Note: This chapter was done in collaboration with DailyDallying.
A pleasant voice entered my head as I rocked back and forth. Slowly, I regained consciousness. As I rose from the sweat-stained futon, I straightened my back and yawned loudly. Off to the side, I could see Oichi sitting in seiza with a pleasant smile on her face.
“ … Morning, Oichi.”
“Yes, good morning.”
Oichi said as she bowed in a mitsuyubi pose. She was dressed in a beautiful new kimono and appeared as though she had just finished grooming herself. It’s as if she is going to a grand event.
…Could something auspicious have happened today? No, this should just be a typical morning the day after a wedding.
“Would you like some cold water?”
“Ah, thank you.”
A nearby maid handed a ladle filled with water to Oichi, and then respectfully offered some to me. After receiving the ladle, I gulped it down all at once.
I ended up sweating quite a lot last night, most likely due to yesterday’s intense exercise. Water permeated every corner of my body. As the cold water woke me up, I remembered something important.
“Yes, what can I assist you with?”
Oichi responded in a soft tender voice while maintaining her mitsuyubi pose. What a wife, I feel like this is the source of every married couple’s pride. Well, I thought sitting in a seiza would be fine, but I’d better be attentive and ask her how she’s feeling… I’m slightly worried. As I returned the ladle to her, I asked,
“How are you feeling? Does your body hurt?”
As Oichi’s face reddened, an audible bon sound could be heard. Well, last night certainly was wonderful. Although it was a first for both of us, we ended up climaxing quite a few times.
However, considering that she was a virgin, it must’ve been a considerable strain on her body. And that’s exactly what I’m worried about.
“I was worried because you fainted last night, but you look fine now.”
“I-I’m very sorry! It’s inexcusable to have slept before Nagamasa-sama—”
“No, it’s fine. Don’t worry about it.”
I am once again reminded of the customs held during this period as I gently stroke Oichi’s frantically bowing head, while she begged for forgiveness. That’s right. In the Sengoku Period, the wife was never permitted to sleep earlier than the husband. There are many reasons for this… the prime reason being a countermeasure against assassination.
For example, even a proud and fearless general with a muscular body is defenseless when he’s sleeping. You can imagine how easy it would be. In the Sengoku Period, it’s not uncommon for a general to be assassinated in the dead of night. Because of this, it is the wife’s duty to protect the defenseless husband. That said, I thought it was an impossible task since it would be over if an actual assassin invaded the bedroom. Despite this, assassinations were taken very seriously during this period.
In other words, a wife who foolishly sleeps before her husband is reviled as a wicked woman who doesn’t fulfill her wifely obligations. In the end, Oichi, who’s married to a Sengoku Daimyo, was guilty of making a mistake of the highest order. For that very reason, she was feverishly apologizing.
“It’s also my responsibility since I teased you so much, so don’t worry about it.”
It seems that Oichi won’t allow herself to be forgiven. Based on the ethics of this age, you could call it common sense. Nevertheless, being a modern Japanese kid myself, I need to be open to her feelings. I wonder how I would feel about punishing someone for something I think is perfectly fine…?
No, wait? Coming up with something good, I put a hand on one of Oichi’s shoulders.
“I understand, then a punishment will be given.”
Preparing herself, she turns over as her big round eyes desperately look at me. It’s cute. As expected, Oichi might possess a dog’s characteristics. —I said as quiet as possible while thinking these things,
“This evening, I’ll embrace you.”
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“ … Eh?”
Having an absent-minded expression, Oichi immediately cast her eyes down in shame when she understood. Like that, I whisper in her ears.
“Oichi, prepare yourself. I will fully chastise you tonight…”
Remembering last night’s foolery, Oichi covered her face with both hands. It really is cute. That alone makes me want to pull her down into the futon and immediately bully her some more. However, that line of thinking would not do. After all, what’s waiting today is the “Introductory Ceremony”.
The ”Introductory Ceremony” is a literal event; after the bridal night is over, the clan head and the wife, now a married couple, will greet the vassals.
