Chapter 26: Muneshige’s Tragedy
Fan Fiction inspired by Pokemon, Pokemon Conquest
Rating: Young Adult
Having conquered all of the kingdoms in the southern peninsula, our campaign turns its focus to the north. Up there is the kingdom of Violight, bordering Greenleaf, and our first obstacle to unite the remaining western territories.
Violight is a kingdom sprawling with electric pokémon. It is said that thunderstorms occur daily due to the vast amount of energy being discharged. Most of the land is covered in power lines to bring electric energy to distant workshops and towers. Most of Ransei is rural, but Violight is perhaps the most advanced kingdom of them all in terms of technology.
Conquering this kingdom is a strategic move suggested by the council, but one of my retainers stands by my side for a more personal reason. Violight is the kingdom once ruled by Muneshige’s wife, Ginchiyo. Ginchiyo is a proud member of a clan that has ruled Violight for ages; the same clan that banished Muneshige.
“I’m sorry to burden you with my predicament,” said Muneshige on our travels. “Convincing the people here to join us is probably much harder, thanks to me.”
“Don’t say that about yourself!” I assured him. “Without your knowledge, I would be lost in this kingdom. Besides, the fact that people recognize you has given us a good measure on who we can trust.”
Muneshige smiled uneasily as another family passed us. It was a mother and her two children, a boy and a girl. Both of the children were small enough to be in grade school if they had been in Sinnoh. The mother looked very young, either in her late teens or early twenties. All of them appeared to be dressed in rags. No matter where I go, it seems like poverty still remains.
I smiled and waved at them.
“Look at the pretty lady, momma,” said the little girl. “She looks like one of the priestesses at the temple!”
The mother glanced at me, then at Muneshige and his Emolga. A sense of fear struck in her eyes as she guided her kids away from us. Muneshige put his face into his palm with a sigh.
I hate to admit it, but Muneshige has felt uneasy returning to his homeland. People who are loyal to the warlord clan who rules this kingdom recognize him as a traitor. Meanwhile, the rebels of this place associate him with that clan, even though he is no longer a part of it. Either way, most people give him only one look and turn away in fear or hatred.
“What did I tell you?” he said. “So long as I’m here, we won’t gain any ground. Maybe we should just go back and have Lord Jun’s army take care of this after all.”
I released Sangen from its item ball and held the ringed end to his face. Muneshige looked terrified as I instilled more fear into him.
“I’ve worked hard to make this campaign a diplomatic one,” I said angrily. “I may be serving Lord Jun to unite these kingdoms, but he is giving me the leeway to do this on my own. Anyone who wishes to resort to a massacre of the innocent will see a very painful afterlife at my hands.”
Muneshige gulped as he relaxed and gave another heavy sigh.
“Forgive me, Lady Shuko,” he said. “Sometimes I doubt that this kingdom can be saved. And even if it was, I don’t think it would be because I could save it.”
I put away my weapon and nodded. I placed my hand on his broad shoulder.
“Let’s head back to the inn,” I said. “Maybe you’ll see things differently when you are surrounded by the ones who still believe in you.”
Muneshige shrugged as we headed back to our base of operations in Violight.
Despite the negativity that surrounds Muneshige’s reputation in Violight, others still have recognized him for his heroism in a time before his wife’s passing. Those who remember Muneshige as the Hero of Violight have become our closest allies. They are the ones who will help us win over Violight; and maybe help Muneshige redeem his good character as well.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Muneshige was born of a lesser noble clan in Violight. He also had a flying type affinity, so as a warrior in a land of electric pokémon, he was often ridiculed while growing up. But even though his disposition had many disadvantages, he was still betrothed to Ginchiyo, who at the time was still a princess to the ruling clan, and was seated much lower in the succession as Violight’s warlord.
“This is stupid!” shouted Ginchiyo as she threw aside a stack of scrolls and papers in her study. “Why does father insist that I learn this stuff? Diplomacy, combat, political science, none of it matters if I’m never going to rule this kingdom!”
