Chapter 24: Conquering the South
Fan Fiction inspired by Pokemon, Pokemon Conquest
Rating: Young Adult
With Shuichi and Amy fighting alongside the Resistance in the eastern kingdoms, I was left with Muneshige, Kanetsugu, Oichi, Hanbei, and Kanbei to campaign in the west. Jun decided to let me go on my way without him, as he had business to take care of in his own kingdom of Greenleaf.
Magoichi from the Resistance had also stayed behind as our liaison, so that we could stay in contact with Shuichi.
Ransei was a land with different technology standards, so our regular means of communication through wireless transceivers wouldn’t work.
“Lady Shuko, I just received the latest report from the Resistance,” said Magoichi at our council meeting today.
It had been four days since Shuichi and Amy left with the Resistance. I anticipated their information ever since they had left.
I took the report from Magoichi and scanned the documents for myself.
“It seems that Sir Ginkgo is doing quite well from the start,” said Magoichi. “The Resistance had already taken control of the kingdoms Avia, Valora, and Nixtorm, and in just a day, they have already taken Spectra as well. That comrade of yours is doing really well, even if he’s a foreigner.”
“Yes, and it says here that he had won the territory without causing any casualties,” I said happily. “It seems that Amy had a significant role in taking Spectra as well. I hope that our campaign will go as smoothly as theirs.”
My fellow council members frowned in dismay. It seemed like there was something they didn’t want to tell me.
“We understand that you want to win this war without bloodshed, Lady Shuko,” Kanetsugu spoke up. “But the warlords of the western kingdoms aren’t going to be swayed as easily as the ones from the east.”
“That’s right,” said Muneshige. “Up until Lord Nagamasa’s capturing of the western kingdoms, the warlords were never united under a single cause. My wife, the late warlord of Violight, never took kindly to our neighbors before then, and the people certainly weren’t interested in making alliances either.”
“Given the history of our region, winning the west may come down to using force,” said Hanbei. “Maybe it would be best if you stay out of this and let us handle it, since we are veterans of Ransei’s endless war period.”
“You’re one to talk, Hanbei,” said Kanbei. “Even during the war period, you always stayed in the rear guard, drawing battle lines for the armies to follow. Did you ever even see combat for yourself?”
“Hey, I’ve been training my body in hand-to-hand combat every day, even when I was making those plans,” said Hanbei. “Besides, weren’t you always with me in the rear guard?”
“You two are both idiots,” said Kanetsugu. “Hiding in your friendly territories, making battle plans for your armies to follow blindly to their deaths. You two are just as inexperienced as Lady Shuko in battle. And I know Lord Takahiro personally, since he is my cousin. His tactics will outweigh yours on brute force alone!”
“Bickering as usual, huh?” said Muneshige displeased. “It doesn’t matter who wins or loses their lives, so long as we take back those kingdoms from Lord Takahiro. The end justifies the means.”
What exactly were the intentions of my council? They were not interested in making peace with the people or trying to win this peacefully. War was clearly on their minds, and I could tell their only intent was on taking back the kingdoms they had lost. Could I really trust them with my campaign?
“In any case, I believe we should take control of another kingdom, Lady Shuko,” said Magoichi. “You don’t want to be outdone by Sir Ginkgo and the Resistance now, do you?”
I didn’t like the sound of their urgency. My original plans to taking over the kingdoms of Ransei was to empower the people within each kingdom to rule themselves. I would bring hope to the people with comforting words inspired by the Creator and the Guardians of Time and Space, something that the people needed to be reminded of, if anything else. But stirring the hearts of the people takes time, time that these warlords did not want to waste. I had to compromise.
“We will start our campaign on one of our neighboring kingdoms then,” I said. “Do you have any suggestions of which kingdom we can conquer with the least amount of bloodshed?”
“Yes, my lady,” said Muneshige. “We should go after Violight, the kingdom north of Greenleaf. I should still have friends within the kingdom that will help us.”
“Save it, Muneshige,” said Hanbei. “All you want is to get back the kingdom you had lost so that you can reclaim it for yourself!”
“I do not!”
