The village was still smouldering as the column of samurai approached through in the afternoon sun. Bodies were strewn through the pathways between the buildings and the wounded stood and bowed as the daimyo and his entourage made their way to the centre.
‘My lord, we were not expecting you so quickly’
The junior officer was shaking as he stood in the clearing, head bowed.
‘The gaijin approached under cover of darkness and fell upon us without warning. We mustered as quickly as we could but they came at us from all sides. Those that stood to first, were cut down. The rest of us barely were able to fend them off.’
Tetsuo looked around at the survivors. As his glance moved from man to man, they quickly looked down in order to not meet his his steely stare.
‘It seems that the officer in charge of this garrison was ill prepared and it was only that those animals had grabbed what they wanted that made them leave. Where is the leader of these men?’
The junior officer gestured to a corpse by the signal beacon.
‘Akita-san was killed trying to summon reinforcements, my lord’
Tetsuo shifted in his saddle to look back to one of his retainers.
‘Given his death, make sure that my displeasure is visited upon his family’, Tetsuo ordered through gritted teeth.
A lightly dressed warrior jogged into the village clearing and knelt in front of Tetsuo.
‘Lord, they are heading west with wagons. They seem to be making their way back to the border’
Tetsuo turned as was about to call for the wizard, but the wizened old man was already standing alongside the daimyo, where only seconds before there had been empty space.
‘Xin Loi, I will chase the barbarians down myself’, Tetsuo lowered his voice ‘Go to your…..allies and see if they will join me.’
The wizard’s voice was like cracking twigs, ‘You know the price they will ask?’
Tetsuo snapped back ‘Yes! I am not a fool, but they will earn their reward’.
The warlord turned his eyes to the west. These invaders didn’t know what they had started, the cost for his kingdom would be high but what was to come would mean that the army of Tetsuo Fujitaki would be feared across the whole world.