Kagetsura and Nobutoki subtly sabotage Yoshizane
Ujimoto and Sadayuki comply with Tateyama at risk
Thus Anzai Saburo Taihu Kagetsura listened to his attendant and largely surmised how Satomi Yoshizane, Ochiudo from Yuki Castle, and his two men came here by sea, but did not answer immediately as it was difficult to predict later troubles. He turned to Maro no Nobutoki and asked,
“Such and such is the matter. What would be your thoughts, sir?”
Nobutoki without a moment’s hesitation replied,
“Even though Satomi is a renowned Genji clan, he has no relatives or acquaintances around here. As they are a Mochiuji’s loyal ally Yuki no Ujitomo talked them into it and they were eventually besieged for as long as three years. If you fought against Kyo and Kamakura you should consider your life gone from the beginning, but on the day the castle fell while his father was being brought down he unashamedly ran and hid, and drifted over around here. He’s a fool not worth taking on. Why should you meet him sir? Presently throw him out.”
Kagetsura listened to his advice on rejection with his head cocked for a while.
“I tend to agree with you but you cannot say he’s not worth consideration. They were under siege for three years and are used to war. Even though Yoshizane is still young, how could he have reached us without cutting his way through the enemy line of tens of thousands? Maybe we should invite him in, meet him and test his mettle, and if he’s good enough to use shall we suppose we’ve gained a commander in our attacks on Sadakane? If he’s not good enough to use there isn’t even any need for throwing him out. Let’s just stab him to death on the spot and get rid of later troubles. What say you sir?”
Thus whispered Kagetsura and Nobutoki nodded to this several times and hurried him as he replied,
“Superbly worked out sir. I shall meet him too, now you get ready.”
Kagetsura immediately called for servants, gave precise instructions, had them inform some strapping men able-bodied and skilled in martial arts of his plot, and simply rushed them while Nobutoki on the other hand called in his accompanying men and acquainted them of the matter and accompanied the host Kagetsura to the parlour. The state of the affair was such that, assiduously made to look commanding and domineering, a score of Anzai’s men along with over ten of Maro’s all dressed in an imposing manner aligned in dual lines, a number of adorned bowstrings looked like a waterfall painted on a wall, and the lances and naginata set across looked like haze in spring hills. With the passageway screened, there were over ten of breast-armoured sumo wrestlers, each and every one of them ready at beck and call to run out to capture those master and men alive.
Meanwhile, young master Satomi Yoshizane, after having been standing outside for over an hour, was invited in and merely passed through a room, when from behind the paper screens of a room partition came out four of the strapping men in a peppermint green hemp suit.
“This way sir. We’ll escort you.”
As soon as they offered thus they stood in front and behind him, fit an arrow to a Hankyu bow and drew fully, which sight alarmed Sugikura and Horiuchi who were following closely behind and made them nearly dash out, at which moment from the same spot again ran out six of soldiers in a black Kosode garment with its sleeves tucked up with a sash, their hakama trousers hitched up high above their thighs, pointed ends of their hand spears all aligned, and they all accompanied the two whilst those in front walking backwards. Yoshizane however appeared calm.
“Such an extravagant welcome! Over the past three years in Yuki there were days when I stood in the front line and I don’t know how many times I ducked through under spears, but over here you have nothing but the sea where there is not a misbehaving sea breeze and the noble and the common alike rejoice their equality, or so I heard but this is nothing like the rumour.”
Behind the master mumbling to himself his senior officers paused a moment.
“Even though your warfare books tell you never to forget war in peace and never to underestimate a small enemy, we are to savour the loaded firearms, nay, lord’s hand cooking of such foreign feasts as stewed turnip-shaped arrow heads and Udon noodles of bow strings, served for a company of not over three. Well, do lead on.”
Thus hurrying the men, the master and men had already been lead to the meeting place. The escorts unnocked their bows, carried their spears and retreated into the curtains in the east and in the west.
Now Satomi Yoshizane, observing Kagetsura and Nobutoki in the distance, showed no sign of ingratiating himself, seated himself in a guest’s seat, pulled a fan out of his waist pocket and placed it on the right and politely introduced themselves.
