A Time Traveller's Guide To Feudal Japan - LightNovelsOnl.com
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The mercenaries' cries, and the sound of their horses' hooves were amplified by the men's fear, yet still they held on as such terrifying noises grew closer.
The threshold into the forest was crossed, marked by the breaking of hundreds of twigs, and the riders rode deeper, possessed by an animalistic bloodl.u.s.t, and overcome by a sense of perversion as they hunted for prey.
Deeper and deeper they rode, and at speed too. The distance that took the men a good few minutes took them mere seconds.
Horses were said to have to slow down when pa.s.sing through trees, but that was not the case for them, who, as mercenaries, had often spent their time lurking in the forest, and had grown accustomed to riding through it.
Galloping as fast as you could, whilst dodging obstacles that could be life-threatening, brought a certain thrill, and they were confident in their abilities.
That was, until, the front-most man - who Ochi used as a tracker - rode straight into the first of the wire traps. And now, his body rode on without him for a few seconds, before collapsing from its mount leaving a spurt of blood to cloud the air.
His head blinked a few times in surprise, before it was crushed underfoot by the hoof of the horse of the man behind him, who did not have enough time to slow down before his neck was also slit by the tiny, barely detectable wire.
Ochi, who rode in third, roared at such cowardly tactics, urging his horse onwards as though to show he was not scared of a measly wire.
And then, with a slash of his huge naginata, the wire was cut.
Grunting towards his men, he warned them to be careful of wire traps in future, and split them into a series of groups so that they might avoid them better.
The men were undeterred. If anything, they were more excited after seeing the sight of blood - even if it was that of their own comrades. It had been months and months since they had last done battle, having to sate their desires with random acts of theft, and the few women that Toda sent their way.
Nakatane's men did not know quite what had occurred, but after hearing the rhythmic beating of hooves begin to slow, they hedged a guess.
It was chaos within the forest, as the men attempted to imitate their leader, and slice through any wire that got in their way. The problem was, it was so thin that it was all but impossible to see.
But that did not stop them from charging in wildly. It did not even make them want to slow down and ride second. Instead they fought to make their way to the vanguard, so that they might have a chance at slicing through such a wire themselves - or even better, be the first to find prey.
The result was a good many causalities, as a taller man - who was not quite at head height with the wire - had it grind through his rips before finally coming to a stop an inch away from his beating heart. He lived, but he mas as well have died, for the man could not stay mounted, and met his end under the rear hooves of his friend's horse.
Others were not so fortunate. Or perhaps were more fortunate, as they managed to live, but at the cost of an arm.
Some did not get hit at all, though they rode straight through the wire. But it was impossible to say that such people lived on, happily, without a single injury, for their dear steed had been beheaded, and now they were sailing through the air, landing heavily against the hard roots of a tree. Perhaps they would have even cried if they saw the state of their mangled legs, but they could not feel them.
The wires served their part in creating absolute chaos. Their numbers had been thinned without a single engagement, and the forest was nourished with many gallons of their blood.
But unlike an ordinary cavalry unit, this did not serve to make their morale drop. They did not fight for victory, merely the thrill of battle. As such they were uncontrollable - almost. That would be if Toda had not offered the amount of coin that he had.
Ochi grew angrier with each man he lost, las.h.i.+ng out aggressively at any strands of wire that he found in his way. He forced his way back to the front, making his men regroup behind him as he secured a path which they could ride through. They were reluctant but not disobedient, as they all knew of the big man's temper. It was no accident that he had ended up in charge of 200 of the most bloodthirsty men on earth.
The hooves grew closer to Nakatane's position and their beating hearts grew faster.
Perhaps they could simply remain like that, hiding behind the tree, and allow these barbarians to pa.s.s? That way could they not return home to their families? Could they not give their dear wives one final kiss, or share one final story with their enthusiastic youth?
Nakatane knew exactly what they were thinking. And as the ground rumbled, and the mounted beasts howled, he was the first man to step out from the trees and make his stand.
Possessed by a furious energy, he thrust out with all the aggression of a war G.o.d, puncturing Ochi's stallion through the chest with the sharpened wooden point of his lengthy spear.
The mammoth fell from his mount clumsily, his head colliding with a nearby tree root. He ceased to move, and a pool of blood began to form around him.
"ARM THESE SPEARS MEN! VICTORY SHALL BE OURS!"
He stood in front of the charge of over 150 hors.e.m.e.n, alone. But he did not give a single inch of ground. He met the charge of the next man in line, roaring vengefully, possessed by all the rage and power that had acc.u.mulated in his body over these past years.
