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Thread: Osaka · Ch.10

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    Hitai de Bodemloze's Avatar 避世絕俗
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    Default Osaka · Ch.10

    Osaka
    A Shogun 2 AAR

    The age of war has come to a close and Japan is at peace. A new Shogun has unified the country and two hundred years of bloodshed and slaughter is at an end. The samurai, once heroes and warriors, now retire - swords sheathed in favour of an honest living. The country flourishes and prospers, and the people have come to enjoy a new life of peace and stability. War has become an unpleasant memory - one which everyone is now beginning to forget.

    But there are some who cannot forget, because - for them - the war never ended.




    Contents

    Prologue
    Chapter One
    Chapter Two
    Chapter Three
    Chapter Four
    Chapter Five
    Chapter Six
    Chapter Seven
    Chapter Eight
    Chapter Nine
    Chapter Ten
    Last edited by Hitai de Bodemloze; January 27, 2021 at 09:37 AM.

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    Hitai de Bodemloze's Avatar 避世絕俗
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    Default Re: Osaka

    Dramatis Personae

    Western Army

    Sanada Yukimura ... general of the Western Army, exiled after the defeat at Sekigahara.
    Lady Oume ... Yukimura's daughter.
    Nisuke ... Sanada retainer and kunoichi.
    Toyotomi Hideyori - lord of Osaka Castle, son and heir of Toyotomi Hideyoshi.
    Lady Yodo - mother of Toyotomi Hideyori.
    Lady Sen - wife of Toyotomi Hideyori, daughter of Tokugawa Hidetada.
    Ono Harunaga - Toyotomi retainer, steward of Osaka Castle.
    Katagiri Katsumoto - former Tokugawa retainer, Toyotomi Hideyori's guardian.
    Kimura Shigenari - Toyotomi retainer.

    Eastern Army

    Tokugawa Ieyasu ... Shogun and de facto ruler of Japan.
    Lady Ina ... daughter of Honda Tadakatsu, wife of Sanada Nobuyuki. Yukimura's sister-in-law.
    Sanada Nobuyuki ... daimyo of Matsushiro. Yukimura's older brother and husband of Ina.
    Hotta Sakubei ... Sanada retainer.
    Date Masamune ... daimyo of Sendai.
    Katakura Shigenaga ... Date retainer.
    Last edited by Hitai de Bodemloze; January 27, 2021 at 09:38 AM.

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    Hitai de Bodemloze's Avatar 避世絕俗
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    Default Re: Osaka

    Prologue
    Sekigahara, Mino Province
    October 21, 1600


    “Mitsunari!”

    Sanada Yukimura spurred his horse forward, beating a desperate path north along the banks of the Fuji River. Dust and gunsmoke still clogged the air, but the sounds of battle - the scattered volleys of teppo matchlocks, the errant screams of charging samurai, the impotent moans of the fallen -, they all lingered distantly somewhere at the edge of his reality. The rain beat down heavy on his armour and it was a struggle just to keep his steed on course.

    Their right flank had collapsed, after the treacherous Kobayakawa had turned on them, shattering any vestiges of a battle plan. It had been a bloody free-for-all, as Yukimura and his retainers had fought their way out of the traitor’s trap - breaking out from the between the closing jaws of their erstwhile allies and the encroaching Eastern Army. Caught in the Tokugawa’s hammer-and-anvil assault, the right flank of the Western Army had been decimated, leaving only a handful of scattered survivors to flee for their lives.

    Yukimura was not fleeing for his life, however. No, he had to make it north, to rendezvous with his liege - Ishida Mitsunari - and reform their battleline. The bulk of the Western Army was entrenched upon Mount Nangu; if Yukimura could make it there ahead of the traitors pursuing him, they might still stand a chance.

    “Mitsunari!” he screamed again, calling out to his liege. He knew not where he was, nor how close he might be to his allies, but he called out all the same, praying to the kami that his voice would find them. His breaths were heavy and each shout sent his bruised chest cascading against the jagged edges of his shattered body armour; pain coursed through his weary bones every time he opened his mouth, but he paid it no heed. A proud samurai, loyal to his master and his traditions, he kept his back straight and his teeth gritted. He could not stop to tend to his wounds, nor to give in to the pain. He had to press on. For Mitsunari, for the Western Army, for Japan itself.

