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Chapter 45 – Tracking

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Author: Carrot Sauce Original Source: SFACG Word Count: 3068 characters
Translator: LazyButAmbitious English Source: Re:Library Word Count: 1671 words
Editor(s): Robinxen

Naoya, being at the level of a quadruple-soul Big Dipper Stage expert, wouldn’t succumb merely to decapitation. His airborne head darted to one side, eyes gleaming with defiance, as his body hastily retreated, dropping the weapon it clutched.

How could Kagami Lily possess such strength?

While he had recently attained the status of a quadruple-soul Big Dipper, making him the most formidable human on Iyo, he was still no match for her. And her sword… what sorcery powered it? Its sheer resentment, its sharpness, its speed, all were mind-boggling.

Lily was somewhat taken aback. She hadn’t anticipated such a swift recovery from Naoya post decapitation. Even though experts of the Big Dipper Stage could endure having their heads removed, they typically suffered significant harm unless they possessed a high-tier demon god physique, akin to the legendary Shuten Doji.

Without that physique, Naoya’s resilience hinted at some clandestine technique he’d mastered. Given his stature as a quadruple-soul Big Dipper Stage adept, she was wary of any hidden tactics he might employ.

In a sudden move, Naoya’s severed head bore down on King Akira, as his body, drawing another blade, lunged at Princess Asuka.

“What?!” Lily’s heart skipped a beat. Before she could react, a dark sword light aimed for Naoya’s head, intercepting his path. Devoid of his usual arsenal, and confronted by the might of a spirit artifact like Yakumo, all Naoya could do was glare menacingly at Shimizu, who obstructed him, before changing direction.

While Asuka managed to parry the assault from Naoya’s decapitated body, the reduced strength of his attacks was evident. Seeing his twin offensives thwarted, Naoya had his head and body scatter in separate directions.

Understanding the body posed the greater threat, Lily activated her purple lunar force and gave chase at breakneck speed.

A transmitted voice, powered by spiritual energy, echoed, “We are both formidable fighters; do you truly wish to drive me to my grave?”

Lily retorted, her voice laced with bitterness, “Did you think twice before taking Mr. Kiryu’s life?!” Kiryu had once been a close confidant of Asuka’s, and he had extended his hospitality to Lily and her comrades during their initial visit to Himeji.

Her blade danced, leaving a grievous wound on the retreating form of Naoya, compelling him to quicken his pace.

“Ah…!” Naoya howled, “This is on you! It’s your doing!”

Suddenly, he detonated with force, setting his stellar soul alight. His flame-engulfed head lunged at Lily, revealing that his origin soul was in his body while a part of his stellar soul lingered in his head.

However, before he could strike, Asuka’s figure flashed behind Lily, her sword aflame like a phoenix’s wings, cleaving Naoya’s head in two.

“Ah…” His head let out a final, anguished cry as the stellar soul within was obliterated.

“My power, my very essence!” Forging a stellar soul was arduous. A Big Dipper Stage expert can recover from serious damage to their stellar souls over time. However, the complete destruction of a stellar soul is irreversible. If someone initially had the capacity for a septuple-soul level, the best they could hope for after such a loss would be sextuple-soul.

Resuming training after a stellar soul’s obliteration is nearly impossible.

“What audacity! I merely ended a worthless life, and you wish to execute me? By what right? I stand peerless in Iyo Island1!”

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As he spoke, Naoya’s very essence began to ignite. Holding his blade high, he charged towards Lily, his body ensconced in ethereal flames imbued with heavenly lightning.

“You claim to be Iyo Island’s mightiest? By whose estimation?” retorted Lily, her eyes cold and unyielding. Her sword, Dojigiri-Yasutsuna, sparked to life with vibrant purple flames.

Naoya lunged at her with desperate fury. Displaying her skill and finesse, Lily sidestepped his aggressive strike, only to retaliate with a masterful counter. Although Dojigiri-Yasutsuna had the power to finish him in one fell swoop, she restrained herself. Her blade, instead of delivering a fatal blow, merely grazed the depths of his spirit sea.

Naoya was thrust backward, landing defeated. His spirit sea bore a deep scar, causing his spiritual energy to hemorrhage. His origin soul was on the brink, its vitality almost drained.

Yet, even in this dire state, he clung to life, dragging himself through the rubble. “I refuse to perish…” he rasped. “I am Iyo’s paramount force. Should I endure this, I vow to exact my revenge upon each and every one of you!”

Suddenly, his progress was halted. A gleaming golden trident staked his hand to the ground.

With each breath, a sibilant leak of spiritual energy escaped from the ruins of Naoya’s decapitated head, reminiscent of air seeping from a punctured tire. “Spare me,” he croaked, “I am unmatched, unparalleled! Princess Asuka, surely you can’t kill your own betrothed! Kiryu’s death was a mistake! Swear your loyalty to me, and together we’ll be invincible on Iyo Island! Kiryu was nothing2…”

But his plea was met with cold steel. Asuka Shizu’s blade pierced straight through Naoya’s heart, laying his wounded spirit sea and origin soul to rest.

A tear trickled down Asuka’s cheek as she whispered, “Rest now, Kiryu.” She turned to Lily, gratitude in her voice, “Thank you for letting me exact my vengeance with my own hands.”

