Chapter 14: Crisis in Ransei
Fan Fiction inspired by Pokemon, Pokemon Conquest
Rating: Young Adult
Shuichi and Amy took off pretty quickly when Erika’s husband gave them the news. Now that I was left with Erika and her family privately, I felt unwelcome and wanted to leave too.
But then her husband had more disturbing news he had to give to her.
“I’m sorry, Erika,” he said to her softly. “It seems I will have to go back home again. Something terrible has happened to my brother.”
Erika’s face was filled with sadness and anger as her husband handed her their son.
“It appears that I won’t be returning for a while now,” he continued, not realizing I had not left the room yet.
I didn’t want to butt in to their quarrel, but this was Shuichi’s master we’re talking about. He may or may not be my brother, but I felt like he was still entitled to any information that was relayed to her.
“Forgive me, Ms. Shuko,” said Erika calmly. “I will have one of my attendants escort you to the exit. Our gym can be difficult to navigate for first-timers.”
Her husband turned to me and glanced at my face.
“So your name is Shuko, huh?” he said, trying to change the subject. “You must be one of Shuichi’s friends. My name is Jun. I’m pleased to meet you.”
“My name is Shuko Oda,” I said with a bow. “I’m pleased to meet you, Jun.”
I normally introduce myself with my father’s name, Ikeda, but in matters of finding my real family, I had to use the name I was given at birth. Since Shuichi, my only lead in finding them, is close with these people, I found it best to reveal that truth with them so as not to confuse any of them later. Somehow, calling myself Oda felt natural in these few days.
“Oda, huh?” echoed Jun. “I wasn’t aware Shuichi had other family members around his age. Are you his cousin?”
“I don’t know, exactly,” I said, deciding to reveal the truth to them both. “I never knew who my real family was, other the name I was given. I’ve only met Shuichi for the first time yesterday. Since we both share the same surname, I thought he might be a family member.”
“Well, Oda is a pretty common name,” said Jun. “So he may or may not know about any other family members he has. On the other hand, you both seem to look very much alike.”
So he could see the resemblance too. He’s very observant.
“So where have you been this whole time if you haven’t found your family?” he continued to ask.
“I have been working as a priestess my whole life. I was inspired by my father, the priest Ikeda, but you probably don’t know who he is, because I’m from a region far away.”
“Excuse me for interrupting,” said Erika, clearing her throat. “But are you from the Ransei region too?”
“Wait a minute, what do you mean by ‘too?’”
Erika looked worried as she held her baby closely in her arms.
“Because I’m from the Ransei region,” said Jun sternly. “I am Lord Motonari’s brother, the warlord of Greenleaf. That is to say, the former warlord of Greenleaf.”
“What are you saying, sir?” I asked. “What happened?”
“Well, I had just received word of it this morning. Lord Motonari is dead.”
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Erika left her den along with her son, so Jun and I could speak with each other privately. I had so many questions for him about Shuichi and Ransei.
Rika, the attendant who escorted me earlier, came by with my clothes, washed and dried, and served us some more tea. I could tell from Jun’s aura that this was going to be a very difficult conversation to get through.
“Miss Shuko, how long exactly have you been away from Ransei?” he asked.
“It’s been over eighteen years now,” I replied. “I may have lived most of my life in Sinnoh since then, but the memories of my childhood are still as fresh as if it was only yesterday. To this day, I still consider it my home. Tell me, sir, what has happened in Ransei?”
Jun put on a solemn face, trying to figure out where to begin.
“About twelve years ago, a warlord rapidly spread his influence in the northern and eastern kingdoms of Ransei. He ruled those kingdoms by putting fear in the people’s hearts and killing his rivals. He was said to become the fabled Hero of Ransei. His name was Nobunaga. Have you heard of him?”
I shook my head.
“I was never really a child of Ransei because I believe my family lives elsewhere. Besides, I came from the southern kingdom of Aurora, where Father Ikeda lived.”
“Then I’m sure you heard of Lord Nagamasa?”
My eyes widened in excitement and surprise. “Nagamasa? You can’t mean–”
“Yes, Ms. Shuko. Nagamasa, the son of Father Ikeda, became warlord of Aurora after being in hiding for six years.”
“Why would Nagamasa be in hiding for so long?”
“Apparently the previous warlord had a bounty on him. That orphanage you came from was closed down and your father was imprisoned. The children had been scattered from Aurora to a few of the western kingdoms. I don’t know what had become of them, but I’m sure you can take a very good guess, coming from there yourself.”
I nodded. Knowing the kind of culture war has plagued on Ransei, I’m sure my brothers and sisters were not treated well. The defiant ones were killed. The remaining boys would be forced into working for the labor camps and the girls would be sold into prostitution. I was lucky to have escaped that way of life, but knowing that alone did not bring me any comfort. What have I done in being here all this time?
“But then Nagamasa grew up and defeated the previous warlord,” said Jun, “and that’s when things started to change. Lord Nagamasa started a campaign of his own as the new warlord. One by one, he claimed the western and central kingdoms for his own, but it was far different from Lord Nobunaga’s campaign. Nagamasa’s ambition was not to conquer Ransei out of fear or greed. He wanted to unite the people of Ransei and bring hope to the lower classes. My brother became one of his first allies in that cause, and many were to follow. Nagamasa’s campaign minimized bloodshed, and when he defeated a warlord, their lives were spared so that they may join him in his quest. Of course, I don’t know all the details, since I have been living here this whole time.”
“But why would you be living here, Sir Jun?” I asked him.
“That’s because I am Lord Motonari’s younger brother. I never would imagine having the same power he had. And I don’t particularly like war either. There was no place in Ransei for me.”
