Tadaka blinked the smoke from his eyes and looked over his war council. Nijiri and other guy the assembled officer corps of the first Matsu Legion, and his cousin, Gohei.
Sleep had become a fantasy over the past 4 days. Tadaka could feel his body screaming to lie down just for a moment. His men would not last another day. Order was already breaking down with their ranks.
He must steel himself. The men must not suspect any weakness within him. The assault depended upon him alone.
And now Gohei had questioned his order to use the forbidden gaijin powder. He must be shown that it was the only way.
“The Emperor is dead Gohei-san. His laws no longer apply to us.”
“Tsuko would not have condoned these methos.” Gohei returned.
“Tsuko-sama’s honor has forced her to side with Toturi. The lord who abandoned us to stand with his koibito.”
No one could have noticed the minute shift in Gohei’s stance. The twitch of a finger to his katana. But Tadaka had learned the secrets of the katana. He could see the path the sword would take to his throat in the blink of an eye. Gohei’s blade showed his intention as clearly as words on a scroll.
“I have noticed my cousin that you felt no need to accompany her to bow and scrape at Toturi’s side.”
Gohei blanched and the coming violence dissolved from him. “This is so.”
“We must take the imperial city, cousin.”. Tadaka continued. “Kisada will meet with Shoju in the early morning. We will not have another chance to strike. We must press our meager advantages and take the Imperial City while him army is distracted by the machinations of the assembled clans.”
As Tadaka pause for his breath Gohei gazed into his eyes and a part of his soul seemed to flee from him. Tadaka mourned that he must ask this affront of him. Never again would he see the joyfull child he had grown to love as his brother, playing heroes in the fields outside the Hall of Ancestors. Yet another failure Shoju would soon attone for.
“The Akodo have failed. They have failed to protect the Hantei. They have failed our campaign against the Crane. They have failed to lead this clan to glorious battle against the Usurper. The Akodo have fallen far since the time of Akodo One-eye.”
Blasphemy! Tadaka’s soul cried. Your lord is surrounded by enemies he cannot see and you forsake him for your own glory!
“Matsu would not stand with these poor weaklings playing samurai. And my honor will not allow me to stand with him any longer.”
Sleep called to him, still days away. He longed to be back in the Toyotomi with Hoekitime at his side, cutting down the Scorpion ambush as the fire consumed them both.
“Kisada and Shoju will discuss the particulars of their alliance tomorrow. And the Matsu will be there. We will control the Forbidden City. Kisada will find himself brought low by the Matsu, and it will be us that he will plan his new empire with.”
There were shocked looks and some mumbled dissensions but no one challenged him. None of them could deny the wisdom in his words. And none would challenge him.
“Daidoji guy will use his ‘magic’ to open the gates for us. Gohei will clear the gate with the bulk of our samurai while the ashigaru under two guys move our rams into position. After the gate is breached Gohei’s troops will form a staging area for the ashigaru within the walls. The ashigaru will flood the city and provide support to Gohei. We must subdue the Scorpion quickly and establish our dominance. I will personally lead our veteran troops into the forbidden city and assault the Imperial Palace. Once this is complete Kisada will be forced accomodate our demands or he will die.”
Nijiri offered a question. “What of your promise to the ashigaru? We can’t well hold the city and put down a revolt at the same time.”
“We can. And we will if we must.” Doubtful looks showed that Tadaka had betrayed his own doubts. Without the ashigaru their plan was suicide. “Allow the ashigaru to take their spoils from the city. The goods former owners no long have need of them.”
With that Tadaka rose from his stool and was followed by his men. “We must remain vigilant. Return to your posts before the Scorpion capitalize on our vunerability.”