|Author: Carrot Sauce
|Original Source: SFACG
|Word Count: 3060 characters
|English Source: Re:Library
|Word Count: 1543 words
Lily quickly grasped that these men had no real intention of rescuing the King as they’d claimed. Instead, they seemed eager to plunge into the great battle and potentially even kill their own monarch. The castle continued to quake, its foundations unsettled by the relentless onslaught of spiritual energy.
“Kagami Lily, since you’re not from these parts, why insert yourself into our affairs? Do you have a death wish?” Naoya’s swift attack was effortlessly parried by Lily. Having felt her strength firsthand, he conceded that she was a formidable opponent, yet not strong enough to vanquish Shuten Doji. This realization stoked the fires of his aura once again.
“Why? Initially, my allegiance was purchased by the princess’s rewards, binding me to serve her to the best of my abilities. Now, not only am I her mercenary, but also an important friend!” Lily clasped her sword with both hands as her spiritual energy flared, causing her blade to dance and forcing Naoya to stagger back.
“Funny. What could a woman possibly know about righteousness?”
“As a man, if you want to fight, then fight. Why the unnecessary chatter?”
“Hmph! You’re sealing your own fate!” Tsukuba Naoya’s body crackled with electricity, and a spectral form comprised of lightning manifested behind him. The heavens darkened as clouds swirled and rumbled with thunderous menace. His domain, Thunder Courtyard Prison, had already reached the seventh layer.
Reacting almost instantaneously, Lily released her cherry blossom domain. The blossoms swirled like a snowstorm, dispelling the ominous clouds and holding their own against the Thunder Courtyard Prison. Though her domain was only at the sixth layer, she had the advantage of possessing a domain treasure and a deeper understanding of her powers.
“Women excel in this emotional territory. I can’t gain the upper hand in terms of domains,” Naoya grudgingly admitted as his muscles bulged. Like a bolt of lightning, he lunged at Lily.
The strike was as fast as lightning, but Lily’s reaction was just as swift. The metallic resonance of her Crescent Moon meeting Naoya’s attack filled the air. Though her blade was at a slight disadvantage against his low-grade spirit artifact, her own overwhelming strength more than made up for it.
Bolstered by her celestial maiden physique, Yomi delicacies, and three lunar crystals, Lily’s power was beyond mortal comprehension. Her parry had such force that Naoya recoiled, his body tingling with numbness. “What kind of strange power does this woman have? Her weapon is clearly inferior to mine!”
Despite Naoya’s disadvantage in their clash, the reverberating impact shook Tenshu Castle to its core, leading to its collapse. Many of the weaker guests and soldiers on the lower floors found themselves buried under the rubble. Those who managed to escape—guests, accomplices, innocent officials, and military commanders—scattered in all directions, aware that they would meet untimely deaths if caught in a battle of this magnitude.
Protected by Princess Asuka, King Akira landed amidst the ruins, surrounded by countless ninja troops. Lily and Naoya stood in the air, seemingly unaffected by gravity.
“Kagami Lily, I never thought a woman could possess such extraordinary power. Though I’ve often looked down on women, you’re the exception. You’ve earned my respect,” Naoya conceded, his long red braid fluttering wildly as electricity coiled around him.
“Opponent? Hmph, you’re not qualified yet,” Lily retorted.
“Arrogant for a mere woman1!” Enraged, Naoya’s body erupted in lightning, charging toward Lily for another round.
At this point, even without leveraging her purple lunar force, Lily already surpassed most experts at the quadruple-soul Big Dipper Stage, possibly even outperforming Taira no Masakado. Naoya, despite being at the same stage, was considerably weaker than strong existences like Masakado.
His next attack came with even greater force, but this time Lily dodged, becoming as elusive as a phantom. She showcased a burst of speed and agility, causing Naoya to swing at empty air. In the blink of an eye, she appeared beside him.
“Wha—” Shocked, Naoya hastily swung his sword in defense. A loud metallic chime echoed through the night as he plummeted, crashing through the ruins and plunging into the mountain’s depths. The ground shook with the impact.
“My son!” The prime minister’s face twisted in horror, his eyes fixed on Lily who stood soaring high above.
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Countless arrows and concealed ninja weapons soared toward King Akira and his entourage. However, these attempts failed to penetrate the defenses set up by Princess Asuka and Ayaka. While Lily could easily eliminate these soldiers, she refrained from doing so; they were neither demons nor ghosts, just ordinary soldiers serving the prime minister. The Asuka Kingdom had few left, and Lily hesitated to kill its elite forces.
