A Time Traveller's Guide to Feudal Japan Chapter 177 - Emotion
"Come here, Akiko. It's as though we're strangers." He said to her, amused.
"..." She wandered over, standing by his side, a little embarrassed, unsure quite what to say.
"You know, I've been thinking. We should get married, should we not?"
She gazed up at him rapidly, wondering whether he really meant it. "So suddenly..? But we're at war, aren't we? There is too much going on for us to set aside time for a wedding."
"That's what I was thinking before as well. But really, the important part of a wedding is the vows, is it not? I love you, Akiko, and I want to spend my days with you by my side. Do we really need a big fancy wedding, when either of us could die at any second? Should we not just enjoy each other's company whilst we have it?" He spoke slowly, and passionately, looking deep into her eyes.
"…You think so?" In her mind's eye, she had always imagined a big wedding, with all their people there to be pay them tribute. But the way he said it, a smaller one didn't seem so bad. And there was always that worry too. Her lover was a great man, who would definitely do great things. But the path he had chosen was dangerous. An arrow could claim his life as soon as he walked out of the door, and she would have to live the rest of her life in regret, thinking of all that they had yet to experience together.
"Indeed I do, little Akiko. In my time away, as I trained and trained, it was you that haunted my dreams, and was always in my head. My mind and my body won't forgive me. I've been too negligent. I've wasted too much time doing too many pointless things." He ran his arm over her shoulders, as he stood behind her, and pushed his nose into the nest of her hair, doing his best to remember the scent. He wanted to remember every part of her, so that if they were ever separated again, he would not struggle to recall her every detail.
"And I have always thought of you… Tadakata. And I always will…" She breathed softly, reaching her hand up, stroking his cheek. "I love you, more than anything in this world. I would die for you. I would give my life a thousand times over just to have your affection in return." She stated passionately.
"I would never wish for you to die, Akiko. The only thing you need to do to make me happy is to live. Live as strongly as you are able. I love you so much that I could eat you."
He turned her to face him, as he pushed his lips against hers. Her eyes blinked in surprise, and a warm feeling filled her chest. Their tongues intertwined, and they tasted each other, desperately, as though this were the last time they'd ever share together.
"Oh, I love you so dearly, Tadakata. Let us get married. Let us do as you say. Your warmth, your body, I want it all. But I warn myself not to be greedy, you're a great man, and there are many people who ask for a piece of you."
"And even then, I give my all to you."
He kissed her, even more passionately this time, his hands working their way through her kimono, undoing the obi, and threatening to bare her chest. She gazed up at him, her whole body warm, and she willing him to go on.
"Ahem… So you finally sealed the deal then..?" Jikouji asked, coughing into his hand.
"You're one creepy old man, Jikouji." Gengyo stated, wondering how on earth he had found out so quickly.
"You will have a wedding, won't you? It's surely not one of those casual things that are so fashionable these days? Not with a daughter of Niwa, surely?"
"Calm yourself. Of course we will. I plan to have it done, well, immediately. As soon as possible. Also, we'll be marching on Okazaki tomorrow. So prepare the troops."
"What!? Tomorrow?" Jikouji raised his eyebrows in surprise.
"Indeed, tomorrow. The troops are ready, and they are bloodthirsty. The most useless army is an idle one. We take Okazaki, and continue rolling this momentum that we've got from claiming Toyokawa. We'll slowly choke and starve Imagawa of all his cities, whilst ensuring good defensive locations for ourselves."
"Is this not too hasty, Miura?" The Miura of the past would not have leapt in so quickly, he thought. It was unlike the boy. Their capture of Toyokawa, after all, had only been after they'd carefully built up to it, ensuring money, and the right number of men. "If Imagawa were to come crashing on our gates, then we will be hard-pressed to fight him off were merely 500."
"I'm afraid that's exactly what it will come to, old man. And you should be thinking the same way as well. In this province, it will be very difficult to secure any more worthwhile troops. Only after I seize the position of Daimyo will our army begin to grow."
"You intend to keep pushing, even after you slay Imagawa?" Jikouji asked in surprise. He had not heard the boy state this ambition before.
