A Time Traveller's Guide To Feudal Japan Chapter 56 - A Morbid Ceremony
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"People of Toyone, your attention please."
Nakatane called out. The crowd grew gradually quieter, and he only spoke again once silence reigned.
"We stand here victorious, despite the odds that were stacked against us. But that victory has come at a cost - as we knew it would."
"These," He motioned toward the funeral pyre, "are some of the bravest men and women to have walked this sacred land of the rising sun, and it is our duty to remember their names for eternity."
"Join me in prayer, as I ask the G.o.ds to welcome them into Takamagahara."
Jikouji pa.s.sed him a flaming torch that he carefully received with both hands before he began the ceremonial chants.
"G.o.ds, forgive the sins of us weak mortals as we beseech you to show benevolence toward us lesser beings."
He paused as he waited for the gathered people to repeat back his chant.
"These men and women, though lowly in life, in death they awakened their G.o.dly blood, and proved their right to stand in your presence."
"We ask that you grant them safe pa.s.sage, and that they are able to experience all that they could not on this mortal plane."
With that the chants reached their conclusion, and he pointed the flickering flame toward a nearby bundle of kindling that had been purposely left exposed. It took but a moment for the fire to catch, and it spread very quickly.
With a series of crackling, the entire base was drenched in a flame that climbed up to the top of the pyramid, soaking the corpses in its warmth.
There were very few who did not shed a tear as they watched their friends and family being devoured by the hungry flame. The ash drifted skyward, and they prayed that it was enough for their loved ones to make it to a better place.
Nakatane and Jikouji watched Is.h.i.+yama's body disappear into the flames, as their grief rose up even stronger than before. The master clenched his fist, feeling rage at the loss of his head guardsman who had served by his side for many years. He attempted to hide the tears that he shed, but it did not escape the old man who knew him well, for his face was similarly drenched.
The darkness of mortality was lit up by the sacrifices of those that had fallen before them. To mourn was to show respect. But to show grief for too long would be to the great sadness of those we care for, for it renders their sacrifice irrelevant, for you stand even weaker than before.
At least, that was the sentiment they held when they struggled to smile despite the wave of grief that washed over them. For some it was easier than others, but the attempt was still made.
Heaving a deep sigh, Nakatane attempted to set aside his sadness - at least for now - and addressed his people once more.
He paused, his voice choking. Jikouji grasped his shoulder firmly, nodding slightly, to show his support.
The master returned the nod, drawing in a deep breath, before beginning again.
"I will move onto a lighter topic now. Rewards! Haha!"
He forced a hearty laugh, despite its difficulty. A few managed to chuckle in return, as ears perked up at the mention of reward.
"All who served - including the women - will receive 10 silver coins for their service. If a member of your family that served has pa.s.sed away, then that will be 50 silver coins. You may collect it on their behalf."
Whispers pa.s.sed over the crowd as the people discussed the reward.
"10 silver coins!? That… That's enough to feed us for 10 years! How? How is the master able to afford this?"
The rewards were immense, and Gengyo nodded with approval. He knew that no matter what it took the master would do his best to do right by his people. But he did not know quite the extent the master had gone. His treasury had been entirely cleaned out in order to give this prize to the people.
His family would certainly struggle with coin for a while… But he hoped that they might find something in Toda's residence that would make up for their losses. Of course, he was prepared not to find anything at all as well.
Jikouji handed him a scroll that contained the name's of everyone in the village who had served in battle. It also marked whether such people had died or not. It was a rather morbid thing to read, and as his eyes pa.s.sed of the name Is.h.i.+yama, he felt something tighten.
Clearing his throat he began to read them out.
"Reizei Koresuke… 10 silver coins. Please come forward to collect your reward."
A middle-aged man stepped forward, carrying himself with a bit of a limp. Nakatane plunged his hand into a small chest of coins, and counted out ten before placing them firmly into the man's hands.
"Thank you for your service."
The man bowed gratefully, almost overwhelmed by the amount of money he was holding. He grasped it tightly with both hands, walking through the crowd with them still firmly clasped, making certain that he would not drop a single coin.
When the man had once more returned to the ma.s.s that was the crowd, the master continued on with the list, calling the name of a deceased woman. Her 11-year-old daughter came forth on her behalf, encouraged by her father. Nakatane offered her a smile, handing her the coins kindly, and doing his best not to increase her nervousness.
The going was rather slow because the master made sure to give each recipient his full attention, but none grew bored, for the antic.i.p.ation of such a handsome reward was enough to still any restlessness.
Men from Gengyo's unit were soon called up, much to the encouraging cheers of their comrades, who slapped them on the back as they pa.s.sed through the crowd. The men marvelled at the amount of coin that they returned with, struggling to believe that it was real.
Morohira's name was called, and he pa.s.sed through the crowd with confidence. As he neared the front, someone shouted out to him.
He turned to see the raised fist of Kus.h.i.+zu, who had battled alongside Morohira. The two had a certain respect for each other, especially since that b.l.o.o.d.y affair. 'The beast' received the praise with a hearty chuckle, as he raised his fist back.
"Aye! I'm the b.l.o.o.d.y beast!"
His deep shout was almost a roar, and soon other men offered a few shouts, hailing him as the beast. Aritada and Yoritomo joined in. There was not a single man more deserving of such a t.i.tle. He had fought like a man possessed, inspiring a degree of fear even within his own comrades.