The hors.e.m.e.n shrieked like a pack of hyenas, fanning out, each eager for a piece of the man who had brought down their leader.
And those men met the points of 65 spears, held in the paws of lions. They roared with the same fury their lord had shown, inspired. They cared not for the fear present within their hearts. Tears still clung to their cheeks, and still ran down from their eyes. But they gave it everything.
A man, who had spent all his years as a rice farmer, punctured the chest of a mounted beast, feeling the sticky blood run down his spear and cling to his hands.
He shouted. Not because he was scared, or because he was disgusted. But because nothing in that moment felt more right.
The man next him caught the entire weight of a horse on the end of his, as he flew backwards before the b.u.t.t finally caught against the ground, and the horsed reared, impaled.
His rider fell to the floor, only momentarily dazed, before he charged manically toward the man who had downed his horse, sword in hand.
The man froze. There was nothing to arm him. His spear was thoroughly stuck. His feet turned away, so that he might run, but his body was unwilling. A jagged, rusty sword, neared his neck, intent on claiming his life. But his body would not allow him to dishonour himself through cowardice. He closed his eyes, prepared to die.
The sound of a head being served. Yet it was not his own. He dared to open his eyes, wondering whether he would now catch a glimpse of heaven. Yet instead he saw a red demon, flicking blood from his sword. From the horsehair he recognised Jikouji.
Feeling the fresh blood warming his feet, he struggled to process what was going on.
"FIGHT ON, BRAVE SOLDIERS!"
The old man roared across the battlefield, his powerful voice inspiring the men.
He found reason, and scrambled over to his spear, pulling it free as he stepped over the body of his comrade, and back into the thick of the fighting.
With the initial charge, they had dealt a heavy blow. Such was the power of an ambush. Yet it was still not enough. These were hardened warriors, wielding swords and axes, and their opponents merely had sharpened sticks. Their numbers still out-weighed Nakatane's men, and now the tide of battle started to turn in their favour.
The master fought, drenched in blood, surrounded by three men, barely hanging on to his life. He struggled to keep them at a distance, but to make a fatal strike would be to hand them his own head.
And behind him, a giant was waking from its deep slumber. It grunted as it felt the sticky blood that clung to its bald head, letting out a roar. Ochi was consumed by rage. Not because he had been injured, but because he had missed out on the best part of the fight.
He saw one of his men fighting a peasant nearby, and strode toward them.
"Ochi-sama!" His man called, as though pleased to see him alive.
The giant paid him no attention, and carried on walking, as he sent his closed fist toward the peasants head.
A sickening crunch sounded out, as the man's skull caved in, and his measly leather hat rolled away.
His man did not react with fear, for he knew full well of his master's strength.
He pointed to the horse.
His naginata found its way through his chest, before he was lifted up on the end of it - using only a single arm - and was sent flying against a tree.
"Insubordinence will not be tolerated."
The mammoth muttered to himself, as he pounced atop the horse that shrieked out after having been forced to bear its weight. It pottered unsteadily, struggling to remain balanced.
But the mammoth did not have time to concern himself with it.
'Mmm. It's always better on a horse.'
Was his only thought as he rode toward the man that had dealt him, and his men, such a blow.
Jikouji - who had been darting across the battlefield, helping anywhere he could - noticed the giant approaching, and called out a warning.
"Nakatane! Behind you!"
Surrounded by three men to his front, he did not have to check just what he had to watch out for, and instead chose to trust entirely in the old man, and threw himself off to the right.
It proved to be the correct decision, as a colossal naginata slashed through the air at a speed that could be deemed nothing if not unnatural.
That was not to say that the only thing it hit was air.
A man cried out as he looked at the empty socket where his arm had once been.
"Cripples are useless."
The blade finished the job, beheading him, and ending his screams there and then.
Such was the mammoth's reputation. All that followed him knew of it, and that was why he was in charge.
Nakatane struggled to his feet, drawing his katana, looking up at the beast of a man that towered before him.
He cursed. He knew that if such a beast was allowed to roam the battle than their already dire fight would certainly be lost.
The sharp blade of the naginata travelled down the steel of his sword, before he finally caught it on his crossguard. His knees almost buckled under the pressure of such a strike, and he grunted with exertion, throwing it off to one side.
He looked up resentfully, seeing that the strike was sent with only one arm, whilst the other was being used to steer his horse.
The speed of such a strike was uncanny too, and it likely would have been faster had he still been riding that great big bull of a horse that he was earlier.