“Is everything alright, Nagamasa-sama?”
“No… It’s nothing. Just feeling a little sentimental.”
“Is that so?”
We were heading to the Bakeijou((Apparently this is a place to care for horses. Couldn’t find a name for it in English.)) that is in a district of the Odani Castle along with a small entourage. This is a famous place that I wanted to visit since I became the feudal lord of the north of Omi.
By the way, Bakeijou is read as it is, a place or establishment related to horses. The ones inside the castle are basically top-grade horses for the head of the family to ride and are used for patrolling to some extent like now, in a full-scale war the horses that are mobilized would be kept outside the castle.
Also, this is rather important… I can ride a horse. With my 8th grader syndrome, I thought ‘A king can’t show his majestic side if he can’t ride a horse’ so I entered the horse riding club and had come in contact with horses in the experiences classroom of the nearest culture center.
‘But… would it really be okay?’
I was a little worried. Because the horses of the Sengoku Era didn’t have a muscular body like the ones in modern times and they even had more of a cute appearance like a pony.
For example, the cavalry corps of the Kai province Takeda Clan that were famous on the streets. Common people might imagine a group of muscular old men wearing a helmet and armor with Shingen Takeda in the vanguard carrying the flag of Fūrinkazan((Banner of the samurai.)) or the Takeda-bishi((Crest of the Koshu (Kai province) Takeda family.)). And then assaulting the enemy line with their horses, but… in reality, they rode those small pony-like horses and stepped off of them before the assault and fought the enemy on foot.
Also, it is said that in the Kawanakajima battle, Kenshin Uesugi appeared in the Takeda’s troop headquarters gallantly riding a horse named Houshoutsukige and crashed against Shingen Takeda and Kazuai, but if that was the truth… The old man with 8th grader syndrome calling himself the reincarnation of Vaisravana would become the scene of someone wielding a sword while riding a pony. The scene of a bloody battlefield would instantly turn into a cute show at that moment.
Just so you know, I am 174 centimeters tall. If the horses in this era are really like ponies, perhaps the scene would be similar to a grown man straddling those toy horses at a kindergarten.
‘If they really are as small as ponies I won’t say anything and walk by foot from now on.’
I headed toward the Bakeijou while pondering about it…
I am convinced now. There wasn’t such things as ponies. The horses of the Sengoku Era… The pony theory was very easily verified with my own eyes as it crumbled away.
More than 3 meters in length and a body weight of around 900 kilos. Strong muscles and bones with a solid physique. They have a better physique than the top 2 famous horse breeds from my world, the Thoroughbred and Quarter horse, moreover, from its head, a huge cylindrical horn is coming out. What is this, it’s so cool. And there are even two kinds, a white one and a black one.
“Come on Taishakutsukige, calm down…!”
The white horse that had a considerably huge golden horn above the others was heading towards me aiming that beautiful horn violently in my direction while raising a clear cry “Neeeeiiiigh!!”
You are definitely not a “horse” that I’m familiar with. Or rather, this seems bad, really bad… It looks like even if that horn that it is wielding grazes me, my skin would be sliced like butter, or even worse; I’d get impaled turning it into a “Mozu no Hayanie”((Butcher-bird prey impaled on twigs. This one was annoying to find.)) situation.
“I am very sorry! My Lord!”
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A horse… no, some kind of horse keeper. A boy apologizes to me while soothing the horse.
“This girl finally returned after her last escape attempt on the day before the marriage of Nagamasa-sama and the Princess of the Oda family but… it appears she ended up becoming excited…!”
“This girl? This one is a female…?”
I unconsciously asked.
As I listen, these horses… really do have the appearance of a horse but their gender isn’t given away by their outward appearance. In other words, the black one is male, and the white one is female.
“Well, right now the horses are domesticated, but they were originally monsters after all… it isn’t strange to think that they were a danger to humans.”
Monsters? What does he mean by that? Those things should only exist in stories of movies and video games in the modern world…
“Is that so? You… What is your name?”
“My name is Hikobe.”
“I see. Hikobe, this one caught my attention. I will be riding it today.”
“No, not that one! It’s dangerous!”
Hikobe desperately tried to stop me.
“As you should know Nagamasa-sama, this Taishakutsukige was mounted by Sukemasa Azai since it was very young. This horse absolutely won’t let anyone but Sukemasa mount it. It didn’t even let anyone touch its body initially… many horse trainers and maids that were looking after her were killed cruelly.”
‘Wouldn’t it have been better to put it down then…’
Hikobe opened his mouth the moment I thought that, his timing couldn’t be more perfect.
“As you should know, a monster can only be wounded if it’s attacked by another monster or with a weapon made of fluorite. Horses would never kill their own kind, the only one within the Azai family that has held a weapon made of fluorite is the now retired Hisamasa-sama. Also, Hisamasa-sama has never ordered to kill Taishakutsukige which is a memento of his late father.”
Yep, I understood. I stare at Taishakutsukige’s light green pupils. She stopped her rampage before I knew it and fixed her gaze on me in an observing way. Almost like she was evaluating me.
“Then Hikobe, why does Taishakutsukige let you touch her?”
“That is probably because I’ve taken care of her since I was a child…”
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So it’s like that. I unconsciously admired her. I fixedly gaze towards Taishakutsukige.
“You have a strong sense of virtue. Just like a lady…”
In other words, if we compare this monster to humans, it would be like she’s a widow. Perhaps she built fidelity towards her first rider, Sukemasa, and has been determined not to let anyone else ride on her back since then.
“Why did she come back before the marriage of Oichi and me? And why is she so angry?”
But Taishakutsukige obviously doesn’t respond; she only kept staring at me.
