Arc 2 – Tenth Year of Eiroku Era, Tenka Fubu
Middle April, 1567
After returning the borrowed fast horse, Shizuko headed directly towards Kimyoumaru’s chamber.
Upon entering the chamber, there lay Kimyoumaru, resting.
“Please put buckets of hot water at each corner of the room.
Also, please prepare some cold water and hand towels…and as many changes of clothes as you can.”
Shizuko instructed Kimyoumaru’s tutor who stayed beside him.
“Do as Shizuko says.”
Kimyoumaru ordered his tutor who hesitated to put Shizuko’s words to action.
He bowed once, left the chamber, and started giving instruction to the handmaids.
“Although I rushed here with a fast horse, it still took a round trip so it should be fine time-wise.”
Originally, it would be better to let it sit for about half a day, Shizuko thought as she took out a small bamboo tube.
Inside it was daikon and honey, or in other words, a daikon-ame, medicine for a sore throat.
She scooped up some of the clear liquid on the top with a wooden spoon and put it into her mouth to check its state.
Since she used honey instead of starch syrup, it was different from her usual daikon-ame, but Shizuko judged that it had an appropriate sweetness and water content.
Honestly, I want to use starch syrup, but since I didn’t have any I used honey instead.
It has a good effect on a sore throat.”
The enzymes contained in daikon(amylase, lipase, protease) help the digestion system and suppress the inflammation of the mucous membrane of the throat.
You can drink it as is, or you can dilute it with hot water first.
It was also easy to make; dice daikon, soak it in starch syrup or honey and simply leave it as it is.
After a while, a liquid will come out from the daikon.
This liquid, called a supernate, can be scooped up and drunk.
However, the enzymes of daikon are sensitive to heat, so you need to be careful about that.
“…mhmm, it’s sweet.”
“Well, I put in honey after all.
I’ll have you eat a lot more.
It’s important to keep your stomach working to maintain your health.”
“Well … I don’t have that much appetite, but I’ll do my best.”
After that, the tutor came back with a towel and water in a bucket.
Shizuko wiped off the sweat from Kimyoumaru using the towel and changed his clothes that were drenched in sweat.
She was puzzled that Kimyoumaru showed some resistance when she wiped his body.
It was a shyness appropriate to his age, but she was oblivious of the boy’s delicate heart.
“W-what a disgrace…What the hell is that anyway?”
Kimyoumaru looked at and asked about the seemingly glass-made rod Shizuko brought with her and forcibly shoved into his armpit.
“Mm, it’s a thermometer…37.9 degrees.
Since I don’t know your temperature from yesterday I can’t say much, but this much isn’t life-threatening at least.”
“I don’t understand what you’re saying, but I do certainly feel that my life is in danger…”
“Well, not much we can do but improve your stamina and have you recuperate on your own.
For the time being, I’ll put chopped green onions on your bedside.
For the meal, I’ve prepared steamed rice with sweet potato, grated ginger, and green onions in clear broth.
Also, maybe I’ll add stir-fried umeboshi later…nevertheless, when sick, having good nourishment and nutrients is the most important thing.”
“…how should I say this, it somehow seems too easy, making me feel worried instead..”
While foods that are good for the common cold such as ginger, spring onion, daikon, and sweet potato already exist, the idea of using them as a remedy was still nonexistent in the sengoku era.
To begin with, the core tenet of traditional chinese medicine is to build a body that can withstand illness by using your daily diet, so there are not many symptomatic medicines like in western medicine.
In the sengoku era, a meal is to satiate your appetite first and foremost, which is understandable as the concept of nutrients has not yet been discovered.
Therefore, from Kimyoumaru’s point of view, he really can’t comprehend why Shizuko said it was necessary.
“Don’t worry, have faith in your Shizuko onee-san here.”
“No, it’s not like I don’t trust you…you know?”
This wasn’t just an empty phrase.
For Kimyoumaru, Shizuko had already become ‘someone he can talk to without caring about social status or profit and loss.
If Shizuko had been a man, she would have become his closest friend with whom he could speak frankly.
In that sense, it was really regrettable that Shizuko was a woman.
But he also thought that because she is a woman that they could have met like this in the first place.
“Human relationships are really a mysterious thing, aren’t they.”
Kimyoumaru murmured those words as he closed his eyes.
The cold towel on his forehead felt comfortable.
Perhaps as his fatigue caught up to him, his consciousness gradually diminished.
