Takenaka Hanbei, or Takenaka Shigeharu, as he was called interchangeably, was a famous strategist
in the Warring States Period who could be regarded as one of the two foremost strategists in this
This says a lot since the Warring States period had an abundance of capable strategists, any of whom
would have been held in high regard in a different period .
Naturally, for the Azai clan surrounded by powerful enemies such as the Rokkaku, the Takedas, and
the Asakura clan, a genius like Takenaka Hanbei has been wooed periodically .
Historians have conjectured that Oda Nobunaga sent an Oda clan officer Kinoshita Hideyoshi to
persuade Takenaka Hanbei to join him soon after the fall of Inabayama Castle in August, the 10th
year of the Eiroku Era . (1567) .
It’s already February, so if history is on track, Hideyoshi will visit this castle in six months .
However, considering that this world does not always move according to historical facts, I had to
take action early .
There were two motives for me to take the risk and invade the Saito clan’s territory, one of which
was a letter sent by Nobunaga .
He is going to invade Mino soon was what the letter stated .
Knowing my brother-in-law, he was dead serious as usual .
If that was the case, he might send Hideyoshi at an earlier stage to capture Inabayama Castle .
And the second reason embarrassingly was the nightmare that I had this morning .
I honestly don’t know what that means, but it seemed like it was simply telling me that the “Azai will
perish if nothing changes …” .
Historically, the Azai clan was destined to perish in 1573 .
Some philosophers think that history has a corrective mechanism which means that no matter how
much how you change the past, events would simply rearrange themselves to bring out the same
future as there was before .
But I didn’t want to believe in such a theory .
I believed in the potential that is inherent in humanity!
I believed that even when options were limited, the accumulation of wisdom through discussion
would allow us to break the rut of inertia .
I believed that however little we could do individually, even a little push in the right direction would
lead to a raging tsunami breaking us free from the doom that lies ahead .
Which was why…
I would do anything to prevent the nightmare from materializing in the real world .
I looked straight at Hanbei with purpose in my eyes .
“Protector of the Azais, Respected Naofusa dono, since you both have come so far without so much
as a rest, the least we could do is to show our hospitality . Shuko, if you will! “
The feminine Hanbei, after saying these words in a silken voice, claps his hands .
On hearing the cue, the sliding doors open, and a petite yet pretty girl enters the room while
gingerly balancing a steaming tray in her hands .
“Respected guests, this is my wife, Shuko . ”
No way! You are joking! (TL: Uso darou )
“I will be in your care from now on,” says the little girl in a slightly immature voice while bowing
deeply to us .
I was stunned to seeing Mrs . Takenaka bowing .
For a moment, my mind went blank .
What should I say …
This is obviously a girl who ought to be in middle school!
Indeed, not bride material by any stretch of my imagination .
When she blinked with her big eyes with an innocent look on her face, I had to stop myself from
going, “Awww, so cute!”
By the way, when you looked at her standing next to Hanbei, rather than looking like a couple, they
resembled a mother-daughter pair far more .
Naturally, I wasn’t stupid enough to say that I would have been kicked out of this castle otherwise .
“This is our humble tea . ”
A cup of tea, each, is placed in front of Naofusa and me after these words are said .
But it is not just about the tea .
Unknown to me, Hanbei’s evaluation had already begun .
After lightly sipping once with my tongue to check the heat, I drank the tea in one go . Naofusa
followed likewise .
Seeing our hurry, Hanbei squinted momentarily .
“–delicious,” I explained with a smile .
“Ah … Thank you very much!”
Mrs . Takenaka’s face glowed on hearing our praise .
Apparently, she is delighted to be praised for her skills .
After stopping myself from gushing once more, I couldn’t help myself from clicking my teeth .
Really, how old are you!
I didn’t ask, though, because asking a woman about her age was a big taboo as far as I knew .
There was no way I was getting kicked out of this place without completing my mission; I resolved
once more .
Somehow I felt that my resolve was going to be tested again .
“In that case, Master Shigeharu,” I begin with a purposeful tone of voice .
“Huh?” Hanbei quizzically tilts his fair head .
My heartbeat forcefully in my chest .
I am a straight guy…
How can I be attracted by a …man!?
I shook my head to ward off any distracting thoughts and continued with my earlier sentence while
forcefully maintaining a facade of calm .
“Let me come straight to the point . I, the head of the Azai Clan, have made this long journey here to
recruit your services, Lord Takenaka Shigeharu . ”
“To recruit me as a retainer… hmm . ”
Hanbei gently closes his eyes while contemplating my request .
Meanwhile, fair silken hair, a deep dark brown in color, dances gently in the breeze .
My eyes follow those furtive strands in their elegant prance .
I noticed that Hanbei’s delicate hair extends all the way down to his waist .
Once again, I am forced to question my sanity .
Is this really a man…?!
Unknown to me while I am engrossed with his hair, Hanbei has already opened his eyes which gaze
at me with amusement .
It took me a moment to realize my gaffe .
“Ahem,” I continue with a face that I hope hides my embarrassment, ” What is your response,
Shigeharu dono . ”
“I am really sorry, but I have already decided not to serve others anymore . ”
He spoke softly, but the firmness in his words is unmistakable .
“Are you sure,” I asked matter-of-factly .
“Yes, ” he replied with an air of finality .
It seems I might have to return empty-handed this time .
