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Chapter 36 – Confusion Fog

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Author: Carrot Sauce Original Source: SFACG Word Count: 3230 characters
Translator: Yuki English Source: Re:Library Word Count: 2364 words
Editor(s): Robinxen

In front of the daunting mountain roads, a vast and misty fog ominously hovered, dampening even the most potent spiritual detections from spirit probes to domain perception. It enveloped the hillside where the kunoichis were busily setting up camp.

Standing beside their cart under the night sky tinged with purple-gray hues from the fog, Lily’s group observed the unfolding scene attentively. Ayaka’s uneasy demeanor caught Lily’s attention as she couldn’t shake off the anxiety rising within her from gazing at the fog.

Noticing the shift in Ayaka’s mood, Lily asked with concern, “Sister Ayaka, what’s wrong?”

Shaking her head, Ayaka muttered, “Nothing…”

Seizing the moment to suggest a small adventure, Shimizu chimed in, “The mountain streams are sounding so beautiful, Lily. How about we go get some water?”

Although they had brought a sufficient supply of water stored in their treasures, the allure of the sweet and cool mountain springs — a hallmark of the area — beckoned them.

“Sister Ayaka?” Lily ventured, sensing her sister’s hesitation.

“I, I want to rest a bit, enjoy the trip Lily,” Ayaka managed before retreating into the shelter of the cart. Despite her outward dismissal, Ayaka’s disposition bred worry in Lily, yet no further words came from Ayaka to dispel the burgeoning concern.

Leaving Ayaka with her thoughts, Lily followed Shimizu down a path to a secluded hillside that promised the refreshing embrace of the mountain springs. When they arrived at the river, they noticed many kunoichis engaged in various activities — some fetching water, others seizing the opportunity to wash their clothes, unabashedly undressing in the company of their fellow women.

Asuka stood by the water, a tumult of unfamiliar feelings engulfing her as she observed the topless women going about their chores. The freedom exhibited by the group sent an odd flurry of palpitations through her heart, a perplexing mesh of embarrassment and something undefinable settling within her.

“What is wrong with me? Why do I feel so embarrassed watching this commonplace scene?” Asuka pondered aloud, unable to shake the feeling off as she shook her head in confusion. This internal turmoil encouraged her to distance herself from the scene, urging her to seek solitude further upstream where the water ran colder.


Lily and Shimizu found themselves standing before the babbling stream, immersing themselves in the natural tapestry before them.

“We can’t really call this a beautiful scenery, but every small stream has its own artistic conception,” Shimizu remarked, finding beauty in the understated elegance of their surroundings.

“How true, natural, wild, unstructured, yet it has its own natural order,” Lily agreed, echoing Shimizu’s sentiment as she acknowledged the subtle order that pervaded the seemingly chaotic environment.

A reflective pause enveloped Shimizu before she broke the silence, her voice tinged with a sense of vulnerability. “Lily, in my previous training, there were some techniques I didn’t understand too well.”

“Which techniques?” Lily inquired, drawn into Shimizu’s sudden divulgence.

“Come here,” Shimizu urged, guiding Lily to a tree near the stream. Lily found herself positioned with her back against the tree, prompting an earnest question, “Sister Shimizu, which stance?”

“Ah…it seems… to be the first stance?” Shimizu responded, a tentative note in her voice. With gentle assertiveness, she took one of Lily’s hands and guided it to her chest, while her other hand drifted upward along Lily’s arm, coming to rest on a soft shoulder.

“Sister Shimizu?” Lily’s voice was tinged with confusion, yet Shimizu continued with a sly smirk, her hand descending with sudden precision.

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Shimizu’s fingers, graceful yet assertive, found their way to a tender part of Lily’s chest, eliciting a surprised response from Lily. “Eh? Sister Shimizu?”

“This place, the warmth, the fluctuations… I find myself unable to feel it clearly,” Shimizu confessed, her voice breaking slightly, betraying a sense of longing. “I need to…feel…more.”

Lily’s heart raced, her response a whisper laden with uncertainty. “Is, is that so…”

The charged moment heightened as Shimizu instructed, almost breathlessly, “Lily, look at my chest.”

“Huh?” Drawn by the command, Lily noticed the dull ancient jade pendant that lay against Shimizu’s chest, a piece that bore an air of profound mystery, unmistakably out of the ordinary. As Lily leaned in to inspect the artifact, a sudden yet deliberate movement from Shimizu redirected their connection. Shimizu’s hand curled gently yet firmly behind Lily’s head, bringing their faces closer until their lips met in a charged connection.

“Nm…!” a sound of surprise and bewilderment escaped Lily. Despite their close relationship and shared intimacies during practice sessions, a kiss — something so direct and personal — had never transpired before.