Muneshige, who had been much younger at this time, scowled at his betrothed.
“It’s not a fair deal to me either, you know,” he said. “I didn’t ask to be married to the most obnoxious Princess of Violight.”
“Well the same could be said for you,” she snapped back. “You’re just a lazy, good-for-nothing fool and a reject from a lower clan. You are the lowest of the lower clans!”
“How dare you say that about me!”
“Maybe you should’ve married one of those commoners in the outskirts of the city, but that would be an insult even to beggars!”
Muneshige and Ginchiyo often fought like this, even after they got married. They didn’t like each other very much, but they were united in their mutual hatred toward their own circumstances even more.
It wasn’t until after their forced marriage when they learned to love each other. They still argued over small things, but their teamwork in combat was unrivaled in Violight.
Ginchiyo and Muneshige, along with their pokémon Shinx and Starly, became the best defense against rivaling kingdoms surrounding them. Any enemies that challenged them would meet their fate as soon as they crossed swords with them. Shinx provided a quick charge on enemies and paralyzed them in their tracks. Starly provided assurance from above as he swooped in many times to attack unsuspecting enemies. Pokémon and people alike got trapped in this partnership, only to see Ginchiyo and Muneshige finish them off with killing blows from their twin long swords.
Because of this heroism, Ginchiyo was elevated to the position of warlord after the passing of the previous one. This was a decision made by the clan elders after reviewing the candidates. They respected Ginchiyo’s prowess as a warrior as well as a learned maiden of the clan. And despite their bickering, Muneshige was always faithfully by her side.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
“It seems we have another challenger,” said Muneshige. “He’s the young warlord from Aurora we keep hearing about. Lord Nagamasa, was it?”
Lady Ginchiyo scanned the writ of challenge and briskly handed it back to Muneshige.
“All these warlords are the same, dear,” she said. “They just want to flex their power and gain more territory in attempts to rule all of Ransei. All for the sake of some silly prophecy. I really don’t want to bother anymore.”
“But this one’s different,” said Muneshige. “Lord Nagamasa has already conquered the southern kingdoms in just a few months. He even let the warlords of each kingdom live and serve as advisers to his council.”
Ginchiyo’s eyes widened in surprise.
“He managed to unite all of the warlords of the south?” she asked.
“Well, to be precise, he only managed to unite Motonari and Motochika,” replied Muneshige. “Lord Hideyoshi of Ignis found his way, elsewhere, shall we say.”
Ginchiyo nodded in acknowledgment and proceeded to put on her armor. She then called upon her Shinx for battle.
“This changes things,” she said. “It may be interesting to join forces with young Nagamasa after all. Still, I’m still a little skeptical about working with him in the future; and what the clan will think if he will.”
She finished dressing for battle and walked out of the council room with thunderous steps from her boots.
“Send word to our finest warriors. I accept his challenge.”
Muneshige looked at his wife with a puzzled countenance.
“What do you mean you’ll challenge him? As in, to a battle?”
Ginchiyo shoved her husband aside with a pat on his chest.
“Of course, Muneshige. You should know first-hand that people work best together after they have fought. You married me, didn’t you? Consider this a test for our young warlord of the south.”
Muneshige sighed as he signaled Starly to follow him.
“There’s no rest for the wicked, huh?”
Ginchiyo and Muneshige met with Nagamasa and his warrior detail in the Violight castle courtyard the next day.
Both Ginchiyo’s and Nagamasa’s squad was comprised of five warriors and their respective pokémon. As the teams fought, their strengths were about even. After wearing each other out without killing anyone, Ginchiyo and Muneshige stood their ground as Nagamasa and Oichi stood theirs.
“Your pawns are pretty good, kid,” said Ginchiyo to Nagamasa. “But that’s all that’s going for you, isn’t it?”
Muneshige raised his hand to call upon Starly to dive in from above to attack Nagamasa’s Eevee. Ginchiyo made a similar gesture to empower Shinx to do the same. Their two pokémon charged into Eevee at the same time, but they collided with Nasamasa’s shield instead. Ginchiyo and Muneshige looked surprised.