In the aftermath of the battle, the malevolent aura of the prime minister and the nightmares he conjured began to wane. While Ayaka’s potent spells took care of the majority, a few managed to flee deep within the city. The task of hunting down these remnants would fall to the Asuka Kingdom’s forces.

Lily, descending from the chaos, approached Ayaka, asking, “Sister Ayaka, are you alright?”

Rubbing her forehead, Ayaka replied, “I’ll be okay.” There was a lingering dizziness in her gaze.

Lily then shared her discovery, “The prime minister is under the influence of a nightmare entity called Dream Eater Baku. His mind is now under its thrall. But before it could fully escape, I managed to mark it. Tracking this nefarious energy, I’m certain we can locate the actual form of Dream Eater Baku.”

“The real form of Dream Eater Baku?” Uncertainty and fear flickered in Ayaka’s eyes.

“Sister Ayaka, when have you ever been afraid? With me by your side, even facing him shouldn’t scare you,” reassured Lily, holding Ayaka’s hand firmly.

“Lily…” Ayaka drew strength from Lily’s presence and nodded resolutely. “We have to face our fears. Together, we’ll end this nightmare.”

Shimizu interjected, “I’m here too, you know3.”

“But, Sister Shimizu, facing the king of the demon world, Dream Eater Baku, could be perilous,” Lily warned.

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Shimizu chuckled, “Isn’t that all the more reason for me to protect you? How would you manage without me?”

Grateful, Lily responded, “Just be careful, okay?” On further thought, she added, “Leaving you behind might not be safe. We should stick together.”

Asuka piped up, “I want to join you, Lily!”

Lily, taking in the chaotic aftermath around them and the dazed King Akira, replied, “You’re needed here, Princess.”

Asuka understood the gravity of the current situation. With the prime minister’s escape and Naoya’s demise, pockets of nightmare demons remained at large. Without her presence, ensuring King Akira’s safety would be precarious, especially if the responsibility solely rested on Reika.

She resolved, “Fine… I’ll remain here to oversee things. Lily, remember that Dream Eater Baku is the king of the Iyo demon realm. Even though I hadn’t anticipated one of his agents within our imperial court’s core, the power of the Iyo demon realm far surpasses that of our kingdom. Baku is immensely powerful. You must tread with utmost caution. Regardless of your strength, facing an adversary you can’t meet eye-to-eye is an entirely different challenge. Defeating Shuten Doji doesn’t guarantee victory over the dream eater.” With earnest concern, she gripped Lily’s hand.

Acknowledging the weight of her words, Lily replied, “I promise to be vigilant, Princess. I’ll confront and defeat Dream Eater Baku, ensuring Sister Ayaka is freed from her torment.”

Asuka nodded with a hint of sadness, “I’ll await your return in Iwaya City, Lily.”

With a firm affirmation, Lily responded, “Understood.”

Ayaka and Shimizu conveyed their sentiments with simple nods, “Stay safe, Princess.”

As they geared up to embark on their journey, Ayaka inquired, “Which way, Lily?”

Lily gestured towards the seemingly infinite, shadowy mountains of the southwest, “I sense it in that direction.”

“Onward then!”

But before they could move, Asuka’s voice resonated, “Lily!”

Lily turned, “Yes, Princess?”

Visibly conflicted, Asuka began, “Upon your return… I intend to…4” But words escaped her.

With a reassuring nod, Lily responded, “Stay safe, Princess.”

Determined, Lily, Ayaka, and Shimizu plunged into the woods beneath Tenshu Castle. As they disappeared into the dense foliage, Asuka whispered, heart heavy with emotion, “Thank you, Lily. When you return, I vow to offer the most precious gift of my life to you5.”

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Lily and her companions swiftly maneuvered through the city outskirts and ventured deeper into the thick forests, chasing the elusive trail of the black smoke. Their relentless pursuit spanned across rugged terrains and dense woods for nearly three days until they reached the southwestern edges of Iyo Island.

A foreboding black mountain stood tall ahead, shrouded in an impenetrable mist. Ghostly flames flickered atop its peaks, casting eerie luminescence while distant, faint cries echoed through the thick fog.

Gazing at the mountain from a nearby cliff, Lily remarked, “The black smoke seems to have settled around this mountain.”

Echoing her thoughts, Shimizu observed, “This mountain radiates a far more intense demonic presence compared to its surroundings.”

Ayaka’s trembling form conveyed her internal battle, but she was visibly bracing herself. “Lily,” she whispered, “I fear Dream Eater Baku awaits us there.”

Steeled for the challenge ahead, the trio descended the cliff and ventured into the mountain’s foggy embrace. Lily’s sakura parasol could provide concealment, but enlarging it to protect all three might compromise its abilities. Plus, if Dream Eater Baku truly had sway over Ayaka’s dreams, it was plausible he was already aware of their approach.



 

Footnotes:

  1. Robinxen: Counter point, this situation.
  2. Robinxen: Wow this guy can’t even get his story straight.
  3. LazyButAmbitious: Shimizu feels like a third wheel, honestly.
    Silva: well, let’s be honest, she has always been… if not overshadowed by Rei, then it’s Ayaka…
  4. Robinxen: Announce the engagement?
  5. LazyButAmbitious: Poor Kiryu. Died so Lily could poach another member for the harem
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