Saturday, December 6, 2014

Chapter 27. The Heroes of Yozenawa

And so in thirthieth year of the reign of Emperor Showa, the three heroes, Uesungi Nagamasa (son of Kenshin), Maeda Kaeji, and Rokuro decided to make their last stand against Tokugawa with an army of only 20,000 samurais at Yozenawa. Amassed against them was the powerful Ieayasue with over 300,000 men. Ieayasue’s envoy Mori Homatsu begged the heroes to see reason, but they wouldst not. For Kaeji treasured honor and dignity above life and victory itself, and so Kaeji urged the Tokugawas to throw as many of their demons before him as they could spare. Such was the bravery of Kaeji.

Uesungi Nagamsa, son of Kenshin. He led the heroes against Tokugawa Ieyasue in the Battle of Yozenawa.

At one point, Homatsu dramatized the situation, saying “A thousand armies of the Tokugawa Shogunate descend upon you. Their arrows will blot out the sun.”

Whereupon, the fearless Kaeji nonchantly replied, “Good! Then, we shall fight in the shade.” Then, he ordered his men to send the annoying Homatsu back to the Tokugawa camp and shouted to the Uesungi army: “Uesungis, tonight, we dine in Hell!”

And there were loud cheers from the Uesungi clan, so loud that even the Tokugawas should shudder in fear, for what man could stand up against such odds with such ease.

And so the brave men of Uesungi fought hard against the Tokugawa horde. The Tokugawas were not only more numerous. They were wealthier, better supplied, and better armed. They seem to have infinite firepower, and many brave men of the Uesungi clan died, and yet, men continued to fight. For Nagamasa was a noble lord, and men were loyal to him.

Kaeji fought like a mad man, and so did Nagamasa, but it seems their supplies were soon to be spent. Yet, Nagamasa put on a brave face as Ieayasue came forth and urged him to surrender.

Nagamasa: “Did you not pray to my father, the God of War, prior to the Battle of Sekigahara? How will he support you now!?”

Ieayasue: “I did no such thing, and no god shall save you from the sorry fate now, unless you surrender to me.”

But Nagamasa didst not surrender, though deep down inside, his despair was deep, and he considered suicide. It was Kaeji  who stopped him just before he could complete the act.

Kaeji: “How wouldst Kenshin look upon this? If he saw that you are about to give up and commit suicide?”

Nagamasa: “I have nothing left, Kaeji. My father has deserted me. I am not the Dragon of Echido, merely a desperate warrior who has no chance of challenging the might of Ieayasue.”

But Kaeji wouldst not accept this and so he slapped Nagamasa hard on the face and said, “The Nagamasa I know wouldst say no such thing. He was the true son of Kenshin!”

And upon hearing this, Nagamasa remembered himself, arose and said to Kaeji , Rokuro, and all the allies of Uesungi. “Come. Even if we canst not win, let us die like true men. Men of Uesungi. Men blessed by my father Kenshin, the god of war.”

And so, they fought with such spirit that surprised the Tokugawas, for it seemed the Uesungis were becoming stronger even they lacked supplies and were low on men. And the Tokugawas suffered great casualty, but there were so many of them, that eventually victory would still be there. It was said that the spirit of Kenshin possessed them.

After eight days of severe fighting and on top of countless Tokugawa deads, Kaeji and Nagamasa stood back to back, grimy blood streaking about them from all sides. Perhaps, it was that the spirit of Kenshin left them or simply that their strength hath failed, but neither Nagamasa nor Kaeji were able to lift their swords and eventually the two heroes were killed by the Tokugawas.

Rokoru fought with bitter determination too, and he was unwilling to surrender.

Ieayasue shouted, “Know that my will is the law, and if you do not surrender, you shall die, Rokoru. A waste for a soldier so fine.”

But Rokoru only retorted, “My only error is that I slew Jiro Zaburo and not you on the onset of the Sekigahara Battle.”

Whereupon, Ieayasue ordered his men to finish the last hero of Yozenawa.

Nevertheless, he was a man of admiration and art, and so Ieayasue commented in the end, “Never had Sengoku hath such heroes as Nagamasa, Kaeji, and Rokuro. A glorious age in Japan dies with them today.”

But now, his powers were complete, and Tokugawa Ieayasue was Lord of Japan in both name and fact. He pondered how he, a descendant of the Minamoto clan and Takeda’s 24 generals, hath triumphed where others have not and vowed to make the Tokugawa Shogunate a power for all of eternity.

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