Inside the quarters of Sawayama Castle, the bonfire blazed with a pleasant sound.
In contrast to modern times, the nights in the Sengoku Era were pitch black. The Rokkaku forces surrounding Sawayama Castle must have been able to see the fires lighting up all around the castle clearly and were probably thinking “it will be difficult to attack under the cover of darkness like this”.
Or perhaps they were captivated by the heat radiating from the fire.
The cold temperature of January made it hard to sleep without anything to shelter them from the wind.
“At dawn, the soldiers amassed at Odani Castle should be fully equipped and ready to come and reinforce us.”
As I spoke to the 1200 soldiers protecting Sawayama Castle, I ordered Kazumasa to serve some hot rice gruel garnished with walnut.
My aim was to ensure that the protectors of Sawayama Castle warmed themselves properly.
Illuminated by the orange light, I looked at every single one of the soldiers holding a plate.
“Don’t think of this as your eternal resting place. Just as I have married a woman of the Oda Clan, there are surely those of you with a wife and children. Even those without a wife will still have fathers and mothers. If anything, all of you probably came here representing those who support you.”
I continued my speech as I walked slowly amongst the soldiers.
“I won’t tell you to win tomorrow’s battle. Just don’t die, for the sake of those waiting for you. No matter how much hell the enemy brings you, no matter what face you have to make, make sure to cling to this world.”
I could see some unrest among the soldiers. And it wasn’t only them; it appeared on Kazumasa, Naotsune, and the other generals as well.
“One must obtain victory no matter the cost” was the mentality of the Sengoku Era. And in order to win, even if the men had an “I want to live” mentality, most of them were forced to choose the path of “my only option is to die”.
However, they were now being told by me – who should normally force them into the “there is no choice but to die” path – that not only did they “not have to win” but to top it off they were being told, “not to die” until the very end. There is no way they wouldn’t get restless.
“You lot come with me.”
I faced the soldiers as I spoke.
“We, the people of Azai must become one together and continue on tomorrow. We must live not for today, but for tomorrow’s sake. In order to create a better tomorrow, we must desperately keep on living. If we don’t, there would be no meaning in living. If we don’t, we would lose the reason…we were born into this world.”
It didn’t matter which soldier I faced; every single one of them had a face filled with wonder and excitement. This was the expected result.
Being informed that the head of the Rokkaku Clan was closing in on Sawayama Castle with a great force of thirty-two thousand men against the mere twelve hundred defenders, any of them would have thought that “this is the end.”
Read the original on https://dao.ist
In the middle of all that, the head of the Azai Clan was able to turn the enemy’s tides with a mere 40 men cavalry unit and managed to get inside Sawayama Castle. Furthermore, I was now telling them to “live on together” instead of telling them to “die.” The influence of something like that, coupled with the difference in position could not be measured in the current Sengoku Era.
No matter the period, country or area, the nameless soldiers didn’t decide to die for “the sake of the country.” That was nothing more than a facade. The soldiers died a noble death for the sake of those they love or fighting for the superiors they admire while thinking that “it’s okay to put my life on the line for this…”
“First of all, eat.”
While sitting between Naotsune and the rest of the members, I picked up the rice bowl containing rice gruel in a way that every warrior could see it.
“Eat, save some energy and become lively again. Tomorrow could be painful but the day after our situation will surely change for the better.”
After saying that, I began sipping the rice gruel followed by Naotsune and Kazumasa, immediately after the soldiers did the same and started eating their meal. To the soldiers, I am an existence higher than the clouds, but we are currently around the same fire sipping on the same rice gruel. They were restraining themselves and ate in silence but in order not to get chilled to the bone in this harsh climate they had no choice but to warm up their bodies from the inside.
Eating is something very important for humans. If they eat something cold and unappetizing, they become gloomy, and if they eat something warm and delicious, they become cheerful. With the food situation being unfavorable during this Sengoku Era, for the soldiers, this rice gruel seasoned with walnut was indeed a “feast.” With time the voices of the soldiers became louder and so the chatting and pleasant talk began. On every single face was a smile, watching it this close, one could not imagine that this was the view of people being surrounded by a great army twenty time its size.
I waited for the appropriate chance and took Naotsune and Kazumasa away from that place and headed towards the inner citadel. Sawayama Castle is a mountain castle, to reach the inner citadel one must walk his way up.
“Nevertheless, I was surprised.”
Kazumasa said while facing Naotsune and me.
“Because when Nagamasa-sama and Naotsune-dono passed under the castle gates, horses without riders followed you. I, Kazumasa, doubted my very own eyes.”
I decided to agree for now. A horse that has lost its “Master,” the master being a military commander and as such being released from it, for it to return under a human’s command is something considered as “impossible” after all.
“Furthermore, the same happened with the horses being ridden on by Azai Clan’s cavalry. Even though their riders had died, they ended up following us. It is truly strange.”
