A Time Traveller's Guide To Feudal Japan Chapter 132 - Folly
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"s.h.i.+t… What's that?"
Togas.h.i.+ asked, looking at the most recent s.h.i.+p that was detaching from the port. It seemed one of the trading vessels had got there ahead of them, and alerted the authorities.
It dared to row out in front of them. But that was all it had - oars. It was a military s.h.i.+p, specialised in bow fire - reigning down arrows on the enemy to whittle them down before boarding.
But there was one man who did not feel an inch of fear upon seeing what stood in their way, and he let out a bellowing laugh.
He decided, seeing that they dared to stand up to them. They had no idea who they were going up against. Who were they? Agents of justice? They stood for something that didn't exist - the demons of the Red Feather were infinitely more powerful.
"ONE, TWO, ROW HARD! THEY DARE TO STAND IN OUR PATH!"
As they neared, arrow fire started to reign down on them, and multiple arrowheads thunked against the wood. Taking cover behind the mast, Togas.h.i.+ and Morohira barely avoided them. They attempted to change the course of the sails so that they would get out of the path of the military vessel, but it was to no avail. It merely rowed out to match them.
Arrows pierced through their sails, leaving hundreds of tiny holes in what had once been a brand new piece of cloth.
He muttered, genuinely furious. This was his s.h.i.+p. Not even the G.o.ds themselves would be permitted to do it damage. And here they were, firing again and again, as though they owned the entire sea. They put themselves in the Red Feather's path, and they believed themselves to be wise?
"Togas.h.i.+. Keep the sails straight."
He muttered, eyeing them up as they neared, barely avoiding the arrowheads as they flew past him.
"You don't intend to…?"
Togas.h.i.+ looked at him darkly. He did not agree with that decision, but Morohira was the captain, and held the authority of Miura Tadakata, leader of the Red Feather. He could not disobey.
"POWER AHEAD ON THE OARS. PREPARE TO COME ABOVE DECK!"
The city guard drew closer, wearing confident expressions and masks of disgust, as though they were looking at the embodiment of sc.u.m. They unleashed arrow after arrow, though it was to little effect. They had men below deck on the oars, ready to change course as soon as this black-flagged vessel attempt to flee.
But it did not. It continued to plough straight forward, as a demon head stuck it's way out from behind a mast, wearing a vicious grin.
It was only then that they realised their mistake. They had underestimated this small black flagged vessel. They had thought their only worry would be in allowing it to escape.
"f.u.c.k! CHANGE COURSE!"
He heard the enemy captain shout, as his own grin widened.
'It's far too late for that.'
"EVERYONE, ABOVE DECK!"
Morohira barked, mere moments before the collision. They rushed to the upper deck with haste, not expecting the sight that was in front of them. They had but a split second to prepare, before they slammed into the bow vessel at speed.
They crushed through it, sending bits of deck splintering into the air. They sustained some damage themselves, but most of the force of the impact had been transferred into the vessel in front of them.
After received such a blow, their boat rocked, throwing them from their feet, and sending them slamming against the deck, hard. When they looked up, demons had already descended upon them.
"OARSMEN ABOVE DEC-ARGH!"
The captain attempted to call out, as Rokkaku drove his blade through his neck. They held mere bows in their hands. Though they were many - 50 at least - they were no match for their vicious onslaught.
Rin and Akiko acted without thinking, and merely slew whatever man dared to get in their way. A bowman glanced up, and went to his belt, reaching for his sword, but before he could even get a grip on it, Akiko sliced his hand from his arm, before she pierced his chest with her blade.
They were not the only enemy the city guardsmen had to face - they had to worry about the ocean as well, as the water rushed in through the side, slowly sinking their vessel.
Barechested oarsmen - slick with sweat - ran above deck, brandis.h.i.+ng axes and knives, as they threw themselves into the chaos of combat, and attempted to escape the water that rushed in from below. But what met them was not their comrades - they were in the afterlife - but a solid, immovable wall. As they crashed into it, death was almost instantaneous. Swords were thrust out, and their lives were claimed.
The difference in discipline between the two forces was staggering. They claimed to be men of the city guard, but it seemed such a t.i.tle was worthless. They knew not of the true toil and work required to become an effective fighting force. They had merely grabbed their weapon and attempted to do war.
Their end was secured, and the Red Feather made haste in withdrawing from the sinking s.h.i.+p, as they returned to their own.
The battle had been clearly visible from the port, and no doubt everyone knew of their black flagged-vessel by now.
The front of their humble s.h.i.+p was rather banged up, and was in serious need of repairs. But they still managed to pull away, and lift their torn sails, catching some wind, as they powered away from the port, and whatever reinforcements might attempt to come their way.
His decision was ruthless, but perfect. It was as they drifted away, with the adrenaline still raging through their veins, and their armour still red with blood, that they realized just how fit Morohira was for this role. On the sea, it had always been their aim to become feared. And to be truly feared, one had to be fearless. Morohira was just that. Their vessel was superior in terms of speed, but he did not choose to run. He charged through the obstacle that barred their way, and thinned the city guards forces as he did so.
