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Thread: Red Snow - A Battle AAR - finished'

  1. #1
    waveman's Avatar Decanus
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    Default Red Snow - A Battle AAR - finished'


    Red Snow



    Sakamoto Tadayoshi shivered. He shivered in the crisp mornings when he woke up and donned his armor, as he did every morning for the day's march. He also shivered through the march. And he shivered at night around the cooking fires every night, and in his bedroll. He longed for the warmth of another, perhaps Hirio, perhaps one of the girls from his town's pleasure house, small as it was, but Hirio was dead and those girls far, far away.


    Hirio was dead, and so was Hiro, though they had looked nothing alike. And Terada. So many of the young men he had marched out with during the summer were dead. Even his lord Rukasa Terunari was dead, despite his men's best efforts; nearly forty of the hundred men he had summoned to his banners had fallen trying to protect him, another twenty in trying to protect his body and head. They had, at least, succeeded. Tadayoshi had waded through the blood and corpses with the survivors and had taken many heads. It did not make up for the loss of so many comrades, no, but it was something. They had died worthy deaths and the heads taken in that field honored them.


    Tadayoshi had warm clothes, but the wind readily found the great gashes in them. The edges of the holes were crusty with dried blood, even more so than the rest of his garments. He focused on placing one foot in front of the other. He had come to a sort of agreement with Muto Ittetsu wherein they would slap the other awake if he looked to be falling asleep on his feet.

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  2. #2
    waveman's Avatar Decanus
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    Default Re: Red Snow - A Battle AAR

    Just a short little side project about a desperate battle in the snow while I collect my thoughts for my other writings

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    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Default Re: Red Snow - A Battle AAR

    A brilliant image and an evocative tale, nicely done.

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    waveman's Avatar Decanus
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    Default Re: Red Snow - A Battle AAR

    The blue and gold banners of the Date warriors fluttered gaily, unaware that their bearers suffered in the biting cold. And yet Date Masamune had to continue his march north or, should he have decided to wait out the winter, face even greater odds of seeing his ambitions dashed.


    In the previous Autumn, he had marched north with his armies and his brother Yoshimune along the western coast of Japan. They had gone to challenge an alliance of three clans in the north that had banded together to counter his recent expansion: the Ando, the Onodera, and the Nikaho. Nikaho Kiyohisa had been reluctant to engage in such an alliance, but, being the southernmost of these three, had been persuaded by the others that such an alliance was indeed necessary. And so the Date had crashed over his border-forts, their blue banners and armor an unstopable wave, and seized the Nikaho fortress of Honjo.


    Onodera Kagemichi, daimyo of the Onodera clan to the east of the Nikaho had realized how precarious his situation had become with the fall of his ally, for now he faced a war to the west with the Date and another to the east against the Shiiba. He sent envoys requesting peace and sent a magnificent sword, pledging his loyalty and apologizing for his part in the war. And so of the three lords of the north who had been united against the Date, one was dead, one cowed; the third and most powerful, Ando Kiyosue marched from the north in the dead of winter.


    Date Masamune had elected to march north and meed the Ando army although it outnumbered his own. He could not afford a protracted siege which would allow Ando Kiyosue to continue to gather reinforcements and resentful Nikaho warriors to his banners.






    With their lord Rukasa-sama dead, the survivors of his men elected Muto Ittetsu, Sakamoto Tadayoshi, and another man, Ikehara Yoshitoki to attend a meeting called by their daimyo. Ando Kiyosue's outriders had been spotted, including the banners of his favorite general, Toshiba Shigemura. The lord of the Date had decided to halt and wait for his enemy to approach - a tactic that exhibited far more patience than he was known for; the men suspected it was the influence of his brother.


    The chosen field was, like the rest of the country, covered in snow. A large hillock with a steep, rocky northern face would anchor the left flank of the Date. To the north and east was a shallow, flat depression: the main line would be stretched across here, though it would be stretched thin, with the eastern flank left open but for a small copse of trees.


    The great lords were now trying to marshall the men into positions, but with many of their lords dead it was proving difficult - Ando Kiyosue had chosen his time to strike well. They were now discussing the hill to the west - who was to hold it, and how. Masamune had decided to place two yumi-shu on it to a total of somewhat under four hundred bowmen and his advisers agreed unanimously. Their argument stemmed instead from how many spearmen to have guard the hill- or whether there should be any there at all. Oniniwa Michimori and Date Yoshimune wanted a full complement of spearmen - at least two hundred men, possibly three - but their lord was insistent on holding every last yari-shu in the main battle line.


