A Time Traveller's Guide To Feudal Japan - LightNovelsOnl.com
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There were few men and women in all the land that were as unhappy as he. For all his wealth, for all his land, and for all his women, he still could not summon the energy to smile. Nor did he need to. There was no one that he had to please. No one that he had to suck up to. But he was still not satisfied.
He could not remember the last time he had lost a battle. He was quite sure that he never had. And then, out of nowhere, when the odds were so heavily in his favour, he had fallen at the first hurdle. The tiniest little obstacle.
Even just saying the man's name aloud was enough to send him into a fit of rage. Oda n.o.bunaga. That was the biggest stain of his life. Even his councilmen would not dare to mention him anymore.
He sat upon his throne, looking down on the room from high steps. He sat slouched in the seat, so that his rolls of fat pushed against the walls, and supported him comfortably. On his lap bounced a young girl all but half his size. Her face was contorted in a false pleasure as she sought to please her lord.
Two other girls kneeled to either side, doing whatever they could to get involved.
It was a public s.p.a.ce, and this was certainly not the behaviour one would hope their Daimyo would exhibit. And still, they did not complain. He was ordering seppuku for even the most trivial of things now. To irritate him would be to forfeit your life. Already, almost half the council had been dealt with, resulting in a major s.h.i.+ft of power.
"My Lord Imagawa." A man with a short chin beard entered the room, and kneeled before the throne, waiting for his lord to notice him. He had to suffer through listening to all the moans of pleasure and grunts of satisfaction, but he continued to kneel down without a hint of emotion.
"Ah, it's you. There had better be good news." Imagawa finally noticed him, and pushed the girl from his kneel. She stumbled onto the ground painfully, and hurriedly raised her robes to cover herself, before trotting away. "HALT! Where do you think you're going? You will leave when I tell you to!" Imagawa barked, and like a timid dog, she bowed her head meekly and hurried back beside the throne.
"The dispatchment that was sent to deal with rebel forces, my lord."
"Eh… Oh. That little insurrection they attempted. Have we finally found our men, then? The commander had better have been executed. To go almost a week without informing us of his position is preposterous."
"Indeed. Our men began the search in Toyokawa, where they were met - surprisingly - with hostile forces. Apparently even the civilians chased them away. And then they journeyed to Okazaki, where the gates were closed to them."
"WHAT?" Imagawa thundered, furious. "THEY DARED TO CHASE AWAY MESSANGERS OF THE DAIMYO? THEY OUGHT TO BE KILLED! RAZE THOSE PLACES TO THE GROUND, I SAY! HOW DARE THEY ENGAGE IN SUCH FOLLY." He grew out of breath from his extended period of shouting - such was his poor condition. "Tell our men to turn back… and reclaim control. Execute the leaders of both towns, and double the guards. We will be more aggressive with the citizens as well, so that they might learn their place!"
"Yes, my lord, that would have been a wise course of action. However, we only just found our men this morning. The commander has been executed, as you commanded. But the rest are dead as well."
Imagawa narrowed his rat-like eyes. They were barely visible due to the fat of his cheeks. He had his last whisper of hair swept over his balding head. He was not exactly the picture of a man filled with intelligence, and so his question did not surprise his servant. "…Why?"
"Forgive me, my lord. It was not we that killed our men. They only arrived to see corpses strewn all over a field just before Okazaki forest. They counted the bodies - I was told - and the number came to be exactly a thousand. The commander was found amongst them."
Imagawa gripped his seat tightly, his fist turning white. Seeing that look on his face, the servant girls instinctively took a step back, knowing that even being in his vision when he was like this was dangerous.
His fist crashed into the jewelled goblet by his side, that was filled to the brim with wine. It went a rather pathetic distance, considering the amount of force he put into it, but it was irritating none the less. The girls hurried to clean it, but he barked at them. "LEAVE IT! YOU WILL DO ONLY AS I TELL YOU TO DO!"
He stood up, and kicked at the wooden table, sending it clattering. All that was in reach, he threw to the floor. The guards showed no hint of emotion. None of them dared to try and judge him. Imagawa seemed to have a gift for detecting when someone did that, and many a guard had been executed in recent days. His councilman continued to kneel, keeping his head down, as wood broke, and cups and plates crashed against the wall and floor.
