A Time Traveller's Guide To Feudal Japan Chapter 54 - Meeting With The Master

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"Tasty?"

"Mm…"

It had not taken long for his body to realize how hungry it was, and before he knew it he was wolfing down the food.

His family watched on as though he was some exciting zoo exhibit.

"Brother… I should let the master know you've woken up - he was strict about making me promise to do so."

Gengyo nodded without inhibition.

"By all means. I wish to see him too."

Masaatsu nodded his understanding before turning to leave out of the door.

His younger brother heaved a sigh as he stretched back, enjoying the feeling of being full. Aside from the dull aching pain, he felt very much alive, especially after two day's rest.

"Dad, will you help me in to see mother before the master comes?"

Morohiro nodded, slipping an arm under his shoulder and helping him to his feet. A wave of dizziness. .h.i.t and he almost fell over.

"You alright?"

"Yeah, just a bit dizzy."

Rin went ahead and opened the doors, making sure there wouldn't be anything in their way. With each step the skin around his abdomen and chest was forced to stretch, irritating the wounds that lay around there.

With a brief spark of curiosity, he was almost tempted to inspect them, wondering what was just so bad about his injuries that the doctors had rendered him dead. But after recalling the expression his family members had worn when talking of them, he thought he better not.

f.u.ku lay asleep in a pillowed bed that sat slightly off the floor. She looked comfortable, but her face was a frightening shade of white.

"What happened to her?"

He felt a new kind of stabbing sensation in the pit of his stomach seeing his beautiful mother looking so frail.

"A b.a.s.t.a.r.d speared her side."

Morohira informed him, clenching his fist in anger. Seeing him like that Gengyo could appreciate exactly what he was feeling. No doubt if his father had been there, then something like that would definitely not have happened.

"So Toda really did send men to attack the village? That sc.u.m. How many did we lose, Rin?"

Rin answered immediately. Each loss was still fresh on her mind, and she regretted them intensely, feeling that if she were to act faster, and more efficiently, then no one should have died at all.

"Five. But a few more are wounded… It's not very good, but Akiko, I mean, Niwsan, did all she could."

"Not very good? Are you kidding? The whole village would have been slaughtered had you not fought. In comparison, five losses is very little."

She looked up at her older brother, searching for any trace of deceit in his eyes, but she could find none. He meant it exactly as he said it.

"I suppose so… but still…"

He reached out to pat her head.

"I know. It hurts. I feel the same. But it should hurt. The least we can do for the dead is mourn them. I hope we never reach the point where the death of our comrades does not bother us."

"Mmm, I guess you're right…"

Morohira shrugged, chiming in.

"Aye, I agree with the kid, but of course there's always a simpler solution."

Both turned to him expectantly.

"And what might that be?"

"Just don't die."

He said with a straight face as though he truly believed he'd cracked the riddle.

There was silence for a few seconds, before a slapping sound resounded throughout the room, as Gengyo face palmed dramatically.

"Rin… Remind me never to take father seriously."

She nodded firmly.

"Mhm, got it!"

Morohira looked startled, as though he was genuinely confused, looking from one sibling to another, searching for some support, and growing increasingly desperate as they continued to blank him.

"Eh?! What do you mean?!"

They left him to suffer for a while, as Gengyo allowed himself a smile now that he was satisfied his mother was okay. Putting his hands on his lower back, he stretched backwards, enjoying the pleasurable sensation of loosening his muscles.

Perhaps it was because he'd been in bed for two days, but he simply could not get enough of stretching.

He was mid-stretch as Masaatsu walked back in, staring for a couple of seconds wondering why his brother was standing so strangely.

"Stretching."

He informed him pointedly.

"Oh."

Masaatsu nodded a couple of times to himself, clearing up whatever was going on inside his head.

"Ahem. I've spoken to Jikouji-san. He's going to inform the master and they'll be here very soon."

"Alright. Let's head to the dining area so we don't disturb mother's rest."

He wandered out of the room slowly, struggling to keep his balance whilst avoiding the worst of the pain. It made for an unusual looking walk, but it helped to keep the pain to a minimum.

He heaved a sigh as he sat himself down with his legs crossed behind one side of the low table, looking out of the open door at the pleasant suns.h.i.+ne warming the pebbled road outside.

Rin sat herself down beside him, whilst Morohira sat at the narrower end of the table right next to them. Masaatsu preferred to stand.

Gengyo's fingers drummed on the surface of the table, filling the otherwise silent room with a steady tapping noise. The arrival of the master seemed to have sombred the rest of the family's mood.

'Perhaps they're nervous.'

He proposed to himself, as he glanced around wondering why everyone looked so stiff. It was only then that he realized what he was doing with his fingers. He immediately stopped, hoping his body had not done that in an attempt to imitate Nakatane.

