Part 3: Tutorial

Mikawa, the spring of 1545, nine seasons ago

Rene stared blankly from his room at the falling cherry blossom in the court. It was his first time seeing a cherry blossom, a beautiful one at that. It was so magnificent that he stood idly for a while,staring, trying to make sense of what he was seeing. Eventually, he left his side at the window and went to sit at a coffee table in the middle of the room,facing an old Japanese samurai armor set sat in the opposite wall. He then returned to an idle state, staring dumbfounded at all the maps and papers on the table. Right then, he knew nothing but morning had come, and he was waiting for a call. A small ring rang at his ear.

“Took you long enough eh?” He adjusted the Bluetooth earphone.

“They brought in breakfast. Had anything yet?”

“Nothing, never mind that. Had a good sleep?”

“Not quite, but I will manage to sleep on a futon. You?”

“Same. It’s good to hear your voice, James.” Rene sighed.

“Yeah, I was kinda afraid that we couldn’t call.” James blurted out a small laughter.

The year was 1545, date unknown. All that was in Rene’s head was his location, Mikawa, Japan, and his position, daimyo of the Tokugawa clan.That was all he knew about this world, this Japan. Plus everything he knew about the game Total War Shogun 2. It all sounded like a cheap mainstream fantasy, boys played games and got sucked into the video games’ worlds. It was unreal, but it happened anyway, to him and his best friend James. They were both university students, had a little wild dreams here and there but took life seriously. Yet, something happened, and now they were in a stranger’s land,wearing strange land’s clothes and living in strange land’s houses.

“What should we do now? We spent a night here and nothing’s changed.”

“It looks like we’re not going back to the real world anytime soon, right? Sounds like a good dream for escapists like us.”

“Yeah, but it would be even better if after this, we all wake up and it is just a very long, long Saturday night.”

“You’ve got that right, mate. So, for us, do you want to go back?”

“Let’s not put finding a way back a top priority shall we?We’re not some random main characters in novels.”

“Shall we resume our game?”

“As the daimyo of Tokugawa and Oda?”

“Just like the old time.”

“Last time it was as Hojo and Takeda though.”

“And not as the daimyo, I was actually plan to have Takeda Shingen killed because his honor was a threat to the clan.” James laughed. They had been playing this game for nearly a year, once or twice a week.

“So how do we play?”

Rene moved his fingers across the papers laid out on the table.

“In the game, you move first then I move, right? There should be a coffee table with all the maps and papers.”

“Yeah, I see it. This one is for… event messages, armies,provinces… Let me look for the Clan Management tab, wait, not tab, sheets… Ah,here. And this one should be the diplomatic sheets, and this one… Looks like we have everything here. Wait, I found an iPad.”

Rene searched through his pile of sheets to find one as well.

“Yeah, I have one here, too. Looks like this is for “fight in battle” mode. Shame, I prefer auto resolve.”

“You’ve gotta enjoyed fighting for real, mate.”

“Look at where we are, what is real anyway.” Rene laughed it off. “But then, why are we here? If the game can be continued as usual then why are we here physically?”

“I kinda wonder if I am Oda Nobunaga.”

“Yeah, don’t, I don’t read Japanese history. But why?”

“Think about it, we’re the daimyos. And we’re in Japan. For the least, we can scout around, see things and learn stuff, sword fight and archery for examples.”

“That’s the first thing you want to learn? Fighting? But you have a good point. We’re in Japan somehow. So I guess after we end turn, we can go around and see things.”

“And who knows, you can find yourself a beautiful lad around here.”

“Shut up.” Rene grinned. He stopped to listen to the scribble on the other side of the call.

“Ok, the control is pretty much simple, like in real life but by hands, that’s the only different. And I tried negotiated for trade agreements. The diplomatic scene will pop up in your iPad, too. Thought you should know. It’s the same as the first few turns, not much to handle. But how do I end my turn?”

The question struck them both dumbfounded. Usually in the game, there would be a button in the lower right corner with an hourglass icon which would be used to end a player’s turn. There was nothing on the iPad.

“Hey, there’s this hourglass necklace I found by my futon.I’m pretty sure I didn’t have it the night before.”

“Try turning that upside down.”

“Ok, hold on. Did, anything happened?”