Her first impulse was to withdraw, yet Lily found herself unable to muster the force necessary to break away from someone she regarded so dearly as a sister. Caught in the whirlpool of emotions, Shimizu intensified the kiss, her actions both daring and desperate.

Lily was torn1,caught in the turmoil of conflicting emotions. She understood the depth of Shimizu’s feelings for her — a connection so profound that Shimizu saw her as her entire world.

How lonely must Shimizu have felt during their long separation, Lily wondered, a pang of sympathy and understanding seizing her heart as she considered the deep loneliness that might have enveloped her sister. Her other sisters were scattered, some pursuing adventures far and wide while others remained steadfast, guarding their home at Suno and the Cherry Blossom Valley. They all knew too well the inherent danger in their world, where a goodbye might inadvertently become a farewell forever.

In this tumultuous landscape of emotions, Lily found herself struggling with a dichotomy — the wrongful yet seemingly unavoidable attraction they harbored for each other2. Caught in this difficult place, she felt a crippling sense of indecision. Despite knowing deep within that this shouldn’t be happening, a part of her wondered if perhaps she should relent, allowing a portion of the loyalty in her heart3 to pave a way for Shimizu’s needs.

Overwhelmed, with her mind a whirlpool of confusion and heart a chaotic battlefield of feelings, Lily seemed almost to acquiesce, her resistance fading as Shimizu’s kiss enveloped her. An instinctive, almost involuntary, reaction had her hand finding Shimizu’s waist, pulling her closer for the briefest of moments before reality snapped her back, and she let go.

In the thick of their lingering, almost unspeakable connection, they were unaware of a third presence. From a short distance away, obscured by a tree near the edge of the stream, stood a flabbergasted Asuka, unable to tear her eyes away from the unfolding scene.

Overwhelmed, Asuka finally averted her eyes, pressing herself against the tree as she tried to calm her rapidly beating heart. A torrent of questions and astonishments engulfed her mind.

“That, what is that?” she whispered breathlessly to herself, grappling with the reality before her4. “Can such things happen between two women?”

Of course, somewhere in the recesses of her mind, she was aware that such relationships existed, yet she had never delved deeper, having no personal interest in the past. But witnessing this intimate moment between two women — both of whom were undeniably attractive and carried an unique allure — left Asuka grappling with unfamiliar, perplexing feelings, especially given one of them was the distinguished Lily, a person she regarded as powerful, straightforward, and serious.

“Does Miss Lily have that sort of interest?” Asuka murmured to herself, her mind grappling with the newfound complexity of her understanding of Lily. The revelation about Shimizu didn’t surprise her as much; she had always considered Shimizu somewhat peculiar and had maintained a certain emotional distance. But Lily was different; she genuinely cared about her.

A past jest she had shared with Lily echoed in her mind — a light-hearted claim that, in a peaceful world borne of Lily’s efforts, the choice of whether to marry would be left to Lily. It was a joke birthed from their shared gender, devoid of serious contemplation at that time. But now, swirling in the tumultuous sea of emotions and discoveries, Asuka wondered — if Lily indeed harbored feelings for women, could she possibly harbor them for her as well?

Confusion gave way to a surging warmth, an unfamiliar heat blossoming within her as she tried to grapple with these newly surfaced feelings. “What, what’s going on!” She exclaimed silently, her abrupt retreat leading her to step unintentionally into the stream.

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The sudden intrusion of the sound of splashing water alerted Lily and Shimizu, prompting them to separate instantly. “Who?” Lily questioned, her voice carrying an undertone of fluster. Although they weren’t explicitly hiding, being seen in such a vulnerable state was far from desirable. A spirit probe to discern the intruder was deemed too inappropriate for the situation, leaving them with no choice but to let it go, despite the lingering curiosity and the unspoken question of what would follow if they discovered the identity of the spy.

“Let’s head back,” Lily declared.

“Hmm? We’re stopping the training already?”

“I doubt Sister Shimizu was even in the mood to train today,” Lily remarked with conviction as she turned to leave.

Left behind, Shimizu touched her lips with a faint smile, lingering by the stream to soak in the picturesque surroundings.


“Brr, it’s freezing… I didn’t anticipate the autumn evenings in Suno to be this chilly,” expressed Uesugi Rei, adorned in a blue-purple yukata, her silver hair fashioned into a coil. She ventured through the tranquil woods, trembling from the cold.

Obliged to remain in Suno due to her injuries, Rei had been under the tender care of Lady Kimiko, balancing her recuperation with diligent training sessions. She sensed that reaching the throne realm was within her grasp, yet her prevailing wounds cautioned against such a venture.