    "We need to protect the archers," Michimori was shouting. For another man, this would have been a dangerous act with Masamune, but Michimori knew his lord valued his advice greatly and having Michimori's head affixed firmly to his shoulders even more. "They could send one hundred men, less if they were all samurai, and kill or route the archers!"


    "Those men are needed for the battle line." Masamune was resolute. "We could sent perhaps a few men..."


    "A few men are nothing!" cried Michimori. "We need to anchor our flank!"


    "He is right," murmured Yoshimune, and a few of the gathered lords murmured their agreement. "Perhaps we could send a small contingent brother - but I worry that such a small group could be labeled cowards if the left sees no fighting, and if they do, they will surely all perish."


    "Very well," said Masamune. "Who among you can spare some men for the hill?"


    Tadayoshi looked at his companions. Ittetsu was staring listlessly ahead. Yoshitoki met his eyes and nodded briefly. Tadayoshi rose and spoke tentatively, "Date-sama, if you will accept us, with my late lord Rukasa-sama's men and a few others, we have fifty men. We would like the honor of holding the left flank." He knelt. He could feel the the generals' gaze on him as they took his measure. Finally, Masamune gave his approval.
    Last edited by waveman; November 24, 2015 at 01:05 PM. Reason: atrocious spelling

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  5. #5

    Default Re: Red Snow - A Battle AAR

    Oooooh, so atmospheric and intriguing. The screenshot was stunning, really took my breath away, oh Shogun 2 why are you so pretty? It doesn't have to be said that the writing matched the quality easily of the screenshot however.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Red Snow - A Battle AAR

    They were drawn up on the northwest part of the hill, just under the crest, standing over the sheer stone northern face and overlooking the plains to the north. This would allow them the best view of the approaching Ando army so they could move to counter - or delay - any attacks made from the west. Their position just under the crest meant that they could not see their own army, but they could hear the men and horses chattering nervously. Around one in twenty of the four thousand Date warriors could be considered high-ranking samurai, men who served the great lords year round and were fearsome, well-disciplined warriors; the rest were foot soldiers and jizamurai, the warrior-farmers.


    Tadayoshi looked around. There were about sixty spearmen gathered around two braziers, and between three and four hundred archers on the hill. In the distance they could just make out through the swirling snow some Ando horsemen and a few yari-shu shuffling into position several ri to the north, but Date Masamune was resolutely holding his defensive position.


    "Yet another battle," Ittetsu murmured. He patted the hilts of his swords. Though they were not nearly as finely crafted or decorated as the blades of the high-ranking samurai, they had still done a remarkable job in the battle for Honjo.


    "Indeed," agreed Tadayoshi. "Though I wish they would hurry up and attack us."


    Ittetsu laughed. "So eager for an attack? I myself am enjoying this moment, the snow made crisper by impending death, the flakes of snow indiscernible as men in an army."


    Tadayoshi shrugged. "Might as well be sooner as later, they will attack us eventually. We will be dead or alive all the same, just sooner."


    Ittetsu shook his head. "Make no mistake, I am as ready for battle as I was last week, and if it is my fate to fall in this one then I shall die gladly, but until that moment I shall enjoy the snow in its look if not its feel." Some of the men laughed quietly at this, glad of the distraction, others nodded in agreement, while others still were lost in their own thoughts. "How old are you?" Ittetsu asked.


    "Twenty-two, I think," muttered Tadayoshi, staring into the fire.


    "Ah, still young then," said Ittetsu. "This is my thirty-third winter."


    "Still young then yourself!" barked another man at the fire with a toothy grin. "This is my fortieth winter."


    "And likely the last," muttered another man. This ushered in an awkward silence.


    It was broken by the arrival of Ikehara Yoshitoki, who was blissfully unaware of the sour note the previous conversation had ended on. "I was just talking with the taisho of the bowmen. He says that our lord has chosen a wonderful site for this battle: his archers will have great range and a perfect view of the field. So, Ittetsu, what will you do after this battle?"


    "I am assuming you mean if we win," the veteran said dryly. "That will mean we were not attacked then. I will return home to my family. My son Ittenaga has come of age and wears his hair dressed as a man now, but my daughter is still young. She will need to be married in a year or so. My son can tend to my lands, but it would be nice to be back."


    "Ah, but what if we are attacked, and we beat them away?" Tadayoshi asked.


