The Empire Reborn
Turn 2 Shisame
Battle for Shisame Province
Han is a simple man who preferred simple solutions to problems. Not enough food? Take some from those who have food. Someone yelling at you about taking their food? Beat them until they stop. This tended to land him in trouble with the magistrates before the Collar. After the Collar, his simple approach to life worked much better. One day he met up with a great man named Shodokai, who gave him the simplest solution to all his problems: do what Shodokai says, and he won’t have problems. This went well for Han and well for Shodokai.
It didn’t go so well for the peasants and merchants they preyed upon.
In the past two years, Han helped Shodokai amass more followers. They built a fortress of logs and stone high on a cliff wall in one of the many canyons of the Shisame foothills to keep themselves and their stolen and extorted goods warm. Last month Han got to fight against the Dragon when they attempted to chase Shodokai away.
That was fun. He got three new armor pieces and a katana. He feels like a samurai when he wears it, but he still prefers to use his massive hammer.
Han is wearing them again today. Many men are running around the narrow hallways of the fortress, or gearing up in the outer courtyard. The scouts, wearing browns and greys and dried grasses are coming in and meeting with Shodokai. Han stands next to the bandit leader and grimaces, flexing his muscles. It’s his default plan when he’s not certain what’s going on. Shodokai seems agitated, his scarred hands running up and down his long black mustache, his voice becoming hoarse shouting orders.
Han tries to focus. The Dragons are back, it seems. And they brought Lions! Two forces, each approaching from opposite ends of the canyon. The narrow walls and Shodokai’s scouts made it nearly impossible for them to gain the upper hand. The bandits are blocking the gates and pulling up the ladders.
After some more time of lots of bandits and scouts talking, Shodokai stands up. He grabs his naginata (taken from the hands of a dead Dragon cavalry member) and claps Han on the shoulder.
“Are you ready my friend? We go to show those Clan dogs who rules this land!”
“I would like another shoulder piece to go with my armor,” replies Han.
“We shall get you that and more!” laughs Shodokai. He then reaches to the top of his throne and grabs his most treasured possession, the Mempo of the Viper. Han thinks that he seems quicker and sneakier when he is wearing it.
Han follows his leader out to the battlements. The bandits have blocked the paths of both the Lion and the Dragon to buy themselves time to finish their own preparations. Shodokai shouts orders, but Han can watch. Watching, he sees the Lion seem to be having some trouble getting up to the fortress, but that the Dragon troops’ experience with rocky and mountainous terrain serves them well. Their forces move quickly up the trails and switchbacks, navigating the deadfalls and the blocked passes. Warning shouts arise from the east gate before the bandits can fully prepare.
“Fools! Idiots! Maggots!” shouts Shodokai, rushing to the gate. Han’s heavy legs pound the stone trying to keep up. “I told you to secure the gate! The remaining scouts are not going to make it back!”
“But my brother is out there-” starts one thug but Han’s fist is through the man’s teeth before Shodokai can gesture. The bandit lord spares a quick nod to Han, who beams with delight and salutes with his blood-spattered hand.
Suddenly, the gate which hasn’t yet been blocked shudders, and then smashes open before the bandits can place the great log that reinforces the ropes. Dragon samurai swarm into the entrance, led by a bearded man in heavy Dragon armor wielding two blades.
With a roar Han charges the Dragons who push toward Shodokai. His hammer slams into one man, knocking him aside. He strikes at another and misses, the man slashing at him. Han’s stolen armor protects him somewhat, but pain blossoms in his shoulder and he drops his massive hammer. Snarling, he slams bodily into the samurai and they tumble to the ground. Han locks arms with the man, trying to strangle him.
His eyes dart around and see Shodokai squaring off with the Dragon leader. Han’s eyes widen, but if he lets go of the Dragon the man will surely escape or strike at him.
Looking back to the duel, Han sees Shodokai driven backwards, frantically parrying the quick strikes of the Dragon. The bandit lord uses the butt of his naginata to trip a thug next to him, causing the man to fall backwards into the Dragon. The Dragon beheads the thug, but in the distraction Shodokai lashes out and cuts the Dragon’s shoulder. The Dragon grunts and spins away, now on the defensive as Shodokai spins and slashes. A downward sweep of the naginata throws a cloud of dust and pebbles into the Dragon’s face, and the shaft of the naginata strikes him in the chest, knocking him onto his back.