    His horse suddenly reared up, whinnying loudly as something came across his path. Yukimura looked down to see Nisuke stumbling through the fog towards him. The kunoichi was hurt, her left arm limp at her side and her ninja garb tattered and torn. “He’s gone, my lord,” she told him in rasped breaths. “The traitors... they’ve captured him...”

    Yukimura froze, a jolt of pain ran through every fibre of his being, etching an agony upon his heart deeper than any swing of a katana. No, it couldn’t be true, he told himself, shaking his head in denial. There was no way. It was impossible. Ishida Mitsunari could not have lost. He was their last hope; the commander of the Western Army, the heir to Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the only man standing between them and oblivion.

    “It cannot be so,” he told her, brushing her aside as she approached him and taking up the reins of his horse once more. “It must be a Tokugawa trick.”

    His loyal retainer shook her head solemnly, trying desperately to steer him away. “I saw it with my own eyes, my lord,” she pleaded with him, begging him to believe the terrible truths she had been burdened to relay. “I lost sight of you after Kobayakawa turned on us. I assumed you would have ridden north, so I took off in that direction. But when I reached Mount Nangu… Lord Mori and Lord Kikkawa… they betrayed us too. They have Lord Ishida in binds. The battle is lost.”

    Yukimura’s head was spinning. First Kobayakawa Hideaki, now Mori Hidemoto and Kikkawa Hiroie? Just how many of their allies had been bought off by the sweet words and deep pockets of the Tokugawa? It should have been a perfect battle; drawing the Tokugawa into their trap at Sekigahara, closing it shut and taking Ieyasu’s head. The bravest and best of the Western Army had gathered to ensure it, but Kobayakawa Hideaki - and now Mori Hidemoto and Kikkawa Hiroie… Those three daimyos had betrayed them. The grand plan - the plan that they had spent months devising - was turning to dust before their eyes.

    “My lord, we have to retreat!” Nisuke implored him, breaking him from his reverie. The girl was even more seriously wounded than he had first thought; he gazed down at her now to see blood streaming down her face, a deep gash cut across her eyebrow. There was terror in her eyes, but also determination. She would give her life for him, if it meant getting him out of this debacle. She cared not for the schemes of the Tokugawa’s and Ishida’s of this world, nor for the fate of Japan or its people. She cared only for him. And that’s why she would never understand how much her words that day broke his heart.

    He shook his head, gripping his spear tightly in white-knuckled fingers. “Then we rally,” he stated, trying to clear his head as words started to spill from his mouth like water from a busted dam. “We will link up with Sakon and Yoshitsugu, and we’ll ride to Mitsunari’s rescue, and then we’ll…”

    “My lord,” Nisuke grabbed at the reins of his horse, her eyes tearing up. “Lord Shima and Lord Otani… they’re dead…”

    Shima Sakon. Otani Yoshitsugu. If Mitsunari was an eagle, then they were his wings. The fearsome general and the cool-headed strategist, on whose backs had been borne the hopes and dreams of an entire nation. They had toasted victory together the night before, raising their sake cups to the heavens, and there had been no doubt about the outcome of the day. From Kyoto to Korea they had fought together for their shared dream; for Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and for Ishida Mitsunari after him. They had been warriors, friends, heroes.

    Corpses.

    For the first time that day, Yukimura’s shoulders finally slumped, and he fell forward in his saddle. His horse came to a stop, sensing its master’s defeat. He could no longer keep up the pretense - could no longer pretend he was the honourable samurai, straight backed in his saddle and perfectly poised. His friends were dead, his liege in enemy hands, his battle lost. His wounds finally overcame him, but the pain in his broken limbs was numb, for he knew what must happen next.

    “My coins”, he spoke softly to the ninja, not meeting her gaze. "Give them to me."