“That’s absurd,” said Muneshige. “I know that we use our pokémon to attack for us, but why would someone go to the length of protecting them? Do you have a death wish or something?”
Lord Nagamasa remained in a defensive position so that he could block with his shield and parry with his short sword.
“Call it what you may,” he said, “but Eevee is my friend, and a precious gift from my father. If I expect him to give me his life, then it is expected that I do the same for him. Nothing will ever change that!”
Nagamasa gave Oichi a signal to assist him and his pokémon. Oichi graciously ran over to Eevee. With an excess from her sleeves, she tore a piece of cloth and dressed his wounds as if she had used a bandage.
Muneshige charged toward Nagamasa one more time and commanded Starly to do the same. Nagamasa stood strong, like a wall, to protect his comrades. Muneshige almost dealt a final strike when Ginchiyo commanded him to stop.
“What’s the matter, my dear?” he asked. “We have him where we want him.”
Ginchiyo shook her head.
“Look around you, you idiot,” she said. “Charge into battle like that and you will surely lose.”
Muneshige took a moment to check his surroundings. His wife and Shinx were behind him, already making up their mind that there was no more need to fight. Starly perched beside him a few paces back, but had clearly been too tired to fight anymore. On the outer edges were his comrades and their pokémon, each in a state of fatigue. Oichi’s Jigglypuff stood steadfast to his right flank, prepared to counter any attack that came her way.
And to his front was Nagamasa, unfazed and still raring to go for another fight, but had the tenacity to remain with his shield guarded and a short sword in a position to counter. Nagamasa stood tall in front of Eevee and Oichi so that Muneshige could not see them.
Lastly, Muneshige looked down at his own arms. Underneath his gloves were the marks of his own blood from overusing his weapon. The odds were very much against him. Had he went ahead and attacked Nagamasa, he may as easily lost his life.
Muneshige put down his heavy arms and dropped his sword. The battle was over, and Lord Nagamasa took control of Violight without a single loss of life.
Lady Ginchiyo and Muneshige proudly followed Lord Nagamasa as officers in his warlord council; and in the months to come, they had devoted their arms and their pokémon for the young warlord of Aurora, who had blazed across Ransei to unite the kingdoms. The western kingdoms had been won somewhat peacefully, with less deaths and more diplomacy.
But as the war went on, both Lord Nagamasa and Lord Nobunaga effectively divided Ransei in half, and the remaining half of the war had to be won in bloodshed. Still, however, Nobunaga’s forces had been pushed back, one successful campaign after another. Much of these battles were thanks to the leadership of Violight’s finest, Ginchiyo and Muneshige, along with their pokémon, Luxio and Staravia.
When the war came to a decisive end, Lord Nagamasa had conquered all of the kingdoms of Ransei, and a pact was made between him and Lord Nobunaga to see Ransei in an unending period of reconstruction and peace. And while Lord Nagamasa, my big brother from the orphanage in Aurora, could have ruled all of Ransei with benevolence, he decided to turn over all of the kingdoms back to their original owners, and have them serve in his national council as his equals.
But the era of peace was short-lived and the drums of war beat over Ransei once again.
While the seventeen warlords who had ruled over Ransei agreed to a time of peace, some believed that this golden era was simply a facade for conflicts that were repressed at a more fundamental level. And as one among the people, I have to say that they couldn’t be more right.
The warlords continued to live their lives in luxury, but the people remained very much in poverty, continuing to suffer under warlord rule in a time of ceasefire. While there were small rebellions that occurred in various parts of Ransei, most people remained silent in fear that their lives would be forfeit if they spoke against the ruling warlords. The warlords themselves exercised these powers over them, and when oppression occurs, the will to overturn a government is inevitable.
But by what means that government is overthrown is always the question that remains in history, and no one in Ransei expected the rebellion to come from none other than the lesser nobles and warriors of each respective kingdom. And their interests were not for the people, but for themselves.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
It was one evening when a kunoichi of Violight appeared and reported to Lady Ginchiyo the terrible news.