“Huh? Asleep already? Oh well… sleep well, Chamaru-kun.”
As her last words reached his ear, he was falling into a deep sleep.
Kimyoumaru coughing disease was also reported to a certain man on a faraway battlefield (Ikusaba).
“What, Shizuko is?”
That man, Nobunaga, was attacking Inabayama Castle, the residence of the Saito in Inoguchi, Mino Province.
As soon as he heard that Kimyoumaru had fallen to the coughing disease, he ordered the kusushi, practitioners akin to the modern-day physician, to be dispatched.
However, there was no report of his recovery even after one week has elapsed.
He would stop there if this were any other kid, but Kimyoumaru was his precious heir.
He wouldn’t want for his son to die of illness now.
When he was wondering what should he do, a report comes in that Shizuko has taken over curing Kimyoumaru illness.
According to members of the household, she gives out many strange instructions.
Such as putting buckets filled with hot water in the corners of the room or putting chopped green onion next to his bedside… Furthermore, she has apparently ordered various foodstuffs.”
Putting his hand to his chin, Nobunaga sunk into thought.
According to the report, Kimyoumaru had felt cornered by his encroaching mortality and revealed his identity to Shizuko.
Despite this deception, Shizuko still endeavored to cure his illness.
While musing about her intentions, Nobunaga reconsidered that these musings themselves were a sign of distrust towards her.
(If that girl could skillfully maneuver herself through the world, she wouldn’t have come to me.
In short, “she’s not thinking at all”.
She is simply curing Kimyoumaru, who is a person close to her, out of pure goodwill.)
“Order all members of the household to follow Shizuko’s directions.
Have them do their best to provide her with what she needs.
Tell Shizuko that I want to hear about it from her in detail later.”
“As you command!”
After replying and bowing deeply, the vassal turned around to pass off Nobunaga’s words onto a messenger.
“So Shizuko-dono is not only knowledgeable about agriculture, but about illnesses as well?”
Mori Yoshinari murmured, slightly impressed.
Nobunaga was about to agree with that, but after thinking it over for a bit, he pointed at his own head and said this:
“Shizuko’s wisdom is surprising, but that is not her only good point.
What makes her even more formidable in my mind is her plentiful vocabulary, which allows her to pick the right explanations for each individual.”
Having received reports from Kimyoumaru, Niwa, and Aya, Nobunaga had noticed one common factor.
Shizuko possesses extensive knowledge, but is able to “explain this knowledge in an easy-to-understand manner” to “others”.
After realizing this, Nobunaga had reread Sun Tsu’s Art of War as well as other military art books and biographies from Namban.
Every book was more concise than any other military art book, yet still summarized in an easy-to-understand manner.
The interpretations were consistent as well, and the difficult to understand were annotated appropriately.
There was thought put into making it understandable to people without a lot of prerequisite knowledge, Nobunaga thought.
“It is as you say, my lord.
When asked for an explanation, she will summarize and explain the main points in a concise manner.
Well, enough about Shizuko.
What became of that retainer of Tokugawa?”
“He has already been handed over to Tokugawa Juugoige Mikawa-no-Kami”
“Mhh, that is fine then.
I don’t want to have to worry about unnecessary strife right now.
It might be too light-handed, but I’ll keep myself to leaving the man himself with a stern warning.”
“I am truly impressed by my lord’s discerning eye.
Considering we are on the eve of battle against Mino, and you must be tense with anxiety about the coming battle.”
To be uncertain whether Mikawa was an enemy or ally while Owari was left with few forces was very undesirable to Nobunaga.
Depending on the situation, preventing neighboring provinces from meddling in diplomacy is more trouble than it’s worth.
Therefore Nobunaga decided to not rock the boat in Tadakatsu’s case.
In the end, Nobunaga regarded Tadakatsu’s “visit” to Shizuko’s village as “never happened”, and his good relationship with Niwa as “never existed”.
Of course, Tadakatsu agreed without any objection to this.
From the beginning, he was prepared to accept under any conditions as long as he could not reach his master, Ieyasu.
“What is the situation at Inabayama Castle?”
At that question, Mori Yoshinari’s expression tightened.
“We have finished burning down the castle town of Iguchi, stripping Inabayama Castle bare.
We have just finished setting up wooden barricades around the castle.”
“Fine, we will move onto the next phase.
Split up the soldiers at each base.
Have them form groups of 10 with 7 on the day and 3 on nighttime duty.”
Mori Yoshinari replied in confusion.
