Yamachichi story:

Website:

Typical Yamachichi story:

– Yamachichi live deep in the mountains and pays visits to houses late at night. They steal the breath from their sleeping human victims, sucking it out of their mouths with their pointed lips. After sucking away all of their victim’s sleeping breath, the Yamachichi taps its victim on the chest, and then flees into the night. A human who has had his or breath stolen this way will die the next day. However, if a Yamachichi should be caught in the act of stealing someone’s breath (either by the victim or by another witness), it will flee, and their victim will actually have their life span greatly increased instead. These yokai resemble monkeys with pointed mouths and sucking lips.

Key points:

– The Yamachichi travel at night  

– They take the life of their victims

– If caught, their victims life is extend

– They live in a mountain

– Yamachichi resemble monkeys

Changes I’m making:

– The story will remain in the same time period, the Edo-period of Japan. Because of this, the story will reference samurais, war, and other Japanese lore.

– Instead of being a Yamachichi which is typically presented as a monkey with pursed lips, the Yamachichi will take the form of an old man.

– His victims, rather than a sleeping couple, will be two traveling samurai.

– Instead of stealing someone’s life while they sleep, the Yamachichi will make a bet, hence the name “The gambling man”

* Since the story is more of a quick tale, I’ve opted to do a small rewriting of the story to better portray the narrative and tone I’m going for.

The Gambling Man

Wandering men are a typical sight for the time. Men lost in waged wars, left honor-less with no place to call home. You’ll pass them by, Nobel men turned humble beggars in need of refuge. But the story of Yamachichi is different, for he saw no honor in begging, no pride in money not earned; Was it even money he sought at all? Yamachichi reveled in the loss of men, he felt calm in chaos for that’s when he felt most at home. So to find soldiers desperate, wounded, left broken when war waged against their favor, was nothing short of a jackpot for the Yamachichi.

“A vagabond? State your business vagrant!” Shouted a tall man clothed in armor.

Beside him stood a slightly smaller man, breath ragged and head hung low. Upon first glance, one would assume the two men were samurai, meant to be feared and respected. However, upon closer inspection, the men were in tatters. It was as if they were moments away from death’s door, clinging for life. Despite this, however, they attempted to stand tall, though with little effort commanding any form of respectability they had left. This could especially be seen from the taller of the two samurai, who looked as though his pride had been trampled over, hanging on by a thread.

A slight chuckle arose from the old man’s mouth making the displaced samurai feel even more uncomfortable.

“I could say you men are the true vagrants”, the man laughed as he kept walking at a slow pace, barely looking up.

Left in awe, the taller man quickly grabbed the old man on his shoulder. With a slight turn of his head, the old man made a full stop, putting up no fight at all.

“We take offense to your claims”, the samurai stated sternly. “Where do your allegiances lie? And what’s your cause for such late travelings?”

The second soldier stood silent, complacent in the power dynamic enacted by his companion. He never took his eyes off the Old man, standing firm and ready for any movement.

“You claim I’m a vagabond, is it such a mystery that I wander?” The old man said matter-of-factly never fully turning his head.

“We are near enemy territory, and I find it odd that a man of your stature was able to pass through unharmed, now state your alliance or we will take your back to our base and deal with you there”

Without pause, the gambling man let out a guttural laugh, finally turning to face the two samurai.

“Back to your base! I’d say by the look of you two that there is no base you speak of” the words of the old man cut through the soldiers like a knife, they knew the state of the war but were not fully ready to accept it quite yet.

“I align with no one, I prefer to go where profit is best,” said the old man confidently.

As if awakening the second soldier, a small and meek man, jumpy almost, found his curiosity peaked.

“Profit?” The soldier asked, “Where do you find profit at a time like this?” Both soldiers stared at the old man intensely, hungry for an answer.

The Old man took his time to respond, the excitement welling up from within him as he had been hiding his time, waiting for this exact moment. He faced them both giving a slight smile, 

“You go where the defeated are.”

The soldiers were left with more questions than answers, turning to the other hoping at least one of them understood. As they turned back they saw the old man slowly walking away, this time that did not grab him, rather, they jogged up beside him looking for more answers.

“What do you mean by the ‘defeated ones’, surely there is no profit in broken men?”

The old man continued his walk, never taking his eyes off the path. He was intent on making his way to his destination. Unbeknownst to the men, the old man would lead them through the mountain, slowly making their way to a small home that was shrouded by the dense forest landscape. In their curiosity, the samurai blindly followed the man. Then, as if in an instant, they reached the entryway. It was then the old man turned and answered,

“By making a bet” he gave a full smile, taking his shoes off at the entrance and heading for the main living area.