    She looked nonplussed for a second, before an indignant fury came over her sharp features. “No!” she screamed at him. “No!”

    “That was an order, Nisuke.”

    The ninja reached up, pulling his limp body down so that his bloodshot face was level with hers. “You can punish me, you can beat me, you can even kill me, but I will disobey that order any and every day you ever dare ask it of me. You are not dying here, not by your own hand or by anyone else’s. I will drag you from this battlefield if I have to, but you will not die whilst I am still by your side.”

    But it’s over, he thought to himself, as his body began to slide off the horse. The era of the Warring States had come to a close. The last great battle for the soul of Japan had finally been fought. And they had lost.

    “Mitsunari…” he whispered one last time, as he hit the ground and the darkness enveloped him.
    Last edited by Hitai de Bodemloze; December 14, 2020 at 04:20 PM.

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    Hitai de Bodemloze's Avatar 避世絕俗
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    Default Re: Osaka

    Two years since someone last penned a Shogun 2 AAR? How dishonorable. If I really am the last of the old guard for Shogun 2 AARtistry, then I suppose I'd better to go down fighting - if only to remind you all of what a beautiful game this can be

    I seem to have a nasty habit of not finishing things, but I'd actually really like to have a completed AAR under my belt. I aim to update this once a week, so do please give me a nudge if I fall behind. I have a new laptop and some time on my hands though, so hopefully I'll be able to hold myself to the mast.

    Anyways, I hope you enjoy
    Last edited by Hitai de Bodemloze; October 02, 2020 at 08:55 AM.

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    McScottish's Avatar The Scribbling Scotsman
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    Default Re: Osaka

    I-it can't be... it is! It is Hitai! Praise the Kami, he returns to us from the ether, oh praise!

    You cannot imagine how overjoyed I am to see this, and you in fact, oh yes... I'm going to enjoy this.

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    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Default Re: Osaka

    It's wonderful to see a new AAR by Hitai (and it's good to see McScottish, too)!

    This is a very thought-provoking beginning. You've got me wondering if you're showing us the end of the story first, and everything else will tell how events reached this point, or if you chose to start your AAR with the end of the last great battle and tell the story of what followed.

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    Hitai de Bodemloze's Avatar 避世絕俗
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    Default Re: Osaka

    Quote Originally Posted by McScottish View Post
    I-it can't be... it is! It is Hitai! Praise the Kami, he returns to us from the ether, oh praise!

    You cannot imagine how overjoyed I am to see this, and you in fact, oh yes... I'm going to enjoy this.
    Old friend, it warms my heart to see you again! I hope my humble tale will live up to your expectations

    Quote Originally Posted by Alwyn View Post
    It's wonderful to see a new AAR by Hitai (and it's good to see McScottish, too)!

    This is a very thought-provoking beginning. You've got me wondering if you're showing us the end of the story first, and everything else will tell how events reached this point, or if you chose to start your AAR with the end of the last great battle and tell the story of what followed.
    Thank you As much as I would love to keep you in suspense, this AAR will be based around the siege of Osaka, the last stand of the anti-Shogunate holdouts after the unification of Japan, which happened 14 years after Sekigahara. So the prologue isn't a flash-forward I'm afraid. It's a neat device, and one I've played around with before, but it also locks you into a certain 'future' for your story, which doesn't always gel well with the more free-form and serialized nature of AARs, where the author often doesn't know where the story is going to end up taking them.
    Last edited by Hitai de Bodemloze; October 03, 2020 at 08:35 AM.

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    Caillagh de Bodemloze's Avatar to rede I me delyte
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    Default Re: Osaka

    A new Shogun 2 AAR is cause for rejoicing indeed! The fact that it's by Hitai just makes the rejoicing even greater.

    This is a great start - I'm looking forward to finding out what happens next to Nisuke and Yukimura.






