VOLUME ONE: TAKEDA RISING
Clatter of hooves,
We march at dawn
I: First blood
1545 - Spring
We had come back from tending to the land. Kai was blossoming in the Spring sunshine, and what we saw gave us hope for the clan's future. Our people are numerous, and proud of our heritage as horsemen. Harunobu had become an able leader, and our cavalry, so famed throughout Japan, was beginning to regain its strength.
These were dangerous times, but we had no reason to fear anyone, for we are the Takeda.
I, Takeda Nobushige, am the brother of our daimyo. Father had intimated that I assume that position instead, but what is past is gone now. Harunobu had been a good daimyo and a caring brother to Nobukado and myself. The fortunes of our clan were more important now, and serving it would be my greatest honour, in life or glorious death.
The lone messenger who disturbed the council of elders practically threw himself into the courtyard, and now lay prostrate before us. The elder generals reacted with angry stares to this transgression, but said nothing as Harunobu beckoned him to speak. Such a dramatic entrance surely meant an urgent matter at hand.
“Tono, our scouts have reported a Murakami force entering the north of Kai. They numbered many, and seemed to be headed to Kofu. We must do something.”
A sudden hush befell the council, followed by murmurs of surprise and discussions of the appropriate response, Harunobu demanded silence with the rise of his hand, and all of us fell quiet. Some among our ranks had long been eager to wage war against the treacherous Murakami, but now that this day had come, they watched their daimyo intently, eagerly awaiting his command.
“The day has come. We march at day break.”
We found the Murakami camped upon a hill. Our scouts had done well, and we were pleased to see that we had an advantage. Sensing our superiority, Harunobu addressed the troops, reminding them of the duty they were bound by. To protect Kai and its people, to honour the Takeda name, and to wipe these treacherous swine from our land.
Harunobu had positioned the cavalry wide right, and it was these brave men who led the assault on the hill. It would be a steep climb, but our horsemen would expect no less. As they were about to engage, however, they turned and the enemy ashigaru followed. The ruse had worked perfectly, as waiting for these men were the finest samurai. Butchery would not have been a strong word for what ensued.
Harunobu ordered his men to dismount and I followed suit. Horses were a precious commodity, and being on mounted would offer us no advantage over the enemy’s yari. I ordered my men to join our brave brothers, and charged into the fray. An arrow whistled past my ear as I thrusted my trusted katana into the first enemy solder. Our men fought valiantly, and brave men were cut down on both sides.
Meanwhile, the cavalry had ploughed into the enemy archers, causing great cries of pain and despair among the enemy who were handily cut down. As the tide of battle began to turn Harunobu threw himself into the fray, and the sight of our daimyo leading the line inspired us all. Quickly enough the Murakami dogs faltered, and we duly gave chase. We pursued for several miles and the enemy were vanquished utterly.
The Murakami would regret the day they set foot in Kai. This was just the beginning.