A Time Traveller's Guide To Feudal Japan - LightNovelsOnl.com
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He sat there, dead-eyed for the longest of times. So many had died. Even their master, Nakatane, was dead. What way forward was there from this?
The sun warmed the back of his head, rendering his mind even more num. He was grateful for it, as it allowed him to shut out his thoughts. He glanced around - unseeing, and unfeeling - at all who were left.
By the looks of them, even they would not survive. Morohira's chest was a mess of bullet holes and stab wounds - it was a wonder he was still breathing. Those wounds needed closing and cleansing immediately, else they were liable to get infected.
Rokkaku next to him was in even worse shape, and some of the wounds were still bleeding. Most of them preferred not to look at their own bodies, given how bashed up they were. Truly, them being alive was a matter of luck. A mere 11 men out of 130.
But not that it mattered. These were their final hours. Their final struggle. There was no forwards road, no path through the impa.s.sable mountains. This is where all their efforts had left them. In a quiet gra.s.sy field with the sun to warm their backs as they pa.s.sed on into the next world.
He tilted his head back, and listlessly looked at the blue sky above.
He breathed, surprised at the unexpected beauty. Small insects used his fingers as climbing frames as he remained so still that it was like he was already dead.
He turned to see Jikouji had made his way to his side. He stared up at that old face of his, and the blood that had matted his beard, and briefly wondered how it was that the oldest amongst them had managed to survive. But he continued that thought no further, for he was glad that those eyes still retained life.
He muttered painfully, as though it was a distant memory caught on a pa.s.sing breeze. He noticed that his lips continued moving, but he barely processed the words that he said. He had no energy, no motivation for anything. It was over.
Broken fragments of speech drifted through his mind. He might have turned himself to better hear the words, but he feared the pain that such a movement would bring.
He didn't want to hear what Jikouji had to say. He was afraid to hear it. He was done. He was too tired. He didn't want to hear of the responsibilities he had. He wanted to drift away, and rest awhile.
He turned his head, and caught sight of Kitajo, nursing a terrible wound to his upper thigh. It looked painful, and he could see the young lad was gritting his teeth. But as their eyes met, he still smiled in his direction.
The smile brought a slight warmth to his heart, as his brain tried to remember something important. A spark of life flittered through, cranking his mind into motion.
'No… I've given up on society… I can't take the pain… There's nothing you can do - there's nothing you can say.'
"Miura… Miura - look up, lad. Look up."
The words filtered into his restored mind - that was still so raw from the weight of the deaths - and he barely registered them. He, more than anything, wished to ignore them completely, and just curl up into a ball and wait for death to come. There was nothing left for him to protect - there was no point in continuing.
"Look up. Go on, look up."
He dared to, but all he saw was the sight of his wounded comrades, who had trusted in him, and in the end they had been wounded so badly because he allowed himself to be put at the mercy of someone more powerful than he.
He met their gazes, from Rokkau to Sasaki, all the way down to the peasant as.h.i.+garu who he was not familiar with. They all met his gaze, and they smiled.
"Do you see, Miura Tadakata? There is still life in those eyes of theirs. Despite all that has happened. We have all lost comrades, young one, but now is not the time for us to die."
He tried to counsel him, and a warmth started to block out the cold, and attempted to reach into his heart, he recalled dreams of a blaze that inspired him, but now all that was left were feeble sparks.
He turned to Aritada, and was overwhelmed by sadness at the boy's tearstained face. He had lost his childhood friend, someone who had been there throughout every day of his life - closer than his own brother. And yet, to him, he still forced his lips up in a smile, and his head down in a nod.
"I think I know what is going through that head of yours, boy. But do not misunderstand - this not your fault. This is not your burden to bear. Yet there is still something I demand you take responsibility for."
He voice hardened toward the last part, laced with authority, causing Gengyo to look up at him stiffly, and expectantly.
"I demand that you take responsibility for our lives. It is through you that we still lived. Imagawa sentenced us to death, but with your guidance, we unleashed chaos, and spoke with the devil, only to remain alive this day."
He looked down at that. So it was his fault, that they were here, now, to suffer?
"Do not misunderstand, however. Our lives are built on the hill of many sacrifices, and for you to turn away now would be to call their efforts meaningless. It is through their might that we are able to speak like this."
"…What would you have me do?"
He spoke in a whisper, as it hurt his throat to talk, but more than anything it reminded him that he was present within the moment, and that was the last thing he wished to experience.
"Take the lead, boy. The responsibility - it's yours."
Take the lead? Should that not be an honour, rather than a such a heavy responsibility? But then he looked at the state of each of them. They were not men who were ready for action. To lead them would mean to care for them, to help them set their feet back firmly upon the mortal plains.
