Chapter 4 – Azai Clan Relatives


I escorted Lady Oichi to her room and was greeted by her attendants.

Because I personally escorted Lady Oichi to her room, the expressions on the faces of her attendants were ones of great surprise.

 

Why this was so, was of course very obvious.

For a general in the Sengoku Period, his wife is considered to be very much like an adornment, and a large majority of people thought this way.

Besides, an accessory could be changed, or even change hands, or might even be cast away―― it was a very sad thing.

That’s why the chamberlains were surprised by my courteous treatment towards Lady Oichi.

 

By the way; historically, Nagamasa was pushed by his father, Hisamasa, to take the retainer of the Rokkaku Clan’s, Hirai Sadatake’s, daughter as his wife. However, she was sent back when fighting for their independence from the Rokkaku Clan.

The woman mentioned was named Yoriko, and she loved Nagamasa from the bottom of her heart. It was said that Nagamasa had also desired her. The situation between the clans, which lead to war, caused Nagamasa and Yoriko to split apart.

After being sent back to the Rokkaku Clan from the Azai Clan; Yoriko, who still kept thinking of Nagamasa wouldn’t marry into any of the other clans, so she became a nun. She didn’t allow even a man’s finger to touch her, passing away alone in her small retreat. It was a sad history between a man and a woman in the Sengoku Period.

 

Well, I who came from the modern era could only think of these kinds of matters as cruel, but I couldn’t do anything about it now.

The Azai Clan’s independence war happened before I replaced him. Above all, what would happen to the Azai clan if I recalled my former legal wife when I already received Lady Oichi from the Oda Clan as my legal wife?

I’m at a loss since I would need to treat Yoriko, my former legal wife as a concubine.

For women of that period, it was very cruel, ruthless, and miserable that you would want to commit suicide.

… But really, there was nothing I could do about it.

 

As Lady Oichi and I parted, I whispered into her ear, “Be prepared this evening”. While her face was blushing bright red, she got on her knees and bowed her head down in a mitsuyubi for me.

She thought that she didn’t need to do that in such a place. I entrusted Lady Oichi to the maids as I advanced through the corridor.

When I looked back a little, Lady Oichi was still bowing her head.

…how can you be so pure-hearted.

Thinking that, my heart eased a bit right before the biggest obstacle today― the ‘Clan Meeting’.

 

 

「So you came, Nagamasa.」

 

As I entered the hall, a giant fat man called out to me.

Moreover, he sat in the seat of honor.

19 men were waiting in the lower seats.

With the attitude and the air of the large man, I inferred that this man must be Nagamasa’s father, Hisamasa Azai.

 

I was summoned to a room inside the inner citadel of Odani Castle called ‘The Room of Crouching Dragons’. It was a special place that only the relatives of the Azai Clan could go in and out of.

Today was the 3rd day since the marriage ceremony with the Oda Clan. The men from the Azai clan, whose concerns were the policy that determined the future of the Azai Clan came to congratulate Nagamasa with gifts.

It was the ‘Clan Meeting’.

 

「…What about Sukechika?」

 

Immediately after taking a seat, Hisamasa rebuked me.

After all, after being forced to retire, the father and son’s relationship would be strained.

 

「I entrusted him with a task.」

 

I replied with an answer sharply, so that I wouldn’t be pushed back and pressured from Hisamasa.

He continued speaking, painting it with criticism as if he wasn’t pleased with my answer.

 

「… —He can’t come to the Clan Meeting?」

「Yes, it is related to the future of the Azai Clan.」

 

The great number of relatives gathered in the hall turned into a frenzy.

Well, I could understand why; it’s because they came here to discuss that.

The Azai clan has so few relatives as it is, therefore it was said that there wasn’t much internal strife like what could be seen with the Oda Clan and Takeda Clan but… this was definitely a lie.

Though this wasn’t very well-known by the public, historically, one of the root causes of the Azai Clan’s downfall, was because of the betrayal of one of the relatives in the Clan named Atsuji.

 

「Elder Brother, will you hear my story?」

 

A voice passed through the hall, and it belonged to Masamoto Azai, the younger brother of Nagamasa, who was an administrative official in charge of the finances of Odani Castle.

By the way, this is another historical fact that society doesn’t know, but Nagamasa has four younger brothers including Masamoto, and he also has three sisters.

 

「What is it, Masamoto?」

 

Hisamasa asked with a displeased voice.

