Book 2: Chapter 41: The n.o.blewoman Duo of Eastern Nations
The cheerless streets were cold and empty as the commoners hadn’t woken up yet. Having said that, the samurai were already up and ready to join the expedition.
The common consensus was that samurai didn’t need to work and could simply enjoy their lives off the taxes paid by the commoners. However, this was something they had earned after going through fire and water, betting their lives on the line.
Those who wished to reap the fruits of seeds sown by others only had to pick up their weapons and test whether a life of killing was an easy one.
Minamoto no s.h.i.+mizu1, donned in a l.u.s.trous, azure armor, gazed ahead with utmost calm. She showed no indecisiveness even though it was her first time going out into battle, and led the people following her through the empty, earthen streets.
When they set out, there were just a dozen or so people, but as the group reached the outer walls of Kamakura City, the number had swelled up to hundreds! Samurai and soldiers of the Genji branch clans had joined the procession.
The number of people who had decided to follow Minamoto no s.h.i.+mizu into battle was an unimaginable one!
They numbered so high that even Minamoto no Kenki, who joined up with s.h.i.+mizu outside the city, also felt a bit startled. He came over from the territory in Izu that belonged to the Genji and had only managed to gather a hundred men on his way here.
Perhaps this was the ability of Eastern Nations’ best samurai girl to rally troops even though she rarely showed her face outside.2
There were already troops waiting for them on the hillside of the city’s outskirts. These troops consisted of the As.h.i.+kaga family, Ikeda family, Imagawa family, and other branch clans that belonged to the army of the As.h.i.+kaga clan.
The banners of the As.h.i.+kaga family were hoisted all over, and altogether, they numbered up to a thousand men.
As.h.i.+kaga Makoto had donned silver, full-body armor, with her pretty hair styled into a pigtail to the back and rode a dark-brown warhorse as her mount.
As.h.i.+kaga Kiyos.h.i.+ had worn silver armor with ruby-colored edges, and a huge silver helmet that had a ridiculously large golden horn at the center. It made him look quite formidable as he rode an intricately adorned white horse beside his mother.
When they saw that the troops of the Genji had arrived, As.h.i.+kaga Makoto and Kiyos.h.i.+ dismounted from their horses to meet with them.
The current As.h.i.+kaga Makoto showed no hint of her motherliness that she usually had at home. She instead had a heroic aura to her, and her gentle gaze brimmed with unflinching determination.
However, when As.h.i.+kaga Kiyos.h.i.+ looked at Lily, who was walking towards them, he felt a little embarra.s.sed, so didn’t dare look straight at her. He commented inwardly, “Miss Kagami looks so valiant and beautiful… but this armor of hers is really a bit too bold.”
Minamoto no Kenki was a model samurai of the Genji, tall, resolute, conscientious, charming, and handsome.
After exchanging pleasantries with Minamoto no Kenki, As.h.i.+kaga Makoto made her way towards s.h.i.+mizu and Lily.
“I wasn’t expecting so many people would follow after you, Lady s.h.i.+mizu,” As.h.i.+kaga Makoto nodded, praising s.h.i.+mizu after looking at the troops behind her.
“Not at all, it’s nothing compared to the forces of the As.h.i.+kaga clan,” s.h.i.+mizu replied.
As.h.i.+kaga Makoto looked at Lily with some astonishment, “Miss Kagami is as lively as ever, too.”
As they were before the troops, As.h.i.+kaga Makoto decided to address Lily formally.
“Mother Makoto, please don’t tease me…” Lily pulled the edge of her short skirt down embarra.s.sedly.
As.h.i.+kaga Makoto actually furrowed her brows and then said, “When we are out on the field, call me ‘Commander,’ or else, I’ll have you birched as punishment.”
“Ehhh? Yes… Understood, Commander!” Lily answered ashamedly.
“As we’ve all a.s.sembled, let’s set off then. We will head northward and meet up with the troops of the Takeda and Uesugi at the foot of Mt. Aoame3,” As.h.i.+kaga Makoto commanded.
Although the Takeda and Uesugi clans never got along since ancient times and had even warred against each other on multiple occasions, they had decided to abandon their former hatred temporarily and sent troops to comply with the decree of Lord Kamakura.
And right now, several hundred kilometers from the meeting place, on a route in Kai province, the cavalry of the Uesugi and Takeda clans were marching side-by-side for the first time ever.
A beautiful visage rode an extremely conspicuous, huge and dreadful dark horse that looked similar to a demonic beast that stood at the forefront of the troops.
And beside her was a man donned in formidable-looking armor and a golden-horned helmet, Itagaki n.o.buyos.h.i.+4, riding a gorgeously adorned tiger of a ma.s.sive build. However, he still lacked a bit in comparison to the person he was accompanying.
