The Empire Reborn
Turn 2 Ghizu
Battle for Ghizu Province
Yasuki Roryokin is aware of his nickname, “The Feathered Crab.” The common Crab bushi look skeptically at his thin, tall frame, his elegantly coifed black hair, his richly embroidered silken robes. They are aware that he did not attend a Crab school, but rather spent time at the Doji Courtier Academy before the Collar came. Where they don’t think he can hear they make jokes about his unwillingness to attend a “real school” and question his loyalty to the rough and ready Crab Clan.
But because he went to the Doji Courtier school, he is aware of their comments. And it was because of his great loyalty to the Crab that a young boy gave up his dreams of hunting goblins with his bow and blade and listened when his father told them the Crab needed a different kind of warrior. One who was skilled with words instead of blades. One who was more dangerous with a pen then a dozen samurai with bows. So he went willingly to the Doji school and attacked every lesson as a Crab would – head on, refusing defeat, practicing the ways of conversation, dress, and poise until he collapsed from exhaustion. “The Feathered Crab” is very much still a Crab in his heart.
That being said, he is wondering what in the Seven Heavens Hirito was thinking sending him into the muddy goblin-infested marshes beyond The Wall. He may be a Crab in his heart, but his mind is telling him about all the work that is going to be needed to get the bog slime stains out of his best traveling clothes. On top of everything else, the few goblins scouts they’ve caught are showing signs of a Collar outbreak.
Still, it could be worse. He could be back in Court facing down the Crane Clan Champion for the Emperor’s favor. He thinks perhaps the goblins are less terrifying.
The goblins are extremely numerous, but their chiefs can barely corral the vast chaotic horde. Once they catch word of a Crab army moving into their lands, they surge forward in a massive wave of slavering, giggling madness. Roryokin may not have much battlefield experience (he suspects that’s why Hirito has him slumming out here), but he runs his command tent like a well-coordinated dinner party. Each commander reports quickly, gets his orders, moves out. In the end, the Crab are able to avoid being overwhelmed by numbers and fight the goblins head to head.
However, the vast numbers of the goblins are such that they are striking the Crab’s outer perimeter in dozens of locations, before the Crab can effectively strike back.
Roryokin commands from a circle of his retainers, looking out over the mass like a chaotic court event. Lots of small groups engaging, moving, breaking up. No central mass or celebrity here, no one needing his personal attention.
Bows are too complicated for the goblins, both to make and then again to use. But hundreds and hundreds of the creatures have spent time collecting their favorite stones to use in slings or just to hurl at the Crab forces. Contrary to popular belief, goblins are not attracted to shiny things. Their favorite stones are jagged and sharp, weighted just enough to cave in a man’s head. But they are still just stones. The few Goblin Shamans that have mastered a rudimentary connection to the twisted to the Dark Realms call up minor spirits of rage and murder that take the form of serpents, bats, and giant rats. The lightly armored Crab ashigaru are the most vulnerable, and take some losses.
Crab forces rarely have ranged attacks that don’t involve large siege engines, and most of the Crab shugenja are with Shinamoto at Shastakar. Both have little effect on the numbers of the vast goblin horde.
The horde surges into the Crab perimeter like a rushing tide of green and black water, bristling with jagged improvised weapons. Pointed sticks, sharp rocks tied to branches, rusted blades that were stolen or scavenged were combined into dozens of different ways to slice, cut, rend, or disembowel a human. The Crab ashigaru brace for impact as the tide slams into their lines, but many men find themselves overwhelmed and pulled down into the screaming, snarling wave where they are ripped to pieces by the vicious creatures.
“This is enough!” shouts Roryokin. “These creatures have overstayed their welcome, are terrible guests, and are worse on the venue than the Scorpion! It’s time to shut things down!” The Crab troops who are not conscripts have a lifetime of training battling Shadowlands creatures, and it shows. The cavalry units trample through the goblin lines, the samurai and bushi scythe through the creatures like they were shafts of moldy wheat, and the ashigaru are able to follow in their wake mopping up the injured and confused. Once the great juggernaut that is the Crab begins moving, nearly half the goblins in the province end up dead or dying on the wet, muddy ground of Ghizu.
While Crab have significant losses, the goblins dead outnumber them almost two to one. The remaining Crab also outnumber the goblins. Faced with these realities, the horde waivers and breaks, and the masses of goblins flee screaming in terror to the west, toward Hiruma.
Crab take the province.
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