“My lady, there has been a terrible tragedy in the Illusio kingdom,” she began.
Ginchiyo looked gravely at her officer and listened intently for the message. Muneshige was idly tending to their pokémon.
“Lord Kenshin and his sister Aya have been assassinated.”
Ginchiyo’s eyed widened, wanting to deny such a truth. Lord Kenshin was said to be one of the most powerful warlords in all of Ransei, and with his alignment with the pokémon Mewtwo, murdering him seemed even more impossible.
“Who could have done this?” asked Ginchiyo.
“Our combined ninja organizations have been investigating this matter. While some of the sources are in question, I believe they were killed by one from their own clan.”
“An inside job, huh?” said Muneshige as he was eavesdropping. “I don’t see how this is our concern. Just let them be.”
“You’re such a fool sometimes, Muneshige,” said Ginchiyo. “Lord Kenshin was one of the finest warlords in Ransei. If he was killed so easily by one of his own clansmen, there is much more for us to worry about. There may be other conspiracies in other kingdoms happening as we speak. We must remain vigilant in this time.”
Muneshige stared wearily at his Staraptor. They had been fighting together for so long, that he worried about their ability to fight again. They were experienced warriors, but they had exercised years of peace for quite some time, and they were both not as young as they used to be.
“My dear, you aren’t planning on doing what I’m thinking right now,” he said.
“Of course I am,” said Ginchiyo sternly. “War has come upon this land again, and I don’t intend on it sweeping me away.”
Ginchiyo grabbed her armor and weapon and prepared her Luxray for combat.
“The enemies are coming from outside our kingdom as well as from within this castle. Our battles are not yet over, but even so, I am still the head of this clan and the ruler of Violight.”
Ginchiyo turned to her kunoichi and gestured an order meaning “prepare for an assault.” The officer agreed and disappeared.
“You know, we aren’t as young as we used to be. Maybe it is time to choose a successor after all. We don’t have children of our own, you know.”
“Out of the question,” interrupted Ginchiyo. “Our clan has put their full faith in me when I became its head. And so long as I have that position, I will remain there with full pride.”
“Are you really all that concerned over keeping that power, my dear? Remember when we were younger that you thought you’d never become the leader you are now.”
“The past is the past. Our destinies change, Muneshige. You learned to love me, didn’t you?”
Muneshige stepped backward from his wife.
“What is it that you want?”
Ginchiyo put her arms on his shoulders and looked straight into his eyes.
“I want your full support, Muneshige. Please help me in our fight to save Violight, and our clan, will you?”
Muneshige turned his head toward the window, overseeing the courtyard of their castle.
“Of course I will, my lady. You have my word.”
Lady Ginchiyo and Muneshige prepared for another war, preparing to face enemies both from the other kingdoms as well as from within Violight. A brief but intense period of unrest surged across Violight and the other kingdoms, each resulting in the assassination of the warlords who agreed to the pact made by Nagamasa and Nobunaga. Some of their junior officers managed to escape the tragedy, but were forced to live in exile in fear for their own lives. Violight was no different.
On a typical night of thunderstorms, Ginchiyo found herself trapped within the walls of her own castle. The guards and their pokémon had betrayed her or were killed for their loyalty. Ginchiyo and Muneshige made their way to the courtyard where there were open skies, safe from guards who were fearful of the storms, but under the torrents of the weather, nonetheless.
But even if the guards stayed away from being outdoors, thunderstorms would not prevent Shoun, a fellow clansman and head of the rebellion, to follow them.
“It ends here, Princess,” he said as he drew his sword. “Ransei is at war again, and I will be the one to lead Violight into victory.”
