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A Time Traveller's Guide To Feudal Japan Chapter 136 - Going Away

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"How are you finding things, Togas.h.i.+?"

Gengyo asked, as he sat down on the warm sand. He had insisted that they share lunch before he left. They a.s.sumed he was just being friendly, but his reasons extended beyond that.

"I'm happy enough, Miura. I'm pleased that you took my words seriously."

The man spoke, lifting his cup of water to his mouth, moistening it. It seemed he had not trimmed his beard in a while, as it was beginning to grow rather wild.

"Of course. It was solid advice after all."

He replied with a smile, running the sand through his fingers. He felt no hunger in his stomach, and was contended to simply sit and talk.

"And putting Morohira in charge - that was certainly a wise move."

"Glad you think so. He seems to be doing well enough."

"Indeed."

The man nodded twice, looking towards him. He seemed to have something he wished to say, but for some reason, he was not saying it.

"What is it, Togas.h.i.+?"

He tapped his finger against the side of the wooden cup, tuning out of the nearby conversation, as he focused on articulating what he wished to ask clearly.

"You… are working on something at the moment, correct?"

Came his rather direct question. As soon as he uttered it, he looked away, apparently a little embarra.s.sed with the way that he phrased it. Gengyo's eyebrows shot up in surprise. It was a rather broad question to ask someone. But he paused a moment, and seriously considered what the man had meant.

"Yes. I will make an announcement in regards to it once everyone has eaten - fear not, I will not leave you in the dark anymore."

It was a rather foolish thing to ask someone like Gengyo. He was a man who was always working on something or other. If he did not, then life became extremely mundane and directionless. This was the case even before the trauma of losing his master, and his brother, and all their comrades. That event had merely heightened such a part of his nature.

Had he wished to be sly, and a little dishonest, then he could have easily wormed his way out of it, by mentioning some of the other minor projects he had in the works, so that he could surprise Togas.h.i.+ with the real thing later, as he had become fond of doing.

"Hoh… I knew it."

Whilst he didn't really think it was difficult to guess whether he was working on something or not, Gengyo still dared to ask how.

"How'd you know?"

Togas.h.i.+ smiled knowingly.

"I lived in your place for a while, remember? The only time you relax is when you know a plan is in motion. Those were the only instances I saw you meet with Akiko."

"…You know, I think you're right."

He considered that insight into his behaviour a little more, and it really did seem to be true. It was interesting how much you can learn about yourself simply by asking people who had observed you for a while.

Gengyo noticed that the tension in Togas.h.i.+'s shoulders disappeared as they cleared up the question about his plans. It seemed the man had not entirely believed him when he promised to be open with them in future.

He was glad to see that he was able to take away some of his stress. In leading the men, he almost felt like a father. One word here, an action there, and he could seriously affect their mindstate. It was a daunting responsibility, and one that he did not take lightly.

'Perhaps the fact that I'm even considering it at all means that I'm not completely broken?'

He reasoned, as he stood up and patted Togas.h.i.+'s shoulder.

"I'm going to pay the rest of the men a visit. Enjoy your meal, Togas.h.i.+."

"You too lad."

He responsed automatically with a smile, seemingly not realizing that Gengyo had still not eaten anything. The young master smiled back, and proceeded to walk over by Sasaki and Rokkaku, who were sharing a rather enthusiastic conversation.

He was completely dwarfed by the two men as he stood next to them, but as soon as they noticed him, they called out excitedly.

"Boss! What do you think would be better: having a fishtail or having frog legs?"

Rokkaku began. Gengyo blinked up at him. It was truly a random question, but judging it purely from an objective standpoint, the answer was obvious.

"Frog legs, of course. You can jump extremely high, and swim through the water with ease. A fishtail you'd barely be able to move on land."

The big man looked at Sasaki triumphantly, as though Gengyo's answer announced the conclusion to their conversation.

"Yeah… but… you could swim really fast…"

Sasaki attempted to protest, but it was to no avail. The positives were far outweighed by the negatives, and even he was beginning to see that it was a foolish question to ask. The reality was simply that he liked the idea of having a fishtail.

He looked at the ground, still thinking hard for a reply.

"How was it battling for the first time on the deck of a s.h.i.+p?"

He asked, directing the conversation elsewhere.

"Not much different to be honest lad. You're swaying a bit from the deck, but so is the enemy, so no one really has an advantage."

Rokkaku responded with a shrug. He had no real opinion on it. Battle was battle, in his eyes.

"That's how it should be. Good man."

Gengyo praised, pleased by his response. The men seemed to be fairing well, as did the women.

