Year 2 of Joseon
My daily routine starts with shooting arrows.
At first, I didn’t know why I had to shoot arrows.
Honestly, I still don’t know the reason.
It’s just like the military; I just do as I’m told.
I get up at the usual time, get dressed, and head straight to the archery range in the backyard.
And just like usual, I pull the bowstring.
But today was a little different than usual.
While I was shooting arrows, I heard a different loud noise along with the screeching noise.
Buzz~ buzz~ buzz~ buzz~ buzz~
Ah, I want to kill all those cicada bastards.
It was already hard enough with the screeching noise making my eardrums feel like they were going to burst, and now I can’t even concentrate because of those cicadas shouting in the morning.
“Sangseung, focus! How can you not hit a single target?!”
Anyone who has been in the military would sympathize.
Trying to make excuses at times like this would only result in more scolding.
It’s been about half a year since I learned archery from my grandfather.
Recently, the number of arrows hitting the target has increased, but it’s still not enough to catch my grandfather’s eye.
I tried shooting a few more arrows afterward, but my shots flew near the target without hitting it.
Ah, it’s usually not this bad.
It’s all because of those damn cicadas.
“Let’s stop for today.”
“What do you have to be sorry for? There are good days and bad days…”
The guilt of disappointing my grandfather overwhelms me.
After finishing archery, I headed to the weaving workshop.
I recently remodeled a separate building into a weaving workshop and employed people to make fabric using various threads that were coming in.
Fortunately, in the early days of Joseon, women’s social life was somewhat guaranteed, and by paying them wages to weave on looms, jobs were naturally created.
Now, the women in the village known for weaving produce one bolt of cotton cloth daily using flying shuttles.
At first, the speed was slow because of the unfamiliar flying shuttles, but their speed increased as they became more familiar with the machine.
And my mother was in charge of managing these women.
“Sangseung, did you come to check on the loom weaving today?”
My mother’s belly is now quite round compared to before.
If the original owner of this body had died, wouldn’t the child in her belly be my distant ancestor?
You’re carrying a heavy burden.
How about you rest in your room and let me manage everything?”
“Oh? Do you not trust this mother of yours?”
Is my mother really this strong?
“How could that be?”
“Your father is taking care of me, so don’t worry too much.”
Uncle Kang Jik was standing next to my mother.
Ah, seeing Kang Jik’s face reminded me of something I wanted to ask.
“Uncle, I have a question.”
But why are you making such a sad expression?
It looks like you’re being ripped off.
“Is the family’s granary, which had been empty because of the construction of Fair Wind, now in better condition?”
“…Yes, now the family’s granary is full.”
“Wow, that’s really a relief.”
As I smiled broadly, Uncle hastily made excuses.
“…However, the amount of cotton cloth has increased while the amount of grain has decreased a little.
I expect that we might have to build a new grain storage after this fall’s harvest.”
Ah, is it because you don’t have money since you need to build a granary?
Making excuses is a sin!
“That’s great news.”
“Ahaha! It’s all thanks to the fertilizer you made, young master.”
Although Uncle was exaggerating, everything was going smoothly like a well-oiled machine.
From the writer’s perspective, I’d like to avoid such blatant content.
Unlike readers, writers enjoy the protagonist’s hardships.
This is because readers also find it boring when the development is too obvious and bland.
However, some readers enjoy such obvious developments.
These are the so-called “cider fans” that I’ve been cursing all this time.
These cider fans are annoying beings who froth at the mouth even when a sweet potato comes out in a story, but now that I think about it, they were right 100 times over.
Why do we need sweet potatoes in life? Eating raw fish like sushi is the best.
In a work of fiction, the protagonist may overcome a crisis and experience catharsis, but in reality, it’s better to have the repetition of mundane daily life.
The key to maintaining this daily life as long as possible is “preparation.”
“So, I’m saying we should start preparing for the next thing.”
“…What do you mean by ‘next’?”
