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A Time Traveller's Guide To Feudal Japan Chapter 12 - A Miserable Morning

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After spending so long looking for Akiko, and carrying her home, Gengyo could not spend as much time at the lake as he would have liked to, but he still managed to complete the tasks in which he had a.s.signed himself.

The next day, Gengyo awoke slightly later than everyone else.

Rubbing his sleepy eyes, he sat up and took his time to grow accustomed to the morning light.

He was in a rather good mood, and yawned contently.

'This kind of simple life is what I've needed.'

He dressed in his clothing that lay by his bed from yesterday, and prepared himself for a hearty breakfast before a hard day's work.

Oddly, in the dining area, everyone else was eating in silence. Even the usually bubbly f.u.ku had a grim look on her face.

Gengyo slowed spooned rice into his mouth with his chops sticks, as he observed the members of his family, trying to find a source of the tension.

Rin ate quickly, with her head down, so there was no way to gather any information from her.

Masaatsu sat upright, with a stoic look on his face, his jaw clenched tightly. Whilst Masaatsu was definitely a mature individual, and usually had a look of seriousness about his face, Gengyo did not remember seeing such intensity ever since he had that fight with their father.

On the topic of his father, Gengyo turned to him to see if there were any differences about him. It could have been that he was drunk once more, and had done something to unsettle the rest.

But after looking at Morohira's face, Gengyo had to do a double-take, startled by the sight of it.

'How the h.e.l.l did I not notice this sooner?'

He thought to himself, as he tried to process the monstosity before him.

Morohira's face was a complete mess. His right eye was swollen so much that he barely open it, and his left was in a rather similar state. There were multiple cuts and bruises on his face and head, and there were the signs of st.i.tching too.

Evidently this had been something that had happened last night, as the wounds had scabbed.

Gengyo recalled that last night they had eaten dinner without their father present, but even with that piece of information there were far too many possibilities.

Gulping down his rice, Gengyo tentatively opened his mouth and tried to pierce the thick fog of tension that hung around everyone, and find an answer to his questions.

"Father."

Morohira did not look up, for he already knew what his son would ask of him. He continued to look at his bowl of rice, as something akin to shame spread across his face - though it was difficult to tell exactly what emotion that was with all the bruises.

"Mother."

He went for his mother instead. f.u.ku was too soft-hearted to ignore someone.

"…Yes?"

'Ho… Even f.u.ku is barely willing to speak. This must be pretty bad.'

"Am I the only one who doesn't know?"

f.u.ku paused, looking guilty.

"Well… you were asleep so…"

"I was, and I woke up to see my father's face looking like he's been hired out as someone's personal punching bag."

f.u.ku bit her lips, struggling to answer.

"Mother. Tell me. I don't want to be in the dark about something like this."

"Ah shut up will you! There's nothing you can do about it!"

Morohira cut in with anger, speaking slurred out of his swollen mouth.

Gengyo raised an eyebrow, waiting for the outburst to die down. Oddly, despite the harshness of such words, he did not feel any of their venom directed toward him. It seemed as though they were self-deprecating.

"Mm. We don't know that until we've tried it. What's the harm?"

Rin looked up, and tentatively joined in after a thought pa.s.sed through her head.

'Maybe if it's Tadakata… After all he's done recently… Maybe he could help?'

"Dad. I think you should like Tadakata know."

"Ha? What's with that tone? Tadakata is weak, we all know that. Why don't we just leave the boy out of it? It'll be better for him."

Although his speech was laced with irritation, and his words could be construed as insulting, it did not come across that way to Gengyo. After observing his father - whilst sober - he had come to see him as a rather amiable fellow. A little weak-willed. But he definitely tried. He was not saying this to be cruel, not intentionally. He was merely too irritated to hold back what he thought to be true.

'That is without a doubt false. Tadakata's dealing with those two rascals in recent days have been borderline miraculous. Especially the way - as Rin described it - he has them bowing to him.'

At those words Masaatsu hastened to intervene. He was a man that always strove to speak his truth.

"Father. I believe that to be false. Tadakata is by no means weak. We should share this burden with him - it is my belief that he will be able to help."

Gengyo nodded gratefully at the words of his siblings, and turned back to his father expectantly, waiting for a response.

Through his battered eyes, Morohira stared down Gengyo, before relenting in his mind.

'Perhaps… Perhaps they are right. There is something different about the boy lately.'

He downed his drink with a swift motion, before wiping his mouth and turning to his family.

"Well, since you are all so insistent, I suppose I better - but don't blame me if it turns out to be too much for you, Tadakata."

"Rest a.s.sured, I will do my best to handle it."

Morohira nodded.

"Well, you better listen in then. I'll tell you about it again."

"You see, your father has been very foolish."

Morohira seemed to be past shame at this point, as he held his head up, and looked his family in the eye admitting his sins.

"Very foolish indeed. Do you know where I was last night?"

It was Gengyo who responded.

"I have no idea."

