|Author: Carrot Sauce||Original Source: SFACG||Word Count: 3054 characters|
|Translator: Aoi||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 1645 words|
“I see,” Ayaka spoke, a look of realization crossing her face. “That explains why you posed as a client seeking the Night Queen. But you might have tried to dress the part more convincingly. You don’t exactly resemble a wealthy woman.”
“All the female adepts in Asuka wear attire like mine, no matter their power level. Had I dressed as a rich lady from Heian, I would have drawn undue attention. More jewelry would have made me a target, and while I’m not afraid, I am acting alone and wished to avoid unnecessary trouble,” Reika explained.
“Hmm. That’s a reasonable point,” Lily acknowledged, her expression blank.
“But since you know I’m not the Night Queen, why did you stop us?” Ayaka inquired.
A passion ignited in Reika’s eyes as she responded, “Upon recognizing you both as experts unrelated to the Asuka Kingdom, I remembered the vital mission the princess entrusted to me. I know I’ve wronged and doubted you, and if you still harbor resentment, you can take it out on me. Even if it’s somewhat humiliating, you can punish me. But in return, I beg you to aid the princess! The Asuka Kingdom and the princess herself are in dire straits, needing experts like you. The princess has even offered to reward the kingdom’s savior with anything they desire, including becoming a life partner1!”
A palpable change in the atmosphere filled the room as Reika finished.
“A-Ah, Erm, it seems I may have misspoken,” she stammered. “The princess was likely referring to a handsome, prince-like savior. But we have many ancient treasures in the Asuka Kingdom not found in the Heian Dynasty, so you surely won’t be at a loss!”
Lily and Ayaka’s minds shifted from thoughts of becoming the princess’s partner to their mission in Iyo, where they sought the Dream Eater’s real body. Information indicated that the Dream Eater controlled the rampant monsters in Asuka. Access to the princess would likely lead them closer to vital clues.
After a shared glance and a mutual conclusion, Ayaka laughed, “Haha, Ms. Reika. Truth be told, we’re close friends with the Night Queen, so we can assure you she won’t appear soon. My sister, another woman, and I were planning to travel to Iyo for training and treasure hunting. If your words hold truth, we are genuinely interested.”
“Yeah,” Lily concurred.
“It’s absolutely true! I’ll stake my life and honor on it!” Reika insisted, producing an ancient dark gold rune from her dress. “This is the princess’ personal totem rune. Present it to her, and she’ll recognize my recommendation, granting you an esteemed position.”
Lily accepted the rune from Reika, feeling its ancient, profound energy.
“Will you assist us, sisters?” Reika asked, hope in her eyes.
“Mm,” Lily and Ayaka agreed, nodding.
“Thank you so much!” Reika bowed deeply in gratitude.
“Ms. Reika, please, no need for such formalities. I can see how difficult it must have been for you to fulfill the princess’ commands. You’ve endured much,” Lily said, her perception of Reika altered.
“No, sister. I would even leap into flames to realize the princess’ dream!” Reika declared, her resolve unbreakable.
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Though Reika had successfully completed her mission, she was compelled to remain in the deluxe suite, gritting her teeth to preserve her facade. Meanwhile, Lily and Ayaka retreated to the top floor to avoid any further unnecessary interruptions. To ensure this, Lily commanded an ink clone of the underworld evil spirit to stand guard over the stairs.
Lily’s increased power had reduced the cost of summoning these ink clones sharply. She now needed only five magatama to call forth the raccoon deity Mita’s clone. An average underworld evil spirit required a mere two to three magatama, while the six-tailed fox demon needed seven. The duration of these summons had also extended significantly.
Once back in her room, Lily briefed Shimizu on the situation. “Since you’ve made up your mind, I have no objections. You didn’t accept the proposal because the princess promised to become the savior’s life partner, did you?” Shimizu questioned.
“Of course not,” Lily replied. “It seems that the princess prefers men, but her willingness to sacrifice her personal happiness for her kingdom’s welfare is commendable.”
Ayaka chimed in, “I understand her sacrifice, but the promise to become a man’s partner equates to adopting the role of a traditional wife. Even someone as renowned as her in the Asuka Kingdom can’t escape such a fate.”
Shimizu countered, “Sister Ayaka, as the former chief advisor, don’t you understand her thinking? For many women, being a good wife is the ultimate joy.”
“I have to admit, what you said is quite sensible, Ms. Shimizu.”
“Huh? Are you implying that I usually don’t make sense?”
“I never said that…”
The conversation seemed doomed to devolve into an argument, as the two women could hardly exchange a few words without conflicting.
