Rise of the Nakamura

Part 2 - Reclaiming Shimosa

October - November, 1562

After his conquest of the Satake Clan, Nakamura Eiji received disturbing news. The Satomi Clan, hailing from the Kazusa peninsula south of the Nakamura capital of Shimosa, had taken advantage of their opponent’s unguarded flank and occupied Shimosa castle. The ninja squads stationed at the town had escaped intact, and were relaying events to Yamada Junko, their ninja master, as they occured.

Wasting no time, Eiji left a garrison in Hitachi castle and immediately led his army southward to retake his lands. They moved through the intervening mountain range unmolested, the resident bandits cowed by Nakamura’s previous display of power, and soon Shimosa castle lay before them.

As they left the mountain pass, the army was approached by a trio of odd-looking men dressed in shades and the gear of a traditional ronin. The men said nothing, but silently blocked the army’s advance. Gouta eventually tossed them out of the way with a sweep of his mighty arm, after which the ronin grew hostile and attacked. The first of them raised his arm forward, and shot a bone out of his hand the size and sharpness of a javelin. It quickly became apparent that the figures were not human, with pale, bald skin and bones shuddering and moving fluidly beneath their skin.

Eiji quickly dispatched one of the creatures, slicing open its chest and thrusting his katana into its shuddering heart. After its demise, the other two began shuddering and growing bones at an alarming and uncontrolled rate. Sensing what was about to happen, Eiji ordered Gouta to scoop the two up and throw them into the distance. The two juddering balls of misshapen bone flew into the forest beyond, where they erupted into a storm of blood and shrapnel. Confused but unshaken, the Nakamura army continued their advance.

Reconnaissance revealed that there was a large amount of trade leaving the castle in Shimosa, but none going back in. It appeared that the Satomi Clan was milking the province of its resources, taking them south to prepare for the coming war. Emboldened by his previous, decisive victory, Nakamura Eiji decided to simply walk into the castle and assess the situation.

Meanwhile, the young ninja Yamada Junko infiltrated the castle, seeking intelligence on the occupying force. Above the audience chamber, where the Satomi Daimyo was meeting with a group of peasants, Junko found another ninja, dressed in black clothing with distinctive red highlights, already watching the exchange. Not being noticed herself, the ninja master sneaked up behind the other and silently pushed him down into the chamber below. Satomi’s leader reacted violently to the interruption, and Junko watched as he slapped an odd piece of paper onto the ninja’s head, causing him to scream in pain before running, terrified, from the room.

Accompanied by his trusted adviser, Ken Urabochi, Eiji strode into town, into the castle, and demanded to meet with the Satomi Daimyo. The guards were naturally dubious at first, but a simple display of power was enough to convince them to let him through to the audience chamber, in which a muscular, bearded man bearing the Satomi clan mon was meeting with a merchant.

Uraboshi blasted the merchant away and through the back wall with a torrent of water, giving a show to Yamada Junko, who was hiding in the rear of the room, observing the fight. After the display of force, the opposing Daimyo drew his sword and attacked Eiji. With a flash of light and a rush of air, the Nakamura Daimyo appeared behind his enemy and sheathed his katana. Satomi’s swarthy leader erupted in a fountain of blood, before collapsing to the floor, dead. Mysteriously, the Daimyo’s body immediately began to dissolve, leaving nothing but a tiny paper doll in the shape of a man. Uraboshi confirmed that this was the work of powerful summoning magic.

Following the deception, Nakamura Eiji strode among the castle as if it were his own as, in a sense, it was. He visited the barracks, where he found several squads of Satomi men busy eating their dinner. Seizing the opportunity, Eiji immediately commanded all of the men to attention, speaking in a voice resounding with authority. The soldiers dropped their food and quickly formed up, responding to their previous training, and the Daimyo proceeded to march them out of the castle and through the town gates. After this, he shut the gates and returned to the castle, sending the order to bring the rest of his forces inside.

Gouta, who happened to be outside the town gates at the time this happened, found himself confronted with a large group of confused and unarmed soldiers. Not knowing how else to deal with the situation, he began to dance…

In short order, the remainder of the Nakamura forces were brought inside the castle town. No sooner had the last squad cleared the gate, however, than the great doors slammed shut and the ground began to shake, accompanied by an eerie wailing from the depths of the earth. As the forces assumed battle positions, an enormous human skeleton burst forth from the dirt in front of them and emerged up to its hips, googling at them with gigantic eyes and wailing incomprehensibly.

The Gashadokuro unleashed a series of attacks, cutting a swath in a squad of Nakamura men, before Gouta, having heard the explosion from outside, cleared the castle wall and engaged the monster in an enormous grapple, pinning its arms to its sides. With the creature thus detained, Eiji and his generals began to focus their attacks upon it.

Meanwhile, Satomi forces began surrounding the castle from the forests outside, bowmen lining up to deliver a hail of arrows onto the battle within. The lurking ninja were ready for this, however, and Ajibana Chinatsu, one of Junko’s specialists, used powerful magic to summon a raging Oni into the archer’s midsts, scattering them.

Attack after attack finally brought the Gashadokuro down, its mighty skull crashing lifeless to the ground below. As its googling eyes melted in their sockets, a small man with frazzled hair climbed awkwardly out of one of the empty sockets. Wearing a robe bearing the Satomi clan mon, he surveyed the forces around him before promptly committing seppuku. Thus, another clan’s Daimyo was added to the ranks of the demonic squad.

After destroying the remaining soldiers and securing the castle town, it was a simple thing for Nakamura Eiji to move forces south to capture the now unoccupied Satomi territories of Kazusa and Awa. The borders were once again erased, and Shimosa province expanded to include the southern peninsula.

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