Ieyasu watched calmly from his place
as Motochika sauntered into that secluded area. “Behold Ieyasu, uniter of the
land!” Ieyasu warily noticed the intense sarcasm in his friend’s tone. “Such
was his aspiration at least… Or perhaps that was never more than a mere shanty
he warbled to the sea devil.” Motochika stopped short and paused in his
accusations before continuing.
“Why did you attack Shikoku? How do you justify such cowardice?!
Ieyasu stared at the man curiously. “I
did no such thing.” His eyes saddened at the pure anger in Motochika’s eyes.
There was no mercy in those oceanic blue orbs.
“Do you think me a fool?! Your banner smiled upon the carnage!” The fearsome anchor swung around to point directly at the brunet.
“My banner?” Ieyasu shifted in surprise. “But how?”
Motochika stepped forward
threateningly and growled, “Silence!” He calmed slightly before continuing, “I
even wrote to you in good faith, only to lose my messenger to one of your
bloodthirsty curs!” Another fierce swing of the battle anchor produced a wind
strong enough to ruffle the two men’s hair.
Ieyasu stood still at the accusation before steeling himself. “I understand. This betrayal tears at your heart… You despise me, don’t you?”
“Damn you! I am going to drink deep from the font of vengeance,” Motochika snarled as he got ready to attack, swinging his anchor over his shoulder and settling into a crouch.
“Very well. Nothing I can say will sate your thirst. If you must enact such vengeance, then I will bear that burden.” A gauntleted fist beat upon an armored chest, right above the heart, then raised in challenge. “I call upon the Sea Devil, the peerless Captain Motochika! I, Ieyasu Tokugawa, will brave your fatal tempest!” He fell into a stance, ready to fight.
The two stared each other down for a tense moment before clashing, gold and purple swirling together in a royal cacophony of clanging metal.
“Commander Saika, should we intervene? He seems to be very passionate.” A soldier looked to Magoichi as he put the spy glass down gently.
The fiery red head looked down. “No. We will only step in if he stops by himself. He needs to learn to think before acting. Keep watching and keep me updated on the battle.” She looked back at the combatants so far away and muttered, “Fools. Both of you,” before striding away.
The soldier dipped his head in acceptance before putting the spy glass back to his eye to observe the battle.
Ieyasu backed up to avoid another lumbering swing from the gleaming anchor. He had felt the full force from an earlier blow and did not wish to suffer another one, so he resigned to dodging. He hoped Motochika would tire soon; he still hoped his closest friend would see reason. The western Sea Devil was still swinging, though, and didn’t seem to be stopping any time soon. Ieyasu ducked under a wild swing and came up in a vicious uppercut to the abdomen. He hopped back as Motochika doubled over with a gasp. Ieyasu grimaced at the sight, but his eyes remained determined. He would fight, not to kill, but to stop his friend’s rampage.
The white haired man looked up with renewed anger and swung the anchor at Ieyasu’s chest. When he fell back, Motochika grinned eagerly. Ieyasu had realized his mistake too late as the chain came whipping around from his left. He brought his arms up in a guard to protect his vital areas right before it slammed into his side and wrapped around him tightly.
“Thought you could avoid me forever, Ieyasu? Did you think your dancing could protect you?” Motochika gloated as he sauntered towards his captured victim.
Ieyasu struggled to escape the chain while keeping a wary eye on Motochika. The chain shifted and Ieyasu got ready to move when a flash of pale hair caught his eye from behind Motochika. His eyes widened when he realized it was Mitsunari, eyes narrowed in rage.
“Motochika! How dare you attempt to take the honor of slaughtering Ieyasu!?” The furious cry reached them just as Mitsunari disappeared in a flash.
Motochika turned towards Mitsunari only to catch the after image of the man drawing his sword. A split second later, there was a shuffling sound behind him and then there was a scraping sound. He suddenly felt a warm liquid splash on his bare stomach and side.
Ieyasu groaned as he fell to his knees, the chain of Motochika’s weapon falling to the ground around him. Mitsunari stood above him with surprise in his eyes. That surprise quickly became malicious glee as he ripped his blade out with a squelch. A sickly grin spread across his face as Ieyasu fell onto his back with a gasp.
Motochika jumped away from the two men and pulled his anchor up defensively.