“Sisters, our private room is spacious and quiet. How about we use this time for pair training?” Though slightly embarrassing, it was a useful way to enhance their abilities and far more productive than leaving them to argue.
“Considering the path Fuyutsuki is taking, our journey to Iyo should last two to three days. We can dedicate a whole day to separate training with Lily, then take the last day to rest. How does that sound?” Ayaka suggested.
“Agreed. This time, Sister Ayaka, your proposal seems quite fair and reasonable,” Shimizu replied.
“Huh? Are you implying that my ideas are typically unfair or irrational?”
Lily could only shake her head in disbelief at their banter.
Shimizu and Lily devoted the entire following day to pair training. Though their time was limited to just one day, they approached the process methodically, starting with the foundational first level. During this time, they combined their spirit power for the first time ever.
Being the more formidable of the two, Lily’s strength meant Shimizu was likely to gain more from this unique exchange. However, Lily’s acute perception enabled her to achieve substantial growth as well. The training advanced at a rapid pace, and as soon as they had mastered the first level, they proceeded to the subsequent stages.
“Like this? I can feel your heartbeat, Lil’ Sis Lily.”
“Mm…” Lily thoughtfully noted that Shimizu’s boobs weren’t as small as they appeared on the outside.
On the second day, it was time for Lily and Ayaka to train together. They entered the room, and their conversation took a more personal turn.
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“Lily. I know we’re meant to train today, but I need your assistance with something else,” Ayaka said, uncertainty in her voice.
“Huh?” Lily responded, curious about Ayaka’s request.
“I’m not sure if you’ll be willing to do it.”
“Just tell me what it is, Sister Ayaka.” Lily’s tone was reassuring; she had no intention of refusing unless the request was utterly bizarre.
“As you’re aware, my injuries haven’t fully healed, and I must regularly apply medicine to them…” Ayaka trailed off, implying that she needed help administering the medication.
“I’ll gladly assist you with that,” Lily quickly agreed.
“Thank you, Lily.” Ayaka lowered her head, blushing slightly, her white robe and black stockings emphasizing her modesty2.
“I’ll need you to remove your stockings and undo the front of your robe. Then lie face-down on the blanket…” Though Lily felt the instructions might sound a bit inappropriate, she was only expressing what was necessary to apply the medicine.
Understanding the delicate nature of the situation, Lily maintained her focus and did her best to keep her mind from wandering since she knew Ayaka was also feeling somewhat self-conscious.
“Well… According to what Kimiko told me, the medicine works better if my hands are tied behind my back3,” Ayaka said, tying her hair in a rare ponytail.
“Huh?” Lily stuttered, her eyes widening. “R-Really? If it enhances the effectiveness of the medicine, I’ll follow your instructions and tie your hands behind your back.”
With that, she took Ayaka’s hands, binding them behind her back with a cloth. She then carefully lifted Ayaka’s robe to her underarms, exposing the wounds to apply the healing ointment.
The third day brought a robust wind sweeping across the sea. The group ventured downstairs to enjoy classical Japanese dance-drama, but the violent shaking caused by the winds cut the entertainment short.
With other amenities like the casino ruled out due to the weather, the group found themselves listlessly wandering before retreating to their room, wearied by the lack of diversion. An auction was still held, but Lily found none of the offerings appealing, so she refrained from attending.
“Sister Lily,” Reika’s voice broke into their tea time, seeking the group.
“Ms. Reika,” Lily greeted her, and Ayaka added, “Please come in and have some tea,” proffering a cup.
“I’m here to inquire about the matter you promised earlier…” Reika’s voice betrayed her concern after not seeing the trio for several days.
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“Rest assured. Since we gave our word, we will uphold it,” Ayaka reassured her, handing her a cup of tea.
“Ms. Reika, meet my sister, Shimizu.”
“Hello, Ms. Shimizu,” Reika offered politely.
Outside, a storm raged, but within the room, the atmosphere was harmonious and relaxed.
After navigating through the storm, the ship entered a shadowy region of the sea. Suddenly, Shimizu exclaimed, “Look! It’s land!”
The sisters rushed to the window, peering out at the pitch-black land before them. Numerous peaks of varying sizes gave the land the appearance of a slumbering behemoth, emanating a quiet, ominous aura.
Known as Iyo Island, the landmass was nearly as vast as the mainland, shrouded in dense, dark clouds that seemed to blanket the floating giant. But even under this cover, sporadic lights flickered across the island.
“What a potent eldritch aura,” Lily remarked to herself, her gaze fixed on the approaching, enshrouded land, sensing its mysterious power.