Ginchiyo’s Luxray stood before her and intimidated the enemy. Shoun’s Ampharos did the same. The two electric pokémon attacked each other with lightning strikes as the rain poured over them. Ginchiyo and Shoun, too, crossed swords with each other in an aggressive fashion. Muneshige positioned himself behind Shoun, waiting for an opening. Staraptor, however, had avoided combat altogether, as both weather conditions and electric pokémon made combat unfavorable for him.
As the battle went on, Shoun let one of his hands go from his sword, forcing him to lose control of his techniques. Muneshige saw his opening and attacked.
But Shoun had let go of his grip on purpose. By defending himself from Ginchiyo with only one hand, he could freely use the other to reveal his secret weapon: a war fan. This small tool was solid enough to be used as a blunt weapon, but Shoun used it for something else. This was his medium to tap into his warrior ability called “rally.”
By charging the trinket with his own affinity potential, the tool glowed bright yellow. As he waved it across the battlefield in defending himself against the warlord and her husband, that same energy invigorated his Ampharos. Surging with more power than ever before, Ampharos made invoked another thunder strike on Luxray, leaving the pokémon severely injured.
Ginchiyo and Muneshige attacked Shoun simultaneously, but he successfully parried both of them with the two weapons in his hands. With Luxray unable to battle, Ampharos joined Shoun and jumped between them all.
Muneshige was ready for another strike, but as he swung his sword, Ampharos attacked him with thunderbolt, making a direct hit as the long sword was used as a lightning rod. Muneshige fell to the ground, paralyzed.
“Give it up, both of you!” said Shoun. “Especially you, Muneshige. You are a disgrace to the clan. You always were!”
Ginchiyo attacked Shoun directly while Ampharos was distracted, but without even thinking, he blocked her with his own sword.
“Leave Muneshige out of this,” she said. “Your fight is with me!”
Muneshige slowly got up as his Staraptor flew to his side.
“Have you learned nothing, Ginchiyo?” he asked. “You can’t fight him alone. We promised we would fight as one. We fight together!”
Ginchiyo and Shoun rested from their attacks as the rainy conditions drew out more of their energy. Ampharos remained poised, ready to fight again. Ginchiyo analyzed her situation, knowing that the odds were against her. Luxray was dying, and Muneshige was too weak to move. Shoun may have been in a state of fatigue, but that Ampharos was very much healthy.
And then there was Staraptor, Muneshige’s faithful partner. The bird had stored his energy the whole time, avoiding battle, but having him in combat would be ineffective. Ginchiyo did not have an affinity for the flying type, but by being with Muneshige for so long, she formed a bond with Staraptor as well. By communicating wordlessly with him, Ginchiyo expressed her desires to Staraptor and the pokémon obeyed.
Staraptor grabbed hold of Muneshige’s arm and lifted him in the air.
“What’s going on?” he asked. “Why are you doing this?”
Staraptor screeched as he struggled to pick up his warrior. Muneshige struggled as he was lifted, but Ginchiyo remained with a serious countenance.
“It’s like you said, Muneshige,” said Ginchiyo, “We fight together. A part of you is always with me and I am always with you. And that’s why I want you to get out of this place.”
“But why, my dear?” said Muneshige. “Surely you will die if I’m not here to defend you!”
Ginchiyo smirked as her tears mixed with the rain pouring on her face.
“Better for just me than the both of us, right?”
“But you are the head of our clan, the warlord of Violight? What happened to your pride?”
For once in a long time, Ginchiyo gave her husband a genuine smile.
“There is only one thing I am proud of in this life, and that’s you, Muneshige.”
Muneshige’s shoulders gave in as Staraptor lifted him higher off the ground.
“And for that reason, I want you to live.”
With a final dash into the thundering sky, Staraptor flew into the storm and lifted Muneshige out of the castle. Lightning bolts and electric pokémon tried to attack them, but the Staraptor managed to dodge every one of them.
Muneshige looked down at his beloved kingdom. Even if it was raining, the fog of war remained visible, engulfed in the array of dust and smoke that resulted from the burning and razing of structures throughout the city, presumably places who were loyal to Ginchiyo’s regime. Muneshige was too high in the air to notice any people or pokémon, but he already knew.