Uesugi Rei had donned an intricately a.s.sembled armor made of metal and silk, and rode the humongous mountain-like Nioh’s back, with her legs on its sides.
Her silver hair fluttered in the air just like the clouds in the skies, and she wore a black, metallic circlet on her forehead. At the same time, a Bishamonten-like mask with violet-pupils rested on the side of her hair.
The ferocity within those violet gem-like eyes of hers seemed to contain a hint of seductiveness.
“Brother Itagaki, are you sure this is the right route?” Uesugi Rei asked.5
“… Lady Uesugi, this is the only route from the Kai province to Kamakura city. As long as we aren’t walking backward, there’s no way we won’t reach the meeting place. Please rest a.s.sured,” cold sweat formed on Itagaki’s forehead.
Following behind them, on Uesugi Rei’s side, was a unit of hundred cavalrywomen donned in skin-tight blue armor6, and on Itagaki’s side, were several units of hundred, mighty cavalrymen marching along while flying the banners of the Takeda clan.
If these cavalry units were to charge ahead, they could crush ordinary infantry units consisting of thousands of men with ease!
The two clans excelled with their cavalries and were in discord since ancient times. They were forced to temporarily team up on this occasion alone.
By now, the As.h.i.+kaga and the Genji troops had already set camp at the riverbank linked with Mt. Aoame. They predicted that the forces of the Uesugi and the Takeda would reach this three-p.r.o.nged intersection at nighttime and meet up with them.
Each samurai clan had their own wagon full of army provisions, which they had used to set up camp. Lily had joined the camp that Sakiko had instructed the dojo’s retainer samurai to set up for s.h.i.+mizu.
Everyone had begun pitching camp at dusk and made fires to prepare meals. The scene was pretty chaotic for a while, and since no one bothered Lily, she had nothing to do too.
A few troops of minor samurai clans under the As.h.i.+kaga clan were beside the camp Lily was situated in. They were scattered in groups of sevens and eights over here.
This made Lily recall the Matsuda clan, as well as Uncle Matsuda, whose situation still eluded her. Lily planned to visit the Matsuda clan to visit him if she had the time for it.
Lily noticed a few samurai donned in shabby armors and with wizened complexions were seated on a mound made of mud and nibbling on dark, dried rations. Occasionally, they drank water from the river beside them.
Rice had been clearly cooked over at another place, so Lily went over and asked them, “Gentlemen, how come you aren’t having warm food and are dining on these cold and dried things?”
The leader of these samurai was a middle-aged man whose height only came up to 150 cm. He got up from the mound and gazed upon Lily, skirting past her pale and long legs, and then lingering on her soft, bountiful bosom. He stared with a fixed gaze for a moment, but the glimmer in his eyes dimmed down immediately. It was a cla.s.sic example of the quote — only those who thrive have the leniency to let their thoughts go astray — It was hard for a starved man to feel the urge upon encountering a beautiful woman.
The middle-aged man opened his disorderly-teethed mouth and grizzled jaw to answer her with an aged voice, “Warm food? That’s obviously the food made for the troops of the As.h.i.+kaga clan, so why would we have it? We received orders to join the expedition, but we all carry our own rations. Of course, the food brought by the As.h.i.+kaga was produced in their territory, so we have no qualms with this. It has always been this way.”
Lily asked him, “Since it’s like this, why have you come to join the battle?”
“Miss, you appear to have matured well, but how come you don’t even know the answer to such a simple question? We have naturally joined the battle to earn merits! As long as we have enough merits, we can get substantial rewards, and the best reward is obviously land. Although we number few, as long as we kill a certain number of enemies or complete some missions, we will get a bit of land as a territory when the battle ends. Even though it’s just a bit, it’s still land; without it, we can grow no food, nor can we train troops or rear horses. Even if we can’t obtain land, we might be able to get gold and silver as a reward or get bestowed with weapons seized from the enemies. The livelihood of us lower-ranked samurai rests on such things!”
Lily nodded calmly and didn’t feel that the As.h.i.+kaga were heartless. In this chaotic world, the survival of the fittest was the dogma of all people. To live a pleasant and fulfilling life, there was no choice but to improve one’s strength and fight for it with one’s life.
“Miss!” A young samurai’s hands touched Lily’s battle skirt suddenly, and this made her go on alert. However, when she saw that man’s malnourished appearance, she couldn’t summon her ire at all. He looked so weak that he would lose his life very quickly in battle.
This samurai, who was just 160 cm tall, asked her, “M-Miss, please don’t misunderstand. I wasn’t trying to peek. I just wanted to touch this armor since its material looked so good. May I inquire what the grade of this armor is? Is it grade 2 armor from the legends?”
“No, it’s a grade 4 armor,” Lily replied nonchalantly.
