Chapter 18: The Land of Ransei
Fan Fiction inspired by Pokemon, Pokemon Conquest
Rating: Young Adult
I had a dream that night. Everything seemed pitch black. I couldn’t see anything, not even my own self. And yet, two pokémon appeared to me in the darkness, shining vividly, clearly as day. They were my Oddish and my Muk.
The two seemed to be having a conversation with each other, not knowing that I was in their presence. Even stranger was that I could hear them well, speaking in my language, something that has never been fathomable before!
“Pleased to meet you, Mr. Muk,” said Sakura, my Oddish, in a high-pitched, shrilly voice.
“So, you’re the human’s new little squirt of a friend, huh?” said Muk, in a more menacing, croaking voice. “I shall enjoy devouring you.”
“Oh, you mean Shuichi? He seems to be a nice guy.”
Thank goodness the Sakura in my dream notices me as her trainer. She spends way too much time with Diana these days.
“How dare you speak of his name!” said Muk. “Know your place, young one. You are not worthy of calling him by his name!”
“But why? Shuichi is Shuichi to me. And he’s the one my mother admired most.”
“Your mother, is it? You mean that feisty old Vileplume that blindly obeyed that human all these years? I’m glad she’s no longer with us. Now we have witnessed what that man really does to his pokémon.”
“Oh you’re so silly, Mr. Muk! Shuichi took very good care of Mother, even after her death.”
“What makes you say that?”
“When Mother’s petals finally gave in when she passed away, Shuichi buried her in the soil as he would any other humans like him. He gave his final blessing and planted his favorite flowers there. As Mother became one with the dirt as compost, he watered that spot every day and new flowers bloomed! It was truly a wonderful act of kindness!”
“You’re a strange kid, you know that, Oddish?” said Muk unconvincingly. “Your mother rotting to become compost? That’s just creepy.”
“It’s not creepy at all!” snapped Sakura. “It’s how we grass type pokémon thrive. And you’re one to talk, Mr. Muk. You like playing in the trash and sewers all the time!”
I wanted to scream in this dream, but I felt my voice was silent. Just what kind of bizarre comedy was I watching in this conversation between two of my own pokémon? And why was it just those two? Was it because of what Shuko said about me, how I have a poison type affinity? These are my two poison type pokémon, after all.
“Whatever, little Oddish,” continued Muk. “That human is nothing but trouble. They’re all trouble, if you ask me.”
“Then why do you stay with him, Mr. Muk?” said Sakura sweetly. “Surely if that’s how you feel about Shuichi, why are you still inside his pokéball?”
Muk grunted and turned his face to the side of his amorphous sludge body, the personified expression of embarrassment. Sakura started laughing joyfully.
“I knew it! You really do like him!”
“It’s not that I like the human,” said Muk. “He’s just very different from the others. I don’t know how, really, but it’s like he completely understood me when I met him, so long ago, in that mad man’s laboratory.”
That’s right. I met Muk back when he was still a Grimer during one of my missions as an intern at the Special Investigations Department. He was one of many enslaved pokémon who was forced into dangerous and unauthorized experiments. I caught him, along with many others to rescue them, but he was the only one that decided to stay when I returned them to the wild.
“Still, I won’t call that human by his name,” Muk continued.
“But why not, Mr. Muk?” said Sakura.
“He’s never called any of us by our names, has he, Oddish?”
“Oh, I don’t know. Shuichi calls me ‘Sakura.’ I guess that’s my name.”
Muk grunted again. “After so many years, and he finally decides to give you a name, you little squirt. Well, no matter. I have a name, too, and I insist that he calls me by it. I’m not like those other pokémon out there. I demand respect!”
“Well, Mr. Muk, has it ever occurred to you that maybe Shuichi doesn’t know what your name is?”
“Even a nickname would suffice. He should stop calling me by the name of my species! It’s degrading, you know. And my name isn’t ‘Mr. Muk’ either.”
“Well then, what is your name?”
“It’s a name given to me by my former master, the man that enslaved me. My name is—”
I suddenly woke up from the dream. It was still pitch black, just like in my mind, so it was probably still night out. All the others were sound asleep. Wow, what a strange dream, that was.
And as for my Muk, I remembered it now, as I whispered the name on the inscribed tag when I found him.
“Specimen 617. ‘Roku Juu-shichi.’”
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
As the sun rose over the water’s horizon, we arrived at our port: the Greenleaf harbor. This was Jun’s homeland, and the territory now under his control since the death of his brother, Lord Motonari. And from what I would learn very quickly, our base of operations.
“Form ranks!” shouted a military officer to his guards.