Remembering the event, I now understand why Oichi is wearing a gorgeous kimono. Truly, I am quite helpless… to have forgotten such a thing. I called out to Oichi as she hid her face in worry, slightly disgusted with myself.
“Hey Oichi, is it almost time? Please bring my clothes here.”
“Ah… Yes! I will take care of it and arrange it for you immediately!”
Once again, Oichi bowed to me in a mitsuyubi, as she began to pass instructions to the maids. By the way, the maids, or vassals, of Oichi are not from the Azai Clan, but instead, adhere to the Oda Clan and only attend to Oichi. Normally, Oichi’s maids are also responsible for her protection. For example, they stand watch so random insolent people are unable to enter the bedroom; they’re unsung hero-like existences.
… Oh? If that’s the case, did they hear the pillow talk between Oichi and me? For a maiden like her to have been so disheveled over such a thing as Oichi’s shameful voice ― Could those women have possibly heard everything?
I linked my arms and groaned “umu” while looking at Oichi promptly giving out instructions to the maids with equally serious expressions on their faces.
The women of the Sengoku Period are strong indeed. As for me, I absolutely hate it. If my superiors were to vividly raise flirtatious voices at me―it would definitely become awkward talking to them starting the day after.
The maid received the kimono that my page brought before Oichi’s room and then respectfully gave it to me. However, I am of the modern era, so I do not know how to don a kimono at all. Even for a reason like that, I will not reveal my faults―.
“Oichi, please dress me.”
“Y-yes! I understand!”
I asked this while showing the maids as much dignity as possible. As Oichi cheerfully approaches me, she delightedly starts helping me change clothes. I looked at the astonished maids.
Well, their reactions are natural. They would skillfully adapt to the circumstances. In summary, after spending my bridal night with Oichi, I stayed in her room without returning to my own. Originally, one would return to their own room to change clothes, but instead, I sent for them through an intermediary person from the Oda Clan. It’s also something that someone of a page’s status would normally do. But of all things, to have your legal wife be the one to dress you up… Hmm… I would appear to be someone lacking in common sense.
Nonetheless, Oichi is Oichi. Far from bearing an unpleasant face, she seems to be rather cheerful instead as she begins to undress my outer garments. Then she took the wet washcloth on the side and starts to gently wipe my skin.
“How is it, Nagamasa-sama.”
“ … Aah, it feels pleasant.”
“That’s great… I’m glad.”
With her uttermost efforts, Oichi washed me from the neck to shoulders, cleaned my back with the washcloth, and then wiped my chest and abdomen. There are no showers in the Sengoku Period, so the only method to wash off the night’s sweat was to using a washcloth to wipe it. However, this is usually done by a female servant. Even I know that, but―
“A while back, I used to take good care of my esteemed older brother.”
“Yes… esteemed older brother would yell “Oichi! Hot! Wipe!”, then abruptly intrude into my bedroom urging me. Although, when I wiped his back with a washcloth as he complained that ”It’s too troublesome!” he would praise me afterward… Fufu~.”
Oichi wipes my arm gently while smiling.
“I longed for this. To be able to take care of my husband first thing in the morning… You resemble esteemed older brother, so I thought that you would be delighted.”
“Is that so…”
“Yes, I know this is an immodest and unusual thing to do.”
When Oichi puts away the wet washcloth, she begins to skillfully change my clothes. Truly an excellent skill. I’m really surprised. I felt admiration while checking the condition of the kimono and hakama that I was swiftly dressed in. Isn’t she more skillful at dressing others than my pages?
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“Thank you, Oichi. Well then, shall we go?”
With that, Oichi and I, accompanied by her vassals, proceeded towards the Great Hall.
There were countless men. And everyone bowed their heads. It was very similar to the scene when I first arrived here.
However, the difference from that day is the fact that Oichi is by my side this time. Nevertheless, she was also bowing deeply to the vassals of the Azai clan. Among the hundreds of people in the Great Hall, only my head is held high. As for this feeling, no matter how many times it happens, I don’t think I will become accustomed to this…
As I was thinking these things, the usual uncle, Sukechika Azai raised his head and steps forward before me. And then, he bows with both knees and hands on the floor as he shouts to everyone in the Great Hall to hear.