    Ittetsu sighed, then shrugged. "Then we will have performed heroic deeds and will be greatly rewarded by the lords. I cannot know what the reward might be so it is hard to say."


    "I would buy a larger farm," said Yoshitoki, "and sake. Lots of sake," and nodded wisely, and Tadayoshi chuckled in agreement.


    "You fools," the older man who had spoken before snorted. "Are neither of you married? You shall have to worry about that at some point."


    "I have no great prospects," Tadayoshi said indifferently. "I suspect I will need to distinguish myself in battle before I worry about a wife."


    "And then she will worry about you," said Yoshitoki. "What about Master Muto's daughter? I am in need of a wife, and he said she will be ready to marry in a year..."


    "If you thought..." Muto Ittetsu began, but they were brought back to reality by the ringing call of a conch shell. As one they turned to the north to see the Ando forces marching towards them.
    Last edited by waveman; November 30, 2015 at 01:18 AM.

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    waveman's Avatar Decanus
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    Default Re: Red Snow - A Battle AAR

    Thank you MErchant for your eloquent and ever-kind words, and Alwyn for your earlier commment

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    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Default Re: Red Snow - A Battle AAR

    Great dialogue in your latest chapter, I enjoyed the way that you built up the conversation about men being still young and then added a twist. Looking forward to more!

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    waveman's Avatar Decanus
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    Default Re: Red Snow - A Battle AAR

    Thanks Alwyn, here it is



    "Watanage-sama is a wise man and good commander Tadayoshi. Look at how his archers obey him," Yoshitoki was pointing at the nearest yumi-shu. The men were waiting, silent, for their commander's word.

    "Perhaps you should marry his daughter?" Tadayoshi said to his friend, who smiled, while Ittetsu acted offended. Then he cuffed them lightly.

    "Quiet now. They are about to begin."

    At an order barked by Watanage, the archers let lose a volley of long arrows. The air hummed with the sound snapping of bows and the thrum of bowstrings, followed by the sound of the arrows ripping through the air. Soon over a thousand shafts had been launched at the Ando, dotting the snow. They could see the several of the red-clad figures dropping with each volley. Soon the sounds of archery was coming from the other side of the hill as well, and the Ando halted briefly to engage in the archery duel, but it did not last long and soon the bulk of Ando Kiyosue's army was moving forward again - forward and out of sight of the spearmen on the hill.

    The arrows continued to fly, and a few flitted back towards the men on the hill. One of the archers fell with an arrow in his thigh and sat clutching it while another lay still, the bloody head of an arrow protruding from his back.

    There was a great crash, and war cries and shouts of pain followed with the ringing of metal and wood. The great clamour continued for some time, but the men on the hill were left to wonder what was happening a mere 5 minute's walk from them, and still the arrows flew.

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  10. #10

    Default Re: Red Snow - A Battle AAR

    Wonderful work waveman! The banter and chat between the soldiers pre-battle gives it a real authentic feeling and you did a great job describing the bitter cold. I am eager to find out what happens next to the men waiting on the hill and if perhaps you're going to also add a viewpoint from perhaps the soldiers fighting on the mainline.

  11. #11
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Default Re: Red Snow - A Battle AAR

    Great update, waveman!

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    Default Re: Red Snow - A Battle AAR

    After some time, Tadayoshi and Yoshitoki crept forward to see what was happening in the battle. The archers were standing in looser formation now to make them harder targets. A few dozen had been wounded or killed but the rest continued to launch arrows and the Ando archers and foot soldiers.


    They walked behind the archers, caerfeul not to get in the way of their deadly work, and after some time reached the crest of the hill. From there they could look down into the roiling sea of chaos as eight thousands struggled to kill each other and churned the virgin snow into a foul mire of bloody mud. Signals were given by banners and the conch shells, with both Ando Kiyosue and Date Masamune directing men where they thought their enemy's line weakest, or their own liable to break.


    Yoshitoki and Tadayoshi watched this for some time, shivering in the wind. Eventally Yoshitoki turned to trudge back to the braziers and the rest of the men, but Tadayoshi remained behind to watch for a little longer.


    Then, to his horror, one of the last contingents Ando spearmen abrupbtly changed directions, veering to their right - the left of the Date lines - and away from the main engagement, which was locked in a bloody stalemate.


    Sakamoto Tadayoshi stood, transfixed, as the men in Ando red marched towards his death. Frozen, like the world around him. Frozen, like the flakes of snow Muto Ittetsu had been admiring. Frozen, unil he broke off in a sprint back towards his comerades in an explosion of snow.