“Nothing. Try again?”

“Hold on, some of my sheets suddenly went blank, the ink is gone. And some of the figures on the main map turn darken as well. Check your map.”

Rene looked at his main map; the biggest sheet of paper took over half of the table. It was the map of Japan with figures representing towns, structures, people and armies that would appear on the map of a normal game. It turned bright the moment James finished his sentence. And it wasn’t the only thing that changed; some other sheets previously blank were now full of numbers and figures.

“Yeah, I guess it is my turn now. Damn, this is pretty much like the real game. And somehow I feel like I’m in one of those war games the Pentagon plays.”

“Yeah, isn’t it nice?” James laughed.

Rene laughed as well before turning his attention to the map. He stared at a small square figure with a name tag “Mikawa” under it. He felt as if he was staring at himself from above. He touched the figure softly,afraid of breaking it but he didn’t. As his finger made contact, a small sheet of paper on the table top right corner automatically rolled out and spread flatly. It was the same with what would happen in a normal game, a table showing the list of interaction he could do with the town. He touched on “Rice Paddies”, expecting it would upgrade to “Improved Irrigation”. Nothing happened.

“Hey, how did you build things in here?”

“Oh, you have to write it down. Look under the table,there’s a, I don’t really know what it’s called, something to write with and a book. Write it down on that book. Be careful and write down precisely on the categories, like if you want to buy an army, look at the sheet with Recruit on top, write down the name of the unit and the location.”

“Yeah, thanks mate. Figure same goes for diplomatic and combat right?”

“No, diplomatic can be carried out directly via the iPad.But I don’t know about combat though. Should we fight right now? My army can march right to Mino and take it. And you will have to deal with the Imagawa sooner or later.”

“Well, the Tokugawa isn’t exactly at war with that clan. In fact, the Tokugawa is kinda friendly to everyone and has trade agreements with them all. Damn, this never happened when I was Date or Hojo.” Rene said while looking under the table and pulling out a box which contained some sort of a brush of middle age and a heavy leather book. He also found a pair of glasses inside.

“Hey, I found a pair of glasses.”

“I just tried it on. I think it works as some sort of HUD for us when we’re away from the table.”

“I see.” Rene nodded, finished up all he intended to write. As he finished, he noticed some numbers on some sheets of paper changed, indicating the effect.

“I’m done with my turn, should I end now?”

“Wait, then when do we go out and explore?”

“I say we should end this turn first and see what happens,right? I mean, how do you plan to go out and speak Japanese with the other? And how do you address them? And what if you do something out of character? And who are we in their perception anyway?”

“I don’t know how but this morning a maid brought in my breakfast and water for cleaning. When the maid saw me, she showed no abnormal reaction so I figure we have the images of the daimyos. It works like some sort of camouflage I think; when I looked at my reflection in the water, I see my face, not some old random folks. And she spoke Japanese but I guess the earphone translated everything for me. Hope the glasses can do the same with subtitle.”

“Rog. It looks like we’ll be dead by losing these equipment before those samurais force a, what do you call it, seppuku, right? Still, you do remember shinobis and monks and stuff right? Using agents is your favorite way to play this game right?”

“Second way to play, I also like to march as Takeda Shingen on the field, charging the enemy. But yeah, you’re right. Damn, I wish we found some sort of a manual here. It would really help, you know?”

“Yeah, but well, if there’s a manual, there’s probable a way out, too. And shit, I don’t plan to go back that fast. My life is in a bad streak you know?”

“Yeah, you were in a bad mood for a week, you haven’t told me why.” James said.

“Well, some other day.”

Rene wore the necklace and flipped the hourglass between his fingers, caressed the curves of the hourglass.

“I really hope the cherry blossom in the capital is as beautiful as the one I just saw this morning.” He murmured.

“Yeah, I’m glad I get to see the blossom. It was still snowing back in Minnesota.” James replied with a brighter tone.

“Well, I’m ending my turn.”


Rene turned the hourglass.


Mikawa, the summer of 1545

He woke up, staring dumbly at the paper ceiling.

“What the hell happened?” He tried to scream.


*Read Part 2 at:

We are trying something, it is weird but it will not waste your time. All parts are planned. There will be a map.


Author: Minh Vu


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