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    Turkafinwë's Avatar The Sick Baby Jester
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    Default Re: Osaka

    A stunning beginning! It hits all the beats perfectly conveying a powerful message. The dread and despair. The battle is lost but perhaps the future has something in store? I'm interested to find out.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hitai de Bodemloze View Post
    Two years since someone last penned a Shogun 2 AAR? How dishonorable. If I really am the last of the old guard for Shogun 2 AARtistry, then I suppose I'd better to go down fighting - if only to remind you all of what a beautiful game this can be
    That's the kind of fighting spirit I love!

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    Default Re: Osaka

    Quote Originally Posted by Hitai de Bodemloze View Post
    Two years since someone last penned a Shogun 2 AAR? How dishonorable.
    Hey, I did one last year. I'm just stuck in the Eras section. But I agree. Shogun AARs are something special. Two years is a too long time.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hitai de Bodemloze View Post
    Anyways, I hope you enjoy
    I did. Great start. Many details in it. One can see it in the formatting, in the details of the pic, in the text, everywhere. Will check by from time to time. For now, have a +rep, Hitai-san.

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    Hitai de Bodemloze's Avatar 避世絕俗
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    Default Re: Osaka

    Quote Originally Posted by Caillagh de Bodemloze View Post
    A new Shogun 2 AAR is cause for rejoicing indeed! The fact that it's by Hitai just makes the rejoicing even greater.

    This is a great start - I'm looking forward to finding out what happens next to Nisuke and Yukimura.
    Quote Originally Posted by Turkafinwë View Post
    A stunning beginning! It hits all the beats perfectly conveying a powerful message. The dread and despair. The battle is lost but perhaps the future has something in store? I'm interested to find out.
    Thank you both It's hard to start Shogun 2 AARs sometimes, as it can often tend to throw lots of weird names and terms at an audience right out of the gate, so I'm glad it wasn't too overbearing or anything. Naturally there will be a lot of boring exposition in the future to make a bit better sense of it all

    Quote Originally Posted by Derc View Post
    Hey, I did one last year. I'm just stuck in the Eras section. But I agree. Shogun AARs are something special. Two years is a too long time.


    I did. Great start. Many details in it. One can see it in the formatting, in the details of the pic, in the text, everywhere. Will check by from time to time. For now, have a +rep, Hitai-san.
    Thank you! Even after seven years I'm still trying to learn this craft, but I like to think I'm improving - incrementally at least. The relationship between formatting, screenshots and the prose itself is something I have begun to pay more and more attention to over the years, and it can really become an art unto itself if one delves (too?) deeply into it. I'm glad it seems to be paying off

    And wasn't your Shogun AAR written at the beginning of last year? That's almost two years

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    Hitai de Bodemloze's Avatar 避世絕俗
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    Default Re: Osaka

    Last edited by Hitai de Bodemloze; October 08, 2020 at 09:50 PM.

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    Default Re: Osaka (Ch.1 - 09.10.20)

    Chapter One
    Mount Koya, Kii Province
    May 2, 1614


    A child should never have to suffer the indignity of exile. Yukimura watched on sadly as his daughter tended to the gardens, stooping here and there to nourish the summer flowers coming into bloom. She was already so beautiful, so graceful, so dignified. She would have made a fine wife for a daimyo or a nobleman - perhaps even an emperor. But those avenues were all denied her now. When the time was right, she would join a convent and live out her years in service to the Buddha. A fate for commoners, widows and traitors, it did not befit one such as her at all.

    Oume glanced up and flashed him a soft smile. Yukimura returned it half-heartedly, before pouring himself another cup of sake. He sat, cross-legged outside of their meagre home, watching the dark clouds pass overhead. Even after fourteen years, he was not coping well with his exile. Truth be told, he was fortunate to have had his life spared at all. Sanada Yukimura, the handsome young prodigy of the Western Army, hero of Ueda Castle and the last general to lay down his arms at Sekigahara. He should have been carted off to the capital and executed, as had been Mitsunari’s fate. His name, for better or for worse, had carried a little more currency than his lord’s.

