While it should only look like a normal, human back, to Mori Yoshinari it appeared frighteningly large.

————————————

While Shizuko was far away from the battlefield in a quiet farming area, she thought that it was about time to use her first secret weapon.

The “garden fork with a handle” for plowing rice fields.

The traditional way to plow rice fields to use a hoe or garden fork.
Due to bending over a lot in the process, this work is likely to cause back injuries.

To increase productivity and ease the burden on the farmers’ backs, Shizuko thought of introducing the garden fork with a handle which allowed one to work in an upright position.

And since it used the lever principle to plow the earth, it didn’t need much effort either.

It was developed in the Taisho Era, and from the early Showa Era up until the 40s of the Showa Era (1965-1975), to plow a rice field was to use a garden fork with a handle.

While Shizuko expectedly couldn’t provide every farmer with one, she had managed to produce enough to distribute 30 to each village.

“It’s nice that I can leave the farm work to other people… but the issue is the family registers.
It’s really a huge amount of work to make all of them from scratch.”

The family registers were still in the process of being organized.
After all, to finish them, addresses would need to be created first.

But addresses weren’t the only problem.
Another issue was that husband and wife often didn’t have a clear grasp of their family structure.

In the Sengoku Era it was a common occurrence that the number of your children had increased after coming back from war.

But the men usually didn’t think too much about it, with most even being happy over being able to call another child their own.

Of course this wasn’t always the case, and at times suspicions about the wife’s faithfulness were raised.

But most people didn’t mind the growth of their families.

Such a vague concept of family was an inconvenience for an important military base.
It would leave cracks for foreign spies to slip in.

It would be a great problem if a wife cheated with a spy and gave away secrets while the husband was away on the frontlines.

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And even Shizuko couldn’t allow that to happen.
Just creating the family registers would hold no meaning as a defense against spies.
They needed to be properly maintained as well.

Until Shizuko’s agricultural techniques had “become second nature” to Nobunaga’s retainers, they needed to be kept from leaking to the outside as much as possible.

At some point, knowledge of Shizuko’s techniques will spread to other countries, and they will want to incorporate them to increase their own production.

If, at that time, Shizuko is the only one holding the key to this knowledge, things could get troublesome.

If Shizuko became known to the other countries as the core of the Oda clan’s agricultural success, they would certainly try to assassinate her.

Obviously, she wanted to avoid being targeted and killed off one-sidedly by some random faction.

To avoid that, she needed to change the situation from “only Shizuko knows” to “an unspecified amount of farmers know”.

At that point, assassinating Shizuko herself wouldn’t have much of an impact.
As such, to protect herself, she had to transfer her skills to other people as soon as possibly.

However, while she did that to improve her chance to live, what she did in truth was closer to the nation-enrichment policy of “raising the standard.”

Agricultural technology will spread like a fan from Shizuko’s village, and eventually become known to all farmers on the territory of Oda.

When that happens, the territory of Oda will become a country boasting a high yield that was unimaginable in the Sengoku era.

And the most fearsome thing from this was, even if they were able to crush the source, it would be too late.

In the situation where the knowledge is already widespread, attacking Shizuko’s village won’t halt the whole territory’s production.

To remove knowledge that has taken root in the people’s minds, you would need to massacre them all and burn any and all records.

But to do that, they would first need to destroy the Oda Clan, leading to a paradox where the downfall of the Oda Clan would become necessary to weaken their forces.

“Well, no use lamenting over it.
Rather than that, what else could we use for communication than messengers on horseback?”

After all, having them run back and forth several times a day is just too costly.

Shizuko wondered if there was an easier way to exchange messages and communicate.

“Heeey, Shizuko, I came to play—….uahh! That surprised me…”

As she was sitting there with her arms folded in thought, Kimyoumaru’s voice rang out from the front door.

Because his voice changed to a scream halfway through, Shizuko hurried to the front door.

“What’s up-?”

Peeking into the entry hall while calling out to him, she saw Kaiser and König circling around Kimyoumaru.

However, when the wolves noticed her, they left the stunned Kimyomaru behind in favor of storming to Shizuko with wagging tails.

