In the closing decades of the 18th century, the Wild Far East (野性の極東）is a land of extremes, the grass steaming at noon, and at night white with frost. A daimyo’s ransom in cattle guarded by bakerosu cowboys without a pierced coin to their names. Humble Arican towns and rail-stations set out patrols with long rifles to guard against the Emishi, the Banjito, the Komanche, the Yankijin, but there is no such protection for humble bakerosu.
Hayauchi Kusawara only wanted to deliver his cows to the Yankijin and drink his salary away, but then a woman fleeing a burning pueblo stumbles into his camp and dumps a problematic papoose into his lap. Gods and Buddhas know why he agreed to take the woman and her child back to Arica before a man named McCoy catches up to them. Maybe it’s the way the woman looks at him. Maybe it’s the child with the obsidian tattoos, who sometimes speaks the words of an old, old man. Maybe it’s just honor, although Kusawara didn’t think he had any of that left. All the bakerosu knows is that now he has someone else to stay up with and watch in the night, waiting for the flash of a pistol shot, or a drawn blade, or the rising of the sun.