In that instant, I presumed that Masamoto, the excellent younger brother who was outstanding even among us brothers, wasn’t thought well of by Hisamasa.

However, Masamoto gave his familiar bow and turned to face me. Umu, he’s quite a good looking guy.

 

「It’s about the conversation a while ago, regarding the future of the Azai Clan…」

 

There was a commotion in the hall.

As expected, even the relatives probably never predicted that there would be no congratulatory address for Nagamasa or anything; that the essential part would be suddenly cut off.

However, I judged from Masamoto’s eyes and face that he was serious, and that it was something done after careful deliberation.

…The resolve to cause a controversy that went so far as to disregard the usual customs. Not bad. I liked it.

I leaned forward and looked directly at Masamoto.

 

「I, on this occasion, believe that we should solidify our alliance with the Oda Clan.」

 

The moment Masamoto stated his opinion, the hall divided.

In the hall, there were eyes that criticized Masamoto’s remark, and there were eyes that sent praise because of his brave remark, and their show of support was divided clearly.

 

「Masamoto, don’t say such a foolish thing!」

 

A tall, brawny man hurled criticisms.

Tsunechika Inoue… He is the brother-in-law of Hisamasa, who was the head predecessor. As Nagamasa’s cousin, his authority was about the same.

 

「A clan with such absent-minded leadership will quickly sink into ruin! I’m disgusted with you establishing any more relations with the likes of those who rose up in the shogunate’s office! What would the Asakura Clan call us!」

 

The hall began to stir.

Opposing opinions started since the very beginning of the ‘Clan Meeting’ so it was understandable but… I really couldn’t tell if they were all just concerned with the Asakura Clan.

Could it be that among them, they think of the Azai Clan as a vassal of the Asakura Clan?

 

However, I could understand why they would say such remarks.

Because the Oda Clan and the Asakura Clan were both related to us through marriage, but they were far from being friendly to each other; the Oda Clan was originally based on Echizen which was the base for the Asakura Clan.

The Asakura Clan was a protector of a great clan that was called… the Shiba Clan, and just like them, the Oda Clan was also the protector of the Shiba Clan.

Both Clans were equal in status, however, the problem came from the root of the Nobunaga bloodline.

Because the Oda where Nobunaga belonged to wasn’t originated from the main family of the Oda clan that was the protector.

In other words, he’s from the branch family, but quickly rose to power and replaced the head of the clan.

Because of this reason, the Asakura Clan regarded Nobunaga, who was leading the Oda Clan, with hostility.

Considering that the Asakura Clan was happily repressing other houses, and to suddenly have another clan like the Oda Clan act so domineering, there was no way they wouldn’t be displeased.

 

「Don’t argue based on your emotions, Tsunechika.」

 

A single old man said it softly; however, there was a considerable force behind it.

He was Akimasa Taya, the son-in-law of the Founder of the Azai Clan, Sukemasa, a warring state Daimyo. He was the first-in-line successor for the Azai Clan until Hisamasa was born.

He was Hisamasa’s rival until today, and was said to also often clash with him.

 

「Well. Masamoto-dono, I will respectfully listen to your foolish opinion.」

「Yes!」

 

Masamoto bowed again, then raised his voice towards the group of relatives and me in the hall.

 

「Certainly, Nobunaga-dono was a branch clan member, but how much meaning does that have in this chaotic world now?」

 

Anger swelled up in some people.

Naturally, an absolute authority was needed in this time and age. It’s because doing it in a careless manner wasn’t how samurais lived.

However, Masamoto crushed their anger with one fact.

 

「Above all, our grandfather Sukemasa Azai… Didn’t he set aside the governors―the Kyogoku Clan―to establish our might! With only parentage, if we don’t have power then all we can do is be resigned to death and accept it!」

「But!」

 

Koreyasu Azai, who worked as an attendant to Hisamasa, emphasized his anger.

 

「It’s already been 7 years and Nobunaga-dono still hasn’t captured Mino yet! I also heard that the Saito Clan has begun to regain power. In addition, the Asakura Clan is supporting the Saito Clan too. Do you think the Oda Clan has the power to match that!?!?」

「――I think so.」

 

All eyes were concentrated on the old man, who seemed like he would give out anytime soon.

Azai Nagayori… Sukemasa’s 3rd son, he who saw the history first hand from the time when Azai raised arms against the Rokkaku Clan until today, was a walking dictionary with the status of head elder.

Coughing violently, Nagayori began to speak to his relatives with his thin voice.