“Regardless, Lady Shuko, the most strategic kingdom we should focus on is Fontaine, south of Ignis,” said Kanbei. “The people there have always been partial to the concerns of any of the warlords, and taking control of it will give us an advantage since we would then have control over all of the kingdoms of the southern peninsula.”
“I agree with Kanbei,” said Kanetsugu. “You may want to win this war without military force, but you can’t deny that a military strategy is the best one, especially because our country is so used to war.”
The warlords paused, awaiting my next decision. I pondered my options. Violight would be easier for me to control, if Muneshige has a few friends in the kingdom; but I can’t deny that the more logical choice would be to take Fontaine.
“Miss Shuko, if I may speak,” said Oichi, who had been silent throughout the meeting. “I believe there is a way to win Fontaine without causing too many casualties. If the kingdom has had a history of being neutral, then we won’t have to focus our attention so much on the armies there. Everyone in the army has family among the merchants and laborers. With any luck, if we convince the families that we are in their best interest, the army will not act hostile toward us. All we need to do is focus on the people and then overthrow their current warlord.”
“Such wishful thinking,” said Hanbei. “What makes you think that the people will convince the army so easily? Some folks in the army are like me, who have only known family who also served in the military. They have no ties to the laborers or the merchants.”
“We won’t know unless we try!” said Oichi passionately. “Miss Shuko, you’re a priestess, right? Your words are your best weapon. Let’s put them to good use!”
I was never very confident with my words, let alone, convincing an entire army to stand their ground. Still, Oichi’s faith in me inspired me to want to try it out.
“Thank you, Ms. Oichi,” I said. “One week, my fellow warlords. That’ll be enough time for me to convince the people of Fontaine to stand down. When the time comes, we will enter the castle together to dethrone the warlord!”
“But Lady Shuko,” said Magoichi, “you can’t possibly convert an entire kingdom in a week! They won’t listen to a foreigner!”
“But I am not a foreigner. I became a priestess to follow in my father’s footsteps: the late Father Ikeda. When I was a child, I was inspired by his teachings, and the prophecy that one day, a Hero of Ransei would arise and bring peace to this land.”
“Big deal,” said Muneshige. “That prophecy was fulfilled through Lord Nagamasa. And look how long that ‘peace’ lasted with him.”
“I’m sure my big bro—Lord Nagamasa believed in that prophecy too, but the outcome was not as important as what it meant for the people I saw then. They were not driven by a promise that peace would come to this land. They were driven by hope, a hope that better days would come tomorrow. We can’t eradicate our problems and challenges overnight because of a single warlord uniting Ransei. The change needs to be embraced, cultivated, and upheld by the generations to come. I thank Lord Nagamasa for laying down a path for that dream. It is now up to the people to carry on his legacy, and I intend on reminding them of that.”
I stood up from the council meeting and prepared to leave Aurora’s castle.
“I will be on the road to Fontaine and plan to stay there for the next seven days. Miss Oichi, you and your pokémon are in charge of defending Aurora’s castle.”
“Yes, my lady.”
“Hanbei and Kanbei, return to your duties in Ignis until the day of the invasion. Kanetsugu, send word to Lord Jun in Greenleaf of our plans. Magoichi, please do the same for the Resistance. Muneshige, I request that you and your pokémon accompany me on my journey. You will serve as a bodyguard while I continue to learn more about you warlords, and hope that you will also gain wisdom from my father’s teachings.”
My officers agreed with me in unison. And with that, we departed and prepared ourselves for the seven days to come.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
I spent seven days wandering Fontaine’s marketplace and inns, spreading my message and fortune to the merchants and children. Up until this point, I have lived as a wandering priestess, doing similar acts. Muneshige and his pokémon were always at my side, and occasionally Hotaru, Ujitaro, and Mizuna would also join in to play with some of the children.
The people were surprisingly well-adjusted and didn’t bother that I was a foreigner in their land. Of course, since Fontaine is a port kingdom, they probably come in contact with foreigners all the time.
“It appears you have caused quite a buzz, Lady Shuko,” said Muneshige. “The children absolutely adore you! How do you manage to win over their hearts in such a small amount of time?”
I watched as my three pokémon happily chased around some of the local children and their pokémon. I smiled warmly.
