After two years of waiting patiently for her chance, Shizuka had finally been summoned into the Shogun's chambers. She knew that he had a reputation throughout his empire for sexual deviation. And, given his power, no one dared complain should one of his partners -- male or female -- never be seen again after entering his chambers. Only the Shogun and his First Page knew exactly what had happened on these occasions.
But this was of no concern to Shizuka. No. She was not concerned what might happen to her in the Shogun's chambers. She wanted only thing from their encounter. She wanted to kill him, to stab him to death with the knife that she had concealed under the long sleeves of her furisode kimono. Because a year ago, Shizuka's sister had been one of the Shogun's sexual conquests who had disappeared after her encounter with him.
So, as she entered the chamber and bowed to the Shogun sitting on the edge of his large bed, she moved her right hand to the hilt of the knife as the Shogun signaled her to approach. And, when he squeezed her tight, his arms wrapping around her slim body, she pulled the knife out behind his back to strike.
But the Shogun's arms had encircled Shizuka's arms as well as her body, so, when she stabbed into the Shogun's side, she could not raise her arm enough to plunge the knife deep into him, but could only flick the knife at him, causing a glancing and superficial wound.. Immediately, the First Page, who had been standing discretely away from them, rushed to the bed. But the Shogun needed no help. He quickly turned Shizuka around so that his 300-pound body landed on top of her as the two hit the floor, knocking the wind out of Shizuka. By the time she regained her breath, the chamber was filled with guards.
"Immediate !!" the Shogun shouted, and all knew what he meant.
The guards dragged Shizuka, who offered no resistance, already resigned to her failure to avenge her sister and to her own fate, out of the chamber and out of the Shogun's palace, down the street to the public courtyard. Word spread quickly that this concubine had tried to murder the beloved Shogun and was to suffer the consequences, and a large crowd began to gather.
The guards moved Shizuka between two parallel wooden walls, each 10 feet high and six feet long, and about eight feet apart. Shizuka, and everyone else in the town, knew that these were the execution pillars. Indeed, dozens of stray arrows that had missed their target over the years remained imbedded in the two walls as a constant reminder.
Quickly, the guards pulled Shizuka's kimono open and then off. Under it, as the First Page had instructed her that morning, she wore nothing. Her wrists were tied to the ropes hanging from the tops of the pillars and her ankles to those lower down the sides, leaving her stretched, naked and spreadeagled, her feet off the ground and her body facing directly the growing and hostile crowd. [see Pic]
"This woman tried to kill our Shogun," the head executioner screamed. "What say you?"
"Immediate" shouted the crowd in unison, knowing the Shogun's shorthand.
"Immediate," the head exectuioner screamed in response.
Six archers moved into a line twnety feet in front of the condemned woman.
"Last words from the criminal, as is your only remaining right?"
"I leave it to another to avenge my sister and me and all the other of his murder victims !!" Shizuka shouted defiantly.
"Words of treason to add to your crimes," the head executioner screamed back, and raised his arm.
Six archers responded to the motion by raising their bows, arrows in place, and aiming at Shizuka's now heaving naked body.
The head executioner's hand swung down, and six arrows flew toward the execution pillar. All six struck Shizuka between her hips and shoulders at nearly the same time, each archer an expert marksman who knew his exact assigned target. One arrow straight into each breast. One two inches above her belly button. One just above her pubic bone. And one into each side, just below her breasts.
Shizuka's her body was thrust backward from the impacts, then forward after the ropes holding her stretched and tightened. Her head remained upright, her eyes staring ahead for several seconds, a final look of defiance. And then her head fell to her chest and her body sagged.
The head executioner walked up to the hanging woman to confirm that she was dead, then took the knife with which she had hoped to kill the Shogun, jabbed it up through her left breast and pinned to it a note of warning to all: "This is the fate of those who betray us."
Shizuka's body, would remain suspended on the execution pillar for four days, and, by law, every townsperson was required to walk by it at least twice as a grim reminder that the Shogun's rule was absolute.