The soldiers followed suit, left with more questions than answers. The men barely took notice to own actions or even of the interior of the home. The home, although rather old, was well kept and clean. It was big enough for a small family to live in, and judging by a large number of shoes at the doorway, it was safe to say the man was not alone. However, these details were but a nuisance to soldiers who were left restless by the words of the old man. The old man made his way through a pair of sliding doors, stopping at a low table at the center of the room. Three worn cushions lined the sides of the tables as if expecting the samurai’s visit. The old man sat at one of the cushions facing the soldiers. Unprovoked, the men slowly followed suit of the man, taking a seat at the table.

“What is this bet you speak of?” Asked the tallest samurai.

The old man veered his head to the right, admiring the scenery of the outdoor garden.

“The kind that only desperate seek, willing to risk it all,” he said as he followed the flight of a nearby moth, buzzing around a lit lantern. 

His answer sparked the hearts of the men, who reluctantly realized the state they were in. Wanderers who sit on the losing side. They knew their devotion and honor were not enough to win the war, but they were too prideful to admit it. Once you make a pact you either follow through or die trying. There was nowhere to turn from where they were standing, and death crept on them slowly like shadows followed by the setting sun. They knew exactly why they followed the old man because they themselves were the desperate men; left with nothing But the looming threat of the end. It took the smallest of the two men to speak of first,

“What would such a bet entail” spoken as if a whisper through the lips of the soldier. 

The old man could not contain his smile, he practically shivered at moments like these.

“ a simple game of Chō-Han, if you win I’ll extend your life” the old man spoke with such confidence and normalcy that the men almost missed what he said.

The taller of the soldiers gave a forced, nervous laugh breaking the heavy silence.

“Ha! Extend our lives? What are you some sort of Akuma?” The soldier laughed again as if to reassure himself of the ridiculous nature of it all.

His laugh slowly faded as he noticed the old man remained unchanged, staring at the same moth who now rested on the lamp. The soldiers sat in silence for what felt like an eternity before the old man turned to face them. Just as he did, the moth dropped, as if it had never been alive. That alone was enough to make the smaller man jump up. The old man, unaffected simply stood and left the room, his steps light as he shuffled away. The soldiers stared at each other in disbelief, fearing what they walked into. Not long, the old man emerged back from the other room with a small cup in hand, promptly sitting back at the table. He once again stared at the garden as a new moth quickly took its place.

The smallest soldier sat back down as he suddenly became aware of sweat pooling up at the ridge of his brow. The two men contemplated the old man’s proposal. Objectively they had nothing to lose, they were the walking dead, fighting an ever uphill battle. At least with the guarantee of life, they could have something to look forward to, a victory they could naively hope for. Though the men thought of this, none were bold enough to admit their interest. The old man, as though reading their minds, began to shake his cup revealing the sound of a pair of assumed dice that were inside. The small rattling echoed in the men’s head matched only by the sound of their heartbeat. The rattling grew as the old man shook the cup violently against the tatami floor. The samurai’s breath quickened as they felt a sense of urgency rise between them. The tallest soldier slammed his hands against the table stopping the hand of the old man.

“How do we know you won’t cheat,” the man said breathlessly averting his eyes from the old man’s wicked gaze. 

Silently, the old man rose slowly removing his shirt. It was customary for the dealer of a chō-Han game to remain shirtless so they couldn’t switch dice or manipulate the cup.

“But if you truly are that of a shinigami, how will we know you will not cheat us some other way,” said the smaller man huddled at the table.

 The old man carefully say back down and offered a small laugh,

“If I had wanted to kill you I would have done so already, don’t you think?”

The men did not argue as they began to take in their situation more deeply. Had this had been an enemy, they would already be dead. Following a man, they didn’t even know to his home, in a secluded area near an enemy base camp! They truly were on death’s door if this was all they had to show in regards to their sense of danger or subtlety.

“If what you say is true shinigami, then- then I will take your offer!” The taller soldier yelled, tripping over his words, and slamming his fist on the table. 

The older man beamed, his smile reaching from ear to ear.

“Perfect,” said the old man, “-and as a show of good faith, I’ll allow you to both participate. To ensure there is no foul play, Musashi-“ The old man stated, ushering to the smaller of the two soldiers, “he can sit beside me, watching my hand for any ill-intentions.” 

The two samurai stared at one another bewildered at the older man’s proposal. Musashi particularly felt a cold sweat over-take his body as he realized he never exchanged names with the old man. 

“But-but how?” Musashi stuttered, unable to finish his sentence. 

The old man let out a guttural laugh, unable to contain his amusement. 

“I am no shinigami, nor Akuma, or yūrei! I fear no samurai or abide by any code. Nobunaga, Musashi-“ The old man said looking back and forth between the men, “-The night belongs to me and the three of us will revel in it until dawn! “ 

The old man let out a wild uncontrollable laugh, throwing his head back in amusement. The samurai was speechless, it was unclear as to whether their silence was prompted by fear, shock, or the acceptance that their life was relinquished the second they met the gambling man…