me party entertainment.

“The rules of the match will be simple.
We will each fire 10 shots, and the one with most hits wins.”

Nobunaga declared while holding his Japanese bow in one hand.
Shizuko on the other hand still had her crossbow shouldered.

Being unable to see her carrying anything resembling a bow, the surrounding retainers started exchanging questions and belittling comments.

“(Yeah… this has turned into a circus show) I understand.”

Shizuko didn’t want to stand out and had zero motivation to give it her best, so she only answered halfheartedly.

The only thing on her mind was the wish for this banquet to be over as soon as possible.
She felt that attending this kind of occasion was just way above her current status.

“I will go first.”

After saying this, Nobunaga shot his bow with a familiar flow of motions.
As was to be expected from a man who trains daily, he easily hit the target.

As if to say that it was her turn next, Nobunaga turned towards Shizuko and smirked slightly.

But rather than lighting the flame of rivalry in her, Shizuko’s motivation was just doused even further.

(Even though it is an order from the lord, I still don’t like standing out…)

Shizuko lowered the crossbow from her shoulder, drew it’s bow string back, and loaded the bolt.
Steadying the crossbow with both hands, Shizuko carefully took aim.

Seeing this, a surprised expression appeared on Nobunaga’s face, as well as on those of his retainers.
Ignoring this, Shizuko pulled the trigger.

With a sound different to that of a Japanese bow, the arrow shot off.
It hit the target, and, carried by its momentum, pierced straight through it.

The material of the targets were chosen with the Japanese bow in mind, so when the more powerful crossbow bolt hit it, the bolt completely penetrated it.

(Whoops, I shot right through it.)

With a careless thought like that on her mind, Shizuko drew her crossbow once again.
Watching her do this, with a serious look on his face, was Nobunaga.

(…what a weird bow.
Despite Shizuko being able to pull its string back with her thin arms, its power is considerable.
No, accurately speaking, it has high penetrating power.
In that regard, it resembles the musket.
But the most surprising part is how it can maintain its string in a drawn back position.
I thought it was unusable, but something with a less complicated structure might be useful for sieges.)

“Bring me a foot soldier’s armor!”

“Huh….?”

“Hurry up!”

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“Y-yes!”

Perplexed at his sudden fit of anger, the servants didn’t react immediately, but Nobunaga just ignored their state of confusion and just reaffirmed his order.

Even then, the servants’ faces were still filled with surprise, but Nobunaga’s angry voice made them shudder, spurring them into quickly fetching the armor for a foot soldier.

But it was not only them who were unable to comprehend Nobunaga’s train of thought.
Shizuko and the other retainers were just as confused.

They had no clue what kind of objective or goal had been behind Nobunaga’s command.

After a short while, two suits of armor had been prepared.
They were set up slightly closer than where the target had been positioned before.

When the armors had been arranged as if a person was wearing them, everyone understood that they would be the next target.

(Oh shucks, at least I think most foot soldier armors were made from cloth or bamboo…)

While musing about this, Shizuko tuned her crossbow.

Yet, this was a scenario where she wouldn’t know how it would end.
In the first place, she had made this crossbow with hunting in mind, so it was somewhat obvious that she didn’t know how it would fare against armor.

At least the fact that it wouldn’t cause any damage to her crossbow, with only the bolt suffering from it at worst, was comforting to know.

Afterwards, Nobunaga shot his bow without uttering a single word.

His silent pressure caused Shizuko’s stomach to be assaulted by a prickling pain.
Bearing this, Shizuko also shot her crossbow wordlessly.

This continued on until the last of the ten arrows had been shot.
As even his retainers could pick up on Nobunaga’s strange behavior; their expression filled with tension.

“…Shizuko, try drawing this bow.”

The moment their match had finished, Nobunaga thrust the bow he had just used towards Shizuko.

Not understanding what he wanted to achieve with this, Shizuko simply did as she was told and pulled the bowstring.

“Hmn, nghhhhh…..!”

The bow string was pulled extremely taut, and Shizuko was unable to draw it back in the slightest.

But this was the obvious result.
The Japanese bow is drawn using all muscles of the human body, making the proper procedure to drawing it absolutely necessary.

Furthermore, as the Japanese bows of the Sengoku period were tools of war, their bow strings had much more draw weight than their modern versions.

“Huf…..Ha–, Ha–, Ha– ….”

In the end, even with her full strength at work, Shizuko could only draw the bow the tiniest bit.

Yet the look on Nobunaga’s face wasn’t one of ridicule or mockery, as he observed Shizuko with slightly narrowed eyes.

(It is as though she can’t use a bow at all.)

Even though Shizuko was trying to draw the bow, she was just applying brute force without the slightest hint of any proper technique.

Yet Shizuko had interpreted his order to “draw the bow” as “pull back the string”.

(I see.
Even though she has a vast wealth of knowledge, she only uses as much as needed in any given situation.
In short, to draw information out of her, all I have to do is to put Shizuko into a “situation where she is forced to draw on her knowledge.”)

By now, Nobunaga valued Shizuko’s knowledge to be worth more than a single country.

On top of that, she didn’t like to stand out, so she wouldn’t let her ego grow over her head and say more than necessary.

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Nobunaga couldn’t think of a piece that was this easy to handle yet useful at the same time.

“We both hit 10 times.
I am interested in this kurosubou of yours.
I will borrow it for a few days.”

“Wha! Ah, yes…”

With her surprised voice threatening to spill out, Shizuko handed over the crossbow to Nobunaga.

Nobunaga received it with a mystified look on his face.

After the competition, the banquet ended without any further entertainment or problems.

Shizuko grouped up with Aya who had been waiting somewhere in the area, and both of them returned to Shizuko’s estate before sunset.

But there were a couple of people who didn’t immediately return from the banquet.

Nobunaga’s direct subordinates, Takigawa Kazumasu, Mori Yoshinari, Niwa Nagahide, as well as his heir, Kimyoumaru.

“The inventions of that girl are as weird as always.”

Mumbled Takigawa while fiddling around with the crossbow.

Despite his derisive words, he held considerable interest in Shizuko’s tools.

“Constructing things purely to be an exotic plaything is one thing… but when it is this intricate and refined, it gets a terrifying quality.”

“But, although this Namban bow looks easy to use, its structure is too strange and complex.
It might be usable without much training, but getting a larger number of them will be a challenge.”

As his retainers were debating over the pros and cons, Nobunaga held out his hand to silence them.

“We will use thirty of them in the next siege.”

That was Nobunaga’s decree.

In the first place, he hadn’t called them here to argue with him about the crossbow, but just to give each of them their respective tasks.

“Yoshinari, use Aya to tell Shizuko to produce the kurosubous.”

“Understood.”

“Takigawa, gather 30 soldiers who are inexperienced with the Japanese bow.”

“….as you wish.”

“Niwa.
Kimyoumaru.
Draw more of Ming’s stratagems out of Shizuko.
Have all which she tells you written down.”

“Understood.”

“Yes, Father.”

Their answers made Nobunaga smile contentedly.
Nodding once to himself, he looked over the four of them and said the following.

“No matter what, I will get her knowledge about military matters.”

 

A mochi soup served on new year.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ikk%C5%8D-ikki Original kanji: 其疾如風、其徐如林、侵掠如火、不動如山、難知如陰、動如雷震、掠郷分衆、廓地分利、懸権而動

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