Mitsunari looked at him irritably. “I will kill you for your betrayal, Motochika!” He swiped his blade across him to get the blood off before sheathing it. He settled into a crouch and clicked the sword out an inch before disappearing again.
Motochika, paying more attention this time, managed to shift enough to bring his weapon between his body and Mitsunari’s swing. There was a loud clang before Mitsunari leapt back and flashed to the side quickly, searching for an opening. Motochika tightened his senses to just around his body, making them much more accurate.
Mitsunari swung from behind only to have his weapon scrape off of Motochika’s anchor. He growled before pulling back and vanishing again.
Motochika was getting tired of Mitsunari’s ridiculous speed. He was having troubles keeping up in his tired out state. Fighting Ieyasu had been no easy task, even if he had only landed one hit on him. That one solid punch had been brutal… Wait. He had been wide open after that blow, why hadn’t Ieyasu finished it there? He could have easily…
Mitsunari’s next attack pulled Motochika out of his wandering thoughts and forced him to scramble back to regain his balance from a surprisingly powerful slash. The jolt of the impact seemed to have also thrown Mitsunari off balance and Motochika took the opening, swinging his chain around to build up momentum before releasing it. The metal links shot towards the King of Darkness whose widened eyes showed shock. He brought his sheath up to deflect the projectile, but didn’t put enough strength into holding it steady so the force of the weight at the end blew through and nailed him in the chest. The blow stunned him and he stood there for a moment trying to regain his breath.
Motochika sauntered over and swung at Mitsunari’s legs with his anchor. The pale man fell to the ground, but quickly rolled to the side to avoid Motochika’s finishing blow and regained his feet. He spun around to build momentum and swung at Motochika’s unprotected back while the man was pulling his heavy weapon out of the ground. The sharp edge of his sword bit deeply into the man’s well-muscled back. Mitsunari attempted to push it in even further, entranced by the crimson spray of blood. It reminded him of Ieyasu’s earlier display. His focused grimace of anger melted into another crazed smile. Motochika’s roar of pain went unnoticed and Mitsunari watched the blood roll down his blade.
Motochika lurched forward to dislodge the blade and turned quickly to drive Mitsunari away. His anchor swung around, catching Mitsunari squarely in the stomach, launching him into the air to land a few meters away from Ieyasu’s still body. Motochika paused at the sight before unsteadily walking over and finishing the struggling Mitsunari.
“Commander! Mitsunari has fallen! Motochika is headed towards Ieyasu.”
Magoichi turned to her subordinate and said, “What are their conditions?”
“Motochika has a deep slash across his back, but is otherwise unharmed. Ieyasu seems to have lost a significant amount of blood from a stab wound to his abdomen,” the soldier reported smartly. “Motochika is talking to Ieyasu, but it doesn’t seem to be going well.”
Saika shifted her weight before looking to the Lieutenant beside her. “Assemble my guard. I am going to move closer.” The man saluted and moved away, leaving her alone with the other soldier. “Keep watching them and signal if something happens.” The man nodded as the gun slinging red head strode off.
After a moment of silence, Ieyasu twitched. He slowly turned over, face contorted in pain, to see Motochika looming over him. A weak smile replaced the grimace on Ieyasu’s face as he said, “I’m glad… you’re ok, Motochika…”Motochika stared down at the teen before him. “Why should you care about my health after what you did to my men?” There was anger in his eyes as he waited for an answer.
Ieyasu blinked in sadness. “There is nothing… I can do to change your mind, then?” He panted from the effort, body paling from blood loss. He sighed in defeat. “Do as you see fit, Motochika. Just… Remember the times when… we were friends. Please. Don’t live the rest of your life… plagued by anger.” The brunet went limp and just watched his friend linger over him uncertainly.
Motochika pulled his anchor to rest on Ieyasu’s chest, but applied no extra pressure. The downed man’s face showed acute discomfort but he stayed silent. “Why? Why did you do it? Why didn’t you fight back?”
Ieyasu’s eyes widened. He didn’t think Motochika’s mind was clear enough to notice his solely defensive fight. He decided to play dumb to see what his friend did. “What do you mean?”
Motochika’s eyes narrowed at Ieyasu’s blatant act. “You only attacked me once. And you could have easily finished me while I was winded. Why?”
Ieyasu looked sad but let out a quiet laugh, raspy and weak. “You’re my friend. We share a bond… that I would rather die than break.”