    "Yoshitoki! Yoshitoki! Watanage!!!"



    ***********************************************

    Thank you Merchant, Alwyn; now things are taking a dramatic turn

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    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Default Re: Red Snow - A Battle AAR

    Great update! The image of Sakamoto Tadayoshi standing still as the enemy march to end his life, with the triple of use 'Frozen' and the 'explosion of snow', is a brilliant piece of descriptive writing.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Red Snow - A Battle AAR

    Great work waveman, as Alwyn, brilliant use of prose in this chapter in capturing Tadayoshi's fear.

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    waveman's Avatar Decanus
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    Default Re: Red Snow - A Battle AAR

    Watanage's men were whipping arrows into the formation of Ando soldiers as fast as they could, but the Ando archers themselves had shifted their focus to them, and the hail of steel was reducing the effectiveness of the Date bowmen. Still, they grimly launched shaft after shaft at the plodding crimson-clad soldiers, knee deep in snow, who left a red trail of bodies and snow in their wake.


    Tadayoshi gripped his yari tightly. There was no banter now. Only a surreal stillness in the soldiers, as if by refusing to move they could become statues impervious to the machinations of man or halt time itself.


    The only sound was of the whispering and howling wind around them, wreaking havoc on the archers' aim and stirring up snow flurries, softening the sound of the melee that was raging on the other side of the hill.


    The hill they were defending had a jagged face, nearly a sheer drop, on the north side. A gentle slope to the east was held by the main Date lines, the solid anchor of a line thousands strong. The jagged north face wrapped around to the south on the near-unguarded west side of the hill, and eased into a steeper slope there that melded the hill to the flat land around it. It was here that the warriors of the Date stood, waiting for their inevitable end as their breath fogged in the frigid air. If there was any consolation, it was that this steep side of the hill blocked much of the wind. That and they would die as honorable warriors in the service of their lord.


    They heard a muffled cry before it was whipped away by the wind, and time returned to its normal speed. The faint ring of arrows glancing off armor, cries as men were struck and the softer sound of the shafts embedding themselves in the snow, and the crunching sound of hundreds of men fighting their way through the snow.


    Tadayoshi looked to his right at Yoshitoki; they made eye contact and exchanged nods. Ittetsu patted him calmly on the shoulder, and the frindly old man who had spoken earlier was standing with his eyes closed. Watanage-sama was screaming at his bowmen.


    And the first Ando spearman emerged from behind a boulder, bulling his way through the snow.

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    waveman's Avatar Decanus
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    Default Re: Red Snow - A Battle AAR

    Not sure if this post got lost in the rollback, but here it is. I'll have the next one up shortly

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    Default Re: Red Snow - A Battle AAR

    The world slowed to a crawl. The Ando man started and stopped dead in his tracks. His comrades who had followed him stared at the small contingent of Date warriors blocking their path, who in turn gazed back at the men who would surely be end.


    Sakamoto Tadayoshi gulped. Muto Ittetsu's hands were white on the shaft of his yari. Ikehara Yoshitoki simply stared, open-mouthed.


    A Date warrior stepped forward into the swirling snow. His voice, young and raw, cracked as he challenged the Ando. "I am Munayori Shigemori!. I, of the Date clan, challenge you and say that you shall not pass this point while I can yet hold a weapon." His voice grew firm as he finished the declaration, and he planted his spear in the snow before reverently drawing a nondescript blade - a tachi - that was much longer than the katanas that most of the sword-wearers carried.


    A great barrel of a man, short but broader than any two men there followed suit, declaring his name to be Horaoji Fusumitse. A handful of others and Muto Ittetsu stepped forward, declared their names, and then followed Munayori as he hurled himself towards the astonished Ando who were clustering by the rock face.


    Tadayoshi licked his lips, glanced at Yoshitoki. His companion's mouth quirked, and he murmered, "Such is life, neh?" Then he was stepping forward calling his name, and so was Tadayoshi, and he could feel the rest of the men moving along with him and their names caste upon the wind to the Ando along with his. The snow was stained crimson already in ever-expanding swathes. Munayori Shigemori was dead already, but had sent a few Ando men ahead of him to the road to the West with that long blade, and there were other corpses already caught by the soft embrace of the waiting snow as the flakes continued to fall and blanket them.


