|Author: Carrot Sauce||Original Source: SFACG||Word Count: 3389 characters|
|Translator: Yuki||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 1723 words|
Neither Lily nor Ayaka were inclined to engage in conflict, but Shimizu, seated at the far end, reacted with icy disdain. “These seats were arranged by Kiryu of Himeji. Your demand that we vacate them is rather rude.”
“Wench, what did you just say?” The sumo’s face turned an angry red as he glared at Shimizu. “You call me rude? You clearly have no understanding of the rules! If it were only me, perhaps I’d relent, but this is Lord Hakurei Aida! The one who has earned the greatest merit on this expedition! If you have any sense, you’ll move aside at once!”
“What if I choose not to?” Shimizu’s response was cool and unyielding.
“Little girl, don’t think your location within the city gives you license to be impertinent. If you’re so brave, why not remain hidden here forever? Don’t even think about leaving the city!” the sumo challenged.
“Oh really? I’ll leave whenever I please. What will you do about it?” Shimizu retorted.
“You! You’re truly asking for trouble! Enough of this—will you relinquish the seats or not?” The sumo’s anger boiled over as he slammed his hand down on the table, his face twisted into a ferocious scowl, drawing the attention of all nearby.
Shimizu’s delicate hand instinctively reached for the hilt of her weapon, Yakumo.
“Enough,” Lily intervened, her voice steady and calming. “Since you’re so determined to sit in the front, I trust you must feel your merit warrants it. Sister Shimizu, Sister Ayaka, one seat is as good as another. Let’s move.”
Lily had no desire to escalate the situation, especially at Princess Asuka’s banquet. Her primary objectives were to meet the princess, learn more about the Asuka kingdom, and possibly find clues about the Dream Eater.
With a resigned air, Lily moved to the back of the hall, Ayaka and Shimizu following her to the available seats.
“Brother Aida, please be seated,” the sumo said, attempting to ingratiate himself.
Hakurei Aida responded with nothing but a haughty silence as he took his seat.
Gradually, the hall filled with various experts, generals, and officials of the Himeji. Conversations buzzed as everyone awaited the princess’s arrival.
“Sister Lily!” Fuyuki’s group was nearby, and they struck up a conversation without hesitation. Though Fuyuki seemed somewhat shy in Lily’s presence, his voice betraying his admiration, Lily responded naturally and without fanfare.
Suddenly, a rustle of light footsteps emanated from behind the three-piece paper screen adorned with a flying phoenix design, positioned at the head of the hall. This passageway was reserved solely for the master and her closest attendants.
A striking young woman appeared from the corridor, nineteen or twenty years of age, her dark red bangs framing her face, her hair styled into a high ponytail that cascaded down to her feet. Her attire was both elegant and assertive: a black gold feathered thigh-length jacket over a sensuous red ninja vest that was slit at the chest, paired with a long skirt with slits on both sides, stockings, and a single black wristband. Her feet were bare.
The woman’s face was breathtaking, her red headband emphasizing her intense eyes, and she radiated the vigor of a formidable warrior.
As she entered the room, a hushed silence fell over the assembly.
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As she settled into the master seat, her knees elegantly clasped together, her posture exuded a harmonious blend of strength and grace. Every eye was fixed on her, from the recruited experts to the generals and officials, and all saluted her in reverence. She acknowledged their gestures with a slight nod of her head.
From her place in the back of the hall, Lily observed this extraordinary woman. Her presence was commanding and her aura magnetic. It was clear to Lily that this must be the legendary Princess Asuka.
Taking her place at the master seat, the princess greeted the assembled crowd with a respectful salute. “Greetings everyone. I am Asuka Shizu.”
The ways of the Asuka kingdom differed from those of the Heian dynasty. Unlike traditional royal entrances, no one announced or introduced the princess. Instead, she introduced herself, a practice that Lily found quite intriguing.
Kiryu saw his opportunity to speak, loudly proclaiming, “This expedition has won a great victory. The number and strength of demons exterminated are very impressive. Of course, the heroes of the world have made great sacrifices to make this victory possible. Today…”
Princess Asuka interrupted him with a graceful wave of her hand, dismissing what she seemed to regard as empty rhetoric. “Your bloody battles and sacrifices have given hope to this kingdom. Although the road ahead is still dark and long, I hope you can all work together and walk down this path with me. Thank you all!”
Her words rang with sincerity, and the audience returned her salute with their own, touched by her genuineness.
“Which guest is Miss Lily?” Princess Asuka inquired, prompting a murmur of confusion throughout the hall. Nobody seemed to know who Lily was.
Up front, Aida and the sumo exchanged puzzled glances. Was this not simply a celebratory banquet? Why was the princess asking about this unknown woman?
Kiryu scanned the crowd, finally spotting Lily. “The one sitting at the back corner there, the lady in the red,” he replied.
The princess’ response was sharp. “Why is Miss Lily sitting in that corner?”
This question caused a noticeable shift in the room, making both Aida and the sumo tense. Everyone’s gaze turned toward Lily, curiosity piqued. Who was she? Where had she come from? Why was she so highly regarded by Princess Asuka?
