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Chapter 103 – Ayaka’s calligraphy and painting

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Author: Carrot Sauce Original Source: SFACG Word Count: 3316 characters
Translator: Nexus English Source: Re:Library Word Count: 2205 words
Translation Checker: Silva Editor(s): Robinxen

—The next day—

Lily slept in the elegant tatami room of the Saionji residence. The exquisite window panes and furnishings lent the room an aura of wealth and power.

The Saionji house was originally a branch family of the Fujiwara Clan1, the greatest noble house in Heian Empire.

This was the first time Lily had stayed in the house of a high-ranking official. The biggest difference that she noticed was that everything here was more elegant and artfully decorated.

By the time Lily had woken up, dawn had already broken. It was still dark out, even though it should have been morning already.

However, at the time, Lily wasn’t worried about that. She looked down and began to blush.

She felt like she was going to die of embarrassment!

Some people don’t remember anything from when they’re drunk.

But Lily was the sort that remembered everything clearly despite her mind being fuzzy at the time!

She didn’t have the heart to see anyone.

Last night, despite that being the first time she met Nanako’s mother, she was being so… shameless!

‘Oh my god! Why did I do something like that!’
‘Even though it was due to the wine, but how can my tolerance really be that weak! Just a little sip was enough to make me like that…’

“Senior sister…. I beg you, please wake up soon and punish Lily!2 Lily actually went and did something so embarrassing!” Lily pushed open the blanket and held the mirror in her arms.

This “morning”, Lily was following behind one of residence’s maids with a lantern in hand. She was being guided to see Saionji Kotoka. Lily really didn’t know how to face her, but since she was imposing in their house, it was impossible for her to refuse meeting the head of the house.

As they walked through the winding courtyard of the Saionji house, one could see delicate constructions all over the place. The garden was well taken care of and in between the thick brushes, stone lanterns could occasionally be seen still lit up with flickering orange light.

After entering Kotoka’s study, Lily, who had originally been quite distressed, calmed down. Kotoka didn’t seem to be around and the room was filled with a variety of books and crafts, which showed the owner’s tastes and the extraordinary heritage of a noble family.

The calligraphy and paintings hanging in the study attracted Lily’s attention at once. They were interesting and elegant, the artistic conception was also extraordinary. The drawing faintly emitted some kind of profound and mysterious spiritual energy with each stroke. It seemed as if the brush was encoding some kind of message that Lily couldn’t understand, yet at the same time, it made people feel as though the spirit energy was unintentionally integrated into the painting by the artist.

The painting in question was of a cow grazing in front of a stone tablet, a boy was playing on the edge of the grazing area, and in general the painting seemed to be a picture of a peaceful countryside, but there was also something deeper that drew the viewer’s interest.

Lily got closer and examined it, and noticed some familiar-looking runes on the stone tablet behind the cow.

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Obviously she couldn’t read the runes, but just by looking at the ancient symbol she could feel a kind of forlorn longing…

“This is… the same kind of runes on the stone walls of the mirror space! Although I can’t understand either of them, I’m sure that these are the same runes!”

“Why! In this painting there are runes similar to the ones in that incredible space? Ever since I came to this alternate world, I could understand the language and writings here, but only these runes I am unable to make sense of. Even so, I’m sure these runes have some connections with senior sister and me! Otherwise, why would they appear on the eight sides of the mirror space…”

“Miss Kagami, do you have a fondness for that painting?” Came Kotoka’s voice from behind.

“Ah?” Lily rapidly turned, having been too distracted to notice Kotoka in time.

At the moment, Kotoka was wearing a light kimono and a pair of deep agate red glasses on the bridge of her nose, which put together made her look very capable and intellectual when paired with the businesswomen’s temperament.

Naturally, Lily knew about glasses.

However, Kotoka quickly pushed the frame of her glasses with a smile and said, “Oh, these? These are called glasses, a rare invention made by the southern barbarians from across the border. I have been using them to check the business accounts for the past year. They are very convenient, but are not suitable for wearing if combat is expected so I usually only wear them at home. Was it hard to recognize me, Miss Kagami?”