There was only one thing that could console all trapped in a room with this dim-witted hippopotamus, and that was that he would soon run out of breath. His rage lent him energy, but that would not last for long. He would soon collapse back into his throne, red-faced and panting.
And that is exactly what did happen. He sat there, gasping furiously, glaring at everyone in the room, daring a single one of them to judge him. He wanted them to, just so he could give the order. His katana lay by his side. Perhaps today he could kill the man himself.
When he had regained his breath, he once more spoke to the councilman.
"Who… dared… to kill our soldiers?"
To everyone else in the room, it was not an impossible leapt to make, but he was brought up based on a single bias: numbers counted above all else. Even after his pathetic loss to the Oda, he still could not come to terms with anything otherwise.
"The group who was causing trouble earlier. They still number at five hundred men, my lord. We did not find any of their soldiers dead on the battlefield, but the wounds match the weapons that they use, and they have been found a few days march away. It is they who caused the chaos in Toyokawa - as we already know - and it is they who changed the allegiance of Okazaki. They have some people on their side, my lord."
"Pah! Pathetic! They're a mere five hundred men! The only thing they're doing is causing minor problems. They're f.u.c.king ticks hiding in our furs! So, they managed to kill a dispatchment double their size? I do not believe that. Still! We will respond firmly this time."
"My lord, it is our belief that their intent is to usurp you. They are not just rebelling, they are seeking dominance." The councilman explained. There had been a few whispers, and he knew he would suffer should this information come to his lord by other means than his own mouth.
Imagawa narrowed his eyes, staring him down, wondering whether he was joking. "Hahahaha… Oh my." He chuckled so violently that his belly wobbled. His laughter was a mixture between a cough and a giggle. It was thoroughly repulsive to listen to extensively. "Then we will deal with them immediately. We will hang their heads up outside the capital's walls, and have all look at them. Just because we suffered a setback, does not mean that the Imagawa clan has grown soft. We will show them just how tough our ruling can be."
"As you say, my lord." The councilman would not dare disagree with the lord's a.s.sessment, especially when he was so impa.s.sioned by what he was saying.
"Men are being gathered from the other provinces, are they not? My army is rebuilding. Has there been any word from our emissary to the Takeda?"
"Not yet, my lord. But I do believe they'll come."
"Good. Soon my twenty thousand men will be recovered, and the Takeda will be at my side. Kyoto will be as good as ours. Until then, it is best to keep dogs active, would you not agree?"
"We will send dogs to deal with dogs. Inform the Matsudaira clan. Tell them to mobilize all their forces."
"But, my lord, that's some 7,000 men. Is that not a bit excessive? Especially with the second campaign so close at hand."
The Matsudaira's had suffered their own losses during the campaign, but restricted by Imagawa as they were, it was difficult to recruit more. He feared putting too many men under their command, lest they start a rebellion.
"Excessive? I thought 1000 men to deal with 500 was excessive, but apparently not! If we send the Matsudaira clan, then we needn't worry about this problem anymore, and can focus entirely on the campaign. And, it'll keep those dogs on their toes, otherwise they'll be completely useless on the battlefield."
"…As you say my lord. I should instruct them to mobilize all the forces they have available, correct?"
"Yes, yes." He said impatiently, waving his hand as though he already saw this business to be concluded. "Tell them to mobilize and deploy immediately, before these nameless rebels cause problems in another city."
He was smiling now, apparently pleased with his own problem-solving ability. He lied to himself, and reckoned that he had grown more intelligent after all he had experienced. The next time they set off on campaign into Oda territory, then there would be no one who could stand in his way. They would all tell tales of how cunning the Daimyo Imagawa was.
"Consider it done, my lord."
The man stood up, and bowed, before once again exiting the room with light steps. This was indeed excessive, to his mind, but it would cause no problems in the long run, so he would do exactly as his lord dictated.
Imagawa was incapable, everyone knew that. But in helping him to achieve his goals, then his own power would grow, and he'd be at a station far above the one he now employed. He'd be advisor to the shogun of j.a.pan.
And so the doors closed behind him, and the plump lord Imagawa sat, contented, unaware that he was still underestimating his opponent. What a surprise it would be when he found that vey same nameless force at his gates in a few weeks' time. What a surprise indeed.