“Nagamasa-sama, the “Wedding Ceremony” held with Lady Oichi has been safely carried out. With this, the prosperity of the Azai Clan will be unshakeable, our relations with the Oda Clan will be firm, and the unity with both clans will be tenacious, Many people are said to have happily paid their respects.”
Then, another middle-aged man steps forward and offers a similar congratulatory address to Sukechika’s. By the way, this middle-aged man is Kiyotsuna Akao. He is the head of the Azai Daimyo’s ministers and is one of the Azai Generals.
When Kiyotsuna steps back, a super-celebrity of the Sengoku Period that even I know comes forward. Tsunachika Kaihō.
Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who is referred to as a famous general, mentioned to another famous general that “Tsunachika is my master in the art of war”. As expected, an amazing person’s aura is different. Their words different. An intense power is felt in each individual word of their congratulatory speech.
Finally, Kiyosada Amenomori steps forward. He is responsible for the political affairs of the Azai clan but is still a great general who leads his forces on the battlefield. When Kiyosada finishes his congratulatory speech, Sukechika steps forward to the front once more.
‘I see, only the chief vassals can speak; otherwise I would only be hearing a silent congratulatory speech…’
I think I caught a glimpse of the essence that the vassal group possesses in the Azai clan.
Throughout the Sengoku Period, most feudal lords adopted a strict hierarchical system. Even if the succeeding generation of chief vassals were incompetent, they are still valued highly, the talented rookies, on the other hand, are usually ignored. However, using such a method is an obstruction for territorial growth, emphasis on this point has not received enough consideration, I think.
Besides the strong economic powers known as Mino and Owari, Nobunaga Oda was able to rapidly grasp power and rule the Sengoku Period because he ignored the hierarchical system, and recruited talented people from all over the country. For example, Sadakatsu Murai is a sharp administrative bureaucrat whom Oda clan is proud of, although he was born in Azai clan territory. There was the fact that he abandoned the Azai clan, which was still attached to the old ways, and passed to Owari.
Besides that, there are a lot of bureaucrats and generals who were born in the Omi province who went to the Oda clan. Omi possesses an environment and atmosphere that makes it difficult to cultivate crops but is suitable for producing valuable human resources. Unless we abolish this, the Azai clan territory will not prosper.
“Well then, with this, the “Introductory Ceremony” is over.”
Sukechika Azai declares, with a voice that booms over the Great Hall, the ending of the gathering.
‘It’s now or never…!’
I waited my time until the vassals raised their head in the Great Hall, and hit my knee with a great PAN. Immediately, several hundreds of eyes concentrate at me.
That’s right, the “Introductory Ceremony” is over, extending it is impossible. However as for the head of a large noble family, if they were to do such an act to grab the attention of everyone, it’s the same thing as declaring to the vassals “There is still more to come”. Not only Sukechika but also the chief vassals of the Azai clan Kiyotsuna and Kiyosada trembled as they said: “What’s the matter?” Also Tsunachika, who doesn’t move an inch, silently observes me with a sharp eye.
However, I will not be shaken by such gazes. I strained my voice from the bottom of my abdomen to reverberate throughout the Great Hall while directing small movements filled with dignity. All of the male members now in the Great Hall prostrate themselves.
“Now, the Azai clan and the Oda clan are relative by marriage. When we allied ourselves with the Oda clan it was the rise of a momentous day.
I spin the words over with added intonation, as the beats fly overhead the vassals. It is the voice that determines whether I can make a person follow. I can assure you that voice and intonation are critical. No matter what, if an unskilled person makes a speech, even a good one, will be ignored. But if it’s a skilled person, even if it’s foolish, it will be praised.
Since the dawn of history, humans are just like that. However, it is certainly necessary that I attract their attention by any means if I want to develop the territory I desire.
“Therefore it is a fact, that what we need is a ‘Rich Country, Strong Army’.”