He wondered around a little more, and when he was satifisified that he had spoken with everyone, he raised his voice, and attracted their attention.

"I have something to announce."

Immedietely, all conversation filtered off and they gazed up at him. Not because they were afraid of the consequences should they choose to ignore him, simply because they knew what he had to say would hold value and weight.

"With this first mission, you've all proved your competence, and you did so without my presence. As you expressed before, you are capable of shouldering the responsibility. I'm glad to see that."

He paused before he began onto the next point, making contact with each person present, so that he included them.

"As a result of that, I have made the decision to take a step forward. You have all laid the groundworks for our campaign against Imagawa, and it's high time we established a force - I imagine some of you have been irritated by our lack of progress."

They would have protested had he mentioned names, but he knew that such a feeling was held amongst them - with Aritada especially, who was monstrously eager for revenge.

"But it would be unwise to collect our men from here in Mikawa. Imagawa's information network here will be thorough, and we can not guaratanee the men's loyalty. That is why I will take the men from Takeda lands - South s.h.i.+nano."

He saw Jikouji open his mouth to speak, and raised his hand to silence him, for he already knew what he would say.

"I'm well aware that simply going to South s.h.i.+nano will not ensure their loyalty, or ensure that Imagawa does not find out. But still, it lowers the probability, and that is the most we can hope for."

This time Jikouji really did speak.

"A journey to South s.h.i.+nano would take a week, at least - there and back. It's a bit long for you to take away."

There was a hint of worry to his voice. Though he had not been present, the lad had strings attached everywhere, and had more control of the events that had unfolded than he let on.

"That is true. But a rhythm will be established. A routine of robbing. You will grow used to it, and I'm sure father will be able to respond to whatever threat comes your way."

"d.a.m.n right."

Morohira said seriously, patting his flexed arm.

"Aye, perhaps, but that's not all there is to worry about."

Jikouji protested, though he kept his voice level.

"Indeed. You will be left in charge of the rest, Jikouji."

The old man frowned, clearly displeased.

"Don't make that face. You know your experience in managing the household is second to none. You'll be able to keep everything running - perhaps you might even improve things. And you'd be able to control the selling of loot as well, would you not?"

He looked down, his face a mask of dissatisfaction.

"Come on, Jikouji! Cheer up! It'll be me and you. We've got this."

Morohira patted his back gruffly, his expression cheery. The extra responsibility meant nothing to him, and the recruitment process was something that needed to be done.

"Will you not send someone in your place?"

Was his final effort at having him stay. He accepted that he wanted to create strong leaders amongst their ranks, and he supported that decision - it was the rational thing to do. But their hold was unsteady. Anything could happen at anytime, especially when they were engaging in something as risky as piracy. If something out of their expectations were to happen, and they were incapable of dealing with it, what then?

"I'm afraid not. Everyone is needed back here, and I would like to attempt to establish some connections whilst I'm in South s.h.i.+nano. Who knows, further down the line, I might be able to push some b.u.t.tons, and bring Takeda into the war against Imagawa?"

His gaze flickered upwards, as he caught onto what the lad was saying.

"You mean, you're going entirely alone!? I thought you would at least take a guard! Miura, this is the first time I'll say this: that is foolish - a needless risk to take. Why would you do that? It's senseless."

Gengyo was startled by the ferocity with which he argued. They had been able to keep their voices level until now. He did not think the risk was any higher than anything they had undertaken thus far, with the piracy and the like, but it was only now that he chose to protest so vehemently.

He did not know how to respond. He was still against bringing a guard. To him, it was not worth it. He could fight levelly with most members that they had, and in bringing a guard, he would be leaving the crew with one man less.

"I agree with Jikouji-san on this."

Akiko put in.

"You're too important for us to lose on something silly. Even if our s.h.i.+p were to sink, we could always get another - it was you that made that possible in the first place. But if we lose you, then revenge will become impossible."

"Yup. I agree!"

Rin, as ever, agreed with her best friend. Her reasoning was sound.

Morojo and his boys looked uncomfortable at the arguing, but did not show any other signs of agitation. They had surely learned by now - in rather solid detail - what their long term goal was. But their motivations were unyielding. No daimyo was worth giving up this opportunity for.

The rest of the men were nodding too, as though they agreed with what Jikouji had to say, and so, Gengyo was forced to relent.

"…Fine, I'll take Kitajo."

He decided, pointing to young lad.

"It would be my honour."

Kitajo responded seriously, standing up, as he offered a slight bow. Gengyo nodded in response, and turned to Jikouji.

In response to his glance, Jikouji relented.

"I suppose that'll do… But you had better take care of yourself."

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