 

「Consider the fact that the Oda clan… That Nobunaga-dono sent Lady Oichi to our master. Consider the fact that what Nobunaga-dono wanted was always a peace alliance, not a military alliance.」

 

While receiving assistance from the man by the side, Nagayori looked around to the people around Hisamasa and me.

 

「This is the sign of Nobunaga’s confidence… that he will conquer Mino soon. Therefore, opening a road from Omi to Kyoto soon… Nobunaga-dono will conquer Mino this year, and destroy the Saito Clan. If the Oda Clan seizes Mino, we’ll become the Oda’s neighboring country. Over the border of Omi and Mino, the soldiers will glare at each other. That is why it should be obvious that we need to further our relations with them… This old man agrees with Masamoto-dono. This old man understands the importance of the road to the Azai Clan to be open. How about it, Milord?」

「Umu.」

 

After I heard Nagayori words, I gazed around the hall and looked at Masamoto.

He appeared to be quite tense. Both his fists were clenched tightly, and trembled slightly.

However, the nervousness was natural.

It’s because of our stance that the division of the Azai Clan into the Asakura faction and Oda faction was made clear. It’s because we chose the path with countless confrontations against the relatives from the Asakura faction hereafter.

 

But, I want to pay the maximum amount of respect for your courage and decision.

The reason was because in politics, be it domestic or military affairs, others would show an ambiguous, non-committal attitude because they couldn’t trust you.

 

「I conclude that Masamoto’s suggestion is the right path.」

「Nagamasa! You bastard, were you ensnared by Princess of the Oda Clan!?」

 

Hisamasa, beside me, raised his angry voice.

 

「Do you intend to compromise our longtime pact with the Asakura Clan?!」

「That’s not my intention at all!!」

 

I threw an angry voice back at Hisamasa.

Hisamasa was surprised, and the once loud hall suddenly became quiet.

… It’s not like I don’t understand.

In short, the act of shouting and defying the ‘Father’ who was also the previous head of the clan, was viewed as the biggest act of violence in the Sengoku period towards the clan.

 

As one would expect, the elders named Nagayori and Akimasa seemed surprised, and even Masamoto had his mouth agape. Oi, oi, you’re messing up the ikemen image you painstakingly built up.

However, without caring, I continued speaking.

 

「Siding with the Asakura Clan, and siding with the Oda Clan, these are things that aren’t incompatible. It’s not the case that if one is chosen, the other will disappear. We should value both as important.」

 

While looking around the reception hall, I glanced at Tsunechika and Koreyasu. Though, they looked away from me quickly.

 

「Especially, if Nobunaga-dono captures Mino, then the administration of the main road will be highly important. When the main road is maintained, traffic will increase, and human activity will be stimulated. We are in between Kyoto, which is one of the biggest places in the world, with Mino followed by Owari. There is not one foolish person who wouldn’t use this.」

 

Masamoto’s eyes shined when he looked at me. Nodding quietly, I raised my voice to the relatives.

 

「Everyone, there’ll be no objections. We will deepen our relations with the Oda Clan.」

 

Sure enough, in the Azai Clan– the Asakura faction, including Hisamasa, already weren’t opposing anymore.

 

 

「Elder Brother!」

「Oh, what is it Masamoto?」

 

After the ’Clan Meeting’, Masamoto and several other men ran after me in the hallway.

Masamoto bowed to me with a cheerful face and said.

 

「I apologize for what happened awhile ago.」

 

To apologize before getting to the main issue… I felt that Masamoto was extremely Japanese-like.

Well, it’s a fact that he was Japanese.

 

「No, it was a constructive opinion.」

 

I said honestly.

 

「The people who yell Asakura, Asakura, don’t appear to put themselves in the position of the Azai Clan. They didn’t study the real color of the Asakura clan through the viewpoint of us, the Azai clan, and didn’t take advantage of this situation..」

「Yes! I have also thought of this.」

 

Masamoto said so and turned his head towards the rear.

 

「Though, for Father to feel in such a way… We brothers are ready to make an effort for Elder Brother and the Azai Clan. Please, expect our active role in it.」

「Ah… Is that so.」

 

While I nodded, I recognized the men behind Masamoto were Nagamasa’s brothers.

The name of Nagamasa’s younger brothers from the oldest were: Masamoto, Masayuki, Harumasa.

And there was Okazaki Ankyuu, who was a priest in a temple shrine. He was Nagamasa’s elder brother from a different mother.