Motochika pushed down on his anchor and listened as Ieyasu’s breathing hitched in pain. “Then why did you attack Shikoku?! If that betrayal doesn’t count as breaking a bond, then what does?” He looked angrier and angrier as time went on and was unconsciously putting more and more pressure on Ieyasu’s chest.
Ieyasu’s breathing got weaker as the anchor started weighing more but he pushed himself to reply. He didn’t want Motochika to live with the guilt if he ever discovered the truth. He was going to try to convince Motochika one more time. “Motochika, I know it hurts. I don’t expect you to believe me, but I swear on this bond that I hold as precious that I did not attack Shikoku.”
Motochika felt a spike of anger at Ieyasu’s words and pushed down harder on the anchor. “How many times are you going to spout that lie?! It was your banner flying proudly above the bodies of my men!” Motochika’s hurt showed clearly in his eyes as he glared at Ieyasu, but his anger had mellowed out some. This allowed him to see the honesty in Ieyasu’s eyes that had been seen earlier as mocking.
A tear ran down Ieyasu’s face as he watched Motochika. “I am sorry, my friend. No man… should have to endure such misery.” There was a snap and Ieyasu cried out. Blood dribbled out the corner of his mouth as one hand flew to his chest.
Motochika realized he had put too much pressure on Ieyasu and broken one of his ribs. His eyes widened and he pulled the weapon off Ieyasu’s chest before flinging it away. He realized that he believed Ieyasu’s innocence now before dropping to his knees beside his friend and picking him up gently. Ieyasu was panting in pain, but remained still. Looking around, Motochika spotted the entrance to the arena and walked out swiftly. He knew he had one of his medics at the camp. He only hoped he got there on time.
Saika looked up at the birdcall-only one of her group would recognize it as unnatural. She peered back at the group she left on the ridge and noticed the irregular flashes of light. ‘He is still alive. Going back to base.’ Magoichi saw that and sighed. “So you finally came to your senses, Motochika?”
Motochika burst into his camp and headed directly to the medical tent. One of his men saw him and ran ahead to the tent to fetch the doctor, who met Motochika at the entrance and looked distrustingy at Ieyasu. “Cap’n Motochika, isn’t he the enemy?”
Motochika looked at the man sternly. “I will catch you up later, just fix him.” He walked into the tent and set Ieyasu down on the table before marching out. The doctor shuffled in and got to work.
Motochika strode back to his tent, shakily slumped onto his bed, and ran his hands though his hair. He was just that close to killing his best friend for something he didn’t even do. How could he have thought so lowly of Ieyasu? His hands clenched and a deep growl rumbled out of his chest. But if Ieyasu didn’t do it, then who did? They would pay for what they did. For killing his shipmates. For framing Ieyasu. They would pay.
The doctor looked at Ieyasu and stood still, thinking. He was the one who had killed all of their comrades… But the captain gave a direct order. Maybe the captain knew something they didn’t? He sighed and got to work. Best to just trust his captain-he had never led them astray before.
Motochika sat up rigidly when he realized he had left his precious weapon behind at the battle site. Groaning as he got up, he pulled the flap of his tent aside and called for a crew member. “I’ll be back shortly, Jura. Tell anyone who needs me that I am just retrieving my weapon.” He turned to walk out of the camp but was stopped by the soldier.
“Capn! Your back! Was it Ieyasu?” The soldier exclaimed as he ran up to Motochika.
Motochika glanced at his man alertly. “My back?” His brows furrowed in confusion before he remembered and he blinked. “It was Mitsunari’s blade. Be patient, I'll tell you about it later.” He continued walking back to the site.
The doctor wiped his forehead, accidentally leaving a smear of blood, and stepped away from Ieyasu. His wound was more serious than it seemed, but he had done all he could. The stab wound had been cleaned and wrapped, as had the rest of his torso to account for the broken rib.
Ieyasu opened his eyes and looked up at the doctor and whispered, “Thank you.”
The doctor looked at him in mild surprise-he hadn’t expected the man to stay awake with wounds like that- and snorted. “Don’t thank me, I only did what the cap'n ordered. If it were up to me, you’d still be layin’ in a puddle of your own blood for what you did.”
Ieyasu stared up at the man thoughtfully. “Has Motochika been tended to?”