With a mere thought, a whirlwind of cherry blossom petals swept the sky, their razor-like edges slicing the soldiers’ hands. Mighty gusts accompanying the petals knocked some of the weaker ninjas to the ground. The two Feudal Generals and their troops kept their distance, hesitant to approach.
The prime minister stood amidst the ruins, resentment flooding his eyes as he studied Lily and her companions. Their collective strength had far outstripped his calculations, putting his plans at risk. Suddenly, his eyes turned pitch-black, and a fearsome expression overtook his face. Floating into the sky, he began to spew endless streams of black smoke from his eyes and mouth.
“Kagami Lily, Asuka Shizu, King Akira—you will all meet your end. Escaping death is impossible in the face of my boundless darkness!” he declared.
“Eh?” Lily observed warily. The prime minister might not have been particularly strong, but the aura he now exuded was terrifying. The black smoke that flowed from him flooded the ruins.
One by one, the ninjas who inhaled this darkness screamed in agony, their eyes turning black as if haunted by horrifying nightmares. Though the smoke carried intense soul fluctuations, it had no effect on Lily. However, Ayaka suddenly knelt down, clutching her head and crying out in pain.
Rushing to Ayaka’s side, Lily found her sister trembling on her knees, eyes closed, clutching her head as if besieged by an unspeakable terror. Just then, a suffocatingly dark and evil aura began to pervade the atmosphere.
The ninjas who had inhaled the black smoke underwent a ghastly transformation. They swelled in size, their auras intensifying as they morphed into dark, demonic figures pulled straight from nightmares.
“What kind of sorcery is this?” Lily, Asuka, and the others were stunned.
Driven by the malevolent smoke, the power of the ninja troops surged exponentially, transforming them into nightmare-like demons. At the same time, their souls seemed to lose all traces of life. It was as though their own souls served as the currency to turn their fears into terrible power, amplifying their demonic strength manifold.
The military commanders and officials who had joined the rebellion were visibly shaken. “Lord Prime Minister, what is happening?”
“Lord Prime Minister, how did they turn into monsters?”
“Hahahahahaha!” The prime minister’s laugh echoed, distorted and sinister, in the air. “Still yearning for power and wealth, you fools? Who here is truly loyal to the pitiful Asuka Kingdom? This entire Iyo Island will ultimately belong to Dream Eater Baku, the great king of the demon world!” His form shrank and hunched, continuously emitting black smoke.
“In that case,” he drawled, his ghostly figure in the night sky punctuated only by eerie glows where his eyes would be, “you should all transform into beings of nightmare. Since we’re all in this rebellion together, let’s see it through for Dream Eater Baku!”
With a sweeping gesture, a tide of black smoke overwhelmed the rebellious officials and commanders. Their screams of “Ah—!” and “No!” filled the air, their eyes darkening as they seemed lost in an abyss of nightmares. Eventually, the human sounds gave way to inhuman roars. Around the ruins, all those who had not managed to flee rose as newly minted nightmare demons, each shrouded in ominous black smoke.
“What…” Asuka looked aghast at the sea of demons, once the pillars of the state, that now surrounded her. A blend of fear and horror gripped her heart.
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“Ah… No, don’t…” Ayaka trembled violently, her eyes squeezed shut, her face pallid as if succumbing to the dark, nightmarish aura.
Seeing her strong sister Ayaka reduced to such a state, a torrent of rage welled up in Lily’s heart. “I never had intentions to threaten any of you. I only wished to protect the princess and the king. Yet you serve that monster and dare to harm my Sister Ayaka in front of me!”
With that, Lily erupted in a purple glow that bathed the dark ruins in ethereal light. Floating into the sky, her eyes grew cold and merciless. Gone were her reservations. She sheathed her Crescent Moon blade and drew another—Dojigiri-Yasutsuna—that radiated unbounded resentment. The moonlight glinted off its blade, cutting through the night.
“May all of you descend to hell. Any evil that causes my sister suffering shall not escape my wrath2.”
“Go! Nightmare demons, kill them all!” ordered the prime minister, now reduced to an unrecognizable form.
Like a tidal wave, the newly transformed demons surged toward Lily and her companions. With a resounding “shwing,” Lily fully unsheathed Dojigiri-Yasutsuna.
A beam of purple light cleaved the night sky.