    He was no handsome young anything anymore though. Age was catching up to him; his once flowing black hair was now greying at the edges, whilst his belly was coming to bulge and his joints beginning to ache. Fourteen years growing fat and weak in exile on some kami-forsaken mountaintop, as the world below waited for him to die. He was no hero anymore, just an ugly reminder of the past; the last of the fools who had resisted the glorious restoration of the Shogunate and the unification of Japan.

    The Shogunate. Yukimura wanted to spit, but thought better of it. Oume was already beginning to display some rather tomboyish tendencies, and he didn’t want to encourage her. A lady should be polite and demure, quiet and graceful. It would not become her to take after his example, and it was difficult remembering to conduct himself properly sometimes, spending every day together as they did.

    The girl had coped with it well though; better than he had expected, and better indeed than he himself. Everyday she awoke with a smile on her face, contented with their life of poverty and ignominy. She had never known anything different, he supposed. And now, with the death of Mitsunari, she never would.

    He would have followed his liege into the afterlife, had it not been for her. He had grappled with the idea over and over again those past fourteen years. Nisuke would never have allowed it when she was around, but every time the ninja left to secure supplies, his wandering feet would take him to the armoury at their lakeside dojo and his hands would hover coyly over the hilt of one of his swords. Blade to the neck, one quick slice, and his pitiful excuse for a life would be over.

    But the image of his daughter’s smile would catch him in his tracks every time. Her strength and resolution to bear these burdens caused him more shame than his own failure. Yet she was still so young, so sheltered and naive. He couldn’t abandon her; not when she needed him so much still. And not whilst he needed her more and more.

    So he came to accept this bland, idle existence, drinking sake on the porch and watching the heavens overhead - closer to them than he had ever been, yet still so far away from the celestial realm his dearest friends now inhabited. And as the years rolled on, he became numb to the pain; distant and distracted, rarely allowing his thoughts to wander back unto past mistakes. It was a vacuous existence, one made bearable only by his daughter’s kind smile.

    The girl continued to potter about the gardens in the shade of their modest home. An old mountain house, it had belonged to one of the many temples in the area before the onset of the great wars that had ravaged the country. Over the past centuries, it had served as a storehouse, a bandit hideout and a general’s headquarters, among many other things. Now it served them as a place of exile, far away from the new world being built up somewhere far below them. A small abode, it only housed Yukimura, Oume and a handful of servants, as well as Nisuke whenever she passed through. It was a far cry from the luxurious castles of his homeland - back when he had been the son of a daimyo -, although he had never been one to enjoy frivolous opulence. His home was the battlefield. Or at least, it had been.

    There was no battlefield anymore. Tokugawa Ieyasu had crushed the Western Army at Sekigahara fourteen years ago and put to the sword the last of any resistance to his rule. Now he ruled Japan as Shogun and the realm was at peace. Japan was enjoying its first respite after two hundred years of constant warfare and bloodshed, and not a drop of blood had been spilled since that fateful day at Sekigahara. There was no battlefield anymore.

    For those who had lived on the battlefield, who had made their fame and fortune as soldiers and samurai, there was nothing left for them in Ieyasu’s Japan. Homeless, destitute, exiled, the great heroes of the Sengoku jidai were now little more than a nuisance; an ugly reminder of a war everyone was now just trying to forget.

    And, like them, Yukimura too tried to forget, as he raised another glass of sake to his lips and tried to find his own peace in an age without war.

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    Hitai de Bodemloze's Avatar 避世絕俗
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    Default Re: Osaka · Ch.1 [09.10.20]

    Will need to go back and do a nice screenshot for the Act One title post It's a nice tradition that I'd like to keep up, but can sure be tricky sometimes to get the perfect picture to encapsulate an entire story arc. I have a shot in mind, but haven't managed to get a very nice end result yet. So bear with me whilst I work on that

    Edit: Well I cooked one up, as a placeholder at least. Since my old laptop died, I lost my really nice collection of Japanese/Chinese fonts, so had to go with a pretty ugly generic one. The eponymous bell is also a little too dark, although I still really like the rest of the composition; I've had a lot of trouble with nighttime shots recently, but this one turned out quite nice. It'll do for the time being I guess, but I'll come back and improve it later on.
    Last edited by Hitai de Bodemloze; October 08, 2020 at 10:05 PM.