The doctor blinked. “He didn’t have any injuries.”
Ieyasu looked at him and said, “He has a deep cut across his back from Mitsunari.”
The doctor stared at Ieyasu then stormed out of the tent and headed for the captain’s tent. He met the soldier standing guard there and asked to see Motochika.
“I am sorry, sir, but the cap'n said he’ll be back shortly. He had to retrieve his weapon.”
The doctor growled in annoyance. “Come get me when he returns,” he commanded as he stalked off.
Motochika made it back to the arena and saw his anchor lying next to the pool of Ieyasu’s blood. Not far away was Mitsunari’s body, crumpled around his sword. Seeing the sword made Motochika think about the battle and Mitsunari’s skill. He had battled with Mitsunari before and knew the man’s accuracy with that blade. He always hit what he wanted to hit. ‘But why was there that flash of surprise when he hit Ieyasu? If he wasn’t aiming for Ieyasu…’
Motochika frowned. ‘He was aiming for me, that bastard. Ieyasu took the blow, yet I never noticed. How could he still view me as a friend after all that I have done to him?’ Motochika meandered over to his anchor and picked it up. He looked round the area one more time before heading back to camp.
The soldier ran into the doctor’s tent and gasped out, “He’s back!” He stood in the entrance catching his breath and waiting for any instructions from the medic.
The elder man turned to the soldier and nodded. “Help me carry some supplies over. I doubt he’d be willing to come in here.” He went to his medical kit and handed it to the soldier before taking one last look at Ieyasu, who was unmoving, then walked out. The soldier followed him to Motochika’s tent.
Motochika shifted on his bed to view his unannounced visitor. His anchor was now propped up at the foot of his bed, still with spots of crimson blood dried on. “What is it, Bomaru? Have you treated Ieyasu?”
The doctor nodded. “I have treated Ieyasu,” the name came out bitter, “and have come to see to you, cap'n. Ieyasu informed me of the injury on your back.”
Motochika sighed as he turned to lay stomach down on his bed. “Just make it quick.”
Bomaru inspected Motochika’s back for a moment before ordering Jura to retrieve the antiseptic from his pack. He soaked a clean cloth then gently rubbed the injury down, speeding up at his captain’s hiss of pain. “Needle and thread, Jura. Quickly.”
The soldier watched his captain sympathetically as he salvaged a needle from the bag. He dug around some more before he found the thread and then grabbed the bottle of alcohol used to disinfect them and handed it all to Bomaru. The doctor cleaned off the utensils before setting to work on Motochika’s back. He finished quickly and stepped back to survey his work.
Motochika looked up at the stillness. “You done yet, Bomaru?”
The doctor grabbed the gauze from his bag and gently helped Motochika sit up. “Jura, come help me with this.”
The soldier complied and together he and the doctor had firmly wrapped Motochika’s torso in the gauze. “Capn Motochika, what do we do about Ieyasu? We can’t just leave him undefended in his state… I trust ye have a reason for bringing him back, sir.”
Bomaru squinted at the soldier in shock. “What? You mean to help him after his betrayal? It would be better if he was dead.”
Motochika frowned thoughtfully. “You two, I’m going to see Ieyasu. Round up the men and I’ll tell them the truth.” Motochika strode out of his tent and headed for the medic’s center.
Bomaru looked at his companion and asked, “The truth? What is the captain talking about?”
Jura shrugged. “I don’t know, but I feel this would be important to hear from Cap'n Motochika himself.” He walked out and went to the nearest cluster of sailors to spread the instructions to gather.
Motochika entered the tent silently, not wishing to wake Ieyasu up, but was surprised when Ieyasu turned to face him. He was still really pale and seemed to be in much pain, but he tried to hide it with that smile that seemed to say everything would be ok. Motochika felt nauseated by the sincerity in it. He didn’t deserve it. “How are you feeling, Ieyasu?”Ieyasu’s face fell for a second-so fast Motochika almost missed it-before picking back up to a grin. “Like I picked a fight with the wrong man. How is your back?”
Motochika grinned hollowly back. “Much better than it was…” He paused for a second before continuing, “How did you know about it? You couldn’t have seen it, I never showed you my back.”
Ieyasu grimaced. “I know the sound Mitsunari’s sword makes when slicing flesh.” Sorrow sprung up in his eyes as he pushed on. “He’s no longer…?”