A dragonfly flitted its way confidently into the room, buzzing past Gengyo's head. With a quick movement, he caught it from the air, cupping it within his hands, not harming it in the least.

He sat there admiring the creature's beautiful blue body, reaffirming his conviction that he was very happy to be alive.

Nakatane and Jikouji soon arrived, and slipped off their sandals by the door. Gengyo ushered the dragonfly out of his palm, and stood up with the rest of his family as they bowed toward the master. For his part, the master simply waved his hand, dismissing the formalities.

"No need for that."

He sat down at the table opposite Gengyo, who hastened to sit down as well. Jikouji sat by his side. Nakatane spent a good while staring, looking him up and down.

Masaatsu interpreted this silence to have another meaning, and motioned toward his family.

"Come, we should leave Tadakata to talk with the master alone."

They nodded without the slightest hesitation. The atmosphere was far too heavy for them, and they would take any opportunity to escape should it present itself.

Gengyo watched them go with a sigh. If they had known Nakatane better, then he doubted they would feel so uncomfortable around him. Granted, he was in a position far above their own, but his personality made such a social gap easily breachable.

Though it was not his intention to make the rest of the young man's family leave, Nakatane did not stop them, for it would make his conversation easier.

They listened to the footsteps gradually quieten upon the loose stones that lined the path.

"How the h.e.l.l are you alive?"

Nakatane asked pointedly.

"Pardon, Niwsan?"

"I saw the state of you. Several of your vitals were pierced. By rights you should have died days ago."

He raised his eyebrow at this new information. The master had no reason to lie.

"Hmm… Perhaps I simply recover fast?"

The master shook his head in exasperation.

"Are you showing off, kid? My wounds were not nearly as bad as yours, and I'm still walking around like someone stuck a pipe up my a.r.s.e."

Gengyo chuckled lightly at his phraseology, enjoying seeing a more casual side to the master.

"Nakatane, such language is unbefitting of the master of the Niwa household."

Jikouji corrected gently, though he too was smiling.

"Eh, it's fine."

He took in a deep breath, bringing himself back to the conversation that he wanted to have.

"Regardless… I'm glad you're alive."

Jikouji seconded that.

"As am I, young man. It would appear you've taken what I said about the warrior spirit seriously."

"Ah, thank you. I'm rather glad to be alive as well."

Even with the seriousness, it was almost impossible for Gengyo to allow his good mood to spoil, and he could not help but speak lightly.

"Oh, by the way, good job on defeating the mercenaries. That was very well done. I heard it was thanks to you that I'm alive."

Nakatane's smile wavered slightly when he brought up their battle with the mercenaries.

"Aye… But still, we did not manage to do it without Is.h.i.+yama's help. Had he not have come… We'd probably all be dead."

"He had me worried when he left, but I'm glad he managed to help you. Where is he now? Normally wouldn't he be with you?"

Jikouji and the master shared a sad glance before turning back to Gengyo, who was trying to decipher just what that glance meant.

"Is.h.i.+yama… Is.h.i.+yama died bravely slaying a monster, granting us victory in the battle."

The old man spoke solemnly, struggling to keep his voice from choking.

The smile faded from the young man's face as he took in the loss of yet another comrade.

"I'm… d.a.m.n it… I didn't know him well, but he was certainly a good man."

"Aye lad, he was one of the best. When we came and found you after you'd killed Toda, we thought history was repeating itself. I'm glad the G.o.ds were not so vicious."

Nakatane spoke truthfully. In the face of such comments the young man could no longer joke. The conversation lapsed into silence for a while, before Gengyo voiced a question.

"Has much happened whilst I was out?"

"No… Everyone's just been trying to recover. We have not yet even set foot in Tobis.h.i.+ma, so only the G.o.d's know what we'll find there."

Nakatane tapped his fingers upon the table, trying to recall anything else of note.

"Ah, tonight, we will gather in the marketplace and hold the funerals. Will you be well enough to attend?"

"Yes. There are a few people I need to pay my respects to."

Jikouji voiced his concerns at that.

"There's no way you can walk the distance into town with the state of your body. Even a horse would be burdensome for you… but still, you cannot ride, can you?"

Gengyo scratched the back of his awkwardly with a shy smile.

"Actually… I learned recently."

The two older gentlemen stared at him, gobsmacked.

"Are you telling me what those men said is true, then? That would mean… You only learned how to ride during the battle?"

Jikouji's voice was filled with disbelief as he voiced the facts.

"Something like that…"

Nakatane opened his mouth to speak, only to close it again with a shake of his head.

"Very well. I will prepare you a horse for travel this evening."

Jikouji spoke, sounding a bit more helpless than before.

'Perhaps I should have kept that a secret?'

Gengyo pondered, seeing how soul crushed the two older men were feeling.

'Is it really that impressive, though?'

A Time Traveller's Guide To Feudal Japan Chapter 54 - Meeting With The Master

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