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    Turkafinwë's Avatar The Sick Baby Jester
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    Default Re: Osaka · Ch.1 [09.10.20]

    Finding the perfect shot can be an arduous and frustrating task. I can only say that I'm excited to see with what you come up as the end product. (the placeholder one is already a wonderful taste of what is to come ).

    The melancholic exsistence of Yukimura really grips me. His apathy and general downtrodden behaviour towards life is understandable and relatable, having no will to live for his own sake. I feel for him. An excellent first chapter.

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    Default Re: Osaka · Ch.1

    My reaction is similar to Turk's, Yukimura's condition comes across powerfully: a general without an army, a war to fight, or even the will to live - except that he can't abandon his daughter.

    I wonder if Yukimura will find a new reason to live, and what it would take to provide one. It sounds like he needs one, especially considering what's planned for his daughter.

    As ever, you have a good eye for a picture!

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    Hitai de Bodemloze's Avatar 避世絕俗
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    Default Re: Osaka · Ch.1

    Quote Originally Posted by Turkafinwë View Post
    Finding the perfect shot can be an arduous and frustrating task. I can only say that I'm excited to see with what you come up as the end product. (the placeholder one is already a wonderful taste of what is to come ).

    The melancholic exsistence of Yukimura really grips me. His apathy and general downtrodden behaviour towards life is understandable and relatable, having no will to live for his own sake. I feel for him. An excellent first chapter.
    Quote Originally Posted by Alwyn View Post
    My reaction is similar to Turk's, Yukimura's condition comes across powerfully: a general without an army, a war to fight, or even the will to live - except that he can't abandon his daughter.

    I wonder if Yukimura will find a new reason to live, and what it would take to provide one. It sounds like he needs one, especially considering what's planned for his daughter.

    As ever, you have a good eye for a picture!
    Thank you both! Most kind of you I sometimes feel taking and editing screenshots takes up vastly more time than the writing itself

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    Default Re: Osaka · Ch.2

    Chapter Two
    Matsushiro Castle, Shinano Province
    May 5, 1614


    “Is this everything?”

    Ina sighed, wrapping her yukata dress tightly to her as she made her way outside. Despite the late hour, the evening sun was still beating down over the grounds of Matsushiro Castle, but there was a chill in the air nevertheless. It had been uncommonly cold for this time of the year, which didn’t bode well for the next harvest. That would have been quaint thought once, to worry so much about a chill wind and a subpar harvest, but that was all there was to worry about these days, she supposed. Well, that and Yukimura.

    She made her way down from the tenshu to join the other woman. Nisuke was standing beside several large bundled crates of provisions, stacked high just to the side of the castle’s inner gatehouse. Several of Ina’s retainers were waiting with a cart some lengths away, wisely keeping their distance from the kunoichi.

    “Yes, Nisuke,” she replied, trying to keep her composure, despite her distaste for the woman. Would it kill her to say ‘thank you’ one of these days? The woman had never been one for manners, and Ina had sadly failed to depart any of her own famous decorum onto the shinobi during any of their past meetings. Still, she wasn’t doing any of this for her; she was doing it for Yukimura. “This should see you through until the winter.”

    The ninja eyed her warily, before turning to examine the boxes. Ina suppressed a smile at the woman’s brief flicker of hesitancy, as if she had been worried about turning her back on the lady of the castle. Despite her settled life now as a wife and mother, she was still the feared daughter of Honda Tadakatsu, and a lethal warrior in her own right. It seemed even Nisuke had not forgotten this fact.
    The black-clad woman opened one the boxes and began to rummage through its contents, occasionally lifting up a bag of rice or a parcel of salted meats and inspecting it with cold, grey eyes. “Nothing poisonous I hope,” she cautioned her threateningly.

