Chapter 22: On the Eastern Front
Fan Fiction inspired by Pokemon, Pokemon Conquest
Rating: Young Adult
The warlords of the eastern kingdoms, Amy, and I left Aurora in the afternoon. I thought it would be near impossible to travel to eastern Ransei when there was a lot of hostile territory in the central kingdoms, but the Resistance had another way to go there.
Although Ransei is not accustomed to modern technology that we know of like airplanes and pokéballs, they are not as primitive as I had first thought. The warlords travel by air too, but with dirigibles powered by hot air. Together with their pokémon,the warlords got onto the vehicles and traveled to distant friendly kingdoms. To me, this was quite fascinating, since I have never used such transportation before.
Amy and I gazed from our open-air view below, checking out the view of Ransei below our very feet.
“It’s so amazing, isn’t it, Shuichi?” said Amy.
It certainly was. The lavish green landscape of Ransei’s many forests. The scattered brown and yellow patches of deserts and mountains. The shiny blue contours of fresh water rivers. Very few settlements for people could be seen from above, perhaps because the people of Ransei are far and few between kingdoms. Where we did find human settlements, there were wondrous castles that were built in the very centers of civilization, the monument of warlords who controlled the various kingdoms.
It was truly a sight to behold. It’s unfortunate to know that this place is in fact a huge war zone. The entire nation is driven by endless war, and consumes every human and pokémon in it, no matter what kind of status they have in Ransei.
As evening approached, the land became dark and mysterious, where no light could reflect on the landscape below. The only thing we could see in all of Ransei was the lighting of castles, and the storehouses and workshops surrounding them, in small but visible clusters.
“Look around you, Sir Ginkgo,” said Hanzo. “Those lights below are the kingdoms of Ransei. They light the way to our conquest like beacons in the darkness. We will find a way to take back every last one of them.”
Now I’m starting to worry about what the Resistance intends to do once they claim all of the kingdoms. Shuko doesn’t agree with them on the basis that they really want something other than peace for the people of Ransei. Still I can’t help but think that they are the only ones who can support our cause. And now I am their leader; a leader in trying to control a pack of selfish officers who apparently disagree on more things than they should be.
I was never a good negotiator, so I’m still not very confident that I would make a great leader for the Resistance; but I had to try.
“We will be arriving in the kingdom of Valora late into the night, Sir Ginkgo,” Ina told me. “Please get some rest until we arrive.”
Amy had already sat down in a seat we had been provided for this excursion. She had been trying to go to sleep, but had trouble letting her body relax from the vehicle’s turbulence. I sat next to her and wrapped my arm around her.
“Ah, so there’s more to that woman than simply just tagging along with you after all, Sir Ginkgo?” asked Ina. “Are you two married?”
“Of course not,” I said softly. “Not yet, anyway.”
Amy smiled and fell asleep.
“Oh, so you’re planning on getting married? Gracia will be so disappointed to hear that.”
“I will not!” said Gracia. “Don’t listen to her, Sir Ginkgo. She’s the one who’s interested in you. You’d better watch your back around her.”
Ina smiled and laughed.
“So, Sir Ginkgo, does she fight?”
What could Ina want from saying that? Of course Amy doesn’t fight. She was not trained in the way of a warrior the same way Ina and the other warlords were. She hadn’t even gone through the training I had had with Erika at the Celadon City Gym.
“We use our pokémon differently for battle in the Kanto and Sinnoh regions,” I said, shaking my head. “Most trainers trust their pokémon to battle for them rather than have to battle for themselves. Amy isn’t the type to get into a fight anyway.”
“Oh, well that’s too bad,” replied Ina. “I thought she would be most appropriate to be your retainer, since you two are so close already. Guess I have no choice then.”
I eyed Ina slyly, wondering what exactly she had in mind. She sat on the floor of the dirigible and bowed to me.
“Sir Ginkgo, leader of the Resistance, I humbly request that I be your retainer. I will do my best to protect you and be your most trusted adviser.”
That was shocking. Since when does a veteran warrior ask a civilian like me to be their master? And why was she so insistent that it had to be her?
“You’d better watch out, Sir Ginkgo,” whispered Gracia. “When she’s given the chance, she will find a way to get rid of that other lady and do who-knows-what to you.”
I blushed in embarrassment. Ina returned to an upright position and smiled.
“Regardless of whether you like him or not, I refuse to let you have more power in the Resistance by being Sir Ginkgo’s retainer,” said Hanzo subtly from behind Ina.
“That’s right, Ina!” said Gracia. “You want to stay by his side so you can get all the kingdoms for yourself, don’t you?”
