Prologue: The Origin – The Prince, the Princess, and the Dog 5-2

Episode V-ii

Good captain declines intrigues and enlistees learn benevolence

Carrier pigeons deliver a message and the traitors offer a head

 

Courtesy of Ban Getu Tei by Yoshitate Kyounosuke & Fuyu

 

Previously…

While Sadakane, the enemy of all folk, was spending day and night partying, a strange looking army approached his castle and brought down one of his favourite warriors Sabitsuka Donpei. It was the wandering freelancer Kanamari Takayoshi coming back to avenge his former master. Sadakane listens on to the eyewitness’s account of the battle scene. Now the stage is set for Yoshizane’s ever-reliable lieutenant Horiuchi Krando Sadayuki. Coolness.

 

“Finally Sabitsuka was brought down, and Iwakuma over here became infuriated. He drew to raise a 4-Shaku-6-Sun[1]– long Tachi[2] overhead and splinted up in a straight line to bring down Kanamari, when a Satomi’s senior officer advancing in the second troop introduced himself as Horiuchi Krando Sadayuki, wearing an armour laced in navy threads, had tied up the laces of a kuwagata-horn-crested Kabuto helmet, holding an iris-petal shaped Bizen-naginata with the ridge running closer than usual to the edge[3] and a sword under an arm and riding a stout and strong dapple grey. Sadayuki nodded to Kanamari.

‘Allow me to bring this one down.’

He then had his charger effortlessly dance forward to block Sabitsuka, and the two of them engaged themselves in a fierce and instense combat, sword to sword and eye to eye, pushing now and pulling next, the edges of blades giving out sparks of fire and their sublime sword skills creating air currents around them. Whilst they appeared a fair match, whatever’d happened, Iwakuma’s mount had its neck ripped in the side and tumbled down together with its rider, so Sadayuki held his naginata at its length and suddenly thrust it inside his opponent’s Kabuto helmet under the visor. Alas, just when Donpei appeared to be about to be brought down, we threw him over our shoulders and narrowly ran.

There appeared our adversary’s general Satomi Yoshizane, gorgeously clad in a suite of armour riding a three-year-old steed with an ornamental crupper[4] on, in his serene and yet gallant majesty shining through the air around, and he swung his zai baton gracefully atop his charger ordering to charge, and charge they did. The force was just as strong as whirling ocean waves. When they burst out a cry and had a blitz on us, our men became even more intimidated, enough for a large number of them to end up taking off their kabuto hats and laying down their bows to surrender; some of them even started shooting at us. The merely remaining sixty and a few horsemen, all wounded either severely or lightly, escaped certain death and fled back at long last.”

Thus reported, Donpei, looking ashamed, tried to speak up but as he had been stabbed just off the temple and had his back squashed by his horse, he was unable to even lift his head. Just like a winter bee before the imminent dark, he had lost his vigour through all the damages and was merely breathing feeble breaths of an insect, not to be of any service.

Sadakane, as soon as he heard this, screwed his brows and heaved a big sigh.

The Satomis are an ally of Yuki. Whilst I heard they’d been shot when that castle fell, they have wandered over here and raised a big army. That I must say is verily inconceivable in every way. In the event that Tojo were to fall and Kokuroku to be broght down, certainly the garrison wouldn’t fail to come back here and report.

Besides, whilst that Kanamari Takayoshi is a Jin’yo’s close Fudai – hereditary retainer, he’s a scoundrel gone missing. With no place to go to, he must have sneaked back, beguiled ignorant folk here and there and gathered freelances (野武士 no-bushi), and now all this hearsay must be his devious ploy to demoralize us I dare say.

If it were so, I suspect if the general of the whole army might not even be the true Satomi, except that my own left arm the valiant Ikunai was helplessly brought down and Donpei is deeply wounded. Even if the tide of the time was with them, they’re certainly not to be underestimated. Get the four gates to be guarded more securely and dispatch men to Tojo to collect information. We shall learn the truth soon enough.”