“It’s simple, really,” I said. “While I have had years of experience in bringing joy to the people I meet, the technique is all in the smile. You should try it some time.”
Muneshige gave a forced grin, as if he didn’t believe me at all.
“How exactly does something like a smile help?”
“When you give people a genuine smile, it shows that you are friendly and someone they can trust. A smile can reflect exactly how a person feels about others around her, too. When I smile, the children and the merchants know that I care for them.”
“Big deal. You can always fake a smile. You can’t possibly care about them that much, can you?”
“Well, what do you think?” I said, turning to Muneshige. “How do you think I feel about you?”
Muneshige had a terrible look in his eyes. I had a warm smile on, but my eyes told him that I was very cautious of him, and would certainly not take his disobedience lightly. My retainer cringed as he stepped back along with his Emolga and Staraptor.
“Forgive me, Lady Shuko, I didn’t mean to criticize your techniques.”
My eyes returned to a familiar, warm tone that reflected the same as my smile.
“There are many ways for one to tell if someone is making a fake smile. By focusing on the eyes, or even bodily gestures, a reader can tell how a smiling person truly feels. Some are better at reading these features than others. Shuichi, for example, is terrible at reading body language, whereas I can not only read such signs, but can control my own as well. The trick is to make yourself feel exactly how you want to portray yourself, even if others don’t believe you.”
“So does that mean–”
“That’s right, Muneshige. I do care for the people of Fontaine. I want to rid them of their warlord, so that they can carry on with their lives under their own control.”
“But Lady Shuko, it’s absolutely necessary that someone must control the people of Fontaine from the castle. That’s simply how it’s been for centuries!”
“I disagree. I think the people are very capable of governing themselves, much more than the people of Aurora or Greenleaf. They have been self-sufficient thus far, and their warlord seems to be ineffective, even when he makes strong demands. You saw the decree that was placed in the marketplace three days ago, right?”
I was referring to the warlord’s new policy on prohibiting pokémon on the streets that were not water types. While the message was clearly official, there were still pokémon from other regions gathering in the streets, including Muneshige’s and my pokémon. Patrolmen all over the city have yet to punish or detain anyone violating this rule, and some of them also had non-water types.
“I thought it was strange that the warlord would make such a decree and everyone ignored it. Just who is this warlord anyway?”
A traveling merchant, who had been eavesdropping on us, spoke up.
“Foreigners, eh? You really don’t know? Lord Nobuchika is a fool. Powerful, but a fool. By only allowing water pokémon in the city, he thinks he can please the legendary pokémon he seeks to find. He knows nothing.”
“Well then if he’s such a fool, then why is he in power?” I asked.
“Despite his foolishness, he is recognized in Fontaine as the only warrior alive who has made a perfect link with a Gyarados. Those serpentine water types are very hard to make a bond with average warriors, and many don’t have the patience to earn their trust by raising them from Magikarps. Nobuchika managed to link with a Gyarados when he sailed just outside our coastline. Of course, all of his other pokémon and crew had been sacrificed just so he could link with that one.”
“So, he’s a tyrannical warlord after all,” said Muneshige. “And here I thought you guys just thought he was weak.”
“Honestly, Nobuchika doesn’t care much about us, but he at least recognizes that we are useful as citizens who continue to allow the kingdom’s economy to flourish. Of course, he demands all the resources he wants free of charge, and puts any who oppose him to death on such grounds right away. But that decree to have only water pokémon? He doesn’t have a clue what power the merchants have over everything in Fontaine; and we need more than just water pokémon to conduct business every day.”
At that moment, Hanbei and Magoichi had come from my controlled kingdoms to join me in defeating Lord Nobuchika. Hanbei had his Pikachu and Magoichi had his Carnivine. He must have left his Grovyle behind this time.
“My lady, it appears that Lord Nobuchika has become aware of your existence,” said Magoichi. “He’s requesting to summon you immediately.”
“Well it’s about time,” said Hanbei. “You’d think he’d notice your presence a lot quicker, considering you’ve been in his city, amongst his people, for over a week. Kanbei and I should’ve taken his territory much sooner.”
“At any rate, I believe it’s time we paid a visit to the warlord,” said Muneshige.
