|Author: Carrot Sauce||Original Source: SFACG||Word Count: 3257 characters|
|Translator: Keissen||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 1698 words|
Lily and her companions made haste to Tenshu Castle, arriving on the third floor where they found soldiers and ninjas, armed with large bows.
“Lily!” Asuka appeared, donned in striking red ninja garb. Her vest, fashioned in a deep V shape, featured visible chest bindings and was tucked neatly into her belt1. A two-piece red skirt completed her ensemble.
Only now did Lily notice Asuka’s remarkable physique, which had previously been concealed by a thigh-length jacket. Compared to Asuka, Lily found her own bust less prominent and her waist not quite as narrow2.
“Princess Asuka,” Lily felt a tinge of blush rise to her cheeks upon seeing the princess. Asuka, however, seemed unphased; to her, they were both women, and there was no room for awkwardness.
“Himeji is under siege,” Asuka declared. Following her to a barricaded window, Lily and the others were met with a vision of haunting flames encircling the mountain on which Himeji rested. The air was thick with malevolent energy.
Immediately, Lily’s gaze shifted to the mountain peak opposite the city. Among the crowd of demons, one grotesque figure stood out due to its immense size. This demon resembled a colossal vagabond, sprawled on the ground. Wearing ragged clothes and sporting unkempt hair, he had a strange totemic talisman fastened to his head. Even though his face was obscured, its demonic features were palpable enough.
The aberrant vagabond had an extra set of arms, boasting four arms and two legs in total. He sprawled across the mountain peak like a sinister spider, enveloped by a roiling mist of demonic fog.
“Who killed my brother, Kuki? Reveal the murderer! Otherwise, I’ll drench this city in a sea of blood! All mortals and male warriors will meet their end, while the female will be hauled off to Yomi!” The monstrous vagabond’s growl resonated, tinged with an undertone of sorrow.
Lily had once ventured to Yomi’s surface layer, a place with an environment so harsh that any mortal females captured as slaves would die instantly, rendering the act pointless. Therefore, they targeted only female adepts. As she tuned back into the situation, Lily sensed that the malevolent vagrant emitted the aura of a triple-soul Big Dipper—and a particularly potent one at that. Although she had previously faced off against Shuten Doji without fear, she couldn’t shake off the concern that her future adversaries might grow increasingly powerful.
Connecting the dots, Lily realized that this demon likely emerged from the same Yomi gate as Kuki. This suggested the alarming possibility that a stronger gate, capable of letting through even triple-soul Big Dippers, had opened. Lily knew she had to take responsibility for killing Kuki, as actions had consequences. She prepared to leap out of the window to face the demon but was halted by Asuka.
“Miss Lily, even though you’ve killed Kuki, you serve Himeji. It would tarnish my name, Asuka Shizu, if I failed to act now that the demons are here. Stand back and observe; I’ll deal with them,” said Asuka.
“Your Highness, as the ruler of the city, you don’t need to engage personally,” Reika interjected.
“Silence. I’ve made up my mind. These demons have dared to invade; I’ll make sure they’ll regret it,” Asuka insisted, her tone resolute. Lily sensed that, perhaps due to past events, Asuka was eager to reestablish her credibility among the experts.
“But your opponent is a formidable triple-soul Big Dipper Archdemon,” Lily warned.
“Don’t fret. I, too, am a triple-soul Big Dipper, and I’m confident my abilities surpass his,” replied Asuka, steadfast in her decision. Accepting her resolve, Lily and the other experts chose not to intervene.
Launching herself from the ramparts of Tenshu Castle, Asuka alighted on a rooftop. She folded her arms, her long braids swaying in the wind. “Fine, Yomi demons. You’ve invaded the realm of the living, and we’ve slain your brother, Kuki. I am Asuka Shizu, the Princess of Asuka Kingdom and the Lord of Himeji. Now identify yourself; I make it a point not to kill the nameless,” her voice, tinged with authority and courage, reverberated through the mountain range thanks to her Spirit power.
Introducing herself and inquiring about the demon’s background weren’t necessary actions for Asuka when her intent was to vanquish her foes. Nonetheless, she did so to glean insights into the origins of these Yomi demons and gather more information about their realm.
“You are Princess Asuka? Hehehe,” cackled the demon known as Todo Yansha, hailing from Matori Abyss. “You had the audacity to slay my brother. Prepare to be dragged into Yomi and experience living hell! The realm of Yomi has countless methods of tormenting women. I wonder how a living woman would fare?”
“Silence! You’re nothing but a grotesque abomination,” Asuka retorted. With a leap, a flaming avian apparition materialized beneath her. It lifted her skyward, its expansive, incandescent wings diving towards Todo Yansha.
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“A Vermillion Bird!” Ayaka exclaimed in astonishment. “As I suspected, Princess Asuka is a prodigy in pyromancy. She’s conjured not just any flame, but the illusionary kind, manifesting it into the legendary Vermillion Bird. Though it’s not as potent as the actual divine creature, it approximates the Immortal Bird stage.”
