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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

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CatKnight

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Prologue​

Kyoto, Japan
Onin 1 (1467)



The war room at the Hosokawa estate, a long rectangle with banners from several allied clans on the walls, was filled with the quiet whispers of two samurai kneeling before an empty wooden throne. None wore armor, nor the silk that might have identified them as courtiers or foreigners. Their lord had little use for either. Their katanas, five feet long and curved, lay to their left with hilts facing the chair.

The one to the left smelt of the sea. His indifferent attention to cleanliness in a land that highly prized this virtue earned many comments behind his back. None could question his courage however, and Hosokawa Tenkai had commanded the clan's tiny navy (a dozen small sailing and oared craft meant to combat smugglers) for ten years. Tall and lean with dark eyes, he dressed in his best kimono, a coarse turtle green belted by a wide obi at the waist.

He may look the part, but he still stinks, reflected his companion. Hosokawa Sujin was Tenkai's junior by over a decade, a small but powerful man with thick muscles. He, too, wore his best clothing. Fierce eyes examined the room every few seconds as if half expecting an attack. The last several months of cat-and-mouse with the Yamana clan would make anyone jumpy.

“What was that, Tenkai-san?” he asked.

“I said, I wonder what keeps our lord. This is unlike him.”

“Have you not heard? He is...” Sujin clamped his mouth shut as the paper door slid open behind them. He prostrated himself, forehead touching the floor.

Hosokawa Katsumoto, kanrei (deputy) to the shogun, strode between his advisors. Like the others he wore no armor, but a flowing gold kimono with the family symbol sewn across the back of his shoulders. Age may have stolen some of his strength, but the essential vitality of the kanrei remained undiminished. Thinning grey hair, tied in a samurai's knot, framed a hard face and sparking brown eyes. He crossed the room rapidly. Like the wind, he had yet to encounter an obstacle he couldn't go around or through, and the handful of steps to his throne presented no challenge.

He turned and sat. His men didn't dare to look up.

“Tenkai. Report.”

The seaman rose to his knees, though he still didn't meet his gaze. “We succeeded, my lord.”

Katsumoto jut his chin out. “Of course you did. Details?”

“Per your instructions, my lord, I took those ships you designated for Kyoto's defense south and west towards Yamana's coast. As suspected, he has had trouble moving food across land to feed his soldiers here. We found five vessels outfitting with rice and fish.”

“You engaged?”

“Not precisely, my lord. You desired results, so we waited for nightfall and landed, using the moon and town lights to guide our way. There I had men kill those guarding the docks and set them on fire.”

“Your men killed samurai?” Katsumoto wasn't squeamish on the matter, but the idea of heimin killing their betters still rankled.

“No, my lord. Goyoukiki.

Sujin frowned. It seemed strange the Yamana would use commoners to protect a vital shipment, even police assistants. Then again, they had upwards of forty thousand men near Kyoto. Perhaps that was all they could spare?

“And so you left. Their ships burned, I take it? Good.” Katsumoto turned to the deputy commander of his armies in Kyoto. “Sujin?”

“Hai, -sama?”

“Your attack met with similar success, or you would not be here. Am I correct?”

“Hai!” Sujin looked up for a second, then flinched at his lord's glare. “-sama, I personally led the attack on Yamana Isshiki's residence. He was not home, fortunately.”

“Fortunately?” Katsumoto demanded, leaning forward.

The commander stuttered. “It...it is not...it would not be honorable to burn a samurai in his house.”

“And honor is a great thing, no doubt.” He relaxed and gestured with one hand. “Continue.”

“There were several retainers. We killed them all then fired the house.”

“Were you seen?”

“Not to my knowledge,” Sujin replied. “As you asked, however, we carried no identifying marks. We were as ronin.”

“Good,” Katsumoto purred. “Let that old fool speculate. It will do him no good.”

A rivalry between Yamana Souzen, the 'Red Monk', and his Hosokawa son-in-law intensified over the past several years. The shogun, Ashikaga Yoshimasa, initially named his brother as heir. Later his wife bore a son. As Katsumoto already had a close relationship with Yoshimi, he supported the brother's efforts to inherit. Yamana, seeing a chance to deal with his rival, backed the child. For months their armies poised in and around Kyoto mostly glaring at each other. Yoshimasa looked up from his paintings and plans for a 'Silver Pavilion' to promise to declare the man who started the fighting a rebel.