A procession of warriors and their pokémon saluted us as we walked toward Greenleaf’s castle. So this is how the life of a warlord truly feels. To have people and pokémon welcome you out of either fear or love for their ruler. To have the utmost protection from them because of their undying loyalty. And to think Jun had tried to escape this lifestyle so long ago, when he first moved away from Ransei, to live a normal life. To live a life that I thought was “normal.”
As we walked down the procession, I noticed Amy’s and Shuko’s expressions. Amy appeared to look nervous with all the attention around her. She’s never had this kind of treatment before, even as an administrator for the Pokémon League Trainers Association. Shuko had a grave look, trying to hold back the anger she had felt simply by seeing so many warriors at once.
But the true sight to behold was Jun, the newly established warlord. He was neither happy or sad, walking toward his castle. He seemed very indifferent to the situation, as if he didn’t care for it at all. It would’ve helped if he was a little sad that his brother died and he was given the title on short notice, or maybe even happy that he had returned home with open arms to greet him. No, his expression made him feel ambivalent to all of his surroundings, like he was hiding something from us. Just what could it be?
A pair of guards waited for us at the gate of the castle, along with their two Grovyles, reptilian grass pokémon. I guess as the name suggests, Greenleaf is a grass pokémon kingdom.
“We welcome you home, Lord Jun,” said one of the guards. Please verify that you are indeed, the heir of Greenleaf.”
Jun took out a pokéball from his waist and released it. The grass and fairy type puffy-looking pokémon, Cottonee, revealed himself. The two Grovyles inspected their pokémon brethren and gave a peculiar signal. The guards then inspected Jun’s face and nodded to themselves.
“And who are these people with you, Lord Jun?” asked the second guard.
“They are my guests from the Kanto region,” said Jun. “They will be staying here under my watch. Please grant them access to the castle.”
“Of course, Lord Jun,” replied the guard. “Please proceed, all of you.”
The guards signaled to open the gate. The heavy doors swung out before us, revealing the castle of Greenleaf. Inside the castle was a forest in and of itself, with a courtyard full of trees and wild grass pokémon. And at the end of this courtyard was a tall castle built as a testament to any claiming to be the Greenleaf warlord.
“You will be staying here for the night,” said Jun. “I will have my attendants show you to your rooms. Be ready to meet again in the council hall when you have finished preparing yourselves with proper hygiene. We are holding a warlord meeting this afternoon.”
“I’m sorry, but did you just say a warlord meeting?” asked Amy in surprise. “Why are we all invited to such a thing?”
Jun smiled for the first time when we first set foot on the land of Ransei.
“You are my guests, but you are also foreigners invited by a newly appointed, and therefore untrusted, warlord of Greenleaf. As such, we must all prove ourselves worthy of being part of the alliances my brother had left behind. That goes for all of you, since you are with me. I’m sure that’s okay with you.”
I nodded, as did Shuko. I may have submitted the paperwork yesterday that I would be on sabbatical, but I was also here to mete justice for the two members of the Board of Professors. To prove myself as a warrior? There couldn’t possibly be a better scenario. Amy seemed a little nervous, but humbly accepted Jun’s request.
“Well then, I will leave you three at that,” said Jun. “Come to the council hall when you are done.”
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Amy, Shuko, and I finished preparing ourselves and walked together to the council hall. It seems all of Jun’s officers and guests had already arrived. The three of us took our seats and knelt before our friend and newly-appointed warlord.
“Glad you three could make it,” said Jun in a serious tone. “Allow me to introduce to you my council, and the ones who will lead Greenleaf and their respective kingdoms to victory, as we take back the other kingdoms of Ransei.”
Shuko informed me earlier that there were seventeen kingdoms in the Ransei region. An ambitious warlord had somehow managed to assassinate the late warlord of Illusio, Lord Kenshin. The new walord, Takahiro, was also a distant relative to Lord Kenshin, as Jun had informed me. Lord Takahiro had then started a campaign of his own to take all of the kingdoms for himself after a brief period of peace in Ransei, killing all of the warlords who agreed to that peace as well as killing Lord Nagamasa, the Hero of Ransei who united them. Jun’s brother, Motonari, was among these targets.
Sitting to the right of Jun was Kanetsugu of Illusio, the late Lord Kenshin’s retainer and nephew. Because Lord Takahiro was a relative to him, Kanetsugu had a hard time accepting that he could have rose up against his Uncle as well as his Aunt Aya, the late warlord’s sister. Still, he managed to feign death and fled west to where we were now. Kanetsugu was accompanied by his Alakazam, an incredibly smart psychic type pokémon. There was no better fit for a partner for the retainer of a former warlord of the psychic kingdom Illusio.