"There's this tavern, between this village and the next. Some of the finest saké I've ever tasted is sold there, and since it's my birthday and all - bet you didn't know that - f.u.ku and I decided that we could spare a couple of coins so that I could have a night of celebration."

Gengyo had a rough idea where this was heading.

'The alcohol again old man… Our demons dwell in all sorts of places. I only wish that yours was not so easy to reach.'

"I drank with a couple of pals for a good few hours, and it was fun. Really fun."

"But then some sc.u.mbags from the other village started getting up in our faces."

Gengyo sought clarity on exactly how the other villagers had wronged him.

"What exactly were they doing?"

"Mmm. We were playing Chō-han with them, and they were losing - a lot. We made a grand amount of money."

"I kept betting on even, and after the third time on even, this b.a.s.t.a.r.d accuses me of cheating!"

"And what did you say in response to that?"

"I told him where he could stick his accusations, and let him know that the real cheater was his mother."

Gengyo shook his head, exasperated by the old man's quick temper.

"…Did you really have to call his mother a wh.o.r.e?"

"Oy! You weren't there. You don't know what these dogs were like. They deserved every insult they got - and more besides. If I saw them again, I'd still remind them of how many men could be their fathers."

"…Right. So they didn't take too kindly to your insult, I take it?"

"Yeah, too right. The b.a.s.t.a.r.ds. They ganged up on me - didn't stand a chance. It's cowardice really, if you ask me. No honour in those dogs at all."

"What about the friends you were with? Did they not help you out?"

Morohira shook his head.

"No… there were too many. We were three, and they were ten."

"Ten? How did you manage to insult ten people so quickly? And, if you were outnumbered, what happened to your friends? Are they in as bad a way as you?"

"Nah, they just joined in. Seems the guy I was playing with is quite a big shot in these parts - some people from our own village even ganged up me! f.u.c.king traitorous b.a.s.t.a.r.ds."

"And no, my buddies ran when they got the chance. Lucky them."

"Lucky them? You're not annoyed that they didn't help you?"

"No? Why should I be? No one wants to get beat up."

'This old man doesn't have much self-respect… His own friends left him to get beat him up without doing anything, and this guy doesn't even hold a grudge?"

"Father. Please cease to be friends with such people."

"Eh?! The f.u.c.k are you talking about son? You don't get to question the people I hang around with."

"No, you're right. It's entirely your own decision, but I would feel much better if my father was around people that treated him with respect, rather them abandoning him when the going gets tough."

"What are you on about? Any sane man would run in that situation. h.e.l.l, I would have run!"

Gengyo turned to Masaatsu.

"Brother, if it was your friend - even if you were outnumbered - would you leave him to get beat up alone?"

"By my blood, no. If you call a man a friend, you must be willing to feel pain on his behalf, else what is the value of such a friends.h.i.+p?"

Gengyo nodded in agreement.

"See, father. If your friends had stuck by you, and fought with all their strength, do you believe you couldn't have escaped with much lighter injuries?"

"I mean, sure it's likely, but why should they? Anyway, what the h.e.l.l is this? You, of all people, are talking to me about friends? Tadakata, you haven't had a single friend since you were born. What would you know about friends.h.i.+p?"

*Cough*

Rin interrupted, clearing her throat, and raising a tentative hand as though to answer a teacher's question.

"Actually… I think he's made a couple of friends?"

Morohira raised his eyebrow at that.

"You're going to join in, Rin, even if you have to lie? You're my kids, and I don't enjoy arguing with you, but what the f.u.c.k do you all think you're doing questioning me and my friends? I'm a 40-year-old man. I know more about the world than any of you. It's sickening to be lectured by children."

She quickly refuted accusations of falsehood.

"Nope. It's not a lie."

"Oh, really? Who are these magical friends, then?"

"Hijikata and Makino…"

She had to say it in a whisper, as an embarra.s.sed flush covered her face.

'It sounds even weirder when I say it out loud…'

Morohira's reaction did not help her embarra.s.sment, as he gazed at her for a few seconds before opening his mouth and roaring with laughter.

"Hahahahahaha! Rin, you're a good girl, cheering your dad up like that! Those kids who have bullied our Tadakata for years are his friends? Pahaha. It's more likely that our crops will yield gold this year!"

Masaatsu was able to retain a straight face, and Gengyo could not praise him for it enough. It was such a ridiculous a.s.sertion that came out of Rin's mouth that even he could not help but smile.

'To be honest, I'm not sure if you can call them friends… but we do have a relatively positive relations.h.i.+p.'

He thought to himself.

"What Rin said is true, but we have no way of proving it, so we'll leave it at that for now."

Masaatsu intervened on Rin's behalf.

Gengyo then took that opportunity to redirect the conversation back on track.

"Yes. Well, regardless of all that - and the matter of the people you call friends, which I still hope you will reconsider father - let's finish clearing this up. Now, you got beat up, which is definitely not good. But are there going to be any long term effects? Since you mentioned you were beat up by people from our own village."

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