Rise of the Nakamura

Part 14 - Battle for Japan

August 1653

Suddenly alone in a starless wasteland, confronted with a horror beyond comprehension, the Nakamura army was addressed by a booming voice which emanated from the very black sand below their feet. The unseen presence both chided and lauded their ambition, then made a momentous offer. If [[:nakamura eiji]] could defeat the voice’s avatar, Japan would be his. With that, the beast before them roared, thrashing its bloody appendage about, and charged forward, ponderous claws raking the ground.

Frightened and confused by their situation, but emboldened by the presence of their leader, the Nakamura army met the creature in combat. First to the fray was Chisawa Ai, drawing a circle in the sand around herself and waiting stoically for the approaching monster. It reached her with talons flailing, the first of which she dodged, but the second tore a shallow gash across her. Unfazed by the minor wound, she responded with a lightning slash of her blade, tearing a much deeper wound in the creature’s bulbous flesh, from which gushed a foul, black ichor.

Yamada Junko struck the monster’s back, pinning it between the two fighters. A torrent of shadows battered the thing’s pale skin, but had little effect on the blubbery mass. Joining her were Uesugi Kenshin and Takeda Shingen, approaching from either side. The former was cloaked in ornate, interlocking plates formed from shimmering light, and holding a blade made of the same ethereal energy, while the latter hefted his enormous, double-headed war fan, the weapon thrumming with power. As they slashed attacks across the creature’s unarmored flesh, a monstrous cat with twenty eyes and flaming claws crawled from the ground nearby, summoned by Suna’s magic, and added its own formidable prowess to the fray.

Attacked from all sides, and with Mito-jō no Oeyo commanding gouts of electricity from afar, which raced painfully up and down its flesh, the creature made another mighty swing at Chisawa Ai. Her expression distant, the young kensei evaded the blow by stepping lightly onto her enemy’s claw as it crashed to the ground, and sprinting lithely up its arm. As she reached its neck, her sword left its sheathe, tearing a gaping wound up the monster’s neck and across its head. Bursting forth with black ichor, it writhed in pain and rage before letting off an unearthly screech that cut jaggedly through the air like a rusted knife.

Those who heard the cry felt their concentration and determination waver. It was as though the sound was reverberating in their very souls. Though most of the fighters were able to push through its effects, Ayame was severely afflicted, the curse roiling around her as a visible, oily black cloud. So affected, her movements adopted a more violent manner, and she turned on the nearby Junko, monofilaments ripping into the smaller ninja’s exposed back. Only slightly wounding her target, Ayame prepared for another attack. Before she could raise her arms, Eiji was in front of her, Kusanagi no Tsurugi slicing through the air just shy of her exposed throat. The black mist vanished, the curse dispersed, while Eiji caught his wife in his arms as she slowly fell to the ground.

The two embraced in the chaos of the battlefield, as the other warriors remained locked in battle with their cyclopean foe. Takeda Shingen, enraged by the attack on his sanity, charged his weapon with an enormous surge of energy. The characters for wind, forest, fire, and mountain wrote themselves in the air above the surface of his fan, before combining into a single, glowing fire character that blazed with blinding intensity. His war fan slashed down with inexorable momentum, burning a livid path through the creature’s wrist and cleanly severing its right claw from its arm.

Howling again, the bloody tentacle thrashed about wildly and split itself into two lengths, whipping dangerously through the air in front of it. One of the appendages scooped up Junko in its glistening grasp, and there was an audible shudder of energy and her very life force was eroded by contact with its blasphemous flesh.

Confirming Ayame’s safety, Eiji released her and rejoined the battle. Hands in his pockets, he walked calmly up to the enemy and materialized four elegant blades around him. The first two darted forward like arrows, burying themselves to the hilt in the creature’s pale ribs and evoking another cry of pain. Slicing through the air with inhuman grace, the other blades cut deep into each shoulder, before all four released a stunning blast of electricity. With a dramatic flash of energy, the being’s arms blasted off in opposite directions, as its flesh began to bubble and deform at its feet, rising and twisting through its body until, finally, with one last horrific scream, the horror exploded in a violent torrent of oily black gore.

With the avatar’s death, the bleak scenery around them dissolved, eroding from the sky downward until they were again standing the deserted streets of Owari Castle. Shingen promptly sat down on the ground and produced a small gourd of sake from within the folds of his elaborate outfit. He waved vaguely and his matronly ninja master appeared by his side. Instructing her to take evidence of Oda Nobunaga’s death and show it to the armies fighting outside in order to end hostilities, then turned his attention back to the recovering Nakamura Army.

Meanwhile, Uesugi Kenshin, his chest gouged deeply with a crosswork of claw wounds, unceremoniously fell backward and thudded against the dusty ground, his posture never failing. Sighing, Shingen picked up his fallen rival and roughly slung him over one shoulder. Nodding to Eiji, he stated that it was fairly obvious at this point which of the many contenders was fit to become the military ruler of Japan. There would be some land issues to work out, but that could be handled in the Capital, when Nakamura Eiji took his place as Shogun.

As the sounds of conflict beyond the walls ceased, and a peaceful calm descended upon the castle, Chisawa Ai turned to the Nakamura Daimyo and unexpectedly challenged him to a duel. Though surprised, he accepted, and the two faced off in the deserted city. Ai led off with her distinctive stance and circle drawn in the sand, and Eiji materialized three of his blades. The first one was deftly dodged, and his opponent countered with a blinding strike, sword leaping from her sheathe and grazing a thin cut across Eiji’s chest. The Daimyo’s other two swords also missed their marks, cutting shallow wounds across the kensei’s body but failing to seriously injure her.

As Ai resheathed her blade and concentrated, Eiji launched another attack with four swords. In her focused state, the swordswoman almost effortlessly dodged three of the attacks. The fourth blade, however, which had not been present in the previous assault, materialized behind her and swept in a deadly arc toward her calf, cleanly severing her left leg at the knee. Ai’s face registering vague shock, she collapsed forward, suddenly unable to support her own weight, and was unconscious before she hit the ground. Though her appendage was cleanly replaced by Suna’s magic, the victory was clearly Eiji’s.

So it was that the Sengoku Period ended, and the era of the Nakamura Shogunate began. Eiji merged provinces based on their previous clan ownership, so that Japan was divided among a small number of large states, each held by a formidable power. Shimosa itself was merged into the largest and most prosperous of the new states, with its favorable location spanning the Southern coast, and Nakamura Eiji officially moved the Capital from Kyoto to his home city of Ichikawa. There, he had a healthy son by Okuni, whom he named Nakamura Neji, and declared his heir.

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