He was able to understand the order up until splitting up the soldiers into groups, but what had come after went above him.
Nobunaga however paid no mind to Mori Yoshinari’s inner thoughts, letting an evil smile rise onto his lips.
“It’s a contest of patience from here on.”
Saitou Tatsuoki had his subordinates scout Nobunaga’s base, but the reports he received confused him deeply.
Almost half of Nobunaga’s retainers were nowhere to be seen, putting Saitou’s army at a big advantage.
However, the actions of the remaining soldiers made no sense at all.
The scouts had no idea what they were doing either, only delivering useless reports of seeing the enemy soldiers piling up dirt and digging holes.
The only thing they did understand was that Nobunaga was laying siege to them.
As a result of these reports, the vassals were split between holing up in preparation for a siege or using this opportunity to strike at their enemies.
Tatsuoki himself was troubled by which path to choose.
For the time being, he decided to send a messenger to the Mino Triumvirate – Inaba, Urabe, and Ando – and wait for their reply before deciding.
Fortunately, they replied immediately: “As we are currently engaging the Oda army, it will take about ten days for our soldiers to arrive.”
With that, his decision was made.
Tatsuoki took the path of holing up inside Inabayama Castle and fighting a siege while waiting for reinforcements.
His vassals didn’t object either, as they had determined that Nobunaga’s missing forces were attacking West Mino.
At first glance, this decision was sound, however, they had overlooked a small but decisive change they should never have.
In the past, the Oda army would have attacked the castle with their entire army as soon as they crossed the Nagara river.
This time, they instead split their army upon arrival with one half heading for West Mino to achieve an unknown goal.
Or how the Mino Triumvirate could immediately answer that they would take 10 days until their reinforcements arrive.
While each of these was a small thing on its own, Tatsuoki’s faction lacked a bird’s eye view of the situation that would have allowed them to see the inevitable conclusion these small changes would lead towards.
That they were already dancing on top of Nobunaga’s palm and that their end was nearing quickly.
The orders Nobunaga gave to his retainers after surrounding Inabayama Castle were extremely simple.
“Have your men fight unambitious battles without interruption for the next seven days and nights while keeping our losses to a minimum.” as well as “Have the attackers operate on a rotation and have them rest in turns to keep the morale at the frontline high at all times.” and “Change the points of hardest fighting so they can’t focus all their defenses at one point.”
While they couldn’t see Nobunaga’s goal and were hesitant, his vassals faithfully carried out his orders and repeated unambitious battles.
It was natural that his vassals were unaware of his goals, as Nobunaga wasn’t even looking at Tatsuoki right now.
Mount Kinka is a steep mountain with many cliffs.
And the Inabayama castle sits on its summit; with its many turrets, enclosure, and a large number of soldiers, making it an impregnable fortress.
Furthermore, most of the soldiers are tough veterans who have survived countless battlefields.
Nobunaga knew well that it wouldn’t be easy to crush them head-on.
So he first moved to crush these fierce warriors.
The strategy he used for that was “Dull battles all day and night.”
All-day and night literally meant 24 hours nonstop.
The same goes with the dull battles; mediocre, unremarkable skirmishes.
At a glance, these actions appeared to be pointless, but that was because this strategy has no immediate effect.
However, even though they were skilled elite soldiers, and invisible to the naked eye, “it” would slowly but surely accumulate.
“Stress” due to constantly being on high alert.
“Lack of sleep” due to being forced to be unable to sleep in peace.
“Insufficient nutrition and hydration” due to being unable to eat properly.
As long as they are human beings, it will be a weakness that they will always have.
If their “lack of sleep” continues, their concentration will decrease and they won’t be able to respond immediately to emergencies.
Furthermore, as their immune system weakens, their physical condition will deteriorate.
Compounded with the “stress” from the unusual situation of being on a battlefield, this makes it hard for them to control their emotions.
The lack of water intake will cause dehydration, heatstroke, and hypotension.
Moreover, if the human body loses 15% of its water content, it will severely impact bodily functions, and if it exceeds 20%, will result in death.
Nobunaga was not too familiar with the human body.
He only knew from experience that continuous hunger, thirst, and lack of sleep can be dangerous.
It was Shizuko who elaborated on what would happen if that state continued.
Without basic knowledge about human life support, Nobunaga could not judge whether it was true or not.
That’s why he decided to find out in this battle.
(…Well then, let’s see how it pans out.)