A perfect end to their first mission as men and women of the Red Feather - they had made an announcement. Fear the black sailed s.h.i.+p, and fear the black armoured men. To stand in their path? Folly.
"It seems… We could have done with that battering ram."
Rokkaku announced. Morohira's conversations about invention and upgrade with Morojo were well doc.u.mented by the rest, as it provided great amus.e.m.e.nt to listen into after a hard days training.
A ripple of light laughter drifted around the deck - the perfect release after the tension of battle. Even Rin and Akiko could not help but giggle. Who would have expected that their first mission would go as such?
But still, they were far from being in the clear. They had sailed past the port, and along by the beach, travelling along the rows of cliffs where vessels rarely ventured. The land jutted out in a peninsula, and they sailed behind it discretely - hiding.
"Okay! Begin transformation!"
Down the masts went. In the oars came. Up went the unpunctured white flag. When they sailed out once more, they were just another - slightly battered - trading vessel. And one that was very rich.
In their haste they had not even managed to send the iron ore below deck, and by now, stones lay scattered everywhere as a result of the collision. But as they looked at the mess, they could not feel annoyance, but instead joy. Each little piece had great value to any smith.
Leaving the pensiula behind, they also left whatever eyes that had been on them baffled. Where had the black flagged s.h.i.+p gone? Such was the magic of disguise. If someone seriously thought about it, the possibility of the transition might come up, but it was so unheard of, and so unlikely, that it would be immediately disregarded.
A second mast, perhaps, was the piracy feet of the century. Pirates were not in themselves uncommon, as they went by the collective term 'Wako Pirates'. But their escapades had never happened quite so close to home for the people of Toyokawa, and so talk of the black flagged s.h.i.+p spread throughout the port town with haste.
As they celebrated their victory, the commander of the city guard almost killed a man.
"…Repeat what you said."
He spoke coldly, his mustache twitching with annoyance, as they sat in his office, in the most grand mansion in all of Toyokawa. He had worked hard for his position, and was well respected.
"The guards on duty responded to a robbery, my lord. They stood bravely in the path of the pirates, but their vessel was sunk. We see no signs of any survivors."
His advisor said without too much nervousness. He was used to delivering bad news to officials. But even he flinched when the commander grabbed hold of his inkpot with a clenched fist and hurled it against the wall, splas.h.i.+ng his face, and the walls of the room in the black liquid.
"TO h.e.l.l WITH IT! AND WHILST THE LORD IS AWAY AS WELL!"
He roared, slamming his fist hard down upon his wooden desk. He was furious. Why had they never heard of such a s.h.i.+p before? Why had it suddenly come out nowhere, and struck, whilst Imagawa was on campaign, with the majority of their men with him?
He breathed in deeply, through gritted teeth, still seething with rage.
"Has a bounty been put on them?"
"There has. 5000 gold, is what it is."
"Good… A black sailed s.h.i.+p? We are going to need to destroy it, Koroman. Otherwise trade will fall, and we'll be saddled with the blame."
"That is so, my lord."
Koroman said with a bow, though internally, he corrected his superior.
'You will be saddled with the blame, not I.'
"Who were the victims?"
"An iron vessel from Suruga. The merchant claims he lost 10,000 gold worth of cargo."
The commander scoffed angrily at that. It was a useless exaggeration, aimed to extort more money from them.
"Ha. It will have been 4,000 - at most."
"I agree, my lord."
"Well, carry out the usual rea.s.surances. And spread the word - we're recruiting men. They slaughtered 50 of our soldiers with ease. We'll need at least 200 to tackle them, it seems."
He decided, twitching his mustache.
"With respect, my lord, if we were to ask one of the European vessels-"
Koroman began. A single European vessel could take on an entire flee with the firepower that it had. It would have no problem dealing with the tiny black sailed s.h.i.+p, who were only capable of boarding.
"No! Out of the question. We cannot get those d.a.m.n foreigners involved in our internal affairs. I've told you more than once - asking for help from them is a sign of weakness, and they'll take advantage of it later on!"
The advisor merely bowed his head. He had expected such a response.
"As you wish, my lord. I will begin recruiting men."
"Good, you're dismissed."
Koroman did not spare a single bit of attention to the drop of ink that was making it's way down from his eye towards his upper lip. That was, until, he closed the door behind him, and was out of the commander's sight.
"That d.a.m.n oaf…"
He cursed, taking a beautifully embroided handkerchief from inside his kimono, and staining it with the black ink, as he cleaned his face.
"…Even this is ruined now."
He lamented, staring down at the stains on his kimono. His face was dark with rage, but as soon as he saw the commander's maid come into view, he wore a warm mask, and greeted her.
A Time Traveller's Guide To Feudal Japan Chapter 132 - Folly
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A Time Traveller's Guide To Feudal Japan Chapter 132 - Folly summary
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