A Time Traveller's Guide To Feudal Japan - LightNovelsOnl.com
You're reading novel online at LightNovelsOnl.com. Please use the follow button to get notifications about your favorite novels and its latest chapters so you can come back anytime and won't miss anything.
A thick fog floated heavily in the early morning air, claiming the skies before the sun had yet to a.s.sert its dominance. Any sound was suffocated, and the temperatures remained chilly.
The people awoke from their restless few hours of sleep, peeling the covers away from themselves reluctantly as they dreaded the stinging of the cool air upon their bare skin.
Some moved themselves toward the kitchen, attempting to stomach a light meal. Most simply sat by the fire, unwilling to do anything further.
"The air is far too cold for June."
An old man remarked to his wife, as he rubbed his wrinkled palms together in a futile attempt to generate some heat.
"It is the presence of death. We are no strangers."
His old wife replied grimly.
Not one man was able to crack a smile. Nor were pleasant conversations able to be shared. A current of nervousness infected the land for miles around.
Beginning with the dou - the chest plate - they pa.s.sed their fingers across the cold, lacquered leather, fastening it above their shoulders. Further leather pieces hung from the dou, in an attempt to protect the leg and lower body.
Soon the cold of the leather started to fade, edged on by the heat of their bodies, and so they reached forward to retrieve their arm guards. After a s.h.i.+n guard was secured to each leg, the peasant's armour was complete.
Dressed in the dull boiled leather, the as.h.i.+garu all looked alike as they left their homes, with weapons in hand. The only way to tell man and woman apart was the slight bulge offered by the chest. The rest was hidden by a conical leather jinagasa that sat atop their heads.
The figures walking into town emerged from the fog like phantoms. They had moved onwards, attracted by the bright torchlight. The atmosphere was oppressively heavy. Three demons sat mounted with their red armour reflecting the flickering light, and their men-yoroi frightening even their allies.
It was difficult to tell them apart, especially with the armour on. Though the unmasked woman that sat atop her horse beside them was no mystery.
With her armour a similar red to her father, and her beautiful face painted white, she was an inspiring sight, and no doubt one that the village women would put their faith in when the time came.
In this land of death, she could be called the G.o.ddess.
The rabble of armed men and women were separated with a motion from Jikouji, and the two ranks stood opposite each other.
The guards were distinguishable by their dyed black armour that was similar to that of peasants in everything but colour.
All in the square were armed. The bow as.h.i.+garu with their bows, the samurai with their katana, and the rest with their steel-tipped yari.
"Are they ready?"
The central demon asked of the man next to him.
In response, a horse was turned, as the head of the guards turned to face those who he had spent these past days instructing.
"The master asks: are you ready?"
He spoke only slightly louder than normal, yet the response was instantaneous.
b.u.t.ts of spears were slammed against the floor and feet with stamped.
Nakatane urged his station forward, separating himself from his guards before he turned to face the men also.
"Men of Toyone. Peasantry or guard. Samurai or servant. Today we fight not for riches, not for honour, and not for glory. If those are what you seek, then it would be better to end your lives here. We fight because we have encountered something unforgivable. Something that wishes to burn our homes to the ground, to **** our women, and to cut open our children."
"This is your village. These are your homes. Fight not for me. Fight to protect your families, your own people. Wet your spear with the blood of our enemies, and I guarantee, should victory be kind to us, you will be well rewarded."
A powerful wave of emotion pa.s.sed over the men. It was a blunt speech, and an honest one, but it ignited a rage in them that could not be inspired in any other way.
Even young Gengyo was moved, as he clenched his hand into a fist, and gritted his teeth, his blood boiling.
'I will, with this warrior mindset, carve open their stomachs before they can even deign to touch my people! This is not the man I wanted to be - this is the man you made me. Do you feel that Toda? That trembling in your heart? I'm coming for your head.'
The demon in red then turned his steed to face the other group.
"Women of Toyone. This world disregards your importance. Most commanders would see you as too weak to fight. As would I have, had the times not been so dire. Protect our homes, and protect yourselves."
His daughter rode up alongside, her face stern and elegant. Her fingers locked tightly around the shaft of her spear, and she hoisted it up into the air.
"Do not worry, father, we will send the brave men that think to come here straight to h.e.l.l!"
A feminine war-cry resounded, as the women responded to the will of their new commander. Though feminine, it was chilling, for it was dripping with bloodl.u.s.t.
The demon in red took a few steps back, and allowed the commander of the infantry, Jikouji, to a.s.sume his role.
Being old as he was, the troops made the mistake of relaxing slightly.
"a.s.sUME BATTLEFIELD POSITIONS!"
A terrifying roar made the whole population collectively flinch, including Nakatane.