Motochika recognized the dread clogging Ieyasu’s throat, but believed honesty was more important than sugar coating at the moment. “He is now resting.”
Ieyasu glanced at his fist. “I am sorry for making you do what was my duty, Motochika. If you see fit to spare me, I will leave as soon as I can and finish this.”
Motochika stood stock still for a moment before bursting into motion. He stormed over to Ieyasu’s bed and bent over the man, arms to both sides of his body, and looked him in the eyes seriously. “Ieyasu, I can never atone enough for what I did to you in my blindness! I won’t ask forgiveness because I don’t deserve it, but could you please believe me when I tell you I am sorry?”
Ieyasu stared blankly for a while, shocked by the outburst, but his slack face quickly warmed into an overjoyed smile. “There was never anything for me to forgive, my friend. You were rightfully seeking justice for your men.”
Motochika gritted his teeth as he leaned back. How could he ever believe this man in front of him now could do such a devious act? “Ieyasu, I will repay you somehow. What I did cannot be brushed aside so easily.”
Ieyasu glanced at his friend thoughtfully. “If we are playing this game, I must also accept blame for not having been with you in your most trying time. It is my duty as Captain Chosokabe’s ally, but more importantly as Motochika’s friend, to protect you and yours from harm. I failed and that caused this whole tragedy.” Motochika cringed at the hidden guilt in his friend’s eyes. He actually believed this was his fault!
“Don’t you take the blame for this, Ieyasu! You didn’t even know of it until today!” Motochika gritted out as he slid his face closer to Ieyasu’s. He could feel the younger man’s breaths on his face as Ieyasu’s breathing picked up speed in response to the display of anger. Motochika pulled back and calmed himself. “You always try to shoulder all the trouble in the world, Ieyasu. Don’t add this to your unending list of pains.”
Ieyasu looked like he was about to respond when shouts silenced him. Motochika jerked up at the sound of his men and raced out of the tent to discern the danger.
“What is he doing here?!”
“Hasn’t Tokugawa done enough to us already?! Now he has to send Japan’s Greatest Warrior to beat us into submission?”
Men were running about in a frenzy and many were readying weapons to fight off the formidable opponent. Motochika paused as he saw a large shadow pass by overhead before circling and swooping into the encampment. As Tadakatsu landed, there was a large shockwave that knocked many of the men to the ground and caused Motochika to stagger. Tadakatsu straightened from his crouch and seemed to be searching the crowd for his master, and, not finding him, began to rampage. Seconds later, many of the Tokugawa army joined with shouts of, “We know you have Lord Ieyasu!” and “Where did you take our lord, you filthy pirates?!”
Motochika’s eye widened at the abruptness of the situation, but he quickly overcame his shock and sprinted towards his tent to retrieve his anchor. Having done so quickly, he raced back to engage Honda.
Tadakatsu was frantically searching for his lord. He knew Ieyasu would disapprove of the violent tactics he was using to get to him, but Tadakatsu had no patience for these pirates who kidnapped Ieyasu under the pretense of being friends. The past showed them to be friends, but something must have changed. One of the soldiers had rushed back into camp, yelling about Motochika’s fight with Ieyasu and the subsequent happenings. After that, the troops had mobilized and headed straight for the pirates’ headquarters.
The harsh clang of anchor on drill caused everyone to pause in their fighting for a moment before they resumed the bloodshed. Motochika and Tadakatsu were locked in a struggle of strength, which Motochika was quickly losing, when the medical tent’s flap opened and Ieyasu almost fell out. He was swaying heavily, but remained resolutely on his feet as he shouted to get everyone’s attention. He wasn’t very loud, but Motochika and Tadakatsu managed to hear him and stopped abruptly. They looked over to see Ieyasu attempt to stop a group of soldier from fighting by staggering over to them. Tadakatsu immediately rolled over to him to help him stand while Motochika quickly pulled in a mighty breath.
“Everyone stop this fighting!!” The area quickly went silent as the soldiers stopped fighting. Motochika reached into the air with his anchor, the reflected sunlight catching everyone’s attention, and slowly lowered it to point at Ieyasu. “Your lord is alive, Tokugawa army!” All soldiers in yellow immediately sighed in relief before stiffening again and facing Motochika.