If you see his face, you could immediately discern his age, and his shaven head proved he was a priest. Harumasa hasn’t been born at that time yet, so fortunately I was able to match their names and faces immediately.

It would be bad if I made a mistake with my brothers’ name. Nice assist, Masamoto.

Well, it wouldn’t be bad to deepen the relationship with the Azai brothers here.

 

「It’s a rare occasion, come drink some tea in my room. Let’s talk for awhile.」

「T-Thank you very much!」

 

Masamoto bowed to me.

In the Sengoku period, even brothers engage in a bloody feud and open battle with one’s own flesh and blood. However, the opposite where large prestigious families with brothers on good terms, also existed.

Well-known examples of such large prestigious families which had stable territory management would be the Hojo Clan in Kanto, and the Shimazu Clan in Satsuma.

Even if the present head of the family was unreliable, if the younger brothers could support the desperate older brother, naturally the vassals would follow.

If possible, I also wanted to get along with Nagamasa’s brothers, and not cause a cruel incident with them because it would be counterproductive.

 

Thus, I returned to my room for the first time in a while, accompanied by my brothers.

 

 

「I see, so that’s what happened in Kyoto and the area around it…」

「That’s right, I have the high priest to improve it too.」

 

We listened to Ankyuu’s stories while sitting in a circle surrounded by tea cakes, which were being prepared by a page.

He was a priest who was in the pursuit of knowledge in the Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines, so inevitably he knew a lot about the circumstances around Kyoto. We listened to various stories from him.

By the way, based on historical facts, Ankyuu was a priest from the Ikko-sect that was considered useful in the school of Hongan-ji.

 

「Apart from that, Nagamasa-dono.」

「What is it?」

 

Ankyuu straightened himself while confronting me.

 

「The current situation of the Azai Clan is very serious. I think that Nagamasa, who is leading this, must surely feel very anxious.」

「Well… You could say that…」

 

I sighed.

When reading Japanese History, it was Nagamasa Azai who drove his father, Hisamasa, to retirement. In fact, I believed that it was a race to get results where the father and son implicitly obtained a mutual agreement from within… But seeing today’s atmosphere, it’s likely not the case.

The man named Nagamasa Azai gathered the power from people who weren’t from the Azai Clan to silence Hisamasa and his relatives.

 

「The current Azai Clan members were torn between the Asakura Faction and the Oda Faction… no, it might be more correct to call them the independence faction.」

 

Ankyuu requested a brush and paper from me, so I ordered a page to prepare a brush, ink stone, and paper.

He went up to splendidly paint a smooth diagram of the Azai Clan’s faction influence.

 

「While we, the Azai, occasionally received help from the Asakura Clan along the way, but like Nagamasa, instead of assuming that as good, there are people who desire to break off the original path as well.」

 

Ankyuu explained that as a result, the pact with the Oda Clan was born and bore fruit. We Azai brothers, were placed in a circle on the paper.

 

「The most influential people in the Asakura faction are Father, Koreyasu Azai-dono, Tsunemoto Inoue-dono, Tsunechika Inoue-dono, Tadatane Azai-dono, Tadamasa Azai-dono, Sadayuki Atsuji-dono, Sadahiro Atsuji-dono and so forth, with Father and Koreyasu Azai-dono being the most influential, and Tsunemoto Inoue-dono the second, and so on.」

 

On the other hand, Ankyuu said while showing the influential diagram.

 

「The independent faction, which has Nagamasa-dono first on the list, and excluding us brothers, also has Ihiro Azai-dono, Akimasa Taya-dono, Nagayori Azai-dono, Itomo Azai, Masazumi Azai-dono, and Sukechika Azai. The problem is that Ihiro-dono, Akimasa-dono, and Nagayori-dono are old. There are also many young people, including us brothers, however, the main point is that there’s too few of us.」

 

Japan has a tradition, which was based on seniority. Whether it was good or bad, this custom already existed way before the Sengoku era.

In other words, the ‘Family Meeting’ from before was to preserve those old men. It meant that as long as those people didn’t die, the opposite faction would still be putting on airs.

If that’s the case, the middle-aged man… Sukechika was in a quite important position. I realized this later.

 

「What Nagamasa-dono should aim for is to raise the legitimacy of the independent faction.」

 

Ankyuu said; as though he was a priest conducting a sermon for the masses.