"I will. I'm dissatisfied, Jikouji. Corruption is rife, and it is everywhere. Blood will need to be shed so that we can displace the bad, and replace it with something better. I will assume that position, unless a better man presents himself."
"…You can't be serious? You aim to do what Imagawa tried, and vie for the position of shogun?" Jikouji couldn't believe what he was hearing. Just what had this boy undergone in the temple to have him affected so severely?
"We will see. I will take it one step at a time."
"Miura… I don't doubt you, and I agree with what you're saying. There are many in power that are unfit, and don't deserve such responsibility. But is it really our place to take the reigns for ourself? There will be much bloodshed if we pursue this path."
"Blood with make fertile the soil out of which a new Japan will grow. I will be careful, old man. I will always keep you by my side so that I can stay free from corruption - I'm counting on you in that aspect."
"You put quite the pressure on me…"
"You've got the years behind you to back it up. If you're not able to keep your morales even after all this time, then what was the point in living so long?" He grinned devilishly as he forecast his morbid humour.
"Haha… Right you are. And Akiko then, too? She will be a good anchor for you - I had better get this marriage underway as soon as possible, then."
"Akiko, and the rest of my family too. I made the mistake of pushing them away before, attempting to keep them from harm. But there is no safer space for a family than to be together. The fear is not death, the fear is unfulfilled opportunity."
"So this is the result of hanging around Buddhist monks all day, eh? I suppose I'd better go and blame them for brainwashing you." Jikouji joked, though he was not entirely opposed to this outlook, for there was clearly wisdom in it.
"It is, but it is worth considering, and it makes sense. With our brains, we look far too much toward the future, and neglect the present - such is the curse of being human. I will no longer make that mistake. It is not good for my health, nor my performance on the battlefield."
"From what I've heard, your performance on the battlefield will be something to behold."
"Has young Kitajo been telling tales again? Well, I suppose it will be an improvement from the past. But things will be new to me as well. In the temple, I spent my time training with the spear. There were no horses, no swords, and no guns. It will be interesting to see how transferrable these skills really are."
"They looked rather transferrable when you tripped Morohira over - the look on his face was priceless. I wonder how long it'll take for him to get over that." Jikouji chuckled.
"He'll get over it soon enough, for I'll teach him what I have learned, just as the others. These five hundred and fifty men, plus our little crew. That's all we have. Everyone needs to be capable - the very best. Our rifles must be altered, and improved according to the old designs I drew up. We need the advantage in absolutely everything, and even then it might not be enough."
"Let me guess - that's another reason for why we're attacking Okizaki."
"Quite right. When I visited there all that time ago, I saw more smiths than I knew what to do with. Even they might not be enough. But I don't expect the people will complain. It's just another person fighting over a seat that they can't see, no matter how tall they tried to stand. As long as they're getting paid - and getting paid a lot I might add - they will be happy."
"So you profess to know the hearts of the people as well, now? Goodness, it seems you've learned more than could fill tens of thousands of books. Quite the lucky chap, aren't you?" Jikouji continued to tease him, wondering whether this new Gengyo really could be provoked.
"I know them just as well as I know my own, and for a while, I knew nothing of myself. We'll be able to do it old man. Let us march forward with conviction. We no longer need to turn to hate and spite to power our blades, but nor will we completely reject it. The Buddhist way, from my estimation - it's stronger."
"Aye aye, I'll do what I'm told to do, 'tis the duty of this humble servant. I'll serve my master till the end of my days. What shall I tell the soldiers - who have only just stopped marching - when they ask why we are going to war already?" He asked, turning to leave.
"Tell them that death waits for no man. It will come as and when it wishes, so even if they are tired, and even if their bones ache, it is best to make use of the time that we have before we return to nothingness."
"That's quite the lengthy thing to tell to so many men."
"They'll listen, and they'll understand. Theirs is the way of the sword, after all. They could not do what they do if they did not understand death and all it's implications."
"Right you are."
Jikouji left by the door of the room, exiting the office, as he prepared to ready their army for war.