Chapter 21: The Resistance
Fan Fiction inspired by Pokemon, Pokemon Conquest
Rating: Young Adult
Shuichi and I looked at each other puzzled by what Ina had said. What did she mean she had a proposal for Shuichi? Was she interested in him for something? What could it have been?
“If I may be so bold to ask, Lady Shuko,” said Ina, “I would like to take Sir Ginkgo here with me to the eastern kingdoms. I want him to help the Resistance.”
Shuichi was shocked. I was too. Why would Shuichi be of use to their group?
“Lady Shuko, your goal is to unite the people of Ransei on the promise of hope and bringing peace back to Ransei again, correct?” Ina continued
“Then we are in agreement. The Resistance doesn’t take lightly to Lord Takahiro, frankly we would like to defeat him and force him to step down as warlord and conqueror of this land. He has control over many of its kingdoms already. However, the Resistance has managed to take three of them from him: Nixtorm, Valora, and Avia. We originally came to propose the kingdoms of Ignis and Aurora to also join us, as Hanbei and Kanbei are also successors to a previous warlord killed by Lord Takahiro. After your performance however, it seems that you, Lady Shuko, are the warlord of Aurora; and therefore we should be asking you.”
I was puzzled and surprised. Ina and the Resistance don’t really know who I am, and yet they are asking me to join their Resistance against Lord Takahiro.
“I agree with your cause, Lady Ina,” I said, “but I can’t join your Resistance just yet. Not unless you can answer me this: what is your reasoning behind your upbringing?”
“We want to restore Ransei in peace with us as its warlords, as it was before Lord Takahiro’s campaign. We do so by empowering the people of the eastern kingdoms to overthrow the warlords. Of course, many of the warlords of the east are somewhat neutral to Takahiro’s forces, but obey him nonetheless. The people, on the other hand, are still loyal to Nobunaga, the former conqueror of the east, and have easily joined us so far. But despite that, we need a leader.”
“So you’re asking Shuichi—I mean—Sir Ginkgo, to become that leader?”
“That’s correct. Despite our collective goals, the four of us have disagreed with each other on many occasions. Having said that, we will not be able to conquer the other lands until we can work together. That’s why we need Sir Ginkgo.”
Ina turned to Shuichi and bowed respectfully.
“Sir Ginkgo, we humbly ask you to join us and lead the Resistance of the eastern kingdoms.”
Shuichi stared at Ina nervously. Amy, who stood behind him, had a terrifyingly jealous look at him. I certainly wouldn’t want to be Shuichi right now.
“Why do you want me to join your Resistance, and not Lady Shuko?” he said.
Ina stood up again and smiled.
“Well that’s simple. Lady Shuko will be leading the campaign in the west. You will lead us in the east. From what we have seen, you two both work well together in battle. You two should also be able to work together to conquer the kingdoms. And besides, Gracia and I have taken a strong liking to you, Sir Ginkgo.”
Shuichi blushed. Amy readied a fist to pound his head, but she restrained herself from doing it.
“Hey, I didn’t say that about Sir Ginkgo!” said Gracia angrily. “Don’t get me involved in your stupid love quarrels, Ina!”
Ina and the other warlords laughed.
“Regardless, Lady Shuko, it’ll be easier for us both to unite Ransei if he was with us.”
“Thank you, but I refuse the offer,” I told Ina. “I have no intention of joining your Resistance.”
“I see,” replied Ina. “But then that means you will become our enemy. You will have to fight us someday, if you want to unite all of Ransei.”
“That’s right, Lady Shuko,” said Hanbei. “And as much as I’d like to help you out since you spared our lives, it would be a pain to battle against them. I mean, we were all in Nobunaga’s army once, and they were some of his many officers. You don’t stand a chance against them.”
I felt nervous and trapped. I didn’t agree to their terms for being the Resistance, but I didn’t see them as enemies just yet. What would I do if I had to fight them? Could I fight all of them?
“I’ll do it,” said Shuichi. “I will lead your Resistance, Lady Ina.”
Amy and I were shocked.
“Shuichi, are you sure about this?” I asked.
“It’s the only way, Shuko. We may never be able to unite all of Ransei if we can’t defeat all of them. Their goal is similar enough, so I think it’s best we work together with them.”
“But Shuichi, they have no interest in peace for the people of Ransei. They just want to unite the country and be the warlords themselves.”
“That may be, but they are the closest allies we may ever have. We don’t have to agree on this, but working with them will benefit your cause in the end. Have faith in them.”
I don’t understand Shuichi’s reasoning for joining the Resistance, but this was his decision to make. I couldn’t refuse him.
“Okay, Shuichi,” I said, as I hugged him. “Just be careful. I don’t know what these warlords really want yet. And if it comes down to it, we may see each other on opposite sides.”
Shuichi returned the hug tightly.
“I know, Shuko. But have faith in me, too. I won’t let them fight you. You are my sister, after all.”
Amy gave me a cold stare, given my actions. She can get really jealous for Shuichi, so I let go.
“Well if Prof. Ginkgo’s going to join the Resistance, then so am I,” said Amy. “I don’t trust you with that Ina or the other girl.”
“Hey, I have a name, you ball-lover. I’m Gracia!”