Even before he finished his words a few young pages ran up to report that Ochiudo deserters from Tojo had fled back. Hearing this Sadakan became impatient.

“This, I assume, cannot be a lie either. I shall hear out their tidings myself. Get them to enter from the garden gate. Now make haste.”

Thus hastened, the boys acceded heartily and ran away.

Shortly appeared three or four foot soldiers, who had fled with Kokuroku and saved themselves merely by the skin. Impressive were the Kote armour sleeves, Sune’ate greeves and Haramaki breast armour of Juoh-gashira[5] which they had on, they themselves were thoroughly exhausted as if they had been hungry ghosts. They came staggering in through the garden gate, dragging their legs with hands on lap to make a big step now and a small one next. Sadakane beckoned them to come closer.

“You wretched fools, when your castle is attacked you fail to bring tidings before it falls, but you have the audacity to show up only after they’ve struck us, just as Ayame irises on 6th or chrysanthemums on the 10th[6] – aren’t there any other way you ought to have done it? I cannot regret your failure enough.”

To his glaring the four chorused hesitantly.

“Indeed we hardly dare regard your anger unreasonable sir, but everything simply happened in a moment of a single breath and the castle fell, so we did not have time to warn you, the reasons being this and that, such and such…”

Thus they retold in detail how they were set up when the elders from Kominato came with Kanamari bound up and had the castle gate open late at night, how the attacking forces rushed in without giving them any moment and captured the castle instantly, how, when Shietage Kokuroku took his wife and children along and went on his way out to escape through Kaki-no-uchi, he was chased by Kanamari Hachiro and his family tumbled down the valley and had their skin and bones smashed to death and how Shietage was brought down by Kanamari. When they had finished, they continued with their apology.

“It’s not that we didn’t wish to inform you of this even half a moment sooner sir but the majority of the garrison surrendered and it invigorated them even more. We figured we’d certainly be chased and shot in a highway, so we wandered into footpaths to cross mountains. ‘Tis only expected that we are to take your blame for arriving after our enemy sir.”

Sadakane ground his teeth.

“I suspect it was Kanamari Hachiro who set it all up, involving the Ochiudo deserters from Yuki. Alas! Unless I myself ride out and capture the Kanamari fellow alive for a start there’s no way of cooling down my boiling guts, is there? Get ready for a campaign immediately!”

Sadakane jumped up and stormed, so the senior officers, muttering “no good”, winked at the Ochiudo from Tojo, picked up the injured Iwakuma and retired with every one else. Unawares, Sadakane was still swearing with great velocity when he cast a look around to notice there was no one there and was no use talking, so he turned his thoughts over carefully and realized, “It is extremely dangerous to strike out without heed. Care must be taken.”

He nodded to himself and summoned his senior officers and attendants to instruct them in entrenchment preparation in every detail.

“Even though Yoshizane has a big army, they are after all a horde of riff-raff. They will use up their rations and retreat before we count ten days from today. If we suddenly strike them from behind then, it’d be as easy as taking out what’s in a bag to captivate their general Yoshizane, let alone Kanamari and others.

Having said that, if Maro and Anzai get together with Yoshizane and attack us, that’ll be a serious matter. Methinks Maro no Kogoro is an avaricious captain of brute courage and is not worth taking account of. Not to be dismissed is Anzai alone. I have oft heard he’s well advised. Nevertheless, if I lure them with some gains, set it up this way and that way and get Tojo back, where would Yoshizane run back to? He would have nowhere to go to and be killed at the hands of infantry men.

The moment they’re not attacking us here, I shall send over a messenger. Now who shall be an envoy to Tateyama and Hiratate for me?”

When Sadakane was deep in thought asking himself, one Tsumadate Togoroh in answer to his question came forward.

“Pray allow me to undertake it.”

Sadakane became extremely pleased.