The two of them went straight up to Shizuko before sitting down, while still wagging their tails as though they were sweeping the floor.

It was the greatest expression of respect and love for the leader of their pack.
If one were to put it into words, they would have said: “Please order us however you like.”

Seeing this, Shizuko mused that since she had been quite busy these days, she hadn’t really been able to take care of Wittmann and his family as much.

Their thoughts were probably along the lines of  “We’re lonely, play with us, play with us!”.
This would stress them out in the long run, which would be bad for their physical and mental health.

“Oookay, I can do this tomorrow just as well, I’m done with work today.
Kaiser, go fetch me that.”

Shizuko made a certain gesture before Kaiser.
Having understood it, Kaiser stood up to fetch what his master wanted.

After seeing him off, Shizuko blew into her well used dog whistle.
The meaning was: “Everyone, assemble.”.
As though they had waited for it, Wittmann’s entire family immediately came running.

All of them had their tongues lolling out and were appealing to Shizuko to get petted.
Her work had kept her busy these past few days and she couldn’t play with them, so as if to compensate for that, she exaggeratedly patted their bodies.

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When all of them were present, Kaiser returned with the item she had requested in his mouth.

It was a round plate, in short, a frisbee.

Shizuko took it from him, before turning to Kimyoumaru.

“I’ll go play with Kaiser and the others, do you want to join me, Kimyoumaru?”

And although it scared him, his curiosity won out and he gave a small nod.

———————————————————-

Nobunaga was taking a short break at his main encampment.

The castle he was currently besieging was already about to fall.
And a messenger from the next castle he was planning to conquer had come, informing Nobunaga of the castle lord’s intent to switch sides to him.

Nobunaga’s forces had barely taken any casualties, so it wouldn’t be an overstatement to say that things were going well.

However, until he takes Saitou Dousan’s stronghold, Inabayama castle, Nobunaga refused to relax.

To keep him from doing that, he was fiddling around with his secret weapon #1, the crossbow.

“Yoshinari, what do you think of the Kurosubou?

Nobunaga asked Mori Yoshinari who was standing to his side.
After thinking about it for a moment, Yoshinari answered.

“It is very powerful.
But the fact that you need a tool to and are defenseless while reloading is an issue.”

“Hmm, the time it takes to draw the string is a problem after all.”

From the beginning, Shizuko had warned him that “it takes a long time to draw back the string.”.

To find out how much this really was and mattered, Nobunaga had experimented by deploying them on the battlefield.

And the results were just as Shizuko had said.
Nobunaga compared the musket, bow and crossbow in the confines of his mind.

The japanese longbow had the longest range, followed by the crossbow, and then the musket with the shortest range.

In terms of rate of fire the same order of longbow, crossbow, and musket held true.

When looking at production costs, the crossbow won hands down, followed by the longbow and the musket.

Penetration power was led by the musket, then the longbow, and finally the crossbow.

The musket had the highest maintenance costs by far due to needing black powder.
The longbow came next with the crossbow being the cheapest to maintain.

“…Yoshinari, I just thought of something.
Do you think… it would be possible to shoot something besides arrows with this kurosubou?”

The crossbow had a wooden body on which an arrow would be placed before firing it.

Due to the way the bowstring receiver was placed, it necessarily had a flat section.
Nobunaga was thinking about putting something different from an arrow on top of there.

“Yes, it does look like one could place something else there… but the kinds of ammunition for which this works seem to be fairly limited.”

“I don’t mind.
As long as it’s something to rattle him (Saito Tatsuoki) it’s fine.
And this tool to draw back the string, do you think we could replace it with something else?”

While saying this, Nobunaga used the tool to draw back the crossbow.
You only needed to put in strength when drawing it back once, but the time it took was a harsh price to pay.

If the battle turned messy, this could cost people their lives.
However, making the string easier to pull would also take away from its power.
Therefore Nobunaga was thinking about a way to reduce the time needed to draw back the string while not sacrificing penetration power for it.

(There has to be some way.
Rather than assembling 10 masterful archers it would be much easier to gather 100 people who have overcome the shortcomings of the kurosubou.)

Nobunaga thought while looking at the crossbow, but as expected, no easy answer came to him

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