Zawa- briefly the Great Hall became stirred. Why, because the phrase such as “Rich Country, Strong Army” never existed in Japan during the Sengoku Period. The impact included in those four kanji was severe, it beat the vassals of the Azai clan clean.
“To make a country rich, and to build an army, strong, is not a task that can be accomplished in a single night.”
The Chief vassals who were prostrated on their knees rose and focused their attention on my every movement.
“For the sake of making this country rich, we need rice for the soldiers in need of money… Kiyotsuna!”
I named the first person in the list of Daimyo’s minister and asked.
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“In order to realize this, who is qualified for Azai!?”
After Kiyotsuna was pondering in thought momentarily, Kiyosada was seen.
“I propose Kiyosada-dono, to be qualified.”
He bows and stares at me with a serious expression. Slowly, I ask Kiyosada in a low voice.
“In the current Azai clan, what do you think is insufficient…?”
Kiyosada is an existence like the two bundles in a straw sandal, handling the political affairs in the Azai clan and also leading the army. Naturally, the burden is so large that it’s unimaginable. Why did Kiyosada have to act that way, and why did it reach this conclusion? To him, asking “What is lacking?”, the response was already decided. It was like asking a leading question.
“People, there isn’t enough people…”
I muster the entirety of my voice and yelled.
“People, there aren’t enough human resources!”
My loud voice echoes. There was no sound from the Great Hall. Every man held his breath, not missing any of my continuing words.
“Today is the turning point where the Azai clan is connected to the Oda clan. With this opportunity, we should be reborn. It is necessary to make the country richer, and the army stronger… Have you already forgotten those days where we surrendered to the Rokkaku clan!? Do you want to go back to those days, every day!?”
Though, I didn’t experience the time when the Azai clan was a vassal to the Rokkaku clan. It was liberally discussed in countless stories and is a historical fact.
However, these words seem to have shaken the vassals of the Azai clan. Small sounds were said ”That’s right” “Agreed” “I concur”, nevertheless passionate voices began to sprout in the Great Hall.
“I declare to you this day. Never again will we be humiliated again, and we will make this country rich”
But! I shouted. The men in the Great Hall lengthen their bodies.
“For this sake, I will need your power. Also, I have to know you deeply.”
So! As I wield a clenched fist. The men in the Great Hall also raised their arms. It was really simple and cute.
“For this reason, I wish to talk to you individually.”
OOOooo…! The Great Hall shook. It’s unheard of. For the Daimyo, head of the clan, to arrange the opportunity and equally meet the vassals individually, it is absolutely impossible.
Although it is considered beneficial, for the seniors of the Azai clan and for the newcomers. The reason being, to re-establish the connection that ties the seniors with the Azai clan, and also give the newcomers the opportunity to make their faces well-known.
As for me, it will be profitable in a double meaning. First, because I, who finished a trip, don’t know most of the vassal’s faces and it’s the perfect chance to match the names with their faces. Lastly―if their disposition of me is bad in the end―, I will raise their loyalty in this interview, and draw them into my ideal work force to develop the territory.
I summoned Sukechika and ordered, “Coordinate the schedule for the interview between me and the vassals”.
“It is a great task to determine the future of the Azai clan” as I said with a solemn face, Sukechika began to lament “Such an important task, for this old man…!”. Nevertheless, even old men cry.
“Then, I will entrust it to Sukechika.”
Saying so, I left the Great Hall with Oichi. That moment, “Uooh!!” the sound of dirty men were heard behind us. Oichi yelped and jumped a little as if the dreadful roar was mistaken for a battle cry. Now men fueled with loyalty started to rise ”I will be the first” ”No, I will be” as Sukechika approached them.
Either way, the seeds are sown.
Later, I will be using their passion for developing this territory of the Azai clan, Japan will be the best… No, I must bring prosperity that hasn’t been seen before in this world.
Above all, the strongest advantage is that I have seen the future history before me. I know historically how the economy will develop, and how society will change.
‘Let’s do this.’
I clenched my fist, burning with determination.