A Time Traveller's Guide To Feudal Japan Chapter 45 - An Awakened Giant
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Nakatane prowled around Ochi slowly, tracing out a circle. He attempted to force the horse to turn awkwardly, possibly breaking a leg in the process.
But his opponent was an experienced rider, and the horse was made aware of his intentions all along. There were no sudden movements, and so no risk of injury.
He stepped forward, slas.h.i.+ng upwards. The giant oaf of a man easily caught such a strike on the metallic shaft of his naginata, before sending a strike of his own toward the other man's ribs.
With both hands on his sword, he attempted to stop the swing, only to feel his feet travel a little off the floor, before gravity pulled him back without a shred of mercy.
'He's strong… far too strong."
He lamented, spitting out the blood that had filled his mouth after the momentum of the strike shook his internals.
Behind this huge mountain he could see his men, struggling on, and Jikouji darting about, a.s.sisting where he might. The tide was very much against them, and he knew that if it were to continue like this, then the chances of them winning would be virtually zero.
He had to gamble.
He drew his wakizas.h.i.+, holding it in his left hand, whilst he continued with his katana in the right.
Ochi did not care what his intentions were. He pushed forward domineeringly, sending a slash toward his shoulder, and then another lightning-fast one toward his ribs.
He held onto his katana just long enough for it to be sliced in half, before he had rolled out the way and was on his feet again, gripping his long yari.
He spared his abandoned pair of weapons a sympathetic glance. He'd had them for many years - they were given by his father on the day that he had stepped into manhood.
The mammoth held no concern about his nostalgia, and easily dodged the spear's thrusts as they came toward him and his horse.
His control of the animal was uncanny, and he moved it like an extension of his own body. Nakatane's plan to attack his mount instead of him began to crumble, as the unwieldy nature of large yari made him struggle to defend against Ochi's similarly long naginata.
Chips of wood flew everywhere, threatening to blind them. The strikes were fast and continuous. His opponent no longer cared about wounding him, it seemed, but rather about shortening that spear of his as he went to work like a lumberjack.
The smaller man did his best to make that difficult for him, by striking again and again toward the horse's rear, and toward his chest. But for every strike he shot, the mammoth sent two in return.
Eventually, as though a beaver had been at work on it, the yari started to thin in the middle, until with one final strike, Ochi aimed high, cutting toward Nakatane's head.
He was forced to raise the shaft of the spear to defend himself, but the wood splintered mightily, the whole thing snapping in half. Barely losing any of its speed, the s.h.i.+mmering blade of the naginata continued on toward his shoulder, cutting deeply.
Jikouji's anguished cry rang out.
The cloud of smoke drifted closer, as did the enemy, who were forecasting their coming with the most maddened shouts.
Akiko clumsily took command.
"E-Escort the villagers to the other side of the square… We will form up and try to deal with them."
She looked around, wondering what else to do, her mind growing numb.
A hand on her leg, and she glanced down to see Rin's face smiling rea.s.suringly up at her.
She nodded twice. Once for Rin, and another for herself.
Taking a deep breath, she filled her lungs, her eyes closing slightly. Her mind flashed with images of her loved ones. Of her sweet father that had come around, and gone to war for her sake. Of old man Jikouji who had taken care of her for the longest of times. Of s.h.i.+bata who she had always been close with. Of Rin who had recently found a place in her heart. And, of him, whom with she had a promise to keep.
She clenched her fist, the boiled leather groaning as she did so, and she reaffirmed to herself.
'I will not die.'
"How many are there?"
She asked, her voice hardened, and stronger now, and her vision calculating.
"15 my lady."
"15? We have nothing to fear then. Villagers, we will take over from here! Rest at ease, this is a foe that we can handle."
"I need twenty women who are confident in their abilities."
She spoke to her unit as they gathered around her. A few tentative hands shot into the air, whilst there were other hurried ones, such as Rin, who was nothing if not ready.
"Good. We will set an ambush at this point. Four people behind each house. The rest of you, sit amongst the villagers. Lay your weapons at your feet so they cannot be seen. Remove your helmets. If they make it past us, or if we are experiencing difficulty, I will call on you, so be ready."
She did not have a vast knowledge of military strategy, nor did she know what tactics might be best fitting for the situation they were in. But she did know how her father intended to fight today, and she knew that the surrounding buildings would allow them enough cover to do the same.
Her people hurried into position, doing as she said. She spied Rin's mother looked mightily worried as she placed her yari by her feet, removing her helmet, and sitting in between a pair of children. She nodded, pleased with how disguised they were. Unless you were expressly looking for armoured women, you would not see them.
She dismounted her horse - knowing full well how much attention that would attract her - and tied the reigns behind a building, keeping it hidden. She a.s.sumed a position next to Rin, as they grasped their medium length yari, and the calls of the mounted warriors grew closer.
An anguished cry rang across the forest. The bowmen flinched, knowing full well who that cry was referring to.