Shuichi held the back of his head in embarrassment.
“Well, well, Shuichi, looks like you just got to Ransei, and now we must part,” said Jun. “Hope you do well on your campaign. And just make sure you don’t die. My wife wouldn’t like that.”
Shuichi shook hands with Lord Jun.
“If I may ask, Lady Ina, I would like to stay and aid Lady Shuko,” said Magoichi. “It’s best for at least one of us to see her progress in the west. It will help the Resistance very much.”
I glared at Magoichi, wondering what his intentions really were in spying on me. He gave me and Amy very bizarre, glamorous looks earlier.
“You just can’t keep your eyes off of new women, huh Magoichi?” asked Hanzo sarcastically.
“There’s no way I wouldn’t pass the chance with a priestess.”
I gave a disgusted look, but it’s just like Shuichi said: the Resistance may be our closest ally in uniting Ransei for the people. I had to oblige.
Hanzo took Shuichi aside and spoke to him privately. I had eavesdropped a little bit, because I wanted to speak with Shuichi as well.
“I see that you are a wielder of the kusarigama, a ninja’s weapon,” he said. “You are very skilled at using one, but it’s still not good enough if you plan to lead us. Allow me to train you while we are in the eastern kingdoms, Sir Ginkgo.”
Shuichi had no idea how to respond to that. I could tell he had no intention of trying to fight, but he didn’t want to upset this new officer of his. He agreed and bowed to Hanzo.
“Shuichi, I know you need to leave for the eastern kingdoms soon,” I said to him as Hanzo left. “However, there is one more thing I want to do here before you go.”
“Right,” replied Shuichi. “Let’s go see your home, Shuko.”
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Amy, Shuichi, and I traveled outside of the castle that afternoon in search of the Ikeda shrine, the place where the orphanage had been. My home.
Oichi was happy enough to give us directions and also accompanied us. She was still grieving for Nagamasa, her husband and my older brother at the orphanage. Still, she wanted to join us in memory of him.
I wanted to cry when we found the shrine. The land around it had been overgrown and unattended for many years now. The land itself seemed uninhabited, with wild growth here and dead grass there. There was no clear path to the spiritual gate to the shrine, nor to the run-down shack that was once the place where we had slept.
Oichi had a worried look on her face, not because she had feared something, but as if simply being here was a sad moment. Oichi never stayed at our shrine before because I don’t remember her at all. Still, Nagamasa’s memories are also her memories. That’s why she felt so sad.
The four of us walked into the abandoned shrine house. We entered the mess hall, where my family and I spent many of our meals together. Those were happy times, and now it has come down to this feeling of dread, nostalgia, and sorrow.
The room was dark, dusty, and the air felt stagnant. Amy appeared to have trouble breathing as we walked in and Oichi held her nose. Shuichi held onto his girlfriend’s shoulder and hand.
Truly nothing was left of the building other than its walls and the flooring. No furniture, no traces of people, few tracks left behind from wild pokémon, and yet I could feel as if I had just been there yesterday.
I looked around as I imagined all of the tables and chairs, neatly arranged for dinner time. Father telling stories that were funny, stories that were scary, stories of hope, stories of love; and all of my brothers and sisters gathered around him. Mother yelling at us to go to bed as the children ran around the halls, knowing nothing of the wars going on outside of our home.
But the wars were out there. And they were real. And they consumed us, even within the safety on this sacred ground. There was nothing we could do to prevent the reality we all had to face.
I shed a tear.
“Lord Nagamasa said he grew up here, too,” said Oichi. “It was his favorite place to be. After establishing himself as the warlord of Aurora, he always came back to this place for the memories, and still came back whenever he was stationed at his castle. I asked him once why he returns to such a dreadful place, and not let anyone demolish it to rebuild and make something new. He told me that it was because no matter where he was, or where he was going, this place would always be his home.”
That’s right. This was Nagamasa’s home. And it was my home, too. That’s why I came back to it.
We toured the house a little more in silence. I don’t think Shuichi or Amy needed my commentary to understand how sorrowful this place was, but I believe they understood why I loved it so much. In just a moment in time, we came to my home. And in just another moment, we left.
“It’s hard to imagine your home to be left like this,” said Shuichi. “I mean, if anything happened to my home, I don’t know what I would do.”
“You could always live with me, you know,” said Amy.
“That’s not helping.”
I laughed. Despite my precious memories fading away from the sorrow left behind, I laughed. Here I am, in a place I call “home,” with my twin brother, my own flesh and blood, who I had only met a few days ago. And all he can do is have a lover’s quarrel with his girlfriend! It was funny. Shuichi is my family now, and having him around is like being at a different kind of home. Knowing he’s alive gives me strength to move on.
“Someday, I will rebuild this shrine,” I declared to Shuichi and the others. “I will make it anew and restore the favor it once had from our Creator. And I will rebuild the orphanage too. I will run the shrine myself. And I will take care of the orphans of this war-torn nation, so that they will know of joy and laughter and peace, as I did.”
Shuichi placed his hand on my shoulder as we looked back at the house.
“Of course you will, Shuko,” he said. “But we still have a lot of work to do. And we will do it together. We will empower the people of this land and bring peace to it once again. We will unite Ransei.”