“This…” Kiryu seemed at a loss for words, unsure how to explain the situation.
Feeling the room’s attention upon her, Lily addressed the princess with a distant salute. “Your Highness, I am a newcomer, so I chose a seat at random. Please forgive my discourtesy.”
“I only worry that I have neglected Miss Lily and your sisters,” Princess Asuka stammered, momentarily taken aback.
“Not at all, these seats are good,” Lily responded with a smile.
Princess Asuka laughed, clearly finding Lily’s attitude both refreshing and intriguing.
Aida and the sumo, who had been holding their breath, finally exhaled, relieved that Lily hadn’t mentioned the earlier confrontation.
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“That woman is quite interesting,” Aida remarked, leaning toward the sumo. “In the future, don’t antagonize them. Find an opportunity to lead them instead.”
“Yes, yes!” the sumo replied, thrilled by Aida’s suggestion to align with these captivating women.
Princess Asuka continued, “As usual, the top ten meritorious people will be announced before the banquet. For everyone else, you can check with Kiryu. Kiryu.”
“Here!” Kiryu responded, pulling out a booklet and beginning to read from it.
“Since we have newcomers among us, allow me to explain the process. Merits from this expedition will be rewarded with kingdom shares. If the merits fall short of one kingdom share, flame gold will be awarded instead. For those not in the top ten, please inquire to learn how many merits you have earned. Kingdom shares will be the default reward, but those who desire flame gold may exchange their shares at a rate of one kingdom share for ten flame gold. This exchange can only be made once, and you may not exchange flame gold back for kingdom shares.”
“I will now announce the top ten meritorious achievements for this expedition. In rank ten, Omiya Fujizo, for slaying one sovereign arch-demon and two throned generals, with the remainder being permanence and below, shall receive twenty-five kingdom shares.”
“Wow! I made the top ten! This is a first, ahahaha!” Omiya Fujizo’s laughter filled the room.
“In rank nine, Fukuyama Chugen…… awarded twenty-nine kingdom shares.” An elderly, eminent white-haired monk nodded in acknowledgment.
Aida, confident of his rank, casually sipped his tea, ignoring the announcement. The previous second and third rank experts had perished in this expedition, so he was certain of his victory.
“Ranks eight to five belong to the same team – they’ve distributed their merits by internal agreement, each earning forty-three kingdom shares. They are Fuyuki, Reiko, Haruka, and Daimon.”
“Huh?” Aida scoffed. “Those four incompetents, how did they gain so many merits? What kind of luck struck them? Did they stumble upon a gravely injured arch-demon?”
Kiryu continued, methodically announcing ranks four to three. They were powerful experts, just as Aida had expected.
“It’s almost my turn,” Aida thought, excitement building within him.
“Rank two, Hakurei Aida……. awarded ninety-two kingdom shares.”
“What? Only rank two? The shares are correct, but who surpassed me? If only I had caught that peak monarch, I wouldn’t be second.”
Even the sumo looked at Aida in surprise; his brother had only ranked second?
“Rank one, ah…a team of three heroes combined their merits, placing them all on one person,” Kiryu continued.
“No wonder!” Aida reasoned, “Merits can be combined to exchange for valuable treasures. How dull that they surpassed me.”
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He took another sip of tea, pondering the sum of merits, “Over a hundred? Not likely more than one hundred fifty.”
“Rank one, Miss Lily, awarded two thousand two hundred sixteen kingdom shares1!”
“Pufft——” Aida’s mouthful of tea sprayed across the table2.
“Two thousand two hundred? Is there an error in the count?”
Kiryu went on, “Miss Lily’s team killed eighteen throned generals, twenty-five throned sovereigns, sixteen throned monarchs, including five peak-staged monarchs! And, and…” he paused for a breath, “And two big dipper arch-demons, both double-souled!”
“What!??” The hall erupted in shock.
“As we know, big dipper arch-demons are near impossible to kill; one alone can spell disaster. A throned saint is worth 100 shares, a single-soul big dipper, 300! A double-soul is worth800! Slaying two of them plus the other arch-demons totals 2,460 shares! After deductions for the other four members, 2,216 shares go to the team of Lily, Ayaka, and Shimizu.”
“What!??” Aida’s eyes nearly popped from their sockets.
Such an astronomical figure was inconceivable to him. As a Senior Mercenary3, he earned thirty to forty kingdom shares as a salary, plus additional shares from fighting monsters. But thousands of shares were beyond his comprehension.
“Big dipper arch-demon? Who is this Lily4? Even if their team is large, killing two big dipper arch-demons requires at least one big dipper expert, someone with strength surpassing a double-soul! When did Himeji harbor such a supreme entity?”
- Robinxen: PFFFFFFT. It’s not even the same league.
- Robinxen: We are brothers in this reaction Aida, for different reasons.
- TLN: There’s a bit of a disagreement with this term as there are no English equivalent or direct translation of this term, we’ve went from Samurais to Kingdom Knights to Recruits, but ultimately end up with this through majority vote.
- Robinxen: She was literally mentioned by name five minutes ago…