Throughout this interval, puzzlingly, Minamoto no Yoritomo and the Cloistered Emperor refrained from deploying forces to assault Suno, albeit skirmishes erupt occasionally at the frontier, ignited by scattered adversaries.

“Lil’ Lily, what are you doing right now?” Rei pondered, directing her eyes to the night sky enveloped in darkness, a canvas of mysteries and distant lights.

A sudden impulse surged in her heart, an intense desire to assert dominance over Lily, to push her down to the ground; yet, Lily was absent, nowhere in this silent space shared with whispers of the night wind. An increasing warmth engulfed Rei, urging her to calm her escalating pulse through controlled breaths.

“Stay pure, refrain from indulging in turbulent fantasies,” Rei reminded herself as she nestled into a cross-legged posture, delving into a meditative state to center her mind once again. Indeed, the path to holistic healing was paved with continued restraint, a personal oath to avoid succumbing to untamed whims.


Lily and Shimizu drifted back to the cart in succession. Whereas Ayaka would typically share a few remarks during such moments, tonight she remained silent, embodying a distinct tranquility.

The prolonged darkness of the night cultivated a profound desire for sleep that beckoned them fervently as the surroundings settled into silence. United in their exhaustion, they sealed off the outer world with a pull of the curtains, creating a cocoon of rest and warmth.

As slumber embraced her, Lily sensed a tender hold encapsulating her hand. Investigating the touch, she found Ayaka’s form stretching across her space, her hand ensconced warmly between Ayaka’s thighs. Even amidst shallow breaths that hinted at a deep dream state possibly fraught with danger, Ayaka maintained her grasp.

“Sister Ayaka?” The uncertainty hung heavily as Lily deliberated waking her. The comforting warmth and evident need in Ayaka’s hold overruled her hesitations. Relinquishing control, she allowed herself to derive joy and satisfaction from being a source of comfort for Ayaka.

Morning found them navigating perilous mountain paths, enveloped in a thick, obscuring fog that dictated a cautious pace. Reika had warned them; the fog was a harbinger of lurking monsters, a precursor to danger. Fears, however, remained at bay as the trio alternated in their vigil at the forefront, aiding the kunoichis in their sentinel duty.

The responsibility fell primarily on Lily and Shimizu, for Ayaka seemed somewhat unwell. Inside the cart, an undercurrent of unease punctuated the silence, with Ayaka listlessly gazing through the window in intermittent spells, her vigor noticeably diminished.

“We have about half an hour before Lily comes back. There’s no reason for you to be this restless,” Shimizu noted, her attention half on Ayaka and half on the ancient tome of bizarre stories she was perusing.

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Ayaka, who had been displaying a more delicate demeanor lately, seemed to regain a bit of spirit, snapping, “Shimizu, you really need to think before you speak. What do you mean by ‘impatient’? It sounds like you’re assuming I’m eagerly waiting for something.”

“You’re overreacting, sister.”

A light argument ensued between the two, their discussion walking the fine line between serious and playful. Despite the potentially grave underpinnings of their disagreement, they maintained a gentleness in their words, ensuring not to cross certain boundaries. In their gentle sparring, candor carried a price; it meant defeat rather than victory.

As the cart jostled along the uneven pathway, a shift in atmosphere signaled Lily’s return. The curtain was drawn back, and Lily stepped in, bringing a semblance of balance with her presence.

“Welcome back, Lily. I will take over the guard duty now,” Shimizu offered immediately, her voice carrying a light, joyous note influenced by their intimate moment the night before.

Ayaka, despite her weariness visible in her drooping hair and unstable breath, interjected, “No, let me go. I’ve rested enough, it should be my turn.”

Shimizu shot a teasing glance towards Lily, playing up a pretend scenario, “Oh come on, Ayaka. Just look at the concern in Lily’s eyes. She’d be upset with me if I let you go in this state.”

Lily couldn’t hold back a chuckle at Shimizu’s playful exaggeration, replying with a light-hearted, “That’s not the case, Sister Shimizu.”

Undeterred, Shimizu pressed on with a clearly purposeful suggestion, hinting at a devised urgency, “Why don’t both of you take a break earlier on? I’ll head out now.”

The term ‘earlier on’ seemed slightly misplaced to Ayaka, an inappropriately casual phrase given their sibling-like closeness, prompting her to reflect on the deeper, nuanced dynamics of their relationship5.



 

Footnotes:

  1. Yuki: I laugh at your ‘Everything for senior sister Rinne.”
  2. Yuki: No… considering your entire purpose is waking up and staying loyal to your senior sister…. not liking is correct.
  3. Yuki: No you stupid idiot, don’t forget that the body you’re in isn’t yours.
  4. Robinxen: She has been exposed to the yuri!!!!
  5. Robinxen: Romantic drama broils beneath political intrigue.
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