    Ina rolled her eyes. Every. Single. Time. “I am not going to poison my own brother, Nisuke,” she told her exasperatedly. “Do we have to go through this charade every time? It’s been over ten years…”

    “He is not your brother,” Nisuke interrupted her bluntly, not even deigning to look away from the pointless task she had assigned herself. Ina would have smarted at the lack of courtesy, but she was becoming unfortunately well used to the uncouth shinobi. Still, she was only human, and her patience could only stretch so far.

    “He is my husband’s brother,” Ina replied curly, her temper beginning to fray. “Therefore he is my brother too. You think I would risk my life doing this if I didn’t love him?”

    Nisuke looked up at that, giving Ina a dangerous look. One had to be careful what they said about Yukimura in her presence, devoted as she was to her lord. Ina had never quite understood their relationship. It was not friendship, romance or any sense of familial kinship that kept them together, yet she and Yukimura were bonded as tightly as a tree and its roots. She knew not just what Yukimura had done to earn the woman’s devotion, and thought better than to ask. It was not her business; prying too much would only provoke the kunoichi, and Ina didn’t want to have to kill the poor woman should they ever come to blows.

    The ninja finished her examination and began to direct the castle servants to load the provisions onto the waiting cart. “I will take my leave then,” Nisuke told her, without so much as a nod of the head goodbye.

    “Wait, Nisuke,” Ina called after her, swallowing her pride and giving the other woman a respectful bow. She pulled out a bundle of letters from beneath the folds of her robes and handed them to the ninja. “Could you give these to him? Please.”

    Nisuke hesitated for a brief moment, before snatching them out of her hand. The ninja brushed away the servants and loaded the last box onto the cart herself, before mounting the horse at its head. Ina watched on impassively, her feelings mixed, torn between her loyalty to the Shogun and her love for her family. Sekigahara had torn the Sanada family apart; her husband Nobuyuki had fought for Tokugawa Ieyasu in the Eastern Army, whilst Yukimura had sided with the upstart Ishida Mitsunari. Only her begging had kept Yukimura from being executed after the Eastern Army had carried the day, and only the clandestine aid she gave him now kept him alive in his exile. If the Shogun’s court in Edo were ever to find out about the provisions she had been sending him, her own head would be for the chopping block. But it was worth the risk. Family was always worth the risk.

    The cart began to trundle its weary way out of the castle, and with it went her brother-in-law’s last lifeline to the outside world, laden with the supplies necessary just to keep him and his daughter alive for another year. That, and the heartfelt letters from the family he had been forced to leave behind in Shinano.

    Now all entrusted to one of the most odious women she had ever met.


    “And don’t go reading them yourself again this time,” Ina muttered scathingly under her breath, hawkishly eyeing the retreating figure of her brother’s keeper before stalking back to the warmth of her castle.
    Last edited by Hitai de Bodemloze; October 15, 2020 at 11:00 PM.

  19. #19
    Turkafinwë's Avatar The Sick Baby Jester
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    Default Re: Osaka · Ch.1

    Great interaction between the two women. Indeed an outlaw can not survive long without outside help. A secret letter? I wonder what's in it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hitai de Bodemloze View Post
    Thank you both! Most kind of you I sometimes feel taking and editing screenshots takes up vastly more time than the writing itself
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  20. #20
    Hitai de Bodemloze's Avatar 避世絕俗
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    Default Re: Osaka · Ch.2

    Chapter Three
    Mount Koya, Kii Province
    May 13, 1614



    Yukimura was drunk again as he stumbled back into the house. His cloud watching had given way to stargazing some hours previous, but in truth he had been neither watching nor gazing at anything in particular. He had just simply existed, taking up some form and shape upon the earth, but doing little more than intermittently raising a cup to his lips. Eventually the bottle had emptied and then he existed there for a while longer, before picking himself up and turning to his bed.

    Oume was already asleep, as were the servants, so Yukimura mechanically began to douse the lamps inside their abode, practiced hands moving without direction or order, working entirely on muscle memory and reflex. This was his routine, as it had been for years now. And tomorrow would be the same.