Is.h.i.+yama stood up wordlessly, and pointed to 5 guards.
"You, you… you. Come with me."
Watching him go, Gengyo panicked, grasping his arm as he tried to stop him.
"Wait, Is.h.i.+yamsan! Our mission is of the utmost importance to the outcome of this battle. If we do not accomplish it, how are we meant to grasp victory?"
The lead guard rounded on him, angrily.
"You think I don't know that!? But it's the same for them! If they lose we're f.u.c.ked!"
The frustration was evident within his voice, as he bit his lip, still wondering whether this was the correct decision. The rest of the unit were startled, seeing him grow so angry.
Gengyo's hand slid off his armour, as he grasped his hair in vexation.
The guard started to calm, seeing the boy was just as frustrated as he. He grasped onto his shoulders and shook him, bringing his face in close.
His brows twitched in confusion.
Is.h.i.+yama brought his armoured head down quickly, head-b.u.t.ting the boy between the brows.
"I said: you lead! You're a smart kid, yeah? I give my command over to you! Do not f.u.c.k it up, understand?"
"There's no f.u.c.king time! I'm gone, kid. Do you best."
The young man shook his head disbelievingly. This was the embodiment of chaos. Not once in his mind had this ever factored into the plan.
He pulled back on the arm of the head guard who was attempting to leave, and returned his headb.u.t.t, injuring himself on the hard kabuto helmet as he did so.
"You better f.u.c.king save him!"
He nodded, his anger all but disappearing.
"Yeah lad, leave it to me."
He gestured toward the men who he had chosen, and began to sprint through the forest toward the scene of battle.
Gengyo wanted to roar from the frustration he felt, but now ever single pair of eyes were on him, waiting for the next command. He struggled to calm himself, letting its brain do what it was good at.
By the sound of things, they could not rely on Nakatane's reinforcements any time soon. It would be a miracle if they won in the first place.
Toda was unlikely to stay waiting forever, and he dared say that he would likely follow the mercenaries in soon - that was, if he had not already heard the battle, which from his position so far away was unlikely, but it was not an impossibility.
It would be very difficult to hit Toda's men from the position they were in, as they were almost three hundred metres away. But at the very least, they could take out a couple of men, and if the unit chose to charge at them, they could pick off as many as they wished, before running.
The enemy had bow as.h.i.+garu of their own, but they were rendered effectively useless since he had the forest on his side, and he and his men could hide behind the trees.
But these few things were by no means enough to guarantee their victory over Toda, especially when they had so few men. They needed something extra.
The men grew closer, as did the flaming torches which they carried. The harsh hooves of the galloping horses pounded the loose stone road, send small pebbles flew everywhere.
Akiko and her group were behind the first house along such a road, whilst the rest were scattered further along.
"They're coming closer…"
Rin whispered behind her. The young girl had her eyes closed, and was concentrating entirely on the sound of beating hooves.
A flaming torch flew up into the air above them, landing lightly upon the straw roof.
Within seconds the entire roof was engulfed. Taking that as her signal, Rin pounced out like a fearsome tiger, jumping high into the air, and striking the lead rider through her neck with her sharp steel-tipped yari.
She landed gracefully, as the man collapsed behind her, his neck spurting a fountain of blood.
The other riders barely slowed, and she stood in front of them, calmly, unmoving. The horses parted before her as though she were the Moses of a four-legged sea. The hungry mercenaries did not have time to ponder why they had chosen to ride around such a young girl, but the aura about her was intimidating - bloodthirsty - and it had been their instinctual reaction.
Inspired by such courage, the rest of the group charged out from behind the house, attacking the last few horses that had not yet pa.s.sed.
Akiko aimed high, intent on piercing the man's thick chest, but the uneven footing rendered her off balance, and the blade dipped lower than it was meant to, puncturing the muscular chest of the angry black stallion.
It reared immediately, sending its rider cras.h.i.+ng against the earth. He was soon finished by another one of the women.
The horses had pa.s.sed, leaving them, and their two dead men behind. The women sped after them, watching as the second group went to work, managing to spear the flank of a horse, yet the beast kept on riding.
The third group was luckier, as a big muscular brute of a woman, Itou, tackled a horse with her shoulder after timing her charge perfectly. From such momentum there was no recovering, and the startled rider lost his helmet mid-air, only to have his brains dashed against the cobblestones a second later.
By the time the riders had arrived in the square they had slowed, and five of their men had been killed. It was not a huge number, but it was satisfactory, as the length of their shortened yari was not ideal for confronting a horseman's charge head-on.
The twenty women under Akiko's command arrived soon after, cutting off their escape route. The mercenaries glared toward them, their faces twisted in a savage irritation.
A Time Traveller's Guide To Feudal Japan Chapter 45 - An Awakened Giant
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A Time Traveller's Guide To Feudal Japan Chapter 45 - An Awakened Giant summary
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