The White Fox – A Story of a General

Synopsis: During the Warring States period in Japan, there was a general who became a living legend at the time not only for his military exploits but his cunning machinations. Called the White Fox behind his back, Natsuyori Hojo was feared in the battlefield as he was in the Emperor’s court. However, unbeknownst to everyone, Natsuyori isn’t what he seemed. Yet, this dark secret he and his clan hides wouldn’t stop him from decimating enemies along the way, and paving the way to the birth of a new era.

Scene 1: A Daimyo’s Troubles and Tragedies

In this scene, the former daimyo of the Hojo clan and his subjects were preparing to welcome his newborn child into the world, but was greeted with a terrible news–and a surprising complication that would endanger the future of everyone in the clan.

1551, Japan.

It was the Warring States period, and the whole country was swept in a massive war that have lasted for almost a century now.

There, in the estate of an influential daimyo in a particular province somewhere in the west, an important event was taking place. For Lord Toshiyori’s son was about to be born.

Toshiyori Hojo was the eleventh lord of the clan. Ever since he came into power after the untimely death of his father by his vassal’s betrayal, Toshiyori fought one battle after another.

Despite having many supporters and allies, there were even more people eyeing his position, especially the members of the other branches of the Hojo clan who believed his wimp of a father didn’t deserve his ascension, much less his son. Toshiyori fought hard to stay in power, even if that meant having to destroy enemies and former friends along the way.

As such, it took almost all of his life to secure his position that he never had the time to look for a wife. Then, one day, he realized, he needed an heir.

The matchmaking was done hurriedly, so when he found a suitable match, he didn’t have the time to properly get to know her.

Lady Fuyusaki was a young, beautiful woman with skin as white as snow. Her manners were delicate and gentle, perfect for the wife of a daimyo whose power extended far beyond the reaches of his province. There was one thing, however: she was sickly.

Desperate as her father was to find a reliable ally in such tumultuous time, the marriage underwent successfully. At first, Toshiyori was quite distant with his young wife, being used to women becoming wary of him because of his cold demeanor and reputation as a brutal warlord. However, Fuyusaki was different. She was ever kind to him, and as such, his heart opened up bit by bit.

So, when he learned he was going to have an heir, Toshiyori’s feelings were mixed. He was glad to finally have the heir he had always needed, but he was worried for his wife’s health. The midwife anxiously broke the news to him that the Lady might not survive childbirth.

However, Fuyusaki seemed more happy than ever. She was looking forward to seeing her firstborn–their firstborn. She told him, that for the first time in her life, she would have to take care of someone, instead of being the one taken care of all the time. Toshiyori reminded her that she need not do that because the servants would have to do it for her, anyway. But she insisted, and she said that she would lovingly raise their children along with her duties as the lady of the house. Hesitantly, Toshiyori gave a small smile.

On that day, the whole house was enveloped with mixed anticipation and anxiety. Finally, the Lord was going to have an heir, and everyone would get to know the twelfth head of the Hojo clan.

As for the man himself, Toshiyori was pacing back and forth outside the room while his wife was giving birth. His mind was racing, worried that Fuyusaki might not survive. So, when he heard that the screams from the room have stopped, he halted his steps as well, and looked at the door expectantly.

As he anticipated, the midwife indeed came out of the door. However, her grief-stricken face made his blood run cold, as his worst fear might have come true.

“So?” he asked.

The midwife dropped to her knees and wept. “My Lord, I am so sorry! I am so sorry. We did everything we could possibly do. I would willingly give up my life for this blunder–”

The midwife kept talking, but Toshiyori’s head was reeling. He knew this would happen. Fuyusaki and him have already talked about this. Whatever happened, she said, she would love him dearly, even in the next world. But she also made him promise not to put the blame on anyone as they knew all along this would happen.

Most importantly, perhaps, she made him swear an oath that he would take care and love their child no matter what.

“Where is she?” he asked, cutting her off.

“She–she is still inside, my lord. The nurses placed a towel above her face, and–and–” she said.

“How about him?” he asked. “How is he?”

The midwife’s tearful eyes looked up to him. This time, her terror was greater than how it did earlier.

Toshiyori’s eyes narrowed. “How is he?” he demanded. “He is alive, isn’t he?”

When she didn’t reply, he bellowed the question yet again.

She visibly gulped.

“Of course, of course. The child is alive and well, my lord. A healthy infant, yes,” she said. “Th-there is another problem, concerning the child, my lord.”

“What?” he snapped. Toshiyori said it as if nothing could surprise him anymore. The shock of his wife’s death was too much to scare him now. If his son was sickly, then there was nothing he could do. He might just do whatever he could in the background to help his son, until he would come of age that he could marry and have a heir of his own.

The midwife opened her mouth and said. “It’s impossible for him to become an heir, my lord. For–he is–a she. Your late wife gave birth to a girl.”

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