But why should such a task fall to him?
"It's what Nakatane would have wanted. He spent his whole life seeking freedom and safety from the forces above, so that his daughter, Akiko, would not have to experience the same oppression that he felt at the hands of Toda."
A face flashed through his head, and he curled his fingers. How he wished to see her. But it seemed like she was so far away - another dimension, even. He could not even begin to contemplate the distance.
"That was impossible for him. And it was impossible for me. That was, until you came along."
"It is through your talents that we were are able to have this conversation at all. And if there was ever a more fitting person to lead us, then that person would certainly conquer the world."
He looked at the men's faces as Jikouji spoke. They returned his gaze, and within those eyes he could not see a hint of disagreement.
'Why? Why do you think so highly of me? I'm… I'm nothing.'
Those words he spoke within his mind startled a memory into life - a memory from a life of the past.
He had sat there, in his single filthy room, looking at all that he had owned, inhaling the dampness that came from the crumbling walls.
It was then, he realized, at the age of 21, that he was nothing. His life, that all had judged to be so promising from school, from the test scores that he had received, amounted to this.
He was foolish. He had made that intelligence his ident.i.ty, but it was worthless without the power and position to back it up. It was empty wind.
And in that moment, he had clenched his fist, and sworn to become something. Fuelled by anger - anger toward himself, anger toward the world around him - he had begun the gruelling climb to the top.
And when he had gotten there, he had realized how cold it was.
Jikouji - through a great effort, and great pain - made his way to one knee in front of him, and drew his bloodied sword from its scabbard.
He held it up, in both hands, bowing his head, offering it to Gengyo.
"Please accept my loyalty. Please accept my service. With you to lead us, I know that we will be able to enact revenge for Nakatane, and keep the Niwa family alive."
Gengyo looked down at him, his eyes widened with surprise. He glanced at the sword that was so matted with blood. The old man had not had the energy to clean it yet. Such ceremonies were usually done with the utmost cleanliness. But somehow, it was far more fitting this way. Far more honest. With them both covered in their own blood, the blood of those they had slain, and caked in dried mud - it was almost metaphoric for the road they were to walk.
'This is… This is certainly different.'
He thought, as he looked down at the man who was so intent on offering his sword to him.
'I am not alone this time… Not alone. So perhaps… perhaps the top will not be so cold.'
And then, he took the sword by the hilt, and stood up, his face transforming as he remembered that fire of his.
'This world… It's greatest mistake was disregarding me. Imagawa… Okabe. You are not ready. You do not know the man. No! The men, that stood before you. You dared - you f.u.c.king dared - to treat us lightly.'
"Before this year is out, I will tear Imagawa's head from his shoulders. I will sent Okabe to slither with the snakes that he so resembles. And, at your side, I will pursue true chaos - true pandemonium, and burn Mikawa to ashes. Do you think that is enough?"
"NO! Far from it, Miura! We must take from them all that they care about! Allow them to experience what we feel… So that… So that Yoritomo can rest peacefully."
Aritada stood up and spoke pa.s.sionately, before kneeling before Gengyo, and doing as Jikouji had.
"Please! Miura, accept my blade! Allow me to get justice!"
"We will stain the rivers red with their blood, Aritada. They do not know of whom they offend."
Gengyo affirmed, accepting his allegiance.
"Bowing before my own son… Ha, who would have thought? Masaatsu was proud of you, Tadakata. Really proud. I have never seen him smile more than when he fought at your side. Allow me to join you, so that I can cut Imagawa's head from his f.u.c.king shoulders."
Morohira joined, offering up his snapped blade. It was broken and mangled, just like they were. But it was still more than capable of taking the lives of those that wronged them.
"Niiro-san would have enjoyed this…"
Kitajo said sadly, as he struggled to his knees despite the pain it caused. He had no weapon to offer up, but in those empty hands, he gave his life.
"Allow me to fight on Niiro-san's behalf, Miura."
"My sword has been yours for a while," Togas.h.i.+ began. "But allow me to offer it to you once more. I have no home, and no family to speak of. But I feel your wrongs as strongly as my own. Let us seize justice, Miura."
Soon, all had offered their swords to him. In him, they placed their hopes. Even the three who were not of his unit - even they recognized his achievements and believed in his the chance of his success.
A new beginning fellas. Looking forward to writing this.
So anyway, let's aim for 2200 powerstones this week, then we'll do three chapters on sunday. And also, I'm ready to release bonus chapters for every 200 gifts we get, so gift away!
Thanks for sticking with this book for so long. You're the best.