“Here I am, Satomi Matataro (Junior) Yoshizane, the defeated general from Yuki, after making a narrow escape through the encircling enemy lines and wandering, so as to fulfil the dying wish of my father Jibu no Shoyu Suyemoto. It was only yesterday that I thought to myself how fortunate it would be to seek shelter for my now humble self in a fisherman’s hut and become a citizen of this peaceful land which doesn’t submit to the capital, let alone to the Kanrei (Shogun’s Second-in-Command) in Kamakura, but the rumours and hearsay are often far from the truth. Wondering if by chance I may be of your assistance I dared beg an audience with your highness despite myself, and you didn’t shun me for being a defeated captain and invited me in; ‘tis an occasion suited for me to speak my mind. Accompanying are my father’s favourite lieges Sugikura Kisonosuke Ujimoto and Horiuchi Kurando Sadayuki. Please let them be acknowledged.”
He then calmly turned around and together with Ujimoto and Sadayuki bowed his head.
However, Kagetsura, seeing that Yoshizane looked even younger than expected, belittled him and just stared without returning the courtesy. Even before the host responded, Nobutoki replied with his eyes peeled and in a raised voice,
“I am Maro no Kogoro. I only join you because I happened to come over from Hiratate for another small business today. Now now, you mouthy young man. Although our Awa is a small country it is located at the farthest south east and is entirely surrounded by seas on three sides; it does not bow to martial law of the Muromachi Palace nor does it submit to the two Kanrei (Shogun’s second-in-commands), but the neighbouring powers dare not violate our borders.
Nevertheless, you’re no friends nor relations to me, let alone to Lord Anzai, and yet, just because you fought against Kyo and Kamakura and had no place to go to, ‘tis foolish of you, little fledgling still wet behind your ears, to think you know enough to come lecturing us on our concerns.
Even if one has Buddha-like mercy to those in adversity and will embrace debris and sweepings like Kan’non Godess of Mercy in her infinite sea of blessings, should one shelter sinners and invite troubles? What a truly futile meeting!”
Nobutoki scratched his jaw that insulted and humiliated, and smirked when Yoshizane smiled pleasantly and replied.
“Thus spoke the renowned Master Maro may I presume? Maro and Anzai from Tojo are old families of this country and you should expect their valour and military tactics must be such, but they are not so as I see. My own father Suyemoto whom I miss, earnestly sought justice all his life, held the fort of Yuki Castle which everyone thought would not last long, kept the big armies of Kyo and Kamakura at bay for as long as three years and had no regrets at death. I am no match for him, but I did not flee from fear nor run for my life, but owing to my father’s dying wish I only wish to trust my life with Heaven’s Will and wait for the right moment.
When Sir Mochiuji of Kamakura was at his height every samurai of the eight provinces, not to mention Awa and Kazusa, with his heart and soul served him with no exceptions, but once Sir Mochiuji fell, far and few were those who joined forces and held the fort of Yuki for the sake of his young princes at the cost of their own selves and families. Untrustworthy are people’s hearts that tend to seek benefit, and here you are Master Maro and Master Anzai, if you spare no thoughts for the debt of gratitude from Sir Mochiuji and refuse me for fear of the two Kanrei’s vengeance, I shall turn around and leave. Certainly Kanrei are having the time of their life. Samurai from every country are under their wing. It is only natural that you are scared sir, but why should you fear me Yoshizane with only two men in company so and have armed men escort me, be so cautious whilst saying this place is safe and sound, hang bows and arrows over our seats, keep swords and lances unsheathed, and above all hide many a sumo wrestler behind the screens?”
 Kyo means Kyoto. ‘Kyo’ means capital and ‘to’ means city.
 A kind of pole swords – sword blades mounted on long poles
 Hankyu (半弓 – literally ‘half bow’), approximately up to a little short of 2 metres or 5 foot 10) is a bow shorter than Daikyu (大弓 – literally ‘big bow’) which was well over 2 metres. Hankyu could be used in a sitting position whilst Daikyu was commonly used on a horseback. Hankyu is as long as or even longer than a longbow but for the lack of fitting terms in English I’ll sometimes call Hankyu a short bow Dakyu longbow.
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Episode III continues to the next post. I need to speed up a little. Unlike Suyemoto I’m full of regrets.