“What is he doing here so injured?! Why did our scouts see you two fighting and you carrying him back here grievously injured?!” one man yelled as he stepped out of the crowd to confront Motochika. The yellow clad army, once again riled up, clamored behind their spokesperson.
Motochika looked down in shame before facing them again. “I… blamed your lord for a terrible crime he didn’t commit. I have realized my mistake now, but he was injured in the process.” He got to his knees and bowed to the crowd in general. “I apologize for the harm I have caused.”
The reaction was deafening. Shouts of outrage from both sides fought for supremacy. “Cap'n! Don’t bow to these backstabbers!” “Do you really think apologizing can make up for injuring our lord?!” “What misunderstanding? Tokugawa killed our families!” “How dare you accuse Lord Ieyasu of such a deed?!”
There was a deafening boom that caused everyone to simultaneously go silent. Tadakatsu retracted the cannon he had just fired into his back and straightened up as Ieyasu stood to the side.
“Men! Do not blame these pirates for their anger! It is justified. They did similarly to what you have just done.” Ieyasu looked over the crowd intently as he met each and every one of his warriors’ eyes. The yellow clad men shuffled uneasily before nodding and sheathing their weapons.
The pirates stood around looking at each other in wary confusion when there was a sudden shout, “They killed our shipmates! Get them while their guard is down!” Two men suddenly ran forward and attacked a pair of Tokugawa soldiers. The rest of the crew, not really thinking, also attacked.
They were quickly stopped, though, when Motochika slammed his anchor into the ground. He roared, “What has gotten into you bastards?! I thought you better trained than a mindless rabble!” This caused his men to look down uncomfortably.
“We’re sorry cap'n. We don’t know what came over us.”
Motochika glared at them before demanding, “The first two to attack, step forward.” No one moved. “If you don’t step forward now, the punishment will be much harsher when I discover your identities. Now stop bein’ cowards and take responsibility.” Again, no one moved. Motochika snorted in contempt and turned back to Ieyasu. “I apologize for my men’s behavior.”
Ieyasu looked worried. “Do not fear, friend. I feel the problem wasn’t your men, but the two troublemakers.”
“Do you mean to say spies?”
Ieyasu nodded then looked back to Tadakatsu, who had stood silently to the side, and nodded towards the men. The loyal robot hissed in affirmation and rolled to the outer edge of the encampment.
Motochika watched the two interact before moving to stand in front of the crowd. “Listen well, men! Ieyasu and his army are innocent! It was not them who ravaged Shikoku.”
The men looked at him in astonishment. “But it was his banner that flew above the corpses!”
“His may have been the banner, but that could have been picked up from any battlefield and used to plant suspicion. He has proven his innocence.”
“That was surprisingly astute, Chosokabe. I never would have suspected such deep thinking from the likes of you.” Saika’s tough voice rang through the silence.
“Sayaka! What are you doing here?” Motochika looked at the woman in surprise.
“Magoichi?” Ieyasu mirrored the pirate’s expression. “How long have you been listening?”
She regarded them seriously. “Long enough to see your conditions. Ieyasu, you should not be moving so much with a wound like that. Motochika, your men need to be more disciplined. Both of you need to think more before taking such hasty actions.” She strode up to them. “I would talk to you both privately.”
The two men observed her silently before telling their men to relax and following her into the medic’s tent. The men all glanced uneasily at each other before a few of them came together and started talking. The rest soon followed suit.
Inside the tent, Saika motioned Ieyasu towards the bed, which he gratefully plopped down on. His sigh of relief made Motochika stiffen. “If you were in that much pain, Ieyasu, you should have stayed put!”
Ieyasu leaned back onto the one pillow as he said, “But then my men would still be fighting. I couldn’t let it continue.” He grimaced as he tried to pull his legs onto the bed, but he managed.
Motochika watched him then shook his head. “I guess you’ll never listen, huh? Always putting yourself in harm’s way.”
Saika watched them for a moment before interjecting, “Do either of you know who did it?”
Motochika shook his head angrily. “Ieyasu’s flag was the only clue left behind.”
Magoichi snorted silently. “You must be blind, pirate. You only had to look, but you never do that in your anger. I can tell you who did it, but for a price.”
Motochika searched her expression suspiciously. “What kind of price, Sayaka?”
She simply smiled. “Your fleet.”
