"Lady Hijiri! Lady Hijiri! They're coming!" The acolyte who came dashing into the head monk's cell paid no mind to composure, eyes wide with terror as he shouted his warning to the abbot of the small temple complex. She paused in her recitation of sutras, and turned, face serious.
"We knew this day would come. Gather the faithful. Sound the alarms." She drew in a deep breath, and exhaled slowly. "We will make our stand here. So calm yourself, and find resolve in Rennyo's teachings. We may not have asked for this, but we will defend ourselves to the end." The acolyte draws himself together, finding reassurance in Byakuren's calm demeanour. He bows, and withdraws, to fulfill her commands. She sighs. This could not turn out well.
In the main courtyard of the temple, she looks out over the assembled faithful. Perhaps a hundred monks, and almost two thousand farmers, gathered from the length and breadth of the farmland around the temple complex. Few of those would have any hope of standing against the coming storm.
"You know why I have called you together." She says, as a few monks come up before the assembled crowd bearing long, heavy loads. "if you are not willing to die for your ideals..." She pauses. "It is no sin for you to leave. We would bear no grudge." No-one moves. The monks unwrap the bundles, revealing a disparate collection of spears and naginata. "In that case." A sorrowful look is on her face. Step forward and renounce this world of illusion. Take up arms, and defend your lives, your families, and your lands." A resounding cheer went up, as people charged forward, and received their weaponry. Subordinate monks stepped forward to lay out the drilling schedule, and to make arrangements to bring the families of the farmers to take refuge in the temple. Byakuren stepped back, wandering away from the crowd of farmers, a conflicted look on her face. This land was becoming safe for everyone, here, near this temple, and now...
Would her other allies assist them?
...Would it matter?
She shook her head. Either way, so much was at risk, so many lives, hanging in the balance, relying upon her, and her alone...she began to move toward her own rooms. She...she needed to clear her mind.
"Yes, Lady Hijiri?" The slight nun turned, a curious expression on her face.
"I...I won't ask you and Unzan to fight with us. If you do, your...nature will be discovered, and..." The head monk was clearly agitated.
"Lady Hijiri." Ichirin's voice was perfectly mild, as always. "Unzan and I will stand beside you. He has been practicing taking a human appearance, even, and...well, there are stranger-looking people training out front even now." She laid one hand on Byakuren's own, where it clutched at her knee to stop it's shaking. "Please, do not think of us. Think of your duty to the temple alone. We can take care of ourselves."
"Yes." The other woman smiled, weakly. "Yes, you're...you're right." She stood quickly. "I...I should see to the reinforcement of the..." she trails off and bows, deeply, before turning and leaving hurriedly.
"I...I have chosen you monks because you are among the most spiritually capable here at the temple. This sutra...This is the Sutra of Iron Will. Reciting it, with all of your spirit, will strengthen your flesh to match your dedication, for as long as you do not falter in your recitation. Now, repeat after me..." The men obeyed, committing to memory the words she taught, and, though they were like no sutra they had ever heard, they had faith in the head monk. She would not lead them astray.
"They're here." The farmer said, nervously, looking out from the temple's outer wall. The harvest had been gathered, and stored in the complex, so the force outside would have little to pillage from the fields, but... "There are so many...can...can we really do this?" He looked over at the monk standing next to him on the wall. A massive, physically imposing man, shaved bald like any other monk, but with a huge, bushy white beard. He bore no weapons, but his incredible musculature left little doubt as to his capability in combat. He nodded wordlessly, huge bushy eyebrows knit sternly together. One huge hand came down on the farmer's shoulder, a blow that might have sent him staggering if not held in place by the giant monk, and the monk smiled 'reassuringly' down at the smaller man. "Hah...hah..." The farmer laughed nervously, "Yeah, we...can, right? Yeah..." Despite himself, the little man couldn't help but be reassured by the big man at his side. If men like this were fighting on his side...well, the enemy had more to fear than he did, right?
"I am Honda Takafune! My father was Honda Masanobu! Send a warrior out to face me in single combat!" The lone samurai shouted at the silent wall of the temple. This was the third day a challenge had been issued. Within the walls, the defenders, especially the farmers, were growing discouraged. ...did they have no one who dared to face him in a duel? That...that was how things should be done, right?
Today, however, there was a change in the routine. Just as the lone samurai smirked, and was about to call some condescending insult at the temple, the gates began to creak open, just wide enough for a single man to walk through...and then wider, until it was wide enough for three men to walk abreast through the opening. A single figure emerged. A huge, bearded giant of a monk, in billowing robes emerged. He was unarmed. A voice, that of a woman, called back from the temple as the gates closed behind him.
"This is the man who will face you! As he is a monk, he is without clan, so his name is surely of little consequence to you. Do you dare?" Takafune frowned. A monk? There was precious little honour to be found in the killing of a monk. Even though the monks of this sect were renowned for their martial skill, still, they were not samurai. Nonetheless, his challenge had been accepted. To withdraw now would be cowardice.
"Very well!" He frowned still harder as the massive monk stopped five paces away, and lowered his stance, two huge fists clenched in readiness. "Surely you sih to discard your outer robes? They can only hinder you..." It would be almost shameful to kill him because he got himself tangled in his robes. But when the monk's only response was a shake of his head and a stern expression, he drew his blade, and assumed his own stance. The two stood opposite each other for a long moment, neither moving an inch. Finally, Takafune attacked, charging forward to deliver a swift, simple overhead strike, one that the huge monk would have to dodge, given that he had no way to block, fighting barehanded as he was. However, the monk moved forward as well, one huge hand coming up to lock itself around the samurai's wrists, as the other came forward in a mighty punch to Takafune's breastplate.
"Hah! Punching a man in ar-" He never finished his sentence, and the crack of a shattered ribcage could be heard in both camps, even over the protest of the ruined metal. Immediately, the samurai sagged, now held up only by his wrists, still held in the iron grip of the giant. Gently, so gently, the monk laid the man to the ground, and arranged his arms, sword unsheathed and still held in his nerveless grip. Finally, with a deep bow to the fallen warrior, he turned and strode back to the gate, which had been opened for his passage.
The ashigaru who were sent to recover the body exchanged nervous glances as they carted the corpse back to the attacker's camp. With a single punch, the once-noble samurai's breastplate had been dented so deeply it had crushed the man's torso...
Byakuren looked out from the walls. Just outside the range of their bows, the enemy was contructing mangonels, to batter down the wall and allow them to make an assault without losing such a great number of men as they would otherwise be certain to.
At least, on this mountain, she only needed to worry about the enemy coming from one direction. The sheer cliffs and narrow paths made sure that only this front, faced as it was with a gentle, gradual slope all the way down to the farmland in the valley, could be assaulted by any significant force. Still...they were going to try to storm the temple walls. The casualties this would incur on both forces...Byakuren wanted to cry. She didn't want this. Not at all...
I wonder why this battle's occuring? Is it like the actual Ikko-Ikki; someone eventually decided she was a threat to the estabalished order, and thus moved to wipe out her and her followers? I'm also wondering about the setting.
However, backstory will probably be elaborated on later, right?