This worried Sujin. Being branded an outlaw, a fate worse than death in the Bushido code, would cost his family many retainers as they defected, fled or commited seppuku. Further the bakufu, the shogun's officers and their armies, couldn't be underestimated.

The young samurai had his doubts, but he kept them to himself. His lord didn't like questions.

As fate had it, however, Katsumoto was in a talkative mood. “I have already complained to Yoshimasa-sama about Souzen's ruthless attacks on my holdings.”

“Attacks, my lord?” Sujin asked, then regretted it.

“Attacks, Sujin. Do you know why Souzen is called the Red Monk? It is because of his temper. He will not let either of your actions go unavenged. He will retaliate quickly bringing truth to my words. As there is no conclusive evidence that Hosokawa men were behind your attacks, this means he will break the truce first.”

Tenkai smiled. “A daring plan, -sama.”

The daimyo nodded. “See to your ships. I would speak to Sujin alone.”

“Hai, -sama.” The seamen pressed his forehead to the ground, then crawled backwards several paces with his sword. Once a respectful distance away he rose, bowed and left.

“Sujin. The fighting will intensify here very shortly. I need to know you are with me.”

The commander paled. “I am your servant, -sama.”

“You disagree with my tactics.”

“I....No, -sama!”

“And yet you prefer that the commander of Yamana's forces was not at home. I wanted him dead.”

Sujin pressed his forehead to the floor. “I'm sorry, -sama!”

“With Isshiki gone, they would be led by the Monk himself and that child of his. A direct attack would have carried the city and done away with him and his followers.”

“I have failed you!”

“Hai.” Katsumoto rose.

“I...” A desperate thought filled the young warrior's mind. His hands twitched at either side of his head. “I wish to...”

“Seppuku? No.”

Sujin looked up, startled. Had he failed that badly? Would he be cast out to wander forever?

The daimyo shook his head. “I sent you to get rid of their general. You will not deprive me of mine.

“But I failed.”

“Hai. I have told you honor is a great thing, Sujin. If you are to continue, you must understand it is not the only thing. We are at war. The Yamana are worth little, and that artist disguised as our shogun is worth even less. It is up to the Hosokawa to ensure the dignity of the emperor and the strength of the empire by any means necessary. If it means killing their men while they sleep or even burning Kyoto to the ground, then that is what I'll order. I need to know if you will obey.”

Sujin's reply was cut off by an urgent scratching at the paper door. It slid back. One of the daimyo's retainers took three agitated steps forward, then dropped to hands and knees well behind the general.

“What is it?” Katsumoto demanded.

“It is Sujin-sama's house, my lord! It is on fire!”

“Good.”

Sujin gaped, but looked away at his daimyo's sharp glare.

“It has begun. See to the men.”

The general crawled backwards, rose and bowed.

“And Sujin.”

“My lord?”

“Do not fail me again.”
 

CatKnight

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And so began the Onin War, which in turn led to the Sengoku jidai, the Age of Warring States.

For those curious, this AAR is based on a game played using Terra Nova v 9.56. The game started in 1477, while the rest of our story begins in 1482. The game's concluded. Because of that, you won't see many screenies. I didn't realize I'd be making a story when I played the game out. Afterwards I thought, "This might be fun to write about."

So...few screenies, though I do have a few save games to work off of. This will be almost purely narrative, and my first attempt at hopefully scripting a story from start to end. I'll update this when I can, though with a new schedule at work...sheesh.

Unfortunately, though I think I know more about Japanese history and Bushido than the average bear, I'm no expert. If you see something that looks really weird feel free to holler. :)

Enjoy, and I hope to see you here!
 
Last edited:

Enewald

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Oioi, some eu3 aars are just like books. Except that they are for free, you can comment between chapters and they can be better than normal books. :D

Nice beginning!
 

Darthvegeta800

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Hehe being a big fan of Japanese Military and Political History, i'll be following this one intently. A shame you don't have that many screens but story is equally important.
Perhaps employ some art here and there?

In any case, it looks great so far. Can't wait for more!
 

Cyrus_The_Great

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Excellent, I have heard great things about your AARs, Catknight, and after reading Shogun by James Clavell I have had a longing for a good story set in feudal japan.

It looks like Sujin will have to live in dishonor for a time. Also it seems Katsumoto is in for a tricky conflict.
 