Several days later, he found out that “Lack of sleep” and “Insufficient nutrition and hydration” are extremely fatal to the human body.
It was on the fourth day of the siege of Inabayama castle.
The vassals of the Oda clan, who had up until now faced fierce resistance, noticed that the counterattacks of the skilled veterans they were facing had become lackluster.
And while they thought that now would be the perfect time to attack, they reigned in their impatience as Nobunaga had ordered them to fight dull battles for “7 days”.
However, that restraint only lasted until the sixth day.
On the night before the seventh day several retainers implored Nobunaga for permission to attack.
“My lord, please allow this Saru to take one unit with me.
I will bring the head of that damned Tatsuoki before you without fail.”
The first one to arrive at the main encampment had been Hideyoshi, who immediately asked this of Nobunaga as soon as he had sat down.
Nobunaga, who had been chewing on a dried potato, swallowed before answering.
“I understand why you say this, Saru.
The others will probably appear before long as well.
Sit down and wait until then.”
Obeying his words, Hideyoshi settled down in a corner of the main encampment.
Within about an hour almost all warriors who were participating in the siege had arrived at the main encampment.
“How was it to fight dull battles these past six days?”
Asked Nobunaga the assembled warriors.
Most of them couldn’t read Nobunaga’s intentions nor hide their confusion, but the quick-witted ones opened their mouths without a moment’s hesitation.
“On the first and second day, their resistance was fierce and keeping our losses low was a challenge, yet by the fourth, it was obvious that they had lost any momentum.”
“On the fifth night their lookout wasn’t working at all, and they didn’t react until our arrows rained down on them.”
“I also received reports that defending soldiers collapsed from exhaustion during the battle.”
After Mori Yoshinari and Hideyoshi had spoken up, the other warriors chipped in one after the other.
“It looked similar on my front as well.”
“Now that you mention it, their reactions might have lacked bite from the fifth day onward…”
“The enemy general tried to inspire their troops until his voice grew hoarse, but the movement of their soldiers was sluggish and their morale is gone.”
“Our casualties shrank day after day.”
After this, the warriors continued their pandemonic exchange of opinions.
Nobunaga simply kept his silence and listened.
Even when it turned into more or less idle talk, he simply stayed silent and listened.
When their words were just about exhausted, Nobunaga took the opportunity and declared with a small smile on his lips:
“Everyone, it seems you have a lot of pent-up frustrations.
You are free to vent them on the enemies tomorrow.”
It was not a clear order, but all warriors understood it as “The permission for an all-out attack has been given”.
Afterward, the meeting dissolved without incident and they all returned to their positions.
As soon as they had returned, they immediately ordered their subordinates to prepare for the attack.
Of course, they still continued their night attack according to the original plan.
Everyone besides the soldiers on night duty was given plenty of food and sleep in order to be perfectly prepared for tomorrow.
Achievements in war are the honor of a warrior.
On the seventh day of laying siege to Inabayama Castle, they received their opportunity to do so.
Therefore, they prepared even more carefully than ever and took the greatest care to prevent any unforeseen circumstances.
Among them, only Mori Yoshinari did not change from his usual attitude.
His enthusiastic subordinates, who were caught up in the heat of the moment, he admonished:
“Your enthusiasm is great.
Yet losing sight of one’s footing because of impatience are the actions of a second-class warrior.
A first-class warrior reign in his desire for fame, thinks first about his survival and the success of his mission.
Only once those are fulfilled will he be able to succeed in life.”
At Mori’s words, his subordinates became aware of their own shallowness and hung their heads in shame.
While scolding them on the one hand, Mori Yoshinari then let a gentle smile come to his face as he continued his words looking at them like a father would at his son.
“Wanting to achieve fame in battle is not wrong.
But if your eyes are clouded by greed, they will fail you when you need them most.
It is only natural for the youth to aim for greater heights.
The priest Kuuya once said, ‘Only by risking your life will an opportunity show itself’.
However, I think that it should rather be ‘Only by staying alive will an opportunity show itself’.
Do not rush, take not only care of yourselves, but also help those around you, and survive to aim together for the new world our lord will show us.”
After having calmed down his subordinates, Mori Yoshinari spent the night the same way as the days before.
Kinoshita Toukichirou (Hideyoshi) on the other hand was doing the exact opposite.
He gathered some of his men while giving various instructions to the majority of his troops.
As both sides swirled in their thoughts, the dawn of the seventh day of Nobunaga’s siege of Inabayama castle had come.
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