There’s a loss for every gain – that’s the way of the world.
Because of my actions encouraging the fishing industry, another problem arose.
“Until last year, there were many hands left in the village, but nowadays, most of them work elsewhere, so isn’t there a labor shortage for farming?”
Of course, the country called Joseon does not waste labor like this.
Joseon is a country where if men go out to sea, women work in the fields planting rice.
The problem is that even the women who need to plant rice in the fields are weaving at the loom in the workshop.
So, the old grandfathers and grandmothers in their 60s must step up and plant rice in the village fields.
It’s like watching the scene of laborers pouring into the city after industrialization, isn’t it?
Anyway, the lack of labor in rural areas is a problem!
“Yes, these days, my friend known as ‘dog poop’ seems to be under the weather.”
“Sure enough, not just Mr.
Poop but all the elderly in the village are struggling with the lack of labor.
Please buy cattle with cotton cloths and rice.”
“Well, I’ll have to build a barn instead of a granary.”
“If you can, proceed with both.
Time can’t be bought with rice, after all.”
I’d like to try my hand at livestock farming, but unfortunately, this situation didn’t exist in the scenario before I started writing.
Living in Joseon, I came to realize this problem.
It’s about how much labor is involved in direct-descendant farming, not rotational farming.
Fortunately, though I didn’t know about advanced livestock farming, the people of Joseon in this era had their own livestock farming know-how, so all I had to do was buy livestock with capital.
And right now, capital is not a big problem in our household.
Sigh, it was comfortable when I could just tap the keyboard and write under the air conditioner…
When will I make Joseon a powerful country and survive the Imjin War?
The approaching crisis
Mori Terumoto, the head of the Mori clan, faced a great dilemma.
It was that the chaotic political situation after Oda Nobunaga’s death had been seized by Toyotomi Hideyoshi.
Mori Terumoto’s unease was because his relationship with Hideyoshi was not very good.
The ill-fated relationship between the two began when Mori Terumoto protected the expelled Shogun Ashikaga Yoshiaki from Oda Nobunaga.
At the time, Oda Nobunaga was in conflict with Uesugi Kenshin, known as the “Dragon of Echigo,” so relatively, the Mori clan had some leeway.
The Mori clan defeated the Oda clan’s naval forces and secured the momentum of the war until they uprooted the Amago clan, their main enemy.
Up to that point, Mori Terumoto had no doubt of his victory.
Until Uesugi Kenshin suddenly died…
After Uesugi Kenshin’s sudden death, Oda Nobunaga turned his attention to settling the score with the Mori clan, and in the following battle, the Mori clan’s navy suffered devastating losses.
That single defeat was deeply painful.
During that time, Mori Terumoto, whose power had already been weakened because of the betrayal of his vassals, experienced an endless fall.
The one who pushed him into this fall was none other than Hideyoshi.
As one of Oda Nobunaga’s five generals, Hideyoshi received Oda’s orders and achieved consecutive victories in the war against the Mori clan.
The more Hideyoshi soared, the more the Mori clan had to shrink.
At that time, sensing the unfavorable turn of events, Mori Terumoto received a glimmer of hope.
As soon as he heard that Oda Nobunaga had been betrayed at Honnoji, Hideyoshi proposed an alliance with Mori Terumoto.
The naïve Mori Terumoto readily accepted the proposal.
However, the cunning Hideyoshi attached a condition to the alliance.
Hideyoshi demanded that Shimizu Muneharu, who had tormented him countless times before, commit seppuku to symbolize their alliance.
Mori Terumoto ordered his loyal retainer, Shimizu Muneharu, to surrender and commit seppuku to escape the immediate crisis.
Afterward, realizing that Hideyoshi had deceived him, Mori Terumoto attempted to send his army to attack him but was stopped by his uncle, Kobayakawa Takakage.
A decisive battle then unfolded between Hideyoshi, who had taken revenge on behalf of his lord, and Shibata Katsuie, who had been the right-hand man of Oda Nobunaga.