“Thou art one who knoweth my heart no less than Ikunai and Donpei. How shall I refuse it when you beg to go? Ride fast to Tateyama and Iwatate and tell Kagetsura and his company this.

‘Sadakane inherited his former lord’s legacy and newly received two counties, but there wandered Satomi Yoshizane the Ochiudo deserter from Yuki, who enchanted ignorant folk, gathered freelances, unexpectedly rose up to occupy the Castle of Tojo and has already descended upon Takita on its momentum. When a rabbit gets boiled a fox gets ill[7]. It means misfortune to one troubles anothert of the kind. While I Sadakane am not good enough, on account that I verily received Jin’yo’s legacy, your long-standing service stays with the house. How would the both your houses fund their expenditures[8] without relieving their neighbour of his defense duties? If you immediately set off on campaign, siege Tojo, and attack our enemy from behind, even if Yoshizane had three faces and six arms, he couldn’t possibly defend himself from the enemies surrounding him on three sides. There’s hardly any doubt they shall be exterminated. If Yoshizane shall be easily brought to submission for impeachment, it will be thanks to you. I shall be content with one county of Heguri and one castle of Takita. Whoever it may be that captures Takita shall have Nagasa County. Now tell them all this politely.”

Togoro looked up at this.

“With all due respect my lord, even if the Satomis fall, there is no sense in asking for outsiders’ help if you snip off your own territory by letting them take Nagasa. Unless you give this a careful thought you might regret.”

When Togoro advised along with senior officers, Sadakane smiled even before they finshed.

“You too think that? This is my trick. They say fish in the troubled water – a snipe and a clam at war with each other will be caught by the fisherman. If we, using the county of Nagasa as bait, get Anzai and Maro to take Tojo back and further ruin the Satomis, Kagetsura and Nobutoki shall be allured by the profit and start a feud. If those two generals frequently fought with each other over that piece of land, one will be wounded and the other will certainly be brought down over time. I shall directly catch off guard to take Awa and Asahina to myself. Will it not be pleasant if this country is pacified here and now and I hold the four counties in my hands whilst I sit and wait?”

As Sadakane explained with a smug on his face Togoro became thoroughly impressed[9] and requested for Sadakane’s letter to take with him. He then clad himself in armour lightly to speed off towards Tateyama cropping his fleet steed.

Meanwhile, the Satomi forces encircled the Castle of Takita and had been carrying out an assault after assault without giving them a moment to take a breath since early dawn, but it being a stronghold renowned for its staunchness lasting several generations of the Jin’yos to begin with, it was not to fall in a single morning after all. Over the next three days and three nights, they continued the attack but the garrison would only barricade themselves and the attacking force was naturally tiring, so they merely fought from a distance. That was when a single knight approached the moat embankment trying to enter the west gate accompanied by the setting sun. Horiuchi Sadayuki cast a sharp look.

 


Sadayuki and his men chase Tsumadate Togoroh trying to enter Takita Castel
“Don’t let them shoot Tsumadate!” Image courtesy of National Diet Library Digital Collection

 

“That one must have left the castle earlier to get help from Maro and Anzai and be on his way back. Capture him alive!”

As Sadayuki shouted the bold young samurai chased him aggressively even before they replied “yes sir!”

Having observed this from inside the castle they opened the west gate. As Togoroh rode in smoothly they pulled the bridge on the spot, so the chasers, unable to take advantage, felt terribly frustrated as if they’d just let a sneaking bird they’d been hunting fly away[10] and jostled about to knock it down. Yoshizane had them come back and said to Sadayuki and his men,

“Act in a fit of anger and there’ll be no failing to regret later. Even if you captured that samurai, interrogated him for information and then beheaded him, if Anzai and Maro had been talked into attacking me from behind, the castle would be even harder to fall. There’s nothing better than to coordinate each and everyone’s manoeuvres, guard the rear, strike ahead and fight as a Changshan snake[11].”