Naotsune lets out a sigh. At the battle earlier six members of the Azai Clan’s cavalry lost their lives. However, the horses that ended up following us were ten in total. Clearly, the numbers didn’t add up.
“Maybe it’s because of Taishakutsukige. After that horse let out its cry, the horses approached us.”
Naotsune said so with a face filled with interest.
Read the original on https://dao.ist
“On the north side of Lake Biwa under the influence of the Azai Clan… Residing in the northern part of the lake, Taishakutsukige was Sukemasa-sama’s beloved horse. It could be that this horse is special…”
“No, I think it could be something unexpectedly more simple.”
The horses following me were all black… In short keeping in mind that they were all male, I gave them my conclusion.
“It’s possible that those horses were charmed with Taishakutsukige.”
“Charmed… It couldn’t possibly be something like that.”
Kazumasa laughed in an odd way.
“Rather than humans, for horses to have love affairs… No no, Nagamasa-sama has become pretty good with his jokes. To indulge oneself in the magic that is having a love affair… is something only known to Fox spirits who take on the disguise of humans and gather the males vitality as stockpile… Anything aside from that is…”
“No, Kazumasa-dono. It is unexpectedly on point. Even we, if we happen to see a beautiful woman on our way back from a battle would do anything to protect her, right? Men are an existence that are attracted to women by order of the heavens. It is possible that horses are as well.”
“No, no, Naotsune-dono. Now you’re saying things like that as well…”
“Well, in any case, it doesn’t matter.”
I said so to Kazumasa who had a broad and happy smile on his face.
“By the way… leaving Taishakutsukige aside for the moment, how are the other horses fairing up?”
“About that, they are currently in the Sawayama Castle stables; they received food and water, and straw was laid out for them to use as beds. They are resting at the moment.”
I’m worried about the precedence of the horses that came from the Rokkaku Clan, but it should be alright. Saying so to Naotsune and Kazumasa they groaned “I suppose…” then I asked Kazumasa to guide us to the stables once again and decided to head over there. On our way there…
“Kazumasa-sama! A-and my Lord…”
“Don’t worry about formalities, what’s wrong?! Did something happen?!”
We encountered a soldier who was in quite a panic, so I asked him directly. Doing so he pointed with his finger in the direction of the quarter’s corner…
Read the original on https://dao.ist
“Just now in the stables… My Lord’s horse has with another horse…!”
I took the Azai’s ancestral legendary blade passed to me from Hikobe, Ishiwari Kanemitsu, from its scabbard and ran at full speed.
The worst possible scenario came into my mind. Monsters don’t kill fellow monsters… that is what Hikobe said. He also told me that horses don’t kill other horses.
However, why did I just blatantly trust those words? Even though I know that something is never 100% true…
Turning around the quarter’s corner and immediately rushing into the stables…
“What… is this?”
I doubted what I was seeing. In the stable spread around in the form of a circle, a great number of black horses had fallen while convulsing and twitching.
And in the center of the stables… Sleeping gracefully in the laid out straw was Taishakutsukige, feeling completely at home she let out a yawn as she looked towards me. However, more than the horses being down on the floor, the real problem is…
“What is with this irritating squid-like odor…?!”
It really was like that. However, I also understood the cause of it. Closing in on Taishakutsukige, her eyes were entranced… Like a woman’s eyes after a love affair… Just with that, I was able to understand what happened.
“You… went ahead and devoured them, huh. All of these horses…”
Taishakutsukige pretended not to hear a single thing I said and let out a cry filled with lust. Taking a closer look, the horses twitching and trembling were not only robust ones but also horses with small bodies like shouta’s. The more I look at it, the more it resembles a reverse harem.
“Were you able to gather some men from the battlefield…?”
I must once again revise my knowledge. Taishakutsukige is in accordance to Sukemasa, not a beautiful and modest horse that refused to be touched by other men. It was simply that she didn’t have interest in other “humans” aside from Sukemasa and Hikobe. And towards its own species, it was a lewd, sexually obsessed mare.
It is possible that the cry after our battle was a “temptation” towards the male horses that had lost their riders to make them consider it as a future course of action for them. In human words, Taishakutsukige is truly a lewd bitch.
The shock I received when I realized that was truly terrible. To give a human example, when you happen to see the pretty widowed aunt living in the neighborhood that you liked as a child being surrounded by many men and devouring their dicks happily night after night. It happens in life.
That being said, I really have no problem with Taishakutsukige using her good looks to seduce the enemy horses and pulling them towards the Azai forces… If I don’t think of it in that way, truth be told, I wouldn’t be able to accept it.
Hearing Taishakutsukige’s “Sleep well, see you tomorrow” sort of cry behind me while walking out of the stables, I worry about how I was going to tell Naotsune and Kazumasa the truth.