The treacherous Hideyoshi demanded Mori’s allegiance, seemingly forgetting what he had done to Mori Terumoto.
To make matters worse, Shibata Katsuie demanded the same thing from Mori.
The indecisive Mori Terumoto had to offer gifts of victory to both parties.
Although he secretly prayed for Shibata Katsuie’s success, the glory of victory ultimately went to Hideyoshi.
“Master, what’s the matter?”
One of the two pillars protecting the Mori clan, Kobayakawa Takakage, asked.
“Uncle, now that Hideyoshi has seized power, it’ll be a big headache for us, is it not?”
“The situation is embarrassing for Hideyoshi’s side as well to wage war against us because of past events.
Also, although Oda Nobutaka’s forces were destroyed, it will take some time to merge the divided Oda clan’s power.”
“But even that devil will not take long, will it? Nobukatsu is nothing but a braggart.
Although we can breathe for a moment, it still feels like we’re underwater.”
“There’s nothing we can do.
We can only send Kikkawa Hiroie as a hostage and set an example of vassal loyalty.”
“Hideyoshi will not let this pass easily.
Uncle, you know very well how cruel and crazy that guy is.
He will clearly work our clan’s troops like dogs, just to devour our power.
But our clan still hasn’t recovered from the disastrous Battles of Kizugawaguchi.”
“…Actually, there might be a way.”
“Is that true? People say there’s no law that says you have to die, so this is fortunate indeed.”
Kobayakawa Takakage continued to report as hope filled his nephew’s face.
“According to the information received from our navy, there’s a bumper crop in Yeompo, Joseon.”
“…Joseon, you say?”
“We need food supplies first to raise our clan’s military strength.
However, because of the war that has lasted more than 100 years, it has become difficult to obtain food on our mainland.”
If not for this situation, we would have recovered from the damage three years ago.
But didn’t Joseon completely give up on trade with us because of the events of the Eulmyo year?”
“Anyway, trade with them will be difficult, so we have no choice but to plunder.”
“Joseon is as poor as our country, if not more.
Even if we were to rob their people’s granaries, getting even rice bran, let alone food, would be difficult.
By becoming hostile with them, we could even lose the barely operating maritime trade routes.”
“Until last year, that would have been the case.
But this year, the circumstances have changed a bit.
According to the rumors, a nearby clan invested heavily in fishing, making even the dogs in the village plump.”
“…It seems they’ve become quite wealthy.”
As Mori Terumoto listened, he paid more attention to Kobayakawa Takakage’s story.
“According to the rumors, this year’s bumper crop is also because of the fertilizer made by that clan.”
“Does that mean the increase in food production will continue rather than being a one-time event?”
Mori Terumoto realized what Kobayakawa Takakage was trying to say.
“If it had been before, scratching them would have given us nothing but losses, but now, we can at least get pus by scratching.”
“…Do we have any available naval forces right now?”
“We don’t need to mobilize the clan’s navy.
We have friends who will dirty their hands for us on their way to Joseon.”
“Who are those friends?”
“You know them well, my lord.
Murakami Takeyoshi, the leader of the Murakami pirate group.”
“Can we mobilize them right now?”
“Everything has its order.
First, we need to ask the Joseon royal court to increase trade, using famine as an excuse.
We have to wait for their refusal.”
“Are you building a pretext for the invasion?”
“We need to build a pretext and appease our ally, So Yoshitoshi, the daimyo of Tsushima Island.
As you know, their help would be essential when we attack Joseon.
Also, there’s still time for the rice to ripen.”
“Uncle, proceed immediately.”
“I will obey your command.”
And so, the harsh wheel of fate began to turn.
 Literal translation of 개똥아범
 Battle of Shizugatake
The Eulmyo year, from the Korean calendar, is part of a 60-year cycle based on the combination of one of 10 Heavenly Stems and one of 12 Earthly Branches.
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