There was nothing for us looming in the dark. Just clouds, cloud after dusty cloud, and I couldn’t see… I lost my footing on our way up the first hill.
“Lord Masamune…!” A jerk upward, and I was on my feet again. I couldn’t help but turn around fast, raising my sword in the dark ahead of me. Nothing was there at the tip of the blade, and I’d been startled from behind, not the front. Wrong direction.
“… Please, be careful. The hill is steep.”
“Thanks, Kojuro.” I gave a nod, but I dunno if he saw. I guess it’s understood, by now.
It was quiet for a while. Nobody in the front lines said anything, and all I could hear was clattering of armor, shoes and metal scraping through the dirt and the grass. It was early morning, still dark with a fog settling in; that was enough to keep everybody quiet. We couldn’t see much, and there was no telling what might happen if we let sound mess with our guard any further. Where we were going, there’d be no time for confusion.
“My Lord, we may wish to stay here a moment. If we send a soldier to look out over the top of the hill, we’ll be better prepared to cross over.”
Kojuro was probably right. I didn’t want to stall, but I wasn’t in any mood to fight him on it. The fog bothered me today; couldn’t tell you why, but it always has. I’ll easily take over when the action starts, but apprehension… it isn’t something I’m used to, I guess.
“Alright. I don’t want to be blindsided any less than you do.”
Kojuro nodded, and motioned for everybody to duck down on the side of the hill. He almost seemed surprised that I agreed, or so I thought. I didn’t want to debate it or think about it too much. Somebody was sent up to check the top of the hill, and we waited.
“… With all due respect my Lord, you seem a bit uneasy.”
“Hm?” I turned to look at Kojuro, and paused. “… Dunno. It’s not a big deal, either way.”
“Your tone says otherwise… but I trust that you’ll act carefully…”
I couldn’t help but laugh a little. I don’t know if I should clap for him or clap him in the face when he loads his words like that. He wants to say “don’t lie to me”, all that lecturing, but he doesn’t. He’s too polite, at least when I haven’t done anything wrong in his book… that bugs me. That bugs me even more than clever undertones in what he says.
“Are you asking me for more details, Kojuro?” I smiled a little; I wanted to see how far I could push my luck. “Can you not trust me to say what I feel?”
“No, my Lord. That was not my meaning… I only want to ensure you’re prepared, here.”
“Of course I’m prepared. Look around you.” I waved a hand. “We’ve got a lot of preparations, I’d say… so what do you really mean?”
“I mean to say that I worry, then.” He didn’t look at me, just blankly forward. “But I believe I asked you the very same question, Lord Masamune.”
Bastard. I hate that tone.
“You did…” I sighed, “and I answered you. I’m not uneasy. I’m not tense. Do I sound tense to you, Kojuro?”
“… No, my Lord… but you look it.”
He looked down at my hand. I didn’t notice how hard I was clutching the hilt of my sword.
“… Tch.” I nodded, letting go. “I get the point… but I’ll be alright. There’s no other option here… I’ll do what I must.”
“I know that you will.” Kojuro smiled slightly. “That is something I would never question.”
I didn’t know what to say to that. Silence between us was never a median thing; it could only be tranquility, or something too heavy to be lifted by words. What’s “heavy”, though, that’s the question… what is it right now?
“Kojuro, do you think…”
He waited for me to finish.
“… Never mind.”
“Alright… If you’re sure, my Lord.”
“Nothing is sure,” I laughed bitterly. “That’s how we live.”
“Sir!” I looked up, and a soldier came running. “What should we do?!”
“Well first, what the hell happened?” I got up, looking over his shoulder. Damn fog, I couldn’t see anything…
“He was hit, sir, an arrow… they’re already waiting for us, I’m sure of it! The other side has already prepared for an ambush!”
“Oh, is that so?” I clenched my teeth, my hands doing the same at my sides. “Make sure he’s taken care of. Have some of the medics hang back.”
“Yes sir, of course.”
“Go tell them now.”
“O-Oh, yes sir.” He ran off, and I looked at Kojuro.
“If it’s a two-sided ambush,” I said, drawing a sword, “then somebody’s got to strike first.”
“Lord Masamune, charging in would not be the best option!” Kojuro’s face told me more than enough. “If we do so, their actions will be exactly as planned.”
“No, not exactly. We know they’re hiding… it’s no surprise, for us.” I didn’t want to hear it right now. “We’ve been hit. We won’t be hit again.”
“I will not stop here.” I started walking, and looked back. “They’re debating the same thing we are, and I’m not going to be the sitting duck. Do you have my back or not?”
“No?” I kept walking, feeling my shoes stick and unstick hard in the mucky ground. “Fine. Why don’t you stay back, then? I don’t want to worry you.” I was pissed off, but I kept walking.
“No,” I couldn’t let it go, so I turned back around and started yelling. “What did that mean, Kojuro? What the hell does that mean? Stop sugarcoating ‘I think you’re being reckless, think about your actions’ and all that all over again, because I can’t afford to take it right now. I’m not taking it right now, not when we have to make a decision right now or we lose everything! Does that make sense to you?”
“It makes perfect sense to me, Lord Masamune.” Kojuro tensed up a bit more, “you will lose everything if a poor decision is made.”
“Yeah, but you don’t…!” I couldn’t keep going. I saw his expression falter a bit afterwards, and his voice went down with it.
“… and so will I.”
This silence again… ha, it looks like I’ve been proven wrong. It was bad; I guess I crossed the line, and said too much. That’s why it was somehow good, too: I figured that out.
“… Kojuro,” I nodded, kicking up the dirt a little bit, “we have to do something… any ideas?”
“Of course, my Lord.” He smiled a little bit, and so did I. “Plenty.”