Towazugatari – Souda Emonzaemon

Without introduction– is not an option here, it seems. I am Souda Emonzaemon. This name has no meaning. No, just how many names have meaning? All names are given to people by others. Even those who name themselves do it for others to hear it, for others to use it. And so a name means nothing to its owner. Even so, I have a former name that I would never want to be called. A name that I have discarded, a name that I have destroyed. Having discarded and destroyed that name may give my name of Souda Emonzaemon that the princess gave me, some bit of meaning.

I have no topic I can discuss to pass the time, but I suppose I can speak of power in people. Power, or in other words, strength. Don’t misunderstand me. I do not speak of strength because I believe it holds value. Rather, I will speak as to the meaningless of strength.

Of course, many of my missions involve combat. And there are no shortage of opportunities for me to test my strength. But even then, it’s not at all the case that being stronger is an advantage.

Many people, both combatants and noncombatants, misunderstand this, but when two people confront each other, it isn’t necessarily true that the stronger will prevail over the weaker. They confuse the victor with the stronger, and the defeated with the weaker, but there’s no guarantee that they’re the same. Even those who are strong are not strong in all areas.

An advantage in close-quarters is a disadvantage in ranged combat, and an advantage in ranged combat is a disadvantage in close-quarters. A strength in one area is equivalent to a weakness in another. The opposite is just as true. That applies to the individual, and more so when comparing and competing with others. Someone unarmed won’t necessarily lose against someone with a sword.

There is no such thing as an all-powerful genius. Even if there was, their very omnipotence would serve as fetters. It would be a huge weakness that could be easily taken advantage of. The princess wouldn’t even bother with it. The strategian, who with her combination of weakness and frailty is the farthest thing from complete, is much more fearsome. In the end, strength and weakness are nothing more than subjective weapons. A sword of strength may not defeat a sword of weakness.

People speak of survival of the fittest, but there are countless examples of the opposite and reverse in this world. Do you really think that all victors are superior? That all losers are foolish? I have never let that thought slip from my mind in any mission. I did not fear my enemies who were immeasurably strong, nor have I made light of any enemies no matter how meager their strength. That is not how I judge people. Still, animals, or rather beasts, are another matter. That might just be the difference between humans and beasts.

In fact, while this might be something that the strategian might say, the weaker my foe is the more cautious I am. The strength of the strong can be taken away through defeat, but the weakness of the weak cannot. The weak can easily become strong, but the strong cannot so easily discard their strength. This is a tremendous gulf. Those who know their own weakness are strong in crisis, while those who know their strength are weak in crisis. Unreliability shines brighter when lit from behind.

Those who do not posses a thing are more fearsome than those who do, and those who have lost it are more terrifying yet. The Maniwa Ninja Corps’ Twelve Heads have a similar, but not identical notion. Perhaps not all twelve of them, but several of them are convinced of it. Ninja who excel in assassination are specialists in combat. They have a different standing from myself, but they may be the most accursed blades in the world. There existence itself is an aberration, and so they do not require strength. That is the purpose of ninja arts, ninja techniques, and ninja.

To be honest, it’s more troublesome to face a single ninja, not necessarily of the Maniwa Ninja Corps, than a thousand soldiers as an opponent. The Yanari shogunate retains an espionage service as well, and I have clashed with them numerous times, but each time I am reminded of that. I suspect that the strategian, who often contends with them, feels the same. But that could be why the strategian maintained ties with the Maniwa Ninja Corps. It’s safer to maintain a distance from those with similar notions than to be allies. Heh.

Having said this, it may seem like I have a high opinion of ninja, but I have no particular need to deny it. However, the reason I think so might be because of my master, and she might howl in laughter if she heard me say this. But this is my unbiased view as Souda Emonzaemon.

Of course, the opposite is true as well. When losing, or in my case, failing a mission, it’s foolish to blame your physical and mental weakness. Your loss could have very well been due to being stronger than your opponent. Actually, in my personal experience, I feel that it’s slightly more common to lose because you’re stronger. I say “I feel” because I have no basis for this claim. Unlike that strategian, I don’t keep a record of my combat history. But anyone who thinks about it calmly would think the same.

Nevertheless, it goes without saying that a certain amount of strength is necessary to live, much less to fight. I won’t unilaterally reject strength. I’m not like the princess, either. While she has no training in military arts, the princess is extraordinarily powerful. And yet she denies her strength. To be honest, I don’t understand why.

In my opinion, strength is something you only need to an extent. You don’t need a sword to kill a person. A club is enough. And if you have the nerve to strangle someone with your bare hands, that’s just as fine. Becoming stronger will not distance yourself from weakness, but only create a different kind of weakness. And even weakness can be refined into a skill.

To be honest, I’m not especially powerful. I’m as weak as anyone else. I have no powerful presence like the princess, nor will I name myself the strongest like Sabi Hakuhei. Neither will I claim to be the weakest like the strategian. But that is why I am somewhat undefeatable. That is why I am sufficiently undefeatable. My playful way of life might be suited for the current history and destiny. Well, I’m embarrassed to make an uncharacteristic joke, so to avoid any further indiscretion I’ll be leaving off now.

Strength and weakness are ultimately determined by the views a hundred years later, and after a thousand years everything is absolutely the same. Everything. Every single person becomes brief dream. Enjoy it while you can.

Souda Emonzaemon will simply follow the princess’s orders, and act as her shadow behind the scenes. Heh. All else will go unspoken.

Translation Note

His joke is that he used similar words for somewhat (適度), sufficiently (適当), and suited (適している).