“Grade 4!?” The young samurai yelled out, “Oh, heaven! I actually touched a grade 4 armor! What fortune! This is the luckiest moment of my life! Hahahaha!”
The young samurai began dancing up in joy with excitement all of a sudden.
Although they were poor, famished, and weak, these samurai of the Eastern Nations all possessed a sincere and straightforward nature.
The man’s excited remarks had caused the short, lower-ranked samurai and soldiers from nearby to gather around and look at Lily as if she were a G.o.ddess. They didn’t dare to come too close to her, almost as if they would disappear into motes of light from the radiant, holy halo aura around her.
Although they gazed at her reverently from afar, their gazes also contained desire. However, this was pure admiration men had for women, a venerate longing free of wicked and sinful thoughts.7
Most of them were actually checking out Lily’s equipment.
“T-The pommel of this katana seems to also have a glittering, golden star.” “What kind of katana is this? It’s so pretty!” “This armor looks very tough. I’m afraid our katanas would just break into two if we were to slash at it.”
Lily looked at them, who wore armor that had been repaired, again and again, possessing multiple proofs of the battles they had gone through. Sharp as she was, Lily had deduced that most of their armors were either grade 1 armor or gradeless armor. They were only worth a few kan, but they were treasures to these samurai.
Lily felt sympathy for these samurai who risked their lives yet even couldn’t have warm rice, but she didn’t plan to provide aid to them. If she were to do so, it would be akin to disgracing them.
Even though they were poor and had to walk through danger, they wished to earn merit through their own hands. Hungry as they were, these samurai weren’t beggars.
No matter what, this armor of Lily’s really had the effect of boosting the morale of people…
After bidding the samurai farewell, Lily returned to her camp’s tent that was on a high meadow.
s.h.i.+mizu’s maid had made the retainers move a black, wooden table here, and delicious food was served on top of it, along with tableware. The dishes consisted of sas.h.i.+mi, sus.h.i.+, and radish that had been cooked to perfection, looking similar to jade, as well as a creamy, flavorful soup, along with jewel-like l.u.s.trous rice and lukewarm sake.
The soldiers who were nibbling dried rations nearby looked at the food on s.h.i.+mizu’s table with fiery gazes.
Lily hesitated for a moment, but still sat down together with s.h.i.+mizu at the end. Since she didn’t have a good appet.i.te, s.h.i.+mizu didn’t end up having much of it. However, Lily actually picked up the sus.h.i.+ and gobbled it up in one go with her sweet, luscious lips, and then covered her lips with her hand.
The soldiers began to drool when they saw this scene. Although it didn’t sit well with her, Lily had no plans to share this food with them. She had to act in the capacity of her ident.i.ty, after all. Such was the distinction in status.
Lily was a mid-tier sword saint with the strength of 20,000 kan, and these men were just lower-ranked samurai and foot soldiers tasked with carrying supplies that weighed around 50 kilos.
If she were to share this delicious, otherworldly food with them, it would only end up harming them.
If people wished to have better things, they needed to show courage and obtain them through deadly battles by relying on their own strength.8
The Heian Empire never sympathized with the weak.
However, even Lily and the rest wouldn’t pay attention to such etiquette when the war really begins. They, too, would just have plain cooked rice topped with dried plums.
As the night gradually approached, Lily actually hadn’t a single sip of sake because she would begin acting strangely whenever she did.
s.h.i.+mizu’s maid went ahead to arrange the interior of the tent. Meanwhile, Lily and s.h.i.+mizu stood together in the open s.p.a.ce outside and gazed upon the starry skies.
Silence reigned for a moment, yet it was broken apart by majestic neighs of warhorses coming from the valley.
Thunderous sounds of horses stamping on the ground followed after as they rushed towards the camp.
The yells of soldiers could be heard from afar, “It’s the Uesugi clan and the Takeda clan! They have arrived!”
“Look, it’s the Uesugi clan’s cavalrywomen unit! And that’s the armored cavalry unit of the Takeda clan beside them!”9
- TLN: From now on, we will be using the correct translation of Minamoto no (Name) instead of Genji. Robinxen: Chhhoootttooooo mmaaaatttteeee!!! That was the proper translation?!
- Robinxen: No this is the ability of the author to fabricate reality.
- TLN: Previously translated as Mt. Amegyo
- TLN: Apparently, this is the 3rd ranked Sixth Sword of the Eastern Nation introduced in Chapter 76 and the same person who blocked Uesugi Rei before the Kai province at Chapter 131. The author made a typo with the character names. It was previously translated as Itou s.h.i.+ngi and Yohko s.h.i.+ngi.
- Robinxen: Trust them. Not yourself.
- Silva: s.e.xy….
- Robinxen: Author trying to absolve his guilty sins.
- Robinxen: I disagree on principle…
- Robinxen: The cat fight begins.