 

「It’s not to break the opposite faction, but to steadily pile up results and win back the trust of the whole clan once more. Even if the opposite faction tries to make a comeback and regain power, Nagamasa can implement a policy that can obstruct and restrain the vassals from stepping in.」

「Umu.」

 

I nodded to Elder half-brother’s logic while sipping tea.

Isn’t Nagamasa blessed with an excellent older brother?

 

「Masamoto, Masayuki.」

「Yes.」

 

I called out to my younger brothers, except Ankyuu, who’s a priest.

 

「After this, I want to reform Omi and be able to enrich it. However, there is a limit on what I can do alone. At that time, I will need your strength, brothers… At that time, I will ask you all.」

 

「Certainly!」

 

The brothers bowed quickly. There was no cloud of doubt within.
Father was tricky, but these brothers could be trusted… I’m convinced.

 

 

「Well, this kind of thing…」

The curtain of night fell.

In Lady Oichi’s room. I talked about what happened today, while skipping out the secret talk.

 

「Sukechika-sama must’ve had some serious trouble too…」

 

Lady Oichi gazed fixedly at the tall stack of papers I was carrying and said with deep emotion.

So… after my brothers left my room, Sukechika came in with the list of vassals that had a scheduled meeting and passed it to me.

 

The vassals of the Azai Clan weren’t few. Rather, numerically speaking, it would enter the category of ‘many’.

Nonetheless, Sukechika puts them all in order, and at the same time, while considering my state of affairs, they were still able to make me a schedule.

 

「So, Oichi.」

「Yes, what do you need?」

 

Lady Oichi responded to my voice, while bowing in a mitsuyubi.

Because it was done in a fairly natural manner, I almost took it as an illusion, there wasn’t a woman in the present that could do it like this…

While earnestly remembering the former world, I faced Lady Oichi.

 

「If possible, when meeting the vassals…Won’t you to join me?」

「Eh…? M-Me…?」

 

Lady Oichi said in surprise.

 

「But I am a person of Oda. With a person of Azai…」

「Hey, Oichi. Isn’t that wrong…?」

 

I asked while looking at her face, and putting my hands on her shoulders.

 

「Aren’t you the wife of Nagamasa Azai?」

「Ah…」

 

Lady Oichi looking at me bashfully, feeling embarrassed.

 

「As my wife, you need to know about my subjects. When the time comes, they might be able to help you.」

「But…」

 

Lady Oichi said to me while hesitating.

 

「Only a day has passed since I became Nagamasa-sama’s wife… Such a woman, it’s impolite to disturb Nagamasa-sama’s important time and place…」

 

Un, what profundity, what modesty.

I couldn’t endure, and hugged her while whispering in her ear.

 

「I want you to be with me there. Besides, with Oichi and I there… The vassals will also feel inspired when they look at the head of the clan and his legal wife.」

 

When I whisper ‘please come with me’ just to make sure, Lady Oichi nods her head deeply.
As her neck moved, her raven-black hair swayed, and her alluring snow-white nape was shown―

 

Noticing it, I lick the nape of her neck slightly.

If a woman dressed in a kimono showed the nape of her neck, I would feel nothing except lust. I can’t help it.

 

「Ah… Yaa~… Na-Nagamasa-sama…?」

 

Lady Oichi utters a confused cry, while trembling in my arms.

 

「Uhm, That…Mou…? 」

「Hey, is it good? Honestly, I can’t control it anymore. 」

 

Carrying Lady Oichi’s soft, light body, I went to the back of the room where the futon was laid, and laid her soft body down lightly.

She folded her arms on her chest, while moving her waist hesitantly to the side.

Dangerously cute. I wanted to pounce on her right now.

 

「Er, that… Nagamasa-sama…」

「What is it?」

 

I pinned Lady Oichi down, as I respond while leaning on her.
Her face blushes hot red, when she says.

 

「That… I, as you told me Nagamasa-sama… I properly prepared… 」

「What…?」

「Th- … Therefore…!」

 

Lady Oichi’s face turned completely crimson red, while she lowered her voice to the extent that only I could hear.

 

「My body… I cleaned it properly as I bathed in the hot water…Therefore, b-by all means… 」
[7th: Such devotion…]

 

She whispered to me.

 

I couldn’t hold it in any longer.

If I didn’t get an erection, I can say it here, I’m not a man. If any man didn’t get a sudden erection, he’s a different kind of animal.
[TN: This guy…]

 

I inserted a hand in the opening of Lady Oichi’s kimono, and thoroughly enjoyed her soft skin.
[7th: Well, you know where this is going in the next chapter…]


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