“Don’t worry, Taishakutsukige.”
I slowly get closer to her. Hikobe got desperate and started clinging to my body while begging me to stop.
But I understood. In the bottom of those light green pupils, a tremendous and terrific conflict is spreading. Maybe this white horse recognizes me as a different presence in this world. I can’t hold myself back from being drawn to it…
Taishakutsukige swang her head with a big movement. I tried to evade it quickly but couldn’t; my right upper arm was torn up. The fresh blood started to splash around making Hikobe let out a scream. The entourage that was watching the course of events in the back unsheathed their sword immediately even though they know that they can’t kill her.
However, I told them “It’s fine.” Making them stand down. I faced Taishakutsukige and reached out for her white body with my hand.
“I will ride you… Even better than Sukemasa.”
Riding a widow… Yup, it is an expression overflowing with romance. While whispering in a persuading way, similar to how I whisper to Oichi in the bedroom, I try to touch Taishakutsukige… she allowed me to.
Hikobe’s eyes were opened wide as he stood there paralyzed. The ones in the entourage were also in utter amazement, and some of them even dropped their sword that they unsheathed. I stroke her body and feel her warmth slowly being transmitted to my palms. I also play with her beautiful silver hair that grows from the back of her neck and touch that lovely face in turns.
Then Taishakutsukige’s tongue extends, and she started to lick the wound on my right arm that she made earlier. The warmth of her tongue gradually envelops my arm, it feels comfortable, and my mind blanked for a few minutes. Before I knew it, the wound on my arm closed up.
Of course, it was not completely like before; the injury left a pink color as if a scab was scratched. It looks like the wound will leave a scar… well, it can’t be helped right?
“It’s a miracle…”
Hikobe who fell earlier stands up with sparkling eyes.
“My lord, my lord was accepted by Taishakutsukige…!”
Taishakutsukige lowered her neck and made a sign for me to get on. There wasn’t a harness or anything like that, but Taishakutsukige user her neck and skillfully assisted me. I was able to get on her back somehow.
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Right after getting on Taishakutsukige… an “Ooooh!” like cheer could be heard.
It wasn’t Hikobe or the men of the entourage, because of the scream that Hikobe let out earlier, officers and men started gathering from inside the Odani Castle with a “What’s going on?” maybe they were able to guess the situation the moment they saw me riding the horse. The shouts of joy became bigger little by little and started to echo through the Odani Castle; it started to resemble war cries after a while.
It hasn’t been that many days since I’ve come to this world but… it seems like mounting this famous horse had a considerable influence on them. Well, it is the memento of the first generations head of the family, Sukemasa, who was worshipped as a hero, no one had been able to mount her till now and moreover, the fact that the current head of the family is able to mount her had a considerable important meaning.
“This isn’t bad…”
I unconsciously muttered after mounting her. The world seen from above the white horse with its golden horn and being cheered on by the people of the Azai Clan was not bad at all. After I got off from Taishakutsukige, I approached Hikobe who was now gazing at me as if he was looking at a god.
“Hikobe, prepare a complete set of harness before I return.”
I look at Hikobe as he runs frantically to a corner of the Bakeijou while almost tripping over his own feet. Then I started walking towards the crowd that now surrounded Taishakutsukige and me. They quickly opened up a path for me and started escorting me with a look of praise and respect. It would have been a great situation if they were all woman but sadly they’re all squalid menservants and old men.
“Oichi, are you there?”
When I returned to the room of my beloved wife she was in the middle of staring at herself in front of the mirror. I grabbed some clothes and took her hand in my open hand pulling her forcibly behind me out of the room.
“Na, Nagamasa-sama! What on earth are you doing!?”
As one would expect, Oichi is confused. However, I did not dare to answer her question. I cross the corridor while pulling my wife’s hand; we go outside and head towards the Bakeijou. She was wearing a robe that wasn’t tailored for going outside, which made it hard to move around with it, but it can’t be helped for now.
The crowd was still gathered at the Bakeijou, and when they saw me bringing Oichi, they started cheering again and opened up a path. And then, beyond the path opened up by the crowd… Taishakutsukige was standing still with a harness on her back put there by Hikobe.
Oichi unconsciously lets out a gasp.
The figure of a huge horse with a pure white body, light green pupils, and a golden horn. That body is now covered by a harness that has gold and silver tones. Too much beauty, too much splendor, behind me, it seems that Oichi is also completely fascinated.
I quickly mounted on Taishakutsukige and whispered to her “Is it okay to let her ride you too?” Taishakutsukige let out an approving neigh. It looks like she will allow it. After confirming it, I hold out my hand to Oichi.
I called her out while being mounted on the horse. Then, after showing me a blank expression for an instant, she let out a bright smile, nodded with a “Yes…!” and took my hand. I would like to emphasize that a gentleman would never think about or say that Oichi was absurdly heavy at that moment. It couldn’t be helped though, ladies in this era appear to be restricted by several pieces of clothing. It almost looks like they walk around wearing a futon.
Right after I lifted her up on the horse and took her in my embrace, she surrounded my back with both of her hands. Then, after confirming that Oichi was completely snuggled in my chest, I finally pulled on the reins of Taishakutsukige.
Taishakutsukige raised the upper-half of her body with a clear neigh, the beauty of that scene receives a cheer from the crowd. After that Taishakutsukige ran lightly towards the gate of the Odani Castle as if she understood my intentions.
I wonder if she already understood the situation. The gate is thrown open with perfect timing as if the gatekeeper tried to make it a scene. Then I rode the famous horse of the firsts generation head of the family with my beloved wife and headed down to the unspoiled landscape of Japan in the Sengoku Era for the first time.