To Jun’s left was a more middle-aged man named Muneshige. He was the husband of the late Lady Ginchiyo, who had ruled the Violight kingdom just north of Greenleaf. Muneshige had married into the clan that ruled Violight for many years, but had been ashamed he could not uphold it by continuing their rule. On the day Lord Takahiro defeated Lady Ginchiyo, Muneshige took a coward’s route and fled south. A new warlord has been delegated under Takahiro in Violight since then. Despite the kingdom’s predominance of electric type pokémon, Muneshige was accompanied by his Staraptor, a strong bird pokémon. He also carried with him the smaller flying and electric rodent pokémon, Emolga.
The last to join Jun’s council was Oichi. Despite her youth and beauty, she was a widow to the warlord of Aurora and the Hero of Ransei himself, Lord Nagamasa. After her husband’s death, she had become overcome with grief and left Aurora as neutral territory. The established warlord of the neighboring Ignis then picked up the kingdom for himself. Shuko appeared to have a lot of curiosity as well as empathy for Oichi, perhaps because they both loved this Nagamasa fellow. He was, after all, Shuko’s big brother at the orphanage. Unlike the other two, she doesn’t appear at all to be a combat-ready warlord, but she also carried a Jigglypuff.
“So, you three are the new recruits that Lord Jun brought with him from the Kanto region?” said Muneshige. “What a bunch of ball-lovers. I can’t believe you would bring them here.”
I’m guessing “ball-lovers” is a term people in Ransei use for foreigners that store their pokémon in pokéballs. In any case, I’m certain we’ll be called that a lot as we traverse Ransei.
“Well you’re one to talk, Muneshige,” said Kanetsugu. “You’re without a kingdom again.”
“And so are you!”
“Will you guys please stop fighting over meaningless things for once?” said Oichi. “I think we should at least hear out our visitors first.”
The officers grumbled, as we were allowed to speak.
“We aren’t all strangers to Ransei,” declared Shuko. “I once came from this land when I was a little girl. I have returned to see what has become of my home.”
“I’m here because my organization has unfinished business with the warlord of Illusio,” I said. “All of our sources point to him as the reason two of our board members were killed.”
“And I’m here to accompany Shu–” Amy stopped herself from saying my first name, “Prof. Ginkgo here. My authorities also have interest in the Illusio kingdom for a shady trade agreement.”
“So in other words, Jun, you allowed these ball-lovers to enter our country to reminisce on the past and challenge the greatest threat to Ransei in these past months?” asked Muneshige. “That’s absurd. The country has changed drastically since the time of peace as well as the time Lord Takahiro began his conquest. And if you’re planning on defeating him, foreigners as you are, without knowing how we do things here in Ransei, you’d best go back home to where you came from.”
“Although, Muneshige, it would be convenient for them to at least give it a try,” Kanetsugu whispered loudly. “We don’t know what these foreigners are capable of yet. With any luck, they will make a dent in Takahiro’s army and we won’t have to worry about sharing spoils of war with them after their deaths.”
“We have no intention of clashing with the warlord!” corrected Amy. “We just want to interrogate him and seek justice for the crimes he has allegedly done in our region!”
The two male warriors laughed as Jun shook his head.
“You think Lord Takahiro will just quietly obey a foreigner’s orders and answer questions truthfully?” asked Kanetsugu. “I grew up with him, and I’ve always known he was quite the Ekans. You won’t be able to get the truth out of him even if you forced him to. Besides, he managed to defeat all of the warlords who signed the peace treaty. All seventeen of the greatest warriors of Ransei and then some. He is the kind of person who scoffs at diplomacy.”
“But how would you know if we don’t try?” asked Amy.
“Silly girl,” said Muneshige. “This is Ransei. Diplomacy is not as simple as you think it is.”
I pondered silently as the discussion continued in the constant bickering among all of the persons present. I was thinking about the problems Ransei had up to this point, as well as the little history I know of it from Shuko and Jun. That’s when I had found a solution.
“Lord Jun, if I may clarify,” I said formally. “If Ransei has experienced peace, even once in its history, in the past five or ten years, wouldn’t the people understand what that means for them and embrace it?”
The council fell silent as they also thought about what I had said.
“Sure, I don’t see why not,” said Jun. “They have experienced peace for at least eight years now, until this recent campaign started by Lord Takahiro.”
“Then that’s enough reason for me to believe there is a way to end this war,” I said boldly. “We should focus our efforts by empowering the people of Ransei into believing in peace again. They have known what it was like, and it’s not like a generation has passed where they have not experienced peace yet. And if we are successful in stirring the hearts of the people, we can minimize the bloodshed amongst warriors.”
All of them fell into awkward silence, as if I had said something wrong. Then Jun spoke again.
“Don’t be so naive, Mr. Ginkgo,” he said, attempting to be a little more formal, but I’ll allow it. “True, a generation hasn’t passed where they have not forgotten about peace, but a generation hasn’t passed where they have not forgotten about Ransei’s culture of warfare. I should know, because that was the culture I escaped from all those years ago.”
