A Time Traveller's Guide To Feudal Japan

Chapter 223 - Inwards

"That's our cue." Gengyo announced with satisfaction, sword in hand, as they watched the wall around the river crumble to the ground.

The others did not need to hear what he had said to understand it. They'd snuck across the moat, and stood ready and waiting for the wall to fall, and to their disbelief, it did. The rest of the sh.i.p.s did not even have dummies on them, nor even gunpowder. Mere decoys. They were more than ready for battle. Before the dust had even begun to clear, they began their charge, lead by he that dabbled in the impossible.

The earth was moist as they sprinted across it, covered in rubble and river water as the river overflowed, spurred on by the explosion. But they deftly avoided all the obstacles, and poured through at speed. They needed only the smallest opening to take advantage of it.

"They've bloody done it!" Morojo called out triumphantly, clenching his fist as he watched from a distance with Takeshi.

"Not yet – it's too early for us to celebrate." Takeshi replied, unwilling to tear his eyes away just yet.

The fleeing Imagawa army barely knew that it was being chased, already fearing the fire of Zenok, unwilling to pay attention to anything else.

Okabe cursed loudly as his horse was forced to rear with all the men pouring past it. "DAMN IT YOU COWARDS! STAND THE LINE!"

Even he – who had expected something untoward – did not notice immediately as they sprang through that opening in the wall. It was only when his horse had settled did he finally catch an inclining, due to a rather cold feeling near his throat.

"Well, things aren't looking too pretty for you at the moment, are they Okabe?" Gengyo whispered by his ear, having sprung stealthily onto the back of his horse.

He dared not even gulp, knowing full well what manner of weapon lay by his throat, and yet, the question still came. "…Who… are you?" He whispered; his voice tainted by fear. Not a single name sprang to his mind as explanation. There was no known man capable of such strategy.

"Does the name Niwa ring a bell?" Gengyo replied somewhat jovially, noticing Okabe's eyes widen from beneath his menyori, and then, he slowly pierced his neck, ending his life, and watching on as the man died painfully, choking on his own blood.

His forces were not idle beside him either, as they put their rifles to the fullest of use, unleashing all their bullets on the fleeing men, felling them by the thousands, before casting the guns aside and drawing their blades

Akiko's face was firm as she went to work with her naginata, targeting the small pockets of resistance that were still yet to flee. A group of thirty gathered around an officer, heeding his command, attempting to set up some sort of formation. Before they could even catch a glance of her, the first man's head was severed and sent rolling beside them.

She dashed forward with deadly skill, using the crowd to her advantage, travelling agilely, phasing in and out of their field of vision. A thrust here and a man's lung was punctured. A slash here, and another's guts fell open, held like a pocket by the severed leather of his armour.

They could only grasp their swords, sweating heavily, their knees already weak from fear. They heard a man die in one place, so they looked towards it, and prepared their defence, only to have her appear behind them and kill yet another.

With all the ease of trimming a hedge, soon every single man surrounding the officer had fallen, and she stepped forward slowly to confront him. There was a calm about this individual that was to be respected. He knew his death was near, and yet he grasped his blade firmly. His end was quick, as his throat was severed. That was the only mercy he received.

Morohira was predatorial by nature, and seeing the men flee with their backs turned had his instincts firing, and he could not help but chase after them. He killed one man, and seized his sword, wielding two at once as had become his custom. He was faster than they were. Fitter, too. He ploughed through them one man at a time, his face splattered in their blood, and scraps of their flesh tainting his cheeks. He laughed all the while, enjoying every single second. Battle made sweeter still by the appetising of revenge.

Jikouji fought more furiously than a man half his age, a new passion awakened inside him. Tears tainted his eyes, as he allowed all that emotion he had bottled up to be unleashed.

"BASTARD!" He roared, killing two men in front of him with a single slash.

Knowing that they would fall if they continued to present him with their backs, a group turned around, and attempted to confront him at once, but with two strokes his blade, he nullified their resistance. A master swordsman all his life, with his skill only enhanced by monkly guidance.

It was a brutal display, and one that Matsudaira was unable to bear witness to, but had he seen the ferocity with which his men fought, he would have been proud indeed. The veteran men formed the centre, still being of a slightly higher skill, and yet, these new comers were truly warming themselves in blood, and were constantly competing, threating to overthrow their seniors if they were not too careful.

Had they met on a field, evenly, then it might have been possible for this force to crush the other still – though it would certainly have been a battle to remember. Such was the quality in their training.

As they ran the length of the fortress - pursuing the fleeing men before they could form up - it was much to the new members' surprise that they did not feel tired. Even half of such a distance in the past would have left them panting. And now they did it with ease, in full armour, whilst hacking the enemy in front of them to pieces. Whilst they had hated their training, they could not help be thankful now for all that it had given them.

They were not allowed to grow too confident though, as they witnessed the otherworldly gap between their skill, and that of their leader. He led the arrowed headed charge, doing more damage than several man.

A casual swing of his sword here, and that man's head was severed. A slight kick, and another man's ribs were broken, stabbing into his lungs, hurling his body through the mass of fleeing men, and sending more falling to the ground with him, leaving a trail of stragglers for the rest to clean up.

He was an efficient whirlwind of destruction, and one that Rin eyed carefully as she sprinted alongside him, attempting to match him strike for strike. She leapt across the battlefield, in her spectacularly agile swords style, leaving all to question whether this truly was a woman causing such carnage.

Her style was deceptively beautiful in a terribly dangerous sort of way. She slid her blade through a man just deeply enough to puncture his internal organs, saving as much energy as possible before she dove into the next. Her grace was severely contrasted by the rest, and especially by her brother, who simply overwhelmed them by might alone, leaving mangled and disfigured corpses in his path. They appeared more as the result of a car accident than a swordfight.

The tide of battle led toward a certain point. A gate that the fleeing men had only just managed to open, allowing them to exit the field. Past that point – they knew – they would be safe, and Gengyo did not make an effort to prove such an assumption wrong. As he came to that point, he chased no further, and with a solid kick, he instead closed it, allowing no one else to flee, and no one else to return.

The rest were trapped, and immediately dealt with. A sea of corpses littered the empty streets. What had once been a bustling market place was now a graveyard, as pools of a red liquid gathered and sprang off into streams, running toward the fast-flowing river.

Those that had been mounted were targeted first, and so, by this point, there was not a single man of command yet alive. Only a few straggling commoners held on, swatted down moments later.

Attention was turned towards a second wall. He locked gazes with one of the terrified guards inside. But a hundred men had remained to protect the Daimyo, as a formality, for no one expected the attackers to get this far.

He spoke simply. "Open the gate, and you will live. Make me open the gate, and you will die."

With urine dripping down his leg, he shared a glance with his fellow guardsman before making a decision, teeth chattering.

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