku asked. He suspected privately that the lord had a plan but the whole idea was sounding risky right now.

"Yes, the one place Oda would not expect to look, until now," Tokugawa said. "Someone has told him about Taro. He is sending ninja's to kill my son. I need you to protect him and bring Taro unharmed to me. I trust you Shusaku."

"Thank you my lord. Who will I find Taro with?"

"An older man and a woman who is an ama in the village. Taro believes them to be his parents and there was never any need to tell him otherwise. He may be a little," here Tokugawa paused for a moment, "resistant to the idea of coming with you. Be aware of that."

"Thank you my lord. I will bring you your son safely home," Shusaku said. Then he bowed and left the room never suspecting there was a larger plan building around him; one with the mysterious Taro at its center.