    It was confusion, serene confusion. They were dead already, and what worries do the dead have? Only how many they take with them. Some of these dead men had fallen already, embracing each other and the men they struggled against. Snow was kicked up, blood sprayed and steamed in the frigid air, and that steam mixed with the gasps of the dying and the panting of the living. Tadayoshi's spear splintered and he drew he caste it aside. His sword leapt to his hand and soon there was blood dancing along its edge. He ran to Muto Ittetsu's side and they pushed and cut into the Ando red, they themselves reddened by the blood of friend and foe alike. The taisho of the Ando was screaming at his men, and some few brought their spears to bear. Ittetsu nodded to Tadayoshi and they hurled themselves at the small spearwall oblivious of the blades darting out to skewer them.


    Three of the seven Ando men fell as one with Ittetsu and Tadayoshi, a fourth sinking to his knees long heartbeats later. And still the Date men lashed out at the Ando with sword and spear, tooth and nail, rock and fist. Them men in Ando red scattered like droplets in a spray of blood, scattering across the snow, hounded by their Date counterparts who mercilessly hacked down those they could catch, leaving them in their final rest.
    Last edited by waveman; January 30, 2016 at 08:37 PM.

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    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Default Re: Red Snow - A Battle AAR

    Good writing! I like the images of the 'solid anchor' of the line and the 'great barrel of a man'. The details, like the comment that the steep side of the hill blocked most of the wind helps to make the place feel real.

  19. #19
    waveman's Avatar Decanus
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    Default Re: Red Snow - A Battle AAR - finished'

    The land looked far different without a covering of snow. It was green and inviting. The small grove of trees on what had been the north side of the battlefield had expanded greatly. The grass was long, and the passing of years had eroded any evidence of the battle that had occurred so long ago. His uijin.


    The man looked to the hill last. The gentle slope on the eastern side that had cradled the Date army, all of those proud blue banners. Then the western side, from which that desperate charge had been launched. The crest of the hill, where the archers had loosed arrows until their fingers bled, and the temple that now stood guard in their place.


    The man rode forward, followed by his kashindan. He dismounted gracefully, pausing only to readjust his expensive clothing and to ensure that his daisho were settled. They were elegant now, long and smooth with gentle curves, sparingly decorated. He gestured for a boy and a young man to follow him as he approached the temple, and several kashin followed behind them as the gennin saw to the horses.


    The monks greeted him in a friendly, yet respectful manner. "Ah, Ikehara-sama, it is good to see you again! Many of them are so revered by the locals they may soon find themselves kami! If you will follow us." They led him to the inner rooms of the temple, where he and his two companions knelt.


    Sticks of incense were lit, and prayers said, and the three prostrated themselves to the thirty-odd statues along the edges of the room. Ikehara Yoshitoki then addressed the statues by name.


    "Ittetsu-san, Tadayoshi-san, I offer my humble apologies for not visiting for so long. The campaigns in the south and the east demanded much of my time. Date Haramune has seen fit to grant me another onchi as we have expanded our borders, and I can now lead several thousand men to war. Several thousand, and many of them samurai. You remember well how we left only farms behind when we were called to war. Yours, Ittetsu, a large and prosperous farm, but still a farm.


    "I have come to tell you, my friends, how my life had continued and how yours have as well - Tadayoshi, I have a surprise for you. You must remember that joro from before we left, the quiet one - it seems she stopped after we left. She had a child, a son, named him Katsurou. I have adopted him and given him the name Tadakatsu. He is growing into a fine man, a worthy heir." The youth kneeling to Yoshitoki's left bowed deeper; he had long wanted to visit the resting place of his father the fallen samurai. The surprise he had felt, and the shock on his mother's face when Yoshitoki, a lord, had appeared at their door and offered to adopt him had been indescribable.


    "Ittetsu, I jested about having your daughter as my wife. In truth it was only half a jest, for long had I admired her. With the lands I was awarded after the battle I felt I could persue her in truth. She allowed me to, and a wild and long chase it was. This is your grandson, Ikehara Hidettsu." The boy to Yoshitoki's right bowed deeper. "He is beginning to show the wisdom of his grandfather."


    After that, Yoshitoki turned to each of the other statues in turn, addressing his old comrades that had not survived that cold,snowy day.



    uijin - first campaign
    kashindan - lord's retinue
    kashin -retainers
    daisho - matched pair of blades, long and short, of the samurai
    gennin - squires/pages/ attendants
    onchi - reward for valor
    joro - prostitute

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  20. #20

    Icon10 Re: Red Snow - A Battle AAR - finished'

    okay
    Last edited by RodentDung; June 24, 2016 at 11:03 AM.

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