Nakatane watched the exchanges with amus.e.m.e.nt, handing him the coins.
Morohira glanced down toward his palms, counting the coins just to be sure.
"Hang on, master, you've put 11 here."
"A fitting reward for 'the beast', would you not agree?"
A chuckle spread amongst the crowd, and the two men shared a grin. Grasping the coins in his hand, he nodded toward the master with respect, before turning back to walk toward the crowd.
Rin was next up, encouraged on by Akiko who stood beside her. Other women amongst the crowd wanted to offer her their support as well, though they were a little more reserved than the men, and only deigned it polite to do so silently.
"I heard from my daughter that you fought like a tigress, young Miurkun."
Nakatane praised as he handed her the reward.
She blushed slightly at the praise from someone of such high standing, but still, she attempted to accept it humbly.
"It was your daughter that fought like a lioness, sir."
She responded tentatively.
He smiled at her response as he watched her go with a certain amount of approval.
And then Masaatsu walked up, his expression firm - though it threatened to break at any moment from the shouts that came from his unit.
"Go on Miura! Get those coins!"
The shouts were so foolish, but it was intentionally so. It had quickly become a game to see if they could make the recipient laugh as he went up to collect his reward.
To his credit, he managed to remain composed, but as soon as he returned back to the men, he quickly broke into a fit of laughter. Gengyo grinned widely, seeing his brother laugh so fiercely.
But that could not distract him from the nervousness that sat upon his chest. It began in his stomach as a series of b.u.t.terflies that soon flittered up toward his heart. He wondered why he felt nervous about collecting a simple reward in front of this amount of people? He had done so without a hint of emotion in front of crowds hundreds of times this amount.
'Perhaps… Perhaps it's because I care what these people think of me?'
"Miura Tadakata! Come up and collect your reward."
His name was spoken, and his thoughts immediately narrowed. The nervousness intensified and he felt a rush of adrenaline.
He stepped through the crowd of people that parted upon his walk outwards. They looked towards him, watching him pa.s.s. He wondered why the crowd was so silent.
A shout rang out, and he glanced back to see the raised fist of Rokkaku. His normally relaxed face and cheerful smile were gone. His expression had hardened into one of complete seriousness.
A series of other men raised their fists to call his name, his brother and Kitajo amongst them.
And then, the entire unit had their fists raised after calling his name. He stared back at them, his body overcome by a sudden chill. The look in their eyes was fearsome. He could not process the fact that these men, with those expressions, were calling his name.
Time felt slowed as he turned back around, only to hear another barrage of cheers spur him onwards.
He met Nakatane's gaze, and his steps paused. In his eyes he saw reflected the same intensity that had been demonstrated by the men he had led.
It took a great effort to resume his walk forward, and he felt as though it took an eternity.
He arrived next to Nakatane, and stepped up onto the wooden platform, affording him a view of the entire crowd.
The master put his hand on his shoulder, and turned with him to face the crowd.
"Now… Miura here. Hmm… What should we do with him? Will ten silver coins cut it?"
Rokkaku called out, quickly putting a hand over his mouth, realising that he had spoken out of turn.
"Hahaha. I agree! The boy led only 15 men against Toda's 100. Well… 110. And the little rascal actually won! So, what do we give to the boy that killed Toda with his own hands?"
A man called out.
"1 GOLD COIN!"
"A HORSE, BECAUSE HE WENT AND KILLED THE OTHER ONE!"
Rokkaku shouted, much to the amus.e.m.e.nt of the rest of the crowd.
Nakatane also smiled at that.
"That's good… It is good. But those do not utilise his particular talents… Instead, I'll offer him this: join me, and become the leader of my - not yet formed - special forces unit. I'll give you 3 days to-"
He did not manage to finish his speech, as the youth beside him forecast his eagerness.
Gengyo shouted unreservedly, perhaps a little too keen.
"Are you sure? It's a position of great responsibility…"
He nodded seriously, repeating himself.
In battle, he had discovered a side of himself that he did not know existed. Now that the war was over, he had not known what direction to pursue. And then, Nakatane, had offered him - a peasant - the position of a lifetime. A position that would guarantee the safety of his family. And above all, a position that would allow him to fight alongside those brilliant men that he had discovered when times were the toughest.
"MIURA!! MIURA!! MIURA!!"
His men shouted their roaring approval, sharing his sentiment. They could not step back in the realms of men after they had tasted what it meant to be a G.o.d.
Just putting it here because I often find myself ignoring the designated authors thought when I'm reading.
As forecast, Gengyo has stepped up in the world. What this means is, of course, an even more exciting novel, as he has more opportunities as a character. What I have planned is exciting even me, and I can't wait to right it.
Also, I want to thank you. The support over this last week has been incredible. I think, perhaps, you are one of the best - if not the best - fanbase on this entire platform. We didn't quite meet out 250 powerstones goal... but that's okay! I think we'll definitely meet it this week! How about, we keep it lower, and shoot for 260? I'm pretty confident we can get this, as the amount of followers has increased substantially since last week! And as always, if we manage it, I'll release two bonus chapters on sunday ^_^.
A Time Traveller's Guide To Feudal Japan Chapter 56 - A Morbid Ceremony
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A Time Traveller's Guide To Feudal Japan Chapter 56 - A Morbid Ceremony summary
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