Han shouts in triumph as the bandit lord leaps at the Dragon general, bringing the naginata down in a vicious overhead chop with a bestial growl. But the Dragon’s twin blades cross and brace against the ground and the strike is blocked in a flash of sparks. Suddenly, Shodokai is off balance. The Dragon uses the left blade to strike the naginata to the side, and the right blade leaps up and bites deep into the bandit lord’s chest.
With a roar, Han throws the Dragon bushi in his grasp to the side. He grabs his katana and charges the Dragon troops. His fury inspires the bandits and they push back the Dragon incursion. Shodokai is alive, but in no shape to lead his men.
Han’s arm muscles bulge as he slams the log into place. But as he does so, arrows begin to rain down on the fortress. He runs for cover along with the rest of the thugs and the bandits. The peasants the bandits have press-ganged into service are forced to defend the gate and be exposed to the arrow fire. The fortifications protect them, but some fall to the shafts and magics of the Dragon.
The bandit bowmen have the high ground, and from the highest levels of the fortress they arc arrows out and down into both the Dragon troops at the east gate the Lion troops approaching the west gate. The lightly armored ashigaru troops in both armies feel the sting the most, and men collapse to the ground or tumble from the paths down the cliff-side.
The approaching Lion troops get close enough to the west gate for their own few bowmen to return fire. Han winces as the peasants receive the brunt of the shafts, but he’s still glad he’s not out there at the gate.
The Dragon troops assault the east gate. Many of their troops pound ineffectively at the gate, the reinforcement allowing the peasant defenders to keep out more than three times their number. But eventually a group of scouts, elite Clan troops, and the Dragon general push through the gate and mop up the remaining peasants.
“Him! He is the one who hurt Shodokai!” screams Han, pointing to the Dragon general. “KILL HIM! KILL THEM ALL!”
The bandits follow Han and charge en mass out into the courtyard, pushing the Dragon troops out and pouring out the west gate into the front of the Lion lines.
The bandits are numerous. Shodokai had recalled half of his Ayo force back to Shisame, including the groups of riders using stolen Unicorn steeds. The thugs are poorly armored but are vicious and violent warriors using sharp and deadly improvised weapons. The bandits have years of experience fighting in mountainous terrain, where the wrong step can prove fatal. They slam into the Dragon and Lion armies, pushing men off balance and over the sides, hacking into the ashigaru that form the vanguard of both forces. Men die by the hundreds as the peasant levies of the Lion are devastated, but the Dragon troops greater mountain experience help them resist.
Han looks up from where he is beating to death a peasant in emerald bamboo armor when he hears the sound of warhorns. The Lions are moving in a tightly locked formation, steadily pushing the bandits to and back through the west gate. The cavalry units are not experienced enough with their mounts to suddenly turn them around in close quarters, and as they flail around they are mercilessly executed by the Lion scouts and bushi. Han sees a frail Lion general and his guard.
Now there are not one, but two Clans at their gates, which are open. Han is very sad to see that Shodokai has fallen, but suddenly a life back stealing rice seems much more simple than finding a way to survive a two-front battle against the Great Clans. Many other bandits come to the same conclusion, and suddenly the brigands are in a full-fledged rout.
Murimoto Yama, covered with dust and the blood of his enemies, stands with his troops at the eastern gate. Ikoma Husaki and Matsu Hitomi stand with their brave Lion at the western gate. Both armies eye each other warily, knowing that the battle for Shisame may be just beginning.
Ikoma Husaki approaches the Dragon troops warily. “Honorable Dragon Yama-san, after having witnessed your duel with the bandit leader Shadowkai, it is our position that you have successfully regained your Honor from the previous defeat, and we will now leave the province to you. Congratulations on taking the fortress and earning yourselves another victory. May the Kami favor you. With your blessing we will leave your lands and return to Nodai and Ikoma. Thank you again for allowing us the privilege of seeing you in action. It is truly a blessing to witness such honorable action in person, and not have to hear about it in court.”
Yama steps from his troops, salutes, and replies.
“Honorable Husaki-san, the Lion have kept to their agreement and acted with honor in the battle with the bandits. Also, as you say, the honor of my clan was satisfied. If the Lion wish to leave Shisame, they may do so unhindered. We came here to finish our work in Shisame, not to battle our Lion brothers to the South. It was good to see Lion tactics in action. My familiarity with them has come only from reading scrolls until today,” the last delivered with a slight smile. “Your clan’s reputation on the battlefield is well deserved.”
The Lion withdraw. The Dragon claim the province.
Return to Turn 2 Hub