So many in Violight were killed that night. And Lady Ginchiyo was among them.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Muneshige and I arrived at an inn that was owned by an old friend of his, one who was still loyal to the clan that was once led by Ginchiyo. Muneshige thanked him and gave a sigh as we rested in the tavern.
“Forgive me, Lady Shuko, for being so pathetic,” he said. “If I stayed and fought with her that night, she might still be alive. I’m such a coward.”
Muneshige rested his elbows on the table and held his head down with his elevated arms. I was compelled to comfort my retainer from his depression, but empathy would not be appropriate in this case.
“That’s enough out of you,” I said angrily. “You are not a coward, you’re a disappointment to everyone who has ever cared about you! Your friends, your wife, your pokémon, even me. You’ve let us all down with your selfishness and pride!”
Muneshige looked up at me in fear.
“You think running away from your wife makes you a coward? I don’t see it that way. Your wife let you go, leaving behind her entire trust that you would live! Live to tell her story. Live to carry out her strongest wishes. Live to shoulder the burdens she once had! And you want to just throw that all away? You’re so despicable!”
“Well then what do you want me to do about it, Lady Shuko?” he yelled back. “You don’t know what it’s like to have a family that can’t accept you for who you are! You’re just too perfect, aren’t you? All my life I’ve been waiting for acceptance from someone else. The one person who did was killed, and I couldn’t do anything about it! I couldn’t—I failed her!”
We paused. This was probably the first time Muneshige or any of my officers ever showed signs of emotional vulnerability, the sign of potential strength. The sign of one who will fight for justice simply because it is right. How shall I convince him then?
“You’re not a coward,” I said softly with a warm smile. “And you’re not a failure either. Ginchiyo trusted you with her life. You two worked together through thick and thin to become the heroes of Violight. And even though she’s gone, I sense that her spirit is alive and well, Muneshige. Can you hear her? Can you feel the love she still has for you?”
Muneshige turned away coyly with his face in his palm. I grabbed his hand and placed it on his chest and held it gently.
“So long as you live, your wife will always be right here,” I said. “And she’s not going away any time soon. All the feelings she has for you are always with you. Don’t ever forget that.”
Muneshige gave an uneasy smile and laughed at himself.
“Oh, I hear her, alright,” he said. “She’s probably nagging me and insulting me as usual for being such a pain.”
We both laughed together awkwardly.
“But I guess that’s all the same, then,” he continued. “She always did have a knack for making me feel bad. That’s the Ginchiyo I knew and loved.”
“And you still love her, don’t you?”
Muneshige blushed, but shook his head.
“Even if she were alive, I couldn’t be so sure. I don’t think I was ever worthy of her love.”
“Oh, I think you were,” I said.
Muneshige gave me a confused look.
“You see yourself as a coward, a failure, and unworthy,” I continued, “but do you know what I see? I see a kind man, a hero among warriors, and an ever-faithful husband. I see someone who will think of others and do things for their sake before ever considering himself. I see someone who desires the best for the people of Ransei. You know why that is?”
“Because even in the face of your greatest enemies, the people of Violight who drove you to exile, you still came here with me.”
“Only because you would’ve been lost without me, Lady Shuko.”
“Is that really all, Muneshige? Is it just because of me? Or do you truly love the people of Violight? Was I mistaken in believing that? I don’t think so.”
Night passed over Violight soon enough and we were sent to our room at the inn. The innkeeper conveniently gave us a room with two beds. Muneshige turned himself around, as did I, while we changed into our night attire.
“Thank you, Lady Shuko, for telling me those things,” said Muneshige. “I think I can rest easily now, knowing I’m not a completely terrible person.”
“That’s right,” I said. “And that’s why I keep you around as a retainer.”
“Are you coming onto me?”
“You wish, Muneshige. “Try anything funny tonight, but mark my words, I will not hesitate to kill you.”
“Sheesh. Cold as ever.”
“Sweet dreams, Muneshige, champion of Violight.”