A Time Traveller's Guide To Feudal Japan Chapter 38 - Yumi Ashigaru Exam (2)

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THUNK

Before the arrow had even hit he had already turned back around to face the partic.i.p.ants.

"This test is nothing if not doable. Do you really think that the enemy will stand still, or walk into the path of your arrow? Folly."

They looked from him, back to the arrow sitting in the centre of the bullseye, as the target still swung back and forth. A few gulped, realising the exact calibre of the man they were dealing with - it was no wonder the master had put him in charge.

Nakatane smiled widely from behind his fan as he watched the proceedings. It was unfortunate for the village man that it was Gengyo who he had chosen to underestimate.

Gengyo then turned to glance at the man who was still standing beside the swinging striker, looking stunned. In front of 30 people he had been proven to be a fool. His skill was simply not adequate. And in throwing a fit of rage he had further dishonoured himself.

"With a total of three points you have not pa.s.sed the bow as.h.i.+garu test. Next partic.i.p.ant."

And so the man's fate was decided, as he looked around the training grounds, wondering where to go. He thought he should leave, but in the end decided to stand a ways away, so that he could wait and see how his friend had done.

The motion test was cruel in a sense, for none had been prepared to face it. But that was a fault on their own part. Instead of training to pa.s.s the test, they should have trained themselves for battle, and then the test would have been an easy accessory to accomplish.

As it happened, few managed to land an arrow, and those that did could have been said to have done it out of luck. But such was the nature of the test: difficult, but the rewards were immense.

The man's friend was the second to fail, but he accepted it with far more grace than his comrade.

Seemingly expecting such an outcome from himself, he gave a self-deprecating smile before moving to join his buddy.

The first to hit a target on the test was old man Niiro, who secured the 50 pace target without any changes in his technique. He merely waited for the target to near the centre, and shot as he normally would. At the 50 pace range this was adequate, as his accuracy with static targets was phenomenal, so he was allowed a rather large margin of error, and managed to pin his arrow in the outer rims of the target.

The same strategy was not enough to carry him through the last two targets however, and he missed those by a decent margin.

He bowed lightly toward Gengyo after he shot, awaiting judgement.

"8 points. Niiro-san, you've pa.s.sed."

Though his position - at least at that current moment - was higher than that of Niiro, he would not bring himself to talk down to the man, by affording him a lesser honorific. Positions of power are often temporary after all, and it would be foolish to offend people - especially those of skill - during your reign.

The other partic.i.p.ants who were stilled unsettled upon seeing another examinee secure a target on the motion were not given a chance to breathe, as up straight after Niiro was Masaatsu.

Gengyo watched his older brother walk up to the mark expectantly. He knew what his training had entailed - with hunting animals and the like - and was keen to see how he would perform.

"Ready?"

"Ready."

He pushed the striker as he called out the starting command.

He flinched, as a split second later an arrow pinned itself firmly into the target on the striker that had just swung near his head.

"Aha…"

He uttered a dry laugh, stilling his rapidly beating heart. He knew his brother would be accurate, but he had not expected him to be so fast.

He stepped forward a few steps, to observe the position of the arrow on the target. It was just touching the red of the bullseye. An excellent shot.

Masaatsu had not been concerned with pinpoint accuracy when training, he had merely been bothered with hitting the target, for if you were an animal, say a bird or a squirrel, if an arrow hit you at all you would be finished. It was completely unnecessary to be aiming for the eyes or the like.

The crowd gulped once more.

"They're monsters…"

"Yup, I'm guessing it runs in the family?"

He had made it look so effortless that even on the first shot all got a taste of his skill.

They moved to the 75 pace range, and yet another target was secured. This arrow landed a little further from the bullseye than the other, but it was still a respectable distance from the outer rim.

And then on the final shot, contrary to the first two shots, he paused a couple of seconds, tracing the motion of the oscillating striker with his bow, before finally, he released.

It was a flight that did not look as certain as the previous two, and upon the initial milliseconds of release, observers had deemed it certain to miss. However, just before it pa.s.sed the striker, it was offered the very edge of the target.

CLAP CLAP CLAP

Niiro stood there, shaking his head wordlessly as he applauded such skill. He now knew full well the difficulty of such a shot, and it felt wrong not to pay it its due respect.

Masaatsu bowed lightly in his direction, accepting his praise.

"With a total of 18 points you have pa.s.sed the bow as.h.i.+garu test. Well done, brother."

He patted his older brother on the shoulder, who attempted his usual stoicism, but could not stop the slightest slither of a smile breaking out. That soon transitioned into a full-blown grin.

"Thanks Tadakata. I'm not at your level yet, but soon… Haha."

Gengyo welcomed such compet.i.tion wholeheartedly. If his brother were to outperform him in the art of the bow, he would be nothing but happy.

"You're very close. I can see your hunting has paid off."

"Yes, I suppose it has. I never thought such training practices would prove to be this helpful though. But then, I never thought my brother would be the one examining me!"