She greeted Kotoka, “No, that’s not the case, this pair of glasses is very suitable for the madam and they have made madam even more attractive. Lily is very sorry for peeking at madam’s collection without permission…”

“Hehehe, I didn’t expect Miss Kagami to compliment me. It feels pleasant to listen to… Putting the jokes aside, but Miss Kagami is really unpredictable. You may have a delicate appearance, but your insight is extraordinary.”

“W- well…” ordinarily, if someone were to praise Lily by calling her delicate there wouldn’t be a problem, however as her drunken state was seen by both mother and daughter, she couldn’t help but feel Kotoka’s words had hidden meaning.

Just which god had she offended for such an embarrassing weak point to be attached to this gorgeous body!

If others wanted to make fun of her, she could only silently endure it, what else could she do?

But Kotoka wasn’t making fun of her. On the contrary, she considered such women more lovely. Especially because it was an aspect that is hard to see normally.

“Did you know who the artist of this painting is, Miss Kagami?”

Lily looked at the corner of the painting and saw the inscription: Ayaka.

“They must’ve been an unusually talented expert,” responded Lily.

“Miss Kagami is indeed very insightful! This was drawn by none other than the great onmyoji of Fujiwara, of the main house of the Saionji and daughter of Lord Sekishiro, lady Fujiwara Ayaka herself!”

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“A great onmyoji?” It’s been said for a long time that the Fujiwara Clan was the greatest noble clan of the Heian Empire and also a family of onmyojis.

“However, Fujiwara Ayaka can be said to be the strongest onmyoji in the current time and some people even say that she is the number one beauty in the capital of Heian!”

“What?” The number one beauty? Lily didn’t know why she was dissatisfied. She might still be weaker than that Ayaka, but when it comes to appearance, wasn’t she the number one beauty?

However, that wasn’t the main problem at hand, though Lily was slightly distracted, she immediately turned back to matter at hand. Since Fujiwara Ayaka was the top onmyoji of the Heian Empire and her paintings had the same exotic runes as the space in her own mirror, could it be that she knew the secret of the runes?

“That, um… Madam, how can I meet this Lady Ayaka?”

“Meet?” Kotoka looked at Lily as if she was looking at an amnesiac, “Are you joking, Miss Kagami? If it was ten years ago, perhaps we might have a chance to see her after spending the entire fortune of the Saionji house to buy her a gift. In short, even seeing her at that time was harder than meeting Lord Sekishiro himself.”

“As of right now… the situation of the other samurai clans remain unknown. The road between Kanto and the Heian Capital has been completely cut off. Not to mention meeting Ayaka, even trying to reach Heian Capital is full of dangers! Of course, as the world’s strongest clans, the Genji and Taira must have their own way to travel between the two places. But with the power of my Saionji house, it is impossible.

Lily looked at Kotoka and was shocked, “I did hear it is not easy to get to Heian Capital, but just how difficult is it?”

Kotoka’s face, which had always been smiling turned into a frown. She shook her head and said, “It’s getting harder and harder. Three years ago was more difficult than five years ago, and it’s even more so this year than last year. To reach the Heian Capital in Kansai region from Kanto, one had to travel at least ten thousand miles of land. And in the middle of your travel, you will come across Lake Biwa that is said to be as wide as the sea. Moreover, the samurai clans had been warring with each other for years, all those fighting and killing had piled up more corpses on the battlefields, which in turn give rise to demonized samurais and soldiers. Many of the samurai clans had also turned into the dwelling of undead… This thousands of miles between the Kanto-Kansai region has become the darkest and most desolate land filled with naught but demons. Just this year, even the nation of Mino3 has also turned into a ghost country, leading to the final land route to Heian Capital being cut off. The land route was no longer accessible.”