Flames taking the form of the Vermillion Bird could be classified into three main stages: Flaming Bird, Immortal Bird, and Vermillion Bird. If Asuka had achieved a true Vermillion Bird manifestation, she’d be capable of combating other mythical creatures like the nine-tailed fox.
After all, the Vermillion Bird is a revered ancient divine beast. While Asuka is currently at the triple-soul Big Dipper stage, her flames closely resemble those of an Immortal Bird. Achieving a rebirth through flames to evolve into a true Vermillion Bird is no small feat. Yet, the fact that she can even shape her flames into the likeness of a Vermillion Bird is truly remarkable.
“In the domain of fire, no one in the Heian Dynasty surpasses Princess Asuka,” Ayaka sighed, causing Lily to feel a sense of relief.
With a resounding wham, the Immortal Bird and its gigantic wingspan darted toward the opposing mountain peak. “Asuka Shizu? You’ve certainly got skills,” Yansha said, his smile a grim curve. Springing into the air, he soared hundreds of meters high, and with a clang, four long scimitars appeared in his hands, each held in a reverse grip and emanating an aura of dread. He resembled a divine mantis, each of his four arms wielding a colossal scythe.
In response, Asuka summoned two golden weapons: a three-foot-long trident and a blade of the same length. “Mid-ranked Spirit Artifact,” Lily exclaimed, visibly impressed. “The Asuka Tribe’s blacksmithing skills are as remarkable as their reputation suggests.”
As Asuka and Yansha collided mid-air, it was as if a titanic flaming bird was dueling a demonic mantis shrouded in dark flames. In mere moments, fire engulfed the surroundings, transforming the scene into a chaotic spectacle. “Princess Asuka is truly formidable,” said Lily, concern etched into her voice.
While Asuka was at a physical disadvantage against Yansha’s Demon God Physique, the Immortal Bird beneath her acted as an equalizer. With the bird skillfully using its claws and moving with extraordinary agility, the duel with Yansha’s four scimitars was evenly matched. When another wham echoed, Yansha managed to deflect the bird’s enormous flaming wing, but stray sparks ignited the mountains behind him, incinerating thousands of demons.
Watching the intense battle unfold from within Tenshu Castle, Lily found herself keenly aware of her limitations in flame manipulation; she couldn’t even conjure Flame Intent. In the realm of ability mastery, four distinct phases existed: Intent, True Intent, Path, and the almost mythical Heavenly Path—believed to lead one straight to ascension if fully harnessed.
Currently, Lily’s proficiencies, specifically her Charm and Lunar True Intents, were stuck at the second phase. Despite her progress, the path to reaching the next level seemed increasingly arduous the more skilled she became. However, witnessing a prodigy masterfully control illusory flames served as a valuable experience for her.
While Lily’s expertise lay in swordsmanship, making the mastery of flames less critical for her, she understood that individuals like Ayaka, who specialized in spell-casting, would significantly benefit from a well-rounded skill set that spanned multiple elemental abilities.
A sense of concern washed over Lily as she observed the fight. Although Asuka exuded power, she lacked both the physical endurance and the spirit energy to sustain a prolonged battle. As time ticked on, her situation grew increasingly dire. Recognizing her waning spiritual reservoir, Asuka aimed to wrap up the conflict swiftly.
Yet her opponent, Yansha, was not only fearsome but also seasoned, rendering her hurried offensive moves ineffective. Her impulsivity was costing her. Seizing an opening, Asuka commanded her bird to lunge at Yansha, who skillfully dodged the assault. Taking advantage of the bird’s diversion, Asuka charged, wielding both her weapons.
“This is it!” thought Yansha, who then exerted all his strength to parry her weapons with two of his scimitars. In that instant, Asuka found herself vulnerable. The other two scimitars Yansha held lunged toward her.
In a frantic retreat, Asuka instructed her bird to assail Yansha’s back. He seemed to disregard the bird, focusing his attack solely on her. Forced on the defensive, Asuka narrowly parried Yansha’s full-force strike. He deftly maneuvered and targeted her waist with his weapons.
“Damn it!” Unable to evade, she fortified her defense with spirit power just in time. A sound like the unsheathing of swords echoed as his weapons met her flaming feather shield. Though these conjured feathers protected her from immediate dismemberment, the impact nonetheless reverberated through her body.
With a cry of pain, Asuka was sent flying backward, crashing into the roof of Tenshu Castle. Simultaneously, her bird’s talons found Yansha’s back. While their offensive capabilities were somewhat evenly matched, Asuka’s human form was far less resilient than Yansha’s demon physique. His blows not only injured her but also drained her remaining spirit energy. In contrast, Yansha’s demonically robust body absorbed the bird’s strike, rapidly regenerating from the inflicted wound.
This epitomized the intrinsic disadvantage for human adepts like Asuka, particularly females. They often possessed a lower defense, despite being on a comparable stage to their adversaries.
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