Not a single action could be carried out under the pressure of such a command, aside from those that demonstrated absolute obedience.
The old man rode on, as the grey wisps of horsehair that clung desperately to his red helmet started to fly. It was a fitting decoration for his kabuto, for his own old hair looked much the same.
The master, after a slight paused, put his heels into his horse, urging it behind the old man. And then the ranks of yari as.h.i.+garu began to file off, following behind the two samurai at a slow, rhythmic jog.
Is.h.i.+yama stood before the 20 bow as.h.i.+garu, his black men-yoroi mask decorated with a full horsehair goatee.
"You know your role, follow me."
He galloped away at an inconsiderate pace, leaving his men to flounder behind him at a jog. It did not take them long to clear the central village houses, and soon they neared the forest.
Gengyo - who ran ahead - turned to share a glance with Masaatsu. That slight slither of concern he had proved to be unfounded, as he was greeted with a stern nod in response.
A nervous smile decorated the young man's lips as he turned back around, and they plunged their way into the vegetation of the forest. Their footsteps were loud on the twigs underneath, sounding like they were some large c.u.mbersome beast. Though he knew that such a sound would not be heard by the enemy, it still caused him to feel unsettled, and he sort comfort in squeezing the grip of his trusty bow.
With the rising sun, the fog began to disperse, and they plunged deeper into the forest, aiming toward a position that would give them a full view of the battlefield.
Is.h.i.+yama had dismounted some time ago, and led the men on foot.
They slid down steep hills made of loose earth, and clambered over rocky inclines. The going was tough, and very soon large gaps started to form in the line that they had been running in.
Their commander ran as though unfazed by such terrain, steadily increasing the lead between him and the man behind.
Gengyo was drenched in sweat after having run for almost an hour in such a fas.h.i.+on, and when he turned around he could see that the rest of the men were no better off.
They'd had to run whilst holding their quivers in their hands, for fear of losing the arrows, but all the little inconveniences mounted up, and by the time Is.h.i.+yama finally stopped most of the men were a single step away from absolute exhaustion.
He pointed wordlessly. Following his finger, those that had kept up with him could see the field of battle, and if they looked further to the left, they could catch the slightest glimpse of the right flank of the yari as.h.i.+garu unit.
Gengyo - having been in the upper half of the line - paused by the side of the hill to offer a hand to his flagging comrades who were having trouble negotiating the last obstacle.
Even the guards took his hand gratefully, before falling to the damp earth barely able to breath.
Their commander did not carry a bow, and instead sat atop a rock, the tip of his sword buried between his feet, whilst the hilt was grasped with bow hands. He observed the battlefield intently, searching for any changes.
A little while later, the exhausted men were forced to rise after a low tremble started to ma.s.sage the earth.
An older guard asked.
Is.h.i.+yama shook his head, his boiled leather armour creaking as he did so.
"No, soldier. Calvary."
Upon his words a vast troop of mounted men - armed with all sorts of different weapons - entered the battlefield, roaring at the top of their lungs.
They screamed all sorts of curses, beating their weapons loudly, and riding around in circles, attempting all sorts of clownish acts.
One man stood with his two feet firmly planted to the back of his horse, as he rode with his kimono parted, and his manhood swaying proudly in the wind.
They soon settled down about a kilometre away from Nakatane's troops, though they were still very loud and unpleasant.
Their ranks parted, and three men rode to the front.
One wore a set of full armour, a dark shade of green, with a laughing black men-yoroi covering his face. There was only one man that would have such taste.
The other to his side was a great brute of a man, standing over two metres tall, and even higher whilst mounted. His bare arms were grotesquely big, and the 3-metre long naginata that he held looked like a toy in his grasp. His armour was almost none existent. He only wore a tattered Dou over his bare, unclothed chest, as though it were some type of vest. To be fair, it was impressive that he could find any armour that fit him in the first place.
And then the final man. One would not know where to begin describing him, for there seemed to be very little that was note-worthy. Perhaps the fact that he was a mounted man, dressed almost identically to the guards? It could be deemed to be impressive to be leading a samurai's household guard whilst you were not a samurai yourself.
But he looked thin, and wiry, and Gengyo wondered whether such a man would really be much use on the battlefield. But he supposed whatever weakness his enemy brought forth would make things all the better for him.
Toda turned to his retainer on the left.
"Did you check the river banks?"
"I did, my lord, they were as those men said. There are enough long poled yari there to arm the entire as.h.i.+garu unit."
"Kahaha, excellent. And what did you do with said yari, my little friend?"
"They are currently being broken up for firewood back at the village, lord."
"Tsch. You could have done something more exciting than that."
"Apologies, my lord."