“That sounds so sad.”
“In any case, Lord Nagamasa had somehow penetrated Lord Nobunaga’s army to the east and gained territory faster than the feared warlord. Some say that Nagamasa may have been a better tactician than Nobunaga, but I think his victories were more of a testament to how much the people believed in him. Nagamasa was one of a kind because he did not win territories through violence. Truly, he was worthy to be the Hero of Ransei, and that’s what he became, by uniting all of the kingdoms.”
I was overjoyed knowing that Nagamasa had finally lived out his dream to become the Hero of Ransei. To think that he could follow his ambition for so long and see it through to the end. I’m proud of him.
“Nagamasa ordered the warlords to return to their respective kingdoms and declared neutrality over all of them. In that time, Ransei had experienced true peace, until these past few months.”
“But why?” I asked worriedly. “What has happened now?”
Jun paused to think about where to continue his story. He gave a long, drawn-out sigh before he spoke again.
“Somehow, a member of the household that rules over the kingdom of Illusio, the newly established Lord Takahiro, killed Nagamasa.”
My heart felt like it stopped. Nagamasa, the Hero of Ransei, my big brother, is dead? At the hands of someone from Illusio? Why does that sound familiar?
“Since the assassination, Lord Takahiro started his own campaign to conquer Ransei, and what’s worse was that he was winning. The people loved Lord Nagamasa, but they depended too much on him. Having lost the Hero of Ransei, the people lost hope and gave in, and the wars broke out yet again. And just a few days ago, that war has now consumed my brother, Lord Motonari of Greenleaf.”
Rika returned to collect the empty tea pot and cups she had left for us. She had a grave look on her face too. I’m sure she had been eavesdropping on us.
“And that’s why I have to leave my family here in Celadon City,” said Jun. “It’s been decided that I will be the next ruler of Greenleaf.”
“And Lady Erika is aware of all this?” I asked.
“Of course she is. And that’s why I can’t take her with me. She must stay here with the protection of her family and of the pokémon gym to raise our son. I haven’t told her yet, but it I’m sure she already knows. I had often visited Ransei as a promise to my family, but this time, I’m not coming back at all.”
“But that’s terrible!” I shouted at him. “Don’t you have any idea how Lady Erika feels about this?”
“Of course I do.”
“Then why are you letting her suffer? Don’t you love her?”
“Listen, Ms. Shuko, I love my wife! But you must already know how our noble families work. Erika and I were married out of obligation to form an alliance between our clans, nothing more. Erika was never meant to live the life of a warlord, and I casually decided to let her do so. But not this time. What I face now is my own burden as an heir to the Greenleaf kingdom, and as a child of Ransei.”
About this time, Shuichi and Amy returned from the university.
“Erika told us everything,” said Shuichi. “I humbly request that you take us with you back to Ransei, Jun. We have unfinished business there in a kingdom called Illusio.”
So that’s where I heard of Illusio recently. The smuggled pokémon in the Yamazaki trade were taken there. They don’t intend on meting justice there now, do they? But it seems that Shuichi has already resolved in going to that cursed region anyway.
“I’m sorry, but I can’t take you, Shuichi,” said Jun. “This is something that I have to do personally.”
Erika stepped into her den without the baby, probably because he was left with another one of the girls.
“If you won’t take me, then at least take one of my vassals,” said Erika. “I can’t stand having you go on your own to that place! So please Jun, take Shuichi with you.”
Erika had tears in her eyes, but instead of wiping them away, she held Jun in her arms. Jun embraced her in return.
“I guess I have no choice then, my dear,” said Jun. “Prepare to leave tomorrow morning, Shuichi. We will meet at the front of this gym at eight o’clock. If you are late, you will be left behind.”
“Yes, sir,” said Shuichi and Amy simultaneously. I guess that means Amy plans to join him as well. That makes sense.
“Then I’m going too,” I said.
Shuichi looked at me in surprise. “But why would you go with us?” he asked.
“I don’t plan on staying with you guys when we get there. I must know what happened to my home.”
“Of course you would say that, Ms. Shuko,” said Jun. “I will see you tomorrow as well then.”
Having Jun let me accompany the three of them felt joyous, and yet I felt so anxious being around them all. Still, it felt right that I would return to Ransei, my home.
When all was finally said, Shuichi grabbed my hand.
“Before we go, Shuko, there’s something I haven’t done yet,” he said with a serious face. “It’s time for you to meet my family.”
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Shuichi, Amy, and I arrived at the Oda household early in the evening. Shuichi’s parents lived in an apartment complex slightly larger than his own, but still smaller than Amy’s house. He must have grown up relatively poor.
Shuichi knocked on the door and an old woman came to answer it immediately.
“I’m home, mom,” he said to her, “and I’ve brought some guests too.”
His mother, having seen the two lovely women standing with Shuichi, didn’t seem phased as all of who we were. From what I understand, Shuichi grew up around girls all the time, so this was probably of no surprise.
“Oh Amy, it’s good to see you again!” said Mrs. Oda cheerfully as she gave Amy a big hug.
Then Shuichi’s mother turned to me.
“I haven’t seen you before,” she said inquisitively.
“Pleased to meet you,” I bowed respectfully. “My name is Shuko Oda.”
And in that moment, his mother’s eyes welled up in tears, as she held my arms. That look in her eyes felt like she had finally met someone from a long time ago, like an old friend, for the first time in ages.
“Shuko!” she said, as she embraced me warmly.
She didn’t have to say another word, as I shed tears of my own. I could already tell from her actions and her feelings. That’s when I knew.
This is Shuichi’s mother. My mother.