Nakatane had been observing the older sibling with interest, impressed by what he saw.

"So there's another little monster amongst that Miura family? What kind of deeds did their ancestors do to have so much talent concentrated in one place?"

He muttered to himself, listing their different skills upon his fingers, as he remembered the awe-inspiring fight between Morohira and Kyougoku.

The last partic.i.p.ant of note was the frail-looking Kitajo, who Gengyo watched approaching with interest, wondering how he might hit moving targets whilst he shot with his eyes closed.

"h.e.l.lo Kitajo-kun, are you ready?"

The tense boy looked up sharply, as though surprised to be asked such a question.

"Ah… yes."

He didn't exactly radiate confidence, but the young examiner allowed him to set up as he pleased without interfering, and instead walked toward the position of the striker.

His eyes were already closed and his bow was drawn, causing Gengyo to frown a little as he sent the striker into motion, calling out to the candidate.

He did not even open his eyes then, and instead did his routine wild muttering before releasing the arrow.

It travelled confidently, at a good speed, but in the complete wrong direction. Instead of toward the target, it seemed to be an a.s.sa.s.sination attempt as it only barely missed Gengyo by the tiniest of amounts.

He opened his eyes, and looked around, wondering where the arrow had gone. He looked like a cat that had just entered a room for the first time.

And when he saw it embedded in a plank of wood only a few centimetres from the examiners head - who was staring toward him with an eyebrow raised - he grew panicked.

"Ah! Sorry, sorry, sorry! Didn't mean to do that."

Gengyo shook his head, not holding a grudge in the least. Still, he was surprised by such inaccuracy, especially from the boy who had shot so brilliantly on the standing targets.

He waved those concerns away, and asked him to proceed to the next mark, before he pushed the striker, and this time found something to hide behind.

This time his eyes were open by the smallest amount, allowing him to see the tiniest of slithers of the world around him. He was no longer muttering, and was instead speaking quietly.

"Please, please, please let me hit the target, please, I will give you all my flavoured rice b.a.l.l.s for a month, please, please."

Now that he had heard the contents of his begging, the young examiner wished he hadn't.

The arrow was sent, as Gengyo made sure to keep himself firmly tucked away behind his s.h.i.+eld.

THUD

'Well, he's. .h.i.t something, at least.'

He thought to himself, poking a head out to try and track it down.

To his surprise, and to that of the rest of the observers, the arrow had managed to find its way into the soft straw of the target.

He grinned upon seeing that.

'That's more like it.'

Though Kitajo was a strange lad, and his shooting style was far from conventional, he'd found himself hoping he would pa.s.s after seeing his incredible performance on the static targets. If he could learn to shoot moving targets - and perhaps with his eyes open - he would be a valuable a.s.set in the battles to come.

He watched the boy shoot his final shot with a greater amount of expectation, and was not too disappointed as he saw it miss the target by a pretty small amount.

"10 points. Congratulations Kitajo, you've pa.s.sed."

"Ah? What? But I missed?"

"Correct. But you've secured the 8 points necessary to pa.s.s."

"Oh… Oh! Ok! Thank you!"

That head of his that was inclined to a larger degree of pessimism than most finally got word of his victory, and a big smile blossomed on his face as he walked over to stand beside Masaatsu and Niiro who had also pa.s.sed.

Of the rest of the partic.i.p.ants, none was particularly impressive, but a further two managed to pa.s.s by the skin of their teeth.

And so, on Gengyo's improvised test, only 5 people had pa.s.sed, meaning that they failed to meet their quota of 10 by 4 - if you included Gengyo.

The solution to that was extremely simple, as there were 4 partic.i.p.ants that had secured 6 points.

"Since no one else managed to get 8 points, you four also pa.s.s."

He pointed to four men who had been looking rather despondent at having failed the test, cheering them up instantly.

No one dared to complain about the testings any longer, or the way the final partic.i.p.ants were chosen. As now, it had been proven, that it was done fairly and with reason and was by no means an impossible test.

Nakatane strolled over after the rest of the candidates were sent home, and only the 10 men that would serve in his bow as.h.i.+garu were left.

They stood in a line - of which Gengyo was not part of - and he walked beside them, looking into their eyes and evaluating their reactions.

'They're certainly an interesting bunch.'

Was his final conclusion. Of course, there were a couple of normal men mixed in there, but the vast majority of those who had pa.s.sed could be deemed as odd in some way. And it made sense too, for only those that had not stuck to convention had the skill set necessary to pa.s.s.

'It was a good choice to let the lad do the exam - good choice Nakatane.'

He complimented himself for his idea, and patted the lad in question on the shoulder as he did so.

A Time Traveller's Guide To Feudal Japan Chapter 38 - Yumi Ashigaru Exam (2)

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A Time Traveller's Guide To Feudal Japan Chapter 38 - Yumi Ashigaru Exam (2) summary

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