“Is that so, Lord Jun?” asked Kanetsugu. “Then how come I remember from Lord Motonari all the details about–”
“That’s enough, Kanetsugu,” interrupted Jun. “Forget about trying to convince the people of Ransei, Mr. Ginkgo. The people aren’t so easily convinced of peace. They have yet to know what that’s like because they’ve only experienced it for a very short amount of time. And they certainly won’t listen to a bunch of ‘ball-lovers’ like us.”
“But what about–”
“No more, Mr. Ginkgo! The warlords will not allow you, or any of us, to start a revolution.”
I sat quietly, defeated from Jun’s tenacity. Amy seemed to also feel that there wasn’t any more options to end Lord Takahiro’s campaign. But then Shuko spoke up.
“If we can’t convince the people of peace by experience, then why don’t we convince them out of hope?”
“That’s preposterous, Miss,” said Muneshige. “Hope was gone ever since we lost the Hero of Ransei.”
“Have we really, Lord Muneshige?” she snapped back. “Or is it just all of you warlords who have sat in power for so long who have forgotten what hope is? My father, the priest Ikeda, of a humble shrine in the Aurora kingdom, brought hope to lots of people when he was still alive! He helped laborers and townspeople who had lost all they had to the wars by bringing joy and happiness. I can remember their faces, how alive they must have felt, even in the face of losing loved ones or being pressed by hard times. They weren’t driven by the promise of good fortune from the countless warlords they had ruling them. They were driven by a simple prophecy of the Hero of Ransei, a deliverer of peace; they were driven by hope.”
The male warlords grumbled as they heard her, but Lady Oichi was listening intently, as if she understood exactly what Shuko was talking about.
“All of you warlords have forgotten what it was like to come from the labor camps or the markets or the towns, or maybe have never known what it was like to be one of them. But I do, and I have faith in the people of Ransei, the people who have lived their entire lives suffering under warlord rule, because I was one of them! Don’t give up on the people of Ransei, my lords. They are the ones that have supported you all this time.”
“Shuko,” whispered Oichi, trying to remember where she had heard the name.
“I am Shuko Oda. I am Father Ikeda’s successor as a priestess and a sister of Lord Nagamasa, the Hero of Ransei. And I want to let the people decide whether they want that peace again or not. I want to let them try.”
“I think that’s a great idea,” said Oichi. “Lord Nagamasa always believed in the people of Ransei, just like you have, Shuko. You truly are just like him, and I’m glad that you have returned after all these years to make amends.”
“Thank you very much, my lady,” said Shuko, bowing deeply in her seat.
“I propose that our visitors try to convince the people of all the regions of Ransei and bring hope to our land once again,” said Oichi. “I shall believe in them, too. What do you all think?”
“Well if it gets rid of that malicious cousin of mine, I’ll allow it,” said Kanetsugu, still unconvinced.
“I think this will prove to be interesting to our cause,” said Muneshige. “Let’s see how this plays out, my lady.”
“Very well, Ms. Oda,” said Jun, clapping his hands. “As the warlord council of Greenleaf, I hereby grant your request of bringing hope to the people of Ransei. You will be spearheading this new campaign. From now on, you will be known as Lady Shuko, the Priestess of Greenleaf. I will have a more appropriate title for you as soon as we find another kingdom in our control.”
“Thank you, Lord Jun,” said Shuko. “But before we begin our campaign, there’s something I need to take care of. I wish to return to my homeland, the Aurora kingdom.”
“Well, that’s great,” said Jun, “however–”
“Aurora is currently neutral territory to both Takahiro’s army and the kingdom of Greenleaf,” said Oichi. “They will not grant access without reasonable cause, and they certainly will not listen to foreigners at all. Entering the kingdom of Aurora on this campaign can prove to be a hostile move for Greenleaf.”
“In other words, Lady Shuko, we will have to battle the warlords of Ignis to gain control of Aurora,” said Muneshige. “And how unfortunate, they are both very strong leaders of the southern kingdoms.”
“I’m sorry if I didn’t hear you correctly,” I said. “Did you say they have two warlords controlling Ignis?”
“Who exactly are they?”
“They are the former strategists of the late Lord Hideyoshi, Hanbei and Kanbei,” said Kanetsugu. “While they both detest absolute violence, they won’t go down without a fight, and they certainly will not lose to foreigners who don’t fight like warlords of Ransei.”
“Well then I guess there’s no way around it,” said Shuko. “I will see to it that I lead the battle on Aurora myself if I want to gain access to the kingdom. I will fight these two, Hanbei and Kanbei.”
“And I will help,” I said bravely. “We promised to see your home one day, Shuko. I will fight with you and see to it that we keep that promise.”