Saturday, December 6, 2014

Chapter 9. For Love or Loyalty

Although the Takedas once again outnumbered the Uesungi army, Kenshin’s legendary leadership once again won the day, and the homeground terrain also helped him. Soon, the Takedas were forced to retreat, and instead of being satisfied with that, Kenshin invaded Takeda lands for the first time ever.

Takeda Shingen and the 24 generals. The epic struggle between him and Uesungi Kenshin during the Sengoku period became part of Japanese literature.

At the Takeda city of Obama, however, Kenshin was bewitched by a beautiful geisha named Asano. Although Kenshin could die for his wife Sakura, it was impossible to escape her charms. For many months, his army dallied in Obama, losing the crucial moment to vanquish the Takeda. Actually, it was a ruse by Takeda Shingen. Asano was one of his concubines.

In the meanwhile, Shingen and his 24 generals regrouped their army at Yokohama and constantly sent spies to the Uesungi camp. After four months, they were ready for the counterattack. Because Kenshin was paying more attention to Asano than military discipline, the Uesungi camp was in disarray. At this juncture of time, Takeda Shingen laid an all-out attack. The Takeda asurangi wouldst have their full revenge. They shot down thousands of Uesungi cavalry at Obama, and for the first time in his life, Kenshin was utterly defeated.

However, Shobu Kanzeita, one of Shingen’s 24 generals, killed Asano after the capture of Obama, much to Shingen’s anger, for she was also one of his favorites.

Shingen: “What rights did you have to kill her, Kanzeita?!?”

Kanzieta: “She is nothing more than a whore and a taint upon thy honor, my Lord!”

Shingen: “How dare you! The battle of Obama was won by her charms, not the firepower of the asurangi you and I command.”

Kanzeita: “Is victory worth more than honor, my Lord? Will you live a victorious villain while Uesungi Kenshin dies a matyred hero, my Lord? Do you not remember how Kenshin prevented the blockade of rice and salt to Takeda from destroying us? He wanted to defeat you in combat, and you should to. Let us beat him in combat and not stoop so low? If this is the way you wish to fight, then let me die now, for I will not fight for such dishonor?”

Now, Kanzieta’s bravery was second to none but Shingen himself, and Shingen suddenly remembered this, so he forgave Kanzeitta and said that they would crush Uesungi with the force of arms. With this in mind, the Takeda army staged a counterattack and this time captured Echido, the capital of the Uesungi clan, itself. Shingen was now at the height of his power, while Kenshin was forced into hiding.

It was at that time that Lady Uesungi Sakura hath fallen ill, and Shingen was by her side. She could not believe that Kenshin would betray her for another woman, for she was still young and beautiful coveted by all the warlords of Japan, but now, it was clear how deep Shingen’s feelings for her were, and so she asked him, “Why did you not go into monkhood to mourn me all these years? You could have won, for though you were an enemy of Uesungi, who would not admire such a great warrior as the Tiger of Kai?”

Shingen: “That was not my choice to make, Sakura. Many years ago, I seized power from my father with the help of my ally Imagawa Yoshimoto, because he was going to anoint my brother as Lord of Takeda, and I did not believe he was capable of leading Takeda clan to greatness. No, only I was! I could not betray the clan for my personal feelings. It was not my rights to do so.”

Sakura: “Did you not have feelings for me?”

Shingen: “My feelings for you are no less deeper than Kenshin’s, perhaps stronger. I would never betray you for another woman and only married to provide an heir to the Takeda clan. But in the end, you chose him, did you not?”

She could see that his feelings was hurt. Finally, she said, “It was my mistake….Forgive me, Shingen.”

Not long after, Lady Sakura passed away. Shingen wept bitterly, for never in his life did he love a woman more than her.

In honor of Lady Sakura and in return for Kenshin breaking the Hojo blockade five years earlier, he allowed Kenshin to once again take possession of Echido and declared a peace of three years with Uesungi. Japan was peaceful for a time. In this manner, Shingen redeemed his honor, while Kenshin’s honor was much tarnished. Kanzeita and the other generals became even more loyal to Shingen, and the Takeda clan was much strengthened such that they became one of the three most powerful clans in Japan at the time along with the Hojos led by Chinosuke and the Imagawas led by the Takeda ally Yoshimoto. Certainly, no other clan could match the cavalry and asurangi army of Takeda.

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