Rise of the Nakamura

Part 8 - The Battle of Izu

May 1563

With a minimum of preparation, the Nakamura forces mobilized once again. Accompanying them was the Daimyo of the ailing Hojo Clan, Hojo Ujiyasu, eager to stop the Southern province of Izu from falling into Oda hands. Heady from their recent victory, and inspired by Nakamura Eiji 中村英治’s masterful leadership, the army made good time, and would soon catch up to their foes.

Yamada Junko, the Nakamura ninja master, took the opportunity to obtain a supply of gunpowder from the Hojo stores in Odawara Castle, and fashioned it into a set of makeshift mines. She outpaced the marching army and soon discovered the Oda ranks further down the peninsula. Moving ahead of the enemy soldiers, she began placing a series of explosive traps to slow their advance. No sooner had she placed the first one, however, than a whooshing noise came and went from behind her, and the mine vanished.

Experimenting, Junko placed a few more mines, and they too were disarmed and spirited away by the unseen observer. Determined to discover the other’s identity, she placed a trap and stood just above it, watching closely. This too failed, however, and she saw nothing but an impression of black cloth and a gust of air as the mine vanished. The presence spoke with her then, from an unseen location, lightly mocking her efforts. A short conversation ensued, until Junko mentioned that the Nakamura forces were en route, at which point the unseen ninja chuckled and disappeared.

The ninja master returned to Eiji’s position, scouting the enemy force en route. She determined that the enemy had equal or slightly fewer numbers than the Nakamura army, a few squads of which seemed somehow wrong. They marched jerkily, as though puppets to an unknown force. After delivering the report to her Daimyo, Junko rejoined the army for a short time before leaving to scout once again.

When she encountered the Oda army this time, they had set up a defensive position in a short inland pass between a mountain and a thick forest. A large command tent was obvious even from her distance, and several squads were visible outside, busily digging pitfall traps in preparation. Groups of archers were deployed on the foothills of the nearby mountain, ready to fire on the attackers.

Upon receiving this intelligence, Nakamura Eiji decided that the army would sweep through the Western forest, attacking the Oda forces from the side and pinning them against the Eastern mountain and their own traps. Meanwhile, Junko would lead a small squad of ninja to the foothills and neutralize the enemy archers.

After reaching the enemy encampment, the Nakamura army waited for the cover of night and attacked. The force’s advance was hindered by the terrain, but unchallenged until they neared the edge of the Oda camp. Waiting for them there was a huge man in full plate armor, a pair of elaborate antlers adorning his helmet and a steel visor covering his eyes. Unmoving, he faced down the opposing ranks with nothing more than 4 squads of samurai reinforcing him.

Without hesitation, Nakamura Eiji sprang into action, cutting a swathe through a group of the opposing samurai. Ken Suna and Otochitomono-kane began their own offensives, bringing into being a monstrous saber-tooth and a battle-ready succubus to attack the enemy ranks. As the others mounted a charge, Nakamura Eiichi rushed the imposing figure at the head of the enemy formation.

Eiichi leaped from his saddle, his sword coming down in an arc at the armored man, who deftly batted him out of the air with the blunt of his spear. Coming down hard on the ground, Eiichi rose again and faced the opponent, who had lowered his spear into a fighting stance. The two exchanged several blows, with the antlered figure blocking every attack and scoring a long gash down Eiichi’s chest, an almost fatal blow. Suna, seeing her ally in grave danger, granted him a magical shield to protect Eiichi from further damage.

Seeing the situation, Otochitomono-kane began weaving spells to inhibit the enemy combatant’s fighting prowess, first aggravating his vulnerability to magic, then crystallizing his flesh, leaving him partially immobile and his armor brittle. Eiji pressed the advantage, launching a series of ultimately ineffectual attacks against the opponent. While he was defending these, however, Eiichi used the opening to launch a powerful Iaijutsu technique, unsheathing his katana and crashing it through his opponent’s armor, crushing metal, flesh, and piercing his heart in one epic blow. The sound resounded around the forest as, slowly, the giant fell to his knees and collapsed, shaking the ground. Triumphant in his victory, Eiichi reached across and grabbed the unprotesting Otochitomono-kane, kissing the princess as the surrounding army erupted in cheers. Horrified at the death of their champion, the other squads of enemy samurai broke and fled.

While this all was occurring, a squad of ninja led by Yamada Junko and her two retainers sneaked around the mountain opposite, intent on ambushing the waiting archers. As they approached the foothills, Junko’s keen nightvision spotted a squad of enemy ninja lying in wait to ambush any attackers. She darted forward, leaving her squads behind, but was brought up short as another ninja appeared from the darkness and unceremoniously assassinated both Ajibana Chinatsu and Maeda Fujima, thrusting a wrist-mounted blade through their hearts from behind.

Determined to avenge the death of her sister and loyal underling, Junko rushed back and engaged the other ninja in melee combat. They quickly proved to be an almost even match, with the enemy teleporting around the battlefield to gain an edge, but Junko’s keen perception and whirling kusarigama nullifying any advantage. Each scored several flesh wounds on the other, slashes and strikes being exchanged too quickly for an ordinary observer to follow. Finally, Junko launched a direct attack at the other, flinging one sickle at him. As he contemptuously knocked it away, the other blade rushed through the air behind him and severed his head with a wet sucking sound. His body collapsed to the ground, motionless.

On the other side of the battle, Tokugawa Ieyasu had done his best to set up a defensive line against the attacking Nakamura, but was in a poor situation. The enemy’s unexpected assault from the Western forest, combined with the loss of his ace, Honda Tadakatsu, left him and his army pinned against the Eastern mountain cliffs and their own carefully placed traps.

Otochitomono-kane continued to cast offensive spells, creating a great dome of negative energy that instantly killed a huge amount of enemy troops, breaking all but one squad in the radius. As the front lines of the Nakamura broke through, led by Eiji, Nakamura Eiichi rocketed past the ensuing conflict. Catching Tokugawa Ieyasu off guard, he unsheathed his blade and removed the enemy Daimyo’s head with a single, calculated slash. Historians agree that this was a very anticlimactic way for one of the great strategists of the time to fall.

As Ieyasu’s corpse fell to the ground, and his head tumbled away, the remaining Oda forces surrendered, their morale shattered. Those two inhuman-seeming squads that Junko had spotted before simply stopped moving, frozen in various stages of attack amongst squads of Nakamura’s ashigaru.

Once Junko returned and reported, having viciously carved the enemy ninja master into small pieces after killing him, Eiji decided to set up camp in the pass for the remainder of the night, taking advantage of the already-established defenses. The Nakamura Daimyo himself took residence in Tokugawa’s command tent, searching the laid out maps and battle plans for useful intelligence.

Time passed uneventfully until Yamada Junko, on watch, spotted a single figure observing the camp from the forest. Sneaking behind the infiltrator, she surprised the ninja from behind by clasping onto the other’s legs, startling it out of the tree. Junko’s captive was revealed to be a beautiful woman dressed in blood red ninja gear.

The Nakamura ninja master did not release her grasp, but instead climbed the taller woman and latched on to her torso, holding her in the awkward position until Nakamura Eiji approached. A short discussion revealed her to be a spy from the Northern Takeda Clan, sent to observe their military movements. Seduced by Eiji’s handsome and charming demeanor, she decided to spend the night with him, rather than returning to the city of Mishima to deliver her report.

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