It took seven hours for him to concede even the tiniest of movements, so strong was his will, so great was his training, so deadly his purpose.
In the dark of that cold and moonless night, if you stood shivering in the torchlit circles outside the palace gates and glanced towards the distant hills, and for some reason you decided to step out of the warmth of the light then you might just make out the shape of a a clump of fir trees near the road to the town. If you had good eyes.
And if for no reason at all you took it upon yourself to walk away from the castle and take a closer look at that clump of distant trees, you might find one pine fur tree hiding in the middle of the clump of otherwise seemingly identical pine fir trees.
And if, to answer a sudden and ridiculous whim, you took it upon yourself to climb that particular tree and examine a particularly black section of the trunk that was just a meter short of the top and stared inches away from it, finally noticing the man it truly was, you would still not see the unnoticable twitch of a inconsequential muscle which so shamed him to his core as he hung concealed and camouflaged. The thing is that even if you did all of these things you would still know nothing, both because the night cloaked him so expertly and because you would have been dead long before you ever got that close.
The utterly black cloth of his assassin’s garb, combined with the darkness of deepest night meant that he was invisible to every conceivable eye, but he knew and that was enough.
But no time for that, he thought, he would take out his shame on the hated dog Tokugawa. When his retinue passed in the morning the dog would pay for the lives of the villagers, long since forgotten. And then, the last and greatest of the six demons who had bathed that day in blood would be dead and the man who both was and was not in the tree could finally rest.