“As lovely as that sounds, that’s not the reason I want to be his retainer, nor is it because I’m in love with him,” said Ina.
“Then what is the reason, Ina?” asked Hanzo.
“It’s because that would be what my father would want.”
The other two warlords seemed to have been in agreement. I was confused.
“Lady Ina, who was your father?”
“His name was Tadakatsu. He was the retainer of our previous warlord, Ieyasu. He was renowned in all of Ransei as the greatest warrior. My father served Lord Ieyasu faithfully, even when the warlord joined forces with Lord Nobunaga. His strength was unmatched, and his loyalty steadfast for Ieyasu.”
Ina pulled a broadsword from her scabbard, revealing a blade that shone in the light of the dirigible’s lamps above us.
“It was my father’s wish that I would become the strongest woman in all of Ransei, one worthy of the strongest warlord. But my father’s strength was not in the power of his swing or the number of battles he had won, nor was it in the strength of his pokémon links, though all of those things had helped. My father’s strength came from his heart, his loyalty to his master, and his love for the people and pokémon of Ransei. This blade was once his, before he was killed by an assassin of Lord Takahiro’s army. It is now my responsibility to uphold my father’s name by assisting the one who will unite the kingdoms once again, Sir Ginkgo.”
Ina drew the sword close to her neck. The other two warlords were shocked that she would do something so rash.
“I believe you are that person, the Uniter of Ransei, as the prophecies foretold. If you refuse my service, then I am prepared to die right here, in proof of my undying loyalty, Sir Ginkgo.”
“Okay, okay, you can be my retainer!” I said frantically as Hanzo and Gracia both tried to stop Ina. “Please, just don’t kill yourself just for me!”
Ina sheathed her sword and took another bow.
“Then I am at your service, Lord Ginkgo.”
“That’s fine, Lady Ina,” I said. “But you can just call me Shuichi. That’s my first name, after all. You all can call me that if you’d like.”
“Then just call me Ina, Lord Shuichi.”
I wasn’t sure how I felt about having the title of “Lord,” but I didn’t want to offend these warlords and their culture.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Amy woke up when we had landed in the kingdom of Valora. The sun had started to rise, so it was already morning. The other warlords and I were tired, so Ina suggested that we take a short nap when we enter the castle.
Valora is the kingdom of steel. It is a highly advanced kingdom in manufacturing, and was prized most for its armory that supplied many warriors. Enemies coveted and allies were very close to whoever the warlord of Valora was. It was no wonder that Tadakatsu, the greatest warrior of Ransei, served the warlord of this kingdom. And now it is the base of operations for the Resistance.
Ina and Gracia slept in one of the bedrooms as Hanzo rested in another. Since I revealed that Amy was my lover, Ina allowed her to sleep in a room with me.
It’s not like Amy and I never had sex before. She usually enjoys it once we are done with a case. But we were not finished with our investigation here, not until we meet Lord Takahiro. Amy set up her own futon next to mine, with only a few centimeters in between.
“Don’t get so excited, Shuichi,” she teased. “I may have had my eyes closed, but I heard everything Ina said. So she’s your retainer now, huh?”
“It’s not like that,” I assured Amy, still a little embarrassed. “Besides, I think I have a better understanding of these warlords.”
“Is that so?” asked Amy.
“Yes, that’s right. At first I thought the warriors of Ransei were different from people like us, but I was wrong. In fact, we have a lot more in common.”
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
It was close to noon when we woke up to talk about our next campaign strategy. Of course, the timepieces that Amy and I brought with us weren’t set for Ransei’s time zone yet, so we had no way of knowing when exactly we were doing anything.
The five of us met inside the warlord council hall in Valora’s castle. As leader of the new Resistance, I sat in the center of the council. Amy sat to my left as Ina sat to my right. Hanzo and Gracia sat opposite us to take part in the meeting.
“I’m sorry, I’m a little new to this whole ‘warlord’ thing,” I said shyly. “Do you mind letting me know what our plans are for the campaign?”
Ina laid out a map of Ransei before me. I never noticed before, but Ransei’s land mass looks a lot like the shape of a pokémon. I wanted to mention it, but that would only deter from our discussion.
“These three kingdoms are currently controlled by the Resistance,” said Ina as she pointed to the kingdoms of Nixtorm, Avia, and Valora. “We have already delegated some of the people of Nixtorm and Avia to control themselves when we are not present. Their self governing was made possible by the brief time of peace that Lord Nagamasa had brought us, and they enjoy having some of that freedom now.”