However, I don’t feel angry .
Perhaps, this is due to the relaxed atmosphere that Hanbei emitted .
His eyes stared into mine with an air of frivolity .
It was as if he was challenging me to do my best to convince him .
Rather than feeling frustrated, when I saw him sitting upright on his knees with that look on his
Why do I feel that it is unbelievably sexy!
He is a man … dammit ! (TL : Chikusho )
Resisting the urge to smack my face, I took a deep breath and then continued to tease out his true
thoughts, which were hidden at this moment .
“Can I ask why?”
“…It’s just what I feel at this moment . ”
Hanbei says nonchalantly while gently throwing his delicate hair behind his neck in an elegant
The pure white neck is exposed for a moment, rife with a sex appeal not inferior to Oichi .
How are you, a man!
“I used to work for the Saito clan once . My experience, however, was rather unhappy, so I eventually
decided to explore the world . What I found everywhere in this era of constant strife was nothing but
despair and darkness . ”
“I have long since ceased to find any meaning in the struggle of the lords, and all I desire is just some
peace . ”
“Hmm . In that case, why did you return to Mino . Are you not aware that this land will soon be
plunged into the flames of war when the Oda and the Saito go to battle?”
“I am . . “
“Then why? Is it because of your family?” I asked
On hearing my reply, Hanbei shakes his head . His silken hair dances enticingly in front of my eyes,
along with that action .
“It’s because of that lord…”
Hanbei swallows his words after speaking softly .
My curiosity now pricks me .
I wonder which lord of the Saito clan Hanbei is referring to . If he referred to the current lord, the
prodigal Saito Tatsuoki, he could have phrased it differently .
Perhaps Hanbei has a deep respect for the previous head Saito Yoshitatsu or even his predecessor
Saito Dosan, and is trying to differentiate them from the never-do-well Tatsuoki .
But his following words dashed my conclusions .
“That lord, he never thought once of this, me …” He spoke in a gentle voice heavy with the scent of
I was wrong, after all .
Hanbei didn’t have disdain for Tatsuoki; instead, he was most likely in love with him…
(TL: To understand why the MC comes to this conclusion, it is essential to note that Hanbei responds
with a tone and a choice of words that are almost exclusively reserved for a maiden in love . (Otome
no Koe in jp) . )
Maybe Hanbei carried out the coup-de-tat known in history as the ‘Occupation of Inabayama Castle’
to make Tatsuoki aware of his affections for him . After that failed, he decided to wander the land
searching for meaning and even found a wife along the way .
Yet, regardless of how much time had passed, his love hadn’t faded away; instead, it had most likely
warped into something darker…
I had never considered this possibility before, but there had been such a rumor spread in some
Sengoku works, which might very well be true .
In that case…
I had to rework my strategy .
Earlier, the strategy that I had in mind was to persuade him to join my side in return for the
destruction of the Saito Clan through my power .
But the odds of this succeeding very low, to be honest since the bulk of the destruction of the Saito
Clan would be done by the Odas .
In a few months, the Oda clan would send its own emissary to woo him over, and Hanbei would be a
fool not to join the powerful Oda clan whose rising momentum shrouded the skies of this age .
Not to mention, Hanbei could make the change righteously as well, stating that the Oda Clan were
his benefactors and that he ought to serve them in return out of gratitude .
Clearly, then adopting the path of reason will lead me to a dead end .
Earlier, I thought of winging it for now and sorting out the mess when the time comes .
But now I have a better means of attack…
Emotions were unreasonable, after all .
There were no tighter shackles – than the ones made of love .
What I had to do now was to reproduce that classical soap opera involving the owner of the rice
shop and his young wife . (E/N: It must be some real life reference to an old or recent soap opera but the google search isn’t yielding any results . We couldn’t think of anything too . In case we find it later, we’ll update it later)
I had to take the bittersweet feelings for Tatsuoki that Hanbei had left and slowly ferment them into
the shape I want .
From sparkling wine, it was slowly making its way into sour vinegar; I had to take it a step further
and turn it into a puddle of sewage .
Slowly twist Hanbei’s heart until the memories of Tatsuoki are like poison in his veins, and he wishes
that Tatsuoki had never existed so that he could be spared the pain .
Once he’s broken, I shall take over as the lord and the master of the shrine that he holds in his heart .
Then . .
“I have decided, Naofusa!”
“Yes, my lord!”
On hearing my sudden exclamation, Naofusa hurriedly sat on his knees as he waited for my order .
“It’s terrible to do this to you, a long-time friend of Hanbei dono’s, but I need you to return at once
and tell my brother Masamoto and the others to postpone their action on Mino!”
I wasn’t surprised at all by the panic-stricken face that Naofusa was showing at that moment .
It was only natural for a retainer to worry about leaving his lord alone in enemy territory, especially
when they had come to the said territory in secret .
But for the next phase of my plan…
“Don’t you believe in Lord Shigeharu? ” I asked quietly .
His face wanders from Hanbei’s to his wife’s to mine as he ponders what to respond .
I, on the other hand, am much more concerned about what will come next .
Let’s hope that the idea I am having right now is foolproof .
PS: Due to Sora currently being treated for Covid-19, I am temporarily taking his place as Editor for this chapter . Unfortunately, TL Bluebamboo was also tested positive for Covid-19 but he seems to be recovering well . I hope both of them recover in full health .