Nagoya Castle, summer 1545. Actually, it was still a stronghold, not a castle. In fact, it wouldn’t exist for another seventy four years in history. Or another twenty years at least, when Oda Nobuhide had another name: James Halcyon.
That morning, he woke up, and along with his friend who was living in Noda Castle, Mikawa, he was surprised to see the paper ceiling. He was supposed to return to his cold dorm room, wasn’t he? That was confusing, he gotta admit.
“Okay, are you there? Do you read me?” his pal called from the other line of communication. He sounded a bit unease.
“I’m here and I read you loud and clear. And well, I suppose you do recognize the situation we’re in, don’t you?”
“Probably. We didn’t skip the whole season and go back, as we were supposed to last night, I think. It was just another day.”
“You have what you wished now eh. This is going to be fun.”
“Probably yes, probably no,” Rene replied. “What now?”
“Let me see what we have in our plate.”
James left his bed and walked out to the coffee table in the middle of the room where all the documents were last night.
“The papers are still here. But different from yesterday, it has what we are about to do on here.”
“Is it fixable?”
“I guess yes. But how?”
James sat down next to the table, looked at the documents, and took out the parchment labelled Recruits. It had the list of places and units he intended to recruit last night. One division of yari ashigaru and one division of bow ashigaru in Owari.
“Let’s see if I can change it this way,” he put a line across the bow ashigaru and wrote “yari ashigaru” next to it. The ink of his brush didn’t seem to stick on the parchment. He tried many different ways with that and other scrolls. Nothing changed.
“I guess we can’t change anything once we press that End turn button.” He talked to his friend.
“M’lord Oda, are you awake?” a female voice asked James. “Shall I fetch you water?”
“Is that your little maid?” Rene mocked from the other side. “Okay, I’ll leave you be. Report in when you find anything interesting or important. I’ll take a look around too. I have to see what Noda has in store for me.”
“Okay. Good luck mate. Out.”
James turned off his communication channel, then opened the slide door for the servant.
“Get me some water. I want to see the cherries,” he returned to the room, opened the big Japan map on the tatami mat floor, and looked at the position where Nagoya castle was labelled. Didn’t know what to think, he walked around the room, staring at the floor. He had thought of their conquering plans. He’d take Mino Province while Rene were recruiting men in Mikawa Province. After he’d settled everything up there, James’d lead half of his army down south with Rene to take Totomi Province, stabilize the whole Northern parts of Japan, then march Southwards again. They’d regroup before take down Kyoto. That would be their twenty years plan. There would always have something steer them from their original plans, but at least things wouldn’t stray too far off. Thing was, he didn’t know what to do in the meanwhile. Some writing would work, probably?
“M’lord Oda, I bring your water. May I come in?”
“Yes you may, Haruki.” James looked for her name in his headgear. It seemed to store information about every character in this world. “You can leave the water there.”
“M’lord?” she looked at him confused. “Shouldn’t I help you with cleaning and dressing?”
“Oh right. My apologize. Let’s get it done then.”
He realized how the weather here was so different that that of Minnesota, and he wasn’t sure which he liked more. It was warm and a little bit humid. It was actually a little bit too humid for his taste. He would probably like the winter more.
There were so many trees in the cherry garden that dyed the whole place green, yet he could see no cherry blossom. That probably made sense. It was summer eventually. He took out a scroll to put some note on. He’d decided that he needed somewhere to put all these things down and not let time wipe it away. It was the place, the battles, the thrill of the hunt, the people…
Quietly he sketched the view from Nagoya’s watch tower towards eastern skyline. He could see the sea far away. It was so blue, just as blue as the sky. Was this the scene when the sea bled into the sky? He didn’t know for sure. He wished he had some color pencil here.
“M’lord Oda. May I ask what are you looking at? You seem, odd.”
“How?” he turned and looked at her, not angrily, but curiously.
“Pardon me, m’lord. I should keep my mouth shut. I am in no position,” she bowed her head so low that he could only see the hair bun she tied up behind her head.
“You do not have to apologize. Now answer me, how odd is that?”
“You’ve never been here m’lord. You always spend time drinking with the generals.”
“I see,” he smiled at her. “Thank you for your honesty Haruki. Let’s say I got tired of drinking sake all the time. It’s a chance to change the mood. Look up, Haruki.”
He signaled her forward, getting closer to the edge of the watch tower. “What do you see?”
“I see the sky, m’lord.”
“Well said,” he was interrupted by a soldier.
“M’lord Oda, the generals have gathered in the main hall as your order. They are awaiting for your order.”
“Understood. I will be there in a moment. You may leave,” he nodded as the soldier took off. He turned to Haruki.
“You go pack. You’ll go with me to Mino Province,” he orded Haruki. “And I saw the sky too. It is a good start for a haiku, isn’t it?”
So here’s the map for anyone who is not familiar with Japan in Sengoku Era (1545-1600). Owari and Mikawa are a bit up Westward from Kyoto, bordered by Ise, Mino, South Shinano, and Totomi.