I smiled and nodded, then returned Ujitaro and Hotaru to their pokéballs. Mizuna stayed by my side.
“Well if he wants only water types in his city, I can oblige for now,” I said. “But I have full confidence that I will defeat him. Let’s go.”
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Fontaine’s castle was a structure made for water pokémon. A waterfall served as a gate to its courtyard, and could only be opened by damming the water with a large levee. As one might guess, the source was piped in from the sea and gushed out from the top of the castle as if it were a saltwater spring. There were similar levees in the courtyard, dividing and controlling dry parts of the castle from wet ones.
The warlord’s attendants and their water pokémon greeted me and my detail into the castle, and guided us to the war council room. And that’s when I saw him and his pokémon.
Despite what I was told of his incredible power, Lord Nobuchika appeared slender and relaxed, as he sat somewhat reclined on his throne. He carried a single fan with him, a sign of his wealth and status, as he clearly had nothing else better to do other than make himself appear more beautiful. In front of him was a trident spear weapon, resting on a display pedestal. If he truly was a powerful warlord, that lance was his weapon of choice.
But I was not impressed with the warlord as much as I was impressed with his majestic Gyarados. The large serpent pokémon, depicted in many legends as a fierce monster of the seas, coiled calmly and elegantly beside him, and appeared harmless in comparison to the myths. He managed to tame such a beast? Truly he must be a formidable warlord than we were all led to believe.
“Welcome, Lady Shuko, Priestess of Aurora,” he said. “Please, all of you, have a seat.”
My retainers and I obliged and sat before the warlord, with our pokémon resting close to each of us.
“Save the pleasantries, Lord Nobuchika,” I announced. “I challenge you to a battle for this kingdom. I’ll even use a handicap and follow your rules.”
Lord Nobuchika scoffed at me with a brief chuckle.
“I refuse, Lady Shuko,” he replied. “I can’t possibly fight such a beautiful priestess. The gods wouldn’t like that now, would they?”
Truly he was an idiot, making a mockery of my title and way of life.
“Besides, it’s not in my interests to defend this kingdom any longer. The people of Fontaine continue to go on with business as usual, despite my policies on them to draw out a legendary pokémon. They are not worthy to be my subjects.”
“What kind of legendary pokémon are you seeking exactly, Lord Nobuchika?” I asked sternly.
“None of your concern, my lady. Lord Takahiro and I had an agreement to find this pokémon. That’s all you need to know. Of course, if you truly wish to know, then I have a different proposal.”
“I will let you in on my plans to link with the legendary pokémon if you agree to become my bride. I’ve always wanted to have more favor from the gods, if I can woo a priestess.”
“Forget it, it’s not going to happen.”
“Oh, but I have already fallen in love with you! Can’t you see it in my eyes?”
“I did, actually, and I know you’re lying. Your eyes tell me you don’t actually love me, and your failed attempts at a clever pick-up line actually reveal more about your character than you let on. Your eyes tell me all you’re looking for is a means by which to please a legendary pokémon, no matter what you have to do in order to link with it. You have no interest in me, and you would get rid of me as soon as you’ve come to realize I would be useless now, would’nt you?”
“Is that the only reason?” he said disappointingly.
“And besides, I am not attracted to you at all anyway.”
The warlord cowered and pouted from my honest reply. Clearly, his vanity was a weakness far beyond his simple foolishness.
“I guess there’s no way out of it,” he shrugged. “I guess I’ll just save you the trouble and give up the kingdom to you then.”
My retainers gasped in unison. It seemed a bit over exaggerated, but this was still very shocking. Why would a powerful warlord just simply hand over a kingdom to me?
“I’ve grown tired of this kingdom, and I no longer need it to find the legendary pokémon,” he continued. “I finally have the chance to leave Fontaine and find it for myself. Congratulations, Lady Shuko. You are the new warlord of Fontaine.”
My retainers cheered as they realized I became victorious without even breaking a sweat. Then Lord Nobuchika mounted his Gyarados and flew out of the castle balcony with it.
“You think you may have won, Lady Shuko,” he said as he left. “But your being here has given me the opportunity to find something far more valuable than any kingdom in Ransei. We shall meet again; and when we do, you and your kingdoms will be destroyed!”