Abraxas

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This seems to be an interesting start for an AAR. I'm not all that familiar with Japanese history and culture, but I could hardly think of a better way to learn about them than reading another story by you, CK.
 

Milites

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Fabolous so far.
Looking forward to more.
 

TreizeV

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Awesome! Catknight of the famed 'Resurrection' series has moved to the far east :D i shall be keeping track of this!

Ironically i've started reading Shogun by James Clavell as well. This shall be very interesting indeed :D This should amplify my fix for Japanese feudal stories for awhile :)
 

CatKnight

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Teep: Thanks, and welcome!

Qorten: Thanks! Yep, I think this is the first Japanese narrative I've seen on these boards. Unfortunately I seem to have forgotten a lot about that era. Time to study :)

Enewald: Thanks!

Darthvegeta800: I took some time to make a map, and I'll add some graphics here and there. I'll also occasionally remark on what happened 'in game.'

Cyrus_The_Great: We're about to jump forward. The prologue gave us some clues into Katsumoto and Sujin's personalities. Katsumoto is historical, and he really did help trigger the Sengoku jidai.

I'll need to re-read Shogun. It's been awhile :)

Abraxas: You're giving me a lot of credit. I hope not to disappoint :)

Milites: Thanks!

TreizeV: Yes, definitely time to re-read Shogun. Welcome, Treize! I've missed your writing.
 

CatKnight

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hoso1gif.gif


Now that the eyes of hawks
In dusky night
Are darkened...
Chirping of the Quails

-- Matsuo Basho (1644-1694)


-= 1 =-

Bunmei 14 (February 1482)



And so it came to this at long last. The war that shook the Empire to its core, pitting clan against clan for a generation, would be decided here and now.

Yamana Souzen scowled, his left hand resting lightly on the saya that protected his katana from the elements. Next to it his wakizashi, the short sword that completed the daisho, sat similarly sheathed. He wore white, both as the color of death and so any witnesses would instantly spot any blood.

Hosokawa Takakuni copied his enemy's gestures. Slowly he surveyed Souzen for holes in his stance. Even the slightest shift of weight would be enough of an advantage for him to exploit.

Whoever drew their weapon fastest won an iajitsu duel. Dodging was unacceptable, parrying impossible. That first strike would either disable or kill the other. Between evenly matched opponents it was entirely a question of fortune and the will of the spirit kami.

In this first second or so, either opponent could honorably back down by conceding the match. As that didn't happen, Takakuni slowly crouched. He knew better than to look into Souzen's eyes or watch his breath. Both could lie. Instead he focused on the spot where throat met breastbone looking for the slightest twitch.

“Are you ready?” spat Souzen.

“Hai!” Takakuni drew. Too slow! Before he finished speaking Souzen's sword was out. In a single motion he hit the Hosokawa below his rib cage and slashed upwards. He spun, hissing in pain, and landed on hands and knees. Souzen cut downwards striking him violently between the shoulders.
*******

“Clumsy! Are you trying to get killed?”

“No, sensei!” Takakuni started to rise and received another blow with the solid wood practice sword for his efforts.

“You were dreaming again! You were so busy anticipating the duel that you failed to prepare for it!”

“N....Hai, sensei.”

“Stand up.” Hosokawa Sujin folded his arms. Fifteen years of war left him with a rugged complexion and a perpetual scowl.

250px-Akodo_Yakume.jpg

Hosokawa Takakuni

Takakuni obeyed. Slim and wiry, his arms and legs had yet to develop the muscle a samurai needed to be effective. The bruises across his shoulders ached, but except for a slight narrowing of the eyes he didn't betray his discomfort. He looked around their private dojo, really a single unadorned room with several weapon racks against the wall. Grandfather didn't want him training with the other boys. He was already at least a year behind and would bring shame to the family. He bowed his head.

“Takakuni, you will one day be my master,” Sujin told him. “You will then be expected to lead our armies against the other clans. The shogun has only now reached adulthood. I think he will have trouble restoring order. It will be your responsibility as daimyo to keep our people safe.”

"Hai," the boy mumbled.

The sensei gripped his shoulder. “You cannot anticipate. You must learn to live in the moment and just for that moment. It is only then, when you have mastered yourself as well as your skills, that you will be able to live without effort. Everything, from writing or serving tea to drawing your weapon, has one perfect way. It is only by continual practice that you can learn that way. Once done, you can then learn to do it without thinking. Only then will you be entirely calm. Only then will you be living entirely in this one moment.”