That definitely supports Shuko’s theory about the people of Ransei. They may have had many generations of war, but they desired peace more than anything else.
“Still,” continued Ina, “the people want a strong warlord leader to rule them as a sovereign above their local governments. That’s because they had been under our Lord Nobunaga’s reign for a long time before the first uniting of the kingdoms.”
“Nobunaga sounds like an amazing warlord,” I commented.
“Yes, but he was ruthless and killed anyone who dared to rival him,” said Gracia. “He even had suspicion that my daddy might betray him, so he always had other officers keep an eye on us. It was creepy.”
“Regardless, Lord Nobunaga was the man who empowered the people of the eastern kingdoms,” said Hanzo. “If it weren’t for Nagamasa, he could have easily been the Hero of Ransei.”
“And it’s because he was the warlord over these eastern kingdoms that the people still feel a sense of loyalty to him,” said Ina. “That’s why our Resistance has been successful with very little bloodshed since we began our campaign. And it seems we aren’t done with that strategy yet either.”
Ina then pointed out the kingdom east of Valora.
“This is the kingdom of Spectra, a neutral territory to both Lord Takahiro and our army, just like the kingdom of Ignis and Aurora before you and Lady Shuko managed to coerce their warlords. Their warlord was once a friend to us, just like Hanbei and Kanbei, but she can be, shall we say, a little more pretentious.”
“How so?” I asked.
“Her name is Okuni,” Ina continued. “She succeeded Lady Noh after she was killed by Lord Takahiro’s army. Okuni had been spared to rule over Spectra. She has, however, vowed not to rule in violence in the kingdom, because she offers a certain, ‘cultural power’ instead.”
“Well then that’s a good thing, isn’t it? And if she’s your friend, then it should be very for her to join the Resistance.”
“We thought that at first. However…”
“Apparently Okuni refused to join the Resistance because there wasn’t a single handsome man to lead us!” said Gracia. “She loves to travel and meet all sorts of men and charm them with her eloquent dances. She wants to see someone like you lead us, Lord Shuichi!”
“Ah, so you do admit that you love him, huh Gracia?” teased Ina.
“I did not. I just think he’s handsome enough for Okuni.”
Amy and Hanzo looked irritated at this superficial quarrel. I wasn’t really annoyed, since I usually had this kind of treatment at the Celadon City Gym, but it still didn’t make up for the fact that I felt very embarrassed.
“Well whether Lord Shuichi catches Okuni’s eye,” said Ina, “I’m afraid it won’t be that simple to get her to join us. She also has a thing for Lord Takahiro; I guess because he’s handsome too.”
“So typical,” pouted Hanzo, whom I’m guessing was not approved by Okuni.
“Still, there is one way for you to impress Okuni,” said Ina.
“And how is that?” I asked.
“By meeting her yourself and showing off your skills as a warrior, Lord Shuichi.”
Amy’s and my eyes grew wide in shock.
“You mean, Shuichi has to fight another warlord?” asked Amy. “And one that likes to chase men?”
Amy sat back and looked worried. I wanted to comfort her by embracing her, but that might disrespect the other warlords at our meeting.
“Well actually, like I said before, Okuni doesn’t like to fight,” said Ina. “In fact, she’s a terrible fighter when it comes to real combat. However, she is most skilled in her link with her pokémon. She will probably be more impressed if you can show how well your pokémon can battle.”
“So in other words, she’s more interested in a trainer battle, huh?” I said.
“I’m not sure what you mean by that,” said Ina, who I had forgotten was unfamiliar with the concept of a pokémon trainer. “Whatever it is, you will probably be fighting with just your pokémon instead.”
“Then I will have a meeting with this Okuni you speak of,” I said bravely. “So what kind of pokémon does she use?”
Ina smiled and handed me a scroll.
“Well you’re in luck, Lord Shuichi. You’ll be able to find out for yourself after this event.”
I opened the scroll and read the contents. Apparently it was an invite to a special dance that the Lady Okuni performed twice a week for the people of Spectra. The Resistance and their alleged “new leader” were also invited specifically as her distinguished guests. I guess word gets out very quickly in Ransei.
“The performance is tonight at the Spectra castle,” said Gracia. “I wonder what kimono I should wear this time.”
“I’m sorry, did you just say ‘kimono?” I asked.
“Of course,” said Ina. “Okuni specializes in traditional kabuki dance. All of her distinguished guests wear kimonos. I suppose a simple yukata will do if you don’t have one, Lord Shuichi.”
“That won’t be necessary,” I grinned. “Amy and I were ready for such an occasion. We’ll wear our own. We’ll give you folks a taste of fashions from Kanto.”