    He closed the latticed shoji door to his chambers shut behind him and his feet shuffled towards the sleeping mat in the corner. But as he moved across the room, his eyes lazily fell upon the small wooden desk in the corner. It was a small table, only a foot off the ground, upon which one could compose letters or practice calligraphy. Yukimura had never used it for these things; he had not used it at all in fact. It just existed there, as he did, taking up space in the world.

    The reason why his gaze caught upon it was that someone else had been using it, for an errant scroll had been left out on the surface top. Whilst the servants would come into his chamber to clean the room and wash his bedding, they were diligent in their work - leaving everything back in its rightful place, as if they had never even entered at all. With Nisuke away, that only left one other culprit.

    Groggily, Yukimura turned away from the bed and went to kneel at the table, taking the scroll in his hands and turning it over. He sighed, as he realised his daughter hadn’t been writing anything at all. She had been reading. There were no books here, no family heirlooms or inherited tomes - destitute as they were. No, the scrolls in their possession now came only from one place. Ordinarily he would have just wrapped it back in its bindings and shelved it away, but something kept him at the desk - perhaps the alcohol, perhaps some flicker of misplaced curiosity. And even though he had read it before - one year past now -, he undid the clasp and laid it out across the desk.

    My dearest Yukimura,

    I hope this letter finds you well. I fear it will be winter by the time this letter reaches you, so I have given Nisuke some extra coats for you and Oume. It will be cold in the mountains, so I hope you look after yourself. Perhaps you are used to those higher climes by now, but a sister cannot help but worry. I have also procured some of that foreign wine for you; the merchants in Edo say that it will warm even the coldest belly. Please drink it generously, if it will help.

    I know that you must have your reasons for no longer returning my letters, but you know me too well to think that I will take your silence as any reason to desist. Whatever they are, I hope you can put them behind you, for we would love to hear from you again. You and Oume. Nisuke is always so tight lipped when she is here, we can hardly pry any information out of her. But she would not keep coming every year if anything serious had happened to you, nor would she neglect to tell me of it; you know she and I have never seen eye to eye, but when it comes to you I know that we are of one mind.

    However, it is of my own problems that I would speak with you, if you will indulge my selfishness. I regret to tell you that Nobuyuki is still ill, and his condition has not improved since last I wrote you. Every day I attend his bedside, but he grows weaker and weaker in my arms. I fear he is not long for this world. It would mean the world to him - to us - if you could visit one of these days; I am not sure he will be at peace until the pair of you are reunited.

    And I need you too. To tell you the truth brother, I cannot cope with this anymore. I am alone, trying to manage the Sanada clan whilst my husband lies weak and infirm, as well as trying to do my duties as a daughter of the Honda after the passing of my father. And the boys - oh, how much they have grown! - they take up so much of my time. Yukimura, I fear I cannot manage two families in this way for much longer.

    I am riding for Edo in the spring. I have spoken to Lord Ieyasu these past years and he has been amenable to the idea of releasing you from your exile. However, stubborn as he is, he struggles to forgive you for what happened at Ueda. But I am making progress. It is my hope that you will be able to return soon. And if Nobuyuki’s health… I will say no more, but the people of Shinano still love you, and they would happily welcome you back as their daimyo, should anything happen to your brother. As for the boys, I can adopt them into the Honda clan; they would not hesitate should they know that it was in service of their cherished uncle. We all just want you home, Yukimura, whatever it takes.

    I will inform you of any developments in my next letter to you. Just please look after yourself until then. And send my love to Oume.

    Your loving sister,
    Ina

    Yukimura’s face was expressionless as he finished reading the letter. With the same mechanical movements, he absently wound the scroll up and re-sealed the clasp, before placing it neatly on the rack mounted to the back of the table. He felt nothing as he rose from the desk and began to disrobe. How could he? It had been fourteen years; he couldn’t even remember what his purported sister-in-law looked like - how could he feel anything for her? It was like interacting with a ghost; a distant memory of someone he had once known, whose words dissipated into smoke before they could even be processed, like some silent whisper from beyond the grave. It meant nothing to him, and the letter was already out of his mind when his head hit the pillow and he slipped into a dreamless slumber.

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