“What about the sea route?” Lily refused to give up on the chance of finding out the secret of the mirror space where senior sister laid asleep.

“Although the sea route is dangerous, there is still a chance,” Kotoka said, “but pirates are numerous on the sea route, and the sea monsters also grew in number along with the increasing frequency of Chaotic Night. Though it’s still possible for some risk-takers to pass through, a samurai’s fighting strength would decrease drastically on the sea. No matter how strong the samurai is, they couldn’t exert their full strength when fighting against the pirates or sea monsters. Additionally, the sea area is now filled with violent waves all year round, if you unfortunately encounter bad weather and huge waves, then even your strength wouldn’t be of help. Once the ship capsized, what can the samurai even do? That’s why it is pretty rare for strong warriors to take the sea route to Heian Capital since luck played a huge role. Only two or three out of ten ships might be able to arrive safely, but it will be over once they run into danger. Even a Sword Saint wouldn’t be able to overcome the sea route.”

Only two or three out of ten successful voyage?
Lily shook her head, she couldn’t take the risk!

She was not good at sea battles. Katana? Hah! Who would you be able to cut when you fell into the sea? Just a sea wave was capable of capsizing the ship, since she was shouldering senior sister’s fate, she couldn’t count on such a risky bet. Taking her chances on the land route, regardless of how dangerous it got, as long as she didn’t give up and adapt to changes, there was still a sliver of hope. But if she fell into the sea, then all hope would be lost.

Seeing that Lily was frowning, Kotoka added, “However, there’s no need to worry too much, Miss Kagami. If you really want to go to Heian Capital, I recommend taking the land route. After all, the sea route is too unpredictable. Only those desperate criminals with no power would choose that route. Because once they were able to make it to the other side with all their goods, they could earn enough money for common people to live for several generations. However, for a gifted samurai like Miss Kagami, there’s no need to place yourself at the mercy of lady luck.”

Lily also nodded.

Kotoka continued, “It is not impossible to take the land route. It is said that if you can reach the strength beyond the high-tier Sword Saint4 or seek out someone who has reached such a level to aid you, then there is a great possibility to cross this wasteland!

“Sur- surpassing high-tier Sword Saint?” Lily’s eyes couldn’t help but reveal some excitement and awe at the prospect. “Wait, there’s a level beyond that of a high-tier Sword Saint?”5

“Hehe, naturally. With how vast the Heian Empire is, there are many unimaginable secrets. Especially the Heian Capital, that’s where the truly strong gathers! Even the Night Parade led by Demon King Michizane wouldn’t dare to besiege Heian Capital’s Imperial Palace. And that’s because it is protected by the strongest forces of the Imperial Palace, the Grand Onmyoji Fujiwara Ayaka and the Shogun6, Rokuhara Tandai7!” Even a businesswomen on the caliber of Kotoka had longing eyes as she explained. These two could be said to be the pride of this otherworld and humanity’s last stand.

“Grand Onmyoji, Shogun… one who surpasses high-tier Sword Saint…” Lily suddenly felt the path she strived for was a long and endless one. As humanity’s strongest guardian, how would they answer her questions so easily. But of course, the first thing she needed to do was to get strong enough to reach the Heian Capital.

(This chapter is provided to you by Re:Library)

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References

  1. Robinxen: I wish this Fujimaru.
    I like to imagine that Ritsuka rayshifted here at some point and this is all a singularity.
  2. Robinxen: Lily is a ⓜⓐⓢⓞⓒⓗⓘⓢⓣ?!
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mino,_Gifu
  4. Silva: wait what? There’s a tier even higher than Sword Saint? wao…
  5. Silva: My thoughts exactly…
  6. Shogun is the short form of Sei-i Taishōgun (征夷大将軍, “Commander-in-Chief of the Expeditionary Force Against the Barbarians”)
  7. Silva: Hmmm took a while to figure out his name, but when I looked deeper, this is an actual historical figure :o

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rokuhara_Tandai

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