“Was grandfather living in the moment when he attacked the Oda?” Takakuni grumbled.

Sujin's scowl deepened. “Katsumoto-sama has always acted in the best interest of our family. It would not be wise to question that.”

Three years before, while the Oda army sieged Imagawa castle, Katsumoto took advantage of a minor insult to justify crossing the border. Thirteen months and several hundred lives later, the Oda surrendered and swore fealty. The Takeda, Nanbu and Otomo families met with similar fates leaving nineteen major clans more or less fighting for control of the figurehead emperor.

japansmall1480.gif

1482

(Reminder: The game was already five years old at this point. This isn't historical.)

“I understand.”

“Do you?” Sujin decided he'd made his point. “Very well. Put our weapons away, and I will bring you to Master Kagomone.”

“Kagomone-sama was working with grandfather.”

"I know. We will visit them together.”

maruoka-castle-japan-mist-castle.jpg

Shiro Hosakawa

Shiro Hosakawa was large by the standards of the day. A lower level of stone, perhaps twenty feet high, would frustrate an army already fatigued by marching up a series of steep hills. Wood frames formed the rest of the structure, treated against fire and reinforced to withstand the trebuchets only the most determined army would bother to bring. Once through the gate it was easy enough to get into the bailey filled with guards, samurai, stables, armorers and other specialists necessary to an army's defense. Getting into the keep presented a challenge however. That involved navigating through several winding corridors just within the walls with enough false turns and death traps to promise disaster.

Takakuni knew all the tricks of course and quickly made his way to the private gardens his grandmother, and supposedly his mother, once revered. The flowers lay dormant, shrouded under a thin layer of frost. The pine tree, symbolizing immortality, appeared indifferent.

A gathering of courtiers, noblemen with only the most basic training in the art of war, talked among themselves gesturing impatiently. Young men for the most part, none wore the ceremonial pair of swords that would have identified them as bushi.

“Grandfather would say they are like birds squabbling over a fish,” Takakuni smiled.

“Kagomone-san!” called Sujin, ignoring his pupil. The oldest courtier, a tall man with prematurely white hair and a narrow face, turned. He slapped his fan into his open palm to silence the others.

“Kagomone-san, I realize it is a little early but I believe Takakuni is....” The warrior paused, for Kagomone's companions had dropped to hands and knees.

The courtier stared gravely into Takakuni's eyes. “Had I not known you were with Sujin, my lord, I would have sent for you immediately. There is grave news. I've done what I could, but there are decisions only the daimyo can make.”

“Then shouldn't you speak with grandfather?”

Kagomone shook his head slightly. “After you two left this morning, I went to visit Katsumoto-sama. When he didn't meet me in his throne room I sent a man to check on him. You know how much he hated tardiness.”

“Is he ill?” the boy asked.

Sujin inhaled sharply. “He's dead.”

The courtier looked up. “Hai, Sujin-san.”

“But...” No! This couldn't be right! Hosokawa Katsumoto was the strongest man Takakuni knew. Despite his age he could still best half the men who'd sworn to him. Despite his age... He groaned, a bitter cold washing over him that had nothing to do with the chill as his two sensei slowly dropped to one knee.

“You are daimyo, Takakuni-sama,” Kagomone said.

(In our world, Katsumoto died in 1473...which makes me wonder why he was in my game that started in '77. The other characters are fictional)
 

TreizeV

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Ah, this gives me flashbacks of the good ole Shogun Total War days ;) Great effect with the dream sequence at the start, i was immersed into it and like poor Takakuni, was snapped back to reality :D

So now the leader we got to know shortly has died :O this certainly does sound mysterious considering he was about to launch an attack. My ninja senses are tingling >=D
 

Enewald

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It is funny, no one cares to become the emperor, but then they have shoguns and shadow shoguns and etc. :D
Japan is a nice place.

So this new daimyo shall unite the clans? :p
 

Maximilliano

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another catknight aar? i'm definately in! Now, hopefully this one will take another four years... ;)
 

stnylan

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Ah, this gives me flashbacks of the good ole Shogun Total War days ;)
I was thinking the same thing!

Great to see you write another AAR CatKnight.
 

Milites

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Nothing says Shogun more than a well placed haiku and the obligatory Japanese phrases mixed with some timely martial arts scenes.

Me likes.
 

Kurt_Steiner

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Interesting indeed. There we go.