After he earnestly explained this, in order to “Guard against Maro and Anzai” Yoshizane directly drew apart a group of 500 soldiers to be positioned with Horiuchi Sadayuki in the rear. He then sent a man to Tojo to inform Sugikura Ujimoto of the developments and to tell him to be on his guard in holding the castle, and he himself went round the castle with Kanamari to make rapid attacks.

 

 

[1] Approximately 140 cm. Sun is pronounced like ‘soon’  with a bit shorter vowel.

[2] Tachi is a sword for use on the horseback so it was long and was carried the blade up.

[3] The original expression is shinogi-sagari (鎬下がり) which, I’m guessing, probably indicates the shinogi (鎬), a central ridge which runs through the blade lengthwise, is located closer to the sword edge rather than the centre of the blade, but if I’m wrong your input would be much appreciated.

[4] Found here (Scroll down to the Sunday 14/05/2014 article) a beautiful example of this ornamental crupper called ‘Uzu (雲珠)’.  I only recently found out but the samurai used beautiful ornamental saddles.

[5] Juoh (十王 – literary ‘ten kings’) means the ten judges of afterlife in a Buddhism belief in Japan (probably originated in Taoism). Juoh-gashira is a type of decorative top parts of greeves and it doesn’t apply to other armour parts such as sleeves or breast armour according to The Association for the Research and Preservation of Japanese Helmets and Armor, so this appears to be a rare moment of confusion on the part of Bakin who is known for his encycropaedic knowledge. I leave it as it is in the original text. Bakin R.I.P.

[6] , so sada is implying the men came tooing which came too late and is no longer useful. They celebrated the Iris Festival (present-day Boys Festival which originates in China) on 5 May in the lunar calendar with irises and the Chrysanthemum Festival on 9 September with chrysanthemum flowers.

[7] 狡兎死して走狗烹らる The only maxim similar to this that I could find was 狡兎死して走狗煮らる, which means ‘when the (cunning) hare dies the hound becomes redundant and gets to be (cooked and) eaten’. This latter expression is found in the Chinese classic ‘Ths Recoreds of the Grand Historian‘. I dare say Bakin may have got the wording mixed up.

[8] The word ‘tsuie’ in this phrase ’共に弊(ついえ)を受けたまはんや (to receive tsuie together)’ means expenditures although it is usually spelt つひえ. The collocation of the words to ‘receive (受け uke)’ and ‘expenditures’ sounded to me a little unusual but I interpreted it to mean for Anzai and Maro to get paid for their expenditures as Sakuza’emon’s subjects.

[9] The original word ‘kanpai (感佩)’ means deep gratitude but I assumed this is what Bakin actually meant and changed it.

[10] The word ‘nukitatsu’, which I took the liberty to translate as ‘sneaking’, may be Bakin’s creation – I couldn’t find the word anywhere else – although there’s a good chance that it’s beyond my knolwedge.

[11] According to a Japanese dictionary 広辞苑, they say there used to live a snake called Shuàirán (率然 or Ritsuzen in the Japanese reading) in Changshan (常山 or Mt. Chang or Johzan in the Japanese reading) in ancient China. If you attack its head its tail will defend its head, if you attack its tail its head will defend its tail, if you attack its body both its head and tail will defend the body, thus, ‘the force of the Changshan snake’ means a battle disposition in which each component is well-coordinated in attacking and defending without allowing the opponent a chance to fight back.

 

© Livingdaylightz and The Legend of Eight Samurai Hounds, 2017 (except for images). Unauthorized use and/or duplication of all or any part of this material without express and written permission from me, Livingdaylightz, is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Livingdaylilghtz and The Legend of Eight Samurai Hounds with appropriate and specific direction to the original content and upon express and written permission from me, the author/site owner. The images belong to their individual copyright holders as specified in the text.

 

Will Maro and Anzai join forces with Sadakane as he planned? What will happen to Yoshizane and his lieutenant Ujimoto who’s protecting Yoshizane’s newly acquired castle? Next update will likely be the end of June.

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