Spluttering in indignation, Motochika stared at her incredulously. “My fleet!? Are you crazy, woman? The sea is my and my men’s life! I can’t just hand my fleet over like that!” He clenched his fists angrily at the mere thought of handing his ships over.
“Surely you wish to know who attacked you, Motochika? Your revenge must mean a lot to you.” Magoichi simpered as she watched him closely.
Ieyasu watched the two of them talk before chiming in. “Would two hundred rifles and three crates of ammunition be enough for this information, Magoichi?”
The woman turned to him. “This is Motochika’s problem, do not intervene.” Motochika nodded in agreement-he didn’t want to be more indebted to the man.
Ieyasu smiled. “Any problem of Motochika’s is my problem as well. I will do my best to assist you, my friend.”
Motochika frowned. “You should take better care of yourself and stop trying to help everyone, Ieyasu. This is my responsibility.”
There was some clanks from the entrance that caused the three occupants to look up in surprise before two men stumbled in. Tadakatsu could be seen through the opening, having pushed the men in violently. They were wearing sea clothes similar, if not identical, to the rest of Motochika’s crew. After looking them up and down for a moment, they were quaking at the scrutiny, Motochika realized who they were. “You are the two from earlier.” He looked back at Tadakatsu. “Where were they?”
Tadakatsu made some creaking noises that Ieyasu translated. “He says he caught them trying to sneak away from camp. They were headed southwest.”
Magoichi nodded as she turned to the two men. “I will be waiting outside.” She walked out with a mysterious smirk.
As soon as Saika left, Motochika turned his attention to the men on the ground before him. “Look at me, I won’t have my men being cowards!” They both started trembling as they slowly peeked at Motochika. As soon as their eyes met, though, they both looked back down. Motochika’s face twisted slightly in confusion before he stated, “I don’t know you. Either of you.” His face then twisted in anger. “Where are you two from?”
“W-we can’t say, s-sir. He’ll k-kill us if we t-tell!” They were both bent into the dirt and shivering as they cowered from the captain.
Motochika growled lowly. “I’M about to kill you two if you don’t confess. I’m am very protective of my sons-of-bitches and you seemed hell bent on getting them all killed, so spill your guts or I’ll spill them for you. The bloody way.” He reached for his anchor, the clanking of the chain alerting the cowering men of the pirate’s actions.
The fear was obviously too much for the smaller of the pair and he screamed out, “No sir! Please don’t kill us! It was Mori! He sent us! Please spare us…” The larger one didn’t move, certain he was going to die now that the pirate had his information.
Motochika exploded in anger. “I should have known it was that bastard! He would stoop that low…” He mellowed out some after being struck by a thought. “As I am now, I don’t have the forces needed to attack Chugoku. But I can’t let him know I know, or he’ll be expecting me.” He looked down at the men calculatingly.
Ieyasu noticed the look. “I will hold them in my fortress until you decide to attack.” He glanced at the soldiers sympathetically.
Motochika snorted. “Kind, even to the likes of them. Have it your way. Just don’t let them out of your sight.”
The two men looked up in shock, eyes wide as they watched Motochika set his weapon back down by the bed their savior was resting on. “You’re letting us go?”
“Unless you’d rather death? I can fulfill that too.” Motochika started reaching for his weapon again.
“No sir! Thank you for your kindness!” The men looked at Motochika then Ieyasu in gratitude.
Ieyasu looked at the tent flap before raising his voice. “Tadakatsu, please take these men under your guard. Do not let them leave your sight and allow no harm to befall them.” There was a red flash through the tent flap as Honda’s eye glowed. Ieyasu gestured for the men to leave and they got up, bowed, and followed Tadakatsu.
“Ieyasu, you are too soft. How did you plan to kill Mitsunari?”
“I had to do it. It doesn’t matter how I feel-it isn’t about me. It’s about peace for our country.”
“Ieyasu, you astound me. How can you discount yourself so much?” Motochika crouched down beside the bed before dropping into the sitting position.
Ieyasu shifted a bit before answering. “I am but one man working to improve the lot of thousands. I must put their good above my own.”
Motochika stayed silent. He had noticed Ieyasu’s breathing getting more ragged and figured his wound must be aggravating him. “